2016 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, 2020s
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®

The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.

Filmsite's Greatest Films of 2016

Best Picture


Arrival (2016)

Fences (2016)

Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

Hell or High Water (2016)

Hidden Figures (2016)

La La Land (2016)

Lion (2016)

Manchester by the Sea (2016)

Best Animated Feature Film


Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Moana (2016)

My Life as a Zucchini (Switz./Fr.) (2016) (aka Ma Vie de Courgette)

The Red Turtle (Jp.) (2016) (aka La Tortue Rouge)

CASEY AFFLECK in "Manchester by the Sea," Andrew Garfield in "Hacksaw Ridge," Ryan Gosling in "La La Land," Viggo Mortensen in "Captain Fantastic," Denzel Washington in "Fences"
EMMA STONE in "La La Land," Isabelle Huppert in "Elle," Ruth Negga in "Loving," Natalie Portman in "Jackie," Meryl Streep in "Florence Foster Jenkins"
Supporting Actor:
MAHERSHALA ALI in "Moonlight," Jeff Bridges in "Hell or High Water," Lucas Hedges in "Manchester by the Sea," Dev Patel in "Lion," Michael Shannon in "Nocturnal Animals"
Supporting Actress:
VIOLA DAVIS in "Fences," Naomie Harris in "Moonlight," Nicole Kidman in "Lion," Octavia Spencer in "Hidden Figures," Michelle Williams in "Manchester by the Sea"
DAMIEN CHAZELLE for "La La Land," Denis Villeneuve for "Arrival," Mel Gibson for "Hacksaw Ridge," Kenneth Lonergan for "Manchester by the Sea," Barry Jenkins for "Moonlight"

Moonlight (2016)This year marked the 89th annual Academy Awards. In terms of themes, four of the nine Best Picture nominees were prominent stories of diversity (with non-white subjects). (Note: There were eight nominees for the top film last year.) Seven of the nine were considered dramas (although some were hybrids), while there was one sci-fi film and one musical. At the time of the nominations, none of the Best Picture nominees had crossed $100 million (domestic) at the box office, although Arrival was the closest at about $96 million. This marked only the fifth time this has happened in the past 20 years.

The Best Picture winner was Moonlight (with three wins from its eight nominations), also taking Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali) and Best Adapted Screenplay (for its director Barry Jenkins, from a story by Tarell Alvin McCraney). The top film was a coming-of-age dramatic tale (the director's second film) told in three chapters - about black youth Chiron (a young gay black man) living in a crime-infested rough area of Miami with a crack-addicted mother. Its tagline was: "THIS IS THE STORY OF A LIFETIME."

In a major milestone, it was the first LGBTQ film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. [Note: LGBTQ = lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning) individuals/identities.] And it became the first Best Picture winner without a single white cast member. It was the first Best-Picture winner from an African-American director.

At the time of the Oscar presentations, Hidden Figures had become the highest-grossing Best Picture nominee at $152.8 million (domestic). The winning film Moonlight hadn't been seen by many audiences (it was the lowest grossing of all the Best Picture nominees). It was ranked as the # 101st film of the year at the time of the award presentations, with only $22.3 million (domestic). Therefore, it was one of the lowest grossing Best Picture winners ever, had a very small production budget of $1.5 million, and was released by independent distributor A24, with support from Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment.

The biggest box-office hit of the year, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, lost both of its nominations (Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Mixing).

The other major Oscar winners among the Best Picture nominees, in descending order of Academy Awards wins, included:

