Saturday, January 16, 2016

Observations on the 2016 Oscar Nominations (with No Bitching About What Didn’t Make It)

The 2016 Oscar nominations were announced Thursday.  Going down through them there are a few eyebrow raisers, but no out and out WTFs like a few years ago when Ben Affleck didn’t even get nominated for Best Director for the movie that ended up winning Best Picture (Argo).

Here are the eight Best Picture nominees:

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

I will post reviews for as many of these movies as I would recommend prior to the Oscar telecast on February 28th.  At this point I have seen five of the eight and would recommend all five.  I will also post my predictions in the days leading up to the ceremony.  And I may have my yearly Oscar quiz.

Most nominations among the Best Picture nominees:

The Revenant – 12
Mad Max: Fury Road – 10
The Martian – 7
Bridge of Spies – 6
Spotlight – 6
The Big Short – 5
Room – 4
Brooklyn – 3

Multiple nominations among other “Oscar bait” films:

Carol – 6 (Actress, Supporting Actress, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Score, Costume Design)
The Danish Girl – 4 (Actor, Supporting Actress, Costume Design, Production Design)
Sicario – 3 (Cinematography, Score, Sound Editing)
Steve Jobs – 2 (Actor, Supporting Actress)

I’m not sure if any of these will win an award.  My best guess would be Carol for Costume Design.

Mainstream movies with nominations:

Mad Max: Fury Road – 10 (Picture, Director, Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup/Hairstyling, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing)
The Martian – 7 (Picture, Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Production Design, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 5 (Editing, Score, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing)
The Hateful Eight – 3 (Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Score)
Ex Machina – 2 (Original Screenplay, Visual Effects)
Cinderella – 1 (Costume Design)
Fifty Shades of Grey – 1 (Song)
Spectre – 1 (Song)
Straight Outta Compton – 1 (Original Screenplay)

Two years ago there was only the usual assortment of technical nominations.  Last year, however, Interstellar received five nominations.  And this year is a bonanza for popular films with three getting at least five nominations, two of those even for Best Picture.

Best Animated, Foreign Language, or Documentary nominees with any other nominations:

Inside Out – 2 (Original Screenplay, Animated Feature)

Last year not one of the nominees for Best Animated Feature received a Best Original Song nomination and that continues this year.  In fact, no animated film was nominated in the Best Song category this year (last year had one – The Lego Movie). 

Surprisingly, though, not one but two documentaries were nominated for Best Song this year – The Hunting Ground and Racing Extinction – but neither was nominated for Best Documentary.  The only other docs I remember having a Best Song nominee were the recent Chasing Ice (2012) and An Inconvenient Truth (2006).  Maybe this is a new tactic to get more people to watch documentaries.

Movies Nominated Only for Acting:

Steve Jobs (Michael Fassbender – Actor, Kate Winslet – Supporting Actress)
Trumbo (Bryan Cranston – Actor)
45 Years (Charlotte Rampling – Actress)
Joy (Jennifer Lawrence – Actress)
Creed (Sylvester Stallone – Supporting Actor)

The fact that two of the Best Actor nominations come from films with no other Oscar support is a little surprising.  It’s relatively common for Best Actress nominees.

No film was nominated in all five major categories:

Last year saw three films nominated in four of the five categories (Birdman, The Theory of Everything, and The Imitation Game), but this year only the little seen Room managed that feat (Picture, Director, Actress, Screenplay; missing for Actor).  And it received only those four nominations and no others.

Like Boyhood last year, Spotlight had a “mini-five” by receiving nominations for Film, Director, Screenplay, and then Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.

Other observations:

AMPAS expanded from five Best Picture nominees to ten for the 2010 Oscars.  They must have felt that was going to be too many because it only lasted that way two years then they changed it to be “up to ten” nominees.  Nine appeared to be the magic number for them after that because the next three years saw that many.  Then came 2015 and 2016 where they have gone with eight.  Maybe they are slowly working their way back down to five nominees.

The increased nominations were done primarily to include at least one big, popular film, and/or a film dealing with minority issues.  Most years it has achieved that goal (Precious in 2010, Inception in 2011, The Help in 2012, Django Unchained in 2013, Gravity in 2014, and Selma in 2015.)  This year has seen a bonanza with Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, and even to a certain extent The Big Short, all getting Best Picture nominations.

Looking at the “real” Best Picture nominees (those that also received one of the five Best Director nominations) two of the remaining three – Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn – are not really surprises for not being nominated for Best Director.  The Martian is a bit of a surprise since it is Ridley Scott’s best film in many years.  Unlike last year, there are no Best Director nominees that did not also receive a Best Picture nomination.

Last year fully half of the Best Picture nominees were about real people/events and that continues this year with The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, The Revenant, and Spotlight.  And The Danish Girl, which many expected to be nominated, was also based on actual events.

Once again the Oscars look to other countries to fill out the nominations for Best Animated Feature.  They rarely do this in the Best Picture category, but it’s almost common in this one.  The result, though, is that some American animated films that were expecting nominations did not receive them.  The Peanuts Movie being left out this year is probably the biggest surprise here.  (As was The Lego Movie last year).

Two of the five Foreign Language Film nominees (Embrace of the Serpent from Colombia and Theeb from Jordan) are the first Oscar nominations for those two countries.

Last year all eight of the Best Picture nominees also received Screenplay nominations.
This year The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road – the two films with the most nominations – did not receive any.  If you think about it, though, it makes sense since neither actually has much story in them when you get right down to it.

Mad Max: Fury Road is also the only Best Picture nominee without a single acting nomination.  While that also happened last year with Selma, that film only received two overall nominations. Mad Max: Fury Road received ten.

The amount of nominations among the Best Picture candidates is more spread out this year.  Last year only Selma had less than five nominations and no film had more than nine.  This year we have 3, 4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 10, and 12 nominations apiece.

The Best Actress category pits two former winners (Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence) against three first time nominees (Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling, and Saoirse Ronan).  Rampling is receiving her first at the age of 70, while Ronan and Larson are 21 and 26, respectively.  Hell, Lawrence is still only 25 and she’s already received four Oscar nominations.  For comparison, Kate Winslet did not receive her fourth nomination until she was 29.  And I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb here when I say that I am pretty sure Rampling is the only Oscar nominee to have ever played a lover of a chimpanzee in a film (1986’s Max Mon Amour – and no, it’s not a comedy).

In the Supporting Actor category Sylvester Stallone is nominated for playing Rocky Balboa, a character he first played 40 years ago.  He was also nominated for that first performance at the 1976 Oscars, although he didn’t win.  I cannot think of any other performer who received Oscar nominations for playing the same character so many years apart.  (If you can think of one, please let me know.) Paul Newman was nominated for playing Fast Eddie Felson in The Hustler (1961) and The Color of Money (1986) – a gap of 25 years.  Like Stallone, Newman lost the first time around.  Newman won the second time.  Maybe this bodes well for Stallone.

On the other hand, Stallone’s competitors include Batman (Christian Bale), Bane (Tom Hardy), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).  Can even the Italian Stallion defeat all of them?

In the Supporting Actress category we’ve got Rooney Mara who probably had more screen time in Carol than co-star Cate Blanchett who was nominated for Best Actress.  I have not seen The Danish Girl yet, but I had read that Supporting Actress nominee Alicia Vikander is actually a co-lead in that one, too.  Kate Winslet has now received her seventh Oscar nomination.  Amazingly, this is the first one ever for Jennifer Jason Leigh, who has had many great performances over the last 35 years.  Rachel McAdams is also a first time nominee. 

Last year I wrote how Roger Deakins was nominated for a 12th time for Best Cinematography and how he had not yet won despite shooting such movies as The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Skyfall, and many others.  He even received two nominations in 2008 for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men, but did not win for either.  Guess what?  He received a 13th nomination this year for Sicario.  And the bad news is he’s probably going to lose again to current golden boy Emmanuel Lubezki who is nominated for The Revenant, a film that is trending upward, while Sicario is already falling by the wayside.

Speaking of Lubezki, he is nominated for Best Cinematography for the third consecutive year.  He has also won the prior two years (Gravity, Birdman) so he has a chance to achieve a very rare feat if he wins again.

