Oscar Nominations: Reflections on a Stellar Season

If you've been following the Oscar prognosticators, you know the big favorites have been Spotlight, The Big Short, The Revenant, and Carol. All but Carol were honored with nominations this morning. With such a good year, other awards groups, the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild, the New York Film Critics Circle, and more, groups that often give clues to what will happen at the all important Oscars, shed love on these films and other excellent work. Personal favorites: Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn. How pleasing to find some surprises--sort of--on the academy members' lists!

That Sylvester Stallone, for example, a winner at the Globes is now further nominated for his work in Creed, is further recognition for that well crafted movie. At a recent dinner at Patsy's we all congratulated Stallone, after all, he did create Rocky Balboa, and he seemed genuinely surprised that we were thinking about him for awards. So this is a happy return to the spotlight for him. In the works: another story involving Rocky's son.

Brie Larson for Room: This movie actually had me terrified. The idea of a woman kidnapped, trapped in a shed with a small boy, imagining how to escape, and taking a frightening risk to do that. This scenario was more harrowing for a viewer than a mauling bear in The Revenant, and the hilarious raving maniacs in The Hateful Eight. Director Lenny Abrahamson and novelist and screenwriter Emma Donoghue were also nominated for this edgy film that also garnered a Best Picture nod. At the Crosby Hotel in early fall, Brie Larson had the affect of a working actor unfazed by the attention she was already getting for her performance, and preparing for King Kong. When she got the news this morning, she was filming that movie in Australia. Just a day on the job--but a good day.

The Big Short's nominations for Best Picture and director Adam McKay were expected, as were the fine performance by Christian Bale. Steve Carell would have been a welcome name on that best actor list for his outstanding, non-comedic if neurotic character. Spotlight too featured such a great ensemble. Honoring Mark Ruffalo and Rachel MacAdams is fine, but what about Michael Keaton?

Of actresses, everyone expected Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Alicia Vikander--proclaimed this year's "IT" girl--, but Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years is a nice touch. When she was in New York promoting her film at tea at the Plaza Athenee, many remarked at her deeply moving performance. She just took it in stride, saying, "We're good at what we do."

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.