The Oscars 2016

I’m sure a lot of you have clicked on this article hoping that the angry nigga would be getting angry about the all-white nominees this year.  I’m sorry to disappoint but that’s not what this article is about, it’s about pretending like I’m Roger Ebert reincarnate and talking about the last awards for anything worth talking about.  The fact is the race issue has been covered ad nauseam by people far more intelligent about these sorts of things than I.  The short of it is really that while the Oscars might have missed some big names, they didn’t miss any more than they miss every year, and they missed just as many white people as they did brown and black.  The issue is not the Academy, the issue is that there aren’t enough roles given to great black actors.  But let’s get into it because we have ourselves—once again—a fascinating set of nominees to look into.

As always, over the last few months I have watched every film nominated for every category except animated feature film, any short films (because they are essentially impossible to get a hold of), and documentary and foreign language films.

Overview:

Will Win: The movie/actor that is most likely to win the actual award

Upset: The second most likely movie/actor to take the award Oscar night

Should Win: The nominee that is actually best in its category (because we all know… I know all)

Snubbed: The movies/actors that were better than at least one of the nominees

The Big Boy Awards

Best Picture

The biggest of the big boy awards, the best film of 2015.  It’s a decently solid list of nominees this year it what ended up being a down year as far movies were concerned.  I was tempted to check the Oscar betting odds this year but it would probably have made this piece far less fun to write because it does seem like this is the year of runaways.  The best picture category is a little closer than others but if I was a betting man I would be putting a lot of money on Leo and Iñárritu.  Last year was the year of big directorial leaps with films like Birdman, Boyhood, and Whiplash leading the pack.  This year is about big performances, Bride of Spies, The Martian, The Revenant, and Room are the real front runners this year.

The Big Short

The Big Short

Adam McKay directed this movie.  Just sit with that.  Adam McKay the man whose directing work includes real incredible directorial masterpieces like The Other Guys, Step Brothers, and both Anchorman films.  Here’s another slap in the face, some bunch of jackasses nominated McKay for a Best Director award.  The truth of it is, The Big Short could have easily been the best film of the year.  It is a compellingly terrifying story led by an amazing cast.  Not least of which is the first performance by Steve Carrell I ever thought was worth a damn.  The problem with The Big Short is that a stellar cast and good writing can only really take a movie so far when the directing and editing is for shit.  And boy oh boy was it for shit.  But as much as I don’t like to admit it a lot of times the strength of a film is about the story you choose to tell.  The Big Short is the first thing I’ve seen to adequately tackle the most important issue in America in the past decade.

Rating: 7/10 Good

Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies1

Tom Hanks is at it again.  Once someone who I wish I could quote but won’t be able to said that Tom Hanks is a brilliant actor because he manages to be to affecting and seemingly so effortless.  The same can be said for Bridge of Spies.  There is nothing really miraculous about the film.  Speilberg puts in a competent but not groundbreaking turn at the helm.  Matt Charman—or more importantly the Coen brothers—do a fine job of writing, nothing that really stood out.  And the cast, aside from Mark Rylance, who puts in one of my favorite performances of the year, is good but not amazing.  Bridge of Spies is the JJ Reddick of movies, you forget it because it’s really good but really not incredible.  All that being said it is an enjoyable film which surprisingly cannot be said for every film in the Big Boy Awards category.  Plus I think we as a people have been dying for a solid spy film for a long time and this might just have been the beneficiary of good timing (I’m sorry Man from U.N.C.L.E.).

Rating: 6.5/10 Good

Brooklyn

Brooklyn

I’m not really sure what this movie is doing here.  It’s cute, its quaint, it’s pretty, all that is for sure.  But really when it all comes down to it, Brooklyn is an extraordinarily average movie.  It’s a love story that we’ve seen told a million times before.  This time it’s just a period piece with accents and paced so that it’s a half hour too long.  Saoirse Ronan is perfectly fine, not worth the attention she got for this film at all, you’d be surprised in an Oscar year how many white women cry on camera while strings play in the background, it’s really not that impressive.  I will admit I smiled a fair few times in the film, mostly in the scenes with Ronan and Emory Cohen who turns in a surprisingly compelling performance as Tony, the American love interest.  Gleeson once again gets a weird amount of praise for a role that basically anyone tall and handsome could have phoned in but hey, he was good in Ex Machina and we’ll always have that won’t we.

