The 88th Academy Film Awards (OSCARS) 2015

After the many months absent from this blog, I feel no better way to begin a new than a report into the 88th Academy film awards held 28th February 2016. Celebrating a year of ups and down within the film industry, this award ceremony – hosted by Chris Rock – was destined to be a great one.

Marred with controversy over the lack of Black nominations that many feel soured the ceremony, this Oscars still held some of the most memorable moments of the year in film amongst its reasons to tune in.Handled with a distant- yet overbearing – disposition on the lack of black nominations, Chris Rock managed to convey what everyone was thinking only in a manner which allowed the smoothness of the ceremony to continue. After all it was to celebrate the achievements in film – not overly pollute the skills of many with the lack of diversity for the few.

With some standout moments, Rock’s opening monologue being perhaps the best in OSCAR history, the ceremony was delivered brilliantly. With some awards already pre determined (although unofficially) the ceremony still managed to deliver some shock wins (Rylance over Stallone/ Sam Smith over Gaga) and ultimately gave a true level of acclaim to the many pictures it celebrated. Awesome.

The Winner in each category is BOLDED for ease. 

chris rock oscars

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BEST PICTURE

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant 

Room

Spotlight 

This award surprised me completely. I was counting on ‘The Revenant’ to take home the big prize, however the Academy heads delivered it to ‘Spotlight’.  Although surprising, the fact it went to Spotlight is not entirely unwarranted – with the harsh reality of the subject matter, the non egotistical manner in which the cast performed, and the standards of filmmaking throughout given the film a true credibility in the past years film releases.

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant 

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

One of the most obvious awards given tonight, DiCaprio being the most favourable and predetermined recipient of finally receiving the Golden man he so longed for – 6 nominations including this one. Having watched ‘The Revenant’ it is not surprising to see the level of acclaim his performance has garnered – whether it’s his best role yet is up for debate however. What is clear, is that DiCaprio never makes a bad movie and as such can easily be seen as one of the best actors of the current generation. Filmmakers such as Scorsese can see it, and now does the academy.

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room 

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Another sure thing when it came to the awards, with Brie Larson being universally acclaimed for her performance in ‘Room’. A movie I have been unable to watch, much to my dissapointment. Was it ever not a sure thing? Well it’s proven that the Academy adores both Jennifer Lawrence and Cate Blanchett so perhaps they could have pulled the award more towards either of those two fine actresses. Alas however, it went to Larson. I look forward to watching the film, and given my opinion to whether that was the correct decision.

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Christian Bale, The Big Short 

Tom Hardy, The Revenant 

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies 

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

The bookies favourite was always Stallone, 40 years after loosing out for the best actor accolade for the original ‘Rocky’ picture. Many believed this was his chance to get an award for a true cinematic icon, however it was not to be with British actor Rylance given the award for his startling portrayal of a Russian spy caught up in a prisoner exchange during the cold war.

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl 

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

A two horse race between Winslet and Vikander gave this award chance to surprise audience members. With both having equally brilliant years within the industry. Both performance are breathtaking and beautiful – respective to their productions – however the young Swedish thesp took home the big price for her emotionally charged performance as the lover to one of the first gender reconfigured people in history. With other films this year including the brilliant ‘Ex Machina’ it is nice to see the academy give this award to one of the most promising actresses in recent years.

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

In a category owned since 2001 by the subsidiary of Disney, was it at all surprising to see ‘Inside Out’ take the best animated feature award? Perhaps not. With my opinion on the film as a poorer showing than the studio’s previous work (sorry just my opinion) , it would have been nice to see this go to another studio – perhaps Aardman or Studio Ghibli should receive some much needed acclaim on the standard of animations that they produce. Just saying.

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant 

Sicario

‘The Revenant’ was always going to be rewarded for the camerawork they incorporated into the motion picture. Startlingly beautiful vistas, claustrophobic landscapes and encapsulating surroundings really deliver on screen within this film – engrossing the exploits of the characters within the mind of the viewer. A third win in a row for cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki (after Gravity and Birdman) the level of craft really held no equal.

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COSTUME DESIGN

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road 

The Revenant 

A film that dominated the technicals at this years awