Sunday, February 21, 2016

Reid's 2016 Oscar Preview (2015 Movies)

As many of you know, each year, I write an Oscar Preview using a format from the Boston Globe in which critics preview the Academy Awards, using 4 categories:  “Will Win,” “Should Win,” “Shouldn’t Be Here,” and “Was Robbed,” following each with a paragraph about the races.  So, here is the preview for this year's contests:

Best Picture

The Nominees: "The Big Short," "Bridge of Spies," "Brooklyn," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "The Martian," "The Revenant," "Room," "Spotlight"
Will Win: “Spotlight”
Should Win: “Spotlight”
Shouldn’t Be Here: “Brooklyn”
Was Robbed:  “Creed” 

"Creed" was the movie most hurt by this year's slight of African American artists by the Academy.  It's the year's best movie, and it wasn't even nominated.  My second favorite movie of 2015 was "Bridge of Spies," but I'm saying that "Spotlight," although slightly flawed, will win and should win because of the importance of its subject matter.  People should see this movie, and an Oscar win would help that.  "Brooklyn" was a good, little movie, but it's not Oscar-caliber.

Best Actor

The Nominees:
  • 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"
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Revenant"
Should Win: Bryan Cranston in "Trumbo"
Shouldn’t Be Here: Michael Fassbender in "Steve Jobs"
Was Robbed:  Michael B. Jordan in "Creed"

DiCaprio did a great job in a physically difficult role, but he never really made me care about him as a person, while Cranston's portrayal of Dalton Trumbo was incredibly nuanced.  Michael B. Jordan showed again that he's a star on the rise in his non-nominated role as the son of Apollo Creed from the "Rocky" movies, while Michael Fassbender's reading of Aaron Sorkin's overly wordy script seemed more like an acting workshop than an actual movie.

Best Actress

The Nominees:
  • Cate Blanchett in "Carol"
  • Brie Larson in "Room"
  • Jennifer Lawrence in "Joy"
  • Charlotte Rampling in "45 Years"
  • Saoirse Ronan in "Brooklyn"
Will Win: Brie Larson in "Room"
Should Win: Brie Larson in "Room"
Shouldn’t Be Here: Jennifer Lawrence in "Joy"
Was Robbed:  Charlize Theron in "Mad Max: Fury Road"

The race for this award should be between Brie Larson and Charlize Theron, but absurdly, Theron was not nominated.  Fortunately, Larson was, and she will deservedly win her first Oscar (I'm predicting more in her future).

Best Director

The Nominees:
  • Lenny Abramson for "Room"
  • Alejandro Iñárritu for "The Revenant"
  • Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight"
  • Adam McKay for "The Big Short"
  • George Miller for "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Will Win: Alejandro Iñárritu for "The Revenant"
Should Win: George Miller for "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Shouldn’t Be Here: Adam McKay for "The Big Short"
Was Robbed:  Ryan Coogler for "Creed" and Steven Spielberg for "Bridge of Spies"

Iñárritu will win for the difficult task it took to make "The Revenant," but George Miller's reimagining of the Mad Max franchise was visually breathtaking.  Coogler suffered from the lack of nominations for African Americans, but after making "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed," I have a feeling he'll have more Oscar opportunities.  And it's easy to overlook Spielberg, as the Academy often does, but this was one of his best movies.

Best Supporting Actor

The Nominees:
  • 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"
Will Win: Sylvester Stallone in "Creed"
Should Win: Sylvester Stallone in "Creed"
Shouldn’t Be Here: none
Was Robbed: Idris Elba in "Beasts of No Nation" and O'Shea Jackson, Jr. in "Straight Outta Compton"

It's a shame that the only person nominated for an award in "Creed" was the only white person with a major role, but that's not to take away from Stallone's performance, which reminded us that despite all the action-film bluster, the guy can act.  Aside from that, it's a good group of actors that could have benefitted from the addition of Idris Elba and/or O'Shea Jackson, Jr., who did an outstanding job playing his father (Ice Cube) in "Straight Outta Compton."

Best Supporting Actress

The Nominees:
  • Jennifer Jason Lee in "The Hateful Eight"
  • Rooney Mara in "Carol"
  • Rachel McAdams in "Spotlight"
  • Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl"
  • Kate Winslet in "Steve Jobs"
Will Win: Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl"
Should Win: Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl"
Shouldn’t Be Here: Rachel McAdams in "Spotlight"
Was Robbed:  Tessa Thompson in "Creed"

Swedish actress Alicia Vikander was in four good movies this year, but this was her best role, and it was arguably better suited for the "Best Actress" category.  Nevertheless, she nailed it, making the most of a difficult part.  And while Rachel McAdams did a decent job, the role was somewhat inconsequential, especially compared to that of Tessa Thompson in "Creed."

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Nominees:
  • Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for "The Big Short"
  • Nick Hornby for "Brooklyn"
  • Phyllis Nagy for "Carol"
  • Drew Goddard for "The Martian"
  • Emma Donaghue for "Room"
Will Win: Emma Donaghue for "Room"
Should Win: Emma Donaghue for "Room"
Shouldn’t Be Here: Phyllis Nagy for "Carol"
Was Robbed:  Donald Margulies for "The End of the Tour"

Any time you watch all of the actors do a great job, you have to give some of the credit to their lines, and that's the case with "Room."  And while I barely remember the actors saying anything in "Carol," I loved the writing in "The End of the Tour."

Best Original Screenplay

The Nominees:
  • Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen for "Bridge of Spies"
  • Alex Garland for "Ex Machina"
  • Peter Docter, Meg LeFauvre, and Josh Cooley for "Inside Out"
  • Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight"
  • Jonathan Herman for "Straight Outta Compton"
Will Win: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight"
Should Win: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for "Spotlight"
Shouldn’t Be Here: Peter Docter, Meg LeFauvre, and Josh Cooley for "Inside Out"
Was Robbed: Amy Schumer for "Trainwreck"

This one should be close between "Spotlight" and "Bridge of Spies," but "Spotlight" has the momentum, so it will win.  I thought the premise of "Inside Out" was intriguing, but the script itself was not so interesting.  In the meantime, Amy Schumer redefined what you can and should say in a romantic comedy.

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