It’s that time of year again, Oscar season! I’m going to be honest, this year’s nominations are a little grim and predictable. There wasn’t anything I was really felt excited about, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be watching on the edge of my seat. I felt like there were quite a few snubs that really bothered me. The biggest snub I think is Quentin Tarantino. THE HATEFUL EIGHT was hands down one of the best films of 2015 and certainly deserves many accolades. QT being the renegade director who refuses to play by any rules is often penalized for it. There should have been a Best Picture nomination, Best Director, and at least Best Original Screenplay for HATEFUL EIGHT. Todd Haynes should have received a Best Director nomination for CAROL. Michael Keaton deserves a best Actor or at least Supporting Actor nomination for SPOTLIGHT. He really deserved the Oscar for BIRDMAN, but that’s neither here nor there. Although, the film fell a little short, Johnny Depp’s performance in BLACK MASS was certainly worthy of at least a Best Actor nomination.
Now that I’ve aired my grievances, here’s my bracket for the 2016 Academy Awards:
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: AMY
Best Doc is one of my favorite categories because I constantly obsess over documentaries. AMY is a safe bet for the Academy. They don’t like overly controversial films in this category which I think is why the other choices won’t win. THE LOOK OF SILENCE was my pick to win, but the Academy isn’t going to choose a film that blatantly calls out the U.S. for their involvement in the Indonesian genocide. This is evident in the snub for the first film, THE ACT OF KILLING. I only hope that the momentum behind THE LOOK OF SILENCE brings more awareness of this often overlooked massacre. I enjoyed AMY, but in the big scheme of things and compared to the other docs, it seems a lot more selfish and trite. AMY was well made and engaging film even if you’re not a fan of Amy Winehouse’s music. It’s a great look into the psychology of addition, but I don’t think it’s as essential as other films in this category.
BEST FOREIGN FILM: SON OF SAUL
What really gets my goat is that most of the foreign features won’t screen nationwide here in the U.S. until after the Oscars. SON OF SAUL is the all-around frontrunner in this category as it won the Grand Prix award at Cannes as well as the Golden Globe. SON OF SAUL is an intense film about a prisoner in Auschwitz forced to burn the bodies of his own people. This is Hungary’s submission for Best Foreign and would mark the second win after 1981’s MEPHISTO. Personally, I think WHITE GOD is the best Hungarian film which was nominated last year and on my list of favorite films of 2015.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: THE BIG SHORT
Some of my favorite writers were nominated in this category. BTVS alum and CABIN IN THE WOODS director, Drew Goodard was nominated for THE MARTIAN. I enjoyed THE MARTIAN for the most part, but it was a bit overambitious and I felt like the script was a little too flimsy. I expect more from Goodard. BROOKLYN was written by one of my all-time favorite novelist, Nick Hornby. Hornby has had much success lately with his screenplays and book adaptations. I liked BROOKLYN, but it didn’t give me the warm fuzzies like everyone else.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: SPOTLIGHT
As previously stated, I think THE HATEFUL EIGHT deserves this award. It’s certainly more deserving of a nomination than INSIDE OUT. By process of elimination, I’m going with SPOTLIGHT in this category. I enjoyed this film, but at the same time it felt like one big pat on the back for investigative journalism. It was a little too self-gratifying to take seriously, but then again so is the Academy.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: SYLVESTER STALLONE
Ah, the time honored career Oscar. The one performance of actors in this category that stands out above the rest is Tom Hardy for THE REVENANT. His role was dark, gritty, and sinister. He deserves this award more than any other nominees in the category, but I think Rocky will take it home. This is (probably) the last Rocky film so why not commemorate that with an Oscar for the man who has encompassed the role for the last forty years? Yawn.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: ALICIA VIKANDER
Of course I’d pick Jennifer Jason Leigh for this award, but that’s not going to happen. The current frontrunner is Alicia Vikander. I think she’s very young and at the beginning of her career and isn’t ready for this award. Then again so is J. Law and she still has an Oscar. Her performance in THE DANISH GIRL is great, but not as diverse as Leigh’s role in HATEFUL EIGHT. Daisy Domergue is such a loathsome character and Leigh really made it her own. I think Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character was far more challenging than any other in this category. I also really enjoyed Rooney Mara in CAROL.
BEST ACTOR: LEONARDO DICAPRIO
Leo is the Susan Lucci of Academy Awards. How far will Leo go to get an Oscar? Well, he’ll allow himself to be violated by a bear. But seriously, I think he honestly deserves an Oscar. He chooses smart roles and strong directors to work with and it’s pushed him to the top echelon of actors. He’s proven himself as a versatile actor and not just a former teen heartthrob. My favorite performance in this category is Eddie Redmayne in THE DANISH GIRL, but he was the belle of the ball (no pun intended) last year so I don’t think the Academy would let him win back to back (that’s only for Tom Hanks). This is Leo’s year; after all he’s paid his dues (bear rape).
BEST ACTRESS: BRIE LARSON
I know it’s not very ethical or objective, but something about Brie Larson really bothers me. Could it be that she’s a former child actress who lucked into a really good role? I don’t know, but I’m just not feeling it. I would choose Cate Blanchett for her role in CAROL, but she’s already got a couple Oscars. She was so captivating, tragic, and vulnerable all at once as Carol Aird. I was completely mesmerized by her performance and the chemistry between her and Rooney Mara. Alas, I think Brie Larson will take this category.
BEST DIRECTOR: ALEJANDRO INARRITU
Even though he won last year for BIRDMAN, I think he’ll take this award again. The Academy loves Inarritu and I’m so glad he’s finally received the mainstream success he deserves. I’ve been a big fan of his work since AMORES PERROS and certainly look forward to what he has in store in the future. THE REVENANT was a notoriously tough shoot with tensions rising between director and actors. Inarritu has a vision and a drive that will not be compromised, but I can see this conflicting with strong actors like Tom Hardy and Leo DiCaprio. In the end a masterpiece was created. The one dark horse in this category is MAD MAX which was a fantastic futuristic tale of feminism and strife. My money is on another Inarritu win.
BEST PICTURE: THE BIG SHORT
This category could actually be a toss-up between THE BIG SHORT and SPOTLIGHT. Again, I would have liked to see THE HATEFUL EIGHT nominated at the very least. I loved THE BIG SHORT and I love that it was co-written and directed by the genius who brought us STEP BROTHERS. THE BIG SHORT is smart, funny, and perfectly paced. I think it’ll take home the Oscar.
There you have it folks. You know the Academy Awards are always to be taken with a grain of salt. They don’t always get it right and most of the time it’s about money and politics, but they’re still pretty fun to watch. I’m actually pretty excited about Chris Rock hosting this year than anything else. Who do you think will win?