Sunday, February 28, 2016

OSCARS 2016: LEO WON, ‘SPOTLIGHT’ WON, AND DIVERSITY CONVERSATION DOMINATED

Photos, courtesy: AMPAS
Leonardo DiCaprio accepts his award for The Revenant from Julianne Moore
‘Oscar winner Leonardo DiCaprio’…it feels really good to say that. And I was glad that he didn’t take “tonight for granted.” For me, the moments leading up to Julianne Moore’s presentation for best actor were as tense as the scene in which the bear mauled Leo in The Revenant. Up until then, I was calm. Even though Leo’s and Brie’s Oscar wins seemed to be the most predictable, if some of the other results announced up until then were anything to go by, anything could’ve happened with even best actor and actress.

THE BIGGEST SURPRISES
Among the biggest surprises of the night, for me, were Ex Machina winning for visual effects, in the face of all these epic movies that would’ve been impossible without the great visual effects they had. I was happy though. Ex Machina at least deserved that. Strangely, despite Mad Max: Fury Road sweeping as many as six Oscars, there was still a good mix of wining films.

Room, The Hateful Eight, The Big Short, The Danish Girl and Bridge Of Spies all managed to win at least one Oscar. In fact, Mark Rylance’s win for Bridge Of Spies was one of the unexpected results. Yes, he did win a BAFTA, but at the Oscars, I think everyone was sure that Sylvester Stallone would win.

But the biggest surprise was Spotlight winning best picture. It’s not like it didn’t deserve it, but a majority of people had their money on The Revenant. Many were even sure that Mad Max: Fury Road would take away the big prize, in addition to several other awards. The fact that neither The Revenant nor Mad Max: Fury Road were nominated for screenplay awards should’ve offered us a clue. If the Academy didn’t think they were among the year’s best-written films, they probably wouldn’t think of either as the year’s best motion picture either.

Speaking of screenplay, it was strange that they started the evening with Oscars for screenplay, since up until this year, it’s almost like tradition to start with one of the supporting acting

Oscars. Another big surprise was “Writing’s On The Wall” winning best original song, especially after the strength and social relevance of “Til It Happens To You” was brought out by Lady Gaga’s powerful and moving performance. On the other hand, Sam Smith’s performance was quite terrible. Maybe he was having an off day, but his live performance was really screechy and maybe even off-tune in parts—nothing like the recorded song.


THE SHOW
How much is too much talk about a socially relevant topic that caused controversy. I think the best answer to that was this year’s Oscars. Yes, they had to address the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, and given how the Academy hasn’t ignored it since the conversation started after the nominations were announced last month, we were all quite certain that they would even make a joke or two about it. But making the Oscars all about the diversity, ironically, made the show the opposite of diverse.

From host Chris Rock’s monologue and Kevin Hart’s moment on stage, to Academy president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ speech, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s presentation, it was all just too much. Yes, a few jokes on things like child labor in Asia were made, in poor taste even, but it was all just overpowered by talk about diversity.

Even if I have to ignore the lack of diversity in the material of the hosting, the presentations, etc, the jokes weren’t all that funny, except for maybe Chris Rock’s reference to Rihanna. “Jada [Pinkett-Smith] boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rihanna’s panties. I wasn’t invited!” he said.

Rock did try something cute, with the scout girl cookies stunt—probably trying to create a moment like Ellen Degeneres’ pizza or selfie moment—but it wasn’t as effective as he maybe expected it to turn out.

Other elements of the Oscars viewing experience were thankfully up to the mark. From the opening montage and the orchestra’s performance to the set design and the presentation props (for costume and production design especially), everything was done with perfection. I even enjoyed the arrangements of Lady Gaga’s and The Weeknd’s performances.


THE ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES
Even Alejandro Iñárritu’s speech brought up the diversity issues. Although I liked the direction in which he took it, talking about working towards taking the world to a time when color of skin will become as irrelevant as the length of one’s hair. Among other good speeches was Mark Rylance’s.

It was refreshing to see others talk about other relevant topics. Vice President Joe Biden about sexual abuse, Sam Smith about the LGBT community, and of course, Leonardo DiCaprio taking the opportunity to talk about climate change—an issue that he is famously and passionately concerned about.

DiCaprio’s speech was also my favorite of the evening. I liked how he found a way to make his speech about The Revenant, but also making it about his career in a way that he knew that this win was long overdue. From thanking Martin Scorsese for teaching him so much about the cinematic art form, to his parents, and friends.


