2016 Oscars Nominations and Predictions

The long movie awards season is finally coming to an end with the Oscars tonight. It’s been an interesting awards season to say the least. Usually by now, after all the critics and guild awards, you pretty much know who’s going to win at the Oscars. But this year, there’s a lot that is up in the air (except for two, that are 95% sure things) and that’s pretty exciting…or as exciting as an Oscar show can be.

BEST PICTURE

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

Before the nominations were announced, I had already seen 6 of the 8 films nominated, so I was so happy to be ahead of the game this year. It’s been a really strong year for movies, but I can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am that even with the possibility of 10 nominated films, there were a number of REALLY GREAT movies (and actors) that got snubbed. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy is so disheartening and really deserves its own post, so I’m not going to dwell on it here.

Focusing on the nominees at hand, it really is the most exciting Best Picture race in years. We’ve had years where one movie leads the pack throughout the entire awards season making things rather anti-climactic come Oscar night. Most years we have two movies (maayyybe three) that go back and forth in the standings. This year, we’ve got four solid front-runners, with a couple underdogs. My personal pick to win is Spotlight and its got a SAG Award win for Best Ensemble behind it, among other accolades. Like the journalists at the center of the story, Spotlight was about the facts, it was to the point, no frills, effective and emotional. I had an innate feeling that this movie was going to be special before I saw it; I only wish I had gotten to see it sooner when it premiered at TIFF. Now I understand the appeal of the three other front-runners with big guild and critics wins. The Big Short, which won the Producers’ Guild, is without a doubt a really good movie, that makes a boring topic entertaining. The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, even with all their technical accomplishments, are just movies I can’t get behind and they just weren’t movies I was into. On the other hand, Brooklyn, The Martian and Room were all movies I loved, all for different reasons; but of those three, I believe Room has the better chance of rising beyond its underdog status in the category. Bridge of Spies, though a very solid movie in the very classic sense, may be a little too old school in its way to make much impact.

BEST ACTOR

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

One of the surest bets of this awards season is that Leonardo DiCaprio will undoubtedly win his first Oscar. Though I admire his performance in the movie, I don’t think it’s anywhere close to being his best, but he’s overdue for a win, so all the signs lead to Leo. I unfortunately haven’t seen Trumbo, so I can’t comment on Bryan Cranston’s performance. Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender were really wonderful in their films. Eddie Redmayne, once again got a transformative role, that is pure Oscar-bait, but back-to-back wins seems unlikely (even though there is precedent, but come on…)

BEST ACTRESS

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

For a while, the race seemed to be between Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, and in my mind, it still is, namely because I can’t decide who I want to see win. Both actresses gave incredible performances that made me cry, and I’m not usually one who cries watching movies and shows. But as the season went on, it’s looking more and more like this is Larson’s to lose. That’s not to say Cate Blanchett wasn’t fabulous as usual in Carol. Same goes with Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, even though it really bothered me that she was supposed to be playing someone way older than she actually is (though that’s more of a movie issue than a J.Law issue). And then there’s Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, which I didn’t see.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

A case can be made for any of the actors nominated here, though in such a competitive category, there could’ve been an entirely different list of nominees and it still would’ve been amazing. Early on in the season, Mark Rylance was looking like the frontrunner, but that was before Creed came into play and Sylvester Stallone is now looking like the sentimental favourite. I would love to see Mark Ruffalo win, not just because of my love for Spotlight, but because I think Ruffalo doesn’t get enough recognition for all his work and he really deserves it here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

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

“Category fraud” aside, I want Alicia Vikander to win. She was just incredibly fantastic in The Danish Girl (not to mention Ex Machina) and she’s just going to be such a huge star going forward. Jennifer Jason Leigh is surprisingly a first-time Oscar nominee, but again, I haven’t watched Hateful Eight so I can’t comment. Kate Winslet is great as usual in Steve Jobs, but she’s already a winner. I hate to count out my Canadian girl Rachel McAdams, whom I love in just about every movie she’s done, but I think she’ll win only if there’s an overwhelming love for Spotlight; her day will come eventually. Rooney Mara did some incredible work herself in Carol, working alongside Cate Blanchett, and she’s the one that’ll give Vikander a run for the Oscar win.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Lenny Abrahamson, Room
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  • Adam McKay, The Big Short
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

