2016 Oscar Nominations

Here we are once again with the 2016 Oscar nominations and while I attempt to limit any coverage of the awards season hoopla (simply because there are so many to cover and too little to care about) the Academy Awards are obviously the biggest show of the season and so it was with great anticipation I awaited this morning’s announcements. My initial reactions are that of being generally pleased. I’m happy to see The Big Short get a lot of love (mainly Adam McKay’s Best Director nod) while also somewhat taken aback by the lack of love for Steve Jobs (especially in the lack of an adapted screenplay nom for Aaron Sorkin). There are no glaring admissions this year as there was with Selma in 2015, but many have already started complaining that once again the actor’s race is completely whitewashed. Out of twenty nominations not a single person up for an award is not Caucasian. The admission of the likes of Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation, Will Smith for Concussion, and both Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler for their work on Creed are being called out, but as awards analyst Sasha Stone reminds us, “Chris Rock is the host so I'm pretty sure he'll get them where they live.” The Revenant starring Leonardo DiCaprio (who will undoubtedly win Best Actor this year) and directed by last years Best Director/Best Picture winner Alejandro González Iñárritu leads the pack with twelve nominations, followed closely by Mad Max: Fury Road with ten then The Martian with seven (with director Ridley Scott strangely omitted from the Best Director list) and Spotlight with six. For further analysis as well as my thoughts on this morning’s announcements hit the jump.

Notable snubs include the aforementioned absence of Ridley Scott in the directing category who, prior to this seemed like a shoe-in. Instead of Scott, Room director Lenny Abrahamson made the cut as did McKay who I had being left out in my predictions in favor of Todd Haynes for Carol. Speaking of Carol, the Cate Blanchett starrer garnered a solid six nominations, but was shut out of both the Best Picture and Best Director categories. Blanchett and her co-star Rooney Mara were honored with acting nominations while Phyllis Nagy also received a nod for her adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel. The surprising nod for the film came in the Original Score category as I expected both Inside Out and Spotlight to garner noms. Carol’s other two nominations came in the form of Cinematography and Costume Design (Sandy Powell was nominated in this category for both Carol and Cinderella both of which starred Blanchett).

While I’m not as big on Mad Max: Fury Road as everyone else it is refreshing to see an unabashed action blockbuster make the Best Picture list and almost more gratifying to see its director, seventy year-old George Miller, get nominated for his work as well. While I don’t think anyone expects the film to pick up any wins outside of the technical categories it was nominated in I would have loved to have seen Charlize Theron get an acting nomination over, say, JLaw. That said, I don’t think Lawrence’s nomination for Joy is undeserved despite it receiving mixed reviews and it being the only nomination for the film. Not that it matters as, unless the climate really shifts in the next month, Brie Larson has the Best Actress category as locked down as DiCaprio does Best Actor. It is in the supporting categories that things get interesting. With Creed’s only nomination coming in the form of Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor it is his to lose as far as I’m concerned. While it is nice to see Tom Hardy recognized in some fashion with this supporting actor nod being his first and him starring in the two films that lead the nominations this year I’m slightly bummed that both Michael Keaton and Steve Carell were left out (though they could have given either of them the honor in Best Actor over Bryan Cranston for Trumbo). None of this matters though as Stallone’s biggest competition is Bridge of Spies’ Mark Rylance who is arguably the better actor, but Stallone is the bigger name with a fan base that will be rooting for him. I must admit, I am.

It is the Supporting Actress category that isn’t nearly as clear cut as the rest of the major fields. I was happy to have called Rachel McAdams getting a nod for her work in Spotlight as it is my personal pick for the best film of the year, but I don’t think she stands a chance in hell of winning. If I were to pick a winner today I would go with either Rooney Mara or Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. Alicia Vikander has had a wonderful year with both The Danish Girl and Ex Machina (woot woot on the Best Original Screenplay for Alex Garland) as well as the underrated The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and she could end up being the dark horse of this category, but Kate Winslet is also an Academy favorite and she’s already won the Golden Globe. Still, it is Mara who holds Carol’s emotional core together and it is Leigh’s performance in Tarantino’s latest that is being talked about most. Ultimately, I’d put my money on Leigh if I had to call it right now. Speaking of Quentin Tarantino the guy was shut out of the Best Original Screenplay category in favor of Garland’s nod which I’m really okay with given I liked Ex Machina more than Hateful Eight, but it is in this category that Straight Outta Compton also received its only nomination and for four white screenwriters nonetheless. Despite knowing none of the actors nor director F. Gary Gray would get a nod for Compton I was really rooting for it in the expanded Best Picture field, but alas no such luck.

I was happy to see films like Ex Machina, Sicario, and even Star Wars get a few mentions in the technical categories, but in talking about the Best Picture field I’m also really happy that some of my favorite films of the year such as Brooklyn and The Big Short were given recognition not only in this major category, but in many of the other highbrow categories including adapted screenplay and both Saoirse Ronan and Christian Bale in the acting categories. While I enjoyed both The Martian and Bridge of Spies well enough (both fine films from seasoned professionals) I don’t know that they warranted the attention they were given here. Documentary Feature and Animated Feature more or less played out without surprise with the notable exclusions of both The Peanuts Movie and The Good Dinosaur in the Animated field, but it is the Best Picture category that might end up being the most interesting of the year and certainly dictating the directing winner. Given the sum total of the votes it seems the Academy is keen to both The Big Short and Spotlight with those being my picks as of right now for the two front-runners with either of their respective directors potentially winning as well. But then again, The Revenant could sweep the whole thing and give Iñárritu his second consecutive Best Picture/Best Director wins. One thing is for certain about Revenant though, and that is that it will garner cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki his third consecutive win in the category.

Check out the full list of nominees below and catch the broadcast on February 28th at 7 p.m. Eastern on ABC hosted by Chris Rock.

Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards

Best Picture

The Revenant 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 
The Big Short  
Bridge of Spies

Best Director

Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road
Adam McKay (The Big Short
Lenny Abrahamson (Room

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant
Matt Damon (The Martian
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Supporting Actor 

Sylvester Stallone (Creed
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies
Christian Bale (The Big Short
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight
Tom Hardy (The Revenant

Best Actress

Brie Larson (Room
Cate Blanchett (Carol
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara (Carol
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight

Best Animated Feature

Inside Out 
Boy and the World 
Shaun the Sheep Movie 
When Marnie was There


Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant
John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road
Dariusz Wolski (The Martian
Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight
Roger Deakins (Sicario)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Drew Goddard (The Martian
Phyllis Nagy (Carol
Emma Donoghue (Room
Nick Hornby (Brooklyn
Adam McKay & Charles Randolph (The Big Short

Best Original Screenplay

Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight
Alex Garland (Ex Machina 
Meg LeFauve, Pete Docter, & Josh Cooley (Inside Out
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen (Bridge of Spies
Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton

Best Documentary Feature

The Look of Silence 
What Happened, Miss Simone? 
Cartel Land
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

Film Editing

Tom McArdle (Spotlight
Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road
Hank Corwin (The Big Short
Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant
Mary Jo Markey & Maryann Brandon (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Best Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul 
A War
Embrace the Serpent

Best Original Score

Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight
John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Carter Burwell (Carol
Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies
Johann Johannsson (Sicario

Best Original Song

"Writings on the Wall" from SPECTRE 
"Manta Ray" from Racing Extinction 
"Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey 
"Simple Song 3" from Youth 
"Til It Happens to You" from The Hunting Ground 

Sound Mixing

The Revenant 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
The Martian 
Bridge of Spies 

Sound Editing

The Martian 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Production Design

Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant
Bridge of Spies 
The Danish Girl 
The Martian

Visual Effects

Mad Max: Fury Road 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
The Martian 
The Revenant 
Ex Machina


Sandy Powell (Carol
Sandy Powell (Cinderella
Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road
Paco Delgado (The Danish Girl
Jacque (The Revenant

Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant 
The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared

Best Documentary Short Subject

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah 
Body Team 12 
Last Day of Freedom
Chau, Beyond the Lines 
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Best Short Film (Animated)

Sanjays Super Team 
Bear Story 
We Can't Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Best Short Film (Live Action)

Everything Will Be Okay 
Day One 
Ave Maria

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