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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
Cinderella was a snazzy looking film, I can’t deny.
ACHIEVEMENT IN FILM EDITING
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
Haven’t seen any of these but have heard great stuff about Amy, The Look of Silence, and What Happened, Miss Simone? and would be happy with any of those winning.
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
…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)
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)
Anything but “Writing’s on the Wall.”
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
I’m too stupid to know how to vote on these next two.
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING
Like, really stupid.
ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
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
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
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.