The Oscars are reliably wack: For everything they get right, there’s at least five super-obvious things they get wrong. On the one hand, they did the right thing and nominated “Mad Max: Fury Road” — a legitimately insane action extravaganza-cum-feminist manifesto — for Best Picture, Best Director and a slew of technical awards. (Makeup is particularly earned.) Huzzah! On the other, they failed to fete “Carol” for the same trophies. Boo! A thousand boos!
AMPAS voters weren’t thick enough to snub Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara for the same movie — even if the latter is clearly a co-lead, not the supporting player as she has been classified by most of the major awards bodies. It also justly received noms for Ed Lachman’s cinematography, Carter Burwell’s score, costume design and Phyllis Nagy’s screenplay.
But what else is a pleasant surprise? What else is a forehead-slapping bummer? Let’s find out!
Surprise: Charlotte Rampling for '45 Years’
Insane as it sounds, this is the first time the icy British great has been noticed by the Academy, and it’s for one of her most vulnerable turns: as a woman who realizes she may not be the love of her longtime husband’s life. (He’s played by Tom Courtenay, who got snubbed.)
Bummer: Alicia Vikander for ‘The Danish Girl’ but not ‘Ex Machina’
The Swedish “It” girl is amazing in both films, especially in “The Danish Girl,” where she has to play someone dealing with what is in effect a devastating break-up. But she’s especially amazing in “Ex Machina,” in which she handily, gently convinces us of a real humanity inside someone who’s obviously an android.
Surprise: Animated films ‘Shaun the Sheep Movie,’ ‘Boy & the World’ and ‘World of Tomorrow’
Biggies like “The Peanuts Movie” and “The Good Dinosaur” were pushed aside for two tiny and even more worthy films. “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” from the aggressively English stop-motion outfit Aardman (of “Wallace and Gromit” fame), was completely ignored by American moviegoers, and the Brazilian “Boy & the World” was barely released. But both are wonders, especially “Boy” — a riot of colors and shapes that never lets up. Better than both, though — and better than most films, period — is Don Hertzfeldt’s “World of Tomorrow,” which eked by with an Animated Shorts nom. It is now on Netflix Instant and it's the best 15 minutes you'll spend these days.
Bummer: No Paul Dano
The actor was the perfect person to play young Brian Wilson, and he nailed it in “Love & Mercy.” He even got a Golden Globe nom! But he wasn’t as good, we guess, as Christian Bale’s horrifically mannered work in “The Big Short.”
Surprise: “Straight Outta Compton” screenplay nom
We’re suspect of the back half, which is largely about how incredibly wealthy the former N.W.A. gods became. (Maybe the sequel will be about how Ice Cube and Dr. Dre made the “Straight Outta Compton” movie.) But it’s a smart and tough movie and we’re glad it wasn’t totally ignored. Because other than this nomination, it was.
Bummer: No Quentin Tarantino screenplay nom
“The Hateful Eight” has proven to be maybe 2015’s most hotly debated movie, and it isn’t making anywhere near “Django Unchained” money. And now this: Along with Aaron Sorkin’s hyped “Steve Jobs” script, QT’s chatty Western couldn’t even get cited for its words.
Surprise: “Mustang” for Best Foreign Language Film
This award’s going to go to the brilliantly made but somewhat suspect “Son of Saul,” but we’re just glad the masses will hear about this terrific and often funny drama about Turkish teen girls fighting their old-school oppressors.
Bummer: No Michael B. Jordan for ‘Creed’
Sylvester Stallone’s quietly heartbreaking work was a shoe-in, but the terrific “Creed” was ignored everywhere else: Nothing for Picture, nothing for Ryan Coogler’s direction, nothing for the screenplay and especially nothing for the superstar-making turn from Jordan as aspiring pugilist Adonis Creed. This should have been obvious.
Biggest bummer: The Best Director category
Much as we love the love for “Mad Max: Fury Road” director George Miller — the most talented person nominated out of everyone, to be honest — this category in general is a total mess. We’ve come to terms with everyone still being hot for “The Revenant”’s Alejandro Inarritu, but Tom McCarthy’s barely workmanlike work on “Spotlight”? Adam McKay ripping off “Bourne” for “The Big Short”? Lenny Abrahamson’s work on the first half of “Room” is dynamite stuff, but like everything else here shy of Miller, it looks amateur hour next to Todd Haynes’ precise work on “Carol.”
Anyway, we’ll be grumbling for then next month and a half. The Oscars air on Feb. 28. See the full list of nominees here.