2016 Oscar Nominee Reaction – The Locks, The Snubs & The Surprises


Before we get into the nitty-gritty of all the major Oscar nominations, let’s talk about the live stream announcement.  I was up at 5:30 am PST, and found it hilarious that the first official Oscar nominee was from Fifty Shades of Grey (Best Original Song).  Moving on from the Academy Award nominated Fifty Shades of Grey, I have to say I was extremely pleased with everything that transpired.  There’s usually one or two nominees/snubs that I hem and haw about, but not this year.  I’m completely satisfied.

I’m also happy to be wrong on a couple big nominations.  Not only did Sylvester Stallone get his Best Supporting Actor bid, but the Academy finally did it.  They went outside their comfort zone and nominated Mad Max: Fury Road, something I was adamant would never happen.  Sure, we’ve seen films like District 9 and Inception get the call, but remember, the voting was different back then.  Mad Max: Fury Road for Best Picture is a legit nomination.  It got the votes.  The old geezers actually sat down and watched it.  Will it win?  Probably not, but the nomination is definitely cool.  Even Star Wars: The Force Awakens fared well.  It got all the Visual Effects/Sound shenanigans we knew it would, but Best Score and Film Editing?  That’s awesome.  Enough with setting the scene though, let’s break it done!  And the nominees are…


Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road



The Big Short

The Martian

The Revenant

Analysis: Some slight shockers here, but nothing cataclysmic.  While Mad Max: Fury Road was a surprise to me, it wasn’t to the general public.  The Big ShortBridge of SpiesThe MartianThe RevenantSpotlight.  All expected.  I was expecting Brooklyn to be a near miss, but the nomination isn’t totally out of left field.  It’s also a legit great movie.  The big OMG nomination was Room.  When Room first came out, I figured it would be a lock in all major categories.  As awards season went along though, it completely fell off the map, aside from Brie Larson.  I’m thrilled about this, as Room was one of my favorite movies of the year.  Totally deserving.

I’m sad Sicario didn’t get in, but at the end of the day, it didn’t get enough attention.  I have no clue what happened to Carol?  I was convinced this would be a Best Picture front runner all along.  Guess not.  I’m sure Ex Machina and Straight Outta Compton are the big snub complaints, but they were never going to be heavy hitters.  Ex Machina is as non Oscar as it gets, and for all those yelling “SNUB!” on Straight Outta Compton, nobody was predicting major awards until it started getting love from the Guilds.

This is the first year in a while where I can honestly say I have no problem with any of these films winning Best Picture, even Bridge of Spies, one of Spielberg’s better efforts in recent years.  The Revenant is far and away the front runner right now, and before this morning, I would have also said The Martian, which transitions us into our next category.


George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Lenny Abrahamson (Room)

Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Adam McKay (The Big Short)

Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant)

Analysis: What is it about Best Director that always brings the biggest shockers.  Ridley Scott (The Martian), what happened?  Not only am I shocked at the snub, but because of the “long over due” factor, I had him as a possible dark horse winning this category.  Having said that, these are great choices.  I can’t believe the guy who directed Anchorman and Step Brothers has more directing nominations than Christopher Nolan.  Ugh.  To be fair though, McKay did a great job, and deserves to be here.  I love the Lenny Abrahamson call, even though he’s got little chance.  While Inarritu is yet again the front runner, both Tom McCarthy and George Miller have legit shots.  Yes.  George Miller can take this award.


Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)

Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Matt Damon (The Martian)

Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Analysis: When I look back at this category, it was actually fairly easy to pick.  No Johnny Depp.  Oh, that’s a shame.  The movie isn’t very good, and he didn’t deserve it.  I love that Bryan Cranston is here, even though I probably would have put Steve Carell (The Big Short) in his slot.  Matt Damon has a better chance than I originally thought, and with Steve Jobs getting snubbed in the Screenplay category, that tells you something about the Academy’s overall impression of the film.  Michael Fassbender is still a contender, but has taken a major step back.  This is looking more and more like a stone cold lock for Leo.


Brie Larson (Room)

Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

As Jennifer Lawrence’s name got called, I could hear groans in the live stream.  Get over it.  Rampling wasn’t a huge surprise, but somewhat unexpected.  I guess she beat out Helen Mirren (Woman in Gold) and Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van) for the token old lady spot, otherwise known as “The Judi Dench.”  Brie Larson has a commanding lead in this category, with Blanchett and Ronan playing second fiddle.  I’m sure there’s a very small segment of people kicking cans with their arms folded over no Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back), but that movie was barely talked about.


Christian Bale (The Big Short)

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Wow.  What a list.  This is truly a category where just being nominated is an achievement.  I’m sad Michael Shannon (99 Homes) got denied, but it’s hard to yell “snub” in such a stacked category.  As much as I like Michael Keaton, Ruffalo was the better call here for battle of the Spotlight guys.  Congrats to Tom Hardy on a LONG over due nomination.  A great actor, and a great performance.  Christian Bale, what else is there to say?  He makes acting look as easy as breathing.  The one guy on here I feel is overrated is ironically the probable front runner.  I’m sorry, Mark Rylance does nothing special in Bridge of Spies.  It’s a good performance, but an Oscar?  More on that to come in my Oscar breakdowns.  And even though I didn’t think it would happen, now that he got the nomination, Sylvester Stallone has a legit chance to pull this off.  What a magnificent moment that would be.

I’m sure there’s plenty of Paul Dano (Love & Mercy) and Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) disappointments, but you can’t call those snubs.  We throw that term around so loosely.  Every year, people just want to give their laundry list of who didn’t get in.  Okay, so who do you take out?  Put your money where your mouth is.  Both guys were certainly in the running, but so were a bunch of other actors.  Idris Elba in particular had little chance.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – the 85 year old Academy members don’t know what a Netflix is.  Beasts of No Nation got zero nominations.  What does that tell you?


Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Rooney Mara (Carol)

This was another easy to call category.  I’m so thrilled Jennifer Jason Leigh got in over Helen Mirren (Trumbo).  While I enjoy Bryan Cranston’s performance, Trumbo is TV movie level, and I never understood the fascination with Helen Mirren’s performance.  This should be a tight one between Mara and Winslet, with Vikander possibly playing spoiler.


Matt Charman/Ethan Coen/Joel Coen (Bridge of Spies)

Alex Garland (Ex Machina)

Pete Docter/Meg LeFauve/Josh Cooley (Inside Out)

Josh Singer/Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Jonathan Herman/Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton)

No real surprises here other than Sicario missing out.  There you go Ex Machina fans, they threw you a bone.  This is probably the biggest lock of the night for Spotlight, with Inside Out as a long shot.


Nick Hornby (Brooklyn)

Phyllis Nagy (Carol)

Emma Donoghue (Room)

Charles Randolph/Adam McKay (The Big Short)

Drew Goddard (The Martian)

Now here we have a legit snub.  Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) gets bounced.  While everyone was “meh” on the movie, I assumed Sorkin would still get the call here, and maybe even be the front runner.  I have no clue who’s going to claim this award with Sorkin out.  I guess you’d have to give the edge to Room or Brooklyn, but aside from Carol, it’s anybody’s ball game.
Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow’s fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.