Oscars 2016: The view from inside the Academy Award nominations room

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The Oscar nominations involve a whole lot of buildup and then, after about 10 minutes of revelations, it’s over. Unless you’re a nominee, in which case the attention is only just beginning.

The Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills was bristling early Thursday morning with camera and sound equipment, and media and industry types waiting for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ 5:30 a.m. announcement of its 2016 awards nominees. (Make that 5:30 and 40 seconds, Pacific Standard Time, as the academy is nothing if not precise.)

Those who’d noshed on a breakfast buffet in the crowded lobby were cautioned just before 5 a.m. not to trample one another on their way up the stairs into the theater. Of course, folks who’d been loading equipment into said theater since midnight likely didn’t have enough energy to do any serious trampling.


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About 10 minutes before the announcements started, William Nix, executive producer of the animated feature “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet,” took a red-velveteen seat. He was on hand to see if his movie, an 8½-year effort that featured presenter John Krasinski among its voice actors, would score a nomination.

Nix said he hadn’t been sure if he wanted to come to the presentation, but finally decided he’d rather be there if the film wasn’t nominated than miss out on the moment if it were.

“I guess we’re all just big kids, you know,” he explained, restrained excitement in his voice. Alas, only minutes later, “The Prophet” was revealed not to be on the list. “Oh well,” he said with a crooked smile as he got up to leave.

As the announcements went on — the first round from presenters Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee and the second from Krasinski and academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs — a healthy round of applause broke out when Sylvester Stallone was named in the supporting actor category for his Golden Globe-winning turn in “Creed.”

Even more applause followed when “Straight Outta Compton” snagged its lone nomination, for original screenplay, while Lenny Abrahamson’s nod for “Room” was greeted with an audible gasp from the audience as he joined three other Oscars first-timers and three-time nominee Alejandro G. Iñàrritu in the directing category.


Once the eight nominees for best picture were public and the presentation wrapped up with a pitch to watch the show on Feb. 28, the broadcast media sprang into action, setting up shots and looking for nominees to put on camera.

Mark A. Mangini, nominated with David White for sound editing on 10-time nominee “Mad Max: Fury Road,” was in the middle of the action near the stage while the audience streamed out the back of the theater. As various outlets stuck microphones in his face, the beaming four-time nominee went out of his way to give credit multiple times to his co-nominee.

“Fury Road,” he also noted, perhaps with a touch of bias, was “arguably the best picture of the year. I’m glad the academy saw fit to recognize it in so many categories.”

And so it begins.

Follow Christie D’Zurilla on Twitter @theCDZ and Google+.


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