That time of the year when I post my Annual Oscar Selections BlogPost is here! I was lucky to have watched almost most of the major nominees quite early this year thanks to all those torrents coming out much earlier than we all expected! Plus I watched a lot of nominated movies on the big screen here in Kuwait to even things up and not just depend on Screener prints!
The Oscar Buzz started in November when the Golden Globe nominations were announced and there were all round cheers for LDC for finally getting close to his elusive first Oscar! Plus the usual murmurs around all the predictions. The nominations were announced on 14th January 2016 which were mostly on the predicted lines except for some snubs and surprises for which the Academy is quite notorious for!
There was a beautiful campaign with the Tag Line “We all dream in Gold” with photoshoots of past winners holding the Golden Trophy in their hands and I loved the warmth and feel of this campaign immensely!
Actor Chris Rock will host the show for the second time, having previously hosted the 77th ceremony held in 2005. I expect lots of quirky humour moments in the ceremony for sure! Rock has a brilliant sense of humour and I am sure all the viewers would have a great time throughout the ceremony.
There was quite a funny campaign run by a website where they had posted spoof posters of all the Best Picture nominees and I had enjoyed all of them! They depicted the hidden or real for some meanings of the movies!
And now for some 2016 Oscars Trivia, Facts and Figures! This I find very exciting and have included this category everytime in my annual posts!
12 – Most nominations this year: “The Revenant.” It’s the most any movie has received since “Lincoln” got the same number three years ago. “Mad Max: Fury Road” got 10, while “The Martian” had seven.
3 – Fewest nominations for a Best Picture nominee: “Brooklyn.” The film also received nods for Saoirse Ronan in Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.
6 – Most nominations for a movie without a Best Picture nomination: “Carol.” It’s actually the most nominations a movie has received without hitting the top prize since the Academy expanded to more than five Best Picture Nominees
0 – Number of triple Oscar nominees this year (last year there were three:Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Wes Anderson and Richard Linklater).
2 – Actors who earned nominations both this year and last year: Eddie Redmayne, who follows his Best Actor win for “The Theory Of Everything” with a nod for “The Danish Girl,” and Mark Ruffalo, nominated last year for “Foxcatcher” and this year for “Spotlight.”
20 – Nominations earned by 20th Century Fox, the most for any studio (12 for “The Revenant,” 7 for “The Martian” and 1 for “Joy”). Subsidiary Fox Searchlight earned a further four (3 for “Brooklyn,” 1 for “Youth”)
8 – Number of first-time acting nominees: Bryan Cranston, Brie Larson, Charlotte Rampling, Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rachel McAdams and Alicia Vikander.
6 – Number of acting nominees who’ve already won an Oscar; Matt Damon, Eddie Redmayne, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale and Kate Winslet.
4 – Number of first-time directing nominees —all but Inarritu, last year’s winner, are first-timers in the category. In fact, only George Miller has been Oscar-nominated before: he won for Animated Feature “Happy Feet,” and was nominated for writing “Lorenzo’s Oil” and “Babe,” and for producing the latter.
7 – Number of nominations that Kate Winslet and Cate Blanchett both have, the most of any nominees this year. Leonardo DiCaprio has the most of the actors with six, and also the most without winning. Despite not getting an acting nomination, Brad Pitt also picked up his sixth nomination this year for producing “The Big Short.”
69 – The age of the oldest female acting nominee, Charlotte Rampling & 21 – The age of the youngest female acting nominee, Saoirse Ronan; this is her second nomination: she earned her first aged thirteen, for “Atonement”.
69 – The age of the oldest male acting nominee, Sylvester Stallone. He was also nominated for the same role, Rocky Balboa, 39 years ago, and has had no nominations in between & 34 – Age of the youngest male acting nominee, Eddie Redmayne.
128 – Number of total nominations for Steven Spielberg films after “Bridge Of Spies.” That’s the most of any director ever, beating William Wyler, who had 127.
98 – Rotten Tomatoes score for “Brooklyn,” the highest of the Best Picture nominees (“Fury Road,” “Room” and “Spotlight” are just behind with 97).
81 – Rotten Tomatoes score for “The Revenant,” the lowest of the Best Picture nominees (“The Big Short” is right behind, with 88).
$1.322 billion – Worldwide total box-office of the eight Best Picture nominees at the time of this writing. That’s more than three times last year’s total of $418 million, and more still than the 2013 total of $1.281 billion.
