Our Reactions To This Year’s Oscar Nominations

By January 14, 2016
mad max fury road

Angry yet? I’m sure you are.

As anyone with access to the internet now knows, the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards have been announced. You can find the full list here.

While I can rant all day about snubs and predictability and lack of diversity (which I’ll get to of course) and everyone else I would have liked to see get nominated (which you can find here) I think it’s also important to shine a light on the people who did great work this year and are getting recognized for it. So I want to cover all that by looking at the biggest moments from this morning’s nominations and what we can take away from them.

The whole race is wide open.

For what seems like the first time in forever, many of the categories (and I mean major categories) lack any kind of frontrunner of even clear cut horse race. Last year Best Picture was neck and neck between Boyhood and Birdman. This year I can see it going to Spotlight, The Revenant, The Martian, Mad Max, or even The Big Short. Categories like Best Director, both screenplay categories, cinematography, editing, all up in the air. There’s even doubt in the other acting categories.

While Brie Larson seems like a lock, there’s always the chance of an upset. It seemed like it was Leo’s to lose but with many people (myself included) turning against The Revenant, it could hurt his chances however unlikely. Best Supporting Actor seems to have a frontrunner in Sly Stallone, but after missing out on nominations for other major awards in what is already a 10 persona game of musical chairs, it can always go to Spotlight favorite Mark Ruffalo or Tom Hardy as a way of celebrating his entire year in film including Legend and Oscar favorite Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Supporting Actress on the other hand is trickier. While Winslet won at the Globes, it should be noted that she wasn’t up against frontrunners Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander who both gave terrific lead performances. My money’s on Vikander though officially for The Danish Girl and unofficially for Ex Machina. Although don’t count out comeback queen Jennifer Jason Leigh.

And that’s just the major awards. Most of the categories are filled with great movies and The Revenant.

Mad Max: Fury Road

We all hoped, but did we expect this? We’ve seen it happen all too often before: a smart, visceral blockbuster comes along, knocks everyone’s socks off, becomes most people’s favorite movie of the year, and ends up getting jack squat come Oscar nomination morning. #TheDarkKnight #neverforget

Although I personally would have liked to see Theron get nominated for Best Actress and Junkie XL get nominated for Best Original Score, it’s hard to complain when it’s nominated for everything else and even has a chance of winning some of the big stuff. Although Best Cinematography or bust.

Pleasant Surprises

Ex Machina! Eyes were on Alicia Vikander to get nominated for Best Supporting Actress as she seems to be any time her performance in The Danish Girl gets nominated for lead. So knowing that wouldn’t happen made this surprise nomination for one of the smartest movies of the year a breath of fresh air.

Lenny Abrahamson! While it’s no secret I was hoping for Ridley Scott, Ryan Coogler, Cary Fukunaga, etc., I have to give credit where credit’s due. Abrahamson directed a terrific film and this nod for Best Director for Room was more than welcome.

Charlotte Rampling! Seriously, go see 45 Years if you can. It’s great and she’s great in it.

Straight Outta Compton! It’s for Screenplay, but I’ll take it.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens walks away with 5 nominations, more than any Star Wars film except for A New Hope. Not to mention John Williams is up against Ennio Morricone for Best Original Score. Sweet.

Brooklyn keeps on keeping on as the little film that could. There wasn’t much talk about it leading up to it that I remember, but now this charming little film is nominated for Best Picture. Well ain’t that a treat.

Biggest Snubs

There were smaller films that were Oscar worthy that never stood a chance at being nominated and of course weren’t, but even more surprising are the frontrunners that were missing from the list of nominees.

RIDLEY. SCOTT. Making a huge comeback with his best film since Prometheus (or Black Hawk Down for people who didn’t like Prometheus) he was thought to be a possible frontrunner for his first ever Oscar win. He made a smart, fast, clever film that was made up for plot, character, and forward motion. But I guess his producer nomination for Best Picture isn’t bad.

Not to mention other frontrunners that seem to be missing like Picture and Director for Carol, and Best Director for Steve Spielberg.

Aaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino were thought to be locks for their cinematic stage plays, Sorkin in particular who was also nominated for a WGA and won the Golden Globe. And Johnny Depp seemed destined for Academy redemption for his performance in Black Mass. Not to mention the heap of Best Supporting Actor contenders whose names have been called for other awards but not here like Jacob Tremblay, Paul Dano, Michael Shannon, and Benicio Del Toro.

