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2016 Oscar Nominations

Looks like it’s that time again. Here are the nominations for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, presented with whatever commentary I feel like offering.

Best Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

I don’t have a single problem with this list. SpotlightRoomBridge of Spies, all fantastic movies that deserve to be listed among the year’s best. I don’t know if I’d necessarily call The Big Short one of the year’s best, but it’s more than smart and well-made enough that I can’t begrudge its inclusion. Yes, The Revenant may be pure Oscar-bait, but I’d much rather have seen that film nominated than Pawn SacrificeThe Woman in GoldBlack Mass, or any of the other far inferior pleas for Academy attention.

Complain all you want about Star Wars: The Force Awakens getting snubbed — it never stood a chance anyway, and I’m sure the filmmakers are crying all the way to the bank. Mad Max: Fury Road got a nomination and that’s miracle enough. I’m also thrilled to see The Martian get a nomination, but its chances of actually winning without so much as a Best Director nod are slim.

As for Brooklyn… yeah, I know I’ve said a lot of awful things about that movie. But this nomination led me to do a lot of soul-searching and I think I’m finally starting to come around. I still don’t like the movie; and I’d much rather have seen a nomination go to Straight Outta Compton or even Creed; but I’ve come to respect it enough that I’m okay with a nomination.

Best Actor

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

Looks like I’m gonna have to go see The Danish Girl now. Not that he stands a chance of winning a second year in a row against these heavy-hitters, but it amuses me that the Academy decided to double down on Redmayne instead of taking away his Oscar after Jupiter Ascending.

That aside, this is a perfectly serviceable list. Yes, it sucks that we’re stuck with yet another all-white roster of acting nominees. But on the other hand, Idris Elba still has a lot of great performances left in him. Plus, Michael B. Jordan and the lead cast of Straight Outta Compton are all young, crazy talented actors who haven’t even hit their stride yet. They will get another shot. That said, Will Smith (Concussion) and Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight) both put in way better work than Fassbender did for Jobs. Nothing against Fassbender, of course, but still.

Best Actress

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

Okay, so a nomination for Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) was probably never going to happen, but this is seriously the best we could get? This was the only nomination for JoyCarol neither got nor deserved a Best Picture nomination, and I don’t know if anyone has even seen or heard of 45 Years. Yet all of these actresses got token nominations while Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) got left in the dust.

If anyone other than Brie Larson wins, it’ll be a joke. I know Saoirse Ronan’s performance powered Brooklyn, but not like Larson powered Room.

Best Supporting Actor

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

I’ve heard it said that Hardy hates campaigning. I doubt he’ll win the award, not that he needs it. It’s great to see Ruffalo nominated for Spotlight instead of the inferior Infinitely Polar Bear. Christian Bale’s performance was okay, but he was overshadowed by too many other far superior performances. Mark Rylance’s performance was easily the best of this list, and I can’t think of another supporting performance this year to top it. But a legacy win for Stallone may be tough to resist.

Best Supporting Actor

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

This was a big year for Alicia Vikander. She proved herself to be an incredible young talent (even in the otherwise mediocre The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), and I’m sincerely thrilled that she had the good fortune to land an Oscar nomination in her breakout year. The girl is going places, and rightly so.

Winslet and McAdams were good in their respective movies, but not good enough or prominent enough to earn the nomination. Cate Blanchett shouldn’t win for Carol, and neither should Mara, though it’s a pleasure to see her nominated. Leigh should rightfully be nominated for Lead Actress, as her character was one of the most crucial and enjoyable parts of The Hateful Eight. But if this is the best she could get, it’ll just have to do.

Best Director

  • Adam McKay – The Big Short
  • George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
  • Lenny Abrahamson – Room
  • Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

I’m very disappointed that Ridley Scott didn’t get a nomination, but only because that means The Martian probably won’t win Best Picture. It also sucks that Ryan Coogler didn’t get picked up for Creed, but again: He’s an insanely talented young man whose star is only just beginning to rise, so I’m sure he’ll get another shot. David O. Russell got shut out, and I’m sure that has to sting. On the other hand, Tarantino also got snubbed for The Hateful Eight, and his presentation of that picture was marvelous.

