Every year, the Academy Awards (also known as the Oscars) honor the best films and performances in the film industry and are one of the most prominent awards, especially for English-language films. However, not every film that is released is fortunate enough to receive a nomination or win an award. There are countless films throughout history that have been snubbed by the Academy, not receiving a single nomination, let alone winning an award. These films may be underrated, overlooked, or simply not resonate with the Academy voters, but they still hold a place in cinema history, with some even surpassing the winners over time. This list will be focused on both the non-nominated films as well as films that won zero Oscars but still managed to make an impact due to their display of cinematic brilliance, with some of them surpassing some of the winners in the 2023 Oscars. Here are some great 2022 films that were left empty-handed at the Oscars:
The Banshees Of Inisherin (2022)
After receiving nine nominations, “The Banshees of Inisherin” (2022) went home empty-handed at the Oscars. However, this Martin McDonagh directorial is undoubtedly one of the best films of 2022. The film revolves around the peculiar and poignant story of two friends, one of whom abruptly ends their friendship, leading to an oddly comical yet profoundly affecting narrative that showcases some of the most memorable characters of the year. The excellent writing of each character is brilliantly brought to life by the cast, and McDonagh’s meditative approach enhances the film’s internalized emotions, which delve into themes of loneliness, meaning, and morality while also serving as a smart commentary on the damage caused by war. In addition, “The Banshees of Inisherin” (2022) boasts some of the best acting performances of 2022, including Kerry Condon, who was unfortunately overlooked for Best Supporting Actress, as well as the actors Barry Keoghan and Brendon Gleeson. Finally, it is worth mentioning the brilliant Colin Farrell, who stands out and delivers his career-best performance through his portrayal of Pádraic. A special heart-warming mention should also be given to Jenny, Pádraic’s best friend, whose presence makes for some of the most heartfelt moments in cinema in 2022.
“Aftersun” (2022) is probably the best English-language film of 2022, which surprisingly received almost no nominations except for the one shocking but also deserved acknowledgment of lead actor Paul Mescal. Furthermore, in a year that saw no female nominees in the Best Director category, Charlotte Wells definitely deserved a nod for this brilliantly melancholic film. Her use of cinematic grammar is brilliant, through an approach that may look simple on the surface but is filled with both textual and emotional complexities by exploring memories and the inner aspects of people. This is a moving film that is a brilliant character study through lived experiences with a great sense of empathy, and it is magnificently orchestrated by Wells. The performances are top-notch, giving the film an emotional core that makes it very relatable and hits hard on both the cinematic and emotional notes.
“Tar” (2022) is definitely among the best films of 2022 and probably the best among the fellow nominees, yet it came home empty-handed even after receiving six nominations. Todd Field has been exceptional in his execution of the film, with his approach to the character, his creation of the massively engrossing environment, and his ability to transport the audience into this fictitious maddening world of Lydia Tár with a sense of raw energy associated with it. This is also one of the most powerful films of recent times, which is such a damn good example of filmmaking and the feats cinema can achieve that even a fictitious character like Lydia Tár feels like a properly fleshed-out character pulled from reality, hence fooling some people into believing it to be a biopic. This is further due to the brilliance of acting displayed by the always magnificent Cate Blanchett (who definitely deserved an Oscar) with her handling of the titular character, with a pitch-perfect showcase of everything from dialogue delivery to adapting the body language and making the character so believable that it even makes one forget that this is a film and not reality panning out in front of them.
Jordan Peele, previously known for his comedic talents, has risen to become one of the most exciting and interesting voices in filmmaking in recent times, particularly for his unique approach to the horror genre. While his previous two films, “Get Out” (2017) and “Us” (2019), were relatively small-budget films set in internal places like confined houses and closed spaces, “Nope” (2022) marks a shift, especially in the scale on which he paints his cinematic canvas. The brilliant Hoyte Van Hoytema shoots the film on IMAX cameras, enhancing its visual impact. Furthermore, the film boasts a refreshing and intelligent screenplay that, aided by Peele’s craftsmanship, blends the genres of science fiction and horror while maintaining the cinematic language of blockbuster filmmaking. It simultaneously acts as a self-reflective commentary on these genres and on human desires to watch spectacles. “Nope” (2022) subtly explores themes of racism and discrimination faced in the US, shedding light on the historical ignorant behavior directed towards people of color in the country.
