2016 Academy Awards Nominations Roundtable


Joseph Williams


The nominations are out and what we’re perhaps focusing most on this morning is just how sad the In Memoriam portion of the Oscars will be as we lost Alan Rickman, a great actor perhaps best known as Severus Snape by our generation but probably Hans Gruber for our parents’ generation.

For a complete list of nominees and to watch trailers go here

But on to the nominations. I have a lot of thoughts…

-Straight Outta Compton got some love, but not the love in the big categories like Best Picture or the acting/directing categories where it counts most. #OscarsSoWhite is back trending… No Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac, or Benicio Del Toro. Hard to believe at least one or two of them didn’t get in.
-While Mad Max was a big blockbuster deserving of a Best Picture nominee, I was hoping Inside Out, Creed, and/or Star Wars: The Force Awakens would sneak a nomination into the category as well.
-The category that left me fist pumping the most was Best Supporting Actor. Tom Hardy AND Sly Stallone got in!
-Sorkin snub… hmmmm… It was ultimately too divisive of a film/script it seems.
-Best Actress: Brie Larson vs Jennifer Lawrence? Is that what we have here? Which raises a point from a text thread with some of you last night… Have we passed Peak JLaw?
-Best Actor: I mean, it has to be Leo, right? So he’s only been nominated previously for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Aviator, Blood Diamond, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Confession: I wouldn’t have voted for him in any of those. My favorite Leo performance/film is The Departed but he was nominated that year for Blood Diamond instead. But I’d gladly vote for him this year. He deserves it now.
-Best Picture: Admittedly, I still need to see a lot of these. While Spotlight seems like the early favorite and the typical Oscar fare, I’m all in on The Revenant at this point.

I thought Birdman was overrated. I think The Revenant is the better Alejandro Inarritu film by a wide margin. Unfortunately, despite its many nominations, I assume the Academy voters will be less likely to vote for it given all the love for Inarritu and Birdman last year… which is a shame, because The Revenant might just be the best picture of the past two years at least.

I’m going to have a review up at The Wise Guise tomorrow on it where I’ll discuss it more. My fear was that it would be overshadowed by Leo’s brutally other-worldly performance to finally get his Oscar. But Hardy’s nomination along with the others leads me to believe maybe not.

We’ll see. What do y’all think?

Tyler Huckabee

Great thoughts, JW! I agree with you across the board here.

-Extremely disappointed at the lack of PoC representation among the nominees. That it happened last year could *maybe* be chalked up to lack of representation, but two years in a row pretty damning—particularly when both years had some very strong nonwhite contenders. I suspect the Oscars will get put on serious blast for this, as well they should.
-I had hoped Creed and Inside Out would crack the Best Picture nominees, as they were both at least as good as Bridge of Spies and better than The Martian. I understand that neither Creed nor Inside Out really really *feel* like Oscar movies, but the technical expertise and storytelling prowess of both deserved better than the Academy was willing to recognize.
-I’d put money on Stallone getting that Oscar. Well deserved, I say!
-I don’t think Sorkin’s work in Jobs merited an Oscar nom. His dialog was as snappy as ever, but the plot structure itself needed some work.
-Leo will win Best Actor. As sure as you are reading this.
-Mad Max was probably my favorite movie I saw this year, but I’m not an idiot—it’s not gonna actually win. I agree with Joseph that The Revenant is a stronger movie than Birdman, but I also agree that the Academy isn’t gonna give him Best Picture two years in a row. If I had to guess, Spotlight will probably win. Unless Spotlight and The Big Short split the ensemble vote, in which case The Martian could surprise everyone!

Clayton Martin

Me leaving an Oscars party if The Martian wins anything:


I also think the lack of respect Daniel Day-Lewis is getting this awards season is criminal.

Seth Wiedemann

The award for Best Actor goes to…. 🎺🎺🎺🎺 IS THAT DANIEL DAY-LEWIS’ MUSIC!?????????? 🎺🎺🎺🎺

Alex Beene

It’s Leo’s year, for sure. It’s time. I do wonder if “The Reverent” joins him for the overdue ride in the same way “The Departed” followed Scorsese to the stage. It feels like the new front runner, but the Guilds will settle that in the coming weeks. No “Straight Outta Compton” in Best Picture reeks of white Academy favoritism. How “Brooklyn” deserves a Best Picture nomination is beyond me. Oh well. It’s Leo’s big moment, and Stallone is up for an Oscar. I can’t find TOO much fault.


