Brow Beat

No Carol for Best Picture, and This Year’s Other Big Oscar Nomination Surprises

Carol movie.
Still of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in Carol.

Photo by Wilson Webb. Image courtesy of The Weinstein Company.

There are eight Best Picture nominations this year, and the absence of one film in particular is notable: Carol. Todd Haynes’ gorgeous adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s lesbian romance novel is a critics’ darling and going into this week, was considered a shoo-in for all of the biggest categories. Yet that didn’t happen—Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara were nominated in the Best Actress and Best Supporting categories, respectively, but Carol couldn’t find its way into Best Picture or Best Director.

When it came to Best Director, neither could Ridley Scott, who many pundits (including Slate’s own Dan Kois) also figured would be an obvious nominee for Best Director. Instead, Adam McKay (who, earlier this week, was also nominated for the DGA Award) and more surprisingly, Room’s Lenny Abrahamson—who was on pretty much no one’s shortlist—snuck in to claim those spots.

Elsewhere in out-of-nowhere Oscar results: Aaron Sorkin failed to get a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for Steve Jobs, while Quentin Tarantino failed to get a nomination for Best Original Screenplay for The Hateful Eight. The Weeknd could be halfway to an EGOT now that “Earned It” is competing for Best Original Song (he’s also nominated for multiple Grammys this year), while Charlotte Rampling’s lovely, acclaimed performance in 45 Years is honored in the Best Actress category.

Otherwise, everything else was pretty much on script: The Oscars, once again, are #sowhite, with Straight Outta Compton, Creed, and Beasts of No Nation mostly or completely ignored by the academy. (We’ll see what host Chris Rock has to say about that next month.) Spotlight and The Revenant were basically nominated for all of the awards everyone assumed they would be nominated for, and Inside Out may not have made it into Best Picture, but it is nominated for Best Animated Feature.

The question now becomes: Who will go all the way? The Revenant may have cleaned up in nominations (12), but I think the real competition might be between beautiful feminist action flick Mad Max: Fury Road and smart, socially conscious black comedy The Big Short. Let the games begin.

Read more in Slate about the 2016 Oscars.