“And the Oscar goes to…”
This article first published in the Sunday Star-TImes, 28th February 2016
Winners and Deservers of the 2016 Academy Awards
Spare a thought for the truly-great and the merely-celebrated of Hollywood who, as you read this, are having their final dress fittings, approving make-up trials and nervously preparing for a good night of beauty sleep – because, tomorrow (Sunday 28th February, Californian time) they will totter down the red carpet to face peer judgement at the 88th Academy Awards.
This year, many will have to cheerfully disguise their air of resignation about who will be grasping that statuette, so predictable is this year’s Oscar race – but as Schrödinger might say: until the envelope has been opened, there’s still the chance of a surprise. Here’s how I think the night will go:
Lots of “worthy” subject matter here, from the GFC (The Big Short) to systemic child abuse (Spotlight), but for purely cinematic prowess it surely has to be The Revenant – two and a half glorious hours of superlative photography, engrossing storytelling and incredible human feats. And its 12 nominations may be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu won last year for Birdman and while he’s the creative genius behind The Revenant, this would be a nice opportunity for the Academy to award someone whose film isn’t going to grab Best Picture. My vote would go to Tom McCarthy, an actor and director of growing esteem whose restrained yet gripping Spotlight makes him a deserving recipient.
Leonardo DiCaprio has been nominated for five Oscars and never won. And he’s pretty terrific in everything he does (regardless of how you feel about his baby-faced good looks). He’s been collecting Revenant gongs all awards season so far, and is guaranteed to add a gold man to his stash. What about Michael Fassbender, you say? Sure – he’s a serious actor’s actor, and lost out with 12 Years a Slave two years ago. But I’m betting they’ll reward DiCaprio’s industriousness first.
Look, Cate Blanchett (Carol) is great, OK? So good in everything she does, she now almost fails to impress. But Brie Larson has burst onto the awards scene with her career-defining performance in Room, playing a mother locked in a room with her son for many years, and if she wins today, it will be entirely justified. This means 70-year old first-time nominee, been-on-our-screens-for-decades, Charlotte Rampling, doesn’t have a chance. But, like they’re trained to say: “It’s just nice to be nominated.”
Best Supporting Actor
Will it go to the reinvigorated career of Sylvester Stallone in Creed? Or will the Americans clue into the enormous talent that is British stage thespian Mark Rylance, who made Tom Hanks in a fedora look merely like Tom Hanks in a fedora in Bridge of Spies? That would reinstate the criticised awards ceremony’s caché, surely?
Best Supporting Actress
Considering Rooney Mara was at least as good and had as much screen-time as Blanchett in Carol, she should have been nominated for Best Actress – so give her the prize! Failing that, Alicia Vikander has been winning plaudits as the stronger half of The Danish Girl. The albeit great Kate Winslet does not need it for Steve Jobs and just because we haven’t seen Jennifer Jason Leigh for years doesn’t warrant a win for The Hateful Eight. So Rooney it should be.
Best Animated Feature Film
By all accounts, Inside Out is a shoe-in. Animation that doesn’t just amuse and entertain but also gets deep! No, wait – Shaun the Sheep, you say?…
Best Foreign Film
Having not yet seen any of the five nominees, this is a bit of a shot in the dark. But Son of Saul is a reputedly gruelling holocaust movie with good write-ups abroad which won’t need a gong to be recommendable. I’ll just have to vote for this one on instinct.
Best Documentary Feature
This is a tricky call for the Academy, as they weigh up the Worthy of The Look of Silence with the (considerably more entertaining) Devastating Indictment on Pop Culture of Amy. Personally, my hopes and dreams lie with the latter, but if the Academy is climbing towards moral high ground, then a traumatised Indonesian man confronting his brother’s genocidal killers may take the prize.