Two completely true statements:
- I am going to post this before Chris Rock takes the stage on Sunday evening .
- I will not bitch about The Revenant any more than I already have.
Two of those statements are a complete falsehood.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton
Of this group, I was unable to see Straight Outta Compton. But that’s okay, because it’s not like it’s going to win, right? #OscarsSoWhite, amirite?
Of the four remaining, I feel Spotlight is the clear front-runner. Bridge of Spies was okay, but it was full of long spots and the dialogue was a bit preachy at times — although that could just be the tried-and-true combination of Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. Inside Out was cute, but cute doesn’t win awards (or so I’ve been told). That leaves Ex Machina, which was interesting, but probably a little too out-there, sci-fi-ey for a majority of Oscar voters to pick it.
I’m going to talk about Spotlight some more coming up, but regarding its screenplay: it is tight. The dialogue is natural, the characters are clearly defined, and there is not a single sour note throughout. Unless a miracle happens (more on that later), this may be Spotlight‘s only win.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room
I gave myself an extra challenge this year – because I’m a masochist, and apparently, a bit of an asshole?: I wanted to read the books that the adapted screenplays were adapted from. I don’t know why I wanted to do that this year as opposed to other years — maybe because this year the nominees were all books first, and they were all available at my library too? I dunno. But I managed to see all the films nominated in this category, AND I read all the books except Carol, because the only Patricia Highsmith novels my library has are a couple of lesser Ripley novels. Come on, Yarmouth Library!
Anyway. I’ll go more into each book as I review them over on That’s What She Read — and when I do, I’ll link the reviews back to here, but let’s face it, those reviews probably won’t be published until April, at the rate I’m going.
In comparison to the films, however, I feel The Big Short is the standout. The Big Short was written by Michael Lewis, who comes from the Wall Street world. The book was … well, it was as easy to read as something that deals with such heavy, cumbersome, hard-to-understand-for-the-average-layman concepts as it does. The character pieces were great – the character Steve Carell plays in the movie was fascinating, even in book form. I guess the best thing I can say about the book is: I brought it to the gym with me, and when my elliptical workout ended, I was surprised, because I had been engrossed in the story.
But what the film does that the book can’t, is focus the story truly on the people who went after the big banks, and also find ways to visually explain the concepts being talked about. And they were able to do that while being funny. And not, like, making the tragedy of the housing market crash funny; but they brought humor into it, which made the story that much more relatable.
I mean, we all lived through that shit time, right?
As a bonus: if The Big Short does in fact win, that means that Anchorman will have been retroactively written by an Oscar winner. And if that just doesn’t fill my tiny heart up with joy. ❤
Nominees: Adam McKay, The Big Short; George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road; Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant; Lenny Abrahamson, Room; Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Okay, so, here’s the thing: y’all know how I feel about The fucking Revenant. I do not want Alejandro G. Iñárritu to win this. He doesn’t deserve to win for this. It’s a shit show. He’s a jackass auteur who is so proud of being “arty” that he holds his audience hostage while he … well, actually, I’ll let Jack Hamilton of Slate tell you:
Iñárritu makes films for the movie-going equivalent of what Gob, the magician brother from Arrested Development, refers to as “how’d-he-do-dat”s: people impressed by trickery who don’t bother to notice that said trickery isn’t performed in service of any ideas. Birdman was shot in a flamboyant, faux-single-take style that was impressive in a showy, obvious way, but to what ends? The technique added nothing to the film’s thematic cohesion or narrative invention; it merely distracted from how little of either the movie contained. Similarly, The Revenant’s visual inventiveness is spectacular but pointless; it’s a movie that’s only interesting when no humans are speaking or even on screen.
But seriously, folks: if you want to read an excellent article that encapsulates some of my rage about the fucking Revenant, read the full thing: “The Revenant is terrible“. You will not be disappointed.
Unfortunately, because the Oscars are so far up both Iñárritu and Leonardo DiCaprio’s asses — seriously, the Academy is practically the double-headed dildo Iñárritu and DiCaprio use to fuck themselves raw while they’re both rewatching the scene where Leo cuts into the horse like a Tauntaun — Iñárritu will most likely take home his second award for The Revenant. But literally anyone else on that list should get it. I would love to give this to Tom McCarthy for Spotlight, because again, that movie was amazing. My top choice for best director would be George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road, because that movie was a fucking spectacle of awesomeness (visually, conceptually).
None of those stunts were CGI, people. I mean, come on!
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight: Rooney Mara, Carol; Rachel McAdams, Spotlight; Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl; Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs.
