Will 2016 finally be the year Leonardo DiCaprio finally bags an Oscar?
We're only a couple of months away and a bit until the 88th Academy Awards, and little over a month until the Official Nominations are announced but already the probable nominations list has taken form. We've been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of excellent films that have been released over the past year, so here's my verdict on what's hot and what's not so far, combining my own Awards Season analysis which I've been doing every year now for the past three years, my knowledge on the craft, the cast and filmmakers of each production and analysis from reputable sources. I've listed the Links to external sources i've referenced to influence my verdict at the bottom of this blog post. As all film fans know, the Academy never sleeps and buzz has already built around the possible contenders, now we must really look at what's on offer here
Latest News which will come into Nomination play
In the run-up to the big night, I'll be updating my predictions weekly having also considered the latest judgement and verdict online.
Best Picture - Spotlight, The Revenant, Tangerine, The Martian, Carol, Inside Out (a very close game, it could go to one of the films with more limited/niche distribution but have had critical acclaim such as Black Mass, Son of Saul..)
Best Director - Ridley Scott 'The Martian' (the favourite), Tom McCarthy 'Spotlight', Alejandro González Iñárritu 'The Revenant', George Miller 'Max Max: Fury Road' (all of whom are in close contention).
Best Actor - Leonardo DiCaprio 'The Revenant' (the favourite), Matt Damon 'The Martian' (closely fought), Michael Fassbender 'Steve Jobs', Johnny Depp 'Black Mass' (in close contention still), Eddie Redmayne (on paper, but less than likely), and not forgetting Tom Hardy 'Legend' and Jake Gyllenhaal 'Southpaw'.
Best Actress - Brie Larson 'Room' (the near-absolute lock), Saoirse Ronan 'Brooklyn' (dark horse #1), Cate Blanchett 'Carol' and Jennifer Lawrence 'Joy' (could still rally, if only they weren't nominated recently), if Rooney Mara 'Carol' is considered a lead she could rally for the Oscar title (dark horse #2).
Best Supporting Actor - Sylvester Stallone 'Creed' (the favourite), Michael Keaton / Mark Ruffalo 'Spotlight' (Not since 1991 — when Harvey Keitel and Ben Kingsley were both nominated for "Bugsy" — have two actors from the same film been nominated in this category - could this change that?). Also consider, Mark Rylance 'Bridge of Spies' and Tom Hardy 'The Revenant' (the dark horse of this category).
Best Supporting Actress - Alicia Vikander 'The Danish Girl' (the favourite), Rooney Mara 'Carol', Kate Winslet 'Steve Jobs', Jane Fonda 'Youth', Jennifer Jason Leigh 'The Hateful Eight'. Julie Walters 'Brooklyn' and Marion Cotillard (the dark horses).
Best Original Screenplay - Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley 'Inside Out' (the favourite, absolute lock). Possible contenders in this category include Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer 'Spotlight'. An Alternative pick that could still rally, even though it is a long shot - Amy Schumer's 'Trainwreck' (though it's highly unlikely, it has helped contribute to the redefining of gender & genre stereotyping in film this year, through it's writing).
Best Adapted Screenplay - Aaron Sorkin 'Steve Jobs' (the favourite, though not so much the film), Nick Hornby 'Brooklyn', Emma Donoghue 'Room', Drew Goddard 'The Martian' and Phyllis Nagy 'Carol'.
Best Animated Feature - Inside Out (the favourite), The Good Dinosaur (another Pixar film which could work for or against Pixar's favour this season), The Peanuts Movie, Shaun The Sheep Movie.
Best Foreign Language Film - Son of Saul (Hungary, the favourite), Mustang (France), Labyrinth of Lies (Germany), The Club (Chile), The Second Mother (Brazil).
Best Documentary Feature - Amy (for the past three years, the Oscar in this category has gone to the film everybody thought it was going to, remember Searching for Sugar Man and Citizenfour?). Main competition comes from Joshua Oppenheimer's sequel to The Act of Killing - The Look of Silence. What won't be sneaking in these honourable mentions are a shortlist of snubs (annoyingly); The Wolfpack, Iris, Finders Keepers, (T)error...
Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki 'The Revenant' (the favourite, he's one two years in a row last year and the year before for Gravity and Birdman respectively) with main competition from Roger Deakins for Sicario. Also for consideration; Robert Richardson 'The Hateful Eight', John Seale 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and Edward Lachmann 'Carol'. Unfortunately we expect Macbeth (Adam Arkapaw) to be snubbed.
Best Film Editing - Margaret Sixel 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (the favourite), Pietro Scalia 'The Martian' and Michael Kahn 'Bridge of Spies' could also rally.
Best Production Design - Carol or Cinderella (both equal favourites, closely fought - though they couldn't be more different; a 1950s-set lesbian romance vs an adaptation of a Disney fairy tale). Mad Max: Fury Road and Crimson Peak and Macbeth as Dark Horses.
Best Costume Design - This year we can judge Best Production Design & Costume Design nominees in parallel since nom predictions are almost exactly the same, both work in harmony in the films mentioned above and there are others to notice to. Once again, Carol or Cinderella once again for the win.
Best Original Score - The usual composers are at it again, making original scores, themes and songs for the best sounding movies of the year. After a grand 12 nominations, can Thomas Newman finally win for Bridge of Spies? Other contenders are Jóhann Jóhannson (Sicario), Carter Burwell (Carol), Alexandre Desplat (The Danish Girl) and John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens).
Best Original Song - It seems within recent years, the Original Song category noms are becoming populated by well... popular artists. For instance, Adele's platinum-selling James Bond theme for 2012's 'Skyfall'. This year the favourites to win are; One Kind of Love (Love & Mercy), Til It Happens To You (The Hunting Ground), and Simple Song #3 (Youth), although nothing memorable sticks out last year like 2013's Frozen song 'Let It Go'.
Best Visual Effects - 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (What will probably win), 'Mad Max: Fury Road' (the favourite to win, right now). Can Star Wars take down Mad Max and Jurassic World? Other contenders in the VFX arena are; Jurassic World, The Martian and though unlikely - The Walk, Everest and Tomorrowland.
Best Makeup & Hairstyling - Black Mass, The Danish Girl, Carol, Crimson Peak, Macbeth, Mr. Holmes
Best Sound Mixing - Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Best Sound Editing - (same as above for Sound Mixing).
From the main article,
Earlier this year, for one of their units; Unit 31 - Social Action and Community Media Production, City of Westminster College Level 3 Extended Diploma Creative Media students worked together in class on a professional brief; to shoot the Richmond Running Festival’s 21k Half Marathon - more specifically, us running in it and fundraising for the Place2Be Charity, an additional part of our unit criteria. Making a difference & documenting it.
Student Louis Holder was responsible for overseeing the execution of the entire project from inception to completion as the project's Production Coordinator, as well as running in the marathon himself on the day! He really stretched himself as he's an incredibly un-sporty person, for someone who's always using his legs too! Here's some photos from the project;
To say The 87th Academy Awards were a shock is a huge understatement, for the big awards - some of the winners were undeserving. Others simply shocked us that they beat the obvious frontrunners to claim the prized statuette.
As usual, it was the job of host with the most for this year; Neil Patrick Harris to be the biggest arsehole on the planet for a period of just under four hours. Just in case over 20 endorsements of ABC, the Academy broadcaster for the event, wasn't enough - he had to sing at the beginning, turning the show into the biggest musical embarrassment since... Ummm.
No no, I'm being too cynical, the show was lovely - it was its usual glitzy self and all the better because it was available live on Sky Movies Oscars - delightful! Though the Red Carpet proved disappointing, with a lack of A-List celebrities strutting their stuff, we saw some of our favourite faces in cinema over the past year. Meryl Streep was the only real A-lister there - i suppose in today's climate, what defines the term celebrity?
The Academy Awards this year were a shocker for two reasons;
On top of an already shocking nominations list prior to the ceremony taking place, with a lack of Teller, Revolori or Oyelowo or Coltrane being at all recognised for their electrifying performances in their respective films, we've got all this to take in now.
