A Reaction to the 88th Annual Oscars
By Matthew Rembold
Awards season is always a big deal for me as movie lover. I like to see which films I saw this year will get nominated and win at various award ceremonies. Personally, I think the Oscars is the biggest of all the awards shows we see at this time of year. I love sitting down on Sunday night and seeing who wins and who loses, the surprises and the snubs, and so on. I may be incredibly tired the next day at school, but it’s always worth it to me. I was especially excited to see the Oscars this year because, let’s face it, 2015 was a huge year for movies. Films like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Big Short, The Revenant, and Star Wars The Force Awakens all hit theaters–all films that I absolutely loved, and all of them nominated for multiple Oscars. To see who wins what is exhilarating and I personally was satisfied with all the wins this year. Sure, I thought there were a few snubs, but that’s to be expected with a show like this.
The ceremony itself was pretty good this year. Chris Rock did a good job as the host, making some funny quips and giving good monologues. He tackled the tough topic of “Oscars so White” in a humorous fashion. He made some pretty good points about the issues through his humor too and served as a good host overall.
How they presented some of the awards this year was pretty interesting to me. Of course they had some very famous actors and actresses present as they always do, but this time there were a few subtle changes that I liked. For example, when actors Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, and Cate Blanchett presented the awards for Best Costume and Production Design, they were walking towards the camera while props relating to the awards being presented were rolled onto the set behind them. This made their presentations feel more interactive than the typical, stand here, say names of nominated people/film, then say “and the Oscar goes to” deal that we’ve all grown accustomed too.
My favorite presenters, however, came in the form of characters who were digitally placed on screen. For the Best Animated Film and Best Animated Short Categories, Woody, Buzz, and The Minions all came to life on stage via computer generated images to present their awards. I thought this was incredibly creative idea and wondered why it hadn’t been done more before. I might have loved the presentation of these awards so much due to the fact that Toy Story is my favorite animated film of all time and I was thrilled to see Woody and Buzz celebrate 20 Years of Toy Story by presenting, but it was incredibly creative none the less. They had done it last year with Ted too, so I hope to see it again in future Oscars.
Now it’s time to discuss the awards themselves. It was no surprise to me whatsoever that Mad Max Fury Road won so many awards in the technical achievement department. That film truly was a technical masterpiece in every sense of the word. From the outrageous vehicles, to death defying stunts, to the absurd costumes, just about everything about the film technically was perfect. Sure the story wasn’t the strongest, but that really wasn’t the point of the film. Fury Road was not nominated for Best Picture because it was not a deep movie that made you think about life or deal with a controversial subject matter. It was recognized for being a masterclass action film with heart stopping moments that hadn’t been seen on film in a long time. It truly deserved every award it received, and while I do wish The Force Awakens had gotten some Oscar love, I won’t say I’m disappointed that Mad Max won so many.
In the writing category I was pretty happy with the films that won in both Best Original and Adapted Screenplay. Spotlight really did deserve the Best Original Screenplay award. I would have liked to have seen Straight Outta Compton receive some recognition since it got snubbed in so many other categories, but Spotlight was the best second choice. I was really gunning for Big Short to win Best Adapted. I thought that was one of the most clever and funniest screenplays of the year. From the moment I walked out from seeing it, I was hoping that the screenplay had some kind of recognition during awards season.
For Animated Film, I had predicted that Inside Out was going to win, even back when it came out in June last year. There was no doubt in my mind it would win, so when Woody and Buzz announced it, there was no shock or disappointment for me.
For the Musical awards, I got exactly what I wanted. I am a huge James Bond fan and apparently am one of the few who liked Sam Smith’s Writing’s on the Wall song from Spectre. When I saw it was nominated, I hoped it would win. I hadn’t even heard of the other songs in the category so it seemed like a high chance Sam Smith would be walking away with an Oscar, and James Bond would have another Best Original Song Oscar. Turns out, my prediction came true despite some worry after realizing what the other songs it was up against actually were. I also projected that Ennio Morricone would win Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight. It really was the best soundtrack of the year, and that’s saying something considering John Williams was in the running this year. In all honesty though, The Force Awaken’s soundtrack was surprisingly weak. It wasn’t bad, but in truth, there were only one or two songs that really stood out for me personally. Ennio Morricone also gave a great acceptance speech which was simply the cherry on top for me.
