OH MY SWEET LORDY LOO! THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I WATCHED THE OSCARS AND HAD ENOUGH PRIOR KNOWLEDGE TO GET INVESTED IN WHO WOULD WIN!!!! *Ahem* I have been more anxious waiting for this moment than the release of The Force Awakens! Needless to say, I am excited to share my opinions on what has undoubtedly been one of the most (if not the most) unpredictable, surprising, and unique Oscar years in film history. I will briefly talk about every major category (except for Adapted Screenplay, and both Actress categories because I did not see the films that won) and any other moments during the show that deserve a mention. Also, this review/reflection will contain spoilers, and my very passionate responses and opinions. I will definitely disagree with other people’s Oscar preferences, but that is what constructive criticism is for.
Let’s begin with Chris Rock as the host. While I think that he went overboard with the “no Oscar nods for blacks” jokes, it’s not like any of them offended me (the jokes practically do write themselves) but variety is an important rule of comedy, and I think he should have had a few more different jokes in his opening (however the edited Best Picture compilation was absolutely hilarious!). Also, his Girl Scout cookies thing should have been cut entirely. I still can’t tell if it was a joke, or if was for real. Hey, if Ellen DeGeneres can order pizzas and hand them out when she hosted, then Rock should be able to use cute little girl scouts to emotionally manipulate people into buying their cookies (just sayin’). All that said, at least Rock was funnier than Neil Patrick Harris.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS-Ex Machina
While I think that Mad Max: Fury Road or The Force Awakens had better effects throughout, Ex Machina definitely had some dang great F/X for its modest budget of 15 million. The CGI on the AI is completely convincing, so I think they deserve it.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR-Inside Out
You’re not going to believe this, but I have not seen any of the other nominated animated movies. That was not my intention, but I had no idea that most of the other nominees (Anomalisa, When Marnie was There, Boy & the World) even existed! In any case, Inside Out definitely deserves the win! Pete Docter gave a great mini-speech (which I think was improvised), but I expect no less from one of the best screenwriters in the film industry.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY-Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant
Was there any doubt that The Revenant would win? They shot it with nothing but natural lighting (which is still remarkably impressive)! If Lubezki continues his current level of quality, he could very well out-do Roger Deakins when it comes to composing a shot. Congrats on your third Oscar Lubezki!
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES, ORIGINAL SONG-“Writings On The Wall” (by Sam Smith and James Napier) for Spectre
I was very certain that “Till It Happens to You” would win (it is the most dramatic of the 5 nominees), but I always wanted “Writings On The Wall” to win. Why? Because Sam Smith’s voice in angelic! Besides that, it fits the slightly more romantic tone of Spectre (as Bond does find love with Madeline). To be fair, “Earned It” is pretty exceptional, and “Manta Ray” is beautiful.
BEST ACHEIVMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES, ORIGINAL SCORE-Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight
The Man, the Myth, the Legend, the great Ennio Morricone. Who doesn’t love this composer’s work? He has been giving us memorable (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly), suspenseful (The Thing-1982), beautiful (The Mission), and awesome (practically anything he’s done) film scores since the 60’s. Did anyone else notice that he got substantially more time to give his speech than everyone else? They probably did this because he needed to have his speech translated. I’d like to think that the musicians purposefully waited until he was done before they cued the music, as a sign of respect for this ingenious artist. Also, c’mon man, no nomination for Michael Giacchino’s score for Inside Out? Now that’s a real snub.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING-Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road
My freaking gosh. Six Oscars for Fury Road. This is beyond my wildest expectations, which were quite wild after Fury Road was nominated for Best Picture! Needless to say, I think Fury Road is the most critically successful action movie ever made (at least with the Academy)! I think film editing is the most difficult kind of editing there is; therefore I believe that Sixel deserved the win. I can imagine that Fury Road must have been extremely temperamental to make, but well worth it.
BEST WRITING, ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY-Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for Spotlight
What do I always say? The story is always the most important element in a production. Unless the point of the product is to not have a plot (like a pretty vase or something) or narrative, the story aspect matters most (check out my Terminator Genisys review for more info). Spotlight is 2015’s The Imitation Game. A movie about a controversial topic in history, a group of individuals who fight not for fame but for what is right, and written/acted/directed extraordinarily well! This is how you take a simple story, add style and creativity to make something extraordinary.
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING-Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant
Again, was there any doubt? Actually yes, George Miller for Fury Road. Am I the only one who finds it funny that one R rated epic featuring Tom Hardy took place in the scorching desert and the other took place in the frozen tundra? The Revenant is one of the best “experience” movies ever made, and Iñárritu deserves the win for his incredible vision and passion that seeps into every frame of the movie.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE-Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Ok, this is the one win that I completely disagree with. Of course Rylance was great in the role, but not as impactful as the intensely committed Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight. I am absolutely certain that if that running joke, “Would it help?” was not in Bridge of Spies, than Rylance wouldn’t have even been nominated (much less win). Again, commendable performance, just not better than the competition.
BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE-Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
FINALLY!!!!! I have not been this happy since I was baptized! I was worried like never before. Why? Because I am 100% certain that at least one member of the Academy thought, “Hey guys. Wouldn’t it be funny if we didn’t give Leo the Oscar so the stupid running gag can keep going?” There is nothing you can say or do that would convince me otherwise. This man has been giving his all since he became popular, and he has created some of the most recognizable performances acting in some of the best and unique movies of the 21st century. To say that it feels great for him to finally win, is an understatement X 10! Now that annoying running joke can end, and I can watch Inception with less frustration knowing that the leading actor has won the highest of cinema’s honors.
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR-Spotlight
You’ve heard everyone say that 2015’s Oscars has been one of the most unpredictable years in history, and there was no better category than Best Picture to prove that. I genuinely thought they were going with The Revenant. However, Spotlight’s central story and drama would probably make more sense if we’re talking about the Academy. In this case, I couldn’t be happier. The film I ranked second best of 2015 won Best Picture! I think even Morgan Freeman was slightly surprised when he read the envelope! I must say, when it comes to the quintessential ceremony that no one seems to be satisfied with, most of my preferences were met.
You were probably expecting me to go into greater detail about the controversy surrounding the Oscars this year. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve been in this industry long enough to (essentially) call the Academy racist, also, I kinda didn’t see Creed, Beasts of No Nation, Concussion, or Straight Outta Compton (I did not intend for that to happen, my apologies). I don’t think I have all the necessary information to make a compelling argument. However, one thing is for certain, the Academy is fully aware that big changes need to be made.
Some people think that the Academy Awards mean nothing. While I see where they are coming from, I must disagree. The gold-plated Oscar award is the most prestigious award anyone in the film industry can receive. It’s essentially a Medal of Honor for filmmakers. It stays with the winner for life, it proves that you did extraordinarily well in your field, and people (producers especially) will look at you with more respect and consideration (at least that is what they are meant to stand for, over the years that meaning has changed, but such is life). This was the 88th award ceremony! They are still going strong, and at least for me, this particular year’s awards went to who deserved them the most.