NEW YORK (AP) — The brutal frontier saga “The Revenant” leads the 88th annual Academy Awards with 12 nominations, while the acting categories were again filled entirely by white performers.
The strong showing for “The Revenant,” including a best actor nod for Leonardo DiCaprio, follows its win at the Golden Globes. It sets director Alejandro Inarritu for a possible back-to-back win following his best-picture winning “Birdman” last year.
George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” followed with 10 nominations, including best picture. Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic “The Martian” landed 7 nominations, including best picture, but no best director nod for Scott.
Eight films were nominated for best picture. The other five were: Tom McCarthy’s investigative journalistic procedural “Spotlight,” Steven Spielberg’s Cold War thriller “Bridge of Spies,” Adam McKay’s Michael Lewis adaptation “The Big Short,” the mother-son captive drama “Room” and the ’50s Irish immigrant tale “Brooklyn.”
Left on the outside were Todd Haynes’ acclaimed lesbian romance “Carol” and the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”
The acting nominees, which notably omitted Idris Elba for “Beasts of No Nation” and Benicio Del Toro for “Sicario,” gave the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences an awkward repeat of the “OscarsSoWhite” backlash that followed last year’s acting nominees.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs has since redoubled efforts to diversify the academy’s membership, and slated Chris Rock to host this year’s Feb. 28 ceremony.
Alongside DiCaprio, the nominees for best actor are: Matt Damon (“The Martian”), Michael Fassbender (“Steve Jobs”), Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl”) and Bryan Cranston (“Trumbo”). One big name omitted was Johnny Depp for his Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass.”
The best actress field is led by favorite Brie Larson for “Room,” along with Jennifer Lawrence (for “Joy,” making her, at 25, the youngest four-time nominee), Cate Blanchett (“Carol”), Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn”) and Charlotte Rampling (“45 Years”).
After seemingly slipping in an unpredictable awards season, “Spotlight” showed particularly strength Thursday, landing six nominations including best director for McCarthy, best screenplay for McCarthy and Josh Singer and best supporting actor for Mark Ruffalo.
Best supporting actor is led by a comeback story for Sylvester Stallone, reprising his role as Rocky Balboa in “Creed.” His stiffest competition is seen as acclaimed theater actor Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies.” Also nominated were Tom Hardy (“The Revenant”) and Christian Bale (“The Big Short”).
“I am incredibly humbled by this honor,” Stallone wrote in an email. “I was not expecting it … especially at this time in my life. I am certainly grateful to the artists and collaborators who helped make it possible.”
As expected, Pixar’s “Inside Out” landed a best animated feature nod, as did the Charlie Kaufman-penned “Anomalisa,” ”Shaun the Sheep Movie,” ”Boy and the World” and “When Marnie Was There.”
The foreign language category drew films from Hungary (“Son Of Saul”), France (“Mustang”), Jordan (“Theeb’), Denmark (“A War”) and Colombia (“Embrace the Serpent”).
Though some fans had hoped for a better showing, the box-office behemoth “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” failed to land a best picture nomination. It instead scored five technical nods for editing, score, visual effects, sound mixing and sound editing.
Since the best picture field was expanded from five nominees to up to 10, in 2010, every year has delivered nine nominations until this year’s eight. The original reasoning was partly to make room for bigger, more populist films like Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” alongside acclaimed independent releases.
But the chances for “The Force Awakens” were hurt because the category already has one sci-fi blockbuster (“The Martian”), as well as a number of major studio releases. 20th Century Fox had an especially good day, led by “The Revenant” and “The Martian.”
Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP