Eight nominees? WTF, Academy? If you’re going to change the structure to allow ten nominees, then have ten nominees!
By Peg Aloi
Well, like many people the awards shows these days are pretty lackluster for me. I miss the days of Vanessa Redgrave getting inappropriately political and then getting smacked down by Paddy Chayefsky; or did I dream that? Anyway, I love the glamour and the gowns and the hurried emotional thank yous as much as anyone. But at this point there is not much that’s surprising when the winners are announced, given that the choices often seem driven by complex industry nepotism and popularity contests. Sigh. Of course this year we do have some interesting contextual tension, with the complaints about a lack of nominations for performers of color, and the lack of women in directorial roles. Maybe one (or both) of those topics will get a bit more than the requisite 30 seconds of acceptance speech time.
Anyway, all that in mind, here are my own thoughts on who should win, and who will win. Do they match your own predictions?
Here is a list of all the major nominated award categories. Note: I am leaving out some categories because I have not seen enough of the films to evaluate the nominees.
Best Foreign Language Film
Some very strong films here. I think Mustang should win. I have a feeling it will be Son of Saul. It’s a terrific film intense, beautiful, harrowing, and an impressive debut. But the Holocaust is one of those topics where it seems there is almost a kneejerk tendency to award films that deal with it. Child bride culture, not so much. Then there’s Embrace of the Serpent, a stunning film about ayahuasca use among indigenous peoples! The winner in this category often surprises me. Go, Mustang! But Son of Saul would be a respectable choice. Should win: MUSTANG. Will Win: SON OF SAUL. Personal Fave: MUSTANG.
Music (Original Score)
I think Carol should win this, hands down (and in fact, I hope this film sweeps the awards, seeing as director Todd Haynes was scrupulously overlooked for a well-deserved nomination). But I have a feeling Bridge of Spies might take this one. Or maybe that box office blockbuster, Star Wars, which will probably have an impressive musical stage performance/interpretation during the show. Hateful 8, maybe. Should Win: CAROL. Will Win: BRIDGE OF SPIES. Personal Fave: CAROL.
Mad Max: Fury Road should (and possibly will) pretty much take every visual award offered this season; but science fiction films rarely win much beyond effects and design categories. Bridge of Spies was jaw-droppingly gorgeous, no question. The Revenant is a strong contender and a bold choice, given its use of natural light and natural exteriors. The Martian is a good choice for this one too. Should Win: BRIDGE OF SPIES. Will Win: BRIDGE OF SPIES. Personal Fave: BRIDGE OF SPIES.
Should Win: SICARIO. Will Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Personal Fave: SICARIO.
Should Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Will Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Personal Fave: SICARIO.
This category is annoying because overuse of effects is getting to be a problem for me as a film goer. Still, it’s pretty amazing what can be done with CGO these days. The Revenant? Beyond the bear, I dunno. Ex Machina was fun in this regard. Star Wars, meh. Gonna Go with Mad Max here too. Should Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Will Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Personal Fave: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
Writing: Adapted Screenplay
Hard nut to crack here. The Big Short was pretty impressive in this regard. Carol is just a lovely screenplay, but too subtle for a win, maybe? Adapting Room must have been no mean feat, but it felt implausible to me at times. Still, people love this film for some reason. Maybe it’s that sad-eyed kid with the wild hair? The Big Short got a lotta love from critics but not so much from mainstream media. Should Win: THE BIG SHORT. Will Win: ROOM. Personal Fave: CAROL.
Writing: Original Screenplay
Inside Out? Seriously? That idea was stolen from the TV show Herman’s Head. And it’s a little weird to me that Spotlight is not an adapted screenplay. Straight Outta Compton was a great film but the screenplay had some wooden dialogue here and there. This category bugs me this year. Should Win: SPOTLIGHT. Will Win: SPOTLIGHT. Personal Fave: SPOTLIGHT.
Animated Feature Film
Should Win: ANOMALISA. Will Win: INSIDE OUT. Personal Fave: ANOMALISA.
Oh, a favorite category of mine always. Carol is the obvious choice. Not to say The Revenant was not gorgeously shot (and Lubezki is a great cinematographer), and the use of natural light very impressive. Mad Max, sure. Sicario, a contender (Riger Deakins, HELLO). Hateful 8, yeah, but… My vote is Ed Lachman. Should Win: CAROL. Will Win: CAROL. Personal Fave: CAROL.
