Oprah Winfrey might be more internationally famous than any of the actors who received Golden Globe nominations on Thursday, but her critically acclaimed turn in "The Butler" wasn't enough to earn her Globes recognition.
In the film Winfrey plays Gloria Gaines, wife of White House butler Cecil Gaines; she received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for the part on Wednesday.
"She certainly made my own list," said Kofi Outlaw, editor-in-chief of ScreenRant.com. "Not only was her work in 'The Butler' good on its own merits, it was a reminder that Oprah is a highly skilled actress, capable of shedding her own celebrity persona in order to deliver a convincing and moving character performance."
The Golden Globes, presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, have a reputation for going for more offbeat nominees than the Oscars, so Oprah's inclusion seemed like a good bet, especially after her SAG nomination. Her ultimate omission surprised plenty of critics.
"The (Hollywood Foreign Press Association) has always adored star power, overlooking notable award-worthy work in favor of getting the biggest stars and most recognized faces to attend their showcase," film critic Sara Michelle Fetters of MovieFreak.com told TODAY. "With that in mind, Oprah should have been a no-brainer, her presence probably a guarantee of extra coverage (and maybe a ratings point or two) that potentially wouldn't be there without her."
Laremy Legel, who writes for Film.com and RopeOfSilicon.com, agreed. "It would be considered a snub if the Golden Globes had huge credibility, he said, recalling an infamous Globe misstep from 2010. "Johnny Depp nominated for 'The Tourist', what?"
But since vote totals aren't revealed, not everyone felt Winfrey's absence was a big deal.
"The whole 'snub' thing always smacks of conspiracy when, for the most part, awards are decided by individuals voting their preferences without collusion," said Alonso Duralde, film critic for The Wrap. "And for all we know, she came in sixth place at just one vote behind whoever came in fifth."
But many critics have high hopes for Winfrey's name to resurface when Academy Award nominations are announced Jan. 16.
"The Academy gave Oprah an honorary Oscar last year (for her philanthropy), so that's clearly a group where she has support," Duralde said.
Legel agreed. "Oprah can fully expect a nomination come Oscar time, likely in place of Sally Hawkins from 'Blue Jasmine.'" he said. "Why the confidence? Because the Academy is far too savvy to leave a pop culture icon like Oprah waiting at the altar. She probably can't win, but that nomination is all but assured."
First published December 12 2013, 12:16 PM