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The 88th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), will honor the best films of 2015 and is scheduled to take place on February 28, 2016, at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST. During the ceremony, AMPAS will present Academy Awards (commonly referred to as Oscars) in 24 categories. The ceremony will be televised in the United States by ABC, and will be produced by David Hill and Reginald Hudlin and directed by Glenn Weiss. Actor Chris Rock will host the show for the second time, having previously hosted the 77th ceremony held in 2005.

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. 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.

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. The Revenant received the most nominations with twelve total, with Mad Max: Fury Road coming in second with ten. For the second consecutive year, a film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu received the most nominations. Antony Hegarty became the second transgender person to be nominated for an Oscar, since Angela Morley in 1976.

The big story:

The Academy Awards are arguably the most prestigious film industry honour on the planet — just scoring an Oscar nod makes it into a person’s obituary. An Oscar nomination (and, most assuredly, a win) can change the course of a career. So it’s understandable that which individuals, teams or movies earn nominations become a big deal.

For a second consecutive year, the film academy put forth a slate of all-white acting nominees and was instantly greeted with a tsunami of social media outrage that quickly manifested into offline criticism and widespread debate. Moving quickly to introduce new diversity efforts only sparked a retaliatory backlash.

#OscarsSoWhite, Hollywood diversity woes loom over Academy Awards

The #OscarsSoWhite fiasco — which admittedly points a larger issue within the wider film industry itself — hangs like a storm cloud over the 2016 proceedings and casts a shadow over this year’s nominees.

That said, survival thriller The Revenant leads this year’s Oscar race with 12 nominations, while the contenders for best picture, the night’s most anticipated trophy, are:

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

The Canadian contenders

This year, the field is peppered with Canadians. Chief among them are Irish-Canadian co-productions Room (including a nod for Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue’s screenplay) and Brooklyn. Both are contenders for best picture.

‘It might as well be me, why not?’ Room novelist Emma Donoghue on writing her own screenplay.

Filmed partly in Alberta and British Columbia, lead Oscar nominee The Revenant’s contenders include a spate of Canadian collaborators, including visual effects artist Cameron Waldbauer, set decorator Hamish Purdy, sound technician Chris Duesterdiek (up for sound mixing), makeup and hair artist Robert Pandini.

Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario earned a trio of nods (though the Quebec filmmaker himself failed to earn one). Rachel McAdams is a best supporting actress nominee for her turn in Spotlight, while R&B chart-topper The Weeknd and his Canadian team of co-songwriters are in the running for best original song for Earned It from the film Fifty Shades of Grey.

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