Jan 14, 2016

Final Predictions: 2015 | Post Nominations Oscargasms

Every year on the night before the Oscar nominations are announced, I put out a post with my final predictions. As luck would have it, I had gone ahead and drafted my final predix for 2015 in advance and then subsequently forgot to publish it. So with my dunce cap on, I now present to you my predictions below, followed by my reactions.

BEST PICTURE
Bridge of Spies
Carol
Spotlight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Big Short
The Martian
The Revenant


BEST DIRECTOR
Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
Todd Haynes, Carol
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

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

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Rooney Mara, Carol
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Benicio del Toro, Sicario
Idris Elba, Beasts of No Nation
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jane Fonda, Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren, Trumbo
Alicia Vikander, Ex Machina
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs


And there you have it! Before diving into my reactions to these nominations, I'd like to remark how ridiculously and wonderfully tough this year was to predict, and hands down one of the toughest since before I even began to try my hand at following/predicting/analyzing awards season. Guessing the nominations is often times more exciting than the actual ceremony itself for me, as you'll often know by Oscar night who is primed to take the trophy. I mean seriously, when will be the next time we get a a solid 10 or so viable contenders for a category (Best Supporting Actor, which is typically one of the least exciting categories and easily my least favorite)? All the category confusion and loaded slates of contenders (except Actor. For once!) and late screeners has made this season in particular quite a joyous one. So cheers to 2015! Twas a good year.

And now, moving along...my reactions! And there is quite a bit to say:

PROS

1. LA RAMPLING
Charlotte Rampling! I am so incredibly thrilled for her. And I feel silly feeling this way, given that I have not yet actually watched 45 Years. Even still, it's the narrative here that makes me happy. You've got an actress in the business fifty years now, who has made films of different, varying languages, who turns in a critically acclaimed performance (one that many consider a career-best), who missed out on Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA nominations, only to have her name called out on nomination morning. Like with Cotillard the year before her, and Wallis back in 2012, it's always a special occasion when an actor overcomes all the dubious precursor odds. You can now call her an Academy-Award nominated actress, and isn't that just great?

2. BEST ACTRESS - LOADED
After 2014, where the pickings were damn slim, how f*cking great (and much needed) that this category would bounce back in a big way the following year. I've only seen three of these performances, and I loved all three -- each were vastly different from the other. You've got a major Hollywood star, a respected actress, a foreign veteran, and two young up-and-comers, all dominating their respective pictures. Aside from these five, there were so much more to choose from: Blythe Danner, Lily Tomlin, Maggie Smith, Sarah Silverman, Helen Mirren, Carey Mulligan, Cate Blanchett (again), Marion Cotillard, Emily Blunt, Julianne Moore, Rooney Mara, Alicia Vikander (more on these last two in a second)...the field was rich and deep this year, which is perfect for a crazed Best Actress fan such as myself. But alas, we all know that this isn't as consistent as it ought to be--I really truly hope that that such fertile offerings will continue on through to the next year.  

CONS
1. FRAUD
To put it as simply and succinctly as I possibly can: what the fuck? Anyone with eyes and brains can see that Rooney Mara in Carol and Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl are not supporting characters in their respective films by any means. Obviously, enough Academy voters saw these movies such that they were moved to vote for these ladies...so what in the hell is going on here? I know category fraud happens often - Julia Roberts and Hailee Steinfeld are most recent examples. And I guess you can make an argument that Alicia Vikander's character is in a sense, supportive of Eddie Redmayne. But Vikander is the very first and the very last person you see in The Danish Girl. And Rooney Mara sure as hell is not supporting anyone in all of Carol besides herself. I was hopeful til the end (as you can tell from my predictions) that Academy members would get it right and drop Mara in lead where she belongs. But alas, they did not. And it's just ridiculous to me because it comes off as though these voters are merely mindless followers who go the direction that greedy studios direct them. How will it look if and when Mara or Vikander win a supporting Oscar? It's a lie to their victory and it cheating actual supporting performances of recognition.

2. IGNORANCE
Okay, what the fuck? This is like Brokeback Mountain all over again except worse, because Carol, one of the most glorious and immaculate films of 2015, didn't even get Best Picture or Best Director nominations. It's an unfortunate tragedy that such a fine film like Carol didn't make a strong enough impression on voters...I suppose it was a mix of the content, the length of the film and the detached coolness--I guess you could say the same thing happened with Foxcatcher, though at least that one got in for Director.

