Friday, January 15

Rambling Reporter III

Oscar Nominations

Well, they're out.  Let's discuss the top eight categories... picture, directing, writing and acting categories.  We offer kudos, boos, facts, predictions, snubs.  Just tap on read more below and let's get going.

Supporting Actor
Christian Bale - The Big Short
Tom Hardy - The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight
Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone - Creed

Let's just say it right off, ok?  NOT Stallone.  I don't care if I haven't seen Creed (and I won't), some things you just KNOW.  You have to pay taxes, you're gonna die and Stallone should never, never, ever win an acting Oscar.  If he should happen to have a good moment or two in the film (maybe an acting coach came in to assist), just pat him on the head, say good Sly and off he scampers to clean his guns or pontificate on some heady subject.  I fear he will become a sentimental favorite.  Can you imagine the hell those in his orbit would go through if he acquired some gold?  And what of the rest of us?  Lord Sly Olivier.  No, no, no, no, no, no, NO. 

Part of the reason I am grossed out is because his inclusion here means that little Jacob Tremblay was not honored with a nomination for his gut-wrenching performance in Room.  As a child born of rape and imprisoned his entire young life in a small shed in the culprit's backyard, young Tremblay was nothing less than sensational. 

And while we're at it, I believe Paul Dano should have been nominated for his most intelligent portrayal of mentally-challenged musician, Brian Wilson in Love and Mercy.

Rylance is a good actor and he's not only gotten a lot of attention and some honors for his role in Spies, but he's been getting more notice in the last few years.  I haven't seen Spies.    Ditto The Big Short.  Bale is, of course, most worthy of his first Oscar (The Fighter).  But I'm betting they don't give him another one, not yet.  I'm torn between the final two, Hardy and Ruffalo. 

I have not heard Hardy's name mentioned once for his mean-ass role in The Revenant, but hey, he's one of my personal superstars.  He can do no wrong.  You may have noticed I have strong likes and dislikes, yes?  Perhaps it will go to Ruffalo.  He's only supporting in that this is true ensemble work and there's nary a false note to discern.  I'd give it to him for the entire cast but also because he, too, has turned in a lot of good work.  Frankly, though, I'm not so much into who does win.

Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara - Carol
Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet - Jobs

This is only one of two categories where I have seen all of the performances.  The only former Oscar winner in the category, Kate Winslet, deserves it again and I hope she gets it.  I always love her work.  Here, she more than holds her own with one of the very best actors in the business, Michael Fassbender, for their star turns in Steve Jobs.  What people see in Rooney Mara's performance escapes me and I think McAdams and Vikander (hardly a supporting role) in their respective films were quite good.  Leigh has come out of the ashes (I haven't heard of her in ages) to turn in a sassy performance in The Hateful Eight but will it result in an acceptance speech?  I would love to have seen Elizabeth Banks nominated for her turn as Brian Wilson's tough and loving partner in Love and Mercy.

Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short
The Martian

Carol?  Oh please.  The Martian perhaps.  I've never heard much of Brooklyn except for Saorise Ronan's performance. Room was touching.  I am guessing, however, it will go to The Big Short because it must have taken some sort of genius to put all that Wall Street mumbo jumbo into a coherent screenplay for the masses to absorb.  I'm jus' sayin', masses. 

Original Screenplay
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Straight Outta Compton

The shock (it's beyond a snub) is that Aaron Sorkin wasn't included here for Steve Jobs.  I wasn't nuts about how the film was laid out but Lordy those were some sparkling words.  I think the winner will be and should be Spotlight.  Isn't it funny that it's also the only one of the five I have seen?  The only interesting exception will be Straight Outta Compton, the only black American-related film in any of these main categories.  Maybe the Academy is more into hip-hop than I know.

Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Matt Damon - The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl

This is the only other category where I have seen all the work and it's the only one I could see just giving an Oscar to all of them.  Two of these actors, Fassbender and Redmayne, are huge favorites of mine.  But I think both films missed the mark somewhat with the public and may hamper their chances.  And could Redmayne really achieve that rare distinction of being a best actor winner two years in a row?  Damon was fine and Cranston would be my personal favorite but I think he's a long shot.  It should handily go to DiCaprio.  He's done better work although his work here was fine.  The point is that he's overdue for an award and I think Hollywood wants to pay that debt.

