Feb 24, 2016

Time To Kvetch: Oscars 2016

Once again, the time is near for that extended fest of self-congratulation and foregone conclusions that we can't look away from.  As always, I strongly recommend that if you watch, you do so with copious amounts of booze. I pity Chris Rock and hope he comes up with the goods. He is in the unenviable position of emceeing a pageant where people like him are routinely ignored.
My two cents: the Academy is no more or less racist than the rest of the Hollywood industry; it reflects it perfectly. Black actors and other actors of color simply don't appear in enough important roles in Hollywood movies and when they do, most voting members do not watch said movies. People (Charlotte Rampling and Michael Caine, I'm talking to you) who confuse the griping about racism in the Oscars with some sort of affirmative action quota system are getting it wrong. Nobody is asking the Academy to bestow nominations on undeserving people, regardless of race.
The lack of diversity in the nominations stems from an ingrained bias in Hollywood that needs to be corrected from inception: in order to have a more diverse roster of nominees in the Oscars, there need to be more movies made about diverse people and with diverse people in starring and supporting roles, not just second bananas and window dressing. That these movies and these performances need to be deserving of awards goes without saying. Tokenism only makes things worse.
Also, voting members would do well to take their duties seriously and watch movies all year long so that they nominate their peers from the widest pool of quality films available. Thanks to the internet, everyone can find the most buzzed about and critically acclaimed movies in the festival circuit. It behooves the voters to do their homework and not only see the big stuff.  In fact, there are some glaring omissions due to the Academy's indifference to small or independent films, some of which are superior to several of the bloated movies in the Best Picture roster (99 HomesDiary of A Teenage Girl, to name just two). The Hollywood Reporter has conducted interviews with anonymous voters who reveal their voting behaviors. Turns out that members don't watch the screeners, they vote for their best friends or against their enemies, for whatever makes more money, or for whoever spent more money to sway them.

Now, my Oscar kvetching criteria consist of which are the best movies in terms of content and quality. Not the biggest money makers, not politically correct statements, not consolation prizes, not crowd pleasers. There are movies in this list which I have not seen and I can't really air my opinions on those. Disclaimer: As with the Powerball, my spotty predictions are for entertainment purposes only. I accept a cut of the winnings if you hit the jackpot. 
Blue reflects who will win and red who should win
YES and NO reflect whether these are deserved nominations in my view.

Best Picture
The Big Short. YES.
Bridge of Spies. NO. Bo-ring!
Brooklyn. YES! And my favorite of this bunch.
Mad Max: Fury Road. NO. Dark and visually interesting, but basically, a migraine-inducing 2-hour chase.
The Martian. NO. A dumbass, obnoxious movie if there ever was one.
The Revenant. YES. Iñárritu's most coherent movie but will he win twice in a row?
Room. FINE. The only small movie which made the cut.
Spotlight. FINE. This one is the runner up. The Academy loves righteousness.

All of these movies are better than The Martian, Bridge of Spies and Mad Max:
The End Of The Tour
The Diary of A Teenage Girl
Steve Jobs
99 Homes
Love and Mercy

Best Director
Adam McKay, The Big Short
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant.  
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson, Room

John Crowley, Brooklyn
James Ponsoldt, The End Of The Tour
Rahmin Bahrani, 99 Homes
Alex Garland, Ex-Machina
Marielle Heller, Diary of A Teenage Girl
Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo. He's fine, but NO. 
Matt Damon, The Martian. FINE. He's the only interesting thing to watch in that stupid movie. 
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant. YES. He's good, as always, but this is a consolation prize for all the other times he should have won, and for enduring a tough shoot. 
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs. YES. He is fantastic. 
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl. NO. He allowed himself to overact and the movie SUX.

Jason Segel, The End Of The Tour. The performance of the year.
Michael Caine, Youth.
Paul Dano, Love and Mercy.
Jacob Tremblay, Room.
I haven't seen them, but I bet Michael B. Jordan in Creed and Idris Elba in Beasts Of No Nation are deserving.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Carol. YES. She's always good. 
Brie Larson, Room. FINE. 
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy. YES. She ROCKS. 
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years. YES. She's not gonna win because, big mouth. 
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn. YES. The winner in my book.

Bel Powley, The Diary Of A Teenage Girl
Elizabeth Moss, Queen of Earth

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, The Big Short. YES.
Tom Hardy, The Revenant. YES. Abso-fuckin-lutely.
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight. NO. I thought he was the weakest one in the cast.
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies. NO. He's too shticky.
Sylvester Stallone, Creed.

Michael Shannon, 99 Homes
Oscar Isaac, Ex-Machina
Steve Carell, The Big Short
Ryan Gosling, The Big Short
Liev Schreiber, Spotlight
Stanley Tucci, Spotlight
Jason Bateman, The Gift
Chewbacca. Just checking if you're reading this far.

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight. I haven't seen it but I bet she's great.
Rooney Mara, Carol. YES. She's great.
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight. NO. She's good but nothing special.
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl. NO. A good actress acting unevenly on account of a hack director.
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs. YES. She's great.

Virginia Madsen, Joy
Julie Walters, Brooklyn
Joan Allen, Room
Alicia Vikander, Ex-Machina
Elizabeth Banks, Love and Mercy
Jennifer Jason Leigh, Anomalisa

Best Original Screenplay
Bridge of Spies. NO.
Ex Machina. YES.
Inside Out. I didn't see it. Pixar gets on my last nerve.
Spotlight. FINE.
Straight Outta Compton. Didn't see it.

The End Of The Tour
Love and Mercy
99 Homes
The Gift

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short. YES.
Brooklyn. YES. My favorite, but too elegant and beautiful to win.
Carol. FINE.
The Martian. NO.
Room. YES.

Steve Jobs
Diary Of A Teenage Girl

Best Animated Feature
Anomalisa. This is the only one I've seen. It's very good.
Boy and the World
Inside Out. Possible winner. People never tire of this stuff.
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Son of Saul. YES. This will win.
A War. YES.

SNUBBED: (technically, countries send their official submissions, which is bullshit)
Taxi, Iran
The Wonders, Italy
Phoenix, Germany
The Tribe, Ukraine
Mommy, Canada

Best Documentary Feature
Amy. YES.
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone? 
NO. A mess.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Cinematography
Ed Lachman, Carol. YES.
Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight. Haven't seen it.
John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road. YES.
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant. WOW. This should win.
Roger Deakins, Sicario. NO. He should have won for every movie he's ever made. Not this one. Next year, for Hail, Ceasar! 

The Assassin

Best Production Design. 
Bridge of Spies. YES.
Mad Max: Fury Road. YES.
The Martian. YES.
The Revenant. YES.
The Danish Girl. OK.

Best Costume Design
Carol. YES.
Cinderella. YES. 
The Danish Girl. YES.
Mad Max: Fury Road. YES.
The Revenant. YES. 

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Possible winner.

Best Original Song
“Earned It,” 50 Shades Of Grey.
“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3,” Youth. 
“Til It Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s on the Wall,” Spectre

May the force be with you.

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