The 88th Academy Awards… The Nominations


This morning, much speculation was brought to an end as the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were finally announced. As usual, I have all of them listed here, along with my commentary. This year is probably the strangest I’ve ever seen, and I can’t really say there were a whole lot of surprises this morning because I was so clueless as to what would happen and everything seemed wide open.

Best Picture


What was nominated: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, and Spotlight

So I’ve only seen half of the nominees so far, but let me tell you, this isn’t exactly how I thought it was gonna go. Well, I suppose I just thought it was gonna be Carol instead of Room, but still. So glad Mad Max (so far it’s still my top film of the year) got a nomination! The Big Short came out of nowhere so I haven’t had a chance to see yet, I missed The Martian and have been kicking myself about it all year, The Revenant I’ll see once I’m back in Boston, and I missed out on Room similar to how I missed The Martian. Bridge of Spies was a bit of a surprise but not a huge one; it was such a low key movie when I saw it in October I really didn’t expect it to be nominated but it is Spielberg after all, and it is deserving. I’m very happy that Brooklyn made it on, and Spotlight was basically a given but I can’t complain there either. No Star Wars, but I wasn’t really expecting there to be.

Best Director


Who was nominated: Adam McKay for The Big Short, George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road, Lenny Abrahamson for Room, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for The Revenant, and Tom McCarthy for Spotlight

Basically if you swap out Abrahamson for Ridley Scott, you have the group of people who I thought would be nominated in this category. I can’t comment on McKay or Abrahamson’s nominations, but I’m happy for Miller especially. It seems very strange to not nominate Scott when he’s been around for a million years, but I haven’t actually seem the film but so I guess I can’t be too mad about it. McCarthy was basically a given and you won’t hear me complaining about that either. However, no Todd Haynes? Alight, Academy.

Best Actor


Who was nominated: Bryan Cranston for Trumbo, Matt Damon for The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant, Micheal Fassbender for Steve Jobs, and Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl 

I’m glad this is the only nomination Trumbo is getting, and if weren’t for the fact that I can’t really think of another viable option for this category, it’s really the only one it deserves. So far I’ve only seen the Cranston and the Fassbender performance, and Fassbender is my favorite of the year so far. Of course, that doesn’t really matter because it looks to be Leo’s year (finally). I’m feeling a little bit of vindictive glee that Johnny Depp wasn’t nominated, but otherwise this category is pretty uneventful.

Best Actress


Who was nominated: Cate Blanchett for Carol, Brie Larson for Room, Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years, and Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn

Again, missing Room a couple months ago has really hurt me here. I haven’t seen 45 Years either, but I hear it’s good. I suppose Larson is the front runner here, but I’m still rooting for Saoirse Ronan because she was simply amazing. Mad Max has gotten more than its fair share of nominations here, but if there’s one it still maybe should have gotten it’s Best Actress for Charlize Theron. Not too mad about it though, since I didn’t think it would happen anyway. It might just be automatic for the Academy to nominate JLaw for whatever movie she happens to be in that year, but I’m glad she made it in for Joy anyway.

Best Supporting Actor


Who was nominated: Christian Bale for The Big Short, Tom Hardy for The Revenant, Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight, Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies, and Sylvester Stallone for Creed

This was a very crowded category this year, and its interesting to see Ruffalo here out of the many (what I consider better) supporting actor performances from Spotlight. Maybe I’m wrong, but I wasn’t a fan of Ruffalo in that movie, something I’ve never really said in my life. Glad to see Hardy on here even though I haven’t seen The Revenant yet. Rylance was expected, very glad Stallone made it in, and no idea how Bale did in The Big Short but I’m not too surprised to see him here either. I would have loved to see Idris Elba or Benicio del Toro on here, but ah well.

Best Supporting Actress


Who was nominated: Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight, Rooney Mara for Carol, Rachel McAdams for Spotlight, Alica Vikander for The Danish Girl, and Kate Winslett for Steve Jobs

I can’t comment on Vikander in The Danish Girl, though I thought she was supposed to be a lead in that? Same deal for Rooney Mara, both her and Cate Blanchett felt like leads in that movie, though if switching to supporting gives Mara the nomination I can’t complain that much I guess. I can’t really offer any other options for this category, everything seems fine I suppose.

Best Original Screenplay


What was nominated: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, and Straight Outta Compton

More vindictive pleasure over QT not getting nominated for The Hateful Eight. I’m happier than I should be about that. But moving on, I can’t deny any of these nominees, though I haven’t seen Straight Outta Compton and it seems a bit surprising. I don’t know what I was expecting about this category other than Spotlight winning, but I’m glad to see these nominees.

