Generation Film’s 2016 Oscar Nominee Snubs, Omissions, and Surprises

My previous predictions of 20 of the 24 categories weren’t exactly spot on, though I believe they were almost in the range of being 80% correct (or solid C+/B-  work in terms of my own grading scale on this site). There were some surprising omissions from some prominent categories and some minor to major snubs here and there. Discussing it over with a few people I’ve come to the conclusion that the Academy is generally on the money here, about 75%. However, that glaring 25% difference has some startling revelations that we can begin to unravel as I break down each of the following categories below. So here are the nominees in each category along with some personal thoughts on each.

the-revenant-fn01Best Picture

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant



Surprises: BrooklynSnubs: CarolSicario, and Inside Out

Thoughts: So again we have a year with eight Best Picture nominations when the total possibility can reach up to ten. Some people have remarked that they were surprised to see John Crowley’s simple yet completely endearing Irish coming-of-age drama Brooklyn make it into the Best Picture nominations (even though it did obtain a coveted PGA nomination). As someone who did fall prey to the charms of Nick Hornby’s delightful script, Saoirse Ronan’s wonderful performance, and a film that’s remarkably positive in deeply cynical times, I’m definitely not surprised that the Academy took this film to heart. This isn’t a resounding agreement as to whether or not it does deserve recognition as one of the best films of the year, but it certainly is way more deserving than some of the other films who were becoming potential contenders (namely TrumboStraight Outta Compton, and Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens). However, a major snub in this category is the omission of Todd Haynes’ beautiful poem to authentic human magnetism that was Carol. A filmmaker that has yet to deliver a piece of mediocre cinema and is consistently pristine with his style, it’s a shame that the Academy didn’t think this was his time to come with such a marvelous, beautiful, and world shattering film. Another personal investment snub would probably be Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario, mostly because it garnered PGA, WGA, ASC, ACE nominations at the guild and followed suit on many of its technical laurels at the Academy. Not necessarily a surprise omission, but with 10 spots it’s frustrating that it didn’t swing its way into the big competition. Also it would have been nice to see Pixar’s Inside Out make it to compete against its live-action peers, especially with a Best Original Screenplay nomination, but it’s enough for it to have its own category.

george millerBest Director

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu (The Revenant)

Adam McKay (The Big Short)

Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

Surprises: Lenny Abrahamson (Room); Snubs: Todd Haynes (Carol) and Ridley Scott (The Martian)?

Thoughts: Let’s get this one out of the way. I personally never thought Ridley Scott was a viable contender for the Best Directing award, but momentum seemed to be going in his favor with Golden Globe and DGA recognition. It’s a bit surprising here that the Academy deviated so strongly away from the DGA in this regard, but it’s clear individual voting members took Lenny Abrahamson’s unsettling yet hope-filled captivity piece Room to heart this year. The weakest part of Room was Abrahamson’s direction, which luckily didn’t harm the marvelously adapted script and never hindered the gorgeous performances from Brie Larson and phenomenal child actor Jacob Tremblay (though a director should be credited with the performances he’s able to inspire or generate from his talent). Again it’s Todd Haynes who is clearly missing from his just reward of creating such a sweeping romance masterpiece for Carol and it seems that voting members just didn’t take to its graceful, subtle touches. Sure, Adam McKay created a kinetic and entertaining indictment of the financial services industry, but it’s a rather forgettable and mildly inhuman incarnation of a film that sort of misses the point of its own scathing criticism. It was put together well and its brisk pacing probably swayed a decent amount of voting members. It’s just a shame that neither László Nemes or Denis Villeneuve were considered for McKay’s assumed spot, mostly because their respective films–Son of Saul and Sicario–were better achieved pieces of art.

the_revenant_trailer_grab_h_2015Best Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)

Surprises: None; Snubs: Géza Röhrig (Son of Saul) and Michael Caine (Youth)

