Sunday, 28 February 2016

My Oscar Ballot



My general disaffection with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences aside, it is always a pleasant gratification to play the game of predicting the Oscar winners. I’ve not yet come across any betting pool to take part in and make money off my predictions (or lose it), but I’m willing to take bets from any readers who think they may have a better handle on the odds or decision-making logic than I do. True, you’ve seen enough articles in newspapers and on your Facebook newfeeds laying out the probable choices – not to mention that my own post is going up at the latest possible moment – and one wouldn’t think it’d be particularly difficult for anyone to predict winners as I do now. Notwithstanding, I’m still eager to make a few last-minute calls, and, after all, it’s not my fault everyone else seems so intensely interested in the silly business. Bored entertainment journalists are entirely free to publish yet another article on how this year is “Leonardo’s year,” and on how he deserves this Oscar more than anyone else has ever deserved anything; but – as I reminded a group of unsuspecting shoppers yesterday morning while reading just such an article in yesterday’s Beeld in Pick ’n Pay – you and I, dear reader, are just as free to shout out angry expletives when a journalist does so.

This year’s batch of nominees is particularly dismaying, with not a single daring work of artistic excitement among of the seven best picture nominees I’ve seen (I have yet to see Room, and will hold out on commenting on it, hoping that it may be the one contender to get behind). In recent years, the Academy has indeed nominated a few magnificent films (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Tree of Life, Hugo, The Social Network), along with a handful of excellent ones (Selma, 12 Years a Slave, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, Black Swan) and the idiosyncratic works (InceptionWar Horse, Lincoln, Her, Boyhood etc.); but this year offers pitiably little to stand up for. With frontrunners like The Revenant, Mad Max, and Spotlight, one resigns oneself to a season of glum, pious head-nodding at the winner’s solemn proselytising, and chest-swelling pride at the winning films’ social “victories,” which – oddly – no one seems eager to note are all pretty easy positions to take up years or decades after the true radicals, visionaries, and champions have cleared the path and tarred the road.



At any rate, winners must be chosen, and teeth must be gnashed in consequence. Here I list the nominees, with my choices for winner in sickly green. Comment below with the categories in which you think your own prediction is a better shot than mine.


Best Picture:

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

Spotlight was deemed the early frontrunner, but I think, like Boyhood before it, it peaked to early and, while it carrying the banner of self-righteous anti-Catholicism the neo-liberals of Hollywood so adore, it hasn’t quite awed audiences and pundits the way its Iñárritu opponent has. The Big Short may pull off something of an upset, considering its Producers’ Guild Award.

(Read The Back Row’s review of Bridge of Spies and Mad Max: Fury Road.)

Best Director

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

For the stunt of pulling off two best picture winners in a row, and of being at the helm for Leonardo DiCaprio’s winning performance, Iñárritu will win here again.

(Read The Back Rows review of The Revenant.)

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

The truly disheartening fact of this race is not that the winner will be totally wrong, but that there isn’t any work here to love instead. Michael B. Jordan would have been the perfect choice (instead of, well, any of these), but then there wouldn’t be any diversity crisis in Hollywood at the moment.

Best Actress:

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

Cate Blanchett gives a breathtaking performance of remarkable classical precision and control. Jennifer Lawrence is exhilaratingly modern in the convergence of her persona and role. For whatever reason (I’ll be able to give it once I’ve seen the film), however, Brie Larson is abuzz this year.

(Read The Back Row’s reviews of Joy and Brooklyn.)

Best Supporting Actor:

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

If Idris Elba were nominated here, the Academy would by now have jumped at the chance to award him, if only to quell some of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. As it is, all they have is the single nomination for the film Creed, which does feature black leads and was made by a black director, though the performer nominated here is white. Nevertheless, it’s great work by Stallone, and Oscar’s precursors seemed to think so as well.

