January 14, 2016

Oscarland: The Nominees

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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It was a bad morning for some veterans (Harvey Weinstein, Ridley Scott), and a good one for others (George Miller), as well as for quite a few newcomers.  Let’s dig in:


The Big Short
Bridge Of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Neither of the Weinstein Company’s contenders, The Hateful 8 and Carol, made the cut, and neither did Straight Outta ComptonRoom, however, despite low box office and what seemed to be diminished visibility, is in.  Conventional wisdom would say that The Martian is out of the hunt because its director wasn’t nominated–but remember Argo.  At the moment, the main contenders seem to be Spotlight, The Big Short and The RevenantStar Wars: The Force Awakens was largely left to bask in its billions.


The Big Short, Adam McKay

Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller

The Revenant, Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Room, Lenny Abrahamson

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

The biggest shock of the day was Ridley Scott’s omission from Director, a category where many believed him to be the favorite.  (Also missing:  Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, among others.)  The corresponding surprise was that Lenny Abrahamson made the list.  The big question is whether Inarritu can win the Directing award twice in a row, or if the much less flashy Tom McCarthy can make a run–and don’t discount Adam McKay’s chances.


Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Micheal Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

No big surprises here, although Johnny Depp might have found his way in.  Unless something remarkable happens, Leonardo DiCaprio will be up on the podium next month.


Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

The buzz had said that Rampling would get the first nomination of her long career, and that’s what happened.  Also notable was that both Rooney Mara and Alicia VIkander, who truly gave lead performances, were granted their studios’ wishes and considered as Supporting Actresses.  Brie Larson would seem to be the big favorite here, unless there’s a groundswell for Ronan or Rampling.  This won’t be Jennifer Lawrence’s year, but her Oscar appeal at age 25 is still phenomenal.


Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge Of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Is it Stallone’s year?  All of the nominees have a shot in this category (although Bale, having won recently for The Fighter, seems unlikely), but sentiment and momentum seem to be going Rocky’s way.  Among those left out:  Michael Shannon and Benicio del Toro.


Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

About the only good news for Hateful 8 today was that Jennifer Jason Leigh got her nomination, and she could win, although Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara–both, as noted, really giving lead performances–are the early favorites.  A win by Winslet, despite her Golden Globe, seems less likely.  Helen Mirren was probably the strongest possibility left out.


Bridge Of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Straight Outta Compton

Compton‘s only major nomination came here, but the real surprise was Ex Machina displacing Quentin Tarantino.  This would seem to be Spotlight‘s award for the taking.


The Big Short

Despite his Golden Globe, Aaron Sorkin won’t be winning another Oscar today, as Steve Jobs was omitted.  This is a tough category where anything can happen, although Big Short and Room seem to have the best chances.


Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)

Mustang (France)

Son of Saul (Hungary)

Theeb (Jordan)

A War (Denmark)

As is often the case with this category, somewhat of a mystery, since several of the films have had little if any commercial exposure in the US.  Son of Saul would seem like the prohibitive favorite, not for the cynical reason that it’s a Holocaust film, but because it’s an overpowering piece of cinema.


Boy And The World
Inside Out
Shaun The Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

The knock-us-over-with-a-feather category of the day.  Inside Out and Anomalisa were supposed to be nominated and were, but after that the Animation branch largely went its own way, omitting such major Hollywood features as The Good Dinosaur, Minions, and The Peanuts Movie.

There are, of course, many other categories, and their nominees can be found here.  Suffice it to say that practically every branch awarded Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, which may (or may not) suggest that they have deep appeal throughout the Academy.

Let the campaigning begin:  the awards will be handed out on February 28.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."