Decision To Leave (2022)
This film marks the return of one of the stalwarts of Korean cinema as well as one of the finest voices in contemporary cinema worldwide: Park Chan-wook. In “Decision to Leave” (2022), the director shifts gears, and while some of his typical stylistic elements, such as the strong use of on-screen violence and sexual imagery, are missing, it still manages to be a sensual and violent film that brilliantly plays with the generic tropes of noir cinema. These elements are portrayed from an internal perspective rather than an external one, creating a film filled with an immense amount of intensity and enchanting energy. Additionally, the leads, Tang Wei and Haeil Park deliver some of the finest acting showcases of 2022, resulting in mesmerizing on-screen chemistry that perfectly sets the highly deceptive yet sensual tone of the film. “Decision to Leave” (2022) is a further testament to Park Chan-wook’s impressive command of the cinematic medium, a perfect mystery romantic thriller that shockingly got snubbed in this year’s Oscars.
Ti West has become quite the directorial discovery of 2022, with his back-to-back releases of two films, “X” (2022) and its prequel, “Pearl” (2022), within a span of just a few months. Although it is quite rare to see, Ti West manages to shoot both films simultaneously, with the later released prequel “Pearl” (2022) even managing to surpass “X” (2022), although the latter is another brilliant film with an exciting homage to the 1974 film “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” “Pearl” (2022) displays a love for cinema that many recent films seem to miss, and it is a pure joy to watch. It brilliantly plays with various generic tropes and uses cinematic language exceptionally, utilizing the bright and colorful setting to set the horror of the film, making it look like a slasher-horror but in the world of “Wizard of Oz” (1939). Furthermore, it would be a crime not to mention Mia Goth, who delivers an outstanding portrayal of the titular character Pearl, a tremendous acting feat that is definitely among the best not only of 2022 but arguably the best in recent memory. The Academy should be sued for not nominating her (well, maybe not really), which showcases the bias the Oscars have historically had against genre films, especially those of the horror genre.
Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood (2022)
This year saw some major animated films from well-known filmmakers, such as Guillermo del Toro and Richard Linklater, who are generally known for their non-animated works. Although the Best Animated Film was deservingly won by the brilliant “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio,” this Linklater film was on par with the winner and deserved a nod for his unique and refreshing take on the moon landing from a fictitious account from a 10-year-old’s perspective. “Apollo 10 1⁄2: A Space Age Childhood” (2022) is perfect for capturing the essence and innocence of childhood while also reflecting upon a period in American history that faced both hope and devastation for the future. Linklater’s positive and unadulterated lens perfectly evokes a sense of positivity and is among the most underrated films of 2022, showcasing an impressive use of animation to further etch out the fantastical elements and blend them seamlessly with reality.
Although the Oscars primarily focus on English-language films, hence it is quite common for them to overlook foreign films, with just a separate category dedicated to them. Therefore, it becomes challenging for films like “Joyland” (2022) to receive nominations. However, this film truly deserves attention from all film fans due to its evocative and subtle drama that revolves around a tender love story. Director Saim Sadiq brilliantly explores themes of gender and identity in a patriarchal society while also delving into the nooks and crannies of the cinematic environment set in Lahore. The film excels in all technical aspects, from cinematography to editing, and features magical performances from a talented ensemble of actors.
Although the Oscars may be one of the most prestigious awards in the film industry, not all great films get recognized. The abovementioned list of films is a testament to that. Furthermore, throughout the history of cinema, there have been many examples of films that aged well, even after being completely snubbed by The Academy. Hence, these films may have been overlooked or snubbed by the Oscars, but they still hold a place in cinema history that can only be further decided by how they age with time. Other than the abovementioned list, here are some Special Mentions: “The Batman” (2022), “The Northman” (2022), “The Fabelmans” (2022), “Living” (2022), and “Babylon” (2022).