Jeremy Wilson

(caffeinated response)

Best Picture

-It’s good to see Mad Max on the list. I don’t necessarily see it as a typical summer blockbuster — it had less star power in it than The Revenant. I liked The Revenant better, but I had more fun in the theater at Mad Max than I did at any other movie this year.
-Shout out to Bridge of Spies getting some love. I enjoyed that movie a lot more than I thought I would. They certainly won’t win, but it’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t seen it.
-What the (removed by editor) am I missing with The Martian?! It’s a Best Picture nominee? So, was Damon good? Sure. Was it directed well? I guess, but I’m not going to pretend I know anything about directing a space movie. But it was the most poorly-written movie of the year. Leo grunting for 90 minutes of The Revenant was better dialogue than anything in The Martian. First they beat us over the head with 15 jokes about a crew member’s love of disco music, and then there was cheesy line after cheesy line — especially during Donald Glover’s scene. I couldn’t imagine Jeff Daniels and company reading that script and agreeing to some of those lines. The plot was beyond predictable, too. If this movie wins any important award then I might just stop seeing movies all together, because I’m clearly unable to comprehend what is happening on the screen.
(deep breath)
(ok, moving on)
-I was shocked at how much I loved Creed, because I knew what I was getting into and it was still excellent! I would’ve liked to see Ryan Coogler get a best directing nod because it was the coolest way to do a sports movie — it didn’t even feel like a sports movie for the first three quarters of the film. But like Joseph mentioned, #OscarsSoWhite.

Other Notes

-If Sicario comes out in late December is it more in the mix? That deserves a best picture nod more than Bridge of Spies and The Martian. But I guess Jeff Bridges didn’t grow vegetables out of his own feces, so it was nearly as clever as The Martian.
-Joy wasn’t a favorite of mine this year, but I thought JLaw crushed it. She put that story on her back and carried it for the length of the film.
-However, Brie Larson would be a deserving winner as well. Let’s hope this blossoms into a nice rivalry. She is so damn good in Room, and it’s such a complex role.
-Not surprised to see Hateful Eight left out of a few categories, but it would be a shame if they didn’t win best original score. I would happily listen to that music any day of the week.
-In response to Joseph, it’s amazing to me that the same person could direct Birdman and The Revenant, and do each in a beautiful, original fashion. There’s nothing out there like Birdman with the mix of what’s really happening and what is just in the main character’s imagination, the drummer showing up in the hallway at different times, and the nearly 10-minute continuous scene. As of right now I liked Birdman better than The Revenant, but I realize that I’m in the minority there. If it’s not going to be Inarritu for Best Director, then let’s hope it’s Adam McKay for shooting a movie in a way that is outrageous, risky, and taking a complicated subject matter and finding a hilarious way to communicate it clearly to the audience.

Mega Spoiler Alert(s)

-My favorite scenes of the year, in no particular order… when Jacob Tremblay escapes for the first time in Room; when Jacob Tremblay and Brie Larson are reunited after his escape — so incredibly powerful; when Michael B. Jordan was shadowboxing in front of the projector showing one of his dad’s fights in Creed; when Michael B. Jordan was sprinting up the street surrounded by motorcycles with Kendrick Lamar blaring in the background in Creed; when JLaw is on QVC and starts to see the Miracle Mop sell after her friend calls and bails her out in Joy; the tunnel scene in Sicario; the scene where they are trying to leave Mexico in Sicario; battle scenes in Mad Max; almost the whole first act of Hateful Eight, especially the carriage scenes early in the movie; the opening scene of The Revenant where the Indian tribe attacks.

Joseph Williams

Strong words, all. What would Leo’s reaction be if he didn’t win? Might just sacrifice someone, gut them, and crawl inside and hide.

The more I think about it, the sadder I am that Creed didn’t get more love. It truly was a great film.

And finally, it shouldn’t be overstated how the man who brought us Anchorman and Talladega Nights is now an Oscar-nominated Director… and justifiably so.

As Bill Simmons said this morning on Twitter, The Big Short may be the best bargain bet at this point for Best Picture.

Jeremy Wilson

(less caffeinated)

I saw The Big Short at a matinee in Florida over the holidays. If you aren’t familiar with that demographic, a matinee in Florida during the winter months is almost all people 65+ years and up. A few minutes into the film I was worried that it would just be crickets in there, but…

They loved it, and the whole theater got really into it. Adam McKay had a room full of retirees laughing and fully understanding the complicated housing market crash of 2008.

Julian Vaca

So many thoughts swirling through my head.

1. Where’s the love for Charlize Theron? Her gritty performance in MM was raw and gritty. In a film set in the desert, Theron was DESERTED. Right? Right? Seriously, though, she was captivating and the true hero of that narrative.

