2015 Academy Awards®
Winners & History
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Academy Awards History (By Decade):
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s
Academy Awards Summaries
Winners Charts:
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®


2015
The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.

Best Picture
SPOTLIGHT (2015)
The Big Short (2015)
Bridge of Spies (2015)
Brooklyn (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
 
The Martian (2015)
The Revenant (2015)
Room (2015)
   

Best Animated Feature Film
INSIDE OUT (2015)
Anomalisa (2015)
Boy & the World (2013, Brazil) (aka O Menino e o Mundo)
Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015, UK/Fr.)
When Marnie Was There (2014, Jp.) (aka Omoide no Mânî)

Actor:
LEONARDO DICAPRIO in "The Revenant," Bryan Cranston in "Trumbo," Matt Damon in "The Martian," Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs," Eddie Redmayne in "The Danish Girl"
Actress:
BRIE LARSON in "Room," Cate Blanchett in "Carol," Jennifer Lawrence in "Joy," Charlotte Rampling in "45 Years," Saoirse Ronan in "Brooklyn"
Supporting Actor:
MARK RYLANCE in "Bridge of Spies," Christian Bale in "The Big Short," Tom Hardy in "The Revenant," Mark Ruffalo in "Spotlight," Sylvester Stallone in "Creed"
Supporting Actress:
ALICIA VIKANDER in "The Danish Girl," Rooney Mara in "Carol," Jennifer Jason Leigh in "The Hateful Eight," Kate Winslet in "Steve Jobs," Rachel McAdams in "Spotlight"
Director:
ALEJANDRO INARRITU for "The Revenant," Lenny Abrahamson for "Room," George Miller for "Mad Max: Fury Road," Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight," Adam McKay for "The Big Short"


This year marked the 88th annual Academy Awards, representing 57 films. It was a major year for films in the US in 2015 - according to box-office totals, the yearly US domestic box-office total crossed the $11 billion mark for the first time in cinematic history.

The Best Picture race for 2015 films was among eight nominees. This year marked the second time that the Best Picture category had eight nominees. Ever since 2009 when the Best Picture field was to be between 5 and 10, there had always been nine contenders, until 2014 and this year.

The Academy was criticized almost immediately for its white-centric performance nominations (for the second year in a row) - all 20 of the acting nominees were white. And it marked the first time since 1998 that the Academy in back-to-back years did not nominate a single black performer.

Warner Bros. was the big winner of the year with 11 nominations and 6 wins (due to Mad Max: Fury Road), while second place was Fox with 20 nominations and 3 wins (due to The Revenant and The Martian).

The Best Picture winner, the ensemble film Spotlight (with six nominations and two wins), a journalistic-procedural drama about the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal, was released in early November from a smaller studio, Open Road Films. It was the second lowest domestic-grossing film ever to win Best Picture (at $39.1 million at the time of the award), compared to $17 million for The Hurt Locker (2009). Although a number of journalism-themed films in Oscar history have received lots of nominations, including Best Picture (e.g, Network (1976), All the President's Men (1976), The Killing Fields (1984), Broadcast News (1987), and Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005)), Gentleman's Agreement (1947) was the last journalism-related film to win Best Picture.

This year's Academy Award Oscar winners were widely spread out over a number of nominees (many with the theme of survival). And the winner of the most coveted top award, Spotlight, had only two Oscar wins. The last film to win Best Picture and just one other Oscar was director Cecil B. DeMille's The Greatest Show on Earth (1952).

The Best Picture nominees, in descending order of number of Oscar wins, included:

  • director/co-writer George Miller's and Warners' post-apocalyptic action-chase film Mad Max: Fury Road (with six Oscars from its 10 nominations, mostly in technical areas): Best Film Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup/Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Editing.
  • director/co-writer Alejandro González Iñárritu's and Fox's biographical western The Revenant (with three Oscars from its 12 nominations): Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Cinematography.
    [Note: It was the third consecutive Oscar win for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, setting the record for most consecutive wins in the category.]
  • director/co-writer Tom McCarthy's independent, investigative newspaper drama Spotlight, (with only two Oscars from its 6 nominations): Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. It was about The Boston Globe's inquiry into local allegations of child abuse in the Catholic church.
  • director Steven Spielberg's historical thriller and Cold War espionage drama Bridge of Spies (with only one Oscar from its 6 nominations): Best Supporting Actor (Mark Rylance), about a US attorney (Tom Hanks) involved in a prisoner-swap deal.
    [Note: Spielberg's nomination as producer for the film set a record - as an individual producer, he now had a record 9 nominations for Best Picture (with only one win for Schindler's List (1993)), stretching all the way back to E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982).]
  • director/co-writer Adam McKay's drama The Big Short (with only one Oscar from its 5 nominations): Best Adapted Screenplay, about the previous decade's mortgage-financial meltdown and crisis (in 2008) and the accompanying greed.
  • director Lenny Abrahamson's Canadian-Irish dramatic claustrophobic thriller Room (with only one Oscar from its 4 nominations): Best Actress, about a mother (Brie Larson) and child (Jacob Tremblay) kidnapped and abandoned in an Ohio backyard shed.

