This year's race feels like the tightest in years, with no clear frontrunner. Instead, four very different films lead the pack. Two are true-life, issue-based movies: the tense Spotlight and the more comical The Big Short. And then there's the wild action of Mad Max: Fury Road and the wrenching adventure of The Revenant.

Chris Rock will host the 2016 Oscars

Meanwhile, in the acting fields, Leonardo Dicaprio looks like he'll finally win an Oscar with his fifth acting nomination. And the Academy surely won't be able to resist giving a trophy to Sylvester Stallone. For Best Actress, Brie Larson is the one to beat, although Saoirse Ronan has a lot of support. And it should be noted that, since the average age of an Oscar voter is 63, beloved veteran Charlotte Rampling shouldn't be ruled out. In Supporting Actress, two nominees (Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara) have been named for what are actually lead roles, so they may have an edge to beat the formidable Kate Winslet or Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Of course, the other side of the story is who was snubbed. Filmmakers shamefully missing from the nominations include Ridley Scott, Todd Haynes and Aaron Sorkin, all at the peak of their creative powers with The Martian, Carol and Steve Jobs, respectively. The hugely popular Minions is missing from the animated feature list, as is the moving song See You Again from Furious 7, which was previously expected to win.

But as with last year, the biggest outrage is that there is so little diversity among the nominees. Activist groups are calling for a boycott of the television broadcast because there isn't a single actor of colour nominated, despite acclaimed performances from the likes of Idris Elba, Benicio Del Toro, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Samuel L. Jackson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Will Smith. All have received prizes from critics groups in the past two months.

And women haven't fared particularly well either, although they've done slightly better than last year, with screenwriters Emma Donoghue, Phyllis Nagy, Meg LeFauve and Andrea Berloff nominated for their work (but not Amy Schumer, as expected for her Trainwreck screenplay). And of course Lady Gaga can now add "Academy Award Nominee" before her name, as she earns a nod for cowriting the song Til It Happens to You from the documentary The Hunting Ground.