Oscars 2016: Seven talking points from the nominations

By Tim Masters
Arts and entertainment correspondent

image copyrightAFP

The nominations for the 2016 Oscars are out. Here is a look at the successes, surprises and snubs on this year's shortlists.

Eight for the 88th Oscars

For the second year running, there are eight films up for best picture. Beautiful but brutal wilderness epic The Revenant is the frontrunner with 12 nominations.

Films dealing with weighty real-life issues - such as The Big Short (the financial crisis) and Spotlight (Catholic priests scandal) - rub shoulders with action-packed crowd-pleasers Mad Max: Fury Road and sci-fi thriller The Martian.

Period dramas Brooklyn and Bridge of Spies are in, but 1950s lesbian love story Carol didn't make the cut.

There was also room for Room, Lenny Abrahamson's powerful kidnap drama, for which Brie Larson is the hot favourite to win best actress.

#Oscarssowhite is back

After last year's #Oscarssowhite backlash over the complete lack of recognition for non-white actors, the same has happened again this year.

There was nothing for Idris Elba, who got a Bafta nod last week for Beasts of No Nation, while NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton failed to get a best picture nomination. It did however pick up a nod for best original screenplay.

Expect this year's Oscar host Chris Rock to have this on his hit list during his routine on 28 February.

Leonardo DiCaprio could win best actor

Over his 25-year film career, The Revenant's Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for four acting Oscars (plus a producer nod for The Wolf of Wall Street two years ago).

Oscar watchers and the bookies think this could finally be his year.

The omens are good. Academy voters like actors to have suffered for their art, as happened when last year's winner Eddie Redmayne (also nominated this year for The Danish Girl) went through a painful physical transformation to play Stephen Hawking.

DiCaprio was put through the mill as fur trapper Hugo Glass, having to cope with challenging conditions, sleep inside a dead horse and be mauled by a bear (even if the bear is only CGI).

Strong showing for acting Brits

After being snubbed at the Baftas, British actress Charlotte Rampling will be celebrating her first best actress nod for the marital drama 45 Years. Kate Winslet is up for best supporting actress for her role as Joanna Hoffman in Steve Jobs - it's her seventh nomination. She won best actress for The Reader.

Other British hopefuls include best supporting actor nominees Christian Bale for The Big Short, Mark Rylance for Cold War thriller Bridge of Spies and Tom Hardy for The Revenant.

Scott and Spielberg 'cut!' from director race

There were surprises in the best director category, where both Ridley Scott (The Martian) and Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies) missed out, although their films are both up for best picture.

With the exception of Alejandro G Inarritu for The Revenant, all the nominees are first-timers in this category. They are Room's Lenny Abrahamson, George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road, Tom McCarthy for Spotlight and Adam McKay for The Big Short.

Can Roger Deakins break his Oscars duck?

Roger Deakins has the most nominations for cinematography of any living person - 13 in total. But he's never won.

This year, the British cinematographer is shortlisted for drug cartel thriller Sicario.

But it's a tough year. He's up against The Revenant's Emmanuel Lubezki, who could well win his third Oscar in a row after Birdman and Gravity.

Sylvester Stallone limbers up for Oscar knock-out

Sylvester Stallone has received an Oscar nomination - for Rocky Balboa in Creed - almost 40 years since he was up for best actor in the original Rocky in 1977. Even more amazing - it's for playing the same role.

After winning his first Golden Globe this year, Stallone looks set to be this year's comeback king.

This year's Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles on 28 February.

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