No matter how good the films are each year, the actual Oscar ceremony can vary wildly in tone and quality. In recent years viewing figures have been in rapid decline, then with this year’s #OscarsSoWhite controversy things looked perilous.
Cue, Chris Rock, the African-American host who held his ground through calls to boycott and quit, delivering a piece of satirical presenting that rarely wavered from tonal perfection! That must be the one thing that saved this year’s ceremony above all else, that Rock had been hired before the nominations were announced and so was perfectly poised to be able to comment on racial matters in a way that no white or replacement host could have even dreamt of. Sure, he didn’t let it go for the whole night, returning to the same well for material each time he stepped on stage, but somehow he managed to avoid being bitter and even addressed the boycotters in the most direct way possible.
Apart from the hosting, a few other highlights of the evening included the surprise wins for films such as ‘Ex Machina‘ and ‘Spotlight‘, as well as Mark Rylance winning then delivering the most gracious of speeches. Performance-wise, Lady Gaga was introduced with the most glowing of endorsements by vice-president Joe Biden, then gave an impassioned and powerful performance, despite then losing out on the win to Sam Smith, something that wouldn’t have happened if the votes were taken after the performance.
Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs gave a very good speech in her annual appearance in which she addressed the racial diversity issues head on, and put the onus where it should be, on the industry as a whole. Even the unexpected reprisal of Ali G by Sacha Baron Cohen managed to get a laugh while making jokes that Rock and other presenters had paved the way for.
Though apparently ratings hit another low, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Rock was invited back to take the hosting role again. In future years hopefully his unique perspective on race might not be what’s needed for an organisation vowing to lead the way into a more diverse film future.
As I do every year, I’ve attempted to get through a good chunk of the Academy Award nominated films before the awards are given out on Sunday. Of the 42 features and 15 shorts, I’ve seen and reviewed nearly 30 of the feature films and 3 of the animated shorts which isn’t too bad.
Here are my predictions of the winners, with my preferred system of 1 for my first choice, 2 for what I think has an outside chance, and P for the film I personally would like to see win it. Points are then awarded with two points for a correct first choice, one point for a correct second choice and no points for personal preference as that’s just for interest and expression. With the 24 categories there are potentially 48 points up for grabs!
Print off or email this PDF OSCAR BALLOT 2016 sheet and challenge your friends to see who can predict the most winners!
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo P. Matt Damon, The Martian – It is hard to pick my preference, Damon just nabs it for me, nothing against Leo just I found Matt Damon so very personable in this film. 1. Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 2. Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Cate Blanchett, Carol 1P. Brie Larson, Room Jennifer Lawrence, Joy Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years 2. Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight Rooney Mara, Carol Rachel McAdams,Spotlight 1. Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl -though her performance in ‘Ex Machina’ should be the one getting praise, that may go in her favour here with people voting for this as that’s not available. 2P. Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Colombia, Embrace of the Serpent 2P. France, Mustang 1. Hungary, Son of Saul Jordan, Theeb Denmark, A War
Best Original Score
Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies Carter Burwell, Carol – While I’ve not seen the film I have listened to the soundtrack, it’s got a lightness and elegance to it that’s lovely, however I did find most of the tracks to be little more than a variation on the main theme, I’d like a bit more variety in the score. 1. Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight – I haven’t seen the film but I have had chance to listen to the score around the house and it really adds a lot of tension to buttering toast! P. Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario 2. John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens– Williams’ 50th nomination!
Bridge of Spies Ex Machina 2P.Inside Out 1.Spotlight Straight Outta Compton – Not meaning to belittle the writers’ work, this film apparently has one offensive word every 10 seconds. I was always told that swearing profusely was a deficiency in one’s use of the English language, so I can’t see how a film with that level of strong language can win this award.
Carol The Hateful Eight 2.Mad Max: Fury Road 1.The Revenant– Not what I think should win outright, impressive as it is, it really should tie with ‘Mad Max’ & ‘Sicario’, they are all brilliantly shot. P.Sicario – I’m giving this my vote as I want to see Deakins win.
Best Original Song – Often the category for films not nominated otherwise, this year it is wholly that! I’m basing on sentiment I’ve heard and the quality of the songs alone not the films they’re in, all are worth a listen, see my YouTube playlist below.
P. “Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey – though the film is nominated for Razzies, the OST was rather excellent and this track in particular sounds epic on my sound system! “Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction “Simple Song No. 3,” Youth 1. “‘Til It Happens to You,” The Hunting Ground 2. “Writings on the Wall,” Spectre
Trending on Facebook tonight is news that Jennifer Lawrence was photographed at an event. It’s the run up to the Oscars this weekend, so that’s not really news, it should be no surprise. However I looked to see more about this event by clicking on the link which brought up a slew of articles mentioning it.
Now I love Jennifer Lawrence as much as the next man, possibly more, but even I had to shake my head when seeing the contrast between articles that make a point about the event she was attending and those that just cared about what she was wearing.
The event should come first, so here on my blog it will. It was a dinner hosted by Patricia Arquette, who you might remember used her speech when she won for ‘Boyhood’ to highlight the pay gap between male and female actors. This is a topic Jen has written articles on, speaks about eloquently and passionately, so her being at this dinner should come of no surprise. The pictures from the evening have shown her standing in the middle of a full room, standing up and speaking to the guests seated at their tables. The best articles online are mentioning how Patricia Arquette feels like she has lost out on work after speaking out on the issue. The worst articles lead with the headline ‘BOOBS’. Yes, seriously.
Surely that must be some ‘lads mag’, a gossip site, or other source that rarely elevates itself above how an actress looks? No. That was the website for Cosmopolitan! I quote from their Facebook description: “Cosmopolitan is the best-selling young women’s magazine in the U.S., a bible for fun, fearless females that reaches more than 17 million readers a month. Cosmopolitan delivers the latest news on men and love, work and money, fashion and beauty, health, self-improvement and entertainment.”
Surely a magazine like that should not be publishing articles in which the writer mentions in passing that Jennifer spoke, then turns attention back to how she maintained her modesty, and describing one photo with pure filler, “Eric and Patricia are looking in one direction while everyone else is looking in another. Not that it matters or is even remotely interesting. I just figured I should write something more than “boobs.”” I despair.
I know I don’t always write Pulitzer prize-winning articles here, but I honestly wanted to hear more about this event and the ramifications of these actresses speaking so publicly and fearlessly on the pay gap. Maybe one of the reasons behind the issue is that the media is perpetuating the idea that people are more interested in how women look and dress than what they do or have to say?
Thankfully ‘Variety’ provided the actual journalism I was looking for with a very interesting article you should read here.
Of the 42 features and 15 shorts nominated this year I’ve currently seen 28 of the features and 3 of the animated shorts, the reviews of which can be found on my Oscars page here. I’ll be posting my predictions Saturday night (or Sunday morning if I struggle to decide!)
Here’s a full OSCAR BALLOT 2016 in PDF format for you to print or email to friends so you can have a go at making predictions for the Oscars on Sunday!
It has (small) boxes for completing digitally if you so wish, or print it off and fill in with your choice of physical writing tool!