Expansive cinematic spectacles and star-studded tales like The Revenant, Max Max: Fury Road and The Martian dominate the 2016 race for the Oscars, with some quieter gems (Room, Brooklyn) and a raft of Canadian nominees also making the cut in a year where a lack of racial diversity in the nominations is again attracting criticism.

Filmmakers Ang Lee and Guillermo del Toro, actor John Krasinski and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs unveiled nominees in all 24 categories for the 2016 Academy Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., Thursday morning.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's epic frontier saga The Revenant, partially filmed in B.C. and Alberta and featuring Canadians in its large cast and crew, led the race with 12 nominations.

Emma Donoghue on the film Room4:19

It was followed by George Miller's blistering thrill ride Mad Max: Fury Road and Ridley Scott's outer space tale The Martian, which earned 10 and seven nominations, respectively.

The best picture nominees are:

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

Other key nominees include:

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Brie Larson, Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Film Review Room

Room, based on Canadian author Emma Donoghue's bestselling novel, is a top Oscar nominee. It is up for a host of categories, including best picture, best adapted screenplay for Donoghue and best actress for Brie Larson. (A24 Films/Associated Press)

Best Actor

  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  • Matt Damon, The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Best Director
  • The Big Short, Adam McKay
  • Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller
  • The Revenant, Alejandro G. Inarritu
  • Room, Lenny Abrahamson
  • Spotlight, Tom McCarthy
Rocky vs Real Life

Sylvester Stallone has set a new Oscar record with his supporting actor nomination for reprising Rocky Balboa in Creed: most years between nominations for portraying the same character. He was previously nominated in 1976 for Rocky. (Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros. Pictures/Associated Press)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight 
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
emma-donoghue-852

London, Ont.,-based author Emma Donoghue earned her first Oscar nomination for adapting her novel Room for film.

Canadians earn kudos

This year's field is packed with Canadians, led by Irish-Canadian co-production Room based on the bestselling novel by Irish-Canadian author Emma Donoghue. It earned a handful of nods, including for best picture, for Donoghue's adapted screenplay, for Lenny Abrahamson's direction and actress Brie Larson's lead performance.

"A lot of people in those two countries are thrilled to see this Canadian-Irish co-production manage to be up there in the big leagues with huge studio pictures," Donoghue told The Canadian Press from Nice, France.

"It's just wonderful to see a fairly low-budget film, made mostly with state money, can do so well," she said of the Telefilm-supported Room.

Brooklyn, also a Canadian co-production, picked up a trio of nods, including for best picture, for luminescent star Saoirse Ronan and for Nick Hornby's screenplay (adapted from the novel by Colm Toibin).

 "With successes like Room and Brooklyn, it brings back a lot of marketability for Canadian films and Canadian crews and Canadian industry," Brooklyn co-producer Pierre Even said from Montreal.

Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve's drug-war thriller Sicario is also up for three Oscars: for its cinematographer Roger Deakins, the original score by Johann Johannsson and sound editing.

Homegrown actors, filmmakers and other cinematic creators are peppered throughout the 24 categories, including:

  • Spotlight actress Rachel McAdams (best supporting actress).
  • Documentary short filmmakers Adam Benzine (for Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah) and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness).
  • Toronto R&B singer-songwriter The Weeknd and his Canadian songwriting collaborators Stephan Moccio,  Ahmad Balshe, Jason (Daheala) Quenneville share an original song nomination for Earned It from the film Fifty Shades of Grey.
  • The team of Canadians who worked on The Revenant, such as visual effects artist Cameron Waldbauer, set decorator Hamish Purdy, sound technician Chris Duesterdiek (up for sound mixing), makeup and hair artist Robert Pandini.
  • Sound technician Paul Massey (up for The Martian's sound mixing).
  • Animated short nominee Richard Williams (shares in nomination for Prologue with Imogen Sutton).

88th Oscar nominations unveiled2:51

#OscarsSoWhite, the sequel

Once again, the academy has left itself open to criticism for its lack of diversity, with only white actors nominated for their performances. Members snubbed the likes of Creed's Michael B. Jordan, Sicario's Benicio Del Toro and Beasts of No Nation star Idris Elba, who had all earned praise for their respective roles. Will Smith (Concussion) and Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight) had also been expected to be potential acting nominees.

Last year, public outrage over the nominees sparked a backlash and the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Both were quickly revived on social media Thursday.

"It's a little disappointing, right?" academy president Isaacs said to CBC News, when asked about the lack of diversity among the Oscar finalists immediately following the announcement.

"A lot of great work was done this year and certainly our nominees all deserve the recognition that they received today," she said.

"The issue of diversity is a big one and it's one that we are not shying away from. We are continuing to get the message out and to keep the conversation going throughout Hollywood because that is what is needed in order to progress in the area of inclusion."

Other surprising snubs extended to a trio of Hollywood heavyweights (Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, all absent from the best director category), acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (who had been considered a shoo-in for Steve Jobs), and the notable, headline-grabbing N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton which saw just one nomination (for best original screenplay).

Though it picked up performance kudos, the same-sex romance Carol had been expected to pick up a best picture nod after earning widespread critical acclaim, with director Todd Haynes also an expected nominee for best director. 

However, one bright spot for many movie fans was the flurry of nominations for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The 88th annual Academy Awards take place Feb. 28 in Los Angeles, hosted by comedian and actor Chris Rock, who last held the post in 2005.

Chris Rock

Chris Rock returns for his second stint as Oscar MC next month. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)