Thoughts: Considering I guessed this category perfectly I wasn’t surprised by any of the nominations. But that doesn’t mean I agree with them. They’re just the five actors who have the most momentum going for them this awards season. Personally I think Bryan Cranston is getting an undeserved free ride into this nomination based on a caricature performance that was mildly insightful yet thoroughly shallow in unraveling the essence of screenwriting talent Dalton Trumbo. He’s an undeniable talent and capable of magnificent dramatics, but Trumbo‘s script and shoddy direction under the watch of Jay Roach was such a disservice to his talent (and yet, people are still eating it up). It lacked the haunting qualities of Johnny Depp’s Whitey Bulger in Black Mass or the delicate vulnerability of Michael Caine in Youth, both of whom deserve a nomination over Cranston. But a personal overlooked performance for me is Géza Röhrig for his immaculate, soul-searching work in Son of Saul, a performance that is the definition of character embodiment and living.

room-movie-brie-larsonBest Actress

Brie Larson (Room)

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Surprises: None; Snubs: Lily Tomlin (Grandma) or Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Thoughts: Another category that was immaculately predicted by me, though again my one disagreement is a loud one. Don’t get me wrong, Jennifer Lawrence is a wonderful actress whom I’ve cheered on ever since her first underdog nomination for the haunting Winter’s Bone. However, David O. Russell’s Joy was an absolute mess that had at the center of it a miscast leading lady who had no business playing that role. She did a capable job of handling what was going to be an arduous task of keeping a disorganized film afloat, but let’s be honest, this particular role for this particular film wouldn’t have been nominated had it been anyone other than Jennifer Lawrence. She’s not getting nominated anymore based on talent (than ended after Silver Linings Playbook), but instead on populist appeal. That’s an unsettling progression for any awards venues, though the Academy voting body has never been, nor ever will be, perfect. Had more people seen Lily Tomlin’s brilliant comedic performance in Grandma she would have made it through over Lawrence’s unremarkable one. Personally I would have liked to see Charlize Theron recognized for turning the gender roles of the action genre on its head with a fully captivating and emotionally resonating performance.

creed_2Best Supporting Actor

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Surprises: Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Christian Bale (The Big Short); Snubs: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) or Jacob Tremblay (Room)

Thoughts: Perhaps Christian Bale isn’t too much of a surprise considering how much the Academy has loved him, from The Figher to American Hustle. But it’s the pleasantly surprising and deserving first-time nomination for Tom Hardy who has worked extremely hard this year with captivating performances in not only The Revenant, but also in Mad Max: Fury Road and Legend. It’s a deserving nod and one he could potentially take to a win considering the adoring love for The Revenant with 12 nominations total. The obvious snub is that of Idris Elba’s brilliant embodiment of manipulative evil in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s now thoroughly under-appreciated Beasts of No Nation. It’s funny that the Academy took such a drubbing last year for their white-washed awards season, and now that they’ve left a truly deserving black actors name out of the running again (last year it was David Oyelowo for Selma) they’ve opened themselves up again to scathing criticism. It really should be Idris’ name listed instead of both Christian Bale or even populist favorite Sylvester Stallone, and most people who take the acting craft seriously should know that.

danish_girl-vikanderBest Supporting Actress

Rooney Mara (Carol)

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Surprises: None; Snubs: Cynthia Nixon (James White)

Thoughts: Usually my prediction strengths lie in technical categories, but this year my acting category prediction was practically perfect (minus the Supporting Actor category). This one wasn’t any different and I’m glad to see most of these strong acting talents being recognized for their phenomenal work all around. Rachel McAdams was one that I was worried about, mostly because her performance is basically a study in portraying a character through the most minimalist and assured gestures. She never once showed the technical gears of her performance, making it a fully human one for a fully human film. I really hope Alicia Vikander can take the top honors once the award season is in full swing, not only for her superior performance in The Danish Girl, but also her brilliant life-like transformation into an artificially designed robot with a soul in Ex Machina. A personal grievance is Cynthia Nixon’s great work in James White, but putting her in would mean taking out one of these deserving nominations.