And now some controversies, snubs and surprises! The Academy just can’t live without them!
1. #OscarsSoWhite Controversy – Enough has been said/written/read about this so I won’t waste my time or yours on this!
- “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” – Left out of Best Picture inspite of being the highest earning movie in the US; it was surely loved by the majority!
- Ridley Scott, “The Martian” – He definitely deserved the nomination in the Best Director category
- Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation” – I was expecting him to be nominated in the “Best Supporting Actor” category (He even got the GG Nod) but he was snubbed and added to the #OscarsSoWhite controversy
- Aaron Sorkin, “Steve Jobs” – After a Golden Globe win , Sorkin was a surety to get a nomination for his “Steve Jobs” screenplay but got snubbed instead!
- Will Smith, “Concussion” – Smith acted superbly and adopted a near perfect Nigerian accent to play Dr. Bennet Omalu, who discovered a link between NFL players and permanent brain trauma but wasn’t considered worthy of a nomination.
- Jacob Tremblay, “Room” – This kid surely deserved a nomination! Even though he wouldn’t have won but his performance was worthy enough.
- Michael B. Jordan, “Creed” – He is one of Hollywood’s most promising young superstar (just 28 years!). He was overlooked in 2013 as well (Fruitvale Station).
- Charlize Theron, “Mad Max” – She was the heart and soul of the movie and emoted brilliantly through her eyes! Defenitely worthy of a nomination.
- Samuel L. Jackson, “The Hateful Eight” – He was the star of the movie and led the film almost single-handedly inspite of the huge line-up of character artistes. He was a sureshot in my list of “Best Male Supporting Actor” nominees but was snubbed.
- Quentin Tarantino, “The Hateful Eight” – Not nominated for Best Original Screenplay or Best Director for The Hateful Eight!
- Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy” – Even though she won the GG, I never thought her performance was worthy of an Oscar nomination but then she is America’s sweetheart! This is Lawrence’s fourth Oscar nomination —at 25, which is a record for the most Oscar nominations for an actor that young. For comparison’s sake: Meryl Streep was 33 when she earned her fourth Oscar nomination for “Sophie’s Choice.”
- Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”- He failed to earn a GG Nomination but still the Academy found him a contender which I think is a very deserving nomination!
- Lenny Abrahamson, “Room” – This was a big surprise for me considering the Academy snubbed Ridley Scott to make “Room” for Lenny (Pun intended)!
And now for the major nominations, my choices and the predictions! (I have not included all the nominations and only the ones which I feel I am good enough to predict the winners)
- “The Big Short” (Paramount Pictures)
- “Bridge of Spies” (DreamWorks)
- “Brooklyn” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
- “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Warner Bros.)
- “The Martian” (20th Century Fox)
- “The Revenant” (20th Century Fox)
- “Room” (A24 Films)
- “Spotlight” (Open Road)
Will Win: The Revenant
Could Win: Spotlight
Should have Been Here: Carol, Steve Jobs and Straight Outta Compton
My Choice: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
This Movie re-defined the word “non-stop action” in my books! If I have to use this term then I would say “Let’s do some Mad Max action”! This is a raw, unadulterated and crazy 2 hours ride without any emotional crap or relationship dilemmas! It is all about slam-bam mayhem throughout with people & vehicles flying, dying and what not and the craziest adrenaline rush I have ever experienced!Just don’t miss it for anything… After this, all the recent action movies would almost feel like cartoon films! Get ready to get mind-blown forever! Watch the trailer if you haven’t to get a taste before you go for the main-course! I was lucky to watch this movie on the big screen and loved every moment it. This is my choice because of the amazing execution of a seemingly mindless plot! The actin scenes, graphics, the slam bam action and the brilliant direction surely deserves this coveted award in my books!
- Lenny Abrahamson – “Room”
- Alejandro G. Inarritu – “The Revenant”
- Tom McCarthy – “Spotlight”
- Adam McKay – “The Big Short”
- George Miller – “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Will Win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Could Win: Tom McCarthy
Should have Been Here: Ridley Scott (The Martian), Ryan Coogler (Creed) and F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton)
My Choice: “George Miller”
The 70-year-old Miller, who spent more than a decade trying to get various iterations of a “Mad Max” sequel off the ground, not to mention months of shooting in the Namibian desert and several years in post-production. Though it includes extensive visual effects, “Fury Road” was shot with real vehicles on a real location. It’s a film’s about female empowerment, led by Charlize Theron’s one-armed warrior Furiosa, that’s makes “Fury Road” exceptional. Some have even called it a feminist action film. Miller deserves the biggest chunk for all the accolades this film has won and for that reason he is my choice!
