Skip to main content

Oh sure, now you like him!

Prediction - 2016 Oscars


To best my rather pitiful 2015 tally I need guess just over half of the 88th Academy Awards’ winners correctly. The recent Critic’s Choice Awards mirrored some of my expectations, particularly in respect of the seeing Mad Max: Fury Road is this year’s The Matrix in terms of picking up a string of awards in the technical categories (The Matrix took four, only beaten by American Beauty with five) and probably ending up the biggest winner in terms of numbers.

This year has been instantly red-flagged as evidence of the lack of diversity in Academy nominations. Whether any of the suggested African-American nominees deserved a spot (Straight Outta Compton, Creed, The Hateful Eight, Concussion and Beasts of No Nation have all been cited as unjust exclusions, although the latter is pointedly both the most worthy and most likely to have been ignored due to it’s Netflix credentials) is debatable, but the same might be said annually for any number of different dubious nods. Spike Lee sized things up when he pointed the finger at the studios and networks, deciding what gets made and what doesn’t, rather than awards ceremonies in particular. The header quote comes from last year’s ceremony, Neil Patrick Harris’ quip in response to applause for David Oyelowo, who was conspicuously absent from the Best Actor nominations.

As usual, things can change dramatically in terms of the most favoured during the last month before the awards. It’s almost as if fatigue with the frontrunners sets in – all that hype – and a dark horse is needed to shake things up.  Looking at Variety’s predictions, I see mine are mostly the same in the major categories, so it would be an apt awards for something to go awry. Whatever happens, it will be a surprise at this point if Fury Road doesn’t garner at least half a dozen statuettes.

Best Picture

Winner: Spotlight
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

The “not a hope” nominations this year are Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn and Room, although for the latter two just the nod is enough. The outsider that could (feasibly) gain a late surge is The Martian, but I don’t think it will. That leaves four. While Mad Max: Fury Road has been making gains (notably the London Critics’ Circle), I’m not sure the Academy will be as daring as to go in that direction. If it wasn’t for Birdman last year, I might be betting on The Revenant, but, besides being another Alejandro González Iñárritu entry and a certain vocal faction declaiming it (including myself, to a point), I think it has a quality that is just a bit too awards-worthy. The Big Short and Spotlight are both being lauded for their takes on big headline stories of recent history, one a comedy, the other deadly serious. I think Spotlight has the edge at this point.

Best Director

Winner: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: George Miller

I’d be very surprised if Adam McKay or Lenny Abrahamson (despite the latter’s undoubted chops) went home with a statue. Iñárritu again? He isn’t Tom Hanks, so I’m not sure he musters that kind of boundless love. And Spotlight seems exactly the kind of movie to win Best Picture but not take Best Director. So I’m going with George Miller, which in itself would be recognition enough for Fury Road’s genius.

Best Actor

Winner: Leonard DiCaprio (The Revenant)
I’d like to win: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Redmayne certainly isn’t Tom Hanks, and a vocal faction aren’t saying terribly nice things about his transgender performance anyway. Matt Damon did well just to get in there, and I don’t think Bryan Cranston has the big screen love yet. That leaves Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Leo’s been missed so many times it’s becoming a Pacino/Scorsese thing, so I suspect he will grab it, even though he should really have won for The Wolf of Wall Street a few years back.

Best Actress

Winner: Brie Larson (Room)
I’d like to win: Brie Larson

Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence are over-exposed for awards, and Joy in particular hasn’t elicited a lot of it. Saoirse Ronan has plenty of time to nab her Best Actress, and Charlotte Rampling might foreseeably have gained favour (for, unbelievably, her first nomination) if not for her pronouncements and backtracking on the Oscar whitewashing furore. Essentially, though, Brie Larson rightly has all the love going her way this year.

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
I’d like to win: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Christian Bale and Tom Hardy are just filling out the numbers here, while Mark Ruffalo, as part of an ensemble (Spotlight), seems like a stretch. Rylance is fantastic, of course, but Stallone’s already got it sat on the mantelpiece, really. It’s a formality, whether he deserves it or not.

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Rooney Mara (Carol)
I’d like to win: Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Possibly the most open of the big categories, but Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams aren’t in serious contention. If the Oscars were looking for career awards, Leigh might get it, but in the same year Sly is getting his career award (also, Tarantino's a wee-bit out of favour this year)? Between Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander, a lot of the money is on Vikander, but I’m tipping the former.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short)
I’d like to win: Emma Donoghue (Room)

With Room, I’m expecting Best Actress to be one and done, Brooklyn and The Martian may well go away empty handed, and Carol is respected but… The Big Short tackles recent history in accessible and redolent way, and may well be rewarded for that (even if it isn’t the actual best adapted screenplay).