This category will be the one that will enliven the conversation on why the Oscars are again so white.  Not a black actor in any of the four categories but this one is where two of them could have landed.  Idris Elba has been lauded for his performance in Beasts of No Nation just as Will Smith has been ballyhooed for his turn in Concussion but neither corralled the Academy voters.  Interesting, too, that Johnny Depp wasn't nominated for Black Mass.  There was some early chatter of his stepping up his game a bit last year.

Cate Blanchett - Carol
Brie Larson - Room
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
Saorise Ronan - Brooklyn

This is the weakest of the acting races.  Ronan is a gifted young actress who is probably deserving of her nod but I haven't seen the film.  I hope to correct that before the big day.  Blanchett and Lawrence are superb actresses and two of my favorites but neither deserves inclusion here.  Both were rather underwhelming in their films, Carol and Joy.  If Blanchett was going to be nominated, it should have been for Truth, a far worthier project and a better acting job.  I have not seen 45 Years and cannot wait to do so because I quite adore Rampling... ever since The Verdict.  I feel certain she and Tom Courtenay are inspiring in their roles as a couple that receives devastating news as their wedding anniversary approaches. 

That leaves us with Brie Larson, largely unknown to the general public.  I hear the drums beating for her.  She has copped best actress awards in a couple of other offerings.  She was quite good in Room, too, although I can neither separate her performance from that of her screen son, Jacob Tremblay, nor did I find her better than he is.

Really now, doesn't something feel wrong about this category this year?  Where's Meryl?

Adam McKay - The Big Short
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu - The Revenant
Lenny Abramson - Room
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight

It is rare that wins for director and picture are for different projects although don't mention that to Ben Affleck or Ang Lee.  As I have long said... if one honors a film as best picture, how does one think it got to be that?  Film is a director's medium.  It does seem egregious that Ridley Scott was not nominated for The Martian, since it is up for best picture.  Scott is revered in Hollywoodland.  I'm guessing Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies) is a bit surprised, too.  Ditto Todd Haynes (Carol).  I'd like to see Tom McCarthy get the little golden doorstop but I suspect it's going to Iñárritu (for the second year in a row, no less... he helmed Birdman) for his very ambitious The Revenant.

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

It bears repeating that I loathe how the Academy now does up to 10 movies.  Of course it should still be five but if not five, then why not 10?  What's with up to 10?  I read once that it was changed to go beyond five so that the blockbusters would have a chance.  Ok, then, what happened to Star Wars?  It didn't deserve to be included even when the 10 isn't filled up?  Talk about a snub.  While I personally pretty much wrote off Carol, the same could be said of that film for filling out the 10 since everybody but me has fallen all over themselves with praise for it.

As I have said, I have not seen the three Bs... Big Short, Bridge of Spies and Brooklyn.  I notice other awards that have been bestowed so far this season and I don't believe any of them have won.  I did see but did not review (because I saw both too late in the game to warrant a review) Mad Max or The MartianMax has won a couple of the other awards.  Should we be taken in by that when considering Oscars?  Not I.  I don't think The Martian won anything either until it was best comedy (omg...!!!) at the whacked-out Golden Globes.

Room was a very good film but it's not only an indie (which rarely win), it's pretty much a downer.  Those old stodgy Academy voters aren't likely to make a check mark here.  A win for best actress will be enough.

But what do I know?  My two favorite flicks of the year were Trumbo and Love and Mercy and they didn't register with the Academy as I had hoped.  Win a few, lose a few.

Of the eight films up for consideration, my hope is that Spotlight will win.  It was sharply written and directed, topical, important,  historical, great to look at and shines with a superb ensemble cast.  My hunch is that it will go to The Revenant, not a bad choice.  I was critical of it in my review but I did quite like it.   To my knowledge it has won no other major awards until the Globes.  It has garnered the most nominations at 12 and that usually means something.  Second most nominated is Mad Max: Fury Road at 10 and The Martian at eight.  Have you noted that these top three are all survivalist movies?  Hmmm.

The telecast is Sunday, February 28.  See you there.

Next posting:
The Directors


  1. Well, as usual, I have not seen most of the movies nominated or the cast and crew.

    I can, however, throw out Stallone and Mad Max in the recycle bin. Repurpose these two into something useful. WTF.

  2. Stallone? Maybe too many old white men Academy voting members?

  3. Addendum: I have just seen Charlotte Rampling's performance in 45 Years and I would clearly give the Oscar to her.