I did not get to see Steve Jobs; nor did I want to. Kate Winslet got nominated because she’s Kate Winslet, and with the exception of The Holiday, she gets a nomination for everything she does. While I adore Rachel McAdams, her character in Spotlight wasn’t strong enough to win here; and I want to point out, that is through no fault of McAdams. Jennifer Jason Leigh was very much touted at the beginning of awards season to pick this award up, but the shine has fallen off of The Hateful Eight — another movie I didn’t get to see.
That leaves the award to go between Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander. Before seeing The Danish Girl, I was thinking it should go to Mara, because while her performance is amazing, I would also like to point out that Rooney Mara’s character has more screen-time than Cate Blanchett, who is playing the title character, and was nominated for Best Actress. God, I fucking hate the Oscars sometimes.
And while I liked Ms. Mara’s performance (Carol was good, but not transcendent), in the end I’m leaning towards Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. The love she had for her husband, even as he transitioned into Lili, never wavered, and I thought her character was just … full, if that means anything? Ms. Vikander’s character, Gerda, was allowed to have wants, and needs, separate and above from what her husband could provide for her, and she worked to achieve those goals. She should have also been submitted in the Best Actress category, is what I’m saying, because again, she was the female character with the most screen time in that film, and her role was not merely to support Eddie Redmayne.
Ugggh, Oscars; being #sowhite is NOT your only problem.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale, The Big Short; Tom Hardy, The Revenant; Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight; Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies; Sylvester Stallone, Creed.
This is the only time I will say anything positive about The Revenant (aside from the cinematography, which, while not a category I perform Oscar!Watch for, I do believe The Revenant should win for that):
Tom Hardy should win Best Supporting Actor.
No, wait, hear me out! He was, aside from the aforementioned cinematography, the best damned thing about that accursed movie. His character actually had dialogue! His character had goals he wanted to achieve that were not merely revenge! His character had agency, and purpose! He had a fucking character to portray, is what I’m fucking saying.
But because the fucking Academy loves rewarding old people who don’t deserve jackshit, Sylvester Stallone will win this. AND YET PETER O’TOOLE ONLY GOT AN HONORARY AWARD. Fuck, Stallone won an Oscar for Rocky! Does he really fucking need one for goddamn acting?!
No, you know what? Fuck him. I’m going to enbolden Tom Hardy‘s name here and say he should win, because he fucking should win, goddammit. Don’t nominate the one white guy in Creed and then give that same fucking white guy the Oscar to ameliorate your sins, Academy. Why don’t you do the right thing for fucking once and reward an actual goddamned performance in a film and not just throw gold away in the name of nostalgia?
Goddammit, I have a lot of feelings this year.
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, Carol; Brie Larson, Room; Jennifer Lawrence, Joy; Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years; Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn.
Brie Larson has won every award she can leading into the Oscars; this is no longer a contest. She has won the Golden Globe, Screen Actors’ Guild, and BAFTA. She will win for Room here as well, and deservedly so.
(If you have not read Room, I highly recommend you do so. You should also watch the movie, after you read the book.)
Nominees: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant; Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant.
I mean, does it even fucking matter?
But here, read this article, “Why Leo winning an Oscar would be bad for acting,” and then after you go see Room, let’s you and I talk separately about how Jacob Tremblay is the TRUE Best Actor this season:
During the course of the film—which we’ve repeatedly been told was shot under very difficult weather conditions and in harsh terrain; filmmaker suffering is part of this narrative now, too—Leo wades and swims in icy water, crawls across hard tundra while dragging an injured leg behind him, eats raw bison liver, sucks the marrow out of the vertebrae of an animal skeleton, etc., in the name of survival, but also in the name of Art. “Just about every awards body has drunk the ‘Revenant’ Kool-Aid, buying into DiCaprio’s endless boasting about how super-hard the movie was to make,” wrote Matt Prigge, who agrees with me that Leo should not get an Oscar because it would reinforce poor messages.
Nominees: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight
I have, for once, watched every single one of these movies. Let’s knock some out first.
Room and Brooklyn, while definitely worth watching (Brooklyn was so sweet! I did not realize I was going to like it so much when I went to see it, and I’m so glad I did. Seriously, pick it up from Redbox when you get a chance, it’s lovely), will not win. Bridge of Spies was nominated only to make sure Steven Spielberg didn’t feel ignored; we do not want to goad him into making a fifth Indiana Jones movie.
Now, for Mad Max: Fury Road. I liked it; I really did. I did not like it as much as My Dear Friend Sarah, and I’m not sure why that is. I guess I’m trying to figure out why, even though I liked it, I don’t think it’s worthy of Best Picture.
