The 2016 Oscar Nominations: Unforgivable Snubs and Pleasant Surprises

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The 88th Academy Award nominations have officially been announced! Every year, there are several unforgivable snubs and pleasant surprises among the Oscar nominees. 2016 is no exception with plenty to complain about, but also plenty to be happy about. Before we get to the good stuff, though, let’s talk about where the Oscars went wrong.

Top 10 Unforgivable Snubs of 2016:


1. No Best Picture Nomination for Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Carol

Eight worthy films made the Best Picture race this year, but two notable titles failed to make the cut. You’re probably familiar with one of these films while the other deserves a much wider audience. Aside from being the year’s biggest blockbuster, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of 2015’s finest examples of filmmaking. It was easily among the five best films of the year, let alone eight. On top of being snubbed from the Best Picture lineup, it was left out of another category where it clearly should have been a front-runner: Best Production Design. Considering that the Academy wouldn’t even nominate The Empire Strikes Back for Best Picture, this snub isn’t all that surprising. What is surprising is that they excluded Carol, an intimate and beautiful love story elegantly crafted by Todd Haynes. One can’t help but wonder if these two exceptional films would’ve gotten in if the Academy had nominated a total of ten motion pictures.



2. No Best Director Nomination for Ridley Scott

Believe it or not, Ridley Scott has never won an Oscar. A lot of people thought the 78-year-old director would finally get his due with The Martian. He was inexplicably left out of the Best Director category, though. Maybe this is because Alfonso Cuarón recently won this award for Gravity, a similar sci-fi thriller. Still, it’s saddening to think Scott will probably never win the Best Director award. Looking on the positive side, Scott was represented in Best Picture for producing The Martian. The odds of that film winning the top prize are slim, however, unless it pulls an Argo. Here’s hoping that the Academy at least gives Scott an honorary Oscar next year.



3. No Best Original Song Nomination for See You Again from Furious 7

A powerful tribute to the late Paul Walker and playing a crucial role in the film, See You Again from Furious 7 should have won the Best Original Song Oscar. Yet, the Grammy-nominated single got no love from the Academy. What did they nominate, though? Earned It from the Razzie-nominated Fifty Shades of Grey and the mediocre Writings on the Wall from Spectre. It’s simply amazing how the Academy constantly screws the pooch when it comes to the Best Original Song category. There’s only one song in this entire lineup that isn’t terrible. We’ll get to that latter, however.



4. No Best Adapted Screenplay Nomination for Steve Jobs

Few writers craft dialog better than the one and only Aaron Sorkin. He completely outdid himself with the exhilarating screenplay for Steve Jobs. After winning the Golden Globe last Sunday, Sorkin seemed safe for a nomination here. Alas, the Academy overlooked the most well-written film of 2015. Fortunately, Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet did receive acting nominations. As for Sorkin, let’s just be thankful that he won for The Social Network a few years ago.



5. No Best Supporting Actor Nomination for Jacob Tremblay in Room

Young Jacob Tremblay’s performance in Room was nothing short of extraordinary, but the Academy failed to recognize him as one of 2015’s best supporting actors. Granted, this could be because many felt he was a lead actor. No matter which category we’re talking about, though, Tremblay should’ve gotten in somewhere.


The Peanuts Movie - Trailer 2

6. No Peanuts Movie in Best Animated Feature

Charlie Brown just can’t catch a break. Although Blue Sky Studios did a remarkable job at recapturing the style and spirit of Charles Schultz’s timeless creation, The Peanuts Movie didn’t resonate with Oscar voters. Between this and The Lego Movie snub last year, is it possible that the Academy has a prejudice against animated features with “Movie” in the title? Probably not, considering that Shaun the Sheep Movie did in fact make the cut here. In any case, this video pretty much sums up our feelings about The Peanuts Movie snub.


People walk past the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles building in Los Angeles, California July 3, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY) - RTR34K5O

7. No Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief in Best Documentary Feature

This haunting HBO documentary took home three Emmy awards, but that failed to translate into Oscar gold. Seeing how there are a fair deal of devout Scientologists in Hollywood, this omission isn’t a total shocker. Nevertheless, its absence here just makes us want to lock ourselves in a closet.


Jurassic World Indominus Rex - Featurette

8. No Jurassic World in Best Visual Effects

The biggest blockbuster of the summer seemed like a shoo-in for at least one nomination. Jurassic World didn’t get in anywhere, though, not even for its awesome visual effects. This scene alone should’ve merited the prehistoric blockbuster a nomination!


hunger games

9. No Love Whatsoever for The Hunger Games Franchise

The Hungers Games franchise was never going to receive major love from the Academy. Over the years, however, you’d think that it would’ve garnered a nomination for Costume or Production Design. With Mockingjay – Part 2 being the final entry in the series, The Hunger Games officially has no nominations to its credit. Even Fifty Shades of Grey has one nomination now, but we digress.



10. No Hateful Eight in Best Original Screenplay

Like Aaron Sorkin, Quentin Tarantino is another iconic writer who seemed like a safe bet for a Best Original Screenplay nomination. His killer script for The Hateful Eight was strangely left out, though. Of course it’s hard to be too mad since Tarantino does have two screenwriting Oscars already. Maybe this is just the Academy’s way of spreading the love.