3. GODDAMMIT I'M SICK OF BIOPICS

This year's Best Actor slate has 1 character from a non-biopic. Same as last year. There has been 16 total real-life characters nominated for Oscars in the Best Actor category since 2010. If Leo wins that'll make 5 of the last 6 Best Actor winners to be based on real life characters. Compare that to the Best Actress category, which has had 8 real-life characters based on real people and 1 winning biopic character within the same time frame. Are we unable to tell compelling, original stories about male characters? This is a continual pet peeve of mine.

So those are my cheers and jeers for this year! It may look like I have more negative things than positive, but it's actually because I'm very far behind on my movie watching and therefore don't have enough opinions on some of these nominees. Nevertheless, I think it's been a solid year!

11 comments:

  1. Some thoughts: I, too, am happy that Charlotte Rampling earned a nomination. In her early days, she was often dismissed as an actress because of her beauty...all the while turning in skillful performances in offbeat films. For Best Actress, I'm disappointed that Emily Blunt didn't make the final five. She's terrific in "Sicario" and continues to be a highpoint in film after film.

    As for category fraud, let's face it, the Oscars were dreamt up in 1927 as a marketing tool for films and that's what they largely remain. Producers and studios submit potential nominees in the category they believe their candidate has the best chance to win in. Anthony Hopkins had a smallish role in "Silence of the Lambs" that had a big impact. Tatum O'Neal had a leading role in "Paper Moon" but was an unknown kid who came out of nowhere to make a huge impression (her costar and co nominee, Madeline Kahn, had fifteen minutes of screen time). There are countless examples where someone was submitted in a bogus category to have a better shot at the gold ... because a win can increase box office returns. It's a business transaction.

    The biopic phenomenon speaks to a larger issue with American films: lack of imagination. Since the focus of American films shifted from the mindset of the "auteur director" to the mindset of the 13 year old boy, there has been a dearth of imaginative, non derivative subject matter. Biopics have a possible selling point in that the subject matter is a known entity, i.e., there may be a 'built in' audience for a potential film. Some of these films have been terrific ("Captain Phillips", for example) but I think biopics have the illusion of a safety net at the box office. I say illusion because on paper "Steve Jobs" must have looked like a surefire hit ... until it tanked at the box office. Oh well, that's Hollywood!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I agree that the concept of the Oscars was essentially meant to be a way for Hollywood to reward itself, the supporting category was explicitly made by AMPAs as a means to reward character actors who pretty much were only ever in supporting roles. That's why when you take a look at the earliest years of the supporting category--most especially in the 30's--you'll find unknown names and a slew of performances that are really short compared to what we consider typical "supporting" fare today.

      I can in some instances understand why certain category fraud happens--Tatum O'Neal plopped in Supporting is likely due to the belief that children aren't of the equivalent to more 'adult' actors, thus we have O'Neal and Steinfeld inexplicably but proudly placed in the wrong category. Cases like Anthony Hopkins does occur from time to time, but I think the question of a smaller part placed in lead isn't as glaringly obvious as vice versa because as in the case of Hopkins, you'll find that the overall presence and effect of Hopkins overwhelms the picture.

      But when you take grown women like Mara, Vikander, or Julia Roberts, in three large, juicy parts, and gleefully place them under the pretense of 'supporting', something is wrong here. Instances like Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings or Luise Rainer in The Great Ziegfeld may be debatable cases, but Rooney Mara in Carol isn't debatable whatsoever. It's an unabashed tactic to pile up a nomination count or earn a potential win, which, sure, goes back to original idea of Hollywood 'rewarding' itself, but is silly and wholly dishonest. Why make clear, specific categories if you're only going to lie about it? Should I start blogging about Golden Globe nominees/winners when this blog explicitly states it's about the Oscars...just because I can?

      I just don't think it's a very honorable, not this year at least.

      Delete
    2. I agree with every point you make. Frances McDormand has less screen time than Bill Macy in "Fargo" but her presence was felt throughout. I don't like that the Academy does this, but they do. In the early years, there seemed to be some flailing about in what constituted a supporting role. Was it mere minutes, a brief impression or a defined character? Very odd. Sometimes it seems like it almost comes down to a popularity contest or career recognition (Lee Grant in "Shampoo" over Ronee Blakely in "Nashville" comes to mind here).