Two of the Best Picture nominees went home empty-handed:

  • director Ridley Scott's The Martian (with 7 nominations and no wins), about a stranded astronaut on the Martian "Red Planet."
  • director John Crowley's romantic drama Brooklyn (with 3 nominations and no wins), a tale about a homesick Irish immigrant arriving in 1950s New York City.

Many other films (not in the Best Picture race) that had nominations, but did not do well included:

  • director Todd Haynes' Carol (with 6 nominations and no wins)
  • director J.J. Abrams' highest-grossing sci-fi Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (with 5 nominations and no wins)
    [Note: Composer John Williams received his 50th nomination for Best Original Score for the film. He had five Oscar wins in his past.]
  • director Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (with 3 nominations and only one win: Best Original Score for 87 year-old Ennio Morricone, his first competitive Oscar win in his sixth attempt. He set a record as the oldest nominee in the category.)
  • director Denis Villeneuve's action thriller Sicario (with 3 nominations and no wins)
  • director Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs (with 2 nominations and no wins)
  • director Sam Mendes' Spectre (with only 1 nomination and win: Best Original Song: "Writing's On the Wall")
  • director Ryan Coogler's Creed (with 1 nomination and no wins)
  • director David O. Russell's Joy (with 1 nomination and no wins)
  • director Jay Roach's Trumbo (with 1 nomination and no wins)

Also, the independent UK sci-fi thriller starring up-and-coming Swedish actress Alicia Vikander (and Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner), director Alex Garland's Ex Machina, had two nominations and one win (a big surprise for Best Visual Effects). Two major blockbusters of the year had no nominations: Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron. Both box-office hit films surpassed The Dark Knight Rises (2012) as the highest-grossing movies of all time to be snubbed by the Oscars. Also, the major franchise of four The Hunger Games films (2012-2015) officially became the highest-grossing franchise of all time to not receive a single Oscar nomination.

All five of the nominees for Best Director also received Best Picture nominations. However, for the third time in four years, Best Picture and Best Director were split between different films.

The Best Director winner was 52 year-old Mexican-born Alejandro Iñárritu for The Revenant, repeating his success of last year (his Oscar win for Best Director for Birdman (2014)). It marked his fourth Oscar win from seven nominations. His previous three Oscar wins were for Birdman (2014): Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. He was also nominated in the categories of Best Picture and Best Director for Babel (2006), and had a Best Foreign Language Film nomination for Amores Perros (2000, Mex.) (aka Love's A Bitch).

[Note: He became the first person in 65 years and only the third ever to win back-to-back Best Director Oscars since Joseph L. Mankiewicz's A Letter To Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950), and only the third in history, also after John Ford's The Grapes Of Wrath (1940) and How Green Was My Valley (1941).]

The other four Best Director nominees included:

  • 70 year-old Australian filmmaker George Miller (with his first Best Director nomination) for Mad Max: Fury Road
    [Note: Miller's sole Oscar win was for Best Animated Feature Film, Happy Feet (2006). He also had two nominations for Babe (1995): Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for Lorenzo's Oil (1992).]
  • 49 year-old Tom McCarthy (with his first Best Director nomination) for Spotlight
    [Note: McCarthy's sole previous nomination was Best Original Screenplay for Up (2009).]
  • 49 year-old Irish-born Lenny Abrahamson (with his first Best Director nomination) for Room
  • 47 year-old Adam McKay (with his first Best Director nomination) for The Big Short

Three of the directors of Best Picture nominees were not Best Director nominees: Steven Spielberg for Bridge of Spies, Ridley Scott for The Martian (a major omission), and John Crowley for Brooklyn.

Almost half of the 20 acting category nominees were first timers - eight of the 20 nominees received their first Oscar nomination. And five of the 20 nominees (one-fourth of the nominees) were previous Oscar winners for acting. That meant that seven of the nominees (one-third of the nominees) were previous nomination recipients, but hadn't yet won. All four of the Oscar winners this year in acting categories were first-time Oscar winners.

