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Rachel McAdams for Spotlight

The actress didn’t deliver a performance that was the talk of the town, and that’s exactly what makes this nomination such a surprise. Even if you’ve seen Spotlight, you’d be hard-pressed to peg a scene that really shows why this is such a great performance, but that’s the point. This is a fantastic, subtle performance from the actress that doesn’t need a huge scene to stand out. McAdams has been overdue for a nomination, and it’s nice to finally see her get one.

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Lenny Abrahamson for Room

The filmmaker wasn’t on the list for the Directors Guild Award nominations, so it seemed like he was out of the running for Best Director. But the Academy went ahead and threw him into the race while taking Ridley Scott out of the equation. In my opinion, Room is a superior film to The Martian, and I’m glad Abrahamson got nominated, even though it meant Ryan Coogler and Todd Haynes didn’t.

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Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There

Most of the time, the animated film category is dominated by more mainstream fare from studios. Therefore, it was nice to see movies like Boy and the World and When Marnie was There (above) end up in the nomination pool. Of course, it would have been even better to see Anomalisa also land a Best Picture nomination, but I suppose it’s good that it got some recognition.

Original Song Nominees from Documentaries

Much like the animated feature film category, there are certain kinds of songs that always end up in the Best Original Song category. Usually they’re pop hits from soundtracks to popular movies or songs that were added to musical soundtracks just so they can land an Oscar nomination. But this year, two of the nominees come from documentary films: “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction and “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground. Docs are an unlikely source for original songs. Both of the documentaries are worth checking out, and now you can keep an ear out for these songs too.

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Mad Max: Fury Road

George Miller‘s blockbuster sequel was in the running for some awards, and it has been making the rounds in all the right awards conversations, but no one expected this. Mad Max: Fury Road is up for 10 Oscars. Most of them are for technical categories, but two of them are for Best Director and Best Picture, and that’s quite the big deal. That kind of award love hasn’t been achieved by a blockbuster since Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. We wish there would have been 11 with a nomination for Charlize Theron, but I guess this will do for now.

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