Brooklyn-2015-3Best Adapted Screenplay

Room (Emma Donoghue)

Carol (Phyllis Nagy)

Brooklyn (Nick Hornby)

The Big Short (Adam McKay & Charles Randolph)

The Martian (Drew Goddard)

SurprisesBrooklyn (Nick Hornby), Room (Emma Donoghue); Snubs: Steve Jobs (Aaron Sorkin)

Thoughts: One of the biggest snubs of this award season is omitting Aaron Sorkin’s inventive, unconventional, and perceptive twist on the traditional biopic for Steve Jobs, which is baffling considering it received a nominations for the BAFTAs, the Golden Globes, and the WGA. Clearly the academy had absolutely no love for this film beyond its expected acting nominations, and that’s rather unfortunate considering it was one of the most inventive adaptations of a notable work in some time. Perhaps Sorkin’s creative liberty with the source material came into the process of considering whether it strictly was an adaptation or not. It’s just unfortunate that the supposed front runner in the competition is not even competing for a spot that’s most deserving of recognition. This leaves the door open for any of these other contenders to slip into the winner’s circle, though my bet now is a conciliation prize for The Big Short.

ex machinaBest Original Screenplay

Spotlight (Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer)

Inside Out (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, & Josh Cooley)

Bridge of Spies (Joel & Ethan Coen, Matt Charman)

Ex Machina (Alex Garland)

Straight Outta Compton (Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff)

SurprisesStraight Outta Compton (Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff); Snubs: The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino), Sicario (Taylor Sheridan)

Thoughts: Does anyone else find it rather humorous that the Academy has given a conciliation nomination to Straight Outta Compton that comprises four white writers? Talk about rather embarrassing in the scope of including diversity to the Awards proceedings, mainly because it doesn’t add one bit of diversity to its contenders. Diversity shouldn’t be a reason to nominate anything, but it’s clear that the mediocre at best screenplay was merely chosen for an opportunity to give the film some notice. Though Tarantino’s latest is flawed in execution, the script is remarkably written and full of the delicious original dialogue he’s known for. Objectively speaking, The Hateful Eight is superior writing compared to Straight Outta Compton. Another effective screenplay that’s being drastically overlooked is Taylor Sheridan’s screenwriting debut with Sicario. Either of those options would have been better suited than a faux attempt at diversity with Straight Outta Compton.

sonofsaul2-1600x900-c-defaultBest Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul (Hungary)

Mustang (France)

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)

Theeb (Jordan)

A War (Denmark)

SurprisesTheeb (Jordan); Snubs: Viva (Ireland)

Thoughts: There are always some surprising reveals when it comes to the Best Foreign Language Film category, and this year didn’t have as many as usual. The supposed front runners remain with Hungary’s devastating Son of Saul and France’s (or technically Turkey’s) anti-patriarchal hope poem Mustang. The remainder of the category was going to fill out rather randomly, but it was Jordan’s film Theeb that ended up pulling out the upset over Ireland’s Viva, a move that doesn’t seem as surprising considering how much love Theeb garnered in nominations at the BAFTAs. It will be an interesting development to see if votes get split again to reveal a surprising winner, but right now this is Son of Saul‘s to lose.

insideoutBest Animated Feature

Anamolisa (Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, & Rosa Tran)

Inside Out (Pete Docter & Jonas Rivera)

When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi & Yoshiaki Nishimura)

Shaun the Sheep (Mark Burton & Richard Starzak)

Boy and the World (Alê Abreu)

SurprisesBoy and the WorldWhen Marnie Was There; Snubs: None

Thoughts: If I were putting my top five definitely should be nominated list it would have been these chosen five here. It’s actually quite surprising that it worked out that way, considering I took a cynical wide release route with my choices of The Peanuts Movie and The Prophet (also a well deserving title). Nothing really to get mad about it, and really just wait for Pixar to pull off the win unless Charlie Kaufman & Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa can surprise (it can’t, but we can contemplate that secondary dimension with fondness).

