88th Academy Awards

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88th Academy Awards
File:Oscars poster 2016.jpg
Official poster
Date February 28, 2016
Site Dolby Theatre
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S
Host Chris Rock[1]
Producer David Hill
Reginald Hudlin[3]
Director Glenn Weiss[4]
Best Picture Spotlight
Most awards Mad Max: Fury Road (6)
Most nominations The Revenant (12)
TV in the United States
Network ABC
Duration 3 hours, 37 minutes[5]
Ratings 34.43 million[6]
23.4% (Nielsen ratings)[7]

The 88th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best films of 2015 and took place on February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST.[8] During the ceremony, AMPAS presented Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories. The ceremony was televised in the United States by ABC, and produced by David Hill and Reginald Hudlin and directed by Glenn Weiss.[9][10] Actor Chris Rock hosted the show for the second time, having previously hosted the 77th ceremony held in 2005.[11]

In related events, the Academy held its 7th Annual Governors Awards ceremony at the Grand Ballroom of the Hollywood and Highland Center on November 14, 2015.[12] On February 13, 2016, in a ceremony at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement were presented by hosts Olivia Munn and Jason Segel.[13]

Spotlight won two awards including Best Picture, and Mad Max: Fury Road won six awards, the most for the evening. Other winners include The Revenant with three awards, and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Amy, Bear Story, The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, The Danish Girl, Ex Machina, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, Room, Son of Saul, Spectre, and Stutterer with one each. The telecast garnered more than 34 million viewers in the United States, making it the least watched Oscar ceremony since the 80th Academy Awards in 2008.[14]

Winners and nominees

The nominees for the 88th Academy Awards were announced on January 14, 2016, at 5:30 a.m. PST (13:30 UTC), at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, by directors Guillermo del Toro and Ang Lee, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and actor John Krasinski.[15][16] The Revenant received the most nominations with twelve total, with Mad Max: Fury Road coming in second with ten.[17] For the second consecutive year, a film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu received the most nominations. Composer Anohni became the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar.[18] (Angela Morley was the first, in 1974 and 1976.)[19][20] Sylvester Stallone became the sixth person to be nominated for playing the same role in two different films.[21]

The winners were announced during the awards ceremony on February 28, 2016.[22] With two Oscars, Spotlight[23] was the first film since The Greatest Show on Earth in 1952 to win Best Picture with only one other award.[24] Alejandro G. Iñárritu became the only Mexican and third director to win two consecutive Oscars for Best Director after John Ford in 1940–1941 and Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949–1950, respectively.[25] At the age of 87, Ennio Morricone became the oldest winner in Oscar history for a competitive award.[26][27] Having previously won for Gravity and Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki became the first person to win three consecutive Best Cinematography awards.[28][29]


Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Best Director winner
Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Actor winner
Brie Larson, Best Actress winner
Mark Rylance, Best Supporting Actor winner
Alicia Vikander, Best Supporting Actress winner
Tom McCarthy, Best Original Screenplay co-winner
Adam McKay, Best Adapted Screenplay co-winner
Jonas Rivera, Best Animated Feature Film co-winner
László Nemes, Best Foreign Language Film winner
Ennio Morricone, Best Original Score winner

Winners are listed first, highlighted in boldface, and indicated with a double dagger (double-dagger).[30]

Governors Awards

The Academy held its 7th Annual Governors Awards ceremony on November 14, 2015, during which the following awards were presented:[31][32][33]

Academy Honorary Awards

“to honor extraordinary distinction in lifetime achievement, exceptional contributions to the state of motion picture arts and sciences, or for outstanding service to the Academy”

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award

“to an individual in the motion picture arts and sciences whose humanitarian efforts have brought credit to the industry”

Films with multiple nominations and awards

Presenters and performers

The following individuals presented awards or performed musical numbers.[35][36]


