The most unpredictable Oscar race in years yielded plenty of curveballs with Thursday's nominations. Don't worry, Leonardo DiCaprio's still on course for his first Oscar (and his movie's looking pretty good too), but some other big names are not as lucky. Here are the biggest surprises and snubs from nomination morning.
Spotlight actors: Spotlight has had trouble nabbing nods for its actors all season. While Rachel McAdams earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination, benefiting from being the only woman in a guy-heavy flick, both Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton failed to get SAG and Golden Globe mentions, presumably because they kept canceling each other out. Thursday's supporting nods for McAdams — a far cry from a guarantee in the unsettled supporting actress race — and Ruffalo stops the bleeding a bit on Spotlight's dwindling frontrunner status. And that editing nomination, after getting snubbed for the ACE Eddie, helps too.
Charlotte Rampling and Tom Hardy: There's always a couple of actors who make the Oscar shortlist without any major precursor nominations. That honor goes to Brit vet Rampling for her devastating turn in 45 Years and DiCaprio's Revenant friend-turned-foe Tom Hardy. At 69, Rampling would become the third oldest Best Actress winner after Jessica Tandy (80) and Katharine Hepburn, who was 74 when she won her fourth and final trophy for On Golden Pond. Hardy's nod — one of The Revenant's leading 12 — shows massive support for the film. The frontier film might just ride late-breaking industry support to a Best Picture win — which was what Revenant director Alejandro G. Inarritu did with Birdman last year. (Inarritu would also be the first person in 65 years to win two straight directing Oscars.)
Lenny Abrahamson: The little-known Irish helmer broke into the director field with his suffocating vision of Room. Abrahamson had seldom been singled out by awards bodies all season, but the Academy directing branch often deviates from the crowd with a true passionate pick here or there (see in recent years: Ben Zeitlin, Michael Haneke, Bennett Miller). Abrahamson's inclusion came at the expense of one very big name (see below).
Jennifer Lawrence: OK, this is not really a surprise, but more of a disappointment. And laziness. J. Law, 25, became the youngest person to earn four acting nominations for her uneven and totally miscast turn in Joy, confirming that she can get nominated on her celebrity alone. But perhaps she wouldn't have made the Best Actress cut had the Academy not given in to category fraud. Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) had been pushed in supporting despite being blatant leads of their films, and both scored nods in that category. The Oscars have revolted against category fraud before — nominating 13-year-old Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider), 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Kate Winslet (who eventually won for The Reader) in lead instead of following in lockstep with their supporting campaigns — but they apparently said "meh" this year. When the Globes correct category fraud and you don't, you're doing it wrong.
Ridley Scott: You know how this is supposed to be Leo's year? It was also supposed to be Scott's year. A three-time nominee, The Martian director had never won an Oscar before, losing his best shot — for Gladiator, which won Best Picture — to Traffic's Steven Soderbergh 15 years ago. Sentiment had seemed to coalesce around him the same way it has around DiCaprio and Sylvester Stallone, and if one of the two sci-fi helmers was going to be snubbed, the general feeling was it would be George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road). Maybe voters assumed others would be checking off Scott's name and didn't bother? Since he's a producer on The Martian, Scott can still win an Oscar if the space epic wins the top prize. So, he could pull a Ben Affleck.
Carol: Outside of acting nods for Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, Todd Haynes' luscious '50s love story has struggled with the industry awards, missing among them PGA and Directors Guild Award nominations. Neither the film nor Haynes made the picture or director cuts, which must be déjà vu again for him. His previous critically acclaimed Douglas Sirk-esque melodrama, Far From Heaven, was also omitted from the top two Oscar races.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: During peak Star Wars last month, many believed the all-time box office smash could make the Best Picture cut (the original was nominated 38 years ago) — so much so that the Critics' Choice Awards shamelessly added it as an 11th nominee. Plus, including blockbusters like The Force Awakens was basically why the Oscars expanded the Best Picture field, after The Dark Knight was snubbed in the field of five seven years ago. Alas, The Force Awakens only grabbed five below-the-line nominations.
Aaron Sorkin andQuentin Tarantino: Two of the most famous, verbose and idiosyncratic screenwriters were nowhere to be found in the adapted screenplay race for the former (Steve Jobs) and the original screenplay shortlist for the latter (The Hateful Eight). Both former Oscar champs were nominated in the Globes' single screenplay category, which Sorkin won. He's the first Globe screenplay winner to be snubbed by the Oscars since About Schmidt's Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor 13 years ago.
#OscarsSoWhite again: Despite a Producers Guild Award nomination for Best Picture, Straight Outta Compton didn't make the Oscar Best Picture cut, while Creed, directed by Ryan Coogler and starring Michael B. Jordan, only scored one nod, for supporting player Stallone. The diversity optics look worse when you scroll down to the acting nominees: All 20 performers are white for the second year in a row after Idris Elba's snub. At least we know host Chris Rock will definitely have something to talk about.
Helen Mirren: The Oscar winner earned a dubious distinction Thursday, becoming the first person with two SAG nods (Woman in Gold, Trumbo) to fail to get one Oscar nomination. Mirren's Trumbo turn was Globe-nominated as well, and along with Elba in Beasts of No Nation and Michael Shannon in 99 Homes, became the 37th, 38th and 39th performances to get snubbed after Globe and SAG nods. This also happened to Mirren three years ago with Hitchcock.
Jacob Tremblay: Another case of category fraud, the breakout 9-year-old Room star, who has a SAG nod, was campaigned in supporting, where the Oscars are more inclined to nominate children even if they are leads, but he didn't bag a nod in either category. That jibes with the Oscars' historical bias against young male actors. The Oscars love little girls, but not little boys. Only six actors under 18 have received Oscar nods in the lead and supporting races combined, while the 10 youngest supporting actress nominees ever are all under 18.
Which nominations surprised you?
The 88th Academy Awards air Sunday, Feb. 28 at 8:30 p.m. ET / 5:30 p.m. PT on ABC.