Oscar nominations 2024: Barbie’s snubs and five more talking points

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Gerwig (left) missed out on a best director nomination, while Margot Robbie was absent from best actress
By Steven McIntosh
Entertainment reporter

Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie’s were absent from some major categories at this year’s Oscars. But given the voters’ tastes, was it really such a shock?

Although Barbie received eight nominations on Tuesday, making it the fourth most-recognised film overall, Gerwig missed out on a best director nod, while Robbie was shut out of best actress.

The film picked up nominations for its soundtrack, costumes, screenplay and production design, while there were acting nods for America Ferrera and Ryan Gosling.

As a result, many film fans were quick to make the obvious point on social media – the Academy recognising Gosling but not Robbie was ironic for a film about feminism and the patriarchy.

But experts who follow the awards race closely were less surprised.

America Ferrera’s more serious role in Barbie was recognised, but Robbie’s performance was more comedic

The case for nominating Gerwig and Robbie was strong. Barbie was the biggest cinematic hit of 2023, taking more than $1.44bn (£1.14bn) at box offices worldwide.

The Academy would have been keen to reward a film that helped keep cinemas afloat, and although the Oscars often steer clear of popcorn blockbusters, Barbie also had enough artistic merit to see it through.

In the event, Gerwig was nominated for her screenplay, and Robbie as a producer, but their best director and actress snubs left a sour taste in fans’ mouths.

“Ken getting nominated and not Barbie is honestly so fitting for a film about a man discovering the power of patriarchy in the Real World,” wrote one fan on social media.

Even Gosling expressed disappointment. While he said he was “honoured” to be nominated, he added: “There is no Ken without Barbie, and there is no Barbie movie without Greta Gerwig and Margot Robbie.”

Many thought Robbie would snare the nomination out of pure goodwill towards the film – being the face (and producer) of a box office smash would have been a factor considered by Academy voters.

Gosling said he was “disappointed” that Robbie and Gerwig missed out on nominations

But her nomination had been far from certain. In the best actress category, four of the five slots seemed dead certs – Sandra Huller (Anatomy of a Fall), Lily Gladstone (Killers of the Flower Moon), Carey Mulligan (Maestro) and Emma Stone (Poor Things). Those four were indeed nominated on the day.

But the fifth slot was seen as a three-way race between Robbie, Greta Lee of Past Lives and Annette Bening of Nyad – and Bening emerged with the nomination.

History offers some clues about why the Oscars plumped for her. The Academy tends to go for serious performances over comedic, something that has often been noted by leading comedy figures and arguably put Robbie at a disadvantage.

It also helps explain why her co-star Ferrera was recognised in the supporting actress category. The former Ugly Betty actress delivers one of the film’s few serious moments – a rousing monologue about what it means to be a woman and the daily struggles they face.

Deadline’s Pete Hammond noted that Ferrera “was very visible on the campaign circuit where her knockout monologue – the film’s most serious moment – was prominently played”.

It’s also slightly easier to get a supporting nomination than it is a leading one – and arguably, in a year where there was no shortage of meaty roles for women, the five correct actresses were ultimately nominated.

Watch: Which films are the favourites for the Oscars?

Posting on X, one fan wrote: “[It’s] objectively funny that lead actresses from two excellent films in Anatomy of a Fall and Killers of the Flower Moon (as well as a female director for the former) were nominated, but because the two-hour advertisement for Mattel didn’t we have to pretend it’s some grand injustice.”

Gerwig’s predicted placement in the best director category had been similarly shaky. This was a highly competitive category this year, with stalwarts like Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan in the race.

Although Gerwig wasn’t nominated for best director in the end, she did make history by becoming the first woman to have directed three films that have been nominated for the top prize, best picture (Lady Bird, Little Women and Barbie).

Earlier this month, the Golden Globes cleverly got around the issue of how to recognise Barbie by introducing a new category recognising box office achievement – which ensured Gerwig and Robbie had at least one prize to accept on the night.

Other Oscars talking points

Justine Triet’s inclusion for Anatomy of a Fall meant the best director line-up was not all male

1. Slow ‘revolution’ for female directors

With Gerwig left off the best director shortlist, France’s Justine Triet, who made Anatomy of a Fall, was the only woman in that category this year – the eighth in Oscars history.

Speaking to BBC culture editor Katie Razzall afterwards about whether things were changing in the film industry, Triet said the past few years had been “the beginning of a huge revolution for women”.

She said: “I’m so proud to be in this category, of course. It means a lot for me. I’m 45, I’m not 20, so I lived in a world before, and now I can watch how things are changing for women.”

2. Saltburn gets burned by the Academy

There was no Oscars love for Saltburn, despite it becoming a cult hit, a social media sensation, and being recognised by other awards.

Emerald Fennell’s controversial film about a student who infiltrates a rich family was nominated by the Golden Globes, and last week received five Bafta nominations.

However, the Baftas are Saltburn’s home turf. It’s a British film, with a British director, starring largely British and Irish actors.

It seems the slightly more conservative voters in the US Academy, on the other hand, found the gross-out scenes involving bathtubs and graveyards a little too much too handle.

3. Golda and Maestro ‘Jewface’ controversy

Golda, starring Dame Helen Mirren, and Maestro were the subject of debates about Jewish representation on screen

Golda was not a big player at the Oscars, but it did show up in the category for best make-up and hairstyling.

This in itself is controversial. The film saw Dame Helen Mirren play Israeli prime minister Golda Meir – prompting a debate about a non-Jewish actress playing a Jewish role.

It was not the only film to be the subject of debate – Maestro prompted a similar row over Bradley Cooper’s appearance, which saw his nose made larger for his portrayal of Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein.

Author and broadcaster David Baddiel tweeted: “I see The Academy have shortlisted Golda and Maestro in the *Hair And Makeup* category. Literally: Oscar nominations for Jewface.”

4. A record for LGBT

Colman Domingo was recognised for his performance as Bayard Rustin

Colman Domingo’s best actor nomination for Rustin, and Jodie Foster’s best supporting actress nod for Nyad, made Oscars history.

It’s the first time two openly LGBT actors have been nominated for playing LGBT characters – Domingo for civil rights activist Bayard Rustin, and Foster for swimming coach Bonnie Stoll.

Previously, Sir Ian McKellen was the only nominee to fit into this bracket when he was recognised for his role in Gods and Monsters in 1998.

5. Will Lily Gladstone fulfil yearbook prediction?

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Another record that could be broken is Killers of the Flower Moon star Lily Gladstone becoming the first Native American actress to win an Oscar.

Gladstone plays a woman from an Osage tribe who are gradually murdered by white settlers in an attempt to make money from the oil on their land.

An old high school yearbook picture of Gladstone resurfaced in light of her nomination – revealing that she was voted “most likely to win an Oscar” by her classmates.

We certainly wouldn’t bet against her.

The Oscars will take place in Los Angeles on 10 March.

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