Thoughts on… Oscar Nominations 2016

Nominations for the 2016 Academy Awards were released this morning, which, per usual, came with snubs, controversies, and surprises. Here are our thoughts on this year’s Oscar noms.

Best Picture is Wide Open

For the first time in a few years, there are no clear cut favorites for Best Picture. Last year, we had Birdman and Boyhood, the year before that 12 Years a Slave, and earlier we had the juggernaut The Artist. Spotlight seemed to be the favorite a few weeks ago, but The Revenant’s surprise win at the Golden Globes made the race much murkier. Could The Big Short pull the upset? Aside from Spotlight, it’s the only one nominated for Best Ensemble at the SAGs, which has been a virtual requisite for Oscar Best Picture winners of late. Also here is The Martian, Bridge of Spies, Mad Max, Room, and Brooklyn. Noticeably not here is Carol, the top entry from Harvey Weinstein, who goes without a nominee for the first time in a decade.

Best Actor and Best Actress Aren’t

While Best Picture remains a question mark, the lead actor awards appear to be relatively decided already, a month out from the Oscar ceremony. Leonardo DiCaprio is the heavy favorite for his role in The Revenant, despite having a very limited number of lines. Eddie Redmayne, last year’s Oscar winner, is also nominated for The Danish Girl and Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs. Room’s Brie Larson looks like a lock for Best Actress, although she’s joined by Academy darlings and potential spoilers Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence.

#OscarsSoWhite Resurfaces

Once again, the acting nominees lack diversity. Last year, people criticized the Academy for failing to recognize Selma in many major categories, and this year, it’s Straight Outta Compton. Many, myself included, thought Idris Elba would snag a nomination for supporting acting for his role in Beasts of No Nation, a Netflix original movie.

Sylvester Stallone Nominated as Rocky Over 25 Years Later

Stallone was nominated for Best Actor for his starring role in 1976’s sports drama and Best Picture winner Rocky, although he failed to win the statue. He is one of only five actors to be nominated for the same role twice, and he looks like the favorite to win this year following his win for Creed at the Golden Globes.

Star Wars Has Triumphant Return to the Oscars

The well-received recent entry in the Star Wars franchise has been well reviewed (although I personally disliked it) and the Academy has responded with five nominations, although all in technical and special effects categories. It was a long shot for Best Picture, although some thought it had a chance. Inside Out also mixed out. I think the Academy should have made room for it with those two potential extra Best Picture nominee slots.

And the Award for Biggest Snub Goes To:

Not Aaron Sorkin, who was snubbed in Adapted Screenplay for Steve Jobs, and not Carol, which was omitted from Best Picture contention, but Ridley Scott, who wasn’t nominated for his direction of The Martian. Many had him pegged as the likely winner, but he was cut out in favor of Room director Lenny Abrahamson.

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