The Oscars are here again and whiter than ever! Now, I don’t put that totally on the Academy, but it is definitely not a good look when all the nominees are white. It says more about Hollywood in general than the Academy Awards. There is a prototypical “Oscar” movie and it is safe to say that minorities are not usually involved. That’s the issue. Also, when a black filmmaker makes a great film like Creed and Straight Outta Compton, the studios do not push it like they would push Room or Brooklyn. So there needs to be a culture change, like there has been in television. The diversity on TV is astounding and that is a playbook that Hollywood should take note on.
P.S. I am really excited to see Chris Rock’s hosting job. I don’t think he’ll be pulling any punches.
Okay, enough about that for now and on to the nominees. I will give my picks if I had a ballot that counted and some thoughts as well, mostly about how Mad Max: Fury Road is the best movie of 2016.
I did not see this film, but if I did it would probably end up here anyway.
Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay are fantastic together and without their performances this movie would not be on the same level. And there are some intense emotional scenes. This was the only movie I saw this year that made me cry, so that also counts for something.
6. The Big Short
Honestly, before I saw this movie there was a lot of discussion on its validity as a Best Picture nom. After seeing it, I have no qualms. It is a prototypical Oscar film. A bunch of renegade outsiders are the good guys against the big, bad, banks. Also, we all like money, so a film telling us about a-holes who took the people’s money is going to gather a lot of good will.
5. The Revenant
Much like Room, The Revenant hinges much on the performance of Leonardo DiCaprio, who is superb. However, for how good Leo is, Tom Hardy is his equal. Overall, the film suffers from a lack of plot for me.
4. The Martian
A delightful film that is right down my alley. Lots of technical science jargon makes this almost more science fact than science fiction, other than the fact that sending a man to Mars, let alone a whole crew, is still far off.
The subject matter makes Spotlight hard to watch at times, knowing that these atrocious acts actually happened. And much like The Big Short, this is a film that can garner a lot of public support and good will. And it tells a story that should have come to light years ago, which is also an aspect of the plot. This film has all of the making of taking home the award this year.
2. Bridge of Spies
The Cold War was a scary and dangerous time in US history, but it is also a story that has been told time and time again. And even though it stars Tom Hanks and is directed by Steven Spielberg, I was not jumping out of my seat to watch it. That tuned changed after seeing it, however, as I found it to be a riveting watch. Hanks is great, as usual, but I found the directing to be the best part of the film (Mark Rylance’s performance will be discussed later, as it’s super duper). Spielberg has made so many great and memorable films, that he can just show up and make a good movie, but he didn’t settle for “good” here. He wanted it to be great and great it is.
1. Mad Max: Fury Road
What can I say, this film blew me away. I remember the first time I saw it, where I walked out of the movie theater so confused. What the heck did I just witness? Mad Max: Fury Road may be short on plot, but it is high on everything else. Like, literally high. What was George Miller smoking when he made this? It is a genius action film that is deeper than it’s simple story leads on. It is a portrayal of a desolate future, one that is seemingly plausible, as we drain our beautiful earth of its natural resources. On that note, let’s just be grateful that George Miller was able to make this movie and bless us all with the Doof Warrior. Mediocre!
Best Director: George Miller
You find me one person on earth who could make Mad Max: Fury Road and I’ll show you a liar. The intricacies of the action are superb. This movie should not be possible. Hats off to you, George, you crazy son of a bitch. Now ride to Valhalla, shiny and chrome!!
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio
It sure seems like Leo is a shoe-in to win his first ever Oscar. It’s a shame, because he has had better roles and done better jobs in other movies where he could have, nay, should have won. When we look back at his best roles, I doubt this will be in many people’s top five, but hey, at the end of the day this is just an award. His career deserves at least one outstanding recognition.
Best Actress: Brie Larson
I have been all in on Ms. Larson ever since I saw her in 21 Jump Street a few years ago. Obviously, not a type of performance that gets you recognized by Oscar voters, but it put her in my heart, a notch below J-Law. Larson also had a role on the sitcom Community for a tad, where she was also adorable and lovable. Brie Larson is just adorable and lovable, but she is also a phenomenal actress who crushes every role. She brings a personal understanding to her characters, which allows us to connect with her. It seems like she is a lock to win tonight, which then means when we watch 21 Jump Street back, there are now two Oscar winners in it. C’mon, Channing, step up your game!
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance
Rylance brought such a subtle nuance to his performance as a Russian spy captured by the CIA. Hanks was great, Rylance really delivered on every level. I especially loved his simple mannerisms when handling a piece of paper or drawing. We were sympathetic for someone who was “bad.” Now, Stallone seems like the favorite, but there were so many other aspects of Creed that were better, like the director and Michael B. Jordan. I have already gushed on the directing by Spielberg, but Rylance’s performance is right on that level. He definitely has my vote.
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh
I only saw her performance and Rachel McAdams amongst the nominees. So I can’t vote for the others. Both of these women were great and I narrowly give it to Leigh, mostly because of how well she could take a punch.
However, if Alicia Vikander wins, then we all win.