For me, the most deserving winners of the night (without question) were;
The above were, without question, the obvious winners in their categories and its great to see that they were recognised for it. J.K. Simmons was, at his age, talent and evocative work with Whiplash, the obvious contender for Best Supporting Actor. The same goes to Patricia for Boyhood who gives us her lifetime best performance as the mother of Mason Jr. in the real-time coming-of-age epic Boyhood.
I was also pleased to see Best Foreign Language Film go to Ida, in recent weeks, its had the edge against long-running contender - Leviathan and Achievement in Sound Mixing went to Whiplash - for the crispest jazz and for the general classiness. It's a great film.
The most shocking, and thus disappointing, winners on the night in my opinion were;
...and the reasons for them.
Perhaps for The Academy, it was too obvious for Boyhood to get Best Picture. I think in recent weeks Boyhood gained momentum to a point where it was clear to everyone just how much of a monumental production Boyhood really was. The film was actually my favourite to win, but I think the style of Birdman clouded the views of the jury. There is an element of confusion here - its a profound film which focusses on dsyfunctional American family, its a real American film - maybe it was too real? There was hardly any typical 'blockbuster' element about it and perhaps it was too clever for an American audience - this s quite a derogoratory stereotype to make but with every stereotype; there is an element of truth. Boyhood had more of an impact in European Cinema, but this year the Academy has gone too far and they've strayed from honoring the true winners; like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Selma and some would say (I know I would); Nightcrawler.
I'm not saying Birdman didn't deserve to win, it had a good chance of winning right from the start and considering the Academy jury was consisted of older people which would make us think Boyhood would resonate with them more, against the odds Birdman with its stylish cinematography and 'one-take' effect - broke a few technical norms.
Should have won: Boyhood
Best Director is another huge disappointment, and blow to Boyhood, I even think there could have been the small chance of a sympathy Oscar to Boyhood for either Best Picture or Best Director, I would have been okay with Best Picture going to Birdman (it's still annoying) and Best Director going to Inarritu but the fact that both awards went to the film, something's not quite right. Richard Linklater, director of Boyhood, was the obvious winner from the start, he had spent nearly a third of his life producing the film which required such dedication and integrity to the production that any other nomination is unparalleled. It would only make sense to commemorate arguably the most humanist director of all time with an Oscar, but sadly that was not the case.
Did Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Should have won: Richard Linklater
Original Screenplay should've gone to The Grand Budapest Hotel, the outcome of this award is yet another massive shocker. It was witty, funny and exceptionally well crafted as typical in a sarcastic black comedy from Wes Anderson. Birdman had no story, no aim and it might as well have been an observational documentary with some fancy camera work and lighting, with a unpredictable migraine-inducing drum beat. The Academy's reputation may have taken a turn for the worse, I sure think less of it anyway - but I was kind of expecting it too, the reputation part not the award winners!
I don't have much to say about the next award, other than the fact it should been How To Drain Your Dragon 2 (heartwarming, better than the original AND well animated - slightly better than Big Hero 6 in its realism).
Did Win: Big Hero 6
Should have won: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Achievement in Cinematography was a shocker too, though it wasn't as well. It was a shocker because last year Emmanuel Lubeszki won the same award for Gravity - so were were expecting the Oscars not to go all consecutive on this one but it seems that wasn't the case - it should have gone to a more deserving winner; notably Robert Yeoman, Wes' right hand man on every production since, on The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Oscars totally played against their usual tactic of 'getting rid of people without a statue yet' with the exception of Julianne Moore who won Best Actress for her portrayal.
In My Opinion... Best To Worst (Completely subjective - in other words... not tactical whatsoever, though i'd like it to be of course!)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
This year - it feels like audiences, critics and academy boards alike have all been clouded with the belief that Style is more important than Substance and have forgotten what film is really all about. We're all automatically more attracted to eye-candy than a story which pulls at our heartstrings. And, we've learnt you can't impress everyone with a biographical film, it is unfortunate that something has to give. Plus, just because they're not actor actors doesn't mean they shouldn't have equal awards opportunities - Oyelowo, Teller, Revolori and Coltrane you're fantastic! It's poignant films like Boyhood and Selma that remind us that we're all still human in this fabricated reality.