  • La La Land (with six wins from its fourteen nominations), an old-fashioned musical by writer/director Damien Chazelle (his third film) - a musical throw-back featuring the third on-screen pairing of Ryan Gosling with Emma Stone as lovers in modern-day Los Angeles. It had a tie-breaking number of Oscar nominations (14), matching two other films in past cinematic history: Titanic (1997), and All About Eve (1950). Its Oscar wins included: Best Director, Best Actress (Emma Stone), Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Production Design, and Best Original Song ("City of Stars"). [Note: La La Land tied All About Eve (1950) with the exact same totals: 14 nominations and six wins.]
  • Manchester by the Sea (with two wins from its six nominations), with Oscars for Best Actor (Casey Affleck) and Best Original Screenplay (for its director Kenneth Lonergan) - a sad family melodrama about a withdrawn uncle caring for his fatherless teenaged nephew
    [Note: With its nomination and backing, Amazon became the first streaming-video Internet company to earn a Best Picture nomination.]
  • Hacksaw Ridge (with only two technical wins from its six nominations), with Oscars for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing - director-nominated Mel Gibson's true-to-life WWII epic-drama about a conscientious objector/corporal who refused to carry a gun, saved seventy-five men on the battlefield, and subsequently was awarded the Medal of Honor
  • Arrival (with only one win from its eight nominations), an Oscar for Best Sound Editing - director Denis Villeneuve' sci-fi, alien invasion drama-thriller about a mourning female linguist tasked with deciphering the language used by aliens
  • Fences (with only one win from its four nominations), with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (Viola Davis) - a family drama, and star/director Denzel Washington's third directorial venture, directing himself as an African-American garbage collector and his wife in the segregated city of Pittsburgh in 1957

Three of the nine Best Picture nominated films went away empty handed:

  • Lion (with six nominations and no wins), director Garth Davis' tearjerker drama (and feature-film directorial debut) about a 5 year-old Indian boy (8 year old Sunny Pawar) separated from his home, adopted in Australia, and on a search for his lost family over two decades later (Dev Patel)
  • Hell or High Water (with four nominations and no wins), director David Mackenzie's western crime drama about a Texas lawman pursuing a bank robbery case
  • Hidden Figures (with three nominations and no wins), an inspiring true-to-life NASA historical drama set in the 1960s by director Theodore Melfi, about the African-American female math wizards behind astronaut John Glenn's historic 1962 orbital space flight

In the Best Director race, all five of the directors nominated in the category were also representing films nominated for Best Picture. Damien Chazelle was the Best Director Oscar winner for La La Land. He was the youngest director ever to win - at just over 32 years of age. It was 44 years since a previous director (for a musical film) won the Oscar - Bob Fosse for Cabaret (1972).

Barry Jenkins became the 4th black helmsmen to be nominated in the category, and the first African-American to direct a Best Picture-winning film, Moonlight.

[Note: Previous black directors nominated included: John Singleton for Boyz N the Hood (1991), Lee Daniels for Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire (2009), and Britisher/Trinidadian Steve McQueen for Best Picture-winning 12 Years a Slave (2013). There has never been a winning black director.]

[Also, four of the five Best Documentary Feature nominees were also directed by black filmmakers. Ezra Edelman’s O.J.: Made in America won the Best Documentary Oscar Academy Award, becoming the longest Oscar winner ever (at 467 minutes) - it was released as an episodic serial on ESPN. In length, it bypassed the Best Foreign Language Film winner War and Peace (1966, Russia) (previously the record-holder at 431 minutes), honored at the 1969 Oscars ceremony. Some detractors of the 2016 winner claimed it was more eligible as an Emmy-contender than as an Oscar-contender.]

The Academy was praised this year for increasing the number of nominations for non-whites, in contrast to the previous two years when there were no non-white nominees. 2016 marked the first time ever that three black writers received Screenplay (Adapted) nominations in the same year: co-writers Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney (Best Adapted Screenplay for Moonlight) (the ultimate winner), and August Wilson (Best Adapted Screenplay for Fences). This also marked the first year that black actors/actresses were nominated in each of the four acting categories. In this year's crop of nominees, there were seven black (or non-white) acting nominations (among the possible 20 nominations) - six African American and one Indian - in five different films (Fences, Loving, Moonlight, Lion and Hidden Figures) - a major record for a single year. There was also a rare Best Cinematography nomination for black cinematographer Bradford Young for Arrival.

A pair of African-American actors - Moonlight star Mahershala Ali and Fences star Viola Davis - won both of the supporting categories: Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Their awards marked the first time in more than a decade that multiple Oscar acting honors went to black actors.

