On the heels of Fox's big wins at the Golden Globes, the studio ruled the nominations for the biggest awards of the year — the Oscars. The Murdochs' studio brought home a total of 24 nominations, including three of the best picture nominations, for "The Revenant," "The Martian" and "Brooklyn." And "The Revenant" was the most nominated film, with a total of 12; "The Martian" was the third-most nominated with seven.
And though Warner Bros. didn't have a single movie in the top 15 grossing films in the U.S. last year, its "Mad Max" took second place, with 10 nominations, including best picture and nearly every technical category. Rounding out the list of best picture nominees: "Spotlight" from indie distributor Open Road Films, which drew six nominations,"Room" from indie distributor A24, Paramount's "The Big Short" and "Bridge of Spies," from Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks, distributed by Disney's Buena Vista here in the U.S. and by Fox overseas.
There continues to be a disconnect between what academy voters and moviegoers like. The academy expanded the number of best picture nominations in 2009 from five, to as many as 10, in order to allow for the inclusion of more popular films, such as "Avatar." But the biggest film of the year — "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" — was excluded, despite nearly universally positive reviews: a 93 percent rating from 324 million reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes. But "The Force Awakens" wasn't totally snubbed. It drew five nominations, including one for composer John Williams in the best original score category.
In fact, while "The Force Awakens" has already brought in more than $1.7 billion worldwide, the combined box office of all eight films nominated for best picture is $1.3 billion.
And thanks to hits "The Martian" and "Mad Max," which both grossed more than $150 million in the U.S. last year, this year's crop is more successful than last year's nominations. By Feb. 16 of last year, the eight nominees brought in $999.5 million globally. But the smaller the nominated films are, the bigger the potential impact of nominations. Films that have flown under the radar can see a big box-office boost from all the free marketing from the nominations and the awards ceremony itself.
It wasn't just the absence of "The Force Awakens" that depressed this year's nominees' box-office take. Many are surprised that Universal's "Straight Outta Compton," which grossed $161 million in the U.S., and an 88 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, drew just a single nomination for best original screenplay. And the second-biggest film of the year, Universal's "Jurassic World," didn't get a single nomination.
For the first time Netflix had a horse in the feature film race, with its "Beasts of No Nation." Star Idris Elba was considered a favorite for a best actor nod, but neither he nor the film received any nominations, disappointing many looking for the streaming video giant to score another first. But Netflix wasn't entirely shut out. It drew two nominations for documentaries.
More snubs: Spielberg and Ridley Scott failed to win best director nominations for "Bridge of Spies" and "The Martian," respectively.
And more ammunition for critics of the academy — a lack of diversity among nominees. All 20 men and women nominated in the acting categories are white.
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