Thursday, January 14, 2016

Not that many surprises in today’s Oscar nominations


I’m scratching my head trying to figure out why the Hollywood movie establishment doesn’t like Ridley Scott. Hey, I’m not among those who think The Martian is a motion picture landmark. It reminded me more of one of those fun films I used to see back in the 1940s as part of the Saturday matinee at the Jackson Theater in New York City. In other words, I liked it, but didn’t elevate it to greatness. But, still, it landed a best picture Oscar nomination this morning and Matt Damon was nominated for best actor. But Scott, the film’s director, did not make the final five in that category. And when I was conversing with Hollywood insiders to determine my predictions for the Oscar nominations they were telling me they really believed this was the year for Scott’s gold watch, a make-up best director Oscar win more for his body of work (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, The Duelists, Black Hawk Down, Matchstick Men, American Gangster, even his Someone to Watch Over Me, a film I liked a lot more than most) than just The Martian. Fifteen years ago, The Gladiator won just about every Oscar available, but Scott was passed over for his direction of the film. To see him left off the list completely shocked me.

The only other real surprise was the omission of Aaron Sorkin’s screenplay for Steve Jobs. Although Michael Fasbinder, to the surprise of absolutely no one, received a nomination for this performance in that film, the movie is really all screenplay.

I must admit I was a tad shocked by the supporting actor nomination of Tom Hardy, even though I consider him one of the best actors working today (watch Locke and The Drop back-to-back and that will give you a hint of the range of this amazing actor), instead of Idris Elba. It’s possible Elba just didn’t make the cut because not enough voters saw or even wanted to see his film — Beasts of No Nation is really difficult to sit through and it didn’t exactly send cash registers booming.

I also found it interesting that, largely because it has the most nominations, The Revenant came out of this morning’s Oscar announcement as the front-runner for the best picture Oscar, yet that film’s screenplay did not receive a nomination. It’s standard for the best picture winner to score a screenplay nomination and usually it also wins that Oscar as well. The last time a best picture winner did not receive a screenplay nomination was 1998 when Titanic came away as the big winner. Before that, you have to go all the way back to 1965's The Sound of Music to find a best picture winner that did not have a screenplay nomination.

So there’s that.

Here is a list of the nominees: (An asterisk preceding the nominee signifies one I did not predict)

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight


Best Director
* Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
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
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn


Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale,
The Big Short
* Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance,
Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed


Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
* Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

(McAdams nomination was a pleasant surprise. I thought Helen Mirren (Trumbo) or Jane Fonda (Youth) would grab that final spot.

Best Original Screenplay
Bridge of Spies
* Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

(A little surprised Ex Machina took the spot I thought would go to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.)

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short
Brooklyn
Carol
* The Martian
Room

(Just stunned that The Martian is in here and Steve Jobs isn’t)

Best Cinematography
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

(No surprises. Predicted these five.)

Best Costume Design
Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
* The Revenant

(Somewhat surprised The Revenant edged out Brooklyn in this category)

Best Film Editing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
* Star Wars: The Force Awakens

(I had The Martian in here, but not all that surprised Star Wars replaced it.)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road
* The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

(Never saw The 100-Year-Old Man coming; figured it would be Black Mass because of all the talk about Johnny Depp’s hair in the picture.)

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies
* The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
* The Revenant


Best Score
Bridge of Spies
Carol
The Hateful Eight
* Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Best Song
* Fifty Shades of Grey - Earned It
The Hunting Ground - Til it Happens to You
* Racing Extinction - Manta Ray
Spectre - Writing's on the Wall
Youth - Simple Song #3

(You would think by now I would know better than to try to predict this category, although three out of five is one of my better years.)

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Best Sound Mixing
* Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

(Really thought Straight Outta Compton had a shot at a nomination in this category.)

Best Visual Effects
* Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
* The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

(I had The Walk and Jurassic World in here and still believe they should have been included.)

Best Animated Feature
Anomalisa
* Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
* When Marnie Was There


Best Documentary Feature
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
* What Happened, Miss Simone?
* Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

(Hmm. No Going Clear. No He Named Me Malala. Strange)

Best Foreign Language Film
* Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang
Son of Saul
* Theeb
A War


(I did not try to predict the rest of these categories)
Best Animated Short
Bear Story
Prologue
Sanjay's Super Team
We Can’t Live without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow


Best Documentary Short
Body Team 12
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom


Best Live Action Short
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)
Shok
Stutterer

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