Here's all the nominees, a dedicated Sky channel will broadcast the entire Oscars 2015 live as it happens. 'The Oscars 2015: Red Carpet Live' will air from 11:30pm to 1:30am on Sky Movies Oscars and Sky Living, before the 87th Academy Awards ceremony itself will air live on Sky Movies Oscars from 1:30am-4:30am.
And the Oscar goes to... Well we're just not sure. As a filmmaker and filmgoer I've had a very difficult time ordering this year's 8 nominees from best to worst, let alone name my best one. Though I have come to one conclusion - this year has been an extremely tough year for film, as many deciding factors in film have changed - technologies, emerging markets (closing markets even) and competition. Being in the industry and being a regular has to make choosing Best Picture as hard as possible - because you're trying not to influenced by others or by yourself. When making a selection, be tactical - it helps if you have insider knowledge of awards season or are in touch with social media and regularly analyse films write down the very meaning of their existence. What is it that the film sets out to do, or be or give? Forgive me for sounding all Morgan Freeman here but let's be honest - who isn't these days?
In my short-ish post today I'll be writing with my hot summer holiday mindset; laid-back - it's how I prefer to write, when its something as casual as being a film critic. Though on days I would consider myself to be a more serious writer, today's just one of those days... So, sit back and unwind - let me share with you just a few thoughts on my predictions for Best Picture 2015.
2015 has been the hardest year to predict, even more so as of late. Recently, Two groups you can usually count on; The British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the DGAs seemed to disagree with each other - at the BAFTAs, Best Film went to Richard Linklater's Boyhood and it's creator won the award for Best Director. The Director's Guild Award went to Alejandro Inarritu for Birdman. Last year it was clear the two frontrunners in the spotlight were indeed Steve McQueen for 12 Years A Slave and Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity but this year its more unpredictable than ever before - that's thanks to increased competition in film elements - for Style and Substance. What is sad in my opinion is that it seems Style is becoming more important than Substance - people are forgetting that its the story and emotion that a film evokes, to warrant a great film and people are too obsessed with the eye candy of those chocolate box shots in too many a recent film. Fundamentally, This is why Boyhood is my film to win.
The Nominee's for Best Picture, in particular order, are;
This is so difficult because I loved each and every one of those films - so they're all winners, but we have to crack the whip and whittle it down to just one. So in brief, here's why I think each is a deserving winner.
American Sniper was a true story about a Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyles, whose skills saved countless lives out on the frontline. He was the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history and an instant legend, though this came at a price. For a time he risked losing his family, the war had gotten to him and he was left a changed man - evidently, for worse - and its a Clint Eastwood film. I liked this film, though I kick myself for not feeling moved by it or loving it. A.S was a gripping film, very tense at times though it didn't do the war justice - it was more just about him.
I can understand very clearly how the film has gone on to become very controversial - it is a symbol of America. There is no difference between the impact and controversy of this film than with The Interview, except with this - the film is actually semi-decent. I don't want to get into a rant of "Why is America doing this... Yes we know there is Freedom of Speech, Information blah blah, but don't show it off - well you could, but you'd be risking millions of lives and a possible repeat of the cold war if you do". This is no casual statement on my behalf, this is a real possibility.
The film doesn't dig into The Iraq War, at all. It's not interested in the causes of the war itself, just Kyle within it and as with many autobiographical films, it fails to cover a wide range of issues and content. Filmmakers tend to be one-sided, when attacking this genre, and focus extensively on one particular thing rather than touching a bit of everything - but perhaps its the fear that if they do that instead - they might not be faithful to their mission. Credits to the director of course, this is very clearly an Eastwoodian film, cinematically and narratively. War & Westerns are something Clint does very well at, in front and behind the camera. Once again its a lone gunman tackling a large frontier really which is a shame because I was really looking forward to seeing this film, maybe most if not all films are being hyped up too much. Well that can be answered another time.
It's not all bad though, Sienna Miller plays Chris Kyle's wife ever so well and is probably the best thing about this movie - its about time she's taking on extraordinary roles like her subtle supporting role in Foxcatcher, she's not getting any younger and neither is the film industry by the looks of it.
Good gosh that was a long review, perhaps I was being one-sided there - well I have reason to be. Boyhood
It's Not Finished :D