Action muscles in on the Oscars, as Stallone and Mad Max get nods

Sylvester Stallone with his Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe. PHOTO: REUTERS

On Thursday (Jan 14) when the Academy Awards nominations were announced, the loudest applause was reserved for an actor who might been dismissed as pure action-hero beefcake for much of his career.

Sylvester Stallone, 69, was given a Best Supporting Actor nod - the only Oscar nomination he has received since 1977, for the boxing drama Rocky (1976).

For playing Rocky Balboa, he was given the Best Actor nomination almost four decades ago.

Creed, the movie for which he got the nod last night, is appropriately enough the latest movie in Rocky franchise.

On Monday (Jan 11), adding to his late-career acclaim, he won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor, also for Creed.

Another sentimental favourite, the actress Charlotte Rampling, was also picked, in the Best Supporting Actress category. The nomination for 69-year-old English actress came for her part in the drama 45 Years.

This is the first Oscar nod for the highly respected actress, whose career spans five decades.

Another surprise: a Best Director nomination for Australian auteur George Miller, for road carnage flick Mad Max: Fury Road.

The crowd-pleasing action movie gained 10 nominations, including Best Picture. Noisy blockbusters are rarely ever so honoured.

The story of a man left to die in the wilderness emerged as the one to beat tonight with its 12 Oscar nominations, the most of any film in the list.

This comes as no surprise, The Revenant was tipped to figure in the major categories.

Its director, the Mexican-born Alejandro Inarritu, last year took home the Best Director and Best Motion Picture prizes for the drama Birdman.

If he wins Best Director again this year (2016), it could set a record - no person has won that statuette back-to-back in more than 60 years.

Critics and fans might adore director Quentin Tarantino, but his latest work The Hateful Eight was snubbed in Best Picture and Best Director categories. The western figured only in the Original Score, Cinematography and Supporting Actress (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Shut out of the Best Picture was the Pixar animated feature Inside Out.

This happened despite there being only eight nominees this year, a number under the maximum of 10.

Other snubs: Michael B. Jordan (Creed) and Johnny Depp (Black Mass) from the Best Actor group.

The blockbuster Star Wars might be the highest grossing film of 2015, but its nods are mostly in the technical categories: Film Editing, Original Score, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.

But as Ms Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the body that runs the Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said when she visited Singapore last year, the Oscars are not a popularity contest.

She said: "What's unique about the Oscars is that the voting is done by film-makers."

Apparently, those film-makers did not think director J.J. Abrams, the person behind the sci-fi blockbuster Star Wars, was as good as Ridley Scott, director of another sci-fi blockbuster, The Martian, which was nominated in seven categories, including Best Picture and Best Actor (Matt Damon).

Still, that two big action flicks, The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road, are in the running in the prestige categories indicates that things are changing with the 7,000 voters of the academy.

The amount of change will be made clear on Feb 28, when 88th edition of the Oscars takes place in Los Angeles.

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