At least a few of the writers and directors recently invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ remarkably wide-ranging class of 2016 seemed like solid bets beforehand. I doubt that many were surprised by the invitations for Lenny Abrahamson and Adam McKay, both recent Oscar nominees for directing “Room” and “The Big Short,” respectively, or Ryan Coogler, whose overlooked work on “Creed” was cited repeatedly in the coverage of #OscarsSoWhite. Nor was it startling to see the inclusions of Phyllis Nagy, a screenplay nominee for “Carol,” or László Nemes, the Hungarian director of the recent foreign-language film winner “Son of Saul.”
What was surprising was the sheer number of filmmakers who were included despite never having been shortlisted for an Oscar, and who, to their credit, have never seemed particularly motivated by the desire to win one. For cinephiles the world over, to read those lists was to be confronted by a startlingly inclusive who’s who of global cinema — and to experience a sense of delight that grew and grew as the genuinely impressive reach of the academy’s undertaking came into focus.