Immediate Reactions to the 2016 Oscar Nominations

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CQuP6z8MkM7xPreston Barta & James Cole Clay // Film Critics

Leonardo DiCaprio, Sylvester Stallone, and surprisingly Jennifer Lawrence were among the nominees announced this morning for the 88th Academy Awards.

Leading the race is THE REVENANT with a whopping 12 nominations– with MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, SPOTLIGHT and THE BIG SHORT not too far behind.

After the experience that was the Golden Globes and months of anticipation, the full list of Oscar nominees are out and we are well on our way to see what films, filmmakers and talent make history come February 28th.

Until then, let’s discuss the surprises and snubs.

BEST PICTURE

  • THE BIG SHORT
  • BRIDGE OF SPIES
  • BROOKLYN
  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE MARTIAN
  • THE REVENANT
  • ROOM
  • SPOTLIGHT

Immediate Reaction: The nominees in the most coveted race of all 24 categories is pretty as expected. There are no real surprises here. But it still would have been cool to see STAR WARS make the cut, but we’re not butthurt about it.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Adam McKay, THE BIG SHORT
  • George Miller, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • Alejandro G. Inarritu, THE REVENANT
  • Lenny Abrahamson, ROOM
  • Tom McCarthy, SPOTLIGHT

Immediate Reaction: Ridley Scott didn’t make the cut for directing THE MARTIAN, and who knows why, but his omission probably comes in favor of ROOM director Lenny Abrahamson, who did a wonderful job of cutting to the emotional core. There is only one filmmaker out of the list who didn’t employ a visual style and that’s good ol’ Tom McCarthy for SPOTLIGHT. Shame is he just might win the whole thing. Every director on this list has a real chance to win– there’s no clear winner, but fingers crossed that George Miller rides away in all chrome all the way to the gates of Valhalla (The Kodak Theater).

BEST ACTOR

  • Bryan Cranston, TRUMBO
  • Matt Damon, THE MARTIAN
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, THE REVENANT
  • Michael Fassbender, STEVE JOBS
  • Eddie Redmayne, THE DANISH GIRL

Immediate Reaction: Usually, the best actor category is crowded with potential candidates. But this year, it was pretty bland. It’s easy to read between the lines and see that Leonardo DiCaprio will finally take home the statue, as he gives a magnificent “experience” performance.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Cate Blanchett, CAROL
  • Brie Larson, ROOM
  • Jennifer Lawrence, JOY
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 YEARS
  • Saoirse Ronan, BROOKLYN

Immediate Reaction: Here we were, hoping that selecting Jennifer Lawrence as the Globe winner was a joke, but she managed to squeeze in this race, too. She’s obviously one of the biggest surprises of the morning, but then again, awards voters love her. She has a sassy attitude that jacks up ratings, so why not? But it doesn’t really matter, because it’s relatively newcomer Brie Larson’s year to shine.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Christian Bale, THE BIG SHORT
  • Tom Hardy, THE REVENANT
  • Mark Ruffalo, SPOTLIGHT
  • Mark Rylance, BRIDGE OF SPIES
  • Sylvester Stallone, CREED

Immediate Reaction: What I like the most about this list is that it’s an eclectic mix in performances, but they are forgetting to show some love to either Jason Mitchell and O’Shea Jackson Jr. for their work STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON. The duo were astounding and really deserved to be recognized. They also didn’t recognize Benicio Del Toro for his powerful work in SICARIO. But for what we have here, this could go either way: Sly has a real shot at running up those steps for gold because everybody loves a good underdog story, or Tom Hardy may take it because of his big performance. Mark Ruffalo, who was once the favorite, isn’t looking like he can win now.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, THE HATEFUL EIGHT
  • Rooney Mara, CAROL
  • Rachel McAdams, SPOTLIGHT
  • Alicia Vikander, THE DANISH GIRL
  • Kate Winslet, STEVE JOBS

Immediate Reaction: These are often the juiciest roles that give the actors some real scenery to chew and this year doesn’t have any disappointments, only a couple mild surprises. So it should be a good race. Buy and large, this year features five great performers doing what they do without much of a stretch in their range, minus Jennifer Jason Leigh who shot out snot rockets and covered herself in blood in one wicked performance. Rachel McAdams is the big surprise here; she was perfectly fine as the beat reporter in SPOTLIGHT, but she never got a big scene to merit her space here. However, this is a political race and while talent wise it should go to Rooney Mara, but something tells me Kate Winslet will take home gold that night for the first time since 2009.

ANIMATED FEATURE

  • ANOMALISA
  • BOY AND THE WORLD
  • INSIDE OUT
  • SHAUN THE SHEEP
  • WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE

Immediate Reaction: This category took a turn, an honest turn that makes this category much stronger with the exclusion of THE PEANUTS MOVIE and THE GOOD DINOSAUR, two films that were pushed very hard in the months leading up to this morning’s announcements. The winner seems pretty clear that it will be INSIDE OUT or ANOMALISA. Both films are about humanity that couldn’t be more different. Props to the Academy on this category this year.

