Thursday, January 14, 2016

Reactions to the Oscar Nominations

This year’s Oscar race has been a strange one – I haven’t written about it, not even to do my usual Oscar Predictions piece, mainly because I’ve been very busy at work, and catching up with movies for my year end report (probably the week after next), and I just didn’t get around to it. It’s been a strange year because it’s been hard to get a handle on it – and there have been many twists and turns along the way, and the nominations this morning should be a sign that more are too come.

In theory, The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road should be your frontrunners – they earned 12 and 10 nominations respectively. But I’m not sure they are. No film since Titanic has won the Best Picture Oscar without a screenplay nominated – and neither of these films got a screenplay nod – and neither is a juggernaut like Titanic either. Plus, no film since Grand Hotel (1932) has won without a Screenplay or an acting nomination – which is the boat Mad Max: Fury Road is in. I have a feeling that these two films will battle it out for the “below the line” prizes, Leo will win Actor for The Revanant, and perhaps one of them could steal Best Director. I have a tough time believing either actually wins Best Picture though.

So what does? The smart money is still probably Spotlight. True, Room was stronger than anticipated – getting in for Picture and Director, both of which were far from assured, along with the expected nominations for Brie Larson and the screenplay (by Emma Donaghue, who becomes the first woman nominated for adapting her own book – an honor that should have went to Gillian Flynn last year). Larson probably wins Actress, and it’s possible it wins Screenplay – but I’m not sold on its chances in the Big Race. The Big Short has been the late breaking movie that snuck in, and honestly, I think it does have a shot here – just not one I’m really willing to bet on. Whatever does win between those two, could also propel their director to victory (and the are the smart money for screenplay wins). The Martian really needed Ridley Scott to get into the director race – and he didn’t – so it probably won’t happen. Bridge of Spies is more respected than loved, and outside Supporting Actor (which is far from assured) what else is it going to win? Brooklyn really deserved more love than it got, but it snuck into Picture, so that’s good.

Of the nominations themselves, I have to say they are somewhat disappointing in many ways. This was a year that really should have had its fair share of surprises in the nominating round – and instead the Academy stuck with the safe choices that Oscar bloggers have been predicting all year (I’m not down on Oscar bloggers, but with a slate of nominees like this, I do think they have more of an impact than they care to admit). Look at the best actor category. Does anyone truly love Bryan Cranston in Trumbo or Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl, or were they seen as such “can’t miss” nominees before they were even seen, and so they snuck in. And why does DiCaprio have such a lead for the win, when many (like me) think that it’s actually one of his lesser performances – he suffered for his art to be sure, but he wasn’t give much else to do. If he wins, it will be another case of a great actor winning for the wrong movie.

And how does Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Joy sneak into the Best Actress lineup in one of the strongest years the category has ever had. Does anyone like the movie, or the performance? Lawrence is undeniably talented, and she does what she can with a underwritten, misjudged role, but an Oscar nomination. Really? I’d also like to know how they decided on Christain Bale and Mark Ruffalo as being best in show for The Big Short and Spotlight respectively. I think they campaigned Steve Carrell as lead actor, which kept him out of Bale’s way – but still, there are better performances in that movie (and far better ones in other movies). Ruffalo is fine in Spotlight – but Keaton, Schreiber and perhaps even Tucci are better – they just don’t have a scene of them screaming, I guess. If anyone can tell me how Rooney Mara in Carol and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl are “supporting” performances, I would love to know (Mara, in particular, deserves to be nominated – but in the lead category, not supporting).

I would have loved to see the Academy reach farther beyond the Best Picture lineup for more of the acting nominees. Like Paul Dano for Love & Mercy (who had a campaign that saw him nominated for both lead and supporting actor – and may have killed his chances), Michael Shannon for 99 Homes for example. But them’s the breaks I guess.

There are other things that mystify me – like how not even the directors branch seems to appreciate the genius of Todd Haynes (not nominated for Carol) – I guess we’ll see him pick up a lifetime achievement award some day (or actually, not, since they don’t air those on the show anymore). Or how, even with 8 picture spots, they don’t find a place for Inside Out. Or why, for the second straight year, we have 20 white acting nominees. They had their chance with fine work by Samuel L. Jackson, Michael B. Jordan, Oscar Isaac, Idris Elba, Jason Mitchell – and decided against them.

Still, this is kind of what is fun about the Oscars – complaining and bitching about what they did and did not nominate. And there’s a lot of good things about the nominations as well – and people to root for. For example Roger Deakins picked up his 13th Best Cinemaotgraphy Nomination, and is still looking for his first win (it probably won’t come this year, but you never know). Thomas Newman also got his 13th nomination (12 for score, one for song) and is looking for a 1st victory (again, I don’t think it will happen – but you can root for him). I’m very happy that one of my favorite film composers – Carter Burwell – finally got an Oscar nomination – for Carol, as did one of my favorite actresses – Jennifer Jason Leigh – for The Hateful Eight.

Yet, on Oscar night I may well be cheering hardest for World of Tomorrow to win the Best Animated Short Film Oscar – as Don Hertzfeldt’s mini-masterpiece deserves all the attention it can get. I do have some catching up to do - World of Tomorrow and the great Pixar short Sanjay’s Super Team are the only shorts I have seen so far this year – and I will try to catch up with the rest, as long as they are released before the show. Of the feature films nominated, I need to see one best actress nominee (Charlotte Rampling), one makeup nominee (The 100 Year Old Man…), one song nominee (Racing Extinction), one animated film (Boy and the World), one documentary (Winter on Fire)  and four Foreign Films (Mustang, Theeb, A War and Embrace of the Serpent). Winter on Fire is on Netflix, so that’s an easy one – and 45 Years opens in Toronto next week, when I plan on seeing it (Mustang opens this week – and I’ll try to squeeze in a showing alongside 45 Years, although apparently Boy and the World also opens here next week, so depending on my schedule I’ll try to squeeze that in). The rest I don’t know when/if I’ll have a chance to see them before the ceremony.

Anyway, I know I didn’t get around to doing my Oscar nomination prediction piece this year – but that will not be the case with the Oscar winner predictions – which I’m going to start on as soon as I finish my year end report.

In case you missed them, the nominees (not including shorts) are:

Best motion picture of the year
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

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

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

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

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

Adapted screenplay
The Big Short - Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn -  Nick Hornby
Carol - Phyllis Nagy
The Martian - Drew Goddard
Room - Emma Donoghue

Original screenplay
Bridge of Spies -  Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Ex Machina - Alex Garland
Inside Out -  Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight - Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
Straight Outta Compton - Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff and S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus

Best Animated Film
Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Best Documentary
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent  - Colombia
Mustang - France
Son of Saul - Hungary
Theeb - Jordan
A War -  Denmark

Best Cinematography
Carol Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road John Seale
The Revenant Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario Roger Deakins

Best Film Editing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies - Thomas Newman
Carol - Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight - Ennio Morricone
Sicario - Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - John Williams

Best Costume Design
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Makeup & Hair Styling
Mad Max: Fury Road
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Original Song
Fifty Shades of Grey - •Earned It
Racing Extinction - Manta Ray
Youth – Simple Song # 3
The Hunting Ground - Til It Happens To You
Spectre – Writing’s on the Wall

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

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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

No comments:

Post a Comment