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Oscars 2016: Best Picture

What a crazy Oscars season wasn’t it? Some categories have been locked up since last fall, others have come down to today, and others are legitimately too close to call. The best part of the Oscars is the unpredictability, and when they do throw a curveball into the mix, things get much more interesting. So let’s over-analyze things and see if we can score big on our ballots come Sunday.

Best Picturespotlight-xlarge

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenantrevenant-gallery-20-gallery-image

Room

Spotlight Will Win, Should Win

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

This has been a close race all season, as no one film is dominating the conversation. The Big Three, that is; screenplay-director-picture is typically vital for a clean sweep, but this year it’s all hazy. In the end though, I think Spotlight will triumph. First, it’s the right kind of film that wins Best Picture, it’s a success story for director Tom McCarthy, and it has scored acclaim across the board for its three main performers. While the same can be said for The Revenant and The Big Short, they came into the game too late and don’t have the edge that Spotlight does.

Historically, Golden Globe success doesn’t always translate into Oscar gold, and while The Revenant scored a whopping twelve Oscar nominations, it might have to settle with a win for DiCaprio and Iñárritu while Spotlight takes top prize. The film has many fans but just as many polarized haters, so it will be interesting to see if The Revenant has the mileage to sneak ahead. This is the kind of win that can only be called during the broadcast itself, as we’ll have to see how each film is doing throughout the evening. This happened last year when Birdman snuck ahead and took it from Boyhood. Switch those films with The Revenant and Spotlight respectively and it might just happen.

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I also wouldn’t count out The Big Short, which has had the strangest underdog story. It’s a film that is almost universally loved, and despite the subject matter and comedic tone, like Spotlight it’s the kind of film that historically wins. Timely, relevant, and well-made, it’s this year’s The Wolf of Wall Street (minus hookers and cocaine).

Also interesting to look at are the remaining nominees. Of course Mad Max and The Martian made it in, but the last three are well-deserved nominations. Bridge of Spies may end the night with zero wins, but Spielberg’s craftsmanship rarely goes under appreciated. Additionally Room and Brooklyn are the little indies that could this year. Any other year they would be left out, but since the rule change in 2009 it’s allowed room (get it?) for smaller films to earn recognition. The controversial rule change allows films like Beasts of the Southern Wild, Winter’s Bone, and Nebraska to call themselves nominees despite their smaller voices.

So who missed the cut? Just on the edge was Straight Outta Compton, which many thought would take a ninth slot after earning a SAG award for ensemble, which typically translates to Oscars success. Instead, it had to settle for a screenplay nomination. Also left out was Todd Haynes’s Carol, which may have lost out to Brooklyn as the small period indie piece. It’s unfortunate, as the preferential ballot may have screwed it over, but the subject matter may be too progressive for voters. Also for a while, we were all taking about Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl, and The Hateful Eight as well, but these are examples of films that didn’t live up to their hype, whose reviews may have caused them to miss out on the final list.

 

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Posted by on February 25, 2016 in 2016 Academy Awards

 

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Oscars 2016: Best Supporting Actress

Ditto the most interesting comment from my previous post. Best Supporting Actress has the luxury of being one of the few categories that still doesn’t have a runaway winner. Predictions on who would be nominated in this category were off the wall, as the two frontrunners could have made a case in Best Actress thanks to their heavy screen time. In the end, AMPAS settled with Supporting Actress for these two, and the rest fell into line as SAGs and Globes stirred the pot.

Best Supporting Actressthe-danish-girl

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol – Should Win

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – Will Win

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Power Rankings: Vikander-Mara-Winslet-Leigh-McAdams

For a while, it seemed like the only woman in contention here was Jennifer Jason Leigh. While she is indeed the best part of The Hateful Eight, the film’s lukewarm response has killed the buzz significantly. While it would be a big career resurgence for Leigh, the push simply isn’t there right now.

I see this one boiling down to Vikander versus Mara, two young competitors who give beautiful and heartfelt performances. I finally saw The Danish Girl, and thought Vikander nailed it. She’s had quite a year, and the Academy likes to go for the “it girl” of the moment narratives (see: the love for Jennifer Lawrence), even if it may not be the best performance of the bunch. Although many believe Alicia Vikander belongs in the Best Actress category, she may have put herself in a pickle since her more critically-acclaimed and actually supporting role could be found in Ex Machina, which netted her a Golden Globe nomination. As for Rooney Mara, she pairs wonderfully with Cate Blanchett, and her win might be the only one Carol goes home with on Oscars night. A shame because the film is remarkable but Mara did give the best performance of the five.

file_607874_carol-clip-cannes

While Kate Winslet may have received a last-minute boost from her Golden Globe win for Steve Jobs, the buzz for that film simply isn’t there as well. I wasn’t enamored with her performance, but I did adore the film, and it’s a shame it didn’t receive more love. Chalk it up to Steve Jobs biopic fatigue. And while Rachel McAdams stole the final slot, Spotlight has the disadvantage of being an ensemble. While the SAG Award may have confirmed a Spotlight win for Best Picture, I don’t see any of the cast breaking out last-minute.