Should Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Will Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Personal Fave: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. (Honorable Mention to THE BIG SHORT)
The great Sandy Powell is up for TWO awards this year (for Carol and Cinderella). I enjoyed the costumes for The Danish Girl quite a lot. Usually it is the showiest contender that wins this category, and Ms. Powell has of course done amazing work on many period films. Carol’s costumes are too subtle for a win; and the Mad Max costumes perhaps too dark (though they have a steampunk element that is hot right now), likewise The Revenant, very authentic but no glam. Tough call. Should Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Will Win: CINDERELLA. Personal Fave: CAROL.
Makeup and Hairstyling
(When did those both become one word?) Anyway … Should Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Will Win: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Personal Fave: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
Actor in a Supporting Role
TOM HARDY. Shut up. Mark Rylance might upset things; but despite loving him as an actor (and I am guessing a lot of filmgoers have never heard of him), this role was not terribly demanding. Anyway, this category always makes me crazy. Should Win: CHRISTIAN BALE. Will Win: SYLVESTER STALLONE. Personal Fave: TOM HARDY.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Not sure about the Kate Winslet nomination: then again I thought Steve Jobs was pretty unwatchable despite a great cast. Jennifer Jason Leigh is due, for sure. Rachel McAdams was fine. Rooney Mara’s performance in Carol was incandescent but too subtle for some critics I guess. Alicia Vikander is having a breakout year. Ugh, tough call. Should Win: ROONEY MARA. Will Win: JENNIFER JASON LEIGH. Personal Fave: ROONEY MARA.
Actor in a Leading Role
I have some issues with these nominations. Fassbender has been so much better in so many other roles, why a nomination for this slow-moving navel-gazer of a film? Leo’s great, but Mother Nature overshadowed his performance a bit. Eddie Redmayne was terrific; but winning the prize two years in a row, not likely. Loved Cranston; though that dialogue in Trumbo was a bit ham-fisted at times. Matt Damon? I liked The Martian, but the role was not super demanding. Should Win: BRYAN CRANSTON. Will Win: LEONARDO DICAPRIO. Personal Fave: EDDIE REDMAYNE.
Actress in a Leading Role
Always fraught, this category, because of the perpetually-lurking question of rare roles for aging actresses. Charlotte Rampling is great in 45 Years: a quiet, nuanced yet powerful performance. Saoirse Ronan was lovely but her day will surely come. Cate Blanchett winning two years in a row, not likely, even though she smolders in Carol. Jennifer Lawrence is great, but she’s been in much better movies. Brie Larson is stunning in a film that I find a bit overrated (despite loving Lenny Abramson’s Frank; now THAT should have gotten Fassbender an acting nod; sorry, ladies, don’t mean to interrupt this discussion by bringing a guy into it). Hard to say how this one will go. Should Win: BRIE LARSON. Will Win: CHARLOTTE RAMPLING. Personal Fave: CATE BLANCHETT.
Why the hell was Todd Haynes not nominated? Or Spielberg? And again, I did not find Room to be a contender here; maybe because I found the screenplay somewhat implausible. Spotlight was a masterpiece, never heavy-handed or histrionic (well except for Mark Ruffalo, but I love him anyway; sorry, directors, don’t mean to interrupt this discussion by bringing an actor into it). The Revenant is a harrowing, stunning work of art, but can Iñárritu win two years in a row? The Big Short was clever as hell. Mad Max, jeez, hard to call anything better-directed than that. But doesn’t best directing automatically mean best picture, award-wise? Argh. Should Win: GEORGE MILLER, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Will Win: TOM MCCARTHY, SPOTLIGHT. Personal Fave: GEORGE MILLER, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.
Eight nominees? WTF, Academy? If you’re going to change the structure to allow ten nominees, then have ten nominees! Where’s Carol? Where’s Sicario? It was a somewhat lackluster year with some bright spots. Should Win: SPOTLIGHT. Will Win: WHO THE FUCK KNOWS? KINDA ROOTING FOR MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Personal Fave: BRIDGE OF SPIES.
Good Night, America!
Peg Aloi is a former film critic for The Boston Phoenix. She has taught film studies for a number of years at Emerson College and is currently teaching media studies at SUNY New Paltz. Her reviews have appeared in Art New England and Cinefantastique Online, and she writes a media blog for Patheos.com called The Witching Hour.