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
- Bryan Cranston – “Trumbo”
- Matt Damon – “The Martian”
- Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Revenant”
- Michael Fassbender – “Steve Jobs”
- Eddie Redmayne – “The Danish Girl”
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Could Win: Michael Fassbender
Should have Been Here: Michael B. Jordan (Creed) and Will Smith (Concussion)
My Choice: “Leonardo DiCaprio”
This has been LDC’s year and his competition stands nowhere close to his performance playing the frontiersman and fur trapper Hugh Glass in the icy wilderness of America. He has put in a lot of hard work playing this tough character and shines all the way through the movie. He surely deserves this much coveted statuette and there won’t be any better year than this for him to win! He has won most of the awards for this category already and I am sure the ever-so-elusive Oscar is not too far away this time round!
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
- Cate Blanchett – “Carol”
- Brie Larson – “Room”
- Jennifer Lawrence – “Joy”
- Charlotte Rampling – “45 Years”
- Saoirse Ronan – “Brooklyn”
Will Win: Brie Larson
Could Win: Jennifer Lawrence
Should have Been Here: Charlize Theron (Mad Max)
My Choice: “Saoirse Ronan”
This is the most hotly contested category this year and all the nominated actresses have a chance and it would be a deserving win indeed. But my clear favourite & winner is Saoirse Ronan plays a young Irish woman who emigrates to New York City in the 1950s who subtly channels the angst and excitement of a dislocated newcomer in a new land, perfectly capturing the immigrant’s experience. The film is a tear-jerker and an inspirational saga, without any false emotions. The 21-year-old Ronan carried this responsibility on her young and very able shoulders and she deserves to win! But I won’t mind at all if my second choice Brie Larson wins it for Room, in which the 26-year-old Californian plays a kidnap victim who raises her son in a shed in the backyard of her captor, a sexual predator who imprisons her for years before an escape profoundly changes the lives of this young mother and her child.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
- Christian Bale – “The Big Short”
- Tom Hardy – “The Revenant”
- Mark Ruffalo – “Spotlight”
- Mark Rylance – “Bridge of Spies”
- Sylvester Stallone – “Creed”
Will Win: Sylvester Stallone
Could Win: Mark Ruffalo
Should have Been Here: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight) and Jacob Tremblay (Room)
My Choice: “Mark Rylance”
Mark Rylance played the character of a real-life & enigmatic Soviet spy Rudolf Abel who betrayed almost nothing about himself in the brilliant spy drama movie “Bridge of Spies” directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg. He is my choice because he created the strongest impact in the movie and when Tom Hanks is the lead actor, that is no mean feat but a very special achievement! His lifeless and blank expressions say a lot and his iconic one-liners would stay in my mind forever! And am sure you would also say “does it help?”
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
- Jennifer Jason Leigh – “The Hateful Eight”
- Rooney Mara – “Carol”
- Rachel McAdams – “Spotlight”
- Alicia Vikander – “The Danish Girl”
- Kate Winslet – “Steve Jobs”
Will Win: Rooney Mara
Could Win: Kate Winslet
Should have Been Here: None who comes to my mind!
My Choice: “Jennifer Jason Leigh”
Leigh played the wicked & cunning character of Daisy Domergue in the crime caper “The Hateful Eight” directed by Quentin Tarantino. ANother of those performances which created a strong impact amidst the long line-up of strong actors inlcuding Samuel. L. Jackson! She is evil, doesn’t hide it and those emotions have been portrayed absolutely perfectly! I loved her performance to bits and is my coice for this award!
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- “Bridge of Spies”
- “Ex Machina”
- “Inside Out”
- “Straight Outta Compton”
Will Win: Spotlight
Could Win: Straight Outta Compton (the sympathy win to get the #OscarsSoWhite off their back)
Should have Been Here: Tarantino for The Hateful Eight
My Choice: “Inside Out”
Inside Out introduces audiences to the voices inside their heads in this dazzling & heartfelt animation movie. From a control panel, Joy along with Fear, Disgust, Anger and Sadness can see everything Riley (the lead character) sees and react appropriately (or not). This movie provides a fresh and creative perspective on mental health, equipping children and adults alike with a new perspective on what it means to suffer from depression. And this is what makes me decide as the winner for this highly respected category. The brilliant idea behind the plot has been portrayed beautifully which engages all its viewers – adults and children alike!