And that concludes another award season. Scroll down to see all the winners. (**these were my predictions)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate WInslet on the red carpet

These were the best red carpet looks; (left to right) Saoirse Ronan in Calvin Klein Collection, Cate Blanchett in Armani Privé, Jennifer Garner in Atelier Versace, Naomi Watts in Armani Privé, and Julianne Moore in Chanel Haute Couture
Best motion picture of the year
“The Big Short” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
“Bridge of Spies” Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
“Brooklyn” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers
“The Martian” Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers
“The Revenant” Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers**
“Room” Ed Guiney, Producer
“Spotlight” Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo”
Matt Damon in “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”**
Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in “Carol”
Brie Larson in “Room”**
Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn”


Achievement in directing
“The Big Short” Adam McKay
“Mad Max: Fury Road” George Miller
“The Revenant” Alejandro G. Iñárritu**
“Room” Lenny Abrahamson
“Spotlight” Tom McCarthy

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Christian Bale in “The Big Short”
Tom Hardy in “The Revenant”
Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies”
Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”**

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Jennifer Jason Leigh in “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara in “Carol”
Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”**
Kate Winslet in “Steve Jobs”

Adapted screenplay
“The Big Short” Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
“Brooklyn” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
“Carol” Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy
“The Martian” Screenplay by Drew Goddard
“Room” Screenplay by Emma Donoghue**

This one’s a little unpredictable. The general odds seem to be largely in The Big Short’s favor, but I think the Academy will surprise many and give it to Room, which really is the film that deserves this win.

Original screenplay

“Bridge of Spies” Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
“Ex Machina” Written by Alex Garland
“Inside Out” Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
“Spotlight” Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy**
“Straight Outta Compton” Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Spotlight probably comes after The Revenant in the odds for the race for best picture, but it won’t win. Instead, the Academy will give it an Oscar for screenplay.

Best animated feature film of the year
“Anomalisa” Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran
“Boy and the World” Alê Abreu
“Inside Out” Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera**
“Shaun the Sheep Movie” Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
“When Marnie Was There” Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Anomalisa winning this one is possible, but it would be a shocker, since everyone thinks Inside Out is winning this time.

Achievement in production design
“Bridge of Spies” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
“The Danish Girl” Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson**
“The Martian” Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
“The Revenant” Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Achievement in cinematography

“Carol” Ed Lachman
“The Hateful Eight” Robert Richardson
“Mad Max: Fury Road” John Seale
“The Revenant” Emmanuel Lubezki**
“Sicario” Roger Deakins

Achievement in visual effects
“Ex Machina” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
“The Martian” Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
“The Revenant” Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould**

Achievement in film editing
“The Big Short” Hank Corwin
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Margaret Sixel**
“The Revenant” Stephen Mirrione
“Spotlight” Tom McArdle
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Achievement in sound editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Mark Mangini and David White**
“The Martian” Oliver Tarney
“The Revenant” Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
“Sicario” Alan Robert Murray
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Matthew Wood and David Acord

Achievement in sound mixing

“Bridge of Spies” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo**
“The Martian” Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
“The Revenant” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in costume design

“Carol” Sandy Powell
“Cinderella” Sandy Powell
“The Danish Girl” Paco Delgado
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Jenny Beavan**
“The Revenant” Jacqueline West

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin**
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared” Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
“The Revenant” Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

“Bridge of Spies” Thomas Newman
“Carol” Carter Burwell
“The Hateful Eight” Ennio Morricone**
“Sicario” Jóhann Jóhannsson
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” John Williams

Ennio Morricone’s score isn’t a great one, but it includes quite a distinctive, sinister and haunting theme, which is adapted well into other tracks as well, which is why I think the Academy will pick The Hateful Eight for this one. In my opinion though, it should be Carol.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”
Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction”
Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty
“Simple Song #3” from “Youth”
Music and Lyric by David Lang
“Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga**
“Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre”
Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Best foreign language film of the year
“Embrace of the Serpent” Colombia
“Mustang” France
“Son of Saul” Hungary**
“Theeb” Jordan
“A War” Denmark

Best animated short film
“Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
“Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
“Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle**
“We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit
“World of Tomorrow” Don Hertzfeldt

Best live action short film

“Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont**
“Day One” Henry Hughes
“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath
“Shok” Jamie Donoughue
“Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage

Best documentary feature
“Amy” Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees**
“Cartel Land” Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
“The Look of Silence” Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
“What Happened, Miss Simone?” Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor

Best documentary short subject
“Body Team 12” David Darg and Bryn Mooser**
“Chau, beyond the Lines” Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” Adam Benzine
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
“Last Day of Freedom” Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman


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