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Why Didn’t Steven Spielberg Get an Oscar Nomination for ‘The Post’?

With 17 Oscar nominations — seven of them for directing — and 3 wins (4, counting the honorary Oscar he won in 1987), Mr. Spielberg has rarely been overlooked through the academy.

But, in conjunction with “Jaws,” his movies “The Color Purple” (which landed 11 Oscar nominations), “War Horse,” “Bridge of Spies” and now “The Post” all secured Academy Award nominations for easiest image however no longer for their director.

Explanations for the newest snub abound. Some movie professionals see in it echoes of the fraught dating, curdled through jealousy, that first sprang up between the academy and Mr. Spielberg across the time of “Jaws.”

“Coldhearted academy members can think, ‘Here’s the one thing we can deny the man who has everything,’” mentioned Tom O’Neil, founding father of the awards forecasting website Gold Derby. “He’s penalized for being good. They have to punch a hole in him somehow.”

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Mr. Spielberg and his digital camera staff at the set of “Jaws.” At the time the director mentioned the movie used to be snubbed on the Oscars as a result of its standing as a field workplace wreck.

Credit
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Others say that “The Post” feels too just like a standard Oscar film from once more, a trademark of an established order that, funnily sufficient, resisted accepting Mr. Spielberg within the first position.

“Is it the long-term enmity showing itself again? He’s not a kid. He’s a gray eminence by now,” mentioned Lester D. Friedman, emeritus professor of cinema at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the writer of “Citizen Spielberg,” which examines the filmmaker’s profession. “I just think it hit the wrong note in the wrong historical period.”

Others dispute that it’s a snub in any respect. When the academy expanded its easiest image pool to as much as 10 nominees in 2009, it saved the most efficient director class restricted to 5. The exclusion of a couple of administrators is inevitable once a year, together with this one, when there have been 9 easiest image nominees.

“Had there been nine directors nominated, there’s not a chance in my mind that he wouldn’t have been there,” mentioned Sid Ganis, a manufacturer and a previous president of the academy. “What some call snubs and others call craters sometimes just happen that way.”

While “The Post” arrived overdue within the season, it had all the outward marks of a runaway awards winner. It starred Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee, and informed a bigger tale — of a paranoid president, Richard M. Nixon, who fought the click and attempted to stay state secrets and techniques from the general public — that had transparent resonance lately.

Critics met the movie warmly, and Seth Meyers made a gag of its starry would possibly right through his opening monologue on the Golden Globes in January, introducing it as a lady got here onstage with an armful of trophies. “No, not yet, we have to wait,” Mr. Meyers mentioned, to guffaws. But “The Post,” which used to be up for six Globes, went house empty-handed, and, weeks later, scooped up simply two Oscar nominations (the second one went to Ms. Streep).

In some perspectives, its failure to achieve a lot awards traction is an indicator of a transferring Oscars panorama, the place “Moonlight,” a small impartial movie with an all-black forged, gained easiest image over the white-on-white spectacle of “La La Land.”

Mr. Friedman mentioned on this awards season particularly, one prominent through underdog tales and variety in “Lady Bird,” “Get Out” and different photos, “The Post” felt misplaced. For all of its vital messaging, it stays an overly white, very upper-middle-class movie. “This isn’t the year for a middle-of-the-road Hollywood drama,” he mentioned.

Still, others observing the Oscar sport really feel that Mr. Spielberg stays a person whose abilities are taken for granted through many academy participants, and whose present paintings invariably competes with the prime bar he set for himself with “Schindler’s List” (1993), his multiple-Oscar-winning drama.

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Meryl Streep in “The Post.” She won her 21st Oscar nomination for the efficiency.

Credit
Niko Tavernise/20th Century Fox

Joseph McBride, a movie professor at San Francisco State University and the writer of “Steven Spielberg: A Biography,” mentioned that whilst he regarded as “The Post” a improper, run-of-the-mill movie that informed “a liberal fairy tale about how we have a free press,” it nonetheless confirmed that as a director, Mr. Spielberg used to be “a master of his craft.”

“He has been around so long and has been so honored (since some but not all of the hatred of him has lessened in Hollywood and elsewhere) that he may be seen as somewhat old-hat and his skills assumed rather than honored,” Mr. McBride wrote in a follow-up e mail.

Early aversion to Mr. Spielberg used to be rooted within the filmmaker’s field workplace successes, one thing Mr. Spielberg spoke to within the “Jaws” snub clip. “This is called commercial backlash,” his younger self mentioned to the digital camera, “When a movie makes some huge cash, other folks resent it. Everybody loves a winner. But no one loves a winner,” he added a bit of later, emphasizing the ultimate.

For some time, Mr. Friedman mentioned, Mr. Spielberg used to be noticed as “a lightweight, a great B director of action films,” churning out one hit after every other. In his e book, Mr. McBride quoted the movie critic Pauline Kael, who counted some of the many observers who blamed Mr. Spielberg for Hollywood’s so-called blockbuster syndrome, and groused, “Everyone else has imitated his fantasies, and the result is the infantilization of culture.”

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” all landed easiest director nods, however couldn’t land Mr. Spielberg the win. “Jealousy has haunted Spielberg throughout his career,” Mr. O’Neil mentioned. “And he’s paid his price at the Oscars too many times.”

When Mr. Spielberg switched to extra severe fare, like “The Color Purple” (1985), he drew essential opprobrium that endures — a 2014 Los Angeles Magazine article lamented its “Disneyfication of race in America.” “Empire of the Sun,” launched two years after “Purple,” has since gained extra critics over. Still, on the time, Mr. Spielberg used to be incessantly noticed as a showman who had no position tackling giant topics and, Mr. Friedman mentioned, become “the New York Yankees of film production.”

“They hated him as everyone hated the Yankees, or the New England Patriots,” Mr. Friedman mentioned. “He had the biggest budgets, the biggest stars, the biggest profits.”

With “Schindler’s List,” Mr. Spielberg in any case gained his first directing Oscar. “They could not deny it to him,” Mr. O’Neil mentioned. He additionally accrued easiest director 5 years later for “Saving Private Ryan.” And in including “Lincoln” and “The Post” to his oeuvre, Mr. Friedman mentioned, “he seems to have evolved into our national history teacher” (quibbles in regards to the movies’ historic accuracy apart).

For what it’s value, no longer everybody, no less than publicly, concurs that there’s lingering jealousy. Mr. Ganis mentioned Mr. Spielberg used to be regarded as “one of the best, and iconic in his ways.” The proven fact that he made “The Post” whilst completing every other film — “Ready Player One” — Mr. Ganis mentioned, made fellow filmmakers “scratch our heads, and wonder how he does what he does, and how it comes out so good.”

For his section, Mr. Spielberg, who's in postproduction with “Ready Player One,” wouldn’t be offering an clarification for his newest no-show at the administrators listing. “It’s not for me to say because I respect my fellow directors, producers and their academy branches,” he wrote by the use of e mail.

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