Friday, February 26, 2016

Mike's Musings: 2016 Oscar Predictions

Here we are again...this time, I'm not waiting til the day of the event before making my predictions.  The Oscars, as we all know, are less of a celebration of quality than a night of brown-nosing and egos.  And strange looks on the red carpet.  However, that doesn't mean that I, being a critic, should weigh in on who should and who will win the gold statue.  After all, what else am I going to do on this 2 hour flight?

Best Picture:

"The Big Short"
"Brooklyn"
"Bridge of Spies"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"The Martian"
"The Revenant"
"Room"
"Spotlight"

Ultimately, the top honor is going to come down between two movies (as usual).  Last year it was "Boyhood" and "Birdman."  This year, it's "Spotlight" and "The Revenant."  Both of the latter films were directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu.  And it looks like he's going to win again.  "The Revenant" has been winning a lot lately, and while it's not deserving of the award (or even a nomination), it's at least less pretentious than "Birdman."  Still, there's always the hope that "Spotlight" will take the top honor.  Actually, my vote would go to "Brooklyn," since it's the best film of the nominees, but it ain't gonna happen.

What should win: "Brooklyn"
What will win: "The Revenant"

Best Actor:

Bryan Cranston, "Trumbo"
Matt Damon, "The Martian"
Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant"
Michael Fassbender, "Steve Jobs"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Danish Girl"

This category is easy to pick.  Leonardo DiCaprio.  A big star since "Titanic," DiCaprio has been nominated five times for an acting Oscar (plus one for Best Picture for "The Wolf of Wall Street"  Despite some great performances, he's never taken one home, and his momentum has been unstoppable.  Hell, they have an internet game about it.  The only other nominated performance I've seen this year is Matt Damon in "The Martian," but DiCaprio has been unstoppable.  Both performances are nomination worthy, but in my opinion, neither are strong enough to be a clear "winner."  My vote would have gone to Michael Keaton for "Spotlight," but he wasn't nominated.  But in DiCaprio's case, that's due to the nature of the part.  For my money, though, he should have won for "Titanic" (which he wasn't nominated, surprisingly) and "Blood Diamond."

Who should win: DiCaprio
Who will win: DiCaprio

Best Actress:

Cate Blanchett, "Carol"
Brie Larson, "Room"
Jennifer Lawrence, "Joy"
Charlotte Ramplling, "45 Years"
Saoirse Ronan, "Brooklyn"

Like DiCaprio, Brie Larson has been winning awards left and right for "Room."  She was good, but not great.  It's more the type of role, which is one of those parts that is designed specifically to appeal to awards audiences.  If she wins, and she will, it won't be a travesty on par with Gwyneth Paltrow beating Cate Blanchett.  Ironically, it was Blanchett who had the last laugh, since she's getting all the good roles (not to mention 2 trophies herself versus Paltrow's lone Oscar) and the best that Paltrow can do is Pepper Potts in the Marvel movies.  But my vote would go to Saoirse Ronan, whos portrayal of a woman alone in a new country and torn between two men and two worlds was touching and beautiful.  She'll have to be satisfied with a second nomination for now, but I'm confident that she will win one down the road.  She's too talented not to.

Who should win: Ronan
Who will win: Larson

Best Supporting Actor:

Mark Rylance, "Bridge of Spies"
Christian Bale, "The Big Short"
Tom Hardy, "The Revenant"
Mark Ruffalo, "Spotlight
Sylvester Stallone, "Creed"

I haven't seen "Creed" or "The Big Short," so I can't comment on Stallone and Bale.  The choice for me is between Tom Hardy and Mark Ruffalo.  On one hand, Tom Hardy did a very good job playing a total asshole.  I hated the character, which was the goal, so I suppose I have to give him credit for that.  But Fitzgerald was so despicable that I'm not sure I want to give him my vote.  A lot of villainous characters are Oscar-worthy (Anthony Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs" is a classic example), but there's something about him that makes me want to give the award to someone else.  I'd choose Mark Ruffalo, whose turn as a passionate reporter is excellent.  It's tough to say whether this is his best performance since there are plenty of options for that honor, but it's up there.  His angry plea to publish the story as soon as they have the story (the "It could have been you, it could have been me, it could have been any of us" speech for those of you who have seen the film) is enough to win him the Oscar.  But the award will go to Sylvester Stallone for playing his breakout role of Rocky Balboa.  I wasn't a fan of the original "Rocky," which is why I didn't see "Creed," but he's been winning everything, so it doesn't look like that's going to change on Sunday night.

