The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars every year, has a reputation for being old-fashioned and repetitious — and while those claims are probably overblown, 2016's crop looks pretty familiar. (You can read a full list of this year's nominees here.)
Look, there's last year's Best Director winner Alejandro G. Iñárritu, topping this year's nominations with The Revenant. There's Joy star Jennifer Lawrence, nominated for an acting award for the fourth time since 2011. And — for the second year in a row, and most egregiously of all — there are 20 nominees in the acting categories, and not a single person of color.
As we analyze what did get nominated for an Oscar, it's just as important to analyze what didn't. These are the people and films we were most surprised to see miss the cut:
1. Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Concussion, and Beasts of No Nation
Just a year after snubs for Selma inspired the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy passed over four separate chances to nominate acclaimed black-centric narratives. There's Straight Outta Compton, the well-received biopic of legendary hip-hop group N.W.A.; Creed, the unexpectedly rousing revival of the Rocky franchise focused on the son of Apollo Creed; Concussion, the based-on-a-true-story tale of a Nigerian-born doctor fighting the NFL's attempts to suppress research on high-impact brain injuries; and Beasts of No Nation, the harrowing story of a child soldier in West Africa. These are great, diverse movies with a slew of elements that are ripe for recognition — and all four were virtually shut out of this year's crop of nominees.
To be fair, Straight Outta Compton and Creed did score one nomination apiece — Straight Outta Compton for screenwriters Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff, and Creed for supporting actor Sylvester Stallone. Unfortunately, those nominees also happen to be some of the only white people involved in crafting otherwise black-centric narratives. It's been less than two years since Chris Rock wrote a widely-discussed essay calling Hollywood "a white industry," and his analysis seems more apt than ever.
On paper, Carol has all the makings of an Oscar favorite: a period lesbian romance, based on a historically significant novel, starring an unimpeachable cast, and distributed by the Weinstein Company. It was also extremely acclaimed — one critic recently called it "the best movie of 2015, if not the decade."
In the end, the Academy's response to Carol was far more muted. Though stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara both scored nominations (as Actress and Supporting Actress, respectively), the film was shut out of widely predicted nods for Best Director (Todd Haynes) and Best Picture, though nominees in the cinematography, costume, and screenwriting categories should ease the pain a bit.
3. Ridley Scott
And while we're talking directorial snubs, why not Ridley Scott, a three-time Best Picture nominee who earned his best reviews in decades for The Martian? The Academy clearly loved the crowd-pleasing film, which scored recognition for Best Picture, Best Actor (Matt Damon), and Best Adapted Screenplay. But in the crowded Best Director field, Scott missed the cut.
4. Aaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino
Aaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino are two of the only screenwriters your average moviegoer can identify by name — and while Steve Jobs and The Hateful Eight represent neither man's most successful work, they were still widely regarded as shoo-ins for the Adapted Screenplay and Original Screenplay categories, respectively.
Tarantino is a three-time nominee and a two-time winner. Sorkin is a two-time nominee and a one-time winner, and he just won the Golden Globe for Screenwriting for Steve Jobs. But despite those credentials — and a pair of pretty well-reviewed movies — neither man made it.
5. Johnny Depp
The writing was already on the wall for Johnny Depp, whose snarling turn as real-life gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass was unsuccessfully positioned as a comeback role. But given how heavily the film was promoted on the back of his performance — including a "trailer" that was basically just a "For Your Consideration" highlight from the movie — it's still a disappointment for the three-time Oscar nominee.
6. Jacob Tremblay
It's hard to complain about the exceedingly warm reception for Room, a little-film-that-could that scored nominations for Best Picture, Best Director (Lenny Abrahamson), Best Actress (Brie Larson), and Best Screenplay (Emma Donoghue, adapting her own novel). But there was one widely acclaimed performer left off that list: Jacob Tremblay, the 9-year-old actor.
7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Let's be honest: Despite the earnest overtures of fans, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was never a legitimate Best Picture contender. (Mad Max: Fury Road has had the blockbuster slot locked up for months.) But while the latest Star Wars earned nominations in technical categories like visual effects, sound editing, and sound mixing, it's a little surprising to see it shut out of the nominees for costume design and makeup and hairstyling — particularly given the film's pointed emphasis on practical characters over CGI.
8. The Good Dinosaur and The Peanuts Movie
Animation fans have complained that the Best Animated Feature — which didn't even exist until 2001 — unfairly decreases the chances that an animated film will win Best Picture. But the category becomes more defensible when you see the movies that don't make the cut. Though Inside Out and Shaun the Sheep earned justified nominations, two of 2015's other high-profile, family-oriented movies failed to score recognition: The Good Dinosaur and The Peanuts Movie, which were each shut out altogether.