      The tradition continues, though, and it's not, on paper, what the awards should be about. When Beatrice Straight won for "Network" for a 9 minute performance in '76 I was totally on board. It was brief, but what she did in that 9 minutes was revelatory and had many layers. Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List" was taken to task for his supporting nomination because of his amount of screen time in that marathon film, though his role was secondary, and he lost for an award worthy performance. It's an odd system. I loved the performances of Roberts, Mara and Vikander especially. And if they crowd out briefer but no less award worthy performances of other talented actors it's unfair. And often, those tactics backfire and the lead performance doesn't get the win anyway. It's frustrating, especially when a downgraded performance has or had a real shot at a leading win.

      I personally think that Luise Rainer's petulant, coquettish and yet charming work in "Great Ziegfeld" was award worthy but was without a doubt a supporting role. There's such a long history in Academy mishaps (although I'm still glad some of the 'mishappers' got an Oscar).

      Two things I'll say: one is that the concept of taking out ads in Hollywood trade papers to "campaign" for awards speaks of the marketable nature of the Oscars (just ask Harvey Weinstein). Two: your passion for the reason these awards actually exist is infectious! I want to go out and see every performance you extoll and sit on the seat of my pants come Oscar night. You made your point and then some. All of these actors deserve recognition.

      Delete
  2. Just a comment on the lack of diversity in this years Oscar nominations: what's new about that?

    In the last 10 years, numerous black actresses have won supporting Oscars ... and for roles that were what? How about: maids, ghetto moms, slaves and 60's R and B singers. Wow, we've come a long way, baby! Now, most of these actresses have deserved their awards (and have received negligible screen time to follow) but the fact that what was true in 1939 remains true now is abominable. Make no mistake, Hattie McDaniel's artistry is as true today as it was then. She wasn't just a maid ... she was the wisest, most honest character in the film who was utterly respected by her white counterpoints. But that was 77 years ago. What has changed?

    I don't begrudge a single nominee on this year's roster ... but Benicio del Toro, Idris Elba and "Straight Outta Compton" had all the earmarks of nominations and got zilch, for the most part.

    And now we have the movement to boycott this year's Oscars. Sorry folks, that horse has left the barn. The Oscars are a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. The lack of representation of Black, Hispanic, Asian, Latino, Gay and Transgender roles is symptomatic of the largely young, male, white and urban/suburban aristocracy of Hollywood production companies. If that doesn't change, nothing will.

    I'm rooting for all of the talented actors encompassing this year's nominees. This is Hollywood's problem, not yours. You've earned the right to walk the red carpet and, most importantly, hold your head high.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First of all, that's very nice of you to say re: you wanting to get out and watch nominees. I've a select few things in my life that I'm rather passionate about, so good to know that this one comes off as palpable.

      Secondly, I've got A LOT of thoughts on this #OscarsSoWhite pish posh. It's been getting under my skin for awhile now. Your comment may very well have motivated me to put out a passive-aggressive post!

      Delete
  3. Then go for it, Allen. You've got a VOICE and a pulpit. And you've also got a very distinct point of view. Just share it. I'm already listening and you're going to catch the ears of a lot of cinema geeks like me who have opinions but also admire each other for our passions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sweet (and crazy) of you to think Jane Fonda was getting nominated :)


    "After 2014, where the pickings were damn slim" - say what?! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I was convinced Mara would be placed in lead and McAdams was a fluke, therefore the Academy would have to turn to their former fave...

      2014 was totally a weak field!! You know if there were more to choose from that year, A general unknown like Felicity Jones would have gone the Alicia Vikander route and been pushed in supporting. Same goes with Cotillard - I think she got a nomination by the skin of her teeth and I don't think she'd have gotten in had there been more contenders. Adams and Aniston?...also-rans in horrible films. Before Still Alice hit it big at TIFF we weren't sure who'd win!

      Delete
    2. It wasn't a rich field of performances overall, but the 5 the Academy ended up with were fine enough, even exciting to a degree. I guess I was talking about something else. :)

      Delete
  6. I like Jennifer Lawrence movie hunger games and now her passenger movies is going to be released shortly where i had also Watch online trailer on YouTube where i found this movie quite interesting and thanks for sharing this post...!

    ReplyDelete