Sam Bussell



After weeks of speculation and anticipation, the nominations for the 88th Academy Awards have finally been released. Now that the nominees have been named a whole set of questions have been answered but now a whole new set of questions arise that will be asked between now and Feb 28th and will be answered when the winners are announced on that stage of the Dolby Theater.  Leading the pack with 12 nominations is the visually stunning and one of my top 5 films of the year, “The Revenant” which also includes big categories such as Best Picture, Best Director for Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio with “Mad Max: Fury Road” close behind with 10 nominations. 

One of the biggest surprises to me all of awards season so far has been the recognition that “Mad Max: Fury Road” has been receiving. It was able to pick up nominations in a lot of technical and musical categories as well as receive nominations in two of the biggest categories in Best Director for George Miller and Best Picture.  To me this film deserves all of the love that it’s receiving from the awards circuit and will be a huge player in a lot of the Technical and Sound categories this year.

A lot of the other nominees that were selected in categories such as the acting and screenplay categorizes were pretty much what analysts and people had predicted to get nominated, but there were a few surprise snubs that have people shaking their heads a bit and leave a lot of questions as to who might win their respective categories. A small one for me has been the passing the Academy has done of “The Hateful Eight” although I don’t think Quentin Tarantino out did himself with this film I am very surprised that he didn’t receive a nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Usually the Academy loves nominating Quentin for his scripts as they very different than most but I guess not even the “The Hateful Eight’ could shoot there way into the Screenplay category. Still one of the biggest snubs had to have come from the Best Director category, this category is full of talented filmmakers who have all made films that we will remember from this past year. From veterans such as Alejandro G. Inarritu for “The Revenant” to first timers like Adam McKay for his remarkable job on the film “The Big Short. But one director who everyone including myself thought was a lock for a nomination but became the biggest snub of the day was Ridley Scott not getting love from the Academy for “The Martian. A lot of analysts thought that if Scott was nominated he would a lock to win the award for Best Director. It truly is a shame that he didn’t receive a nomination I think of the biggest reason for the films success was of the way the Ridley Scott handled the film and how he was able to keep the audience engaged in the film and feel that the film was lagging at any point. I think all of the Directors up for nomination this year deserve it but it would have been nice to see Scott get some credit for his work in the film as “The Martian” got nominated for Best Picture, Actor, and Screenplay, but nothing for the Director? Very strange thinking on the Academy’s part.

One category that I have been paying close attention to is the Best Supporting Actor category and that category is stacked with such high profile performances. But with Sylvester Stallone getting the nomination for his fantastic performance as Rocky Balboa in the film “Creed, which is in my Top 3 films of 2015, his nomination as all but solidified him to winning the award. He showed us a side of Rocky that we never had seen before a side of vulnerability and morality. After the reaction that he received at the Globes, all he had to do for me to say he was lock to win was get nominated and now that he is it nothing but a sure win. The only person that has a shot of beating him would be Mark Rylance, who was fantastic in his performance in “Bridge of Spies” because his performance was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild and Stallone was not he will most likely to win. Actors who go on to win the SAG usually go on to win the Oscar, but this time it will be different because along with being a great performance it’s also a nostalgia factor of seeing Rocky again but in an entirely different way and people of responded to that in a very positive way.

These are some of the key points that I took away from this years Academy Awards nominations. A lot of sure nominations were all but confirmed while always having that head scratching one or two snubs (Ridely Scott?) but with this list new questions now arise. Who will win Best Picture? Is it Revenant vs. Spotlight for the crown? Will Leo finally get the Oscar that has avoided him for many years? Cate Blanchett vs. Brie Larson for Best Actress? Will Stallone finally get that Oscar for a role that he created so many years ago?  How will Chris Rock do as the host this year? All of this and more will be answered on when the 88th Academy Awards airs on February 28th.