I think one of the most surprising things about this list of nominees is that Ridley Scott was left off of it, for his great work on The Martian. I was among the many who thought he was a lock for a nomination and even possibly a win. With the omission of Scott, the odds on favourite to win is George Miller, which would be a well-deserved win for the Hollywood vet but first-time nominee. Like I said before, I wasn’t really into Mad Max, but you can’t argue with the creativity involved in creating that universe on screen. If Miller doesn’t win, some are saying that overwhelming support for The Revenant could get Inarritu a back-to-back win in the category.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Ex Machina – Alex Garland
  • Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmen
  • Spotlight – Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
  • Straight Outta Compton – Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus

Well, two of these five screenplays are nominated for the big prize, so odds are it’s going to come down to Spotlight or Bridge of Spies, with Spotlight ultimately taking it. It should be noted however, that the three other screenplays in contention should also have been nominated for Best Picture because they were all amazing and inventive in their own ways. Ex Machina is such a simple thriller in concept, but a whole new take on the genre in execution. Pixar continues with its tradition of making grown adults cry with Inside Out, and honestly how can you fault them for that? Then there’s Straight Outta Compton, a biopic done right that shines a light on one of the defining rap groups of all-time.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • The Big Short – Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
  • Brooklyn – Nick Hornby
  • Carol – Phyllis Nagy
  • The Martian – Drew Goddard
  • Room – Emma Donoghue

I used to make an effort to read the books that a lot of movies are based on, but in recent years, I just haven’t had the time. Because of its seeming front-runner status, The Big Short is the favourite to win here, for turning a dull (but relevant) topic such as the financial crisis, and making an entertaining film. I do think there’s something to be said about an author adapting her own novel into a movie screenplay and succeeding, as Emma Donoghue has done with Room.

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2016 Grammy Nominations & Predictions

For some, the Grammy Awards are just another awards show. However, it’s the biggest music award in the business. Say what you will, but the Grammys still hold more weight than say an MTV award. Now for all that the Grammy Awards get right in the nominations, there’s still a lot that I have issues with. I probably should’ve done this analysis when the nominations were announced, but hey, now I get to make my predictions (or alternatively, what I WANT to happen).

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
  • Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Taylor Swift, 1989
  • The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

The only album I’ve actually listened to of the bunch is Beauty Behind the Madness, and as much as I like it, I don’t think it’s AOTY. I feel like it’s probably going to end up being 1989, which honestly Taylor Swift annoys me so I’d rather not have it win.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Really Love
  • Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk
  • Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud
  • Taylor Swift, Blank Space
  • The Weeknd, Can’t Feel My Face

“Uptown Funk” deserves the win, hands down. One year later and I’m still not tired of hearing it. That’s saying something.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • “Alright” (Kendrick Lamar)
  • “Blank Space” (Taylor Swift)
  • “Girl Crush” (Little Big Town)
  • “See You Again” (Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth)
  • “Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran)

Remember, this category awards the songwriters. I’d like to see Little Big Town win it here because “Girl Crush” is just such a musically bare but well-written track. Although “Thinking Out Loud” sort of falls in the same category, the fact that it became so overplayed is causing me bias. So ideally, “Girl Crush” wins for me. If not, I’d say “See You Again” should win; you can’t help but get a little emotional when you hear it because you know what it stands for.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Courtney Barnett
  • James Bay
  • Sam Hunt
  • Tori Kelly
  • Meghan Trainor

I’m happy to say there’s no “WHO ARE YOU?” in the category. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to Courtney Barnett’s music, but I had heard her name prior to her nomination, so there’s that. Now there’s something about this category this year that makes me feel like it is drastically different from recent years. You look at last year’s nominees  and really, you just knew Sam Smith was going to win. In 2014, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won, but it could have been Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, or Kacey Musgraves; however, it didn’t really matter to me who won. Same goes with 2013 when Fun won. This year, maybe it’s because I have two artists I absolutely love nominated, which means I will be super happy if either James Bay or Tori Kelly win. I’ve been going back and forth about this, but ideally I think I want Tori to win, with James winning for his other categories – that way it spreads the love and recognition!