In the acting categories, I had to admit, a few surprised me. In Best Supporting Actress, I was gunning for Jennifer Jason Lee. I wanted Hateful Eight to win more than just Best Original Score, I really did, so when she didn’t go up for her role as Daisy Domergue, I was a little disappointed. I haven’t seen The Danish Girl, so I really can’t say if Alicia Vikander truly deserves the Oscar or not, but I still can’t help but be a little upset that Jennifer Jason Lee didn’t win.
Best Supporting Actor was an incredibly tough category for me. Every single one of the actors who were nominated gave phenomenal performances. Eventually I settled on Sylvester Stallone for Creed since that movie had gotten snubbed in my opinion, but I was incredibly surprised to see Mark Rylance win for Bridge of Spies. He was one of may favorite supporting actors of the years, but I didn’t think he would actually win for his role. I’m in no way upset that he won, yet I can’t help but feel a little bad for Sly since he was the favored one to win.
In Best Actress, no surprise that Brie Larson won for Room. Haven’t seen it, but I knew she was the winner from the moment she won at the Golden Globes. The big one of the acting categories for me though, Best Actor, for one reason and one reason alone: Leonardo DiCaprio. He has been snubbed far too many times. If he lost the award one more time, I would have lost it. He did give a genuinely good performance in The Revenant, not his best, but incredibly good none the less. Every other actor did great of course, but at this point if DiCaprio didn’t win, I would know something was up with the Academy. I couldn’t believe it when they announced his name, I was almost expecting some one to come out and say “Oh wait, our mistake he didn’t win it.” Really happy for DiCaprio that he finally got his long overdue Oscar. DiCaprio seemed pretty happy himself, but how he was holding the card that said he had won the Oscar was questionable to say the least. It appears as if he had just grabbed the card funny, but some have been lead to believe that maybe it was an intentional insult to the Academy. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look up pictures of his acceptance speech and look at his hands. Wether it was intentional or not is for Leo to know, but regardless, it’s pretty funny to me.
Best Director was a bit of a toss up for me. I had wanted Alejandro Inarritu to win for Revenant because of the incredibly tough film shoot he had to go through, but on the other hand, I had a feeling 70 year old Mad Max director George Miller would win. The Academy was known for granting the director of the big budget technical masterpiece film the award in past years so I would not have been surprised if Miller won. In the end, I was not disappointed with who won and was happy to see Inarritu go up for the second year in a row. It was tough shoot for him, so he definitely earned it.
Now for the big one, the Best Picture award. There were simply too many great movies this year for me to pick just one of the nominees to win. I had o expectations with this award, I just wanted to see which film got picked. No surprise to me though that Spotlight got the gold. I’m happy with the pick, but in the end, I would have been happy with any of the films they nominated.
Overall, it was a good award ceremony. I felt like there were some snubs in regard to The Hateful Eight, Straight Outta Compton, Creed, Steve Jobs, The Peanuts Movie, and Sicario. These films I felt did not get nominated enough, did not win what they should have won, or did not get nominated at all. Eight should have been a Original Screenplay Nominee, maybe even Best Picture. Compton needed a Best Picture Nomination I thought. Creed, where was Michael B. Jordan’s Best Actor nomination? He gave an incredible performance that the Academy just missed somehow. Steve Jobs,where is Aaron Sorkin’s Screenplay nomination? It had an intense, engrossing screenplay that only Sorkin could write so well, and although the screen play had won at other awards, the Academy just let it slip. Peanuts Movie, cmon man, give it a Best Animated Film nod, it’s Snoopy for goodness sake. Sicario, would have been nice to see the amazing cinematographer, Rodger Deakins, finally win the Oscar he so badly deserves, maybe even give it a Best Picture nod and give Benicio Del Toro a Best Supporting Actor nomination. He gave an incredible performance, truly he did, so at least a nod would have been nice.
Aside from those snubs, I had no real issues with the Oscars this year. Good host, good presentation, and good picks for the most part. Not everything was to my liking in all the nominations, but it’s hard to please everyone and they didn’t do a bad job overall. They gave credit where credit was due and gave the right people the awards. Now, it’s time to catch up with the films that got nominations or won which I haven’t seen just yet. I’m looking forward to seeing those movies that slipped under the radar for me, and can’t wait to see what’s getting nominated for next year.