OSCAR NOMINATIONS ANNOUNCED – so, what happened with those hoped for bragging rights, Danny?

Oscar 3

So the Academy Award nominations were announced this morning, and as every year I had the TV on, munching my breakfast, and followed along as they were read out (see the full list of nominees at the bottom of this post).

bos9And as every year, the greatest noise will probably be made about what got “snubbed” and I suppose my post will be no different.  But let me first point out that I saw 6 of the 8 best picture nominees and count those 6 as among the best films I saw this year (and The Big Short and The Revenant were already on top of my “movies-I-gotta-see” list before today’s announcements).  I’m particularly happy to see Brooklyn and Room, two “small” movies I absolutely loved and whose Oscar fortunes were very much in doubt, make it.  “The Martian” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” are two of the most exciting and fun movie going experiences I had this year (and how cool is it two see two big science fiction films do so well at the Oscars, and two others, “Ex Machina” and some little sci-fi flic about some kind of force awakening, which I also loved no matter my cheek, do pretty well too!)  “Spotlight” is an excellent film that expertly infuriated me, and “Bridge of Spies” moved me to not one but two blog posts about my Cold War Berlin Wall experiences.

Carol 11So no complaints about what made the list.  But a big sigh about at least one that didn’t: Carol.  Carol is “imho” one of the best pictures of the year.  And for it to miss Best Picture and Best Director seems really unfortunate (Todd Haynes really can’t catch a break with the Academy, can he…).  What makes this circumstance truly head-scratching is that Carol got 6 nominations.  It isn’t unprecedented but still highly unusual for a film to get so many nominations but no picture and director noms.  Especially in these years of an expanded Best Picture field that allows for up to 10 films to be nominated, it seems strange that a film that has so much support for its acting (2 noms), writing, cinematography, music and costumes couldn’t find enough support to make it into best picture.  Even without a best picture nomination, it equals or betters the nomination tally of most of the best picture nominees, with only three films receiving more nominations in all categories.

Ah well.

There will be other gripes.  No black actors nominated, again?  No nomination for Ridley Scott?  No best picture nomination for Inside Out?  And what about…

And then the happy surprises.  Best Director for the very deserving but unexpected Lenny Abrahamson for “Room”.  Screenplay and visual effects nominations for the superb “Ex Machina”.  A German language film in the live action short category (not in Best Foreign Film though, although Germany’s “Labyrinth of Lies” had made the short list).  And who would have guessed back in May, no matter how good the reviews, that a sci-fi dystopian action film like “Mad Max: Fury Road” would get the second most nominations of all at the supposedly staid Oscars, including nods for picture and director.  It’s pretty cool.

Another happy left-field surprise was the inclusion of the wonderful Brazilian independent animated feature “Boy and the World”.  I saw it when it played briefly in theaters and hoped it might make the cut as it is a very visually bold and idiosyncratic film, movingly accessible as well as formally bizarre.

OK.  But how about my bragging rights?  Remember a few weeks ago I made an out there guess about a potential best song surprise nominee.

How did I do?

oscar 4Not so good.  “I’ll See You in My Dreams” wasn’t chosen.  In stead the “surprise out there nominee would appear to be “Manta Ray” from the documentary “Racing Extinction”.  Well, at least I wasn’t the only one surprised.  But if I had known earlier “Manta Ray” was written by the same composer who was already previously nominated for his song for another documentary “Chasing Ice”, I would have included it in my article (easy to say now, right?).

At least I can say that I wrote at length about the other four songs nominated (including the other song from a documentary – how’s that for a statistic, two songs from documentaries in one year, when before today there had been only two songs from documentaries nominated in Oscar history), although if I am going to give myself points for that, I should also make deductions for underestimating the chances of “Writing’s on the Wall”.

So as far as my little attempt at Oscar prognostication, I’d say that is pretty weak tea leaves reading.

But then, reportedly this is a very unpredictable Awards season this year.