2. Oscar Isaac, your time will come. Maybe. Ex Machina was a phenomenal film. I loved so many things about it, specifically the troubled and multi-layered Nathan, played by Isaac. I thought a nom was all but certain for him after watching it.

3. Beasts of no Nation? More like Beasts of no Nomination. AmIright? Netflix’s first foray into features was a beautifully nuanced cinematic achievement. N0 nods for this picture, which should have at least earned Idris Elba a Best Supporting Actor nom.

4. I was shocked that the Spotlight was nowhere near Rachel McAdams. Ruffalo rightly deserved his nomination, but so did McAdams. That whole cast was great.

5. I don’t think Ridley Scott could have won Best Director for The Martian going up against Iñárritu. But surely a nomination. Talk about snub city population: Scott.


(Editor’s note: The comments you are about to read about Birdman do not reflect TWG’s thoughts and feelings about the film. We (Jeremy and Clayton) are just as upset as you are about the following.)

Ben Stratton

All I’ve seen so far is Mad Max and Inside Out, but I want to say that I really hated Birdman. That was a bad movie and the only good part was the drums.

Random guess: Cranston wins because “being an artist is the hardest” might beat “I almost killed myself for this art” (again, I haven’t seen these but a movie about HOLLYWOOD vs. “I worked much harder than you cause everyone almost died” might resonate and get an OSCAR because Oscars)

Clayton Martin

My apologies for butting in again here…I thought we were going to have more back-and-forth hilarious banter for the people to enjoy so I just dropped a couple lines earlier. Since apparently we’re just going to be serious and hate on great films (I’m looking at you, Birdman haters), I felt like someone needed to ride in at the end to fight for what’s right. That’s how good stories work, right? I can be your hero.

First off, The Revenant is a fantastic film. It’s like Quentin Tarantino and Terrence Malick made a film together. But to act like it’s far superior to Birdman is just silly.

I think my favorite thing on the list on nominees is Room getting nominated for Best Picture. I’m so pumped for that movie that it’s getting the love it deserves. My biggest disappointment is The Martian and Brooklyn getting nominations. I saw both and thought both were fine movies but unworthy of the level of praise they’ve received. I’d like to replace those with Ex Machina and Creed, personally. I also wish Ex Machina and Sicario had gotten more love but I can’t say I’m surprised they didn’t. Neither really fit the typical awards mold.


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2 Responses to 2016 Academy Awards Nominations Roundtable

  1. Matt Grimes

    Alright, I need to get into the fray… this is, by far, the most unimpressive slate of Oscar nominees in recent memory. Even the snubs don’t make for intriguing storylines…

    No Aaron Sorkin? It’s a script that has a strong middle 1/3 at most, and let’s face it, Sorkin has his statue.

    No Idris Elba? Sure, I can cry fowl about #OscarsSoWhite, but I think it’s indicative of another issue – #OscarsSoOldSchool. Netflix isn’t the wave of the future yet for films, at least not with the ancient Academy.

    No Carol for Best Picture? I saw the movie. There’s a reason it wasn’t nominated.

    No “See You Again” for Best Song? Let’s remember, this is the most bizarre nomination process aside from Best Picture. You have to score a subscore to be considered for nomination? So sure, let’s let some song called “Manta Ray” in. Why not.

    No The Good Dinosaur or The Peanuts Movie for Best Animated Feature? Let’s not pretend this category isn’t Inside Out’s to lose. (Meanwhile, Sean the Sheep? Apparently I missed the memo.)

    If anything, let’s talk about all the undeserved or underwhelming nominations. For me these include, but are not limited to…

    1) Jennifer Lawrence. Lord, Joy was awful.

    2) Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams. I know I’m in the minority here, but I thought Spotlight was grossly overhyped. It’s solid. Super solid, even. But the ensemble drives the movie, and nobody truly has a flashy role. Of the options, Brian D’Arcy James and Stanley Tucci were actually my favorites. Ruffalo emotes on overdrive. McAdams almost goes too low-key.

    3) Christian Bale. I don’t hate this nod, but I think Steve Carell is the standout of the film. Bale suffers being isolated from the rest of the main cast.

    4) Kate Winslet. I’m sorry, her Polish accent got STRONGER as the movie went along. How is that even possible?

    5) The Revenant for Costume Design. Am I confused? Is it hard to find a bunch of moccasins? (Note: Haven’t seen, so I’m jumping to a conclusion on this one.)

    • Joseph Williams

      Glad you weighed in, Grimes. Couldn’t find your e-mail address this morning to add you to the fray. Glad you found your way here, regardless.

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