Rating: 5/10 Average

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max1

Yes! Yes! High octane YES YES YES!  I still don’t fully understand how this movie was so fucking good.  It really doesn’t even have a plot when it all comes down to it.  It’s about 20 minutes of set up and then a five-hour action scene or at least that’s what it feels like in the moment.  Here are the things that I DO know about this movie: George Miller kills it for maybe the first time in George Miller’s career to be honest—take note Adam McKay, Tom Hardy has maybe a dozen lines but is still somehow fantastic, but no one remembers Hardy because Charlize Theron—as she is want to do—does robs the show, steals that shit right out from under him.  Here at PopCultureChe we like to celebrate the unsung heroes whenever we can and right now we can.  John Seale, Margaret Sixel, and Colin Gibson.  If you recognized a single one of those names you’re really something special.  Those three people are the cinematographer, editor, and lead of production design on Fury Road and while Miller, Hardy, and Theron were fantastic those three names are far more important.  I really wish I had something more intelligent to say about this movie but it’s not really a masterpiece in narrative, it doesn’t push the bounds of character development.  It’s an incredibly directed action that just happens to be the most feminist movie that came out in a year with a film called Suffragette.

Rating: 9/10 Amazing

The Martian

Martian

Is this the most perfect movie on paper ever?  I think so.  Strand Matt Damon on Mars, assemble a team of beautiful actors, pretend they could actually pass as astronauts, assemble a much less handsome team, call them scientists, rescue Matt Damon.  Perfect movie right?  No, but they got close.  Matt Damon, as Damon does, put in a fantastic performance.  He might just be the man that Leo has to kill this year after Sunday night.  And really that’s all that mattered in this movie.  Ridley Scott did a good enough job behind the camera and Drew Goddard gives Damon some memorable one liners, “in your face Neil Armstrong,” comes to mind.  But really this movie, besides the tear-jerking conclusion, a weirdly great performance by Childish “Donald Glover” Gambino, is really nothing but 141 minutes of Matt Damon running shit.

Rating: 8/10 Great

The Revenant

The Revenant

Here we are boys and girls, your best picture winner.  Okay maybe not a lock, but its damn close to a lock.  Alejandro Iñárritu turns in another masterclass in directing.  Admittedly it is not as technically ambitious as last year’s Birdman but the skill involved is just as impressive.  I am impressed by the fact that Leo and Iñárritu were willing to get beaten down for months on end in the frozen fucking tundra of wherever but the truth is that has no bearing on how really fantastic this piece is.  I found myself wondering what the hell The Revenant was about when I left the theater.  Is it a movie about the lengths to which man can go before breaking?  Or maybe it’s about the bond of man.  I thought for a crazy moment that it would be a film about the power of revenge.  But then I realized it doesn’t matter what the film that Iñárritu said should be “watched in a temple” was about sometimes it’s just enough to admire the sheer technical genius of two masters of work.  The fact is the two hour and 36-minute runtime can feel like a long slog to many but there really is something truly brilliant about the film that makes the long runtime fly by.  A lot of the criticism of this movie seems to be a lot of talk about what it could have been: it could have served Native Americans much better, it could have had a more satisfying ending, or it could have been more faithful to the truth.  The tendency seems to be to nitpick at movies like this, it was obviously an attempt at making the perfect film, but really when has anyone ever succeeded there? Why fault Iñárritu—a man who is about to join Joseph Mankiewicz, John Ford, and Lewis Milestone as the only people to ever win back to back best director awards—for falling short where so many have fallen far shorter before him.  Also just to put it in perspective none of those three men also won back to back best picture awards.