The Best Actor race was won by the favorite, 41 year-old Leonardo Di Caprio (with his sixth career Oscar nomination and 4th Best Actor nomination, and first Oscar win) as wounded 19th-century frontiersman Hugh Glass on a quest for revenge, in The Revenant. [Note: DiCaprio received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), and three other Best Actor nominations for The Aviator (2004), Blood Diamond (2006), and The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). He was also a nominee (as co-producer) for Best Picture nominee The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).]

The remaining Best Actor nominees included:

  • 34 year-old English-born Eddie Redmayne (with his second Best Actor nomination, and one previous win - he was the reigning Best Actor winner) as popular Danish landscape artist Einar Wegener (transgendered into Lili Elbe), in The Danish Girl
    [Note: Redmayne won Best Actor as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking the previous year for The Theory of Everything (2014).]
  • 45 year-old Matt Damon (with his fourth Oscar nomination, including one previous win in a different category) as stranded botanist-astronaut Mark Watney, in Ridley Scott's The Martian
    [Note: Damon shared an Oscar win with Ben Affleck for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997), a Best Actor nomination for the 1997 film, and Best Supporting Actor nomination for Invictus (2009).]
  • 38 year-old German-born Michael Fassbender (with his second Oscar nomination) as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs seen in three product launches while engaged in a tumultuous relationship with his daughter, in British director Danny Boyle's biopic Steve Jobs (with only two nominations total)
    [Note: Fassbender was previously nominated as Best Supporting Actor for 12 Years a Slave (2013).]
  • 59 year-old Bryan Cranston (with his first Oscar nomination) as controversial Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo alleged to have Communist ties and therefore blacklisted, in director Jay Roach's biopic Trumbo (with Cranston's sole nomination to its credit)

The Best Actress race was considered a tight race between at least two of its nominees (Blanchett and Larson), although it was won by the overwhelming favorite:

  • 26 year-old Brie Larson (with her first nomination and first Oscar win) as protective imprisoned (kidnapped) mother Joy "Ma" Newsome raising her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) in captivity in a tiny shed, in Room.

The other Best Actress nominees included:

  • 46 year-old Australian-born Cate Blanchett (with her 7th career Oscar nomination, 4th Best Actress nomination, and with two previous wins) as lesbian-leaning, divorcing, middle-aged Carol Aird, engaged in an untraditional love affair, in director Todd Haynes' 50s romantic period drama Carol.
    [Note: With her nomination, Blanchett joined others with seven performance nominations that included Meryl Streep, Bette Davis, Geraldine Page and Katharine Hepburn. Blanchett received one Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Aviator (2004), and one Best Actress Oscar for Blue Jasmine (2013). Her other nominations were Best Actress for Elizabeth (1998) and Elizabeth: The Golden Age (2007), and Best Supporting Actress for Notes on a Scandal (2006) and I'm Not There. (2007).]
  • 25 year-old Jennifer Lawrence (with her 4th Oscar nomination, 3rd Best Actress nomination, and one previous win) as single mother and self-made Miracle Mop inventor/millionaire/entrepreneur Joy Mangano, in David O. Russell's semi-autobiographical dramedy Joy (with Lawrence's sole nomination to its credit).
    [Note: Lawrence received a Best Actress Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook (2012), a Best Actress nomination for Winter's Bone (2010), and a Best Supporting Actress nomination for American Hustle (2013). At age 25, Lawrence became the youngest performer (actor or actress) to receive 4 Oscar nominations. She bested Jennifer Jones, who received her third Best Actress nomination (for Duel in the Sun (1946)) (and fourth Oscar nomination) at the age of 27. In comparison, Meryl Streep was 32 when she was nominated for her fourth Oscar for Sophie's Choice (1982).]
  • 21 year-old Saoirse Ronan (with her second nomination) as 1950's homesick Irish immigrant Eilis Lacey in NYC, in Brooklyn.
    [Note: Ronan received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Atonement (2007).]
  • dark horse nominee 69 year-old English actress Charlotte Rampling (with her first nomination) as aging retired teacher Kate Mercer on the eve of her 45th wedding anniversary to her husband (Tom Courtenay), in writer/director Andrew Haigh's UK marriage drama 45 Years (with no Oscar wins).

The Best Supporting Actor race had many worthy contending nominees (with only one previous Oscar-winner), and Sylvester Stallone was the odds-on favorite, but the results were an upset. The Oscar winner was 56 year-old English actor Mark Rylance (with his first nomination and first Oscar win) as real-life, captured Soviet spy Rudolf Abel held in US custody and involved in a tense prisoner trade-swap, in Bridge of Spies.

