Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ready, Set, Awards Season!

My dormant blog usually comes alive with the approach of awards season, but this year I'm a bit late in writing my thoughts on the various award bodies that have already given out their kudos and nominations. With today's SAG Awards nominations and tomorrow's Golden Globes announcement, I thought it was better start now or else get hopelessly behind.

The Spirit Awards started things off pre-Thanksgiving, which suddenly feels like a long time ago except it's actually been less than two weeks. Their nods got me pumped for the season ahead citing not only two Oscar front-runners Spotlight and Carol but also an animated film (Anomalisa), a Netflix film (Beasts of No Nation), and an iPhone-shot film about transgender hookers (Tangerine). That last film is also one of my favorite films of the year and I was also happy they further decided to honor it with a Best Director and two acting nominations for its two ladies, Mya Taylor and Kiki Rodriguez. Other nods that made me smile include Sean Baker for directing It Follows and Brie Larson in Room though I wish Larson's on-screen partner Jacob Tremblay could've made it in.

The first day of December then brought us the winners of the National Board of Review which have been more miss than hit in terms of an early Oscar predictor, but why does that really matter anyway? In any case, they threw down the gauntlet picking Mad Max; Fury Road as the best film of the year and at this point in time, I'm hesitant to disagree. Another fan-favorite film, The Martian, took home Director, Screenplay, and Actor (Matt Damon) while Brie Larson, Sylvester Stallone, and Jennifer Jason Leigh picked up the other acting awards. Their top ten films for the year included Bridge of Spies, Creed, The Hateful Eight, Inside Out, The Martian, Room, Sicario, Spotlight, and Straight Outta Compton.

Then came a flurry of critic awards with three of the biggest and oldest (NYFCC, LAFCA, and BFCS) also giving us their picks. First, NYFCC went with Carol and its director Todd Haynes as well as Michael Keaton (Spotlight), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), and Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria) with that last pick being quite a surprise to everyone. BFCS showed Stewart wasn't a fluke and also showed Rylance might just be the guy to beat in his category. BFCS also picked Haynes, but went for Spotlight for Best Film, Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) for Actress, and a tie for Actor with Paul Dano (Love & Mercy) and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant). Finally, LAFCA also went with Spotlight (early critic's favorite?) and Rampling but picked director George Miller, Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Michael Shannon (99 Homes), and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) giving ALL of their films a much-needed awards season boost. Of course as I write this another regional critic awards has probably been given out somewhere. There will be more.

Thoughts on today's SAG Awards nominations and tomorrow's Golden Globes coming this weekend! But even from just the first two weeks of the season it's all feeling a bit wacky and open-ended. Things will get clearer with more and more organizations putting forth their picks, but this year does seem like there's a lot more up in the air which, frankly, is damn refreshing.

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