Best Adapted Screenplay


What was nominated: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, and Room

I could not be happier to see Brooklyn and Carol here. I’m not too great at judging writing in films, but I thought they both worked really well and the writing had to be part of that. Can’t comment on the other three, but it’s a bit of a surprise that Sorkin got nothing for Steve Jobs. I mean, that movie waned pretty quickly after it opened but still, he’s Sorkin. I’m not crying my eyes out for it or anything, but now that I think about it, it’s a bit surprising.

Best Cinematography


What was nominated: Carol, The Hateful Eight, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, and Sicario 

Cinematography, my favorite category! I’m happy that I basically predicted the nominees here. I haven’t seen The Revenant yet, but it’s Chivo so you knew he was gonna be nominated. Ed Lachman’s work in Carol took me a little while to warm up to, but I eventually grew to appreciate it and loved it by the time the film was over.The best thing about The Hateful Eight was Robert Richardson’s 70mm cinematography. John Seale captured the desert perfectly in Mad Max: Fury Road. Most of all, I’m so happy to see Roger Deakins, the Leo DiCaprio of cinematography when it comes to the Oscars, get his thirteenth nomination for his excellent and subtle work in Sicario.

Best Editing


What was nominated: The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

Again, I can’t speak to The Big Short or The Revenant, but I’m exciting to see Star Wars get its first nomination! I don’t know what I thought this category was going to be, except I definitely expected Mad Max to get in and I’m glad it did. It seems to help BP if it also has an editing nomination, so I guess this improves the first four’s chances a little.

Best Visual Effects


What was nominated: Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

Nice to see Ex Machina get nominated here, especially over another Marvel movie. With the very natural design of the robot in this movie, it definitely deserves to be in the conversation. The rest of these seem like a given, and I’m not really sure who has the edge at this point. Mad Max I guess? But I feel like Star Wars might get it, considering the wonderful return to form for the franchise.

Best Production Design

Matt Damon portrays an astronaut who faces seemingly insurmountable odds as he tries to find a way to subsist on a hostile planet.

What was nominated: Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and The Revenant 

It’s interesting that Mad Max and The Revenant get on here (and The Martian too, I suppose) when they seem to take place mostly outside. I totally get though, for Mad Max anyway (again, haven’t seen the other too). Not surprised to see The Danish Girl considering it’s a period piece, and I totally agree with Bridge of Spies. No Brooklyn or Carol? Seems strange. A little bit less strange but possibly more angering is the absence of Crimson Peak, which is not an Oscary movie but damn, that was some prod design.

Best Costume Design


What was nominated: Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, and The Revenant 

I’m cool with all of the nominees that I’ve seen of these (so just Carol and Mad Max) and not really surprised by any of them except The Revenant. I just wouldn’t have immediately gone there. I could mention the period pieces Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies but again, I’ll say only this: Crimson Peak should have been here.

Best Makeup and Hair Styling


What was nominated: Mad Max: Fury Road, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, and The Revenant

Has anybody heard of this 100-Year-Old Man movie? Regardless, I’m really happy that Black Mass didn’t make it on here because Johnny Depp looked ridiculous, but I’m really unhappy that Brooklyn didn’t get on here. I really appreciated how they showed Eilis’s character development through the make up and hair over time. It wasn’t super obvious but I did notice it, which is notable I feel. Other than that? Yay Mad Max!

Best Sound Editing


What was nominated: Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Sicario, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Woof, the sound categories. I’m so bad at sound. Such an important part of movie-making that often gets over looked, but nevertheless I’m so bad at sound. The only sound I noticed throughout this year was in Ex Machina and Star Wars, and Star Wars is here so I guess that makes sense.

Best Sound Mixing

Brooklyn lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) meets with his client Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance), a Soviet agent arrested in the U.S. in DreamWorks Pictures/Fox 2000 PIctures' dramatic thriller BRIDGE OF SPIES, directed by Steven Spielberg.

What was nominated: Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revanant, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

For the record, I do know the difference between sound editing and sound mixing, but that doesn’t mean I’m a good judge of it. As I said in the sound editing category, Star Wars. So I’m not surprised it’s here, but that’s about all I got on this category.