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
- “The Boy and the World”
- “Inside Out”
- “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
- “When Marnie Was There”
Will Win: Inside Out
Could Win: Anomalisa
Should have Been Here: No other movie comes to my mind!
My Choice: “Inside Out”
My reasons already mentioned above…
“Carol” (Ed Lachman)
“The Hateful Eight” (Robert Richardson)
“Mad Max: Fury Road” (John Seale)
“The Revenant” (Emmanuel Lubezki)
“Sicario” (Roger Deakins)
Will Win: The Revenant
Could Win: Carol
Should have Been Here: No other movie comes to my mind!
My Choice: “The Revenant” (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki has been nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning last year for Birdman and in 2014 for Gravity. Hhe will undoubtedly take home his third golden man come Oscars night on the 28th of February. The cast and crew endured long hours in the harsh, freezing conditions of the Canadian & Argentine wilderness, with the difficulties heightened by Inarritu and Lubezki’s insistence on shooting using only natural light in locations with minimal daylight hours. I was wowed by the camera shots, from diluted sunlight on snow-covered mountains to the sunsets bursting with colour and fir trees dripping with icicles. My love for the Indian mountain range “The Himalayas” also makes this film a clear winner!
BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)
- “Cartel Land”
- “The Look of Silence”
- “What Happened, Miss Simone?”
- “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”
Will Win: The Look of Silence
Could Win: Amy
Should have Been Here: Haven’t watched any others to be honest!
My Choice: “The Look of Silence”
“The Look of Silence” is Oppenheimer’s sequel, of sorts, to Oscar-nominated stunner “The Act of Killing.” which failed to win the Oscar 2 years back. This Indonesian documentary feature has won over 40 top documentary prizes around the world in 2015 and that says a lot! “The Look of Silence” focuses on the victims — specifically, one man, Adi, an optometrist whose brother was brutally murdered and still remains haunted by his death and the killers’ flagrant lack of repentance. It offers a very direct and unwavering gaze into the manic mayhem which took place many years ago. Thanks to the acclaim it received, Adi (the lead character) and his family also received the True/False Film Festival’s True Life Fund award, amounting to a $35,000 grant, which Adi has put to opening an optometry store in Indonesia! This movie stunned me beyond belief and all the scenes kept playing in my mind hours after the credits appeared on the screen. And that strong impact is the reason for this being my choice over all the other nominees in this category.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
This is the only category in which I am yet to watch all the nominees so this selection is definitely skewed!
- “Embrace of the Serpent” – NOT WATCHED SO FAR
- “Son of Saul” – NOT WATCHED SO FAR
- “A War”
Will Win: Son of Saul
Could Win: Mustang
Should have Been Here: Phoenix
My Choice: “Mustang”
This is a skewed choice as I have not been able to watch the clear contender “Son of Saul” but amongst the 3 other nominated movies which I have watched, Mustang clearly stands out on the top! The film is set in a remote Turkish village and depicts the lives of five young orphaned sisters and challenges they face growing up as girls in a conservative society. The event that triggers the family backlash against the five sisters at the beginning of the film is based on the director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s personal life. The film’s enchanting setting, the thoughtful background score and most importantly mostly the equally brilliant five sisters make this movie a spectacular affair. The striking intimacy between them is so genuine that sometimes it’s hard to believe “Mustang” isn’t actually playing live infront of your eyes! I was leaning towards “Theeb” initially but the sincerity & authenticity of “Mustang” makes it as my clear choice.
Hope you enjoyed reading my post; it would be great to discuss your thoughts in the comments section below. I am sure that some of your choices would be considerably different than mine but that is quite obvious. DO share your thoughts.
2016 has started on a good note for me and I have already watched some 40-odd movies so far. There are some brilliant movies lined up for the rest of the year and I am very excited about all of them! The first one being “Hail, Caeser”, directed by The Coen Brothers which i am going to watch on the big screen next week!
So till the time we meet again…
Cheers to life…
Till then ride safe and have safe sex…
Hasta la Victoria Siempre…