The Best Actor race included one first-time nominee, three nominees with their second nomination, and a two-time winner. The winner was:

  • 41 year-old Casey Affleck (with his second nomination) as emotionally-numb Lee Chandler - a grieving maintenance man appointed to be custodian for his teenaged, 16 year-old nephew Patrick (co-nominated Lucas Hedges), and forced to return home after the death of the boy's father (his own brother Joe (Kyle Chandler)), in Manchester by the Sea
    [Note: Affleck was previously nominated as Best Supporting Actor for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007).]

The other four Best Actor nominees included:

  • 33 year-old UK/US actor Andrew Garfield (with his first nomination) as soft-spoken WWII American Army Medic Desmond Doss, and the first conscientious objector (as a 7th Day Adventist) to become a recipient of the Medal of Honor, in Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge
  • 36 year-old Ryan Gosling (with his second nomination) as passionate jazz pianist Sebastian, who fell in love with aspiring actress Mia (co-nominated Emma Stone) in the modern day city of Los Angeles, in La La Land
    [Note: Gosling's earlier Oscar nomination was Best Actor for Half Nelson (2006).]
  • 58 year-old Viggo Mortensen (with his second nomination) as bohemian socialist father Ben Cash, living off the grid with his wife Leslie and six children in the Pacific Northwest, in writer/director Matt Ross' quirky independent film Captain Fantastic
    [Note: Mortensen's first Oscar nomination was Best Actor for Eastern Promises (2007).]
  • 62 year-old Denzel Washington (with his seventh acting nomination and two previous Oscar wins - also nominated for the first time as Best Director, making this his eighth career nomination), as an emotionally-distraught, working-class African-American father Troy Maxson (an ex-Negro League baseball player, and ex-con), now married to Rose Maxson (co-nominated Viola Davis) and living in 1950s Pittsburgh, employed as a sanitation worker, in Fences
    [Note: Washington has won twice before: Best Supporting Actor for Glory (1989), and Best Actor for Training Day (2001); his other nominations include Supporting Actor for Cry Freedom (1987), and three Best Actor nods for Malcolm X (1992), The Hurricane (1999), and Flight (2012). With this year's nomination, Washington now has the most acting nominations for a black actor with seven.]

The Best Actress race was between five accomplished candidates: two first-time nominees, a two-time nominee, and two previous Oscar winners. The winner was:

  • 28 year-old Emma Stone (with her second nomination), as aspiring actress Mia in modern-day LA who fell in love with a jazz pianist (co-nominated Ryan Gosling), in La La Land
    [Note: Stone's previous nomination was Best Supporting Actress for Birdman (2014).]

The other four Best Actress nominees included:

  • 63 year-old French actress Isabelle Huppert (with her first nomination, after more than 100 films in her career), benefiting from a recent Golden Globe win, as wealthy and successful video game company exec and rape victim Michèle Leblanc in Paris, who sought revenge after the assault, in director Paul Verhoeven's sexually-violent French film Elle
    [Note: Only two other performers, both actresses, have won an Oscar for a Foreign-Language performance: Sophia Loren for Two Women (1960, It.) and Marion Cotillard for La Vie en Rose (2007, Fr.).]
  • 35 year-old Irish/Ethiopian-born Ruth Negga (with her first nomination) as wife Mildred in an inter-racial marriage with white man Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), who challenged their Virginia arrest for miscegenation in the 1950s - a case that reached the Supreme Court in 1967, in writer/director Jeff Nichols' Loving (the film's sole nomination)
  • 35 year-old Natalie Portman (with her third nomination, and one previous Oscar win) as widowed First Lady Jackie Kennedy, in director Pablo Larraín's biopic Jackie (with three nominations, including Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score)
    [Note: Portman was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Closer (2004), and won Best Actress for Black Swan (2010). Other nominated First Lady characters include Eleanor Roosevelt (Greer Garson in Sunrise at Campobello (1960)), Pat Nixon (Joan Allen in Nixon (1995)), and Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Field in Lincoln (2012)).]
  • 67 year-old Meryl Streep (with her record 20th nomination in 38 years - first nominated in 1979) for her role as the title character - as aspiring untalented, vain opera singer and 1940s New York heiress FFJ, in director Stephen Frears' comical musical-drama Florence Foster Jenkins (with only two nominations including Best Costume Design)
    [Note: Streep has the most acting Oscar nominations for a single person in Academy history. She has 16 nominations for Best Actress and four for Best Supporting Actress. Katharine Hepburn and Jack Nicholson follow - each with 12 nominations.]