Best Original Song


What was nominated: “Earned It” from 50 Shades of Grey, “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction, “Simple Song #3” from Youth, “Til it Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground, and “Writings on the Wall” from Spectre

I can’t remember another year being this uninteresting for Best Original Song. I’ve only seen Spectre and I’m not really a fan of the song, so I’m really indifferent to this category this year.

Best Original Score


What was nominated: Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Sicario, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m happy with how this category worked out. If you swapped out the score for Bridge of Spies and put in the score for Macbeth, which of course wouldn’t happen in five million years because the Academy ignored that movie (which is fine with me mostly), you’d basically have my list for the year. Alternatively, I liked Newman’s score for Spectre more than Bridge of Spies. I’m so happy Sicario got in; I wasn’t sure how much attention the Academy would give it. This is a nomination I don’t begrudge The Hateful Eight, as I still have some of it stuck in my head from over a week ago. John Williams for Star Wars is a classic choice, and I liked Carol‘s score a lot too.

Best Foreign Film


What was nominated: Embrace of the Serpent, Mustang, Son of Saul, Theeb, and A War

Not a category I know too much about, but I knew Son of Saul was a sure thing. And to quote a previous best picture winner, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

Best Animated Feature


What was nominated: Anomalisa, Boy and the World, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep Movie, and When Marnie Was There 

I figured that Anomalisa and Inside Out would get nominations, but I wasn’t too sure about the other animated movies this year. No one really seemed that crazy about Pixar’s other 2015 offering, The Good Dinosaur, so it’s not too surprising that it got left off. I think I’ve heard of When Marnie Was There coming out of Ghibli, but Boy and the World I’ve never heard of (it’s Brazilian!).

We’ve come to the end of the categories I normally predict. I’ve listed the Documentary and the shorts categories for completeness, but interestingly enough I actually saw one of the Doc feature noms this year: Amy. So glad it got a nomination!

Best Animated Short Nominees: “Bear Story”, “Prologue”, “Sanjay Superteam”, “We Can’t Live without Cosmos”, and “World of Tomorrow”

Best Live Action Short Nominees: “Ava Maria”, “Day One”, “Everything Will Be Okay”, “Shok”, and “Stutterer”

Best Documentary Feature Nominees: Amy, Cartel Land, The Look of Silence, What Happened, Miss Simone?, and Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Documentary Short Nominees: “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”, “Body Team 12”, “Chau, Beyond the Lines”, “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoa”, and “Last Day of Freedom”


So that wraps up the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards! I was disappointed that Carol didn’t get as much as it should, the Academy completely ignored Crimson Peak, Ridley Scott not getting nominated for The Martian was strange, but Mad Max getting so many nominations was fantastic! I definitely still have to see The Revenant and The Big Short, and made a big mistake skipping out on Room and The Martian.

Here it is by the numbers. The Revenant has the most nominations with 12, Mad Max is the runner up with 9, The Martian is just behind with 8, Bridge of Spies, Spotlight, and Carol come in with 6, The Big Short and Star Wars have 5, Room and The Danish Girl get 4, Brooklyn, The Hateful Eight, and Sicario all get 3, Steve Jobs, Ex Machina, and Inside Out are all nominated twice, and the rest get one. Stay tuned for my predictions when they come in February! In the meantime, feel free to offer your own takes on the nominations in the comments.


2 responses to “The 88th Academy Awards… The Nominations

  1. Fantastic breakdown. I found myself surprised by several things. The coolest was that 5 of the 8 movies are in my Top 10 of 2015 and two others make my Top 20. Really proud for Room but surprised at a number of key omissions: Scott, Spielberg, Haynes, Elba, Sorkin to name a few. And I agree, Bridge of Spies showed stronger that I expected but its inclusion kinda make sense.

    • I’m of two minds when it comes to Bridge of Spies. On one hand, I really liked the film and I’m happy it got nominated because it’s good, on the other, part of the reason I liked it is because it didn’t feel very Oscary to me, but rather just Spielberg trying to make a good low key movie. So it getting all these nominations just feels a little bit weird.
      After listening to some more commentary, I actually wish Michael B Jordan had gotten Bryan Cranston’s Best Actor nom. I don’t think he was ever in contention because I only heard people talking about it afterwards, but that’s a shame because he carried that movie really well and also matched Sly in screen presence. Ah well. The Oscars aren’t perfect and they never will be.
      I still have a bunch of films to see before I’m able to make my top ten list… I never seem to get to enough during the year so I have to watch them all in January! Anyway, glad a lot of you favorites made it on and Happy Oscar Season!

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