Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 Oscars - Whatever

So we're doing this again? Okay.

This is a frustrating year for the Oscars, which is to say more frustrating than previous years where you're at least garaunteed the spectacle of being annoyed that no one can seem to decide whether to name each year's show for the (current) year that the ceremony airs or the (previous) year that the nominated films are from, which only becomes more confusing as we proceed on into this continuing business of many of the nominees not coming out beyond NY or LA qualifying runs until February or later. Instead, this year's added frustration is about a lack of obvious "villains" - as ever, there are plenty of snubs to be bitter over, but not a lot of obviously "bad" calls to redirect that bitterness onto.

Well, almost none. Pretty-much every nomination for THE DANISH GIRL could be handily scrubbed, and the Acting noms are overstuffed with "Award Fave" names turning in middling work (Cranston, Fassbender) - which is puzzling, since everyone is so sure DiCaprio is finally going to win (Christian Bale "Dude, here you go - now dial it back, we'd like you to make it to middle-age!"-style) they could've easily packed some more interesting choices in around him just for show. Meanwhile, Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett wound up with the Best/Best-Supporting split for CAROL, which will now accelerate the debate over what to do about nominations for romance movies where two partners have equal-scale roles in an era where we're only going to see more same-sex pairings; which is interesting because I have no idea what the solution is.

The elephant in the room will once again be a look of diversity in the major categories, though I'd (gently) offer that it's less of a surprise this year: Like it or not, The Academy was never going to nominate TANGERINE and Academy Boomers by and large likely looked STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON and wondered why they'd received a screener for something that looks/sounds to them indistinguishable from RIDE ALONG or a FRIDAY sequel - sucks, but there it is. BEASTS OF NO NATION wasn't going to get in because there's a substantial animus on the studio/producer side of the industry toward Netflix's potential negative impact on the theatre business. The "Great Brown Hope" for 2015 would've been CREED, and the studio never understood what they had with that movie until it was too late: They figured they had a "budget" answer to the STAR WARS/JURASSIC WORLD nostalgia-sequel trend at best, never once considering that Coogler and company were going to deliver one of the year's best films.


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

Sucks that CAROL isn't here, ROOM is overpraised, otherwise hard to be annoyed by any of this. BRIDGE OF SPIES will be retroactively declared the best movie of 2015 once people see it, a'la SHAWSHANK in '94. Glad to see two sci-fi movies make the cut, rooting for THE MARTIAN, won't be as annoyed as some others when it turns out to be SPOTLIGHT, worried that THE REVENANT will win because Innaritu's ego is quite big enough as it is, thank you.

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

DiCaprio is going to win, though he already should have for WOLF OF WALL STREET. This is probably the worst major category this year: Cranston and Fassbender were both middling to miscast and Redmayne continues his streak as the most overpraised flat-out bad actor working.

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

I feel like Stallone has this, "win for the career" style, even though he was legitimately excellent in CREED. But Rylance wowed everyone in BRIDGE and The Academy loves theatre mainstays who make late cinematic bows, plus BIG SHORT is the big out of nowhere Awards Circuit darling of the year and The Academy does love Christian Bale.

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

This feels like where Blanchett will win for CAROL being "snubbed" otherwise. Jennifer Lawrence (or at least her "people") are likely praying that she doesn't get it, with JOY being widely dismissed otherwise and the backlash-bomb primed and ready now that "My daughters really love Katniss" isn't going to be there to absorb it anymore.

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

I feel like this is going to Vikander. The movie is bad, but she's good in it and (more germane to the discussion, sadly) she's the current-model "smokin' hot chick who can actually act" for the Awards Circuit. My preference would be for Leigh to take it, both as HATEFUL EIGHT's only major representative and because if we're going to hand DiCaprio an Oscar for having a rough shoot on REVENANT an actress who also spent most of a Western being cold, blood-drench and beaten-up.

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

It's bullshit that Ridley Scott isn't here (to say nothing of Spielberg!), but that's what happens when A.) everyone already knows you're great and B.) you opt to not actually DO anything great for almost a decade. Miller is the sentimental favorite here, but I'm feeling like this is going to McKay. BIG SHORT has been really well-recieved and he in particular is a popular, well-liked figure in the industry for awhile now. Just please, please not Inarritu again - and I liked the movie, too!

The Hateful Eight
The Revenant
Mad Max: Fury Road

Should be MAD MAX, will probably be REVENANT, HATEFUL could sneak in because fellow DPs adore the 70mm revival. Honestly they're all worthy choices here, not a bad pick in the bunch.

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

MAD MAX should take this one walking away, but I have a suspicion that STAR WARS is going to roll right over all the technical categories.

The Big Short
The Martian

Tough one. Had been feeling like this is where CAROL would get it's "sorry for no best picture" heat, but The Academy clearly really, really loves THE BIG SHORT.

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Straight Outta Compton

SPOTLIGHT will take this one. Would prefer BRIDGE OF SPIES.

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

Good lineup. I honestly, at this point, think INSIDE OUT is actually marginally better overally than ANOMALISA, but I think ANOMALISA will win based on animation folks loving the idea of the medium getting to bask in Kaufman's "grownup indie" cred - plus the movie is really good.

The Academy Awards will be take place February 28, 2016.