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Thursday, January 14, 2016

The 88th Annual Academy Awards: Nominations and Analysis

Thoughts, Snubs, and Probably Wrong Predictions

By Chris Sabga




With the news breaking this morning that Alan Rickman has died of cancer at the age of 69, I'm not really in the mood to look through the Oscar nominations. It doesn't help that I'm completely bored with the Academy Awards, as I wrote a mere few days ago. The only reason I'm even bothering with this right now is because I wrote about the Oscar nominations last year and the year before and...well, you get the idea. So, in the interest of OCD, I have to continue the pattern this year.

Here are my views (probably more abbreviated this year than usual), broken down into three categories.

Thoughts: Just my general take on the various nominations.

Snubs: What I feel got left out. I knew certain movies wouldn't make it to the Oscars, but that doesn't mean I can't personally champion them myself.

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: Don't make your Oscar pool picks based on my thoughts.

And the Oscar goes to...

Best Picture

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

Thoughts: I'm surprised to see "Mad Max" on this list. It has been widely acclaimed by both critics and audiences, but action films are usually shunned by the sometimes snooty Oscars.

Snubs: Because I think the Academy should automatically love the movies I love, I'm going to say "Mr. Holmes," "The Intern," "Predestination," and "Steve Jobs," because why not. And I'm assuming "Straight Outta Compton," "Ex Machina," and "Sicario" will end up on several of these lists as well.

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: "The Revenant" has the most nominations this year.

Best Actor

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

Thoughts: Maybe I shouldn't be, but I'm somewhat surprised to see Michael Fassbender here, even though "Steve Jobs" was a notorious flop at the box office.

Snubs: As Harvey Weinstein pointed out, no love for Ian McKellen in "Mr. Holmes." I haven't seen "Concussion" yet, but Will Smith's acting was incredible in the trailer.

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: This has to be Leo's year – right?

Best Actress

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

Thoughts: Is Saoirse Ronan a surprise, or was she expected? I'm honestly not sure.

Snubs: Helen Mirren was great in "The Woman in Gold." Sarah Snook was amazing in "Predestination." I liked Anne Hathaway in "The Intern" – but Oscar never shines a spotlight on such light, breezy, enjoyable performances. Women (and men) have to suffer for their art to gain recognition by the Academy.

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: Brie Larson, who has been gaining recognition since her great performance in the powerful but problematic "Short Term 12."

Best Supporting Actor

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

Thoughts: Always glad to see Sly take the Oscar stage.

Snubs: Little Milo Parker was phenomenal in "Mr. Holmes." I realize it was more of a lead role, but since kids aren't always seen as real people, he probably would've been bounced down to Supporting anyway. Ryan Reynolds' performance in "The Woman in Gold" was underrated, and he went through the type of physical transformation Oscar usually loves. Robert De Niro was terrific in "The Intern" but that's not the type of performance or movie that the Academy tends to reward.

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: Sylvester Stallone or Tom Hardy.

Best Supporting Actress

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

Thoughts: I wasn't sure Kate would make it, but I'm glad she did. Her ascent as the Academy's "modern Meryl" continues.

Snubs: Probably.

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: Kate Winslet. Hey, she made it this far already!

Best Director

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

Thoughts: Can Alejandro González Iñárritu win for a second year in a row?

Snubs: Maybe Danny Boyle for "Steve Jobs" – not that anyone was expecting too much Oscar love for that movie.

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: I'll be bold and say Iñárritu gets it again.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
The Martian
Room

Thoughts: See below.

Snubs: I'm assuming "Steve Jobs" would count as as an Adapted screenplay because it was inspired by several sources. But if everyone in the Academy was as confused as I am, that could be why it's not here. Or maybe everyone is taking Aaron Sorkin's great writing for granted at this point. "Mr. Holmes" realistically had no chance in hell to begin with, but I'll list it anyway. "Predestination" somehow took a story that was only a few pages along (Robert A. Heinlein's "All You Zombies") and turned it into a two-hour film, all while remaining true to the source material. That's impressive to me!

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: The Big Short.

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

Thoughts: "Straight Outta Compton" gets its sole nomination in this category. Has an animated film ("Inside Out") ever been nominated for Best Original Screenplay before?

Snubs: "What We Do in the Shadows" was pretty clever, but good luck getting a vampire movie nominated for anything!

Early (and Probably Wrong) Prediction: Could "Compton" win its only nomination? Nah. I'm guessing the spotlight will go to … drumroll … "Spotlight."
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Other thoughts: I definitely sound like a broken record about "Steve Jobs" at this point, but I'm wondering if it deserved a Cinematography nomination too. The film somehow managed to turn sterile corporate environments and bland backstage areas into beautiful setpieces. As I wrote in my review: For a film that essentially consists of nonstop dialogue and people walking into different rooms, it is subtly stylish. The three time periods are each filmed differently: 1984 is grainy with a dark and drab color scheme, 1988 feels more open with a richer palette but retains a traditional film look, and 2008 is shot digitally and looks clear and bright. There are also other visual flourishes, such as a nighttime board meeting with rain pouring behind a glass window – a dazzling backdrop. 
_____

The rest of the categories and nominees are:

Best Animated Feature Film

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

Best Cinematography

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

Best Documentary Feature

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

Best Documentary Short Subject

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

Best Film Editing

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

Best Foreign Language Film

Embrace of the Serpent
Mustang
Son of Saul
Theeb
A War

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

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

Best Original Score

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

Best Original Song

"Earned It"
"Manta Ray"
"Simple Song No. 3"
"Till It Happens to You"
"Writing's on the Wall"

Best Production Design

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

Best Costume Design

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

Best Live Action Short Film

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

Best Animated Short Film

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

Best Visual Effects

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

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 Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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