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.

Advertisements

TIFF 2015 Wrap-Up

DSCN2438

Another year of the Toronto International Film Festival has come and gone. Per usual, there were a lot of movies that I wanted to see but not enough time to see them. Also, with not actually living in Toronto, there’s really only so much time I can commit to the fest. However, I did manage to get in seven movies (beating my previous record of six) during the three days I did make it out.

My first day (Saturday) consisted of the premieres for About Ray and Maggie’s Plan. About Ray stars Elle Fanning as Ray, a transgender teen preparing to transition from a girl to a boy. The focus is rightly on Ray, but the film is also very much about Maggie, Ray’s mother (played by Naomi Watts), as she comes to terms with her past in order to give Ray the future he wants. As timely as the film is, I enjoyed the fact the movie wasn’t preachy as can sometimes happen given the subject matter. After a quick dinner break, it was time to line-up for my second movie of the night, Maggie’s Plan. In the six years that I’ve gone to the festival, the weather has always been decent. On this day, I got stuck in the pouring rain and it got increasingly cold and windy as we were waiting in line to get in (didn’t help either that the movie/post-Q&A was running long). Anyways, Maggie’s Plan (heh I just realized the coincidence between my two movies of the day) stars Greta Gerwig as the title character, who has decided to have a child via sperm donor Around the same time she meets John (Ethan Hawke) and ends up in an odd love triangle with him and his wife Georgette (Julianne Moore). It’s a rom-com, sort of in the vein of Woody Allen with all its quirks. Overall, just an okay movie for me, nothing spectacular. I do have to mention though that I’m incredibly proud of the fact that both movies are written and directed by females.

ABOUT RAY premiere (L-R): Susan Sarandon, Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts, director Gaby Dellal

ABOUT RAY premiere
(L-R): Susan Sarandon, Elle Fanning, Naomi Watts, director Gaby Dellal

MAGGIE'S PLAN premiere (L-R): Julianne Moore, Ethan Hawke, Greta Gerwig, writer-director Rebecca Miller

MAGGIE’S PLAN premiere
(L-R): Julianne Moore, Ethan Hawke, Greta Gerwig, writer-director Rebecca Miller

Sunday was another two premieres. The first was Desierto, the latest film directed and written by Jonas Cuaron. The film follows a group of Mexicans (led by Gael Garcia Bernal) as they attempt to cross the border into the United States, but are met by a vigilante (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) determined to take down all these “intruders.” What follows is an intense game of cat and mouse, where survival really is everything. The movie was very much an intense thriller, so basic in concept, but wrought with emotions, thrills, and more blood than I expected. Followed one intense movie with another, this time being Florian Gallenberger’s Colonia. The film follows Lena and Daniel (played by Emma Watson and Daniel Bruhl), a young couple caught in the midst of a military coup in Chile in the 1970s. When Daniel gets arrested and is sent to a secret cult camp, Lena infiltrates the camp in order to do the impossible – find Daniel and get out. It is such an incredible story, based on true events during the Cold War, that is part love story, part political drama, and part thriller – which amazingly enough, works.

DESIERTO premiere with Gael Garcia Bernal and writer-director Jonas Cuaron. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was there, but could not stay for the Q&A.

DESIERTO premiere with Gael Garcia Bernal and writer-director Jonas Cuaron. Jeffrey Dean Morgan was there, but could not stay for the Q&A.

COLONIA premiere with cast and crew, including Daniel Bruhl. Emma Watson was unable to attend as she was filming a new movie in LA with Tom Hanks (so I guess that's alright lol)

COLONIA premiere with cast and crew, including Daniel Bruhl. Emma Watson was unable to attend as she was filming a new movie in LA with Tom Hanks (so I guess that’s alright lol)

I didn’t get back to the festival until the following Saturday and I did something I swore I wasn’t going to do again: see three movies in one day. The last time I saw three movies in a day at TIFF, I was so drained by the end, and that was with breaks in between the movies to eat and whatnot. This year, I decided to do a crazy thing and not only go see the 3-in-1, but they were back-to-back-to-back. The time in between the movies (an hour) were mostly spent waiting in line for the next one or walking around the vicinity of the TIFF Lightbox and Princess of Wales theatre (where I saw all three) to stretch before getting in line. Anyways, I realized the error of my ways the last time was that all the movies I saw were pretty (and increasingly) dramatic. So key to doing multiple movie days – variety.

The first of my three movies of the day was Our Brand is Crisis, starring Sandra Bullock as Jane Bodine, a political consultant who is hired by a Bolivian presidential candidate. The movie is a fictionalized, Hollywood version of similar events that actually occurred in Bolivia in 2002. It was very much a political dramedy, in that even with all the serious political stuff going on in the film, there was a lot of humour in it. The second movie of my day was The Danish Girl, which had been getting a lot of buzz about it for Eddie Redmayne’s amazing performance as Lili Elbe, the first person known to have gender reassignment surgery. As deserving as Redmayne is for the recognition of his performance, Alicia Vikander is absolutely incredible as Gerda, the wife of Einar Wegener, who struggles but ultimately supports her husband’s desire to be Lili. I’m saying this now: It will be an absolute travesty is Vikander does not get proper awards recognition (meaning Best Actress, not Supporting like some believe she will be categorized) for her performance here. My final movie was the Fest’s Closing Night film: Mr. Right. The movie is sort of a dark action-comedy starring Anna Kendrick as Martha, an unlucky in love girl who meets and falls for Sam Rockwell’s hitman Francis. I thought it was kind of a weird movie for Closing Night, but regardless, I loved it. It was a lot of fun and kind of weird in a good way. Plus, the introduction to the movie by director Paco Cabezas, writer Max Landis, and the cast was one of my favourite moments from the Festival, as Landis led the entire theatre to a sing-a-long of Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” for no reason at all – and it was wonderful.

MR. RIGHT premiere (L-R): Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Michael Eklund, director Paco Cabezas, writer Max Landis

MR. RIGHT premiere
(L-R): Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Michael Eklund, director Paco Cabezas, writer Max Landis