BEST FOREIGN FILM

  • EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, Colombia
  • MUSTANG, France
  • SON OF SAUL, Hungary
  • THEEB, Jordan
  • A WAR, Denmark

Immediate Reaction: The foreign language category is always a wild card. While the favorite at the moment may be SON OF SAUL, it could be any of these nominees who walk away with a smile.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • AMY
  • CARTEL LAND
  • THE LOOK OF SILENCE
  • WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?
  • WINTER ON FIRE: UKRAINE’S FIGHT FOR FREEDOM

Immediate Reaction: AMY is no doubt the most popular film here after the documentary about the late singer Amy Winehouse racked in the box office receipts last summer. However, WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE? is quite good and has several supporters. Same goes for the terminally bleak films THE LOOK OF SILENCE and CARTEL LAND. The Academy is either going to go for heart in AMY, or topical issues with THE LOOK OF SILENCE.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • BRIDGE OF SPIES
  • EX MACHINA
  • INSIDE OUT
  • SPOTLIGHT
  • STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

Immediate Reaction: Quentin Tarantino will not be getting his third Oscar in the category this year for THE HATEFUL EIGHT, and sadly, that’s perfectly fine. Films like EX MACHINA and big surprise nomination STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON need the exposure much more than QT. SPOTLIGHT is the biggest suspect here to win the award; the film stands for a cause and tells a story that changed history It’s also the most “Oscar-y” film on the list and it will most likely be our winner.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • THE BIG SHORT
  • BROOKLYN
  • CAROL
  • THE MARTIAN
  • ROOM

Immediate Reaction: THE BIG SHORT is the clear front-runner here with Aaron Sorkin and STEVE JOBS being sent out to the garbage with the iPods. But it’s a really damn good year for adaptations. They are all moving pieces of writing from the top screenwriters– everybody deserves to be here. They could literally throw a dart and pick a winner. Whether it’s THE MARTIAN’S scientific explanations or ROOM’S brilliant and emotional point of view, each of these scripts brings something different and inventive to the table.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • CAROL
  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE HATEFUL EIGHT
  • THE REVENANT
  • SICARIO

Immediate Reaction: Stiff competition here as far as film fans are concerned, but all the genius of Roger Deakins’ work is not going to be enough to finally get this man his Oscar (13 total noms) as Emmanuel Lubizeki will take it for the third year in a row for the completely inventive work in THE REVENANT. Sorry, ULTRA PANAVISION, you done good, but this isn’t going to be your year either.

BEST FILM EDITING

  • THE BIG SHORT
  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE REVENANT
  • SPOTLIGHT
  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Immediate Reaction: Of all the nominees here, there are only two that stand out and that’s the top two. THE BIG SHORT has a kinetic style that’s hard to ignore. And since FURY ROAD won’t win cinematography, it could very well win editing for its at full tilt pace.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • EX MACHINA
  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE MARTIAN
  • THE REVENANT
  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Immediate Reaction: If voters were smart, they’d pick EX MACHINA for the only award it stands a chance at winning. But it’s likely THE FORCE AWAKEN will snag it.

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • BRIDGE OF SPIES
  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE MARTIAN
  • THE REVENANT
  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Immediate Reaction: For both mixing and editing, my money is on FURY ROAD.

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE MARTIAN
  • THE REVENANT
  • SICARIO
  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • BRIDGE OF SPIES
  • THE DANISH GIRL
  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE MARTIAN
  • THE REVENANT

Immediate Reaction: Also, saying FURY ROAD.

BEST COSTUME

  • CAROL
  • CINDERELLA
  • THE DANISH GIRL
  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE REVENANT

Immediate Reaction: Voters tend to favor the royal, period piece films for this one. But frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. Give it to FURY ROAD for it’s bananas appeal.

BEST MAKEUP

  • MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
  • THE 100-YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED
  • THE REVENANT

Immediate Reaction: Also every year the Academy throws in a movie that most have never heard of, that being the long-a** titled one here. But this one is hard to say who will win. Obviously, FURY ROAD is lush and has a lot of unique characters, compared to so few in THE REVENANT. But Leo did sit in a makeup chair for five hours everyday to apply his beard wax and bear-mauling wounds. So, I throw my hands up in the air.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • BRIDGE OF SPIES
  • CAROL
  • THE HATEFUL EIGHT
  • SICARIO
  • STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

Immediate Reaction: It’s great to see John Williams snag a nomination for THE FORCE AWAKENS, as well as see SICARIO in the list for it’s pulse-pounding score. THE HATEFUL EIGHT will likely walk away with the win, but that’s totally fine. Happy with any of these films winning.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Earned It” from FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
  • “Manta Ray” from RACING EXTINCTION
  • “Simple Song No. 3” from YOUTH
  • “Til It Happens To You” from THE HUNTING GROUND
  • “Writing’s on the Wall” from SPECTRE

Immediate Reaction: Sam Smith won the Golden Globe for one of the worst James Bond themes. Here’s to hoping the Academy shakes up the results and goes with something better for the win here.

The 88th Academy Awards will take place on Feb. 28 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, and will be televised live by ABC at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PST.

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.