Rating: 8.5/10 Amazing

Room

Room

I said three years ago that Brie Larson was a once in a generation talent and people seemed to be missing it because she was too young or too hot to take seriously, or a little of both.  Often times in films like this, heartfelt, character pieces that are either about real world horrors or reflect those, the performance of the emotion fulcrums of the film are often overblown.  In recent memory the complete sweep of the actor category by the boys of Dallas Buyers Club.  It is easy to put Larson’s performance in Room in that category but it would be really selling her short.  Just thinking about the practice of acting with primarily an eight-year-old to work off of.  It’s hard to look at a pretty minimal film like Room and say the directing or writing was amazing.  But when you rest your film on Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay to the extent Room is and they deliver at such a high bar as they did it’s hard to go wrong.

Rating: 7/10 Good

Spotlight

Spotlight

It is no secret I loved this movie.  It’s so understated and hits me right in my “fuck religion” bone.  I can talk for days about the cast but what’s the point in that when it’s made up of names like Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Live Schrieber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, and randomly Paul Guilfoyle.  It’s hard to say who the lead is out of the core cast, Mark Ruffalo does seem to get to do the most noticeable acting, but everyone puts in a great performance.  Tom McCarthy has a very light touch, none of the showy moves of Mad Max or The Big Short but there are enough great shots of Boston with regal churches in the background that McCarthy really got my attention.

Rating: 8/10 Great

The Ranking:

Will Win: The Revenant

Upset: Spotlight

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Snubbed: Sicario, Ex Machina, The Hateful Eight, Grandma, Beasts of No Nation

Best Lead Actor

Leo Revenant

The Academy confuses the shit out of me sometimes.  I thought the rule was that actors couldn’t get nominated for bad movies.  If Fassbender’s prefectly good performance in the perfectly awful Steve Jobs is up for grabs why not Tom Hardy in Legend?  Admittedly Legend was worse than Steve Jobs and the gimmic of playing twins has been overblown by a lot of Hardy fans but the truth is it’s a better performance than Fassbender’s.  I’m neither upset nor surprised by Redmayne’s appearance here but the truth was it wasn’t a good performance as much as I’m sure a lot of people wanted it to be.  But all of this seems to be moot point since Leo seems to have this all the way locked up, and rightfully so.  Even if his performance isn’t as far ahead of the pack as people are making it out to be.

The Ranking:

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
  2. Matt Damon, The Martian
  3. Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  4. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  5. Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

Upset: Matt Damon

Should Win: Leonard DiCaprio

Snubbed: Tom Hardy Legend, Samuel Jackson The Hateful Eight, Domhnall Gleeson Ex Machina, Ian McKellen Mr. Holmes

Best Lead Actress

Room1

Once again, for the millionth time, I will point out its crazy to separate these categories by gender.  But whatever.  I’ve made my thoughts on Ronan and Larson clear already.  This is a pretty boring group as far as it goes.  There’s a lot of indignation and rightfully so about the lack of roles for black people in Hollywood.  But look at these “best performances by women” and ask yourself what the fuck we’re doing for women on screen.

The Ranking:

  1. Brie Larson, Room
  2. Cate Blanchett, Carol
  3. Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
  4. Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
  5. Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will Win: Brie Larson

Upset: Saoirse Ronan

Should Win: Brie Larson

Snubbed: Charlize Theron Mad Max: Fury Road, Maggie Smith The Lady in the Van, Lily Tomlin Grandma

Best Supporting Actor

Bridge of Spies

Why the hell are people pretending Sylvester Stallone deserves to win this award?  Did Bill Simmons single handedly get this man nominated.  I don’t understand.  The performance just isn’t that good.  The is solid list of nominees however, in a year where the supporting actor talent hasn’t been amazing, unless you count Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation as supporting, which I do not.

The Ranking:

  1. Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  2. Christian Bale, The Big Short
  3. Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  4. Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  5. Sylvester Stallone, Cred

Will Win: Sylvester Stallone

Upset: Mark Ruffalo

Should Win: Mark Rylance

Snubbed: Idris Elba Beasts of No Nation, Jacob Tremblay Room

Best Supporting Actress

The Hateful Eight

What is Vikander doing here?  She’s very clearly the lead actress in The Danish Girl it feels very rigged.  But I probably should have seen it coming 2015 and 2014 have quietly been the years of Alicia Vikander.  We all should have known that the girl who stole the show in A Royal Affair would go on to be a star, I just didn’t know it was going to be this big and this fast.

