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Oscar Nominations 2016: The 10 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Oscar Nominations 2016: The 10 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Now that the rush of Thursday morning's Oscar nominations announcement is behind us, we can take the time to breathe and figure out what we just saw. Did Cate Blanchett really get nominated in best actress while her co-star Rooney Mara got shoved to supporting? Did we really not hear Aaron Sorkin's name? Who left out Wiz Khalifa? Below we’ve run down the biggest snubs, surprises, and genuine shockers of the 2016 Oscar nominations.

Not enough for "Carol"
Lush, romantic, impeccably designed, full of big ideas — what more could Academy voters possibly want than "Carol"? And with six nominations it’s one of the more popular films of the morning ... so what on Earth kept it out of the picture and director categories? Director Todd Haynes was also left out of the D.G.A. nominations so we can’t try to be too surprised, but the exclusion stings for such a beautiful movie, and such a nice contrast to the male-driven efforts ("The Big Short," "The Revenant," "The Martian," "Spotlight") that make up the majority of the category.

They love "Star Wars," but not quite enough
It wasn’t just the expected technical categories where "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" shone through — the film-editing nomination is a huge one, often a category reserved for best-picture nominees, and the best-original-score nomination for John Williams is proof of just how iconic the franchise remains. I'd held out hope that this wave of affection might propel the movie to a best-picture nomination ... but I was just about the only one, and was clearly hoping just a bit in vain. There's always Episode VIII!

But they really love "Mad Max: Fury Road" 
"The Revenant" was the overall leader of the morning with 12 nominations, but as an intense period drama from the director of 2015's best-picture winner, that can’t really be considered a surprise. But a wild and wooly action movie based on a long-dormant franchise and including things as insane as Immortan Joe? Now that's pretty amazing. "Mad Max" has been winning critic's awards long enough that the novelty of it might have worn off, but take this moment to realize that a really, genuinely weird movie is a best-picture nominee, proving that there are surprises left in this world after all.

And they really love "Room"
Despite a lot of initial excitement, ours included, there was a sense that the momentum for "Room" was fading. How glad we are that we were wrong, and the film not only scored a best-picture nomination — joining Brooklyn and "Mad Max: Fury Road" as part of a kind of female-led armada — but a very surprising best-director nomination for Lenny Abrahamson. Add in Brie Larson for best actress and Emma Donoghue for best adapted screenplay and you've got a powerful representation of the littlest movie in the bunch.

Category fraud wins again
We shouldn't count this as a surprise, really, since category fraud has been rampant for decades (Anthony Hopkins won best actor for being in "Silence of the Lambs" for 16 minutes!). But Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander both were successfully nominated for best supporting actress, at the behest of their studios, even though their roles in "Carol" and "The Danish Girl" were certainly leads. It's wonderful to see both performances rewarded, but also a little harrowing to think of the category fraud it might inspire in the future.

Aaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino left out
They have three screenwriting Oscars between them, and are among the most famous screenwriters alive. Yet even though their films — "Steve Jobs" and "The Hateful Eight," respectively — were nominated for their actors, the screenplays were left out, with newer names like Phyllis Nagy, Emma Donoghue, and the team behind "Straight Outta Compton" jumping in instead. Neither "The Hateful Eight" nor "Steve Jobs" were the most popular films of awards season, but their screenplays were among the most celebrated elements, which made it a surprise to see both Sorkin and Tarantino left out Thursday morning.

Rachel McAdams gets her due
After years of being the best thing in movies that were beneath her and causing critics to wonder when she'd finally get her proper recognition, McAdams has earned a best-supporting-actress nomination for her work in "Spotlight." It's not the showiest role of her career, but that’s the beauty of Spotlight, showing what a true ensemble can do when working in sync together toward something larger. Hopefully this allows us to forget thankless roles in "Southpaw" and "Aloha" — between those and "True Detective," what a wild 2015 she had! — and move on to a much brighter future.

What's up with that lone screenplay nod for "Straight Outta Compton"?
When it earned a surprising SAG nomination for best ensemble we knew the hip-hop historical drama was popular, and we had even predicted it to round out the best-picture lineup. Instead it scored a somewhat out of nowhere nod for best original screenplay — a terrific honor for the writers, but an odd way to acknowledge a popular film that, ahem, could have helped shield the Academy from another year of #OscarsSoWhite. It feels oddly similar to what happened when Selma was nominated for best picture and best original song ... and nothing else. Not a great trend to continue.

We won’t see you again, "See You Again"
The best-original-song category is so historically wackadoo — "Alone Yet Not Alone," never forget — that it's hard to call anything there a snub, but the ever-present hit single "See You Again" from "Furious 7" really seemed like a sure thing. You have to be a little sad not to live in a world that includes "Oscar nominee Wiz Khalifa."

What on Earth is "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared"?
Actually, smarter people than us — most notably Joe Reid — had already predicted that this would be the guaranteed "Huh?" nomination of the bunch, because the makeup category always goes for old-age looks, and after all, the movie had already made the Academy short list. It's streaming on Amazon Prime right now, so if it's your goal to see all of the year's nominees, you can go ahead and get started!

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• "Room" Is Poised to Be a Game-Changing Best-Picture Oscar Nominee

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures