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19 Years Ago, Leonardo DiCaprio Landed An Oscar Nom And Paul Giamatti Didn’t. This Year, The Opposite Has Happened

 Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon, Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers.
Leonardo DiCaprio in Killers of the Flower Moon, Paul Giamatti in The Holdovers.

Oscar "snubs" have become the talk of the town this week following the announcement of the 2024 Academy Award nominations on Tuesday, January 23.  Movie fans—including, oddly, Stephen King—are irritated over those Barbie slights (including Greta Gerwig being oddly left out of the Best Director category), that total May December shutout (including Charles Melton's extraordinary supporting work), and the fact that presumed Best Actor frontrunner Leonardo DiCaprio completely missed in that category.

Instead, this year's Best Actor's race seems to be an ironic switcheroo from the 2005 Oscars, when one of Paul Giamatti's most acclaimed performances was snubbed in favor of other nominees, including DiCaprio. Now, Leo's MIA in the Best Actor category, but Giamatti is in for his role as strict boarding-school teacher in Alexander Payne's The Holdovers.

DiCaprio, who reunited with his frequent collaborate Martin Scorsese for the haunting historical drama Killers of the Flower Moon, was thought to be an Oscar shoo-in for his role as Ernest Burkhart. Many cinephiles even predicted that the trophy would be a battle between Leo and his Inception co-star Cillian Murphy, who leads Oppenheimer as the titular "father of the atom bomb." Instead—in a category that also includes Maestro's Bradley Cooper, Rustin's Colman Domingo and American Fiction's Jeffrey Wright—it's looking like Murphy's main opponent come Oscar night will be Giamatti.

It's a change of luck for Giamatti who 19 years ago, after winning at the Independent Spirit Awards and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, was shockingly passed over for a Best Actor nomination at the Oscars for his critically acclaimed work in yet another Payne collaboration: the wistful, wine-sloshed drama Sideways. (The actor would receive a Supporting Actor nod for Cinderella Man a year later.)

The category lineup included Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland), Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby), eventual winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) and, yes, Leonardo Dicaprio for The Aviator. At the time, Giamatti was cheeky about the Sideways snub, self-deprecatingly telling The New York Post in 2006:

It’s a wonderful thing when these things happen.

However, the actor was seemingly more earnest about the possibility of a nomination this time around. Giamatti told The Associated Press back in December:

That would be lovely if it happened. I’m not counting on anything. But for the first time, I do feel like putting myself behind it because I’d like it to get acknowledged in some way. Whether it’s me or not, that’s fine. If the movie does, if (Randolph) does, if Hemingson does or Alexander does — it’d be great if somebody does.

That possibility became reality on Tuesday, with not only Giamatti scoring a nomination for The Holdovers but also his co-star Da’Vine Joy Randolph (for Best Supporting Actress), writer David Hemingson (Original Screenplay), editor Kevin Tent (Film Editing) and the film itself for Best Picture. You can catch Giamatti's now Oscar-nominated performance by streaming The Holdovers with a Peacock subscription.

And though, sadly, Leonardo DiCaprio didn't get individual recognition this year, the Killers of the Flower Moon crew has plenty of reasons to celebrate: the film received a whopping 10 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actress for Lily Gladstone, Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro and Best Director for Martin Scorsese. See for yourself if you think Leo deserved that Oscar snubbing by tuning into Killers of the Flower Moon, now available to view with an Apple TV+ subscription.