Friday, January 15, 2016

Best Fascist Dictator--Adolf Hitler

The Oscar nominations are out.  Almost as exciting as the Oscars themselves.  (I guess you could read that two ways.)

So let's look at the major awards, with my comments:

Best motion picture of the year:

“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”

There's room for up to ten, but only eight made it.  I guess there were too many choices and not enough obvious ones.

The big shock here, I guess, is no Carol.  Some were hoping for Inside Out, but since they started a separate category for animation, that sort of thing doesn't happen.

Also, no Hateful Eight, though the Academy is simply following the audience in its lukewarm feelings.  And no Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but that was never in the cards anyway.

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”

The favorites came in.  Both Trumbo and Steve Jobs were disappointments at the box office, but the leading performances were enough, I guess.

Eddie Redmayne won last year, which may make it a bit tougher to win again, but you never know.  None of the other have ever won an Oscar for acting. 

This may be the first time every nominee in this category is the character named in the title.

Tom Hanks didn't get nominated, but no one was really expecting it. I just want to note that though he at one time seemed an Academy favorite, they haven't nominated him in fifteen years.  Johnny Depp didn't make it for Black Mass. Right call, but a lot of critics thought it was a comeback for him.

Some people thought maybe Idris Elba for Beasts Of No Nation, but I'm not even sure if the voters watched it.  Also, no Will Smith--his performance in Concussion was good, but no one really liked the film.  And nothing for Michael B. Jordan for Creed.  Some will note that no black man got nominated, but there's only so much room, and no limit to the number of snubs allowed.

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”

Yet again the five favorites take it.  Even though Joy didn't overwhelm, Jennifer Lawrence gets her fourth nomination in six years.  Perhaps because it was a weak year for female leads.

While Blanchett and Lawrence are Academy favorites and former winners, the other three have, before this year, only one nomination and no wins between them

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”

No shocks here, and, as is often the case, this category looks to be the most competitive.

Nominees were expected from The Big Short and Spotlight, which had solid ensembles--the only question was which ones.  So now the rest of those casts can hate Ruffalo and Bale (who are both Academy favorites).  Michael Keaton and Steve Carell got Best Actor nominations last year, but couldn't even manage a supporting actor nod this year.

Stallone hasn't been nominated since the original Rocky, released in 1976.  He's also being nominated for playing the same character--a rarity.

Mark Rylance has won three Tonys, but who cares--this is his first Oscar nomination.

Some thought Jacob Tremblay would make it for Room, but it's hard for a little kid to get nominated.  If you don't like it, Jake, blame Stallone. Some thought Michael Shannon had a good chance for 99 Homes, but I don't think anyone saw that film.

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”

Finally a little love for The Hateful Eight.

The rest were sort of expected, and are all from films that got acting nominations elsewhere.

Some thought Kristen Stewart might sneak in for the little seen Clouds Of Sils Maria.  She won the Cesar award for it (the French Oscar) but I guess no one in Hollywood was impressed.

Also, no Helen Mirren for Trumbo.  The Academy likes her, but really, it wasn't much of a performance (or a role).

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

The biggest surprise here is no Ridley Scott for The Martian, which was a big hit and a true director's film.  No Todd Haynes, but if Carol isn't nominated for Best Picture, it's hard to give him Best Director.  Also, there's no Spielberg here, though his film is nominated for Best Picture.  I guess there's no real excitement for Bridge Of Spies.

Scott, Haynes and Spielberg are probably looking at relative newcomer Lenny Abrahamson and wondering how he made it.

Inarritu won last year.  He made a speech about immigration for some reason.  Based on the subject matter of this year's list, I would guess Adam McKay or Tom McCarthy would be most likely to make a blowhard speech if they won.

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

No surprises, except maybe The Revenant is missing--this is the film with the most nominations overall.  Perhaps the Academy sees the film as too visual to get a writing nod. Four of these are nominated for Best Picture.

Also, Aaron Sorkin, an Academy favorite, gets nothing for Steve Jobs.  That'll teach him to write an inert gabfest.

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

No Mad Max.  Maybe for the same reason The Revenant missed out--Max has the second-most nominations, but hardly any dialogue.

Ex Machina sneaks in with its only major nomination.  (Some thought Alicia Vikander might get an acting nomination, but who can remember that far back--better to give it to her for The Danish Girl.)  And Straight Outta Compton, which some expected to get a bunch of nominations, only gets this.

Quentin Tarantino has won two screenplay Oscars, but his Hateful Eight doesn't even get a nomination.

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

It would be a true shock if Inside Out didn't win.  Note Pixar's other film, The Good Dinosaur, didn't even get a nomination.  Same for The Peanuts Movie.

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

Haven't seen most of these, but we can all rest easy that The Hunting Ground, which many saw as playing fast and loose with the facts, isn't nominated.  However, that film did get a nod for its song, "Til It Happens To You," written by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga, so if that wins who knows what'll happen.  (But anything would be better than "Simple Song #3" from Youth winning that category--the whole movie we're told how great this composer is, then we hear this unlistenable piece at the end and wonder what other lies they told us.)

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