The Oscar nominations get announced…and then the drama begins. Okay, so if you haven’t heard, a boycott by a growing number of Academy members and hopefuls are taking a stand against the fact that the Academy, despite being presided over by a respected, black woman, seemed to completely overlook any nominations to people of colour this year, except for Mexican director Innaritu’s nominations for the film Revenant, soon to be released here in Spain. It really seems to me that the Academy has a way of pilfering through the minorities on an annual basis. One year, they laud women more than expected, the next year, it’s black nominees, winners and composers, then the following year a smattering of women and African-Americans, and chingos of accolades to Mexicans. This year, it’s LGBT-lite time. I personally think that the Academy does what they think constituents want, but in the end, the pandering always has a tendency to lean towards WASPy, middle-America and its middle-class 'plight'. Funny though, of the top five actors with the most successful box office takes of all-time, three of them are African-American: Denzel, Sam Jackson, and Will Smith…so at least at the box office, people seem to take notice.
That diatribe spoken, let’s look at the nominees for 2016. First, the writing nominations, for as a writer and educator, the script of anything is so bloody important to me. It is here where we find the fact of even having a film. You can’t really have a film without a written script, right? The Best Original Screenplay award culls together a great group of writers, even novelists, like Alex Garland for Ex-Machina, the Coen Bros for Bridge of Spies, Jonathan Herman for Straight Outta Compton, as well as, nods to loved cartoon Inside Out and writers Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for Spotlight. Should Win: Straight Outta Compton, Will Win: Bridge of Spies or Spotlight…they just HAVE to give something to Spielberg and the Academy friggin LOVES the Coens. Shame as the script for Compton was so well-constructed based on actual events, you could feel the actors pulling the script into intense light. Such a great film, swear to G-d, it deserved SO many more noms.
In the Best Adapted Screenplay category, again we see famed authors like Nick Hornby for his adaptation of indie fave Brooklyn and longtime writers picking up more accolades, from Drew Goddard for The Martian to Charles Randolph with Adam McKay for new release The Big Short, and finally a woman(!) for Phyllis Nagy’s adaptation of Carol. Along with Room, we have a tight little category here, but methinks…Should Win: Carol, Will Win: either Carol or The Big Short…with any luck hanging about though, the Academy may have only this bone to throw to Ridley Scott’s non-comedic epic The Martian. Ya veremos.
Ahhh, the Actors categories…where the fun really begins. Best Actress nods this year go to a couple of good ole faithfuls, an acting goddess and a young first-time nominee who has put in her time and effort since the Nineties to snag this nom. Brie Larson for Room, Lady Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years, Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn, Cate Blanchett in Carol and Jennifer Lawrence for Joy. Should Win: Brie Larson, Will Win: Brie Larson or Charlotte Rampling…the Academy has a knack for bestowing long overdue accolades, and despite her recent controversial statements regarding the #OscarSoWhite debacle, it seems that Rampling is a very likely shoe-in for the award….but with Brie Larson’s first nomination, she also has the likely role of the ‘truly unexpected’winner. Time will tell, but my odds are on Larson for her fierce portrayal of a loving and struggling mother in Room.
For the Actors, we’ve got a doozy of an awards list here. Last year’s Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne returns this year with his second nomination for The Danish Girl, DiCaprio for The Revenant, Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs, Matt Damon for his “hilarious”role in The Martian and Bryan Cranston for Trumbo. What a long way Cranston has come from Malcolm in the Middle days, huh? His first nomination puts him up against some big timers, but in the end, it all goes down to whose performance was the most dramatic. Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio. Despite several outstanding performances over the years, Leo’s lack of a Best Actor win has simply just gone on and on. After nearly dying making this film, I think Oscar will look favourably on this 'finally ageing' actor.
I quite dig the Supporting Actress/Actor nominations. They explain a lot. Almost always, the Best Supporting Actress award is the first award given out for the night and it is such a deserved award because if there is anything that helps move a film along to its completion, it is the roles of ALL the other actors involved that make a film shine, not just the protagonists. The Supporting Actress noms this year go to the following lovely ladies: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl, Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs, Rooney Mara for Carol, Rachel McAdams for Spotlight and the incomparable Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight. ROAR! This fun-ass category will be a lightning rod as assuredly the Academy had its hands full with the junk load of amazing supporting roles out there this year. Don’t get me started on the lack of diversity though! McAdams, Mara and Leigh are the frontrunners to beat, but this category has a history of going to the unexpected nominee. In this case this year, I have to change my original plan…Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Will Win: Rooney Mara…however, I will be so damn happy if my predictions get reversed. Either way, well-deserved.
And then came the Best Supporting Actor nominations. The best supporting actress race seems damn obvious when compared to the competition of best supporting actor, where Golden Globe winner Sylvester Stallone isn't the expected shoe-in for the Oscar for his impeccable performance (I love that guy, byw!) in Creed. Stallone's biggest threat might be Tom Hardy though, the up-and-coming icon who had his best year yet thanks to Mad Max, Legend and The Revenant. It almost seems destined to come down to these two, even though Christian Bale in The Big Short, Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight and Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies also carry certain weight…especially Bale. Should Win: Tom Hardy, Will Win: Sly Stallone.
The Best Director award seemed to be the indicator for Best Picture in times past, but that no longer always applies anymore, and we’re better for it. However, it seems whenever the last few Mexican directors have stepped up to get their Oscars for Best Picture over the last two years, they also have just won the Best Director Award, as well. This year again seems to be prepped to fall into the hands of a Mejicano director…at least for the main prize. But I think we’re in for an upset with the Best Director prize this year. The award winner from last year was Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman and while The Revenant seems on track to be the picture to beat, I have little doubt that the Academy might be looking to grant an honorary award in the form of this category. Should Win: Alejandro G Inarritu, Will Win: George Miller. The Academy would never have honoured Miller thirty years ago for Mad Max but this latest entry into his filmography captivated critics, thrill seekers and audiences alike. This just might finally be his year.
Lastly, the goodies…The Best Picture Oscar. For the last several years, the Oscars have been nominating up to ten films a year for this main category, though last year and this year they only chose eight which begs the question of why they left two films out of the running when they have the ability to nominate two more, say like Creed or Straight Outta Compton or Carol…but nope. The list of eight nominated films have mostly all been talked about in this article. In a lineup, they are Spotlight, The Big Short, The Revenant, Mad Max: Road Fury, The Martian, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn and Room. All, save Spotlight, have been mentioned and that film right there is the silent stalker that I think may have the best chance for the upset win from The Revenant. Dealing with the explosive Boston Catholic Church scandal that blew the lid off the Church’s paedophilia insanity several years back, this film has come up from behind to become one of the leading if quiet favourites for the coveted category. Should Win: Spotlight or The Revenant, Will Win: Spotlight or The Revenant…either way, both are easily deserving for their candour, splendour, and heady topics.
The Oscars premiere on February 28th on the US Network ABC. It will be simulcast live on Imagenio and other cable operators.