Amy-WinehouseBest Documentary Feature

The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer & Signe Byrge Sorensen)

What Happened Ms. Simone? (Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby, & Justin Wilkes)

Amy (Asif Kapadia & James Gay-Rees)

Cartel Land (Matthew Heineman & Tom Yellin)

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Evgeny Afineevsky & Den Tolmor)

Surprises: None; Snubs: None

Thoughts: No real surprises or snubs for the documentary feature. It seems Netflix has a way of dominating this category, though a win for either What Happened Ms. Simone? and Winter on Fire might be difficult to manage. This seems like another year where Joshua Oppenheimer will lose again to a music oriented documentary when he’s clearly one of the most engaging, visual, and experimental artists working in the documentary medium. Let’s hope he gets his chance.

THE REVENANTBest Cinematography

Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)

The Revenant (Emmanuel “El Chivo” Lubezki)

Sicario (Roger Deakins)

Carol (Ed Lachman)

The Hateful Eight (Robert Richardson)

Surprises: None; Snubs: None

Thoughts: There was a very good chance that Robert Richardson wouldn’t make it in for his stunning use of 70mm Panavision for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, but he fortunately grabbed that fifth slot nomination. This was a pretty set category so none of these should really be a surprise. It’s true Janusz Kaminski received an ASC nomination from the Cinematographers Guild, but that was a comforting choice for a comforting project. It’s a shame that Mátyás Erdély has not even be mentioned or considered for his phenomenal shallow focus artistry for Son of Saul, but that was always to be expected for a divisive foreign feature. Expect Lubezki to win for this third straight year in a row for his superhuman cinematography work in The Revenant, unless the Academy is feeling generous towards Roget Deakins since it is his 13th nomination without a win.

bigshottrailerBest Film Editing

The Revenant (Stephen Mirrione)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey)

The Big Short (Hank Corwin)

Spotlight (Tom McArdle)

SurprisesStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey); Snubs: Sicario (Joe Walker)

Thoughts: Another category that seemed set based on the ACE nominations earlier this month, and yet the omitted ACE nominee Spotlight pulls out a surprise nomination replacing the worthy work of Joe Walker for Sicario. I would have liked to see Sicario in the place of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, mostly because Denis Villeneuve’s drug war thriller was so anxiously dependent on the fine tuned editing. It was all part of its technical mastery and unnerving atmosphere, making you feel something through editing rather than a pieced together thrill ride that was J.J. Abrams overrated spiritual reboot. The favorite might actually be The Big Short.

carol-cannes-film-festival-3Best Costume Design

Mad Max: Fury Road (Jenny Beavan)

The Danish Girl (Paco Delgado)

Carol (Sandy Powell)

Cinderella (Sandy Powell)

The Revenant (Jacqueline West)

Surprises: None; Snubs: Crimson Peak (Kate Hawley)

Thoughts: No real surprises here, but I’ll remain vigilant on the costume wonders of Guillermo Del Toro’s Victorian horror film Crimson Peak, which had superb production design and costumes all for the sake of artistic expression. It certainly might not have been as good of a film as, say, The Revenant or The Danish Girl (actually it might very well be better than Tom Hooper’s Oscar bait picture), but it nonetheless had its own purity in aesthetic.

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Immortan-JoeBest Makeup & Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road (Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega & Damian Martin)

The Revenant (Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini)

The 1,000-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Love Larson and Eva von Bahr)

Surprises: The 1,000-Year-Old-Man (Love Larson and Eva von Bahr); Snubs: None

Thoughts: Certainly the omission of Black Mass from this category could be considered a snub, but since the film didn’t even garner a single nomination it’s safe to say that it’s not really all that terrible. Besides, it wouldn’t have won anyway.