(Read The Back Row’s review of 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

Rooney Mara’s performance really is a leading one, although she and Jennifer Jason Leigh give perhaps the most memorable work in his category. The two who seem best poised to grab the little golden man this evening, however, are Winslet and Vikander – the latter a little more probable than the former, because of all the good work she’s been doing lately, and all the lacklustre films that have featured work by Kate Winslet. Tessa Thompson and Tilda Swinton should be here, dueling for the award; no one came within a mile of their glimmering supporting turns this year.

(Read The Back Row’s review of The Hateful Eight and Carol.)

Best Original Screenplay:

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Spotlight’s greatest virtue is its story, streamlined and coherent as any can be, and the dialogue conveys maximum information with minimum fuss, which is what voters appreciate. More’s the pity, because it means Trainwreck never stood a chance.

(Read The Back Row’s reviews of Trainwreck and Spotlight.)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Every time an actor looks into a lens, pundits break into raptures about the fantastic innovation of breaking the fourth wall. Partly for this, but mostly for explaining to laymen so efficiently the financial underlay of the 2008 crisis, the winner isn’t difficult to discern.

(Read The Back Row’s review of The Big Short.)

Best Animated Feature Film:

Anomalisa
Boy & the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie was There

By virtue of its screenplay nomination and the inordinate fondness it’s garnered from nearly every corner of its audience, Pixar swims straight to the top once more.

(Read The Back Rows review of Inside Out.)

Best Foreign Language Film:

Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
Mustang (France)
Son of Saul (Hungary)
Theeb (Jordan)
A War (Denmark)

I haven’t seen any of these, but the Hungarian film takes place in Auschwitz. Many prefer the French entrant, though.

Best Documentary Feature:

Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraines Fight for Freedom

Best Original Score:

Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Two conflicting impulses arise here. John Williams hasn’t won since Schindler’s List, and is widely recognised as Hollywood’s greatest composer. But Ennio Morricone hasn’t won ever, and is just as widely recognised as Hollywood’s greatest camp exponent. Tarantinoism will trump fanboy nostalgia.

(Read The Back Row’s review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.)

Best Original Song:

“Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3” from Youth
“Til it Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s on the Wall from Spectre

Because Lady Gaga is just about the best thing to have happened to the Oscars this year.

(Read The Back Rows review of Spectre.)

Best Sound Editing:

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing:

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martin
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Production Design:

Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Best Cinematography:

Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Three wins in three years does seem unlikely, but those who liked Birdman liked it because of Emmanuel Lubezki’s virtuosic camera work, and I suspect the same is true of The Revenant.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Best Costume Design:

Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

For making Eddie Redmayne look more feminine than he already does

Best Film Editing:

The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

It’s the main factor of the heart-stopping excitement audiences feel when they watch the film.

Best Visual Effects:

Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Image: www.telegraph.co.uk

4 comments:

  1. Writing's on the wall might win. Otherwise I think you've nailed it. I love Birdman and the Revenant so your Ińarritu hate makes me sad. But not really. Love the blog, Jared!

    Ryan K

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ryan. I don't hate the movie so much as I endure vast frustration that it's held in such high regard.

      Delete
  2. I'm still not sold on Leonardo and won't be any time soon. His performance in this was basically Wolf of Wall Street on Ice for me. It didn't excite me in any new way, especially not in contrast to Tom Hardy's great performance.

    I would actually throw my best animated feature vote to Anomalisa, despite how much I obviously loved Inside Out. I found it a thousand times more innovative and important. However, they are for very different audiences. There are many categories that I couldn't care less about, but my main names are Alicia Vikander, Brie Larson, Eddie Redmayne (however unlikely), Mad Max for anything to do with the picture, Star Wars for sound editing, and Earned It for best song from one of the worst movies ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have you already seen Anomalisa? What's it like?

      I do disagree that "Fifty Shades of Grey" is one of the worst movies ever, as you'll see if you read my post from January on the best movies of 2015.

      Delete

Enter your unrestrained and dissenting reactions here