Director Alejandro Inarritu’s grueling drama “The Revenant” scored a leading 12 Oscar nominations Wednesday, with George Miller’s apocalyptic “Mad Max: Fury Road” on its heels with 10 nods, with both well ahead of other contenders.
The other best-picture nominees are “The Big Short,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Brooklyn,” “The Martian,” “Room” and “Spotlight.”
While eight films were nominated, there are only five slots for directors. That slate of Oscar hopefuls includes Inarritu and Miller, along with Adam McKay for his real estate-crash drama “The Big Short,” Lenny Abrahamson for “Room,” which is about a mother and young son held captive, and Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight,” the story of the Boston Globe’s investigation into pedophilia by Catholic priests and a coverup by senior clergy.
“The Martian,” which trailed the top two films with seven nominations, picked up a best-actor nomination for Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded alone on Mars. Damon was joined by Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”), Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs”) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”) in that coveted category. Cranston is a first- time nominee, while Redmayne took home an Oscar last year for “The Theory of Everything.”
Although 10 slots have been available for best picture nominees since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences changed the rules in 2011, Academy voters selected only eight. One film on many critics’ top 10 lists that saw almost no Oscar love was “Straight Outta Compton,” nominated only for its original screenplay about the roots of revolutionary hip-hop group NWA. The film’s ensemble cast has been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award, though none of the individual performances were honored by the Guild or the Academy.
In fact, despite an outcry last year about a lack of diversity in the Academy’s choices, all of the nominees in the acting categories this year are white.
Best-actress nominees include Cate Blanchett for “Carol,” Brie Larson for “Room,” Jennifer Lawrence for “Joy,” Charlotte Rampling for “45 Years” and Saoirse Ronan for “Brooklyn.” At 25, Lawrence, who has one Oscar win to her credit, is the youngest four-time acting nominee. Blanchett is a two- time winner, while newcomer Larson and veteran Rampling are both first-time nominees.
Alicia Vikander picked up a supporting actress nomination for her role as the wife of a transgender pioneer in “The Danish Girl,” though some viewed her as a lead in the film. Other actresses nominated in the supporting category include Jennifer Jason Leigh (“The Hateful Eight”), Rooney Mara (“Carol”), Rachel McAdams (“Spotlight”) and Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs”).
“Carol,” the tender portrayal of a female photographer who falls in love with a married older woman in the 1950s, boasted six nominations in total, though it failed to pull one for best picture or director Todd Haynes. The screenplay, adapted from Patricia Highsmith’s novel “The Price of Salt,” garnered a nod.
Actors vying for the golden statuette for supporting roles include Christian Bale (“The Big Short”) Tom Hardy (“The Revenant”), Mark Ruffalo (“Spotlight”), Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”).
The nominations were announced by directors Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee, actor John Krasinski, and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills.
Films nominated for best animated feature include writer/director Charlie Kaufman’s downbeat stop-motion drama “Anomalisa,” “Boy and the World,” Disney’s whimsical peek into the mind of a child “Inside Out,” “Shaun the Sheep Movie” and “When Marnie Was There.”
In the original song category, the nominees include “Earned It” (Fifty Shades of Grey”), “Manta Ray” (“Racing Extinction”), “Simple Song #3 (“Youth”), “Til It Happens To You” (“The Hunting Ground”) and “Writing’s On the Wall” (“Spectre”), with music and lyrics by Jimmy Napes and Grammy- winner Sam Smith.
Foreign films selected to compete for Oscar gold are Colombia’s “Embrace of the Serpent,” France’s “Mustang,” Hungary’s “Son of Saul,” Jordan’s “Theeb” and “A War” from Denmark.
The box office juggernaut “Star War: The Force Awakens,” the highest grossing film of all time domestically, received five nominations — for film editing, original score, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects. As a sequel, the blockbuster was widely expected not to be nominated for best picture.
John Williams, who scored the film, now boasts the record for most Academy Award nominations of any living person, with 50. Walt Disney was nominated 59 times.
Another record breaker this year is Steven Spielberg, who produced and directed “Bridge of Spies.” The film’s nod for best picture is Spielberg’s ninth in that category, the most for any individual producer.
The nominees for best documentary feature include the tragic story of Amy Winehouse, “Amy,” “Cartel Land,” “The Look of Silence,” which is about families affected by the Indonesian genocide in 1965-1966, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” and “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.”
The Oscars will be presented at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Feb. 28, aired on ABC and also televised in more than 225 countries. Chris Rock, the Oscar host in 2005, will host the event for the second time this year.
—City News Service