Academy Award nominees by year

How to Talk About the This Year’s Academy Award Nominees Like You’re Relevant

the-danish-girlHaven't gone to the movies this year? Ace your watercooler talk with these conversation fillers that will make you sound connected.

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 88th Academy Awards, a.k.a. the Super Bowl of award shows. Thus, your Twitter timeline is guaranteed to be lit with fire tweets discussing the injustices against who was snubbed, the guesses of who will win, and the general excitement about favorites even making it onto the ballot. The buzz will be enough to make even the casual, matinee moviegoer to feel FOMO. That said, if you haven’t spent your life at the movies this year, don’t feel left out of the conversation. Here’s some general knowledge about this year’s Oscar nominees to help you sound relevant.

Focus Features

Biggest Toss-Up

Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet took home the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for Steve Jobs, but Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara being bumped down to the category just made the competition interesting. Mara took home Best Actress at Cannes for Carol, which is being touted as her career-defining film, and breakout star Alicia Vikander’s scene-stealing performance in The Danish Girl is getting more attention than star Eddie Redmayne’s.


Biggest Snubs

Todd Haynes and Carol: Apparently the New York Film Critics Circle doesn’t matter, because their choice for Best Director and Best Picture were completely shut out of the two biggest prizes of the night.

Idris Elba: Not only was Idris Elba (who had an exceptional turn in Netflix’s Beast of No Nation) left off, but so were any actors of color from literally any of the four acting categories. We’d rally for a second look at Tangerine’s breakout star Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Ex-Machina’s Oscar Isaac, and Straight Outta Compton’s Jason Mitchell. And on that note, we’d also rally for more movies not about white people.

star-wars-episode-vii-force-awakensAaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino: Despite taking home Best Screenplay at this year’s Golden Globes, Sorkin was left out of both Best Adapted and Best Original Screenplay, along with Quentin Tarantino, who’d been nominated for the award for two of his films prior. Taking their place (and deservedly so)? Ex-Machina’s Alex Garland and Straight Outta Compton’s Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff.

Jacob Tremblay: The nine-year-old Room star was poised to be the next Anna Paquin, the next Haley Joel Osment, or, more recently, the next Quvenzhane Wallis. Alas, the pint-sized acting powerhouse was bumped off in favor of more seasoned vets, and replaced by an otherwise undiscussed Tom Hardy in The Revenant.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: While the biggest movie in the history of the world got nods in Film Editing, Visual Effects, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing, it failed to achieve the ultimate recognition: Best Picture.

Straight Outta Compton Universal Pictures

Biggest Surprises

Straight Outta Compton: It was only right to recognize one of the most culturally relevant blockbusters of the year. Screw Sorkin and Tarantino, the NWA biopic (penned by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff) is the one to beat in the Best Original Screenplay category.

20th Century Fox

The Most Obvious Shoe-ins to Win

Best Actor: While Leonardo DiCaprio’s won a Golden Globe twice before–one for The Aviator and the other for Wolf of Wall Street–without following it up with an Oscar, it’s The Revenant that’ll hand him the elusive award that’s made him the butt of a million jokes. Here’s why: There’s no competition. Eddie Redmayne turned in a stunning performance in an otherwise middling film, Michael Keaton wasn’t nominated for Spotlight, and casual Academy voters probably didn’t even hear about Trumbo until they saw Bryan Cranston’s name on the ballot. There’s no buzz around a performance this year quite like Leo’s. Even if you haven’t seen the film, you know he’s the dude who fugged himself up, got mauled by a bear, and slept in a horse carcass for a movie #becausetheinternet. The only threat here is Matt Damon’s turn in The Martian, but the universe can’t be that cruel, can it?

Best Actress: With Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander competing for Best Supporting Actress, the lane just blew wide open for Room’s Brie Larson. Even Cate Blanchett isn’t competition for her–Blanchett’s Carol scored no nods of Best Directing and Best Picture, both of which were nabbed by Lenny Abrahamson and his breakout film Room.

Best Supporting Actor: There’s no question it’s going to Creed’s Sylvester Stallone. Forget him winning the Golden Globe already this year, the cheers in the room at the mention of his name should be enough indication that he’s the fan favorite.

Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarittu, who took home the award last year for Birdman, will add to his collection. None of the other nominees truly achieved the scope of his Best Picture nominee, The Revenant. Although infamously grueling–dozens of crew members were fired or replaced, the film went $40 mil over budget, and the entirety of the movie was shot under freezing temperatures–no other director can say they achieved an almost three-hour film shot entirely in sequence, only in natural light. The Academy’s a fan of nifty tricks (see: Alfonso Cuaron’s win for Gravity and Inarittu’s trophy for Birdman, which was famously made to look like one long take), and The Revenant offers a plethora of them.

But take note: this doesn’t exactly cement the film for Best Picture. Cuaron nabbed Best Director when 12 Years a Slave took home Best Picture, and we wouldn’t count out National Board of Review’s Best Film Mad Max: Fury Road (which nabbed 10 nods) or early frontrunner Spotlight to be The Revenant’s 12 Years.

Other shoe-ins: The Revenant’s Emmanuel Lubezki for Best Cinematography, Inside Out for Best Animated Film, Sam Smith’s Spectre single “Writing’s on the Wall” for Best Original Song, Son of Saul for Best Foreign Film

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