Wow, oh wow. The Oscar nominations are in, and they are more notable for their snubs than their inclusions. For the first time in a long while, none of the nominees were without precursor recognition, with the closest being Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years and Tom Hardy for The Revenant, who got in with only a Critics’ Choice Award nomination. In terms of snubs, it’s the big names that missed out: Ridley Scott in Best Director for The Martian (the frontrunner in that category); Quentin Tarantino in Original Screenplay for The Hateful Eight; Aaron Sorkin in Adapted Screenplay for Steve Jobs. That is pretty great, for the most part, as it means that rank outsiders got a place, such as Irish director Lenny Abrahamson getting in for Room, and both Ex Machina and Straight Outta Compton getting into Original Screenplay.
The film that had the best morning was The Revenant, scoring nominations in 12 categories, in every category that it was eligible, aside from Best Adapted Screenplay, which was not particularly shocking considering the category’s strong competition. I still don’t think that it’ll take Best Picture, but I can see, with Ridley Scott not in contention, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu winning Director, though it hurts him slightly that he won just last year. Leonardo DiCaprio, who is nominated for his 6th Oscar, is a lock to win Best Actor, and Tom Hardy, who is nominated for the first time, doesn’t stand much chance in Supporting Actor, which will likely go to Sylvester Stallone for Creed.
Another film that should take heart from its showing today is Spotlight, which I still believe is out in front to win Best Picture. It received 6 nominations overall, including Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay, plus two acting nominations, the first time that it has been able to achieve such a feat at any major awards show this season. I think it has the edge because it got into SAG Ensemble, with The Big Short being the other film to get into there and into Best Picture. That film also had a strong showing, picking up 5 nominations, including Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, and Supporting Actor for Christian Bale, his 3rd nomination of his career.
Over on the sci-fi side, both Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian managed to get into Best Picture, which is only the second time that two sci-fi films have been nominated in the Best Picture line-up, with 2009 being the other time as Avatar and District 9 got in. Mad Max did particularly well, being the only film released in the first half of the year to be included in the Best Picture category, as well as getting in for Best Director for George Miller. The Martian, meanwhile, managed to get Matt Damon into Best Actor, which is rather odd as he isn’t that great in the film. You can probably put that nomination down to his A-list pedigree.
Of the other Best Picture nominees, Room overcame all expectations and received a respectable 4 nominations, all of which came in the Big 5 major categories, including a Best Actress nomination for frontrunner Brie Larson. Brooklyn is the British representation in the race following its nomination that came after getting into Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan, her second nomination, which comes 8 years after her first. Finally, Bridge of Spies proved, as expected, to be the Academy’s cup of tea, giving Steven Spielberg his 9th producing nomination, which is a new record.
Over in animation, Disney Pixar experienced both ups and downs. The positives for them were that the brilliant Inside Out received a nomination for both Best Animated Feature, and Best Original Screenplay, while the short film Sanjay’s Super Team received a nomination for Best Animated Short, where the favourite If I Was God was snubbed. The negative for them was The Good Dinosaur not getting into Best Animated Feature, becoming only the 3rd eligible Pixar film to miss out in this category, after Cars 2 and Monsters University. It was actually full of surprises that category, as The Peanuts Movie also missed out, and instead Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There got in, joining the stop motion films Anomalisa and Shaun the Sheep Movie in a category with a more diverse range for this category than we have come to expect.
In the acting races, there were no major snubs, and I actually did the best I have ever done predicting the 4 acting categories, getting 19 out of 20 correct, only missing Tom Hardy and instead having the unfairly snubbed Idris Elba. That snub, along with Michael B. Jordan, Will Smith, Abraham Attah, and Samuel L. Jackson missing, has unfortunately led to the #OscarsSoWhite trend to come into play. While last year it was understandable, as David Oyelowo was the only PoC in contention, this year there is no excuse, with films such as Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Concussion, and Beasts of No Nation all showcasing fine work by actors of colour. Those 4 films received 2 nominations between them, with Straight Outta Compton getting into Original Screenplay (which was written by white people), and Creed getting Sylvester Stallone into Supporting Actor, where he is the likely champ, which would be the kind of narrative that the man who brought Rocky Balboa to life deserves.
At the moment, I would say that Spotlight is winning Best Picture, but I think it needs to win PGA first, with a Picture-Director split as Alejandro G. Inarritu is winning Director, but I do think he needs to either win DGA, or hope that Ridley Scott wins DGA. In Best Actor, DiCaprio is a lock (honestly, bet your house on it), and Brie Larson will win Best Actress, as long as Saoirse Ronan doesn’t win SAG. In Supporting Actor, it won’t be a shock if first time nominee Mark Rylance takes it for his understated performance in Bridge of Spies, but I think Sly has this, with his nomination getting the biggest cheer from the audience being an indicator of his popularity within the Academy. In Supporting Actress, I am expecting a shock with Alicia Vikander winning for The Danish Girl. That is a category that any 5 of the nominees could realistically win, so whoever wins at SAG will be in a strong position. In Original Screenplay, Spotlight should take it; in Adapted Screenplay, The Big Short will take top honours; and Animated Feature will go to Inside Out.
The worst snub of all, in my opinion, is The Walk not getting in Visual Effects, while Ex Machina and The Revenant get in. Shameful.
The 88th Academy Awards, hosted by Chris Rock, are on Sunday 28th February 2016.