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Once Again, The Oscars Will Be Oh So White

The nominations are out, and we have snubs, surprises, and a strong field for Best Picture.

The Oscar nominations just came out this morning. Here are some of our some immediate takeaways:

Yep, no black acting nominees again this year. Not so good! You knew pretty quickly that this was going to be the case once Idris Elba failed to earn a nomination for Beasts of No Nation. He was the best bet, and may have been the only bet, unless you thought Michael B. Jordan had a chance for Creed. So once again: 0-for-20. That’s the same number as last year: 0-for-20.

It was a terrific morning for Mad Max: Fury Road. There was no nomination for Charlize Theron, but otherwise, any fears that the film was too genre, or released too early in the year, were disposed of early with nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. 

It was an even better morning for The Big Short. There had been some late-breaking momentum toward this adaptation of Michael Lewis’ book, but few saw Adam McKay sneaking into the Best Director spot. But there he is. Christian Bale was a surprise nominee in the Supporting Actor slot as well (though I might have gone with Steve Carell). The Oscars are all about momentum in voting patterns, and The Big Short has the most of it right now. 

The Animated Category is incredibly strong. Anomalisa, Boy and the World, Inside Out, Shawn the Sheep: The Movie and When Marnie Was There: All five of those movies are fantastic, and the category is so stacked that there was no room for The Good Dinosaur, only the third Pixar movie to receive no Oscar nominations.

Your biggest surprise snubs: Michael Keaton in Spotlight, no Best Picture for Carol , no Best Director for Ridley Scott, and, mostly, no screenplay nominations for either Aaron Sorkin (Steve Jobs) or Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight).

Your biggest surprise inclusions: Straight Outta Compton’s screenplay nomination, Rachel McAdams’s supporting actress nomination for Spotlight, McKay’s director nomination for The Big Short, a song from Fifty Shades of Grey being nominated.

What this tells us about the favorite for best picture: This has been the least clear-cut Best Picture year in memory; no one knows what’s going to win. So, stock up for Room, Mad Max, The Big Short, and especially The Revenant. If you wanted power rankings of the eight films nominated, we’d go with:

  1. The Revenant
  2. Spotlight
  3. The Big Short
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
  5. The Martian
  6. Room
  7. Brooklyn
  8. Bridge of Spies 

Your back-of-napkin predictions for the Big Six category winners a month-and-a-half from now, in order of confidence: DiCaprio, Larson, Stallone, Miller, Mara, The Revenant.

Final takeaway: It’s a crazy year, top to bottom: I don’t remember this much uncertainty in the major categories, ever. But that 0-for-their-last-40 mark for actors of color is going to be a big problem. As it should be.

Grierson & Leitch write about the movies regularly for the New Republic. Follow them on Twitter @griersonleitch or visit their site Listen to their film podcast below.