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.  At 63 characters its name is one longer than The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which won, coincidentally, for Best Makeup.  If The 100 Year Old Man wins I think it will be the longest titled film to win an Oscar.  Dr. Strangelove or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb is 67 characters long, but it didn’t win any of the four Oscars for which it was nominated.  And if you’re wondering about last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman, its full title is “only” 47 characters long – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Just like the last two years (and many other years) AMPAS swaps out a single nominee from the Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing nominations to try to show that they should remain separate categories, which then allows them to continue to freeze out a Best Stunt Production category.  This year Sicario is in the Sound Editing category while Bridge of Spies is in the Sound Mixing category.  Last year it was The Hobbit and Whiplash.  Two years ago it was All Is Lost and Inside Llewyn Davis splitting them.

Oscars to Golden Globes observations:

Among the ten Golden Globe nominated films four of them did not receive a similar Oscar nomination – Carol from the Drama category and Joy, Spy, and Trainwreck from the Comedy/Musical category.  However, both winners – The Revenant (Drama) and The Martian (Comedy/Musical) – were nominated.

Among the six acting winners from the Globes – Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Brie Larson, Jennifer Lawrence, Sylvester Stallone, and Kate Winslet – all received Oscar acting nominations.  Last year the winner for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical – Amy Adams – was left out.

Like the Oscars, the Globes only have five nominations for Best Director.  They included Ridley Scott for The Martian and Todd Haynes for Carol.  AMPAS swapped them out for Adam McKay (The Big Short) and Lenny Abrahamson (Room).

Across all the Golden Globe film categories the only winner not to receive an Oscar nomination is Aaron Sorkin for his screenplay for Steve Jobs.  And the Globes do not even divide between Original and Adapted with their five nominees, so the Oscars had twice the number of films nominated and still didn’t find room for Sorkin on the ballet.

Here is the complete list of nominations in all twenty-four categories.  I will list my picks for all of them just prior to the Oscars:

Best Picture

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Best Animated Picture

Anomalisa
Boy & the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Picture

Embrace of the Serpent
Colombia
Mustang
Turkey
Son of Saul
Hungary
Theeb
Jordan
A War
Denmark

Best Documentary

Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston
Trumbo
Matt Damon
The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio
The Revenant
Michael Fassbender
Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne
The Danish Girl

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett
Carol
Brie Larson
Room
Jennifer Lawrence
Joy
Charlotte Rampling
45 Years
Saoirse Ronan
Brooklyn

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale
The Big Short
Tom Hardy
The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo
Spotlight
Mark Rylance
Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone
Creed

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh
The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara
Carol
Rachel McAdams
Spotlight
Alicia Vikander
The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet
Steve Jobs

Best Director

Lenny Abrahamson
Room
Alejandro Inarritu
The Revenant
Tom McCarthy
Spotlight
Adam McKay
The Big Short
George Miller
Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Best Original Song

Earned It
Fifty Shades of Grey
Til It Happens to You
The Hunting Ground
Manta Ray
Racing Extinction
Writing’s on the Wall
Spectre
Simple Song #3
Youth

Best Original Score

Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Cinematography

Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Best Editing

The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Costume Design

Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Visual Effects

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Animated Short

Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Best Documentary Short

Body Team 12
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom
War Within the Walls

Best Live Action Short

Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay
Shok
Stutterer

7 comments:

  1. For what it's worth, I agree that the Academy needs to combine the sound categories and add a category for stunts. I'd also like to see them include a category for Best Voice Performance and round up to 25 total awards.

    I'll phrase the next thing not as a complaint but as a surprise--I'm very surprised that Crimson Peak wasn't nominated for production design and costumes.

    I've got some work to do--I've only seen three of these films total. That's not enough.

    So...aside from the obvious Picture/Director/Foreign Language additions to the 1001 list, any you're confident will make this year's set of additions?

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    1. Not to worry about "complaining". It's more the news agencies who practically publish a "who got snubbed" article before they even announce the nominations that irritates me. Then there are the inevitable "issues groups" who treat every non-nomination from whatever group they belong to as a sign of a conspiracy, racism, political retribution, etc. It just feels like there is so much negativity that comes pouring out when the Oscar nominations are announced. I love movies, but it's only a made up award. If my favorite film, actor, director, sound engineer, etc doesn't get a nomination it's not the end of the world. I'll still wake up the next morning (hopefully). I, myself, mentioned surprise at The Peanuts Movie not getting a nomination. Would I have liked to see that? Yes, it would have been nice, but the noms don't matter because they are all losing to Inside Out. (I know it's not one of your favorites, but majority opinion differs in this case.)