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight)
I’d like to win: Spotlight

Spotlight seems like the only likely winner here, even if it doesn’t get Best Picture (or maybe especially if it doesn’t), conjuring memories of the greatness of All the President’s Men (which Stallone robbed of Best Picture). Ex Machina, much loved but way overrated, got nominated and that’s sufficient, Inside Out will take Best Animated Feature, and that’s sufficient, Straight Outta Compton winning would be adding insult to injury (the white screenwriters taking the plaudits) and Bridge of Spies is decent but no one’s calling the work on it Oscar-worthy.

Best Animated Feature

Winner: Inside Out
I’d like to win: Anomalisa

Some makers of animated movies are virtually guaranteed a Best Animated Feature nomination; Aardman (Shaun the Sheep), Studio Ghibli (When Marnie Was There), Pixar (provided it isn’t The Good Dinosaur). That leaves other crowd pleasers or more experimental/acclaimed fare to fill in the gaps. This year there’s Brazilian feature Boy and the World and acclaimed Anamolisa, from Charlie Kaufman. In any other year, Kaufman would probably bag it, but Inside Out is just too damn popular.

Best Documentary Feature

Winner: Amy
I’d like to win: pass

I wasn’t such a fan of Amy, but it seems to have the throng behind it (see Inside Out above for the animation side of that). I suspect The Look of Silence, revered as it is, will be seen as too close to Joshua Oppenheimer’s previous The Act of Killing (it’s a sort-of sequel, so that’s sort-of understandable). Cartel Land, the grounded side of Sicario’s fantasy land exploration of the fight against Mexican drug cartels, might have an outside chance. What Happened, Miss Simone? furnishes another singer documentary, but unlikely to edge Amy, while Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom might be seen as the latest Oscar nom fulfilling the ceremony’s duty to put the boot in against Putin (see Leviathan last year).

Best Foreign Language Film

Winner: Son of Saul
I’d like to win: pass

The Medicine Man-esque Embrace of the Serpent (from Colombia) represents the eco-nom, Mustang (France) explores the effect of a conservative environment on five Turkish sisters (the religious repression nom), Theeb (Jordan) a “Bedouin western”, has won a raft of awards already (the Bedouin western nom), Danish A War takes a non-Hollywood approach to the Afghanistan conflict (the anti-war nom). But Son of Saul (Hungary) is the clear frontrunner, critically lauded, doused with awards, and – the Academy’s favourite – it’s a holocaust drama.

Best Cinematography

Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
I’d like to win: John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road)

If previous recognition meant the ungarlanded were due, this would be between Ed Lachman (previously nominated for Far from Heaven) and Roger Deakins (previously nominated 12 times!) The latter’s work on Sicario is easily the best thing about it, but I don’t think he’s going to be lucky 13. John Seale won for The English Patient, and good as Fury Road is, it’s very evidently a post-graded beast in parts. Richardson has three previous wins, while Lubeski won the last two years; that might seem to count him out, but I think he takes it again, because voters would probably get behind the whole hat trick thing and there’s the lustre of “all shot in natural light”.

Best Costume Design

Winner: Sandy Powell (Cinderella)
I’d like to win: Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Fury Road is the most creative work (Beaven previously won for Room with a View); against that is period (Carol, The Danish Girl, The Revenant) and high gloss period fantasy chic; Cinderella looks most expensive, so could be rewarded in those terms. The Academy likes its shiny baubles. Powell has three previous Oscars, and is competing against herself with Carol, but I don’t expect that to count against her.

Best Documentary Short

Winner: Last Day of Freedom
I’d like to win: pass

Red Cross workers in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak (Body Team 12), the health effects on an aspiring artist of spraying of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War (Chau, Beyond the Lines), a documentary about a documentarian (Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah – possibly too indulgent even for the Oscars, if not for the holocaust connection), an 18-year-old girl who survives an honour killing in Pakistan (A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness) and a death penalty piece that takes in themes of mental health and racism. If Son of Saul wins, Spectres of Shoah probably won’t; I suspect A Girl in the River or Last Day of Freedom will take it, and the latter might play into guilt over the whole whitewashing thing.