The Best Supporting Actor candidates included three first-time nominees. The winner was:

  • 42 year-old black actor Mahershala Ali (with his first nomination), as neighborhood drug dealer Juan in a crime-stricken area of Miami, living with his girlfriend Teresa (singer Janelle Monáe, in her acting debut), and nurturing as a father figure to young bullied 9 year-old male Chiron (Alex R. Hibbert), a young gay man, in the sobering and poetic, 3-chapter drama Moonlight
    [Note: A member of the Muslim faith, Mahershala Ali became the first Muslim to win an Oscar. This year, he also appeared in two of the Best Picture nominees. His second appearance was as a military man in Hidden Figures. With his win for Moonlight, Ali became the first actor to actually win an Oscar in the same year in which he appeared in more than one of the Best Picture nominees.]

The other four Best Supporting Actor nominees were:

  • 67 year-old Jeff Bridges (with his seventh acting nomination, with one previous win), as about-to-retire, southern-accented, weary, wise-cracking Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton investigating a string of bank robberies, in British director David Mackenzie's crime-western Hell or High Water
    [Note: Bridges won his sole Oscar as Best Actor for Crazy Heart (2009). His other nominations include three other supporting noms, for The Last Picture Show (1971), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), and The Contender (2000), and two other Best Actor nominations for Starman (1984) and True Grit (2010).]
  • 20 year-old Lucas Hedges (with his first nomination), as 16 year-old teen Patrick Chandler who lost his father and was under the custodianship of his emotionally-distant uncle Lee Chandler (co-nominated Casey Affleck), in Manchester by the Sea
    [Note: Hedges was the youngest nominee among the 20 performance nominees.]
  • 26 year-old British/Indian actor Dev Patel (with his first nomination), as Indian boy Saroo Brierley who was adopted in Australia by loving parents (the Brierleys), then located his childhood home in India (and his birth family) by using the Internet's Google Earth, in Lion
    [Note: Dev Patel became the first Indian actor to be nominated in 13 years, for his performance in Lion, (and the third actor of Indian descent in Oscar history). The previous Indian nominee was part-Indian/Britisher Ben Kingsley for Best Actor in House of Sand and Fog (2003), and before that - Merle Oberon, nominated for Best Actress in The Dark Angel (1935).]
  • 42 year-old Michael Shannon (with his second Best Supporting Actor nomination), as gruff Texas detective Lieut. Bobby Andes (dying of cancer while working on his last case), in director Tom Ford's noirish, psychological thriller Nocturnal Animals (its sole nomination)
    [Note: Shannon was previously nominated as Best Supporting Actor for Revolutionary Road (2008).]

The Best Supporting Actress category set an amazing record: it was the first year in Academy history that a single acting category (Best Supporting Actress) featured three black nominees: Viola Davis, Naomie Harris, and Octavia Spencer. The winner was:

  • 51 year-old Viola Davis (with her third nomination, and no previous wins), for her role as Rose Maxson, the patient but trapped house-wife of gin-soaked, embittered, unfaithful and erratic husband Troy Maxson (co-nominated Denzel Washington) in 1950s Pittsburgh, in the Denzel Washington-directed Fences
    [Note: Davis' third career nomination was a record for a black actress. She became the first black actress to earn three Oscar nominations. She was previously nominated for her performances in Doubt (2008) (supporting) and The Help (2011) (lead). She also became the first black actress to win an Emmy, a Tony and an Oscar. Winning all four major awards has become known as the EGOT foursome.]