WAIT, HEAR ME OUT, DON’T LEAVE ME
Mad Max has a great story. It metaphor’s a lot of attitudes that are prevalent in the world today. It stars Charlize Theron as a kickass, amazing soldier, who takes no prisoners, yet masterfully shows both wartime strategy and empathy for others at the same time. It is gloriously feminist, stuck in a horrible, misogynist world. The visuals are phenomenal; the stunt work is mind-blowing.
Do I think this won’t win because it’s so, for lack of a better phrase, “genre”? It’s not really science-fiction, but it feels like it’s the Academy’s bone-throwing nominee — much like District 9 back in 2009. Maybe it’s because I didn’t see this for the first time in a theater; I Redboxed it. Maybe that lack of overwhelming scope limited my reaction? Would I feel different about the film if I had seen it on the big screen? Maybe. If it manages to win Best Picture I’ll be totally okay with that choice, even though I want another film to win more.
That leaves The Big Short, Spotlight, The Martian, and The Revenant. All of these movies have won a Big Award leading up to the Oscars; The Martian picked up Best Comedy at the Golden Globes, but its momentum has slipped. As much as I want it to win, I don’t think it’s going to make it. But man, do I want it to! Here’s the thing with The Martian: you feel so good after watching it. It’s heartwarming, and uplifting, and — and just goddamned wonderful. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s at Redbox now – go get it.
Spotlight won Best Cast in a Motion Picture at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, which is the SAG’s equivalent of Best Picture. **This is what comes from getting distracted: Just hours ago, Spotlight also won Best Picture at the Independent Spirit Awards. That’s two, baby! And again, Spotlight was fantastic. I bought it on DVD today because I wanted to watch that back to back with The Martian because I’m not sure which one I liked more. Like with The Martian, we’ve got a team of professionals who care so much about their job. They want to do it right. Unlike The Martian, the story Spotlight tells is true. And it’s scary; in case you don’t know, it’s the story of the Boston Globe‘s uncovering of the Catholic priest abuse scandal in Boston. And the story wasn’t limited to Boston; it uncovered the scandal on a global level, and I’m not making a pun because the name of the paper is the Globe — the scandal stretched back to the Vatican. Similar scandals were uncovered in Portland, a city I’m currently fifteen minutes from.
But it reminded me of what journalism should be. When I first went to college, I wanted to be a journalist. Well, I wanted to be an on-air newsreader, actually, but in order to do that you had to graduate with a degree in journalism or television communications. And TV communications was still a relatively new degree back in 2001 when I started college.
Oh shit. It’s my fifteenth high school reunion this year. Jesus Christ.
Uhhh, anyway. Ten days into my freshman year, two planes hit the Twin Towers, and the face of journalism — especially the face of on-air news journalism — changed forever. While that was not directly the impetus for my decision to leave Franklin Pierce College and change my major, watching Spotlight reminded me that, at one point, I did have the desire to pursue journalism, and Spotlight showed me that, at one time, journalism was a revered career with wide-reaching potential for change. And as once-reputable news sources now scramble over each other to find the people who yell the loudest and sound bites are taken as the word of God, I just have to wonder if we’ll ever see a return to investigative journalism as demonstrated in Spotlight.
I think I may have talked myself into believing Spotlight is my choice for Best Picture, but I’ve got one more point to make.
The Big Short. While I enjoyed it, I did not like it as much as Spotlight, but don’t think that’s a detriment; it’s a different animal. In Spotlight, a team of people band together to reveal corruption to the world in hopes of changing things for the better. In The Big Short, a team of people band together to reveal corruption to the world … in hopes of proving those corrupt people stupid and, therefore, making a lot of money. And while The Big Short has an underlying feeling of joyous disbelief (“I can’t believe this is happening; I can’t believe we’re getting away with this”), it doesn’t exactly leave you with a feeling of hope, whereas I did get that feeling from Spotlight.
But what The Big Short has going for it is: it won the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Picture.
The winner of the Producer’s Guild Award has gone on to win Best Picture for the past nine years straight.
The last time the Producer’s Guild and the Best Picture Oscar split was in 2006, when the PGA went to Little Miss Sunshine, and the Best Picture went home with Martin Scorsese of The Departed, which also … which also …
Which also starred Leonardo DiCaprio.
Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant (but it should go to George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road)
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Best Supporting Actor: Tom Hardy, The Revenant (but it will probably go to Sylvester Stallone for Creed)
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (if it doesn’t go to Leo? We’re all doomed.)
Best Picture: The Revenant (but it should go to Spotlight, and Alejandro G. Iñárritu should just go straight to hell.)
Good luck, and may God save us all from The fucking Revenant.