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

So you made contact with the French operative?

Atomic Blonde (2017)
(SPOILERS) Well, I can certainly see why Focus Features opted to change the title from The Coldest City (the name of the graphic novel from which this is adapted). The Coldest City evokes a nourish, dour, subdued tone, a movie of slow-burn intrigue in the vein of John Le Carré. Atomic Blonde, to paraphrase its introductory text, is not that movie. As such, there’s something of a mismatch here, of the kind of Cold War tale it has its roots in and the furious, pop-soaked action spectacle director David Leitch is intent on turning it into. In the main, his choices succeed, but the result isn’t quite the clean getaway of his earlier (co-directed) John Wick.

Poor Easy Breezy.

Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood (2019)
(SPOILERS) My initial reaction to Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood was mild disbelief that Tarantino managed to hoodwink studios into coming begging to make it, so wilfully perverse is it in disregarding any standard expectations of narrative or plotting. Then I remembered that studios, or studios that aren’t Disney, are desperate for product, and more especially, product that might guarantee them a hit. Quentin’s latest appears to be that, but whether it’s a sufficient one to justify the expense of his absurd vanity project remains to be seen.

I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my "back pain", Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine... Well, because it's awesome.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Along with Pain & Gain and The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street might be viewed as the completion of a loose 2013 trilogy on the subject of success and excess; the American Dream gone awry. It’s the superior picture to its fellows, by turns enthralling, absurd, outrageous and hilarious. This is the fieriest, most deliriously vibrant picture from the director since the millennium turned. Nevertheless, stood in the company of Goodfellas, the Martin Scorsese film from which The Wolf of Wall Street consciously takes many of its cues, it is found wanting.

I was vaguely familiar with the title, not because I knew much about Jordan Belfort but because the script had been in development for such a long time (Ridley Scott was attached at one time). So part of the pleasure of the film is discovering how widely the story diverges from the Wall Street template. “The Wolf of Wall Street” suggests one who towers over the city like a behemoth, rather than a guy …

I just hope my death makes more cents than my life.

Joker (2019)
(SPOILERS) So the murder sprees didn’t happen, and a thousand puff pieces desperate to fan the flames of such events and then told-ya-so have fallen flat on their faces. The biggest takeaway from Joker is not that the movie is an event, when once that seemed plausible but not a given, but that any mainstream press perspective on the picture appears unable to divorce its quality from its alleged or actual politics. Joker may be zeitgeisty, but isn’t another Taxi Driver in terms of cultural import, in the sense that Taxi Driver didn’t have a Taxi Driver in mind when Paul Schrader wrote it. It is, if you like, faux-incendiary, and can only ever play out on that level. It might be more accurately described as a grubbier, grimier (but still polished and glossy) The Talented Ripley, the tale of developing psychopathy, only tailored for a cinemagoing audience with few options left outside of comic book fare.

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 my hero and shit.

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (2019)
(SPOILERS) I was going to say I’d really like to see what Vince Gilligan has up his sleeve besidesBreaking Bad spinoffs. But then I saw that he had a short-lived series on CBS a few years back (Battle Creek). I guess things Breaking Bad-related ensure an easy greenlight, particularly from Netflix, for whom the original show was bread and butter in its take up as a streaming platform. There’s something slightly dispiriting about El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, though. Not that Gilligan felt the need to return to Jesse Pinkman – although the legitimacy of that motive is debatable – but the desire to re-enter and re-inhabit the period of the show itself, as if he’s unable to move on from a near-universally feted achievement and has to continually exhume it and pick it apart.

You ever heard the saying, “Don’t rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in three counties”?

2 Guns (2013)
(SPOILERS) Denzel Washington is such a reliable performer, that it can get a bit boring. You end up knowing every gesture or inflection in advance, whether he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy. And his films are generally at least half decent, so you end up seeing them. Even in Flight (or perhaps especially in Flight; just watch him chugging down that vodka) where he’s giving it his Oscar-nominatable best, he seems too familiar. I think it may be because he’s an actor who is more effective the less he does. In 2 Guns he’s not doing less, but sometimes it seems like it. That’s because the last person I’d ever expect blows him off the screen; Mark Wahlberg.

Who would want to be stuck in a dream for ten years?

Top 10 Films 2010-19
Now, you may glance down the following and blanche at its apparent Yankophile and populist tendencies. I wouldn’t seek to claim, however, that my tastes are particularly prone to treading on the coat tails of the highbrow. And there’s always the cahiers du cinema list if you want an appreciation of that ilk. As such, near misses for the decade, a decade that didn’t feature all that many features I’d rank as unqualified classics, included Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Tron: Legacy, The Tree of Life, The Guard and Edge of Tomorrow.

Don’t make me… hungry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m… hungry.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)
(SPOILERS) It’s fortunate the bookends of Marvel’s Phase One are so sturdy, as the intervening four movies simply aren’t that special. Mediocre might be too strong a word (although at least one qualifies for that status), but they amountto a series of at-best-serviceable vehicles for characters rendered on screen with varying degrees of nervousness and second guessing. They also underline that, through the choices of directors, no one was bigger than the franchise, and no one had more authority than supremo Kevin Feige. Which meant there was integrity of overall vision, but sometimes a paucity of it in cinematic terms. The Incredible Hulk arrived off the back of what many considered a creative failure and commercial disappointment from Ang Lee five years earlier yet managed on just about every level to prove itself Hulk’s inferior. A movie characterised by playing it safe, it’s now very much the unloved orphan of the MCU, with a lead actor recast and a main c…

The only things I care about in this goddamn life are me and my drums... and you.

Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)
(SPOILERS) The final entry in John Hughes’ teen cycle – after this he’d be away with the adults and moppets, and making an untold fortune from criminal slapstick – is also his most patently ridiculous, and I’m not forgetting Weird Science. Not because of its unconvincing class commentary, although that doesn’t help, but because only one of its teenage leads was under 25 when the movie came out, and none of them were Michael J Fox, 30-passing-for-15 types. That all counts towards its abundant charm, though; it’s almost as if Some Kind of Wonderful is intentionally coded towards the broader pool Hughes would subsequently plunge into (She’s Having a Baby was released the same year). Plus, its indie soundtrack is every bit as appealing as previous glories The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink.

Mention of the latter highlights Some Kind of Wonderful’s greatest boast; it’s a gender swapped Pretty in Pink, only this time Hughes (and his directing surrogate Howard…