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2016 Oscar Nominations: Only These Movies Deserve Your Love and Attention

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Oh boy, time for that most divisive of movie awards. Here’s the list of nominees and my commentary about them (if I have commentary to give). As with my Golden Globes article, I’ll be using a color-coded system: swanky blue for my personal pick, urine yellow for the one I think will actually win, and CHUD green if those two happen to align. Let’s get elitist as fuck up in here.

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR

  • “The Big Short” – Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
  • “Bridge of Spies” Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
  • “Brooklyn” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers
  • “The Martian” Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers
  • “The Revenant” Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers
  • “Room” Ed Guiney, Producer
  • “Spotlight” Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers

I refuse to acknowledge The Revenant as a serious contender, even if it actually is. Spotlight was a favorite going into the Golden Globes and seems way more of an Oscar-y pick. Now that it’s an underdog contender, I’m gonna throw my (insubstantial) weight behind it. But, come on. If Mad Max is in any of these categories, it’s a pretty safe bet that I’m going to root for it.

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING

  • “The Big Short” Adam McKay
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” George Miller
  • “The Revenant” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • “Room” Lenny Abrahamson
  • “Spotlight” Tom McCarthy

Mad Max got some crazy applause for its nominations, and Miller really does feel like the best candidate in this spot. The Academy loves giving older directors this award (even if its not for their best movie *cough*The Departed*cough*) as something of a Lifetime Achievement piece, and no one deserves it more than Miller. If Iñárritu wins in this category, I will crash my Toyota RAV4 into his house and ride through the Gates of Valhalla shiny and chrome.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo”
  • Matt Damon in “The Martian”
  • Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant”
  • Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs”
  • Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”

I’m picking Damon simply because I haven’t seen the other films (other than The Revenant) and as passive as I was on The Martian, Damon is at least enjoyable and moving to watch. Leo is just doing his progressively intense actor thing, but the narrative around him winning this year is stronger than ever. The Academy will probably give it to him just so we can dispose of him running for at least a few years. Big snub not seeing Michael B. Jordan in here.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Cate Blanchett in “Carol”
  • Brie Larson in “Room”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy”
  • Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years”
  • Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn”

Haven’t seen any of these flicks (shame) so I’m going with a safe bet of Jennifer Lawrence. Brie Larson could be a real contender though and probably deserves it a little more. But, what do I know? I ain’t seen these. Really wish Vikander could have scored a nom as Ava in Ex Machina instead of her supporting role in The Danish Girl.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Christian Bale in “The Big Short”
  • Tom Hardy in “The Revenant”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight”
  • Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies”
  • Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”

Stallone is poised to get this one as a bookend to his entire career. Thankfully, he more than earns it with his performance in Creedi. His standing ovation at the Golden Globes was a good indicator that he could clench this. He also needs a chance to thank Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan before the show cuts to commercial.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh in “The Hateful Eight”
  • Rooney Mara in “Carol”
  • Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight”
  • Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl”
  • Kate Winslet in “Steve Jobs”

Winslet’s win at the Globes might help her here, but man am I rooting for Jennifer Jason Leigh. She gets to play the kind of villain we never see from female actors/characters and she rocks it. Every time she smiles in this movie, it sends a shiver down my spine in the best of ways. Seeing as how The Hateful Eight got quite a snub this year, it’d be really nice for her to pick this one up.

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • “The Big Short” Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
  • “Brooklyn” Screenplay by Nick Hornby
  • “Carol” Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy
  • “The Martian” Screenplay by Drew Goddard
  • “Room” Screenplay by Emma Donoghue

People loved The Martian a whole bunch. I’m more impressed with Randolph and McKay taking a stab at adapting such an impenetrable topic. Nothing here is really lighting a fire under my ass though.

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • “Bridge of Spies” Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
  • “Ex Machina” Written by Alex Garland
  • “Inside Out” Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
  • “Spotlight” Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
  • “Straight Outta Compton” Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Surprised to see both Aaron Sorkin and Quentin Tarantino gets snubbed. I’m honestly shocked that Ex Machina is up for contention, so I’m voting for it because that film needs all the love it can get. Still, I think this may go to Bridge of Spies. It’s hard to deny that Coen magic.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR

  • “Embrace of the Serpent” Colombia
  • “Mustang” France
  • “Son of Saul” Hungary
  • “Theeb” Jordan
  • “A War” Denmark

This is the only one of these films I’ve heard of, so it’s going to be the winner.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR

  • “Anomalisa” Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran
  • “Boy and the World” Alê Abreu
  • “Inside Out” Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
  • “Shaun the Sheep Movie” Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
  • “When Marnie Was There” Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Pixar rarely loses in this category, and I absolutely loved Inside Out, but even though I haven’t seen it yet I gotta give Anomalisa the love. A stop-motion, adult-oriented animated film? And it’s from Charlie Kaufman? That’s like catnip laced with crack to me.

ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • “Bridge of Spies” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
  • “The Danish Girl” Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
  • “The Martian” Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
  • “The Revenant” Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

I can see the Academy throwing some bones to Mad Max in this arena, but I can see them doing the same to The Revenant if they decide to turn on the movie for the bigger awards. I’d rather The Revenant nab some technical statues than crowd the big categories that everyone will be concentrating on. I’m giving this one to Mad Max though. Always giving it to Mad Max.

ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • “Carol” Ed Lachman
  • “The Hateful Eight” Robert Richardson
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” John Seale
  • “The Revenant” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “Sicario” Roger Deakins

This is the hardest category for me to pick by a country mile. Deakins deserves a win for his entire career, and I thought Sicario was brutally gorgeous, but against Mad Max and The Hateful Eight? Even those two are tough contenders for me. I kind of want to give my love to The Hateful Eight on this one simply due to Tarantino making such a big deal out of how the film was shot. I hope the Academy does give it to Deakins as a Lifetime Achievement substitute, but they’ll probably decimate my optimism and give it to The Revenant.

ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN

  • “Carol” Sandy Powell
  • “Cinderella” Sandy Powell
  • “The Danish Girl” Paco Delgado
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Jenny Beavan
  • “The Revenant” Jacqueline West

Cinderella was a snazzy looking film, I can’t deny.

ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING

  • “The Big Short” Hank Corwin
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Margaret Sixel
  • “The Revenant” Stephen Mirrione
  • “Spotlight” Tom McArdle
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Another arena where I can see the Academy placating the Mad Max hoards. It does deserve it though. Fellow Chewer Travis Newton said it best when we walked out of the theater after our first screening: “Never has insanity made so much sense.” That takes miraculous editing, and Mad Max more than provided that.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

  • “Amy” Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
  • “Cartel Land” Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
  • “The Look of Silence” Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
  • “What Happened, Miss Simone?” Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes
  • “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor

Haven’t seen any of these but have heard great stuff about AmyThe Look of Silence, and What Happened, Miss Simone? and would be happy with any of those winning.

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
  • “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared” Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
  • “The Revenant” Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini

…Wait, what is that middle film? That’s not a title for an actual movie, is it?

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE)

  • “Bridge of Spies” Thomas Newman
  • “Carol” Carter Burwell
  • “The Hateful Eight” Ennio Morricone
  • “Sicario” Jóhann Jóhannsson
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” John Williams

Morricone should be the favorite, especially after his deserved win at the Golden Globes (and because The Hateful Eight does have the year’s best score), but I can see Williams nabbing a legacy win as well. Sorry, but the score for The Force Awakens was one of its weaker aspects. The Hateful Eight‘s score was one of its strongest elements.

ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG)

  • “Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey” Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
  • “Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction” Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty
  • “Simple Song #3” from “Youth” Music and Lyric by David Lang
  • “Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
  • “Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre” Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Anything but “Writing’s on the Wall.”

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING

  • “Bridge of Spies” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
  • “The Martian” Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
  • “The Revenant” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

I’m too stupid to know how to vote on these next two.

ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING

  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Mark Mangini and David White
  • “The Martian” Oliver Tarney
  • “The Revenant” Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
  • “Sicario” Alan Robert Murray
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Matthew Wood and David Acord

Like, really stupid.

ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS

  • “Ex Machina” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
  • “Mad Max: Fury Road” Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
  • “The Martian” Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
  • “The Revenant” Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
  • “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Why aren’t people talking about how much of a technical achievement Ava in Ex Machina is? It’s jaw-dropping how realistic her robotic parts look when integrated into Alicia Vikander’s actual body. I could see the Academy pleasing a few people by giving this to Star Wars, but I feel that they’ll reward the bear from The Revenant rather than any of these other films that deserve it more. Honestly, I’m fine with any of these besides The Revenant winning, which means it will be the one that wins.

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

  • “Body Team 12” David Darg and Bryn Mooser
  • “Chau, beyond the Lines” Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
  • “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” Adam Benzine
  • “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “Last Day of Freedom” Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

  • “Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont
  • “Day One” Henry Hughes
  • “Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath
  • “Shok” Jamie Donoughue
  • “Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM

  • “Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
  • “Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
  • “Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
  • “We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit
  • “World of Tomorrow” Don Hertzfeldt

Don Hertzfeldt’s World of Tomorrow is incredible. I’ve been following the guy since his big hit “Rejected,” but this feels like something all together grander and matured. I think it’s a little too weird for the Academy, so I bet they go with the Disney pick. But seriously, see World of Tomorrow. It’s the best thing Hertzfeldt has ever done.

So, what do you think? Disagree with me all you want in the comments.


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