Probably the most emotional snub is the lack of “See You Again” from Furious 7 in the Best Original Song category. Thought to be the frontrunner as well as being a number one hit that pays respect to Paul Walker (or any late friend), the song was conspicuously absent from the list of nominees, leaving only Lady Gaga with a song worth winning. What got nominated instead? One of the worst Bond songs.

Oh, and no nomination for clever and delightful The Peanuts Movie. Looks like Snoopy will be eating the cheap dog food tonight.

Smaller snubs

There were films and performances that, while great, just weren’t getting the attention they needed and were never going to get nominated. It doesn’t make it right though.

Actors like Ian McKellen (Mr. Holmes), Blythe Danner (I’ll See You In My Dreams), Ben Mendelsohn (Mississippi Grind), Jason Segel (End of the Tour), Marion Cotillard (Macbeth), Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria), and overall films in addition to the ones they were in like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, It Follows, Bone Tomahawk, Cop Car, Predestination, The Gift, etc.

Plus I would have liked to see some technical awards go by the way of Crimson Peak, Tomorrowland, Jupiter Ascending, Jurassic World, Furious 7, and Mission: Impossible. Although to be honest, a nomination for Rebecca Ferguson would have been welcome as well.

Head scratchers

The Revenant gets nominated for Best Visual Effects over Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Everest, Furious 7, Jupiter Ascending, Jurassic World, Tomorrowland and The Walk because it had one CGI bear in one scene.

Rachel McAdams was good I guess? Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a very talented, underrated actress who has been great in other movies many times over. But I don’t know if Spotlight is a standout in her career. I feel so mean right now. I love you, Regina George.

The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared is an actual title of an actual movie that actually got nominated for an actual award.

Sicario definitely had an original score. I can’t remember it but I’m sure it was there.

Three movies nominated for Best Original Screenplay are based on true stories. I know they’re not based on any one medium (book, movie, short story) but calling true stories “original” always seemed off to me.


I don’t want to ruffle feathers, but I had to bring it up.

For the second year in a row, every nominee is white. The immediate reaction of course is, “maybe there weren’t enough worthy nominees” or “the nominations reflect the best of what’s already out there” or something like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’d say most of the people already nominated did great work and deserve their spots, but with two years in a row, essentially 0 for 40, it gets to the point that you can’t ignore it. And with plenty of diverse options to pick from that actually deserve recognition, the “contenders weren’t there” argument doesn’t fly.

Not when you have Creed, Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Dope, and Concussion to pick from. I don’t want to sound like one of those extreme people who won’t be satisfied until every nominee is a person of color, but come on. These aren’t bottom of the barrel, grasping at straws picks. Coogler and Jordan did some of the best work of the year with Creed, and as for Straight Outta Compton? Take your pick of any one great performance in there, not to mention the outstanding work by director F. Gary Gray. And yet the only nominations for either film were for white people (although to be fair, Stallone was fantastic as I’ve already stated). But still, nothing for Will Smith, Idris Elba, Abraham Attah, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, or Shameik Moore.

“But a Latino was nominated for Best Director!”

Yeah, for The Revenant. That doesn’t count.

Final Thoughts

Okay, so I wanted to remain as positive as possible but I got a little derailed there. And I do mean to be positive because, despite how predictable many of the nominees were, there are a lot of great nominees. I’m still annoyed that the Academy seems to pick ten movies and just distribute them between all the categories, but that’s the way it’s always been.

These are just my immediate (and admittedly lengthy) thoughts on the year’s biggest night for movies. Closer to the actual awards we’ll lay out in more detail who we think should win and who probably will win for each award. But for now, let us know how you feel. Do you agree? Do you think I was too harsh? Too forgiving? Were there any surprises that delighted you or any snubs that annoyed you? Let us know.

And be sure to keep checking back for updates – right here on Geeknation.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown

Contributing Writer at GeekNation
Matt is a writer of all sorts and a film addict who's still waiting for his Hogwarts acceptance letter. If you find him at a party, he's probably talking about Xena or doing a Nicolas Cage impression.