Name(s) Role
K, EllenEllen K Announcer for the 88th annual Academy Awards
Blunt, EmilyEmily Blunt
Theron, CharlizeCharlize Theron
Presenters of the award for Best Original Screenplay
Crowe, RussellRussell Crowe
Gosling, RyanRyan Gosling
Presenters of the award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Silverman, SarahSarah Silverman Presenter of the performance of Best Original Song nominee "Writing's on the Wall"
Cavill, HenryHenry Cavill
Washington, KerryKerry Washington
Presenters of the films The Martian and The Big Short on the Best Picture segment
Simmons, J. K.J. K. Simmons Presenter of the award for Best Supporting Actress
Blanchett, CateCate Blanchett Presenter of the award for Best Costume Design
Carell, SteveSteve Carell
Fey, TinaTina Fey
Presenters of the award for Best Production Design
Leto, JaredJared Leto
Robbie, MargotMargot Robbie
Presenters of the award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Garner, JenniferJennifer Garner
del Toro, BenicioBenicio del Toro
Presenters of the films The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road on the Best Picture segment
B. Jordan, MichaelMichael B. Jordan
McAdams, RachelRachel McAdams
Presenters of the award for Best Cinematography
Chopra, PriyankaPriyanka Chopra
Schreiber, LievLiev Schreiber
Presenters of the award for Best Film Editing
Boseman, ChadwickChadwick Boseman
Chris Evans Chris Evans
Presenters of the awards for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing
Serkis, AndyAndy Serkis Presenter of the award for Best Visual Effects
Munn, OliviaOlivia Munn
Segel, JasonJason Segel
Presenters of the segment of the Academy Awards for Technical Achievement and the Gordon E. Sawyer Award
Kevin, Stuart & Bob with Poochi
(voiced by Pierre Coffin, who speaks Minionese with English subtitles)
Presenters of the award for Best Animated Short Film
Sheriff Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks)
Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen)
The Squeeze Toy Aliens
Presenters of the award for Best Animated Feature
Hart, KevinKevin Hart Presenter of the performance of Best Original Song nominee "Earned It"
Winslet, KateKate Winslet
Witherspoon, ReeseReese Witherspoon
Presenters of the films Bridge of Spies and Spotlight on the Best Picture segment
Arquette, PatriciaPatricia Arquette Presenter of the award for Best Supporting Actor
C.K., LouisLouis C.K. Presenter of the award for Best Documentary – Short Subject
Patel, DevDev Patel
Ridley, DaisyDaisy Ridley
Presenters of the award for Best Documentary Feature
Goldberg, WhoopiWhoopi Goldberg Presenter of the segment of the Honorary Academy Awards and Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award
Isaacs, Cheryl BooneCheryl Boone Isaacs (AMPAS president) Special presentation highlighting the benefits of film and diversity
Gossett, Jr., LouisLouis Gossett, Jr. Presenter of the In Memoriam tribute
Attah, AbrahamAbraham Attah
Tremblay, JacobJacob Tremblay
Presenters of the award for Best Live Action Short Film
Byung-hun, LeeLee Byung-hun
Vergara, SofíaSofía Vergara
Presenters of the award for Best Foreign Language Film
Biden, JoeJoe Biden Presenter of the performance of Best Original Song nominee "Til It Happens to You"
Jones, QuincyQuincy Jones
Williams, PharrellPharrell Williams
Presenters of the award for Best Original Score
Common Common
Legend, JohnJohn Legend
Presenters of the award for Best Original Song
G, AliAli G (played by Sacha Baron Cohen)
Wilde, OliviaOlivia Wilde
Presenters of the films Room and Brooklyn on the Best Picture segment
Abrams, J. J.J. J. Abrams Presenter of the award for Best Director
Redmayne, EddieEddie Redmayne Presenter of the award for Best Actress
Moore, JulianneJulianne Moore Presenter of the award for Best Actor
Freeman, MorganMorgan Freeman Presenter of the award for Best Picture


Name(s) Role Performed
Wheeler, HaroldHarold Wheeler Musical arranger
Sam Smith Sam Smith Performer "Writing's on the Wall" from Spectre
The Weeknd, The Weeknd Performer "Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey
Grohl, DaveDave Grohl Performer "Blackbird" during the annual In Memoriam tribute
Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga Performer "Til It Happens to You" from The Hunting Ground

Ceremony information

Rock at the 2012 premiere ofWhat to Expect When You're Expecting
Chris Rock hosted the 88th Academy Awards.