Aside from all of that, this is a fantastic list. McKay deserves some major kudos for directing The Big Short in such a way that the finished product didn’t come flying apart. The RevenantRoom, and Spotlight are all examples of brilliant directors at work. It would really be a huge kick in the teeth if George Miller won, which is why he probably won’t, but it’s a joy to see him get nominated all the same.

Animated Feature Film

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy and the World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • When Marnie Was There

Look, as much as I really really liked Shaun the Sheep Movie, it did not deserve a nomination over The Peanuts Movie. Miyazaki-sama gets his due nomination, Anomalisa gets thrown in to appease the critics, moviegoers everywhere get to learn exactly what Boy and the World is, and they all get to lose to Inside Out.

Costume Design

  • Carol
  • Cinderella
  • The Danish Girl
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant

Production Design

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

Because Bridge of Spies had way better production design than Crimson Peak. Yeah fucking right.

Also, how can The Revenant even be nominated for this category when nearly all of its “production design” consisted of “move to where the snow is, and then shoot the scene”?!

Documentary Feature

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Winter on Fire

Documentary Short

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

Makeup and Hair Styling

  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  • The Revenant

Original Song

  • “Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction
  • “Simple Song #3” – Youth
  • “Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
  • “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre

First of all — I never wanted to say this and I can’t believe I’m saying it now, but God help me, it’s the painful truth — Meghan Trainor should have been nominated for an Oscar. Seriously, “Better When I’m Dancin’” was the most fun and upbeat song we got in any movie this year. Did anyone in the Academy even see The Peanuts Movie?!

I can’t believe that Fifty Shades of Grey is currently nominated for six Razzies and an Oscar, and I can’t believe that this pug-ugly song from The Weeknd (not a typo) was dignified with any kind of awards praise. “Writing’s on the Wall” has been a punchline since before Spectre even premiered. “Simple Song #3” is a total bore, though it might at least be kind of cool if they brought out Michael Caine to conduct it. That and “Manta Ray” will either put the viewers to sleep or provide them with a convenient chance for a bathroom break.

If the Academy wanted to give Lady Gaga an Oscar, they could’ve just said so and I’m sure we all would’ve been fine with that. There was no need to surround her song with the most dreary and lamentable list of candidates I’ve seen in years.

Animated Short

  • Bear Story
  • Prologue
  • Sanjay’s Super Team
  • We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
  • World of Tomorrow

For once, I’m glad the Academy seems willfully ignorant of The Peanuts Movie. Otherwise, Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe might have made the cut. I’m sure a lot of Pixar fans will be pissed that Sanjay’s Super Team was chosen over Lava, but from where I’m sitting, it was the right choice.

Sound Editing

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

Film Editing

  • The Big Short
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Spotlight
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Foreign Language Film

  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Mustang
  • Son of Saul
  • Theeb
  • A War

Original Score

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Sicario
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The Academy has made a very clear point of disqualifying contenders for Best Original Song if they lean too heavily on existing work. Case in point: That was the rationale for disqualifying “Please Mr. Kennedy” from Inside Llewyn Davis a few years back. Yet the score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is nominated here, even though its “Original Score” is at least two-thirds comprised of themes from earlier films in the franchise. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the score for TFA. But still, double-standard much?

Visual Effects

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

What the fuck is The Revenant doing in there? No way it ever stood a chance against those other amazing spectacles. Not even Ex Machina. ESPECIALLY not even Ex Machina.

Adapted Screenplay

  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • The Martian
  • Room

Suddenly, I appreciate why “Adapted Screenplay” is its own category. The Martian had easily the best script of the bunch, but that’s in large part because all the best lines and moments were lifted wholesale from the book. If Room or The Big Short got it instead, I wouldn’t complain.

I’d be okay with Aaron Sorkin getting snubbed, except that Carol and Brooklyn somehow got picked over him.

Original Screenplay

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

So many different flavors of brilliant yet flawed. Can’t wait to see how this shakes out.

Cinematography

  • Carol
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Revenant
  • Sicario

Carol got nominated over Libatique’s work in Straight Outta Compton? Bitch, please.

As much as I love “Chivo’s” style, and The Revenant was undeniably gorgeous, this just has to go to The Hateful Eight. The mere fact that the film was shot in 70mm film should be enough to get the award, and the whole movie looks beautiful for it.

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Agree or disagree? Is there anything I’ve left out? Go ahead and drop a line in the comments. See you on February 28th!

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