The Winners and Losers of the 2016 Oscar Nominations

By  · Published on January 14th, 2016


The Oscars are a very big deal. Don’t say you don’t care about them, because even people who try to dismiss the Academy Awards wind up complaining about “snubs” when the nominations are announced. These complaints are mostly to vocally validate the dismissal, and that’s fine, but it still shows the Oscars’ power to always excite and infuriate, never truly going ignored by anyone. Well, anyone who loves movies.

Regarding our own excitement and fury, instead of the usual highlight of snubs and surprises, this year we’ve got a list of people and things that are winners or losers thanks to today’s news of the Oscar nominations. The ones on the positive side don’t get statues of little gold men with great posture, but those trinkets handed out at the end of February are just a formality anyway. The Oscars are a very big deal, but the Oscar nominations are even more important.

Winner: Domhnall Gleeson

We should have known, given his film debut was a short that won an Academy Award (Six Shooter), that Gleeson would be something special. Without going so far as to call him a good luck charm, it’s worth noting that all four movies he starred in last year – Ex Machina, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Brooklyn — are major Oscar nominees. One is a Best Picture contender. Tallied up, his work is linked to 22 nods, which is a record he now shares (see below).

Loser: Elizabeth Banks

Unlike Gleeson, Banks saw none of her four major movies nominated for anything. The actress-turned-director had an amazing year in terms of box office and acclaim, but her buzz didn’t translate into an expected nod for Best Supporting Actress for Love & Mercy, which also was snubbed in the Best Supporting Actor category (for Paul Dano). The rest aren’t as surprising. No installment of The Hunger Games has been nominated, and the qualified original song from Pitch Perfect 2 didn’t have a big chance. Some might have hoped for a Best Picture nod for Magic Mike XXL, but alas it was not to be.

Winner: Tom Hardy

Like Gleeson, Hardy is linked to 22 nods, via his roles in Mad Max: Fury Road and, with Gleeson, The Revenant. So, it only took him two movies for the achievement. Oh, plus he earned his first actual Oscar nomination, too, and an unexpected one at that.

Loser: Johnny Depp

Remember when we all thought this was Depp’s year to win it, thanks to him finally taking on a serious role in a serious movie again and doing his best job in years with the performance? Well, he didn’t even get nominated for his portrayal of Whitey Bulger in Black Mass, and now it is actually his What’s Eating Gilbert Grape co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio, who will finally make it his year.

Winner: The Transgender Community

It is a shame that Tangerine wasn’t nominated for anything, but it’s not a surprise. However, this year saw a win for the trans community with the nomination of Antony Hegarty, who is up for Best Original Song for co-writing “Manta Ray” (which she performs) from the documentary Racing Extinction. She’s not the first – that would be twice-nominated composer Angela Morley – but it’s still a special occasion (h/t: David Ehrlich). Of course, there’s still the unfortunate four nominations for The Danish Girl, of which the community has been quite critical.

Loser: People of Color

This one is such a big loss that we have a whole other feature on it for you to read. The Oscars are so white this year that even the technically African-American actress Charlize Theron was overlooked.

Winner: White People Writing Black History

In a year where the Academy is taking heat for no non-white performers being nominated in the acting categories, it’s also upsetting in a hugely ironic way that Straight Outta Compton received only one nomination, for its original screenplay, and all four people responsible for that script are white. And it’s the worst aspect of the movie, too, a fairly bland and conventional biopic and tale of black history only elevated by its direction from F. Gary Gray and especially its lead trio, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell and O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Loser: Aaron Sorkin

He seemed like a shoo-in for his third Oscar nomination in as many movies, but Sorkin’s subtly brilliant script for Steve Jobs failed to show up in the adapted screenplay category. The movie is also a loser overall given it’s surprising absence in the Best Picture category.

Winner: Science Fiction

Despite the absence of Ridley Scott’s name among the Best Director contenders, The Martian still has a very good chance of becoming the first sci-fi movie to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Or, maybe Mad Max: Fury Road will actually turn out to achieve that honor. The genre has seen movies in the top category before, but this year it might have its best chances. Meanwhile, it’s great to see nominations for Ex Machina and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as well as the best sci-fi film, Don Hertzfeldt’s animated short World of Tomorrow.

Loser: Comedy

Discounting the labeling of both The Martian and The Big Short as comedies (the latter is just too depressing to qualify), this is a very rare year for not having a genuine comedy in at least the original screenplay category. Not that it’s really worthy, but the snub of Trainwreck was a surprise.

Winner: Netflix

Many are paying more notice to where Netflix lost, with a lack of nods given to their first real dramatic possibility, Beasts of No Nation. But they achieved a surprising feat in having both of their qualified nonfiction features recognized – so much for all of us thinking we had to choose one or the other in our predictions.

Loser: The Weinstein Company

This is the first year since 2008 that the Weinsteins haven’t had a movie in the Best Picture race, which is significant given how notorious Harvey Weinstein is about awards campaigning. Not for not trying, either, as a lot of fans expected Carol and maybe even The Hateful Eight to make the cut.

Loser: Carol

We should just give Carol its own separate mention because so many fans – including many who seem to normally not care about the Oscars – are upset about it not being up for Best Picture. It has the distinction this year of having the most nominations without one in the top category and the most of any movie to have this dishonor since that category extended to include more than five titles.

Winner: Contralto Pop Singers

The documentary branch loves music docs lately, and this year there are two. Both Amy and What Happened, Miss Simone? are about late female crooners, each of whom had a contralto singing voice. Meanwhile, another contralto pop singer, Lady Gaga, is a nominee for co-writing the song “Til It Happens to You” (which she also performs) from the documentary The Hunting Ground. We might also make a case for Hegarty, who was labeled as the male equivalent of countertenor before coming out as transgender, but it’s unclear.

Loser: “See You Again”

It seemed like a sure thing this track from Furious 7 would be nominated, but unfortunately the movie was snubbed all the way. Who wants to bet, though, that it shows up as the tune sung or played over the memorial montage? It is a tribute to late actor Paul Walker, after all.

Winner: Shoah

No, not the Shoah, which does have extra representation in the form of Son of Saul being nominated in the foreign language category. Shoah, the very long documentary many consider to be the best nonfiction film of all time, was not nominated for an Oscar. But now Adam Benzine’s short documentary Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, about the film and its director, has been recognized by the Academy. Hopefully this attention will lead to more people seeing the short and then the nine-hour feature.

Winner: The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Outside of the short film categories, the title that has stood out the most as a “what the hell is that?” nominee is this lengthy worded Swedish comedy in the makeup and hairstyle category. Well, you can become easily acquainted with it, because it’s streaming on Amazon Prime.

Loser: Jurassic World

Usually the most popular movies that made a lot of money can at least find nominations in technical categories, but this second-place box office hit was nowhere to be found in today’s announcement, not even in the visual effects category. Its successor on the 2015 domestic gross throne, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, did pretty well, at least.

Winner: Characters Named Joy

Two characters played by best actress nominees have the name – Brie Larsen’s role in Room and obviously Jennifer Lawrence’s in Joy. And the lead character in the animated feature nominee Inside Out is also named Joy.

Loser: Pixar

Sure, they garnered nominations for Inside Out and Sanjay’s Super Team in the animated feature and animated short categories, respectively – plus an original screenplay nod for the former – but given all the buzz about Inside Out deserving a Best Picture nod and it not in fact receiving one kind of leaves them on the disappointment side of the game. More than that, however, is the unfortunately snub of The Good Dinosaur in the animated feature race. It’s not their first time falling short there but it is their first non-sequel/prequel feature to be left out.

Winners: All the First-Time Nominees

Including the aforementioned Tom Hardy, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Bryan Cranston (who now is very close to an EGOT), Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling, Mark Rylance, Rachel McAdams, Alicia Vikander, composer Carter Burwell and directors George Miller and Adam McKay.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.