After the mixed reception received from the preceding year's ceremony, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan announced that they would not be returning to produce the show for the fourth year.[37] Shortly afterwards, actor Neil Patrick Harris announced that he would not host the Oscars for a second time. In an interview released by The Huffington Post, he said "I don't know that my family nor my soul could take it. It's a beast. It was fun to check off the list, but for the amount of time spent and the understandable opinionated response, I don't know that it's a delightful balance to do every year or even again."[38] With re-elected Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs assuming leadership duties, the Academy hired David Hill and Reginald Hudlin in September 2015 to produce the ceremony. A day after they were announced as the producers, Hill said that the show would have two hosts.[39]

However, in October 2015, it was announced that actor and comedian Chris Rock would be hosting the telecast. They explained why they brought Rock back as host, saying, "Chris Rock is truly the MVP of the entertainment industry. Comedian, actor, writer, producer, director, documentarian — he's done it all. He's going to be a phenomenal Oscar host!"[40] Rock expressed that he was thrilled to be selected to emcee the gala again, commenting, "I'm so glad to be hosting the Oscars, it's great to be back."[41]

Several other people were also involved with the production of the ceremony. Harold Wheeler served as musical director and conductor for the event.[42] Derek McLane returned to design a new set and stage design for the show.[43] Fatima Robinson served as choreographer for several musical numbers during the event.[44] The Oscar statuettes were made by Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry in Rock Tavern, New York.[45] In a further effort to streamline acceptance speeches, dedications were displayed on an on-screen ticker, rather than read by the winner.[46] Sacha Baron Cohen did not tell producers beforehand that he would appear on stage as his Ali G character instead of himself. He and his wife, actress Isla Fisher, locked themselves in the bathroom for 40 minutes to secretly apply on his costume, after telling people he had food poisoning.[47]

Box office performance of nominated films

North American box office gross for Best Picture nominees[48]
Film Pre-nomination
(Before Jan. 15)
(Jan. 15 – Feb. 28)
(After Feb. 28)
The Martian $226.6 million $1.8 million $53,548 $228.4 million
The Revenant $54.1 million $116.5 million $11.9 million $182.6 million
Mad Max: Fury Road $153.6 million -- -- $153.6 million
Bridge of Spies $70.8 million $1.4 million $49,549 $72.3 million
The Big Short $44.6 million $23.9 million $1.7 million $70.2 million
Spotlight $28.8 million $10.3 million $5.5 million $44.6 million
Brooklyn $22.8 million $13.7 million $1.6 million $38.1 million
Room $5.2 million $8.2 million $1.2 million $14.7 million

The combined gross of the eight Best Picture nominees at the United States and Canadian box offices was $804.6 million, at an average of $100.6 million which is the sixth-highest of all time in the past 33 years.[49][50] 2015's eight Best Picture nominees were in the second highest average number of theaters per film at 2,323, second only to 2003 where the average theater count per nominee was 2,368. However, the average gross per theater ranks 26th out of the 33 years evaluated with an average of $32,636 per theater.[49]

When the nominations were announced on January 14, 2016, The Martian was the highest-grossing film among the Best Picture nominees with $226.6 million in domestic box office receipts.[49] Mad Max: Fury Road was the second-highest-grossing film with $153.6 million; this was followed by Bridge of Spies ($70.7 million), The Revenant ($54.1 million), The Big Short ($44.6 million), Spotlight ($28.8 million), Brooklyn ($22.7 million), and Room ($5.1 million).[49]

Of the top 50 grossing movies of the year, 46 nominations went to 11 films on the list. Only Inside Out (4th), The Martian (8th), Straight Outta Compton (18th), The Revenant (15th), Mad Max: Fury Road (21st), Creed (29th), and Bridge of Spies (42nd) were nominated for Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, or any of the directing, acting, or screenwriting awards. The other top 50 box office hits that earned nominations were Star Wars: The Force Awakens (1st), Cinderella (9th), Spectre (10th), and Fifty Shades of Grey (17th).