The other Best Supporting Actor nominees included:

  • 69 year-old Sylvester Stallone (with his third Oscar nomination, and no previous wins) reprising his role as boxer/trainer Rocky Balboa, mentoring deceased rival Apollo Creed’s son (Michael B. Jordan), in director Ryan Coogler's sports drama Creed (the 7th Rocky film, considered both a spin-off and a sequel).
    [Note: Stallone was nominated twice for Rocky (1976): Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actor. With his Creed nomination, Stallone became the fifth actor (and sixth performer) in Oscar history to
    have been nominated twice for playing the same character in two different films. Previous dual nominees include Bing Crosby in 1944 and 1945, Paul Newman in 1961 and 1986, Peter O'Toole in 1964 and 1968, Al Pacino in 1972 and 1974, and Cate Blanchett in 1998 and 2007. Stallone's nomination also set a record for the most years between nominations for portrayals of the same character in different films - at 39 years.]
  • 41 year-old English actor Christian Bale (with his third Oscar nomination, and one previous win) as brilliant, socially-awkward hedge fund manager Dr. Michael Burry, in The Big Short
    [Note: Bale won Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter (2010), and was nominated as Best Actor for American Hustle (2013).]
  • 48 year-old Mark Ruffalo (with his third nomination, and no previous wins) as tirelessly-questing "Spotlight" reporter-investigator Michael Rezendes, in Spotlight
    [Note: Ruffalo had two previous Best Supporting Actor nominations, for The Kids Are All Right (2010) and Foxcatcher (2014).]
  • 38 year-old English actor Tom Hardy (with his first nomination) as villainous fur trapper John Fitzgerald, in The Revenant

The Best Supporting Actress race was a very tight race among many brilliant performances (and three first-time nominees). It was won by 27 year-old Swedish-born actress Alicia Vikander (with her first nomination and first Oscar win) as Danish painter and supportive wife Gerda Wegener, in The Danish Girl. She was among the youngest supporting actress nominees in Oscar history.

The other Best Supporting Actress nominees included:

  • 40 year-old English actress Kate Winslet (with her 7th Oscar nomination, and one previous win) as Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' head of marketing Joanna Hoffman, in Steve Jobs
    [Note: With her nomination, Winslet (like Blanchett) joined the 7-nominee club that included Meryl Streep, Bette Davis, Geraldine Page and Katharine Hepburn. Winslet received a Best Actress Oscar for The Reader (2008). She has three other nominations for Best Actress: Titanic (1997), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), and Little Children (2006), and two other nominations for Best Supporting Actress: Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Iris (2001).]
  • 30 year-old Rooney Mara (with her second nomination) as aspiring photographer and inexperienced, forlorn 1950s department store shopgirl Therese Belivet engaged in a lesbian love affair with an older woman, in Carol
    [Note: Mara received a Best Actress nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).]
  • 53 year-old Jennifer Jason Leigh (with her first nomination) as battered, conniving, trapped fugitive Daisy Domergue, in Quentin Tarantino's violent western The Hateful Eight.
  • 37 year-old Canadian-born actress Rachel McAdams (with her first nomination) as determined Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe journalist Sacha Pfeiffer, in Spotlight.

Most Obvious Omissions and Snubs:

Best Picture:
Todd Haynes' acclaimed period drama Carol - with 6 nominations (and two performance nominations - and no Oscar wins), was missing from the top nominees. Of all the nominated films, it had the most nominations without getting a Best Picture nod, since the category was extended to ten films (maximum) in 2009. [This also marked the first time in eight years that a Harvey Weinstein-backed film wasn't competing in the top Oscars category.] Also absent was the excellent The Danish Girl - with 4 nominations and also with two performance nominations (with one win for supporting actress Alicia Vikander). David O. Russell's Joy did not have a Best Picture or Best Director nomination (and only one nomination - with no Oscar wins), although the director's last three films had both Best Director and Best Picture nods: The Fighter (2010), Silver Linings Playbook (2012), and American Hustle (2013).

Many were surprised by the massive number of nominations (10), with six Oscar wins! for the action-chase film Mad Max: Fury Road - a sequel or reboot of the successful franchise series by Australian film-maker George Miller. Some hopeful reviewers believed that the summer sleeper hit biopic about the hip-hop group NWA, Straight Outta Compton, might get a nod in this category (its sole nomination was Best Original Screenplay). Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight (with three nominations and only one win) was missing in the Best Picture (and Best Director) lists. The biggest domestic hit of the year (and all-time), Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, only picked up five nominations (in technical categories) (and no Oscar wins), without nominations in either of the top two categories: Best Picture and Best Director.

