The films and filmmakers nominated for the 86th annual Academy Awards make up only half the story of Thursday's Oscar nominee announcement. There are also those left out of the Oscar consideration, despite rave reviews, box office success and months of intense campaigning. Here are five big surprises, and the Academy's possible reasoning in overlooking them.
1. Robert Redford for "All Is Lost."
Critics were calling Redford's mostly dialogue-less role the best performance of his career. Redford has also championed a number of Hollywood-friendly causes outside of acting, like his Sundance Institute and his environmentalism efforts, that helped peg him as an Academy favorite. But the Academy decided its best actor category could only make room for one storied, well-regarded old guy, and that was Bruce Dern of "Nebraska," who has only been nominated once before.
2. Oprah Winfrey for "The Butler."
The Academy's snub of Oprah wasn't a total surprise, considering she received the same treatment in the Golden Globes nominations. But even those who didn't love "The Butler" -- which was left out of Oscar nominations entirely -- raved about her riveting performance, and doesn't the Academy love to bring some big name stars to its show? Still, "The Butler" came out early on the awards show calendar and may have been too much of a crowd-pleaser for the Academy's refined tastes. They decided to include surprise nominee Sally Hawkins of "Blue Jasmine" instead, perhaps in part out of loyalty to its director Woody Allen.
3. "Saving Mr. Banks."
The Academy loves feel good movies about Hollywood (see previous best picture winners: "Argo," "The Artist") and this film, about the making of "Mary Poppins," was as feel-good and Hollywood-loving as it gets. It also featured beloved Hollywood icons Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. Critics weren't hot on it, but most still praised Thompson's performance. Her spot likely went to Meryl Streep, who is more or less always a lock for a nomination, even as her "August: Osage County" performance was widely panned. Not helping was that Streep, in a speech to present Thompson with a National Board of Review award, called attention to Walt Disney's anti-semitic, racist and sexist reputation, aspects of his legacy largely white-washed in the film.
"Blackfish," a documentary about the maltreatment of killer whales in captivity, has created a public relations nightmare for SeaWorld and thus bringing it the momentum to get it from the Oscar nomination shortlist to the finalized category. But Academy's tastes for best feature doc bent towards the international-minded, from the Egyptian revolution ("The Square") to President Obama's drone war ("Dirty Wars") to Indonesia death squads in the 1960s ("The Act of Killing").
5. The Coen brothers for "Inside Llewyn Davis."
It was always an uphill battle for Joel and Ethan Coen's love-it or hate-it little film about the 1960s folk scene, but star Oscar Isaac was really giving it his all, singing and charming his way through Oscar campaigning. It still scored noms for cinematography and sound mixing, but it was disqualified for the one it most deserved, best original song for its infectious tune "Please Mr. Kennedy" due to the copyright quirks of the Academy's definitions of the category.
Still, when compared to "Nebraska," another small, little-seen film that pulled off this year's biggest nomination upset, "Inside Llewyn Davis" made it to the top of far more best films of 2013 lists. But there's no denying the Academy's love for "Nebraska" director Alexander Payne, whose previous films "Election," "Sideways" and "The Descendents" have received Oscar attention. And perhaps New York Magazine critic Matt Zoller Seitz put it best, noting that the "Inside Llewyn Davis" snub fits right in line with the run of bad luck its titular protagonist meets in the film.