2016 Oscar-nominated movies: Is this the year for a sci-fi best picture?

Movies like 'The Big Short,' 'Room,' and 'Spotlight' scored nominations for this year's Oscars, as did science fiction box office hits 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and 'The Martian.'

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
'Mad Max: Fury Road' stars Tom Hardy.

Oscar nominees for this year include such films as “Spotlight,” “Room,” “The Martian,” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

The nominees for the Best Picture prize, which will be given out at a ceremony on Feb. 28, are “Spotlight,” “Room,” “The Revenant,” “The Martian,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Brooklyn,” “Bridge of Spies,” and “The Big Short.”

“Spotlight,” “Room,” “Revenant,” “Short,” “Martian,” and “Max” were all nominated for the Golden Globe best picture prizes and “Short” and “Spotlight” were nominated for the best cast award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, so the inclusion of these movies was thought to be a good bet. “Bridge” had lost some momentum lately but managed to get a Best Picture nomination, as did “Brooklyn.” 

Nominees for the best actress award are Saoirse Ronan of “Brooklyn,” “45 Years” actress Charlotte Rampling, “Joy” actress Jennifer Lawrence, “Room” actress Brie Larson, and “Carol” actress Cate Blanchett.

Blanchett, Larson, and Ronan were nominated for the best actress Golden Globe, so they had a good chance of getting an Oscar nod. Lawrence was nominated for (and won) the best actress in a comedy Golden Globe, so she’s been nominated before this season. Rampling had missed out on both the Golden Globe and SAG nominations, so her nod is a bit more of a surprise. 

The best actor nominees are “The Danish Girl” actor Eddie Redmayne, “Steve Jobs” actor Michael Fassbender, Leonardo DiCaprio of “The Revenant,” “The Martian” actor Matt Damon, and Bryan Cranston of “Trumbo." 

This list lines up almost exactly with the Golden Globe nominees for best actor in a drama and with the SAG nominees for best actor, with Will Smith for “Concussion” and Johnny Depp for “Black Mass” being swapped out for Damon. Damon just won the best actor in a comedy Golden Globe. 

Those competing for the best supporting actress prize are Kate Winslet of “Steve Jobs,” Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl,” Rachel McAdams for “Spotlight,” Rooney Mara for “Carol,” and “The Hateful Eight” actress Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Winslet, Leigh, Mara, and Vikander had been nominated for Golden Globes and Mara, McAdams, Vikander, and Winslet had been nominated for the SAG supporting actress award. This category lined up with previous nominations.

Those who are nominated for the best supporting actor award are “Creed” actor Sylvester Stallone, “Bridge of Spies” actor Mark Rylance, “Spotlight” actor Mark Ruffalo, “The Revenant” actor Tom Hardy, and Christian Bale of “The Big Short.” 

Stallone, Rylance, and Bale were nominated for Golden Globes and Bale and Rylance were nominated for SAG Awards. The surprises here were Hardy and Ruffalo.

Meanwhile, those facing off for the best director award are Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight,” Lenny Abrahamson for “Room,” Alejandro González Iñárritu for “The Revenant,” George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and Adam McKay for “The Big Short.” 

Two high-profile science fiction movies are competing for the Best Picture award this year, “Max” and “Martian.” Movies like the original 1977 “Star Wars” film, “Avatar,” and “Gravity” have been nominated, but no sci-fi movie has ever taken the prize. 

We’ll see how “Max” and “Martian” do as the awards season goes on – “Revenant” just won the Golden Globe drama award against “Max,” though “Martian” was in a different category and won the best comedy prize.

But the Academy picking one of those movies as Best Picture would line up with how audiences appreciate science fiction movies, if moviegoers voting with their wallets is any indication. “Max” and “Martian” were two of the highest-grossing movies of the year, with “Martian” doing particularly well. 

Of the incredibly popular Marvel movies, 2014’s space-set “Guardians of the Galaxy” became one of the highest-grossing of that year. 

Meanwhile, “Avatar” was recently dethroned as the highest-grossing film domestically of all time, not adjusting for inflation.

What took its place? The science fiction smash “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

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