The other four Best Supporting Actress nominees were:

  • 40 year-old British actress Naomie Harris (with her first nomination), as Paula, the troubled, crack-drug-addicted loving yet negligent mother of Chiron (Alex Hibbert as a child known as Little, Ashton Sanders as teenager Chiron, and Trevante Rhodes as adult Black), in Moonlight
  • 49 year-old Nicole Kidman (with her fourth nomination and first supporting nom, with one previous Oscar win), as Sue Brierley, the adoptive Australian mother of displaced Indian boy Saroo (co-nominated Dev Patel), in Lion
    [Note: Kidman's sole win was Best Actress for The Hours (2002), and she had two other Best Actress noms for Moulin Rouge! (2001) and Rabbit Hole (2010).]
  • 46 year-old Octavia Spencer (with her second nomination, after one Oscar win), as real-life NASA pioneer Dorothy Vaughan in the early 1960s, in Hidden Figures
    [Note: Spencer's previous Oscar win was Best Supporting Actress for The Help (2011).]
  • 36 year-old Michelle Williams (with her fourth nomination, and no previous wins), as Randi Chandler, Lee's ex-wife (co-nominated Casey Affleck) in a broken marriage, in Manchester by the Sea
    [Note: Williams' previous noms were for Brokeback Mountain (2005) (supporting), Blue Valentine (2010) (lead), and My Week with Marilyn (2011) (lead).]

Most Obvious Omissions and Snubs:

Best Picture:
It appeared that the scandal (a decades-long rape case) surrounding The Birth of a Nation (2016) sealed its fate - with no honors, even though the accused director was acquitted. The clever and off-beat superhero box-office hit Deadpool was also snubbed entirely, but could have been the first superhero film to receive a BP nomination. Although Fox's Jackie had three nominations, it missed out in the Best Picture category. Fox Studios suffered the biggest omission - it has usually rated at least one Best Picture contender among the nominees since Sideways (2004), and it recently won back-to-back Best Picture Oscar awards for 12 Years a Slave (2013) and Birdman (2014). The number 1 box-office hit of 2016, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the 8th Star Wars-related film, was nominated in two technical categories only: Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.

Best Director:
Mel Gibson's unexpected, redemptive comeback nomination (his first since Braveheart (1995)) in this category for Hacksaw Ridge shut out two other contenders: (1) Martin Scorsese for his austere passion project about 17th-century Jesuit missionaries in Japan - the religious epic Silence (with only one nomination for Best Cinematography for Rodrigo Prieto), and (2) Garth Davis for Lion. And two other prominent directors were also denied nominations: Clint Eastwood for Sully, and Denzel Washington for Fences (although Washington did receive a performance nomination for the film). Also, there were no female directors, although there were some exceptional possibilities for female nominees this year, such as Mira Nair for Queen of Katwe and Kelly Fremon Craig for The Edge of Seventeen. [Note: Kathryn Bigelow remains the only woman to win the Best Director award for The Hurt Locker (2008), and there has been only a total of four nominated female directors in the entire history of the Academy Awards!]

Best Actor:
Some might argue that Tom Hanks' time had come for a deserving Oscar nomination for his role as All-American pilot - Captain Chesley Sullenberger who heroically landed a plane in the Hudson River, in Sully. (Hanks was nominated five times between 1988 and 2000 and won twice in 1993 and 1994 - his last nomination was 16 years ago, for Cast Away (2000).)

Best Actress:
Amy Adams (with five career nominations and no Oscar wins), as linguist Louise Banks who communicated with aliens - the star of Arrival, did not receive an Oscar nomination. (If Adams had been nominated, she most likely would have lost, making her a real record-loser - tying with six-time losing actresses Deborah Kerr, Glenn Close and Thelma Ritter.)
Also, Taraji P. Henson (with one career nomination and no wins) was not nominated for her lead role as math savant Katherine G. Johnson in Hidden Figures. Annette Bening (with four career nominations and no wins) was snubbed for her role as struggling single mother Dorothea living in SoCal in the late 1970s, in writer/director Mike Mills' 20th Century Women. (The film's sole nomination was for Mills' Best Original Screenplay.)

Best Supporting Actor:
Hugh Grant (without any Oscar nominations) was snubbed for his role opposite Meryl Streep as Florence's husband/manager St. Clair Bayfield in director Stephen Frears' Florence Foster Jenkins. Michael Shannon's nomination as police officer Bobby Andes appeared to take away a potential nomination in this category for fellow actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson as nasty redneck Ray Marcus, in Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals.

Best Supporting Actress:

Best Animated Feature Film:
The year's # 2 box-office smash sequel Finding Dory from Pixar, a billion-dollar success (the highest-earning animation), was missing from the nominees. The studio's many previous wins for the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar was shattered.

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