In an exceedingly upsetting week that saw the loss, at 69, of both David Bowie and Alan Rickman, their inclusion in the In Memoriam section of the 88th Academy Awards is one of the few certainties in another year of shock snubs and dark horse surprises.
With the nominations announced, it’s going to be an awkward gig for host Chris Rock on February 28 as all 20 of the acting nods are notably white, reinforcing the Oscars’ infamous reputation for diversity failure.
The backlash has been swift, with last year’s hashtag ‘#OscarsSoWhite’ resurrected to let people vent their frustration at the lack of people of colour on the list.
We take a look at the major categories, point out the WTF moments and make a few predictions of our own:
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s great to see George Miller’s diesel-fuelled dystopian powerhouse representing Australian filmmakers in this year’s Best Picture category, scooping 10 nods overall, just behind The Revenant’s conquering 12.
While some might have expected box-office slayer Star Wars: The Force Awakens to muscle up in here, it’s not quite in the same league as the Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron-led Mad Max.
The real shock snub was the omission of critical darling Todd Haynes’ Carol with its sublime performances from Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, making it the first year super producer Harvey Weinstein has no skin in the game.
We’d have liked to have seen Ryan Coogler’s Creed here too, plus Australian director Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth, with two unused spots. Not sure Bridge of Spies really belongs here, despite the powerhouse team-up of Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks and Brooklyn seems a tad out of its depth too, though there’s big buzz surrounding Saoirse Ronan’s performance.
Who will win: Most likely Spotlight or The Revenant. The Martian is also a wildcard.
Who should win: Mad Max. Aussie, Aussie Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi!
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Again, Haynes was totally snubbed for his beautifully nuanced work on Carol, as was Kurzel’s Macbeth. Though not a big box office contender, it certainly showcased his incredible craft. A popular vote would have been for Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, but the big shocker was the lock-out of Ridley Scott, considering the huge success that was the Matt Damon-led The Martian.
Who will win: Inarritu vs Miller in a head-to-head battle.
Who should win: Hometown boy Miller.
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Michael B. Jordan is once again robbed of his rightful place on this list after previously being snubbed for his breakout role in the incredible Fruitvale Station. Fassbender would be far more deserving if he was up for Macbeth. Poor Michael Keaton; pipped at the comeback post by Eddie Redmayne last year, he’s totally AWOL this time round despite rave reviews for Spotlight.
Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio.
Who should win: It’s probably Leo’s time.
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Right, we get it, America (and the world) loves J-Law, but was Joy really Oscar-worthy? At 25, she’s now the youngest person ever to rack up four noms. We’re not convinced the similarly excellent Ronan should be here for Brooklyn either. Hwoever, Marion Cotillard should definitely be here, as should Charlize Theron and stellar newcomer Karidja Toure in Celine Ciamma’s striking French film Girlhood. Most of the ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ seem to be sticking on Brie Larson for her turn as an imprisoned mum trying to give her young son a shot at normality in the best-selling book adaptation Room.
Who will win: Brie Larson, but Cate could strike gold again.
Who should win: Cate Blanchett.
Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Good on Sly for once again scoring a nomination for fictional counterpart Rocky Balboa in Coogler’s Creed, almost 40 years after first being recognised in that role, the longest gap ever for a returning character. In a further diversity fail, Idris Elba is sadly missing for his turn in Beasts of No Nation, though that may have more to do with Netflix tussling with the traditional studios. Hardy is the wildcard here.
Who will win: Sylvester Stallone.
Who should win: We’re down with Sly, but Hardy’s performance in The Revenant was seriously underrated.
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Look, we’d have preferred to see the outstanding Alicia Vikander up for the infinitely superior Ex Machina rather than The Danish Girl, and we reckon this dints her chances. Many are surprised that Dame Helen Mirren misses out for Trumbo, but otherwise this is a fair, if super-white, field.
Who will win: This is a tough one – Rooney Mara could have it, but Kate Winslet is also a likely contender.
Who should win: Definitely Mara, though she really should be in lead actress.
Bridge of Spies
Straight Outta Compton
While Straight Outta Compton’s nod here may seem like a diversity win, though one of four writers is female, all are white. Great to see novelist-turned-filmmaker Alex Garland lauded for his thought-provoking musing on what it means to be human, Ex Machina. Inside Out is a sweet inclusion, also up for Best Animated Feature.
What will win: Spotlight.
What should win: Ex Machina.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin is the white elephant not present in this room, though maybe the world wasn’t ready for another Steve Jobs biopic so soon after Ashton Kutcher had a crack. The Martian and Brooklyn are proving popular, but it’s really down to Room versus Carol we reckon and we’re really chuffed to see Phyllis Nagy recognized for the hard task of adapting the work of her late best friend, author Patricia Highsmith.
What will win: Carol, but Room is a clear and present danger. The Big Short also poses a risk.
What should win: Carol or The Martian.