With that mission statement out of the way, let's talk about the actual nominations. Alejandro G. Iñárritu's brutal Western The Revenant leads the way with a total of 12 nominations, with surprising critical darling Mad Max: Fury Road close with 10 nominations (for the record, that's 10 more than the previous Mad Max films combined). There are a fair number of surprises - that Best Director lineup! Jennifer Lawrence! Straight Outta Compton! - but for the most part the nominations reflect the wide spread of films that received praise this year. That nothing was overwhelmingly dominant (outside the aforementioned leaders, which both missed out on the screenplay categories, it should be noted) should be evidence that it was a good year for quality films.
(Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey is an Oscar nominee, which should derail that argument, but don't lie to yourself - you love The Weeknd's silky Screamin' Jay Hawkins riff "Earned It.")
Below is a full list of the nominees with commentary. Did your favorites make the cut?
The Revenant; Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent, and Keith Redmon, producers
Spotlight; Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, and Blye Pagon Faust, producers
Mad Max: Fury Road; Doug Mitchell and George Miller, producers
Room; Ed Guiney, producer
The Martian; Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, and Mark Huffam, producers
Bridge of Spies; Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt, and Kristie Macosko Krieger, producers
The Big Short; Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, and Jeremy Kleiner, producers
Brooklyn; Finola Dwyer and Amanda Poser, producers
Given the divisive nature of the awards season, I'm surprised there aren't more than eight nominees. And they're an interesting bunch: Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies managed to sneak in after everyone assumed they'd been forgotten, while Room and The Big Short made good on their late surges. The biggest surprise here, though, is Carol: where is it? Given the passion surrounding the film with critics, it seemed like a shoo-in. But the Academy apparently felt otherwise (perhaps two women in love with each other is too much for them?).
Also, if you're feeling sad about Star Wars: The Force Awakens missing out here, don't cry too much for them. Now that it's the biggest film of all time domestically and still breaking box office records (in addition to making "Weird" Al Yankovic seem like prescient genius), I don't think J.J. Abrams, Lucasfilm, and Disney are losing too much sleep over it. Besides, its five total nominations are the most for a Star Wars film since the original in 1977, and matches the combined nomination total of the prequel trilogy. So technically it did pretty well today!
Rampling doesn't come as much of a surprise to me because I predicted her. In recent years, there's been at least one acting nominee who missed out at the Globes and SAGs but came up with an Oscar nod: Marion Cotillard last year, Christian Bale in 2013, Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis in 2012. Rampling fit the bill and, with an esteemed career and the best reviews of her life, she makes sense as a nominee. More surprising, however, is Lawrence. She's her film's only nomination, which, coupled with the 0-for-10 record of American Hustle two years ago, seems to suggest the Academy is ready to move on from director David O. Russell (praise Thor). With her fourth nomination at the age of 25, she surprises Jennifer Jones' nearly 70-year-old record for the youngest actor to reach four nominations.
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Matt Damon, The Martian
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
This is pretty much exactly how it was expected to happen, with newly-minted comedian (though not always very funny) Matt Damon seeming like the only one capable of catching up to presumed frontrunner Leonardo DiCaprio (he almost died for this, you know). Cranston is the only newcomer in the group, and for him a nomination only seemed like a matter of "when," not "if."
The rest of the nominees after the jump.