Concussion - Trailer 2

Bonus: No African American Actors Represented

A lot of people were expecting Will Smith to score a Best Actor nomination for Concussion and Idris Elba to receive a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Beasts of No Nation. We were particularly hoping to see a surprise nomination for Michael B. Jordan’s performance in Creed. For the second year in a row, though, the Academy neglected to recognize any African American actors. How much you want to bet host Chris Rock will joke about this in his opening monologue?

Now that we’ve gone through all the negatives, let’s take a look at a few silver linings.


Top 10 Pleasant Surprises of 2016:


1. Mad Max: Fury Road Scores 10 Nominations

Everyone was blown away by George Miller’s action magnum opus last summer, but few people thought it would connect with Oscar voters. Against all the odds, Mad Max: Fury Road kept gaining momentum this award season. Now it’s victoriously achieved a total of ten Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Does this mean that Mad Max will become the most unlikely Best Picture winner in Academy history? Probably not, seeing how The Revenant is standing in its way with twelve nominations. Of course we have underestimated Mad Max before. For all we know, it could finish first. In any case, it looks like Oscar voters aren’t total snobs after all.


45 Years

2. Charlotte Rampling in Best Actress for 45 Years

Charlotte Rampling’s heartbreaking, understated work in 45 Years hasn’t been discussed nearly enough this award season. Thank goodness the Academy set things right by giving the veteran character actress her first Oscar nomination.


Screenshot from "When Marnie Was There." (Studio Ghibli/TNS)

3. When Marnie Was There in Best Animated Feature

While it is distressing to see The Peanuts Movie left out of the Best Animated Feature race, they at least nominated an outstanding alternative with When Marnie Was There. We recently brought this wonderful coming of age story up in our Memo to the Academy. It’s good to see that they listened to us.


Room - 'Jacob' featurette

4. Lenny Abrahamson in Best Director for Room

After failing to get in at PGA and DGA, it looked like Room wasn’t even guaranteed a Best Picture nomination. Fortunately, this deeply emotional drama not only got into the Academy’s top category, but Lenny Abrahamson even scored a surprise nomination for Best Director. It’s certainly a worthy nod considering how Abrahamson was able to accomplish so much in such a limited environment.



5. Inside Out, Straight Outta Compton, and Ex Machina in Best Original Screenplay

Sure, it’s upsetting that The Hateful Eight got snubbed for Best Original Screenplay, as did Trainwreck. Regardless, the Academy did recognize five exceptionally-written films. It’s especially encouraging to see the wildly imaginative Inside Out, the powerful Straight Outta Compton, and the thought-provoking Ex Machina here. Of course this race is really between Bridge of Spies and Spotlight.



6. Ex Machina in Best Visual Effects

Speaking of Ex Machina, it landed another deserving nomination for its seamless special effects. Since this race is usually reserved for multi-million dollar blockbusters, it’s great that the Academy acknowledged a picture that was so convincing on a small budget. It ALMOST makes up for the Jurassic World snub.


Star Wars: The Force AwakensPh: Film Frame©Lucasfilm 2015

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Best Film Editing

Star Wars: The Force Awakens didn’t get nearly as many technical nominations as it should have. One category it thankfully wasn’t left out of, however, was Best Film Editing. The blockbuster delivered some of the most incredible action set pieces of the year and that can largely be attributed to editors Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey.



8. Rachel McAdams in Best Supporting Actress for Spotlight

Rachel McAdams has been one of our most underrated actresses for years. (We still say she should have won an Oscar for Mean Girls!) The Academy has now diminished her underrated status with a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her impressive work in Spotlight. On a related note, Rooney Mara of Carol and Alicia Vikander of The Danish Girl made it into this category, although some thought the Oscars may view them as leads.


Lady Gaga performs on stage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)

9. Lady Gaga is Officially an Oscar Nominee

If there’s one redeeming nominee in the Best Original Song lineup, it’s Til It Happens to You from The Hunting Ground. This means that Laga Gaga is officially an Oscar nominee. Her Golden Globe win for American Horror Story may have been absurd, but this is one award that Gaga, along with co-songwriter Diane Warren, deserve.



10. Sylvester Stallone in Best Supporting Actor for Creed

This one isn’t necessarily a surprise since Stallone did win the Best Supporting Actor award at the Golden Globes where he additionally received a standing ovation. After getting left out at SAG and not getting any help from BAFTA, though, Stallone was by no means a lock for an Oscar nomination. We can now rest easy knowing that Rocky Balboa has a second shot at the title.



Bonus: None of the Best Picture Nominees Suck

Sure, the Academy left some of our favorite films out of the Best Picture race. At the end of the day, however, they did nominate eight great films that everybody should see. These may not be our dream Best Picture nominees, but let’s just be grateful none of them suck. We especially want to congratulate The Martian, Brooklyn, and Mad Max: Fury Road, all of which made our Top 10 Films of 2015.

Now that the nominations are out, stay tuned for Flickreel’s Oscar predictions.

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About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

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