This morning’s 2016 Academy Award nominations have created a bit of a stir amongst the internet commentariat, both positive (Yeah! Mad Max: Fury Road for Best Picture and George Miller for Best Director!) and negative (check out #oscarsowhite on Twitter).
But as we do every year, let’s take a brief look at what we define at The Beat as the “nerd categories”; those that focus more on genre-interests and illustration. This year’s line-up is a little bit of an about-face from last year’s set of nominees:
Best Visual Effects:
Ex Machina (review)
Mad Max: Fury Road (review)
Star Wars: The Force Awakens (review)
The Martian (review)
The Revenant (review)
Typically this category is a bit of a “ghetto” for action fare. Last year, three comic book based films made the cut. This year, despite two Marvel films seeing release, was a tougher affair, as the category leaned more toward critical darlings that fit the same bill. This is as tough a category to predict as anything that’s “above the line”. Normally in situations like this, you look at what else these films are nominated for in order to get an idea of what might catch momentum. Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian and The Revenant are all nominated for Best Picture, while Star Wars: The Force Awakens got a nod for Best Editing. Ex Machina is probably the underdog of the set, but even it is nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
This is a tough one, but my gut instinct is to go with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, because when in doubt go with Star Wars, or a very good argument could be made for Fury Road. But…if The Revenant becomes the Best Picture favorite over the next couple of weeks, and Oscar loves Inarritu, don’t be surprised if it wins. This is, by far, the most stacked in quality this category has ever been.
Best Animated Feature Film:
Anomalisa (review coming this week)
Boy and the World
Inside Out (review)
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There (review)
Last year’s set of nominees was a much more open field given that perennial favorite Pixar did not have a major release in 2014. They came back with gusto in 2015 though as Inside Out proved to be one of the best films of their entire canon (and to my mind, perhaps *THE* high point). Given that Inside Out has also been nominated for Best Original Screenplay and was considered a Best Picture contender, it’s unlikely that it will be left empty handed on Oscar Night. Though the Charlie Kaufman fan in me wouldn’t be wrecked to see him carry home some gold for Anomalisa. When Marnie Was There is too minor a Ghibli work to move the needle in their direction one last time, unfortunately.
Best Animated Short:
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow
While Sanjay’s Super Team was the lone highlight of a pretty turgid experience with The Good Dinosaur, as a big Hertzfeldt fan, my heart is with World of Tomorrow.
One other note of interest, the co-writer of Ant-Man, Adam McKay was nominated for Best Director for his film The Big Short, which was also nominated for Best Picture. And while I’m bummed that Brendan McCarthy can’t be called “Oscar Nominee Brendan McCarthy” for his Fury Road script, I’ll take these few moments that the Academy lines up with our taste a bit.
The winners will be announced on Sunday, February 28th at 8 pm on ABC.
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.