"Kristin Scott-Thomas, unlike Maggie Smith, was widely tipped for a nomination that year. So was Sally Hawkins, who'd won the Golden Globe."
She was widely tipped by CRITICS, who wanted her to get a nod, but not the Academy. She was not in a mainstream film. Even Oscar prognosticators on the net cheerfully admit that Oscar voters don't watch all buzzworthy movies, not by a long shot, even if you send each and every one of them the DVD.
I'm not saying anything the likes of Pete Hammond and Tom O'Neil, whose job is to keep track of the ins and outs of showbiz awards, haven't said for years. Hammond and O'Neil have even said (remember these guys informally poll AMPAS members all the time) that voters often don't even watch all the nominated movies before casting their vote. They KNOW this because the people ADMIT it to their face.
It's a FACT, Streep Troll. It's not my OPINION the Academy skips tons of movies every year, it's a fact. Sure, there's the odd voter who practices due diligence, but why do you think there's so much campaigning going on? Because they don't pay attention to your movie if you're not properly campaigned.
It's not an ACCIDENT, a strange COINCIDENCE, Kristen Scott Thomas' only nom is for THE ENGLISH PATIENT. They like mainstream movies with mainstream subject matter. That's their preference. The very rare exception, like Hilary Swank in BOYS DON'T CRY, is the exception that proves the rule.
"EVERY TIME the Academy picked Meryl over other performances with buzz."
False. There's a difference between the buzz for KST in TEP and the buzz for KST in ILYSL. It's not like the movie got any other noms and KST was left off. A bunch of critics pushing a movie means nothing in itself without an effective campaign.
For example, there was no buzz whatsoever and no push on the part of most critics to get Demian Bishir a nom for A BETTER LIFE. But the studio was on the ball, they knew they had Academy-friendly fare on their hands, they got DVD screeners out to SAG and the Academy way early, long before anyone else, and they also sent Bishir out constantly to meet n' greets, cocktail parties, private screenings. That's how it's done. A brilliant campaign, and it worked. No campaign, no nom for Bishir.
The way you can tell the difference is if the movie is widely nominated but is passed over for a performance. Like TITANIC was nominated in all these other major categories but they still snubbed DiCaprio. That's different from Scott Thomas and Maggie Smith because everyone saw the movie but they just didn't like his performance enough. DiCaprio in TITANIC is a conscious choice to take a pass. But DiCaprio in TOTAL ECLIPSE or THE BASKETBALL DIARIES not being nominated means nothing. The movies weren't even seen by enough members to make a choice to nominate or not nominate.
"My argument stands: if Meryl was so incompetent and such an obvious ham, then she wouldn't have been nominated SEVENTEEN TIMES."
Why the hell not? The actors' branch isn't simply the cream of the profession, it includes everyone from Rosie O'Donnell to Erik Estrada. Woody Allen isn't an Academy member, Meat Loaf is. (I'm not even joking.)
Emma Thompson once appeared on OPRAH and revealed her picks for that year, and she started squirming in her seat and apologizing as she quickly realized how few of the nominated films she'd seen before casting her ballot. When being quizzed she kept saying, "Oh I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I voted for Ang, I really think Ang deserves to win," for BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. But she admitted, shame-facedly, that she hadn't seen all Ang's competitors' work! But she just likes Ang so much, he directed SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (for which she won a Screenplay Oscar), so she wanted him to win, and she voted for him.
That happens all the time. Friends vote for friends, enemies snub enemies. It's far from the pure, hohest process you naively believe in.