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • Kelly Clarkson, Heartbeat Song
  • Ellie Goulding, Love Me Like You Do
  • Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud
  • Taylor Swift, Blank Space
  • The Weeknd, Can’t Feel My Face

Do you even have to ask? I want Kelly Clarkson to win, duh! Second choice would be The Weeknd.

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Florence + The Machine, Ship to Wreck
  • Maroon 5, Sugar
  • Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk
  • Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar, Bad Blood
  • Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth, See You Again

This is the one category where I’m really conflicted. First choice is Maroon 5, obviously, because I’m forever a M5 fan. I love “Sugar” so frickin’ much and it just always instantly puts a smile on my face when I hear it. “Uptown Funk” is second, because like I said before, it’s still a great song to listen to. “See You Again” is my third because again, still a great song but miscategorized – should’ve been in Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. “Ship to Wreck” really has no faults, I just haven’t listened to it enough. And then “Bad Blood” is just whatever.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Kelly Clarkson, Piece by Piece
  • Florence + The Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
  • James Taylor, Before This World
  • Mark Ronson, Uptown Special
  • Taylor Swift, 1989

Odds are 1989 takes it (*groan*). Ideally, Piece by Piece wins. I however, wouldn’t be surprised if James Taylor ends up winning because the Grammys can still surprise sometimes.

BEST ROCK SONG

  • “Don’t Wanna Fight” (Alabama Shakes)
  • “Ex’s & Oh’s” (Elle King)
  • “Hold Back the River” (James Bay)
  • “Lydia” (Highly Suspect)
  • “What Kind of Man” (Florence + The Machine)

Like SOTY, this awards the songwriters (now that I think of it, I’m surprised there isn’t a Pop category equivalent). I don’t know who Highly Suspect are and I don’t listen to Alabama Shakes, which leaves Elle King, James Bay, and Florence. And as stated above, I want James to win, not that there’s anything wrong with the other two, just preference.

BEST MUSICAL THEATER ALBUM

  • An American in Paris
  • Fun Home
  • Hamilton
  • The King and I
  • Something Rotten!

All well-deserved nominations, but let’s be real, Hamilton is TOTALLY winning this one. Not to mention, they get to perform during the telecast? Just give it to them already.

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • Empire: Season 1
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • Selma

As much as I love Pitch Perfect 2, I don’t think the soundtrack stacks up as well as the first movie. I say Empire takes it.

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Glory” from Selma
  • “Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “See You Again” from Furious 7
  • “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground

For the category to say Visual Media, I’ve noticed that there aren’t many nominations from TV. To consider, we have two songs from Fifty Shades of Grey nominated, but nothing from Empire. Not even “You’re So Beautiful”? Really? Lame. All for naught though, because I’m pretty sure “Glory” is going to win, with “See You Again” coming in as a close second.

Other Notable Nominations (or the other nominations that I care about):

  • James Bay’s Chaos and the Calm for Best Rock Album!
  • Amy Poehler is nominated in Best Spoken Word Album for the audiobook of Yes Please. In other words, I think Amy’s winning a Grammy before she wins an Emmy
  • Pentatonix is nominated again in the Best Arrangement category. This time, it’s for “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from their That’s Christmas to Me album.