Criticism regarding lack of diversity

Shortly after the nominations were announced, many media outlets observed a lack of diversity amongst the nominees in major categories for the second year running.[51][52][53][54] Shortly after, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs stated:

"Of course I am disappointed, but this is not to take away the greatness (of the films nominated). This has been a great year in film...However, we are not stopping...We are moving forward and will continue to move forward with conversation and action. That needs to happen not just within the Academy, but the entire motion picture industry.[55]

Isaacs said the Academy is taking "dramatic steps to alter the makeup" of its membership and diversify it in areas of "gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation."[56] In response to the lack of diversity, several celebrities including Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, and Best Original Song nominee Anohni, announced their decision to boycott the ceremony.[57][58][20] Anohni expressed embarrassment over how both she and fellow nominee David Lang were not asked to perform due to "time constraints", despite Dave Grohl performing without a nomination. She suggested "singing about eco-cide... might not sell advertising space" and that the system is one "of social oppression and diminished opportunities for transpeople that has been employed by capitalism in the U.S. to crush our dreams and our collective spirit".[59] George Clooney,[60] Lupita Nyong'o,[61] Viola Davis[62] and several other actors also commented on the lack of diversity. In addition, host Chris Rock also faced pressure to step down as host.[63][64] Rock nevertheless hosted the ceremony and focused his entire opening monologue on the controversy.[65] President Barack Obama also spoke up about the controversy saying,

"I think that California is an example of the incredible diversity of this country...I think that when everyone's story is told then that makes for better art, it makes for better entertainment it makes everybody feel part of one American family, so I think as a whole the industry should do what every other industry should do which is to look for talent, provide opportunity to everybody. And I think the Oscar debate is really just an expression of this broader issue. Are we making sure that everybody is getting a fair shot?”[66]

Many celebrities and Academy members, including Michael Caine, Charlotte Rampling, Whoopi Goldberg, Penelope Ann Miller, Helen Mirren and Gerald R. Molen voiced their defense of the Oscars, saying that the nominations are based on performance and merit, not race.[67][68][69][70] Michael Caine stated, "In the end you can't vote for an actor because he's black. You can't say 'I'm going to vote for him, he's not very good, but he's black, I'll vote for him."[71] Ice Cube, who produced the hit biopic film Straight Outta Compton, stated that "It's crying about not having enough icing on your cake. It's just ridiculous.”[72] Penelope Ann Miller responded to the criticism by stating "I voted for a number of black performers, and I was sorry they weren't nominated. To imply that this is because all of us are racists is extremely offensive. I don't want to be lumped into a category of being a racist because I'm certainly not and because I support and benefit from the talent of black people in this business. It was just an incredibly competitive year."[73] Oscar winner and former host Whoopi Goldberg defended the Academy as well by saying, “The issue is not the Academy. Even if you fill the Academy with black and Latino and Asian members, if there's no one on the screen to vote for, you're not going to get the outcome that you want. I won once, so it can't be that racist. I've been black the whole time."[74]

Producer Gerald R. Molen called the idea of a boycott "ridiculous" stating: "There is no racism except for those who create an issue”, while adding, “That is the worst kind. Using such an ugly way of complaining.”[75] Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren defended the Academy, saying it's "unfair" to attack the organization; "It just so happened this year, it went that way." Mirren mentioned actor Idris Elba of Netflix's Beasts of No Nation, as someone who would have been nominated, but was not "because not enough people saw or wanted to see a film about child soldiers." Mirren noted that the issue rests on the industry; "what happens before the film gets to the Oscars, what kinds of films are made and the way in which they're cast and the scripts. It's those things that are much more influential, ultimately, than who stands there with an Oscar."[76] Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman also said that the problem begins with "[who is] behind the camera, who’s helping to make movies", and that the industry especially needs more writers of color.[77] Actress Janet Hubert criticized Jada Pinkett Smith for a Facebook video calling for black actors to "stand in our power" rather than look to the Oscars for validation.[78]

Academy's diversity improvement plan

In January 2016, the Academy issued a statement on a commitment to reform the voting rights and membership rules. Among other changes, it will increase the number of women and minorities in the membership and change lifetime voting rights to a requirement of three ten-year terms of active status in the industry, unless a person has won or been nominated for an Academy Award.[79] Issacs said, "The Academy is going to lead and not wait for the industry to catch up, these new measures regarding governance and voting will have an immediate impact and begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition."[80] The Academy will establish three new governor seats that will be nominated by the Academy President for three-year terms and confirmed by the Board.[81] The Academy will also add new members who are not Governors to its executive and board committees where key decisions about membership and governance are made.[82] However, the Academy's actions also include taking away the membership rights of academy members who have not recently worked in the industry, such as actor Bill Mumy and award-winning screenwriter Patricia Resnick. "Replacing sexism and racism with ageism is not the answer," Resnick said.[70][83]


Main article: #JusticeForFlint

Late February, Creed director Ryan Coogler and Selma director Ava DuVernay announced they would hold a charity event addressing the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan on February 28, coinciding with the Academy Awards ceremony. As a number of prominent critics of the Academy's "all too white" nomination list decided to turn the ceremony down in order to attend #JusticeForFlint, it has been widely regarded as an alternative event for those disappointed with – or even boycotting – the Oscars ceremony.[84]

Critical reception

Host Chris Rock received a mixed to positive reception from media publications, with critics praising host Chris Rock for his handling of the diversity problem.[85] Los Angeles Times' television critic Mary McNamara said that, "Rock's Oscars had some of the most powerful moments seen in the telecast's history," and felt that his honest answer to the question "Is Hollywood racist?" was "brave and effective." She concluded that, "After years of being dissed for its irrelevance, this year's Oscars took action. The results were mixed, to be sure, and Rock did not ever settle into his usual balance of outrage and humanity."[86] Writing for The New York Times, James Poniewozik commented, "with Chris Rock, the Oscars find a lucky pairing of host and subject," and praised Rock saying, "his performance was an example of something the industry is still trying to learn: that you can achieve both inclusion and entertainment by giving the right person just the right opportunity."[87] Variety's chief television critic Brian Lowry wrote, "meeting the high expectations the build-up engendered, Chris Rock brilliantly threaded the needle with his opening monologue."[5] Daniel D'Addario of Time said, "with scathing humor and freewheeling unpredictability, this year's Oscars were an unusually satisfying watch", adding that the ceremony was "defined more by its host than by any of the winners. It was better for it." He felt, however, that Rock's hosting "fell apart" after the monologue.[88] Robert Bianco of USA Today said, "Rock pointedly tackles Oscars, and race" and described the ceremony "funny, pointed and gasp-inducing."[89]

Some of the critics were more negative toward Rock's hosting. Civil right activist Shaun King writing for New York Daily News panned the Rocks' hosting and monologue, calling it "distasteful, uncomfortable, and just plain wrong ... I kept waiting for him to say something, anything that made one bit of logical sense, but it quickly devolved into a garbled mess of illogical nonsense."[90] Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter remarked, "Chris Rock led a telecast that had important things to say, but still felt endless." In addition he called the ceremony "overstuffed" and the on-screen running scroll a "total failure".[91] Writing in Time Grace Ji-Sun Kim commented on Rocks' monologue saying, "Chris Rock should know that racism isn't black and white," and suggested that "if we are going to conquer racism, we need to acknowledge it's not binary. White supremacy works when we continue to speak about racism in binary terms."[92] San Jose Mercury News' critic Tony Hicks said, "The Academy made a mistake in giving Oscar host Chris Rock so much leeway to smother Sunday night's Oscars with one issue -- that people of color aren't getting fair opportunities in Hollywood."[93]