Best motion picture of the year
• “The Big Short” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers – 5 noms total
• “Bridge of Spies” Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers – 6 noms total
• “Brooklyn” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers – 3 noms total
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers – 10 noms total
• “The Martian” Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers – 7 noms total
• “The Revenant” Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers – 12 noms total
• “Room” Ed Guiney, Producer – 4 noms total
• “Spotlight” Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers – 6 noms total

[Multiple nominations for non BP nominated films:
Carol – 6
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 5
The Danish Girl – 4
The Hateful Eight – 3
Sicario – 3
Inside Out – 2
ExMachina – 2
Steve Jobs – 2]

Performance by an actor in a leading role
• Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo”
• Matt Damon in “The Martian”
• Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”
• Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs”
• Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
• Christian Bale in “The Big Short”
• Tom Hardy in “The Revenant”
• Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight”
• Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies”
• Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”

Performance by an actress in a leading role
• Cate Blanchett in “Carol”
• Brie Larson in “Room”
• Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy”
• Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years”
• Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
• Jennifer Jason Leigh in “The Hateful Eight”
• Rooney Mara in “Carol”
• Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight”
• Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”
• Kate Winslet in “Steve Jobs”

Best animated feature film of the year
• “Anomalisa” Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran
• “Boy and the World” Alê Abreu
• “Inside Out” Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
• “Shaun the Sheep Movie” Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
• “When Marnie Was There” Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Achievement in cinematography
• “Carol” Ed Lachman
• “The Hateful Eight” Robert Richardson
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” John Seale
• “The Revenant” Emmanuel Lubezki
• “Sicario” Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design
• “Carol” Sandy Powell
• “Cinderella” Sandy Powell
• “The Danish Girl” Paco Delgado
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Jenny Beavan
• “The Revenant” Jacqueline West

Achievement in directing
• “The Big Short” Adam McKay
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” George Miller
• “The Revenant” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
• “Room” Lenny Abrahamson
• “Spotlight” Tom McCarthy

Best documentary feature
• “Amy” Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
• “Cartel Land” Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
• “The Look of Silence” Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
• “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes
• “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor

Best documentary short subject
• “Body Team 12” David Darg and Bryn Mooser
• “Chau, beyond the Lines” Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
• “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” Adam Benzine
• “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
• “Last Day of Freedom” Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

Achievement in film editing
• “The Big Short” Hank Corwin
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Margaret Sixel
• “The Revenant” Stephen Mirrione
• “Spotlight” Tom McArdle
• “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Best foreign language film of the year
• “Embrace of the Serpent” Colombia
• “Mustang” France
• “Son of Saul” Hungary
• “Theeb” Jordan
• “A War” Denmark

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
• “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared” Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
• “The Revenant” Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
• “Bridge of Spies” Thomas Newman
• “Carol” Carter Burwell
• “The Hateful Eight” Ennio Morricone
• “Sicario” Jóhann Jóhannsson
• “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” John Williams

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (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

Achievement in production design
• “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
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
• “The Martian” Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
• “The Revenant” Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Best animated short film
• “Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
• “Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
• “Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
• “We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit
• “World of Tomorrow” Don Hertzfeldt

Best live action short film
• “Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont
• “Day One” Henry Hughes
• “Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath
• “Shok” Jamie Donoughue
• “Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage

Achievement in sound editing
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Mark Mangini and David White
• “The Martian” Oliver Tarney
• “The Revenant” Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
• “Sicario” Alan Robert Murray
• “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Matthew Wood and David Acord

Achievement in sound mixing
• “Bridge of Spies” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
• “The Martian” Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
• “The Revenant” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
• “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects
• “Ex Machina” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
• “Mad Max: Fury Road” Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
• “The Martian” Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
• “The Revenant” Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
• “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Adapted screenplay
• “The Big Short” Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
• “Brooklyn” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
• “Carol” Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy
• “The Martian” Screenplay by Drew Goddard
• “Room” Screenplay by Emma Donoghue

Original screenplay
• “Bridge of Spies” Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
• “Ex Machina” Written by Alex Garland
• “Inside Out” Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
• “Spotlight” Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
• “Straight Outta Compton” Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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