The 2016 Oscars have come and gone, and wow, was this an amazing year in cinema! We had a barrage of visually stunning and emotionally captivating films that continued to question what it means to be human. Here's a list of the winners, and if any (better) nominees were snubbed.
Best Production Design, Film Editing, Costume Design, Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing: "Mad Max: Fury Road"
The first two hours of the awards felt like the "Mad Max" show. I didn't bother to continue counting after the film had won several awards. Looking back on the results, I'm actually surprised they only won six because it seemed like every award was going their way. My good friend, and fellow cinema buff, even commented "Bro, they may dude" (meaning they may sweep all their categories and win Best Picture). I replied with, "Nah, they peak here," and the movie went on to win two more awards after my response.
For the awards "Mad Max" did win, I felt like they were justified. The film was visually and audibly stunning from what I've seen, and I haven't even watched it yet! The reason I chose not to see it was because it came out in the early summer, and looked like one of those "junkfood" movies that throw a bunch of explosions your way to keep you entertained. I watch a "junkfood" action movie every once in a while, but now I wish I had skipped "Spectre" and seen "Mad Max." Not being released during "Oscar season" really threw me off guard, and I never would have suspected the film to have garnered so much commercial and critical acclaim (including a Best Picture nod.) I will definitely be seeing "Mad Max" soon.
Best Visual Effects: "Ex Machina"
Honestly, this is another film I didn't bother to see; spring is not typically the time I expect to see many great films. I'm still sore that lead actor from "Straight Outta Compton" didn't get an Oscar nod though. That movie was legit, even if it was released in the heat of the summer!
Oh right, but we're talking about "Ex Machina." Ummm, Alicia Vikander is hot, and the film looked really clean. That's about all I can say about it from what I know. Maybe the Academy was feeling guilty about giving everything to "Mad Max" and so decided to give "Ex Machina" the only award it could conceivably win.
Best Documentary: "Amy" (Feature), "A Girl in the River" (Short)
A documentary about Amy Winehouse. Cool. I mean, it was about what I expected it to be. Amy rises and falls. Gone too soon, just like every other celebrity musician who died in their twenties. No complaints here.
I'm more excited about the winner of the Short Documentary category. A short about honor killings in the Middle East is a relevant, contemporary issue, and it will be exciting to see exactly how this affects the rights of women living there (if it does at all). Both deserved to win.
Best Animated Film: "Inside Out" (Feature), "Bear Story" (Short)
"Bear Story" was a charming film to say the least. Seeing as I don't typically hear about the animated shorts until they're nominated, it was nice to see a film I knew about before the nomination process win the gold.
As for Disney, they've obviously got the formula down. They're one of the only studios that can release a movie in the summer and blow away all the competition before it even shows up to the party. I can't complain here. "Inside Out" was one of my favorite summer movies this year, and that one part still makes me tear up (no spoilers here). If you haven't seen it yet, do it. But skip "The Good Dinosaur", I still can't get past the fact that humans wouldn't exist had the dinosaurs not died out. Sorry, I'm a realist (for the most part). With movies like "Toy Story 4" looming on the horizon, we may begin to see a sharp decline in the quality of Pixar material. (Insert needless sequels here. That goes for you too "Fast and Furious" franchise.)
Best Live Action Short Film: "Stutterer"
Sort of like "The King's Speech," but not on quite as grand of a scale. Boy meets girl on internet, boy worries about meeting her in person, blah blah blah. It had all the pieces it needed. Great job!
Best Foreign Language Film: "Son of Saul"
This movie was the winner of the Golden Globe for the same category, and this was the result I expected. I usually use the Golden Globes as a determinant for this category because I'm obviously not familiar with the foreign films, but it is important to recognize that the United States and India are not the only two countries in the world that produce good cinema. (Side note: some Indian movies, that is, and obviously, there are many trashy American Movies as well.)
Best Original Song: "Writing's On the Wall" - Sam Smith for "Spectre"
Lady Gaga's "Til It Happens to You" had a great message, but don't shoot me when I say this- it's not that great of a song. Just because a song has a great message doesn't mean it's a good song. The vocals didn't seem to match the message very well, and I felt that it could have been more emotional, but if you like it, and especially if you're a survivor of rape, then more power to you for having an anthem! I guess it would have had a greater impact on me if it "had happened to me." Great message, lackluster song in my opinion.
I didn't like The Weeknd's song even before I found out its connection to "Fifty Shades of Gray." I feel like if a song can top the charts, it should win a Grammy, not an Oscar (in most cases).
With all that said, Sam Smith's voice is simply intoxicating. He has one of those unique voices, like Adele, that is perfect for the opening to a Bond movie. (Adele won for "Skyfall" a few years back). This was the only good thing about "Spectre." They simply didn't use Christoph Waltz to his full potential, which was very disappointing. Well deserved Oscar win.
Best Score: Ennio Morricone for "The Hateful Eight"
I am a huge Tarantino fan, and it was fantastic to hear something other than a popular 70's hit in one of his films. I have to say that I am disappointed that "The Revenant" and "Spotlight" weren't nominated for Best Score. Those scores made me feel the feels. Of course, Morricone still would have won, but I feel like the Academy just threw in a bunch of other nominees knowing that "The Hateful Eight" was going to win. A much deserved win, and a standing ovation to prove it!
