Oscar nominations filled with snubs and surprises
LOS ANGELES >> In an awards season where everything seemed like a wild card, Thursday's Oscar nominations were packed with snubs and surprises. Here are some of this year's biggest:
• Great Scott! No director nomination for Ridley Scott
Despite Matt Damon's film festival lobbying and the fact that "The Martian" was clearly one of the most popular films of the year among Academy members with seven nominations including best picture (third after "The Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road"), 78-year-old Ridley Scott was not singled out as a directing nominee. Scott has never won an Oscar, despite being nominated three times for "Thelma & Louise," "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down." As a producer of "The Martian," he does have a shot at walking away with that golden statuette if it wins best picture, though.
• A 'Room' with a golden view
"Room" was considered a lock for a best actress nomination for star Brie Larson, though it wasn't necessarily seen as a strong contender in other categories — but it ended up with a best picture and best director nomination for Lenny Abrahamson. This is the first nomination for Abrahamson, who beat out directors like Ridley Scott, Ryan Coogler ("Creed"), Quentin Tarantino ("The Hateful Eight") and Todd Haynes ("Carol").
• A bittersweet love song for "Carol"
It's hard to look at a film with six major nominations, including best actress (Cate Blanchett), best supporting actress (Rooney Mara), best cinematography (Ed Lachman) and best adapted screenplay (Phyllis Nagy), as a failure by any means, but it should sting that the incredibly well-received film did not earn a best picture nomination or a best director nomination for Todd Haynes. Worth noting: Academy members opted for eight best picture nominees — and they could have gone for 10.
• Compton's truncated Cinderella story
Box office and critical favorite "Straight Outta Compton" has been the Cinderella story of awards season, picking up its share of Guild nominations and critics' awards in recent weeks, including a prestigious Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild ensemble cast nomination, leading some to hope that the trend might continue to the Oscars. The film earned a single nomination for best original screenplay.
• Joy for JLaw
Director David O. Russell's hot streak ("Silver Linings Playbook," "American Hustle") might have cooled a bit with "Joy," but even in an unexceptional movie, star Jennifer Lawrence is still an Academy darling through and through. Her 2016 best actress nomination makes her the youngest actor ever at age 25 to have four Oscar nominations to her name. Three of those are for the aforementioned Russell movies, too.
• Netflix scores with docs
It wasn't a question of whether or not "Beasts of No Nation" would be nominated for an Oscar, it was more like how many would Netflix's first original feature get. Netflix had a solid chance of establishing itself as a major player with its narrative feature debut "Beasts of No Nation," but the tale of a child soldier in West Africa was completely shut out of the Oscar noms — especially surprising for director Cary Fukunaga, and supporting star Idris Elba. Netflix's documentaries "What Happened, Miss Simone" and "Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight For Freedom" were nominated.
• "Star Wars" stays technical
Aside from a nomination for composer John Williams (his 45th for scoring, and 50th overall), "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" did not break through the technical achievements wall. A best picture nomination may have been a bit of a long shot for the highest-grossing film in U.S. history, but that doesn't mean it's not a bit of a disappointment considering how well the film has been received.
• Scientology silenced
Alex Gibney's explosive look into the secretive religion in "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" made the shortlist for best documentary, but didn't make the cut for the final five.
• Sorkin shut out
When "Steve Jobs" floundered at the box office in wide release, the once promising awards juggernaut fell out of favorite as a sure thing. The Academy came in with a last-minute save, recognizing both Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet for their performances, but conspicuously missing was screenwriter Aaron Sorkin for his crackling adaptation of Walter Isaacson's book. Wordsmith Quentin Tarantino also was left out from the screenplay category.
Studios lose animation bet
The Academy didn't default to including every major studio's animated release (like "The Peanuts Movie," "Minions" and "The Good Dinosaur"), allowing two foreign films to be nominated in the category — Studio Ghibli's "When Marnie Was There" and the Brazilian film "Boy & the World."
• What's popular isn't always nominated
The original song category was full of surprises — especially with its inclusion of documentary songs "Manta Ray" from "Racing Extinction" and "Til It Happens to You" from "The Hunting Ground." These took the spots of more favored hits like Wiz Khalifa's "Furious 7" song "See You Again," Brian Wilson's "One Kind of Love" from "Love & Mercy" and the "Fifty Shades of Grey" breakout "Love Me Like You Do." The Weeknd's "Earned It" from "Fifty Shades of Grey" was nominated instead.
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