Monday, 29 February 2016

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.


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