Who should win: Ruffalo
Who will win: Stallone

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh, "The Hateful Eight"
Rooney Mara, "Carol"
Rachel McAdams, "Spotlight"
Alicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl"
Kate Winslet, "Steve Jobs"

Who should win?  Who will win?  I haven't the foggiest idea.  This category has always been a wild card, which further complicates things.  There were some good performances here, to be sure.  I saw "The Hateful Eight" (the uncut, 70mm version), but I didn't review it because I was late.  Frankly, I wasn't impressed.  It was the kind of thing that might have worked better on stage.  Jennifer Jason Leigh did a great job playing a psycho, but I thought she was much more compelling and frightening in "Single White Female" than she was in "The Hateful Eight."  2015's "It-girl" Alicia Vikander has been making waves all year, starting with "Ex Machina."  I didn't see "The Danish Girl," but buzz is always key when it comes to determining a winner.  When I first saw "Spotlight," I thought that Rachel McAdams was a longshot for a nomination as the sensitive reporter.  But here we are.  And given the nominees, she's the one I'd give it to.

Who should win: McAdams
Who will win: Vikander

Best Director

Adam McKay, "The Big Short"
George Miller, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, "The Revenant"
Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"
Lenny Abrahamson, "Room"

It looks to be Innaritu's year all over again.  No one else has been getting any buzz.  George Miller is a dark horse, being a legacy filmmaker and the fact that "Mad Max: Fury Road" was a surprise hit.  But he can't match Innaritu.  I was initially going to give my vote to Tom McCarthy, but then I remembered that "Spotlight" was a little disorganized.  I didn't see "The Big Short" given how much I hated Adam McKay's other movies.  I'm sure I'll see it eventually, but after the "Anchorman" films, it'll  have to be on par with "Borat" for me to consider giving it a serious vote.  Since the options aren't very good, I'm going to give it to George Miller because he created action scenes that were a, visually pleasing to the eye, and b, actually raised the pulse.

Who should win: Miller
Who will win, Innaritu

Best Original Screenplay

"Bridge of Spies"
"Ex Machina"
"Inside Out"
"Spotlight"
"Straight Outta Compton"

The Academy likes to recognize surprise hits, especially in this category ("Borat" is an example).  That's why I think that "Straight Outta Compton" will win the award.  No one expected it to be as big of a hit as it was.  It wasn't that great in my opinion, but I could see its appeal.  It understood the material and its audience.  My vote would go to "Ex Machina," because explored the line between humanity and artificial intelligence in such a thoughtful and thorough way.

What should win: "Ex Machina"
What will win: "Straight Outta Compton"

Best Adapted Screenplay

"The Big Short"
"Brooklyn"
"Carol"
"The Martian"
"Room"

I have absolutely no idea what will win here.  They could get a shout out to "The Martian," seeing as it was a big hit but likely won't win any other serious Oscars.  Or they could go the arthouse route and give it to "Room" or "Carol."  It's a tough call.  I do know who I would give it to.  Nick Hornby for "Brooklyn."  Every line is rich and deep, character development is exceptional and it provides a sense of balance for both New York and Ireland.  It enables the story to be both deceptively simple and emotionally complex.  It's one gorgeous script.  Knock on wood that it wins.

What should win: "Brooklyn"
What will win: "Brooklyn"

Best Animated Film

"Inside Out"
"Anomalisa"
"Boy and the World"
"Shaun the Sheep Movie"
"When there was Marnie"

This should be totally obvious.

What should win: "Inside Out"
What will win: "Inside Out"

Best Foreign Film

"Son of Saul"
"A War"
"Embrace of the Serpent"
"Theeb"
"Mustang"

There's only one movie in this category that's been getting any sort of buzz.

What should win: No idea
What will win: "Son of Saul"

Best Cinematography

"Carol"
"The Hateful Eight"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"The Revenant"
"Sicario"

Another tough call.  It's not going to be "The Revenant."  Emmanuel Lubezki won the past two years in a row, and I strongly doubt he'll go three for three.  Legendary cameraman Roger Deakins got his 13th nomination for "Sicario," although if he wins, it will be because he's long overdue.

What should win: "Carol"
What will win: "Sicario"

That's it, everyone!  Let's see how I do Sunday night!


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