The Ranking:

  1. Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  2. Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
  3. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  4. Rooney Mara, Carol
  5. Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will Win: Alicia Vikander

Upset: Kate Winslet

Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh

Snubbed: Julia Garner Grandma

Best Director

The Revenant1

This is a very strange nominee category this year, not because it is a particularly tight race.  Although, unlike any of the actor categories it’s maybe not a sure thing.  This is a strange collection of nominees because three of them really deserve to be there: Alejandro Iñárritu, George Miller, and Tom McCarthy.  But then there are two who really have no business here: Adam McKay, who was just horrendous, and Lenny Abrahamson, who was really nothing special in a pretty special film.

The Ranking:

  1. Alejandro Iñárritu, The Revenant
  2. George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  4. Lenny Abrahamson, Room
  5. Adam McKay, The Big Short

Will Win: Alejandro Iñárritu

Upset: Tom McCarthy

Should Win: George Miller

Snubbed: Dennis Villeneuve Sicario, Sean S. Baker Tangerine, Quentin Tarantino The Hateful Eight, F. Gary Gray Straight Outta Compton, Peter Strickland Duke of Burgundy, Ridley Scott The Martian

The Red Headed Awards

Cinematography

Mad Max3

The Ranking:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Sicario
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Hateful Eight
  5. Carol

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Upset: The Hateful Eight

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Snubbed: The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Creed, Star Wars VII-The Force Awakens, Tangerine, 99 Homes

Film Editing

Mad Max2

The Ranking:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Spotlight
  3. The Revenant
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Big Short

Will Win: The Big Short

Upset: The Revenant

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Snubbed: Carol, Sicario, The Hateful Eight

Sound Editing

Star Wars Force Awakens

The Ranking:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. The Martian
  4. Sicario
  5. The Revenant

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Upset: The Martian

Should Win: The Revenant

Snubbed: Black Mass, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Writing Adapted

The Martian1

The Ranking:

  1. The Martian
  2. The Big Short
  3. Room
  4. Carol
  5. Brooklyn

Will Win: The Big Short

Upset: Brooklyn

Should Win: The Martian

Snubbed: Joy, Beasts of No Nation

Writing Original

Spotlight1

The Ranking:

  1. Spotlight
  2. Ex Machina
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. Straight Outta Compton
  5. Inside Out

Will Win: Straight Outta Compton

Upset: Bridge of Spies

Should Win: Straight Outta Compton

Snubbed: Dope, The Hateful Eight, What We Do in the Shadows, Anomalisa, Slow West

The Rest of the Best

Costume Design

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Cinderella
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Danish Girl
  5. Carol

Will Win: The Danish Girl

Upset: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Makeup and Hairstyling

I didn’t see the 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared and I didn’t feel like watching it just for this award so I don’t have anything really to say about this category except that Mad Max had better makeup than The Revenant.

Production Design

The Ranking:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. The Revenant
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. The Danish Girl

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Upset: The Danish Girl

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Sound Mixing

The Ranking:

  1. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. The Martian
  4. Bridge of Spies
  5. The Revenant

Will Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Upset: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Visual Effects

The Ranking:

  1. Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
  2. Ex Machina
  3. The Martian
  4. Mad Max: Fury Road
  5. The Revenant

Will Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Upset: hahahaha

Should Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

 

2 Comments

  1. Marc Delany says:

    http://deadline.com/2016/01/oscars-satire-saturday-night-live-oscarssowhite-1201689432/

    On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 12:28 PM, Pop Culture Che wrote:

    > Popculture Che posted: “I’m sure a lot of you have clicked on this article > hoping that the angry nigga would be getting angry about the all-white > nominees this year. I’m sorry to disappoint but that’s not what this > article is about, it’s about pretending like I’m Roger Ebert re” >

  2. Holly Delany Cole says:

    As usual you were spot on. Enjoyed this post as I do the others. What did you think about Chris Rock’s monologue? I thought it was pretty good and I loved the video clip spoof he did as well. Hilarious.

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