Big things were expected for The Revenant among the 2016 Academy Award nominations after winning three Golden Globes Awards. But the pioneer-era revenge tale nabbed 12 of the nods announced on Thursday morning.

Perhaps more of a surprise were the 10 nominations earned by Mad Max: Fury Road, which spent half the year being touted by many as 2015’s best movie but figured to get overshadowed by the more serious dramas usually favored by the Academy. Apparently, those voters had as much fun with that flick as the rest of us did.

Part of the fun of Oscars nominations being announced is getting to pick them apart and single out the snubs. But I think Academy voters generally got it right with their picks this year. There don’t appear to be any egregious omissions, though a few are disappointing. But when the Academy Awards better reflect what the moviegoing public watched in theaters, that’s a good thing.

Here are the nominees in the major categories, along with singling out the favorites and snubs:

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Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara – Carol
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Favorites: This could arguably be the most wide-open category. Winslet won the Golden Globes award, which might give her an edge. But this might also be where Carol gets an award with Mara.

Snubs: I don’t see a glaring omission, though there was some support for Jane Fonda in Youth (which I don’t agree with). And Helen Mirren may have deserved consideration for Trumbo. But I wouldn’t bump one of the actual nominees for her.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale – The Big Short
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Favorites: Stallone won the Golden Globe, and got the most applause when his Oscars nomination was announced. He has to be viewed as the front-runner, though there are no bad choices here.

Snubs: Steve Carell gives maybe his best film performance in The Big Short, but Bale — whose role was more complex — probably took that film’s one nomination. Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E from Straight Outta Compton would have been nice too, but who would he knock off this list?

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Favorites: Larson is probably the lock here. She won the Golden Globe, and Room scored both Best Picture and Best Director nods, so it’s obviously highly regarded by Academy voters. Blanchett might be a dark horse, but beating Larson would be an upset.

Snubs: How about Charlize Theron for Mad Max: Fury Road? That earned Best Picture and Best Director nominations, and Theron is clearly the star of that film. I would argue that she should replace Lawrence among the nominees, but J-Law has become one of those actresses who will probably earn consideration for any lead performance.

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

Favorites: This one is Leo’s all the way. If there’s one sure lock among this year’s Oscars nominees, he’s it. He won the Golden Globe, there’s the sentiment that he’s due for an Oscar and he put himself through the kind of on-screen (and off-screen) suffering that Academy voters love to recognize. In another year, Damon might have had a chance, but not this time.

Snubs: Maybe Michael Keaton for Spotlight, but Ruffalo had the showier role and was nominated in the supporting category. I already mentioned Carell, but thought he had the largest role in The Big Short and could have gone here. And seven-year-old Jacob Tremblay carries the third act of Room. I would have been fine with either actor replacing Redmayne here, but he won the Oscar last year and puts himself through another on-screen transformation, so that wasn’t going to happen.


Best Director

Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Favorites: Iñárritu won the Golden Globe, and last year’s Best Director Oscar, so he’s probably the favorite. But if Spotlight has the most support for Best Picture, that could push McCarthy’s chances. Miller would be a fun, sentimental pick, but it’s likely that his nomination (and Mad Max‘s Best Picture nod) are his awards.

Snubs: No Ridley Scott for The Martian, which got nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s arguably the best movie he’s made in at least 10 years. But maybe voters thought the script and cast carried the film.

Todd Haynes for Carol is an oversight, but since it didn’t get a Best Picture nod, that’s understandable. Steven Spielberg for Bridge of Spies and Ryan Coogler for Creed would have been solid choices as well. Either of those would have been better nominees than Abrahamson. Room is very good, but is really an actor’s showcase.

Best Picture

The Big Short 
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Favorites: The Revenant feels like the leader here, based on its Golden Globes win and Iñárritu winning last year. But Spotlight has gotten love from critics and viewers since September. The Martian has popular appeal and box office behind it, and would be a deserving winner. Yet it doesn’t feel as “important” as the other two favorites.

Snubs: As soon as the nominations were announced, many noted the omissions of Carol, Straight Outta Compton and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Carol had the most Globes nominations, so it’s curious to be missing, but voters seemed to be more impressed with the acting than directing or the overall film. Straight Outta Compton was on many best-of-2015 lists and was arguably the most pleasant surprise of the year.

And why not Star Wars? It was a good movie, millions of people have seen it and it’s earned billions at the box office. Nominating a movie people are familiar with is not a bad thing, especially when up to 10 films could be nominated.

Other Notes:
— Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) for Best Adapted Screenplay and Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight) for Best Original Screenplay were surprising snubs in those categories. I would have guessed those two would earn nominations almost on name recognition alone. But Sorkin, especially, adapted a long biography and made it into a three-act stage play. Obviously, Academy voters (nor film and critics societies) weren’t impressed by that.

— The lack of color among all of the nominees is troubling. As mentioned, Straight Outta Compton was deserving in several categories, as was Creed. Michael B. Jordan and Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) warranted consideration, albeit in a tough category. No acting nominations might say more about the roles available these days, especially to black actors. Is it any wonder that actresses like Viola Davis, Regina King and Taraji P. Henson have to shine on TV?

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.

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