Asian jokes controversy

Criticism ensued after host Chris Rock and Sacha Baron Cohen told jokes on stage that were considered stereotypical and offensive towards Asians. During the show, Rock brought three children of Asian heritage onto the stage in order to pose as accountants, where he said "They sent us their most dedicated, accurate and hard working representatives...Please welcome Ming Zhu, Bao Ling and David Moskowitz;" he continued with saying "If anybody's upset about that joke, just tweet about it on your phone that was also made by these kids."[94] In addition, Baron Cohen, as a co-presenter with Olivia Wilde and in character as his creation Ali G, said "How come's there's no Oscar for those dedicated, accurate, and hardworking little yellow people with tiny dongs. You know, the Minions." Many, including Lowen Liu of Slate, took issue with the joke's double entendre towards Asians.[95] Baron Cohen's wife, actress Isla Fisher, helped him don the character's costuming just before going on stage; he had been explicitly unauthorized by the event's producers from appearing as any of his characters as a condition of his participation, but claims he was emboldened to proceed with his intentions after he encountered Rock, let him in on his plan, and was encouraged.[96]

In addition to criticism from the public, especially online,[97] the jokes faced criticism from publications such as GQ,[98] The Hollywood Reporter,[99] The New York Times,[100] and The Washington Post.[94] Jessica Contrera of The Washington Post noted "There was a lack of diversity in the lack of diversity. This became most apparent when Rock brought three Asian children to the stage, posing as 'bankers' from finance firm PricewaterhouseCoopers."[94] Actress Constance Wu, of Fresh Off the Boat, and basketball player Jeremy Lin also commented on the jokes, with the former stating "To parade little kids on stage w/no speaking lines merely to be the butt of a racist joke is reductive & gross," and the latter writing on Twitter that he was "tired of it being 'cool' and 'OK' to bash Asians."[101]

Ratings and reception

The American telecast on ABC drew 34.43 million people over its length,[6] which was a 4% decrease from the previous year's ceremony.[102] The telecast also garnered lower Nielsen ratings compared to the previous ceremony with 23.4% households watching over 37 share.[7] In addition program scored the lower 18-49 demo rating with am 10.5 ratings over 31% share.[6] It was the lowest viewership for an Academy Awards telecast since the 80th ceremony, held in 2008.[103]

In Memoriam

The following individuals were included in the annual In Memoriam segment, dedicated to recognizing members of the film industry who died in the previous year. The tribute was presented by actor Louis Gossett, Jr.[104] During the tribute, singer Dave Grohl performed The Beatles song "Blackbird".[105][106][107]

Notable omissions

Notable veterans omitted from the presentation included actors Tony Burton (Rocky), Frank Finlay (Othello), George Gaynes (Police Academy 1-7, Tootsie, and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf), Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Geoffrey Lewis (Tango & Cash, National Lampoon's Last Resort, Catch Me If You Can), Ron Moody (Oliver!), Roddy Piper (They Live, Hell Comes to Frogtown), Angus Scrimm (Phantasm 1-5), and Abe Vigoda (The Godfather); directors Gene Saks, Manoel de Oliveira, and Jacques Rivette;[108][109][110][111] and costume designer Julie Harris (Darling). However, as in the three preceding years, these people were acknowledged by the Academy by being added to the online version of the "In Memoriam" tribute at the Oscars website.[104]

See also


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  28. Giardina, Carolyn; Szalai, George (February 28, 2016). "Oscars: Emmanuel Lubezki Becomes First Cinematographer to Win Three Consecutive Academy Awards". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 2, 2016. 
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