All awards shows can be problematic. The Oscars, the Emmys, the Tonys… no matter what the medium, the politics involved often determine who gets nominated and who wins more than the art itself. It’s true that the Tonys usually aren’t quite as bad as, say, the Oscars can be, largely because Broadway is a little more of a niche world than Hollywood; but snubs still happen, though, and this year, there are some pretty spectacular ones in terms of high-profile celebrities getting zilch for their efforts.
It’s possible that this may be a reaction to last year’s awards, which were unusually full of traditionally non-theatrical celebrities: Scarlett Johansson won Best Featured Actress in a Play and Catherine Zeta-Jones won Best Actress in a Musical. Many felt these awards were undeserved, though, and to add to the problem, the Best Actor in a Play category was full of Big Names (really spectacularly talented Names, but Names none the less): Denzel Washington won for Fences, and the other nominees were Jude Law (Hamlet), Alfred Molina (Red), Liev Schreiber (A View from the Bridge) and Christopher Walken (A Behanding in Spokane). Naturally, there was a lot of backlash about this glut of stars, in spite of the fact that all those Best Actor nominees are also established theatre actors. Subsequently, this year, there’s a noticeable lack of movie stars in the nominations. Some of the exclusions make sense, as reports on their performances are less than stellar, and competition was particularly fierce in the regular Play categories; but some of them seem a little like they’re bearing the brunt of last year’s issues, which sort of sucks for them. Here are the five biggest acting award snubs in this year’s Tony Awards: