Oscars 2016: The Year Of Little Surprises

That’s right, in a surprise to absolutely no one, this year’s nominations for the Oscars are essentially the same eight films as the previous awards we’ve talked about in the last week (DGAs, SOC Awards, Golden Globes, etc.). There are still a few quizzical things about this year’s nominees however, so let’s discuss.

First off, the major nominees are:

Best Picture
  • The Big Short – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner
  • Bridge of Spies – Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, and Kristie Macosko Krieger
  • Brooklyn – Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey
  • Mad Max: Fury Road – Doug Mitchell and George Miller
  • The Martian – Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam
  • The Revenant – Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon
  • Room – Ed Guiney
  • Spotlight – Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust
Best Director
  • Lenny AbrahamsonRoom
  • Alejandro G. IñárrituThe Revenant
  • Tom McCarthySpotlight
  • Adam McKayThe Big Short
  • George MillerMad Max: Fury Road
Best Actor
  • Bryan CranstonTrumbo as Dalton Trumbo
  • Matt DamonThe Martian as Mark Watney
  • Leonardo DiCaprioThe Revenant as Hugh Glass
  • Michael FassbenderSteve Jobs as Steve Jobs
  • Eddie RedmayneThe Danish Girl as Lili Elbe / Einar Wegener
Best Actress
  • Cate BlanchettCarol as Carol Aird
  • Brie LarsonRoom as Joy “Ma” Newsome
  • Jennifer LawrenceJoy as Joy Mangano
  • Charlotte Rampling45 Years as Kate Mercer
  • Saoirse RonanBrooklyn as Eilis Lacey
Best Supporting Actor
  • Christian BaleThe Big Short as Michael Burry
  • Tom HardyThe Revenant as John Fitzgerald
  • Mark RuffaloSpotlight as Michael Rezendes
  • Mark RylanceBridge of Spies as Rudolf Abel
  • Sylvester StalloneCreed as Rocky Balboa
Best Supporting Actress
  • Jennifer Jason LeighThe Hateful Eight as Daisy Domergue
  • Rooney MaraCarol as Therese Belivet
  • Rachel McAdamsSpotlight as Sacha Pfeiffer
  • Alicia VikanderThe Danish Girl as Gerda Wegener
  • Kate WinsletSteve Jobs as Joanna Hoffman
Best Original Screenplay
  • Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
  • Ex Machina – Alex Garland
  • Inside Out – Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmen, Pete Docter and Meg LeFauve
  • Spotlight – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
  • Straight Outta Compton – Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus
Best Adapted Screenplay
  • The Big Short – Adam McKay and Charles Randolph from The Big Short by Michael Lewis
  • Brooklyn – Nick Hornby from Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
  • Carol – Phyllis Nagy from The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
  • The Martian – Drew Goddard from The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Room – Emma Donoghue from Room by Emma Donoghue

Now, as stated above, much of these nominations are heald by the same movies that have been receiving nominations. However, there is one big glaring let down for me that I feel should have been elevated this awards season: Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the movie itself may have been a bit divisive among fans as to its quality, no one can deny that Harrison Ford turned in a stellar performance as a returning Han Solo. It really would have been nice to see him net a Best Actor nomination at least. Considering the luke warm reaction to Steve Jobs as a whole, I’m surprised at the sudden surge of praise it’s received this awards season. And I’m sure Eddie Redmayne’s performance in The Danish Girl is brilliant, as he generally is, but those are the only two I could see dropped in favor of Ford.

Perhaps The Force Awakens‘ breakout star, Daisy Ridley, is actually the biggest snub to me. Everyone who saw the movie, regardless of their feelings for it, were in love with her character, Rey. Not because she was some gorgeous, sex-pot, action hero, femme fatale, but because Daisy Ridley’s performance sold us this very real, very strong and very troubled young girl that we all felt for. Her performance was stunning and I doubt it will be her last, but it’s still a shame she was left un-nominated. To a certain extent you could say the same of John Boyega’s Finn and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, but it’s Ridley’s lack of nomination that hurts the most.

I’ll wrap up the Star Wars complaints with this: Best Picture and Best Director. Now, this is probably a divisive statement, and had The Academy not reduced their Best Picture nominees from 10 to 8 this year (an active choice by Academy voters as I understand it), perhaps it would have made the cut. But to many, this was the Star Wars that was going to break the Oscar barrier (again that is, as the original Star Wars was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, winning 6) beyond the technical categories (which of course it’s nominated 5 times over), and show us that Sci-Fi can be a worthy medium. Especially since Mad Max: Fury Road (which was amazing) managed a Best Picture nomination. But alas no. The same goes for J.J. Abrams, who arguably has a lot to do with the performances of the group I mentioned above. So it’s a bit of a shame that they were left without nomination.

Now, with Star Wars out of the way, we have to turn to perhaps the biggest snub of all this season: African Americans. The lack of any black nominees for the major categories, or for much else, is a shock to many, despite a history of this happening repeatedly. Their shock is probably due to the Academy’s invitation to some 300+ African American new members that many thought would help diversify the nominations. But, despite the acclaim of Straight Outta Compton and its performances, Will Smith’s turn in Concussion, Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight, and other deserving nominees, they were all excluded. While many if not all of this year’s nominees are well deserving of their nominations, it seems The Academy could have shaken it up a bit to recognize an oft-forgotten segment of Hollywood.

There are many other snubs that could be talked about (Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger in Black Mass! Come on!!) but these are the biggest ones to me. At the end of the day, The Academy is generally in a no win situation each year, with every Tom, Dick and Jake ready to scrutinize their every decision. But as it’s done now, all we can do is watch the Oscars on February 28th, and all jointly pray to the big golden man that Leonardo DiCaprio finally get the Oscar he so richly deserves.

You can find the full list of nominees at

What about you? What are your favorite Oscar noms, snubs, etc.? Let us know in the comments below!

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