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.
- The Big Short
- Bridge of Spies
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- The Martian
- The Revenant
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.
- 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…)
- 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.
- 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.