Had Clouds of Sils Maria been released with a traditional Oscar-narrative, I could’ve seen Kristen Stewart going home big. She’s my personal nomination for Supporting Actress, for a role that earned her a Cesar Award, the first ever for an American actress. A strong campaign could’ve at least put her further into the conversation. Other omissions include Jane Fonda for Youth and Helen Mirren for Trumbo, but this category tends to skew younger and for more ‘moment’ actresses rather than seasoned pros. The Trumbo miss is troubling, as the film has seen a comeback unlike any other. Great performances also came from Joan Allen in Room and Elizabeth Banks in Love & Mercy, the latter of which I expected over McAdams, for being the best part of one of my favorite films from last year, as well as being an ‘it girl’ right now.

love-and-mercy-2015

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2016 in 2016 Academy Awards

 

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Oscars 2014 – Best Picture Predictions

With Oscar season rapidly approaching, I thought I’d give my two cents on what I think the frontrunners are for Best Picture. With the film festivals mostly over, the majority of films that have a shot have all been finished and screened. My picks represent my opinions as well as what other critics have said about the upcoming films this winter that I have not seen yet. That said, here are my choices:

Shoe-Ins

  • Gravity: This year’s “Life of Pi,” Gravity is a visual spectacle that should definitely sweep the visual effects categories. Expect a nomination for Sandra Bullock as well. The question is, will the Academy break out of their anti-science fiction film bubble and recognize Gravity as the game changer that it is?
  • Captain Phillips: Tom Hanks almost has the Best Actor win on lock here, but Greengrass’s previous films have stumbled at the Oscars in the past. Possibly an Adapted Screenplay and Director nomination could push Phillips to the front of the pack.
  • Inside Llewyn Davis: The Coen brothers indie film has made a splash at festivals this fall, garnering universal praise. They’re an Academy favorite, and with a few acting nominations possible, Llewyn Davis could have a shot at the title.
  • American Hustle: David O. Russell’s films have been past Academy hits, and hot off of Silver Linings Playbook, the director should make some noise once Hustle finally hits theaters.
  • August: Osage County: With an enormous ensemble cast and many Academy favorites, this adaptation of Tracy Letts’ award-winning play could become a sleeper hit this Christmas. With favorites like Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, expect Osage County to pick up a couple of acting nominations as well.
  • Nebraska: Alexander Payne’s black and white dramedy should play well with the older crowd. Bruce Dern made a splash Cannes, pushing him to the spotlight for Best Actor. Nebraska looks like it has a shot at the title, but we’ll have to see how it plays upon its release.

Most Likelys

  • 12 Years a Slave: Steve McQueen’s first mainstream hit, 12 Years a Slave will be this year’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild:” Does very well critically, gains a few acting nominations, but ultimately falls behind amidst the fan favorites.
  • Blue Jasmine: Cate Blanchette seems poised to win Best Actress, but Woody Allen films have been difficult to break into the mainstream in the past.
  • Blue is the Warmest Color: The Palme d’Or winner has been causing quite a bit of controversy, but it looks to be this year’s “Amour,” and might have a chance at a Best Picture nom.
  • Dallas Buyers Club: Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto seem locked for acting noms, but its unknown director and limited release might hinder its big breakout.
  • Saving Mr. Banks: The Walt Disney tale of the Mary Poppins writer looks to be a crowd-pleaser, but that might keep it from breaking in the top categories. A nomination for Hanks or Thompson seems likely, though.
  • Rush: The Ron Howard Formula One drama was a critical success, and could net a few acting nominations, but Howard’s films have received mixed Academy attention in the past.

Possiblys

  • The Wolf of Wall Street: Scorsese’s crime drama had some release date issues, and its long run time could lure audiences away. But with a cast featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill, we’ll have to wait and see once the film hits theaters on Christmas Day.
  • Her: The Spike Jones drom-com has received critical acclaim thus far, but its interesting premise could turn some voters off. But the star-studded cast seems ready to make some noise in the acting nominations.
  • Fruitvale Station: The early summer sleeper, Fruitvale Station should make a splash with its leading man, but hasn’t received much of a push to the front of the pack.
  • All is Lost: The Robert Redford-helmed hit could break out thanks to what’s been called a phenomenal performance by Redford, but its unknown director and lack of any other actors might hurt its performance this spring.
  • Lee Daniels’ The Butler: The crowd pleaser of the summer has received some negative controversy for its portrayal of certain presidents, but both Whitaker and Winfrey are likely front-runners in the acting race.
  • Enough Said: Gandolfini’s last film could net him a nomination, but the Nicole Holofcener comedy might be pushed aside due to its comedy premise.
  • Labor Day: The Jason Reitman drama might be a last-minute hit with its direction and acting, but with its late release date and lack of marketing, it might fall aside for the bigger guns.
  • Philomena: The British comedy made some noise when it premiered last month, and Dench’s performance might net her a nomination, but once again the lack of attention and support surrounding the film could hurt it.

Long-Shots

  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: The Ben Stiller-directed vehicle has audience’s attention, but critics received it negatively when it premiered at the New York Film Festival last month.
  • Frances Ha: The Netherlands dramedy played well with critics in its limited release, but the foreign film most likely won’t break into American viewer’s list of favorites.
  • The Book Thief: The adaptation of the popular novel hasn’t been making much noise since its release, and it doesn’t seem to be playing for the big awards.
  • Before Midnight: The Linklater finale to the acclaimed trilogy might capture a screenplay nomination, but his films have received mixed Academy support in the past.
 
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Posted by on November 9, 2013 in 2014 Academy Awards

 

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