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'Wonder Boys,' 'Cast Away' among the snubs

Some films miss out on Oscar bounty

Michael Douglas did not receive nominations for his roles in "Wonder Boys," above, and "Traffic." "Wonder Boys" also was missing from the shortlist in the best film category  

February 15, 2001
Web posted at: 5:21 p.m. EST (2221 GMT)

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All over the board

Solace in history

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(CNN) -- For every "Gladiator," there was a "Wonder Boys."

"Gladiator" walked away the big winner in Academy Award nominations Tuesday, picking up 12 chances for the gold statuette, including nods for best picture, best actor and best director. But "Wonder Boys," despite favorable reviews and two different releases in 2000, only came up with three -- for screenplay adaptation, editing, and song (Bob Dylan's "Things Have Changed").

It could have been worse. "High Fidelity" came up with zero. So did "Chicken Run," "Best in Show" and "Thirteen Days" -- critics' favorites, all.

graphic Click here for fun facts about the Oscar nominations

Despite the best-laid plans of Hollywood insiders, you can rarely predict the Oscar nominations.

Several talked-about possibilities left the announcements ceremony empty-handed. "Chocolat" is this year's best picture nominee that directed itself, because director Lasse Hallstrom was left off the best director list. Cameron Crowe ("Almost Famous") was slighted in the best director category, as was Robert Zemeckis ("Cast Away") and Philip Kaufman ("Quills").

Others that finished just out of the running: actors Jamie Bell ("Billy Elliot"), Michael Douglas ("Wonder Boys" and "Traffic") and Sean Connery ("Finding Forrester"); actress Bjork ("Dancer in the Dark"); supporting actor Bruce Greenwood ("Thirteen Days"); and supporting actress Kate Winslet ("Quills").

"Almost Famous," Cameron Crowe's '70s coming-of-age film, was passed over for a best picture nomination  

And once again, the Golden Globe comedy categories meant nothing to the Oscar nominations. Golden Globe winners George Clooney ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?") and Renee Zellweger ("Nurse Betty") came up empty Tuesday.

All over the board

Oscar voters steered clear of some usual sure things. In the past, "prestige" pictures with epic pretensions or showy characters - say, "All the Pretty Horses," "Pay It Forward," "The Patriot" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance" -- could have expected nominations. This year, Oscar mostly stayed away, perhaps noting the lack of box office and critical plaudits for these films.

The Academy also gave a mixed report to independent and art films. "Pollock," a biography of artist Jackson Pollock that's seen only limited release, received nominations for best actor (Ed Harris) and best supporting actress (Marcia Gay Harden). Ellen Burstyn nabbed a nomination for "Requiem for a Dream," but that was it for that tough-minded flick about addicts and people on the edge. "Joe Gould's Secret," "Sunshine" and David Mamet's "State and Main" got nothing.

Perhaps most surprising to many observers was the lack of nominations for minority actors. Latinos Javier Bardem ("Before Night Falls") and Benicio Del Toro ("Traffic") were tapped, but African-Americans Rob Brown ("Finding Forrester") and Denzel Washington ("Remember the Titans") and Asian thespians Michelle Yeoh and Zhang Ziyi ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") did not make the Oscar cut.

Solace in history

Still, not being chosen by Oscar isn't the end of the world.

Marilyn Monroe never got a nomination. Films now recognized as classics, such as "Mean Streets" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," were ignored by the Academy in their times. And snubs often mean little at the box office -- Oscar hates comedies, but audiences love 'em.

So, about the only thing this year's Oscar nominations prove -- or, for that matter, almost any year's Oscar nominations prove -- is the old filmmaking dictum of screenwriter William Goldman: Nobody knows anything.

And let the arguments continue.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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