Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thoughts on Oscar Nominations

With the Oscars just three days away, I thought it was nigh time I chimed in with my quick thoughts on the nominations.

  • The Big Short (5 nominations)
  • Bridge of Spies (6 nominations)
  • Brooklyn (3 nominations)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (10 nominations)
  • The Martian (7 nominations)
  • The Revenant (12 nominations)
  • Room (4 nominations)
  • Spotlight (6 nominations)

It's the second year in a row we get 8 nominees in this august category and I seriously wish we just go back to 10. The films that probably just missed the cut include Carol, Straight Outta Compton, and I'd love to think Inside Out. The big shocker here is probably The Revenant racking up the most nominations to the detriment of early season favorites The Big Short and Spotlight and possibly taking the sails out of similarly tech-heavy favorite Mad Max: Fury Road. And it's likely the new front-runner to win.

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

I was pleasantly shocked to see Abrahamson's inclusion especially since precursors just didn't indicate it at all. He beat out DGA-nominated and NBR-winning director Ridley Scott as well as BAFTA-nominated duo of Todd Haynes and Steven Spielberg. But the contest is between Miller and Inarritu. The latter already won DGA, but could he really capture Best Director prize back-to-back years? I'm hoping he doesn't. Shout out to Ryan Coogler who certainly deserved a spot here.

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

People have been calling this lineup particularly weak which might be just what ol' DiCaprio needs to win that elusive Oscar. It's also been weird how set in stone this category was early on with a lone Johnny Depp spoiler SAG nominated. In any case, Redmayne gets back-to-back nominations, but unlikely back-to-back wins. Cranston gets his first Oscar nomination though I'm pretty sure I would've rather had Jacob Tremblay or Michael B. Jordan instead. But back to Leo, who will win, but I'm rooting hard for Fassbender.

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

The default nomination of Lawrence aside, this is a strong group which means Larson's dominance this awards season (as much as I love her) confounds me. Really thought Blanchett or Ronan would've put up more of a fight, but regardless I'm ecstatic for Larson. Rampling probably edged out Maggie Smith and of course there's category fraud Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara placed in supporting, but more on them later. Shout out to Charlize Theron and Lily Tomlin who should've gotten more love this season as well.

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

Last year was all about the steamroll of J.K. Simmons. This year thankfully lots of spreading the love with Rylance and Stallone just edging the group to be the two favorites for the win. I'm betting on Stallone, except Creed just didn't hit with the Academy as much as I thought it would have. Lots of other names were in contention this season like SAG-nominated Idris Elba and Jacob Tremblay, BAFTA-nominated Benicio Del Toro, and Golden Globe nominated Michael Shannon and Paul Dano.

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

It's two leads (Mara/Vikander) versus true supporting roles so in that sense I'm rooting for the latter especially Winslet because she should really have a 2nd Oscars by now. Vikander is the likely winner here and I suppose I can pretend it's for her Ex Machina role instead. This category was pretty fairly set early on as well with really just Kristen Stewart and Helen Mirren as possible alternates.

  • Bridge of Spies
  • Ex Machina
  • Inside Out
  • Spotlight
  • Straight Outta Compton

I haven't seen it, but I'm a little amused that Tarantino's NBR-winning screenplay for Hateful Eight didn't make it in. The rest are the usual suspects with both Inside Out and Straight Outta Compton getting love here after missing out on Best Picture. Ex Machina was the big surprise here over WGA nominated screenplays for Sicario and Trainwreck. Spotlight is the favorite.

  • The Big Short
  • Brooklyn
  • Carol
  • The Martian
  • Room

The Big Short is the likely winner here, but this category is already full of win since I honestly thought only ONE of Carol, Brooklyn, and Room would've made it here. The fact that all three of them made it in is heartening since we need to celebrate more WOMEN STORIES! I'm rooting hard for Room, but there's no bad winner here at all.

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

Not sure what was eligible, but I think many people thought The Assassin, Phoenix, Timbuktu, The Look of Silence, and Goodnight Mommy would've at least longlisted. I haven't seen any of these (yet), but the one to beat all season long has been the well-received Son of Saul.

  • Anomalisa
  • Boy and the World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • When Marnie Was There

Anomalisa put up a fight and certainly it might appeal more to the older set of Academy voters, but category champ Pixar should prevail here once again. The Academy, as it wont to do, picked indie films over big studio fare (The Good Dinosaur, Minions, Peanuts Movie).

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

It's hilarious to me that The Revenant was nominated here because the movie mostly takes place outside. I mean, half their job was done by Mother Nature! Lucky bastards! I had hope for a surprise nomination of Room, but neither here nor there.

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

Will it be back-to-back-to-back wins for Emmanuel Lubezki? All signs point to yes as The Revenant cinematographer looks to add to his wins for Gravity and Birdman. If I had a vote, it'd go to John Seale's masterful work in Mad Max, but that film will probably win a bunch of other awards. Lighting a candle to the Susan Lucci of cinematographers Sicario's Roger Deakins. Maybe next year?

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

The Big Four Likely Best Picture Winners are here so there's no rocking the boat like last year. Mad Max is the likely winner here as in most of the tech categories, but I wouldn't be shocked to see The Revenant "steal" some of these awards as well.

  • "Earned It," Fifty Shades of Grey
  • "Manta Ray," Racing Extinction
  • "Simple Song No. 3," Youth
  • "'Til It Happens to You," The Haunting Ground
  • "Writings on the Wall," Spectre

Just give Lady Gaga her Oscar and be done with it. Whatever. I'm just a little salty since "See You Again" from Furious 7 was snubbed and for what? Sam Smith's practically unlistenable garbage of a song? Don't have thoughts on the other songs and since the Academy isn't even inviting everyone to perform on Sunday well, let's just move on shall we?

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

I'm usually a big fan of this category and I'm sure all of these films are worth, but for the life of me I can't really remember their scores with the exception of Star Wars, but that's also because that one leaned heavily in nostalgia.

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

Costumer extraordinaire Sandy Powell is nominated twice for Cinderella and Carol and while I think she actually deserves to win she'll likely lose to Mad Max: Fury Road, which would be a refreshing winner in this category based on its genre trappings. I'd honestly be happy if any of those three films win.

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

Revenant? Mad Max? Take your pick.

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

Revenant? Mad Max? Take your pick.

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

Very cool to see Ex Machina here, but I have a feeling this is where the Academy is going award last year's highest grossing film.

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

I honestly expected to see The Danish Girl here or Carol, but here we are with that film with the really long title that I know nothing about.

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

Amy is the runaway favorite here, but there are plenty of fans for The Look of Silence and What Happened Miss Simone? I've only seen Amy and Miss Simone and I preferred the latter slightly.

  • Body Team 12
  • Chau, Beyond the Lines
  • Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  • A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  • Last Day of Freedom

Haven't seen any of these, but apparently their topics are dark and sad. So let's give the win to Last Day of Freedom. That sounds cheery.

  • Bear Story
  • Prologue
  • Sanjay's Super Team
  • We Can't Live Without Cosmos
  • World of Tomorrow

Apparently there isn't a weak link in the lineup which makes me happy. I've only see Sanjay's Super Team and World of Tomorrow and while I like the first, I absolutely fell for the latter. You can watch it right now on Netflix!

  • Ave Maria
  • Day One
  • Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
  • Shok
  • Stutterer

I've seen all of these! Actually, not yet. I'll see these this weekend so I'll have a more fully informed opinion then. For now, as a life-long stutterer I think my loyalties lie with that film.

As I said above, the Oscars are in 3 days! I still need to post my personal ballot, my predictions, and a quick awards season wrap-up.

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