To summarize this post, I want all my faves to win (duh) and I’d rather not see Taylor Swift win, even though she probably will. Also, so excited to see James Bay and Tori Kelly perform together during the show! AND, it’s too early to call but Adele is just going to win all the awards next year right? Like no question? 🙂

“Hey! I Know You From Somewhere!” – Before They Were Stars, Broadway Edition

I have been meaning to write up a post about this topic for a while. It pops up into my brain from time to time, but there’s usually not enough for me to actually write about (or my usual problem – TIME). So you know when you’re watching an old movie or TV show and then an actor pops up who you totally recognize now but obviously didn’t remember were in said movie/TV show? Like going back and watching Friends and realizing “Holy shit! That’s [insert actor’s name]!” I absolutely love it when that happens!

So anyways, I was putting some stuff away the other day and as I was putting away my program from seeing Cinderella the Musical, I decided to peruse the old programs and Playbills of shows I’ve seen over the years. Little did I realize some of the stars I had seen in person, before I knew who they actually were. Basically some discoveries were made (one big, several small discoveries) in a very short 5 minute time period.

WICKED (November 2006)

This was my first musical I had ever seen. I always liked the idea of musical theater (except as a kid when I was terrified of The Phantom of the Opera), but it’s not like I had much access to it. So much like concerts, I didn’t really enjoy the theater experience until my late teens. Moving the story forward, I went through the program for this touring production and saw that the name listed next to Glinda was…MEGAN HILTY! Obviously I knew Megan Hilty had a Broadway background prior to SMASH and indeed played Glinda on Broadway, but it never occurred to me that I actually saw her nearly 10 years ago in Toronto. Like, WHAT?! And this discovery made after I keep saying, “Man, I would kill to see Megan Hilty live!”? Kills me that I already have; I just didn’t know it!

Also, Adam Lambert was a part of this touring cast as part of the Ensemble/Fiyero Understudy! Again, I knew Wicked was in his background, pre-Idol, but I just never put the pieces together.

BURN THE FLOOR (April 2010)

Everyone knows I’m a huge dance fan, so when this show came to Toronto, I just HAD to go. Besides being just a dance fan in general, I was there for my SYTYCD’ers: Anya Garnis (!), Pasha Kovalev (!!), Artem Chigvintsev, Karen Hauer, and Ashleigh & Ryan Di Lello. But going through the program now and seeing the likes of Sharna Burgess, Emma Slater and Sasha Farber from DWTS in there? Go figure! I knew a lot of past and present DWTS pros have done BTF, so it’s not like I was completely surprised, but it was just cool.

AMERICAN IDIOT (December 2010)

I actually saw this show in New York. It wasn’t at the top of my list of shows to see on this trip, but it was the only one my sister and I could convince my bro-in-law to go see. I had heard great things about the show but I didn’t pay attention to who was actually in it because I knew that I didn’t know anyone at the time. Cut to five years later and realizing John Gallagher Jr. (from The Newsroom) was in the show, as well as Stark Sands (the recent Minority Report), and Tony Vincent (Season 2 of The Voice).

SPRING AWAKENING (March 2009)

So here’s my story about Spring Awakening. Just like everybody else, I had heard that this was an amazing show and so I HAD to see it when the touring production came through Toronto. I was even more excited about the show because I knew Steffi D (a former Canadian Idol contestant) was part of the cast, as well as (most importantly), Kyle Riabko, a singer-songwriter/actor whom I absolutely love. Imagine my complete disappointment when I got there and got the paper slip in the program saying that Kyle wasn’t performing that day and that the role of Melchior was going to be played by Matt Doyle. [Sidenote: Matt Doyle, if you don’t know, played Jonathan, Eric’s boyfriend on Gossip Girl. It was subsequently funny watching GG and then continuously referring to him as Melchior]. Anyways, that disappointment aside, I didn’t realize that I actually got to see yet another future SMASH alum, Andy Mientus as Hanschen.

[Seriously though, SMASH for all its crazy and kind of terrible-ness, really featured an amazingly talented cast.]