The nominees for the 2016 Oscars have now been announced, and despite the welcome inclusion of Mad Max: Fury Road for Best Picture, there aren’t a lot of pleasant surprises in the mix. There are, however, some glaring omissions, as always. Here are the biggest.
Ridley Scott as Best Director, The Martian
We called The Martian the best thriller of the year. It got six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor. And yet, the man behind the camera got shut out. Which makes no sense, since it’s Scott’s understanding of how to use visual language that makes the film tense and brilliant to watch.
It remains a shock that the Academy can’t get its shit together and deal with how white its nominees are. There isn’t a single person of color in any of the acting categories. Of the paltry few major nominations for films centering on people of color, the nominees are white people. That’s ridiculous in any year, but especially bad given the breadth and depth of talent that could have easily been nominated like Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Tangerine, Concussion, Creed, Sicario and others.
Charlize Theron as Best Supporting Actress, Mad Max: Fury Road
Theron, who plays one of the iconic characters of the year Imperator Furiosa, was never really in the mix for Best Supporting Actress. And yet, with Mad Max: Fury Road’s undoubtedly deserved 10 nominations, it would have been nice to see it get a look for the film’s most memorable character and performance. Not to mention Theron already has an Oscar, so it wouldn’t have been a huge stretch and her co-star, Tom Hardy, got a nomination this year (for The Revenant, but still).
Aaron Sorkin for Best Adapted Screenplay, Steve Jobs
Most Oscar pundits figured Sorkin, who won an Oscar in 2011 for The Social Network, was not only a sure-fire nominee, but the likely front-runner for Best Adapted Screenplay. Now he’s not there at all, his spot likely going to the equally worthy Drew Goddard for The Martian or Emma Donoghue for Room. Still, there’s no denying Sorkin’s bold structural choice and glass-cutting dialogue should have been in the mix.
Ex Machina was easily one of the best films of 2015. But its firm place as a science fiction piece and its not-of-Hollywood production meant that it was always a long shot for Oscar recognition. So it’s great that it got a Visual Effects nomination and that Alex Garland got one for the screenplay; it’s less great that he didn’t get one for his direction. Or that neither Oscar Isaac or Alicia Vikander got anything for acting.
For the first time ever, Netflix had one of their original films firmly in the Oscar mix: Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba. But not only did Elba not score a nomination (which would have been the most obvious one), the film didn’t get a single nomination at all. Did Academy members simply not bother to watch it, or were they rebelling against a new type of distribution? Probably a bit of both.
Michael B. Jordan for Creed
Giving a franchise that had sunk into self-parody and decline a dose of fresh blood is an impossible task. Add to it playing the title character, the son of a character everyone already knows, and having to hold your own against Sylvester Stallone back as Rocky, and Michael B. Jordan had a herculean task in front of him±one which he pulled off and still didn’t get any recognition for.
Quentin Tarantino for The Hateful Eight
He’s already won two Oscars, for Pulp Fiction and Django Unchained, but Tarantino was surely expected to garner a fourth nomination for his latest film. Maybe even one for Directing. Nope, neither. The Hateful Eight was also shut out of Best Picture, though it did get worthy nominations for Best Score, Best Cinematography and Best Supporting Actress. Still, it’s a bit of a shock to not see him on there.
Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” for Best Original Song, Furious 7
When a song that was number one on the Billboard charts for three months straight just happens to be from a movie, and that song just happens to encompass the most emotional part of the movie, and that movie grossed almost $2 billion, you probably expect an Oscar nomination. Alas, it wasn’t to be for Wiz Khalifa. Of note, the last hip hop song to be number one for that long, “Lose Yourself” by Eminem, won this award.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The year’s highest grossing film got fives nominations—Best Score, Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing and Visual Effects—but that’s certainly no sweep of the technical awards (No Costume? Production Design?) and no Best Picture. It was a super long shot for the top category, but when you’re approaching $900 million domestic with 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, it feels like it could have been in there, especially for one big reason.
When the Academy bumped the potential number of Best Picture nominees to 10 in 2009, it was largely believed to allow for popular hits like this (and The Dark Knight, at the time) to get a nomination. In theory, having movies people actually saw and liked get nominated would then get new viewers interested in the awards. Since then though, it’s rarely been used for that. This year, the same argument could be made for mega financial and critical hit, Inside Out. Either one getting a nomination would have not only been worthy (Inside Out did get Original Screenplay and Animated Film) but helped bring more casual viewers to the broadcast.
The 88th Annual Academy Award airs February 28.
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