Mad Max Fury Road Car Accident Fire Stills WallpaperBest Production Design

Mad Max: Fury Road (Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson)

Bridge of Spies (Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich)

The Danish Girl (Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish)

The Martian (Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak)

The Revenant (Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy)

Surprises: The RevenantSnubs: Carol

Thoughts: There just doesn’t seem to be the appreciation for Carol that it rightly should have, despite the fact that it does have two acting nominations, cinematography, and adapted screenplay. Still, there could be more praise where it’s due and Production Design was another aspect of the film that seemed far superior than even a couple of the nomination contenders listed here. Not necessarily a travesty of award injustice, but it definitely confirms the Academy’s staunch neglect for this pristine romance.


Best Original Score

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

Carol (Carter Burwell)

The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)

SurprisesSicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson); Snubs: The Danish Girl (Alexandre Desplat), Inside Out (Michael Giacchino)

Thoughts: While it’s not all that surprising to see Thomas Newman’s simplistic score for Bridge of Spies nominated here it’s definitely surprising to see Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score for Sicario making the top list of competitors. Perhaps it’s the fact that the Academy is coming off knowing his work from last year’s The Theory of Everything so the name has some familiarity this time around in the voting process. It’s just appalling to see Michael Giacchino omitted from the race, mostly because he’s becoming the modern day John Williams in terms of consistent quality and emotive resonance of score. I would have rather seen his name listed than John Williams who has the single most nominations from the Academy Awards in history. His not as memorable score for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens seems to have made it based solely on name recognition and not for the artistic enhancement a score is supposed to bring to a film.

youth-reviewBest Original Song

“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey (Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio)

“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction (Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty) 

“Simple Song #3” from Youth (Music and Lyric by David Lang)

“Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground (Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga)

“Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre (Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith)

Surprises: None; Snubs: Apparently “See You Again” from Furious 7

Thoughts: Who cares

sicario4Best Sound Editing

The Revenant (Martin Hernandez & Lon Bender)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Mark Mangini & David White)

The Martian (Oliver Tarney)

Sicario (Alan Robert Murray)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Matthew Wood and David Acord)

Surprises: None; Snubs: None

Thoughts: These were my chosen five nominations and I don’t think there were any really left out of contention that were supposedly superior than these initial contenders. Action, fantasy, and technical acrobatics with precision in sound seem to lead this category and each of these possessed that very quality. This is most likely The Revenant‘s in both sound categories.

bridgeofspies2Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies (Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson)

The Martian (Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth)

The Revenant (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek)

Surprises: Bridge of Spies; Snubs: The Hateful Eight

Thoughts: Another category that could have gone either way, and in this case it seems the Academy has slanted in favor towards Steven Spielberg’s Cold-War thriller Bridge of Spies over Quentin Tarantino’s most divisive project to date, The Hateful Eight.

Ex-Machina-Download-WallpapersBest Visual Effects

The Revenant (Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer)

Mad Max: Fury Road (Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams)

The Martian (Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner)

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould)

Ex Machina (Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett)

Surprises: Ex MachinaSnubs: The Walk

Thoughts: I could’ve sworn that Robert Zemeckis’ saccharine biopic The Walk would have at least achieved a nomination for its stunning last half hour of purely visual effects work. It’s an astounding accomplishment with real emotional and physical tension that deserves some recognition for just how believable and thrilling it all can be. Of course the film itself is a mediocre ham sandwich with lackluster performances, god awful narration, and a narrative that is so laborious in execution that it seems to take away from the entirety of the experience. But that’s no reason to discredit its beautiful visual effects work, and unfortunately that’s what has happened. One positive omission is that of Jurassic World, which was by far one of the worst movies this past year despite having achieved such a heavy box office success due to people being absolutely desperate for something. The nice surprise addition here is the artistic use of visual effects in Ex Machina, which was absolutely stunning and one of the most memorable uses of CGI this past year.

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