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Ten things we learned from the 2016 Oscar nominations

The 2016 Academy Award nominations were announced this morning. Here’s what they taught us

By Cath Clarke, Dave Calhoun and Tom Huddleston

The 2016 Oscars will take place on Sunday February 28 in Los Angeles – and after today’s announcement we know who’s nominated. Period western ‘The Revenant’ won 12 nominations; dystopian sci-fi ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ won ten; and inter-planetary romp ‘The Martian’ won seven. But still the film to beat for the coveted Best Picture prize remains Boston journalism drama ‘Spotlight’, which won six nominations. Here's what the nominations revealed.

RECOMMENDED: Read our full guide to the Oscars 2016

Oscar nominations 2016, the revanant, Leonardo DiCaprio

1. The Best Actor category remains as predictable as it threatened to be

Leonardo DiCaprio is now the hot favourite to win Best Actor for ‘The Revenant’ (which won the most nominations overall, with 12). And good on him – but this category was pretty much sketched out before anyone had even seen the films. He’s joined by Michael Fassbender (‘Steve Jobs’), Bryan Cranston (‘Trumbo’), Eddie Redmayne (‘The Danish Girl’) and Matt Damon (‘The Martian’). Start rehearsing your losing faces, chaps. DC

Oscar nominations 2016, actress Brie Larson, Room

2. The Best Actress category is way more interesting than Best Actor

It’s the same every year: the Best Actor category is packed with juicy roles. Best Actress, less so. Which goes to show how limited roles are for female actors. That’s all changed this year, with a line-up of complex, intriguing and complicated female characters – from favourite Brie Larson’s kidnap victim in ‘Room’ to Saoirse Ronan’s young Irish woman with a big new life ahead of her in ‘Brooklyn’ and Cate Blanchett’s daring pioneer in romance ‘Carol’. CC

Oscar nominations 2016, Charlotte Rampling

3. Oscar voters love Charlotte Rampling more than Bafta voters

There was an outcry when the Baftas – the British equivalent of the Oscars – failed to award Charlotte Rampling a Best Actress nomination for her stunning performance in the brilliant British marriage drama ‘45 Years’. How embarrassing for the Baftas then that their error has been corrected by the Oscars. It’s unlikely that 69-year-old Rampling will win – that honour will most likely go to Brie Larson for ‘Room’ – but two fingers up to Bafta. CC

Oscar nominations 2016, Carol

4. ‘Carol’ was robbed

It’s been nominated for Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress and Best Actress as well as several technical awards, so can we really say that ‘Carol’ should have had more? Yes, yes, and three times yes: Time Out’s favourite film of 2015 richly deserved a Best Picture nod, and Todd Haynes ought to have been tipped for Best Director. ‘Spotlight’ may be a fine film, but Todd McCarthy’s direction is proficient, while Haynes brought a glorious shimmer and style to his 1950s-set story. Still, we’re heartened by the overwhelming probability that Haynes doesn’t give a damn about all this hoo-ha. TH

Oscar nominations 2016, Mad Max Fury Road

5. Mad Max trumps Star Wars

Is it because young whippersnapper JJ Abrams refused to allow voters to see ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ before its release, so alienating all of Hollywood’s crotchety old men? Or is it just that ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is (let’s be honest) the better movie? Either way, the monumentally successful ‘Star Wars’ has to make do with a handful of technical categories, while George Miller’s critically beloved but hardly box-office shattering apocalyptic adventure has snagged Best Picture and Director nods among a total of ten nominations. The film scored high in our Best of 2015 poll, so we couldn't be happier. TH

Oscar 2016 nominations, Inside Out, best movie

6. It's Disney versus puppet sex in the Best Animated Feature category

Surely Pixar’s ‘Inside Out’ is the favourite to win in this category? But biting at its heels is a truly adult film, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s stop-motion animated film ‘Anomalisa’ – about a lonely businessman who has a one-night stand in a Cincinnati hotel. It features one of the most realistic, erotic and touching sex scenes in the movies. It’s also probably a bit too much for gentle Oscar voters. DC

Oscar nominations 2016, Screenplay, Hateful Eight

7. Quentin Tarantino may have gone too far this time

He’s usually a lock for a Best Original Screenplay nomination (and he’s won it twice, for ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Django Unchained’). But Quentin Tarantino’s ‘The Hateful Eight’ was shut out of pretty much all the major categories this year, save for Original Score for Ennio Morricone and a Supporting Actress nod for Jennifer Jason Leigh. We suspect the film was simply too violent, verbose and long-winded to appeal to old-school Academy voters (and we reckon they have a point). TH

Oscar nominations 2016, Creed

8. The diversity argument will – and should – continue

Every time a person of colour wins anything at the Oscars, the Academy rushes to pat itself on the back and make promises to increase diversity among the nominees. So it’s disappointing to see that promise being broken once again this year. Uplifting ‘Rocky’ sequel ‘Creed’ might have been a long shot for Best Picture (though it’s leagues ahead of, say, ‘The Big Short’), but upcoming star Michael B Jordan surely deserved it more than usual suspects like Michael Fassbender and Eddie Redmayne, who have had their shot. Idris Elba, too, could have expected a Supporting Actor nod for ‘Beasts of No Nation’. And most embarrassingly of all, the popular (if seriously flawed) ‘Straight Outta Compton’ got one nom: for its all-white writing team. Awkward. TH

Oscar nominations 2016, The Martian, Ridl

9. It’s not Ridley Scott's year – again

Despite Matt Damon lobbying for him to win, Ridley Scott didn’t pick up a Best Director nod for ‘The Martian’ (he's been nominated three times before, for ‘Thelma & Louise’, ‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Gladiator’). But there’s still time for the 78-year-old, who’s already working on the next ‘Alien’ episode. And he can take consolation from his film’s unexpectedly large haul of seven nominations, ranking ‘The Martian’ third behind ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Mad Max’. CC

Oscar nominations 2016, Joy, Jennifer Lawrence

10. The Academy loves Jennifer Lawrence

Jennifer Lawrence is only 25 and her nomination for Best Actress for ‘Joy’ is her third in that category – she won for ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ in 2012 and was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for ‘American Hustle’ in 2013. Our advice to J-Law? Keep making films with David O Russell. Every single one has brought her a nomination so far. DC

Check out these weird Oscar winners

20 of the worst Oscar winners in history


It’s Oscar season once again – and while Academy members scratch their heads trying to decide which of this year’s crop of worthy titles deserves to take home the big prize, we trawl the archives to uncover the worst Oscar offences of all time. From the film that beat ‘Citizen Kane’ to Best Picture to the time ‘Harry and the Hendersons’ walked away with a handful of gold, here are all the Academy’s biggest blunders in one handy list. 


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