Best Film Editing

Winner: Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

A rash of first time nominees here, barring Stephen Mirrione for The Revenant (he previously won for Traffic). The editing of Fury Road is stupendous, and it would be patently ridiculous not to recognise it.

Best Make-up and Hairstyling

Winner: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

More first-timers. The Revenant does well in the seamless sense, while The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared does contrastingly really poorly. Fury Road is a cacophony of great make-up, though.

Best Original Score

Winner: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)
I’d like to win: Ennio Morricone

I’d be surprised if Thomas Newman or John Williams (a very tepid score from the once vibrant codger) had a chance, but they’ve got this far. Morricone ought to receive his lifetime statuette, one long overdue. Johan Johannsson’s Sicario score is very good (actually, everything about that film is very good, apart from the screenplay) and Carter Burwell rarely comes up short, but Morricone deserves this one for an immense body of work.

Best Original Song

Winner: Til It Happens To You by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren (The Hunting Ground)
I’d like to win: Til It Happens To You

Songs from Fifty Shades of Grey, Racing Extinction (otherwise non-nominated eco doc), Youth, The Hunting Ground and Spectre. The Fifty Shades and Spectre tracks are the height of bland, competing against achingly sincere (Racing), operatic gymnastics (Youth) and Lady Gaga. Well, Gaga’s the easy pick; it’s another slow one (they’re all slow ones), but the most memorable of a fairly mediocre bunch.

Best Production Design

Winner: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Everything here, pretty much, has a chance, but Fury Road is a real triumph of world building. Failing that, The Revenant is a possible, but this might also be where The Martian or Bridge of Spies get recognised, if they do anywhere.

Best Animated Short

Winner: Prologue
I’d like to win: World of Tomorrow

Bear Story is a more stylised Toy Story take, Prologue, a Spartan vs Athenian tale, comes from the great Richard Williams (with wife Imogen Sutton), Sanjay’s Super Team is the inevitable Pixar nomination, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos gives us Cosmonaut dreams of conquest, and World of Tomorrow sounds twee (a girl is given a tour of the future) but it’s pretty out there, man (and thankfully not at all like Tomorrowland). It’ll be pretty obvious if Pixar or the bears take it, so I’m guessing the Williams-recognition factor might hold some sway.

Best Live Action Short

Winner: Ave Maria
I’d like to win: pass

Shok (based on a true story, the friendship of two boys in war-torn Kosovo), Ave Maria (five nuns in the West Bank are challenged by a vow of silence when a family of Israeli settlers’ car breaks down outside their convent), Day One (an Afghan-American female interpreter in Afghanistan), Everything Will Be Okay (a child caught in a divorce struggle), Stutterer (online relationship guy must reveal his verbal affliction when meeting his love). There’s a tendency in this category to go for light-hearted winners. Having said that, this year will probably prove me wrong.

Best Sound Editing

Winner: Mark A Mangini and David Whie (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road, although in another year, this would probably be where Star Wars was a shoe-in (it’s like The Matrix and Star Wars in 1999 all over again).

Best Sound Mixing

Winner: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road again, although it’s possible The Revenant could upset its sweep in this or the above category.

Best Visual Effects

Winner: Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Andy Williams and Tom Wood (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road


As with Sound, one might otherwise have expected Star Wars, but Fury Road does such a seamless, integrated job with its effects, it needs to be rewarded as a text book on how to do these things right.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

I don't like bugs. You can't hear them, you can't see them and you can't feel them, then suddenly you're dead.

Blake's 7 2.7: Killer

Robert Holmes’ first of four scripts for the series, and like last season’s Mission to Destiny there are some fairly atypical elements and attitudes to the main crew (although the A/B storylines present a familiar approach and each is fairly equal in importance for a change). It was filmed second, which makes it the most out of place episode in the run (and explains why the crew are wearing outfits – they must have put them in the wash – from a good few episodes past and why Blake’s hair has grown since last week).
The most obvious thing to note from Holmes’ approach is that he makes Blake a Doctor-substitute. Suddenly he’s full of smart suggestions and shrewd guesses about the threat that’s wiping out the base, basically leaving a top-level virologist looking clueless and indebted to his genius insights. If you can get past this (and it did have me groaning) there’s much enjoyment to be had from the episode, not least from the two main guest actors.

When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry we must always pay strict attention.

Twin Peaks 1.5: The One-Armed Man
With the waves left in Albert’s wake subsiding (Gordon Cole, like Albert, is first encountered on the phone, and Coop apologises to Truman over the trouble the insulting forensics expert has caused; ”Harry, the last thing I want you to worry about while I’m here is some city slicker I brought into your town relieving himself upstream”), the series steps down a register for the first time. This is a less essential episode than those previously, concentrating on establishing on-going character and plot interactions at the expense of the strange and unusual. As such, it sets the tone for the rest of this short first season.

The first of 10 episodes penned by Robert Engels (who would co-script Fire Walk with Me with Lynch, and then reunite with him for On the Air), this also sees the first “star” director on the show in the form of Tim Hunter. Hunter is a director (like Michael Lehman) who hit the ground running but whose subsequent career has rather disapp…

An initiative test. How simply marvellous!

You Must Be Joking! (1965)
A time before a Michael Winner film was a de facto cinematic blot on the landscape is now scarcely conceivable. His output, post- (or thereabouts) Death Wish (“a pleasant romp”) is so roundly derided that it’s easy to forget that the once-and-only dining columnist and raconteur was once a bright (well…) young thing of the ‘60s, riding the wave of excitement (most likely highly cynically) and innovation in British cinema. His best-known efforts from this period are a series of movies with Oliver Reed – including the one with the elephant – and tend to represent the director in his pleasant romp period, before he attacked genres with all the precision and artistic integrity of a blunt penknife. You Must Be Joking! comes from that era, its director’s ninth feature, straddling the gap between Ealing and the Swinging ‘60s; coarser, cruder comedies would soon become the order of the day, the mild ribaldry of Carry On pitching into bawdy flesh-fests. You Must Be Joki…

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

Luck isn’t a superpower... And it isn't cinematic!

Deadpool 2 (2018)
(SPOILERS) Perhaps it’s because I was lukewarm on the original, but Deadpool 2 mercifully disproves the typical consequence of the "more is more" approach to making a sequel. By rights, it should plummet into the pitfall of ever more excess to diminishing returns, yet for the most part it doesn't.  Maybe that’s in part due to it still being a relatively modest undertaking, budget-wise, and also a result of being very self-aware – like duh, you might say, that’s its raison d'être – of its own positioning and expectation as a sequel; it resolutely fails to teeter over the precipice of burn out or insufferable smugness. It helps that it's frequently very funny – for the most part not in the exhaustingly repetitive fashion of its predecessor – but I think the key ingredient is that it finds sufficient room in its mirthful melee for plot and character, in order to proffer tone and contrast.

Ain't nobody likes the Middle East, buddy. There's nothing here to like.

Body of Lies (2008)
(SPOILERS) Sir Ridders stubs out his cigar in the CIA-assisted War on Terror, with predictably gormless results. Body of Lies' one saving grace is that it wasn't a hit, although that more reflects its membership of a burgeoning club where no degree of Hollywood propaganda on the "just fight" (with just a smidgeon enough doubt cast to make it seem balanced at a sideways glance) was persuading the public that they wanted the official fiction further fictionalised.

Well, who’s going to monitor the monitors of the monitors?

Enemy of the State (1998)
Enemy of the State is something of an anomaly; a quality conspiracy thriller borne not from any distinct political sensibility on the part of its makers but simple commercial instincts. Of course, the genre has proved highly successful over the years so it's easy to see why big name producers like Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson would have chased that particular gravy boat. Yet they did so for some time without success; by the time the movie was made, Simpson had passed away and Bruckheimer was flying solo. It might be the only major film in the latter's career that, despite the prerequisite gloss and stylish packaging, has something to say. More significant still, 15 years too late, the film's warnings are finally receiving recognition in the light of the Edward Snowden revelations.

In a piece for The Guardian earlier this year, John Patterson levelled the charge that Enemy was one of a number of Hollywood movies that have “been softening us up f…

Like an antelope in the headlights.

Black Panther (2018)
(SPOILERS) Like last year’s Wonder Woman, the hype for what it represents has quickly become conflated with Black Panther’s perceived quality. Can 92% and 97% of critics respectively really not be wrong, per Rotten Tomatoes, or are they – Armond White aside – afraid that finding fault in either will make open them to charges of being politically regressive, insufficiently woke or all-round, ever-so-slightly objectionable? As with Wonder Woman, Black Panther’s very existence means something special, but little about the movie itself actually is. Not the acting, not the directing, and definitely not the over-emphatic, laboured screenplay. As such, the picture is a passable two-plus hours’ entertainment, but under-finessed enough that one could easily mistake it for an early entry in the Marvel cycle, rather than arriving when they’re hard-pressed to put a serious foot wrong.