[Note: Aaron Sorkin was not among the Best Adapted Screenplay nominees for Steve Jobs (with two major performance nominations), and neither was Quentin Tarantino represented for his original screenplay for The Hateful Eight.]

Note: In regards to the diversity controversy, three acclaimed films with diverse casts were not nominated in the Best Picture category: Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, and Creed. (The nominations that these films received were given to whites: Straight Outta Compton (Best Original Screenplay), and Creed (Best Supporting Actor)).

Best Director:
78 year-old Ridley Scott, who had been Oscar-nominated for Best Director three times but never won (Thelma & Louise (1991), Gladiator (2000), and Black Hawk Down (2001)), failed to receive a nomination for his Best Picture-nominated The Martian (with no Oscar wins). He was replaced (or snubbed) by two other less-known nominees: Adam McKay for The Big Short (with only one win), and Lenny Abrahamson for Room (with only one win). They also edged out Todd Haynes, the director of Carol (with no Oscar wins), who had never been nominated for Best Director (he was nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Far from Heaven (2002)), and Steven Spielberg for Bridge of Spies (with only one Oscar win). Quentin Tarantino, the writer and director of The Hateful Eight (with three nominations, including Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score (win) for 87 year-old Ennio Morricone) was also not represented. And African-American director Ryan Coogler was unrepresented for Creed.

Best Actor:
Will Smith was not nominated for his role as Nigerian forensic pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in writer/director Peter Landesman's sports drama Concussion, about the serious problem of brain injuries in professional football. And Michael B. Jordan was overlooked as boxer Adonis "Donnie" Johnson Creed (the title character), coached and trained by Rocky Balboa (nominated Sylvester Stallone) in the spin-off sports film Creed (with no wins). Samuel L. Jackson, another black actor, was denied a nomination for his role as Major Marquis Warren in The Hateful Eight. And Johnny Depp was ignored for his role as James "Whitey" Bulger in the Warner Bros. gangster drama Black Mass.

Best Supporting Actor:
Missing from the nominees were: Idris Elba as the Commandant in director Cary Joji Fukunaga's W. African war drama Beasts of No Nation, Paul Dano as songwriter/musician Brian Wilson in director Bill Pohlad's biopic Love & Mercy about the Beach Boys' co-founder, and Michael Shannon as callous real-estate businessman Rick Carver in director Ramin Bahrani's thriller 99 Homes. Tom Hardy (who also appeared in Mad Max: Fury Road as Max Rockatansky) was a surprise nominee for The Revenant. Michael Keaton (last year's Best Actor Oscar nominee for Best Picture-winning Birdman (2014)) was absent from this category of nominees, for his leading ensemble role as Walter 'Robby' Robinson - the head "Spotlight" investigator in Spotlight. Oscar Isaac's role as eccentric billionaire Nathan Bateman in the year's breakout UK sci-fi thriller Ex Machina by director Alex Garland was overlooked. And it should be noted that the success of Room was partly based on the central, un-nominated performance of young 9 year-old newcomer Jacob Tremblay as five year-old Jack.

Best Actress:
Past Oscar-winner Charlize Theron was missing from the nominees for her role as Imperator Furiosa in the action film Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Supporting Actress:
Two of the nominees in this supporting category actually played lead roles with significant screen time: Alicia Vikander (with an Oscar win) in The Danish Girl, and Rooney Mara in Carol. Two likely nominees and previous winners were not included in the nominees: Jane Fonda as narcissistic and aging movie star Brenda Morel in Youth, and Helen Mirren as columnist Hedda Hopper in Trumbo, and as octogenarian Jewish refugee Maria Altmann in Woman in Gold. Writer/director Olivier Assayas' drama Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), unrepresented in the nominees, included an award-winning supporting performance by Kristen Stewart as Valentine. She won two awards for her role - the Cesar Award (the French equivalent of the Oscar) (she became the first American actress to accomplish this feat), and a New York Film Critics Circle award.

Best Animated Feature Film:
Pixar's two feature animated films might both have been included in the nominees, although only one made the cut, the Oscar winner Inside Out. The Good Dinosaur was replaced by other obscure, little-seen, box-office lightweights including the Brazilian animation Boy & The World (2013) (aka O Menino e o Mundo), and Japan's Studio Ghibli animation entry When Marnie Was There (2014). Two other major heavy-weight animations were also glaringly missing: Minions, and The Peanuts Movie. Minions surpassed Shrek the 3rd (2007) as the highest-grossing animated film to not receive any nominations.


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