Skip to main content

What another lovely day.

Oscar Winners 2016


 So said costume designer Jenny (Beaven), quite a declaration since she presumably had to sit through the entire three-and-a-half-hour ceremony.

By most accounts, Chris Rock acquitted himself reasonably well, defusing the controversy over the whiteness of the nominations with some well-aimed quips, from the introductory “Well, I’m here at the Academy Awards. Otherwise known as The White People’s Choice Awards” to his reason for not boycotting the show (“I didn’t want to lose another role to Kevin Hart”) to the widespread indifference to Mrs Will Smith’s non-show (“Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rhiana’s panties… I wasn’t invited”; a risqué one, that) to drawing comparison to the ‘60s, when there were real things to protest, with African Americans “too busy being raped and lynched to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short”. Then there was his suggestion that the in memorium would be dedicated to “black people shot by the cops on their way to the movies”. I particularly liked the response to his straw polling footage of African American audiences outside a cinema. When an interviewee’s favourite white movie of the year was revealed as “By the Sea with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie”, Rock quipped “Wow. Even they wouldn’t say that”.

As for the trivial matter of the victors themselves, there were a few upsets, but in the case of Spotlight, an early frontrunner, the thing about making (relatively) early predictions is that like Carly Simon, sometimes they’re coming around again; The Revenant had only become a serious tip over the last month. As expected, Fury Road went home with the most awards (half a dozen), and I did indeed come up with better guesses than in 2015 (I got about 60% right this time, as opposed to only half then). So I guess I’ll just keep on guessing.

Best Picture
Winner: Spotlight
I guessed: Spotlight

It’s quite heartening to see a film take the top award with only one other win (Original Screenplay). This is the first time it’s happened since 1952 (The Greatest Show on Earth); conversely it’s relatively rare that a near sweep feels deserved. Spotlight’s a solid, respectable choice for the top prize, far preferable to the overhyped The Revenant. As to whether Pope Francis will rise to Tom McCarthy’s challenge “to protect children and restore faith”, I wonder how many priests would be left standing if he actually did clean papal house.

Best Director
Winner: Alejandro González Iñárritu Again (The Revenant)
I guessed: George Miller (Fury Road)

My biggest case of wishful thinking was Miller being recognised. It was indeed Iñárritu again, the first back-to-back director win since the ‘40s (John Ford and Joseph L Mankiewicz took them at opposite ends of the decade). There’s no doubting Iñárritu’s filmmaking achievement, so one can’t really feel anyone was unfairly slighted, it’s just a shame he didn’t make a better movie.

Best Actor
Winner: Leonard DiCaprio (The Revenant)
I guessed: Leonard DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Well that was a no-brainer. Leo goes home happy, fifth time lucky, 22 years after he first missed out on an acting Oscar. Which, given how Pacino was known for being forever snubbed, is a significant stretch (it was only 20 for Al). Leo informed us that climate change is real, so he didn’t waste his time on the podium.

Best Actress
Winner: Brie Larson (Room)
I guessed: Brie Larson (Room)

Another no-brainer.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
I guessed: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

This was the real upset. I was rooting for Rylance to win, so I’m happy, but it’s interesting to see the way the Academy is or isn’t touched by nostalgia or career-achievement awards. Perhaps the weight of Stallone’s actorly transgressions were deemed unforgivable when it came to the crunch. It’s this kind of twist that at least evidences occasional life in a ceremony coming at the end of an all-played-out awards season.

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
I guessed: Rooney Mara (Carol)

I was foolhardy here, as the smart money was always on Vikander. But then, it was always on Stallone too.  

Best Adapted Screenplay
Winner: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short)
I guessed: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short)

It had been Spotlight and The Big Short all the way through the season, so it wasn’t seriously going to change at this point. I’m a bit confused by McKay’s invitation to the Academy that they “Don’t vote for candidates that take money from big banks, or oil, or weirdo billionaires”. So… Does that leave anyone, then? Unless he was being ironic. He had just thanked Paramount, after all.

Best Original Screenplay
Winner: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight)
I guessed: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight)

Similarly earnest sentiments were expressed by McCarthy, stressing the importance of the dying discipline of investigative journalism; Spotlight was made “for all the journalists who have and continue to hold the powerful accountable”. Which doesn’t mean there’s going to be an Oscars-nourished exposé of Hollywood corruption any time soon.

Best Animated Feature
Winner: Inside Out
I guessed: Inside Out

Pixar’s eighth animated feature win, although their non-noms have become more common in recent years.

Best Documentary Feature
Winner: Amy
I guessed: Amy

Some suggested Cartel Land might stage a late in the game supplanting, but like Animated Feature, and Foreign Language Film, there was never much doubt here.

Best Foreign Language Film
Winner: Son of Saul
I guessed: Son of Saul

See Documentary Feature above.

Best Cinematography
Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
I guessed: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)

Lubezki makes history with three back-to-back cinematography wins. And you can’t argue with his quality of work on the picture, easily its most impressive aspect.


Best Costume Design
Winner: Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I guessed: Sandy Powell (Cinderella)

While I rooted for Fury Road, I expected Cinders to go to the ball.

Best Documentary Short
Winner: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
I guessed: Last Day of Freedom

I was split on A Girl in the River or Last Day of Freedom being most likely; I picked wrong.

Best Film Editing
Winner: Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I guessed: Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Highly deserved, and contributing to the most awards Australia has garnered from the Academy (besting Braveheart and Babe)

Best Make-up and Hairstyling
Winner: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I guessed: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Again, richly deserved.

Best Original Score
Winner: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)
I guessed: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)

Morricone has delivered better unsung work, but this award is about half a century overdue, so the standing ovation was definitely warranted.

Best Original Song
Winner: Writing’s On The Wall (Spectre)
I guessed: Til It Happens To You (The Hunting Ground)

WTF? Did anyone really thing the Spectre song was good? Or even half decent? The most baffling award of the evening.

Best Production Design
Winner: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I guessed: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson (Mad Max: Fury Road)

More lovely prizes for lovely Fury Road.

Best Animated Short
Winner: Bear Story
I guessed: World of Tomorrow

They picked the cosy choice rather than the audacious one, as per the Animated Feature category.

Best Live Action Short
Winner: Stutterer
I’d like to win: Ave Maria

Well, I was right when I noted “There’s a tendency in this category to go for light-hearted winners”. I just singled out the wrong light-hearted winner.

Best Sound Editing
Winner: Mark A Mangini and David Whie (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I guessed: Mark A Mangini and David Whie (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Sound Mixing
Winner: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I guessed: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Visual Effects
Winner: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sarah Bennett (Ex Machina)
I guessed: Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Andy Williams and Tom Wood (Mad Max: Fury Road)


C3P0, R2-D2 BB8 may have presented it but, like Supporting Actor and Best Song, Visual Effects confounded popular opinion. Ex Machina went the reverse route of the more in-your-face spectacle of Fury Road and Star Wars, and on this occasion seamless surprisingly paid off.


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…

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.

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.

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.