      In regards to Crimson Peak I have not seen it yet. The Revenant was nominated in both those categories and there really isn't much to nominate. The costumes are mostly old raggy clothing, and the Production Design is mother nature since the large majority of the film takes place outdoors.

      I just did a count and I've seen 15 nominees, but that includes Best Song nominees Fifty Shades of Grey and Spectre. I've seen 5 of the 8 Best Picture nominees, but only one of the Animated ones, and none of the Documentary and Foreign Film ones. It looks like you've got about 20 new films to see for your reviews.

      Speaking of animated, if you are not aware Best Animated Short nominee World of Tomorrow, from the same guy who did It's Such a Beautiful Day, is streaming on Netflix Instant. I haven't seen it yet, but it's only 16 minutes long.

      In regards to your question, of the ones I've seen I'd guess The Revenant (cinematography) and Spotlight (the issue) from the Best Picture nominees would be in. The Martian and Mad Max:Fury Road are a little bit longer shots just because of the types of films they are. The Big Short is probably too comedic for them. Star Wars: The Force Awakens might get in just because of its pedigree and its box office (although none of the prequels ever made it in). They don't like animation, so I doubt even the winner there gets in. Ex Machina might have a chance because of the story, despite the problems in the third act. Carol is the kind of dreary story critics like, and it does a great job at recreating the period, but there's no emotion in it. It's very cold and antiseptic.

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    2. I fully expect Inside Out to win--I walked out of the theater after seeing it saying that it was going to win the Oscar. No doubt in my mind at all.

      Crimson Peak was pigeonholed into a genre the Academy doesn't like. It was marketed as a horror film even though it's much more a Gothic romance with a few horror elements. It's not a great movie (it's a good one, though), but the costuming is stunning and the set is truly amazing. My guess is that a lot of the voters simply didn't see it, so it wasn't on anyone's radar. It's a shame--while it didn't warrant a nomination anywhere else (and keep in mind, this is coming from someone who loves Guillermo del Toro), the production design absolutely did.

      There were 21 different films nominated for the seven categories I care about--I've seen three, so I've got 18 to track down, probably starting this or next week.

      Mad Max might be a more likely addition than you'd think. While it's not a genre the Book is big on, it's been racking up a lot of awards and a lot of nominations. Regardless of its genre, it's turning out to be a pretty important movie and to have some significant social awareness as well. That might tip things in its favor. At least I think it's got a better chance than Ex Machina. Then again, they put in Guardians of the Galaxy and Cabin in the Woods, so what the hell do I know?

      Delete
    3. You're probably right about Crimson Peak.

      You may be out of luck for a while on seeing the nominees (outside of spending big bucks on the cinema). I believe you've already reviewed the three you've seen (Mad Max, Ex Machina, and Inside Out, right?) Among the others the ones that I know or am guessing are available on DVD are Straight Outta Compton, Shaun the Sheep Movie, maybe The Martian, maybe Steve Jobs, maybe 45 Years, and that's about it. I think the two 2014 foreign animated nominees still haven't made it here yet and Anomalisa was a late Dec release. All the acting and screenplay nominees are for Oscar season releases.

      Mad Max just picked up a bunch of awards at the Critics Choice show Sunday, too. They do seem to like it, which does make it more likely to make the book. I think it might be one of those movies, like The Fugitive, where it gets a ton of critical acclaim even though it's "only an action movie", and where I'm at a bit of a loss to understand the critics. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the movie quite a bit (The Fugitive, too), but neither jump out at me as "critical darlings".

      Delete
  2. I was a little surprised Benicio Del Toro was overlooked for best supporting actor for Sicario, especially when they nominated the film in other categories. I agree it is odd Sorkin missed out on a nom when he won the GG.

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    Replies
    1. I haven't seen Sicario yet, so I can't judge on that.

      If you believe in conspiracies, then there are a lot of Apple supporters who hated the Steve Jobs movie because it showed him for the prick he was, so they didn't vote for Sorkin. Or they were trying to include minorities a little by nominating Straight Outta Compton. Or something else entirely.

      Delete
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