Best Cinematography: "The Revenant"
This was a no-brainer here. One of the best aspects of this film was it's fantastic extreme wide shots of the landscape. The director made it a point to go on location everywhere to get these shots, and good God is it a beautiful movie! That combined with his "no cuts" continuous shot style make it a cinematographic masterpiece. No contest here. Obvious victor is obvious.
Best Original Screenplay: "Spotlight"
The night opened on a high note for screenwriters as "Spotlight" nabbed the award for Best Original Screenplay. We'll talk more about this film later (wink wink nudge nudge), but the greatest aspect of this film is definitely its writing. It took a very sensitive issue to billions of people, and possibly has the greatest impact for real social change with Pope Francis in the Vatican. Here's to justice, (insert "Til It Happens to You" here).
Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Big Short"
This was a fantastic movie, even if it did scream, "Oscar bait!" It took a very contemporary issue that is still fresh in people's' minds and presented it in a quasi-humorous, dramatized documentary style with a lot of fourth wall breaks from Ryan Gosling. Entertaining through and through, "The Big Short" is an Oscar movie you'll want to watch!
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander from "The Danish Girl"
Playing the spouse of the first person to ever go through gender confirmation surgery, Vikander represents many people who still find trouble settling into the gray area of gender identity.
I'll be honest and say that I was rooting for Jennifer Jason Leigh from "The Hateful Eight" to win this award. Her performance was remarkable, but I still have yet to see "The Danish Girl" (which I'll be purchasing from my local Target tomorrow.) I'm anxious to see why Vikander beat Jennifer Jason Leigh out.
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance from "Bridge of Spies"
I'm not a Spielberg fan. To date, the only Spielberg movie I like is "Schindler's List." Forget "E.T." and "Jaws" and all that other stuff. He always felt like a generic director to me, never developing a solid, recognizable style. (The Spielberg stare is way too cliche). I don't agree with this win, but then again, there's nothing I can really do about it.
Best Lead Actress: Brie Larson for "Room"
I didn't think that Jennifer Lawrence would win. She's young yet, and I heard that she was really the only good thing about David O'Russell's disorganized biopic "Joy."
Brie Larson is a solid actress, and I heard that "Room" was a deeply emotional and psychological movie. Those, of course, are my favorite, so I'll be seeing her award-winning performance soon enough.
Best Lead Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (finally) for "The Revenant"
It's about time! This is DiCaprio's first solo Oscar win, and it's long overdue. Leonardo was the perfect centerpiece this period piece, doing everything from speaking Pawnee to swimming in freezing cold water, to sleeping naked inside a dead horse and even getting wrecked by the only CGI thing in the whole movie (a bear). I'm sure the director would have loved to have had a real bear, but there are obvious reasons why that wouldn't have worked out so well.
I was afraid that Eddie Redmayne would win a second consecutive Oscar in this category, since the Academy likes progressive stuff like gender identity. But I can now watch "The Danish Girl" in peace, knowing that justice was truly done.
We can no longer have DiCaprio no-Oscar memes. They're outdated, and boy does it feel great! Like him or love him, DiCaprio is a modern living legend of Hollywood, son!
Best Director: Alejandro Iñárritu for "The Revenant"
Okay, so if DiCaprio is a legend, then Iñárritu is the newfound god of Hollywood! This man was making indie films in Mexico only a few years ago. Last year he came out of nowhere with "Birdman" and this year he matched, if not topped, his previous Oscar success with another Oscar-worthy film.
You want to know how much of a legend Iñárritu is? The man has won four Oscars in his first two years in Hollywood. There are many people who wait their entire lives just to get one, and most of them still fall short.
He has already developed a beautiful and unique directing style, and I'm excited for his next project, whatever it might be.
Best Picture: Spotlight
So, the moment everyone has been waiting for has arrived. Morgan Freeman walks out onto the stage, the timpani rolls, and he announces the winner of Best Picture. At first, I thought he misspoke or pulled a Steve Harvey, because as much as I loved "Spotlight," I did not expect it to win!
Personally, my favorite nominee was "The Revenant," but I cannot complain about the result because "Spotlight" was definitely very Oscar-worthy. When my friend and I first went to see it in the theater, we walked out at the end, and I said, "That could win best picture." Although I was still hesitant, since we had only embarked on "Oscar season," I wanted to wait and feel out the competition.
I sat pondering on how the film about the Boston Globe investigative reporting unit snatched the Oscar. It wasn't my first choice, but could very well be my second...and that's when it hit me. Real world relevancy aside, the reason "Spotlight" won is much more dependent on how the voting for Best Picture works.
Instead of voting for your one favorite film, the Academy members rank their favorite films in order. For a lot of people I talked to, "Spotlight" was not the favorite, but like myself, it was a close second. For a few voting members, I'm sure that it was their favorite film. What made the difference, however, is everyone who ranked it as their second choice. Those people who ranked it as their second choice most likely had too diversified of opinions over first place, and so the culmination of a few first place votes and a lot of second and third place votes was enough to push "Spotlight" into the winner's circle.
The competition was strong, but in the end, I feel the Academy made the right calls. Except for Rylance, but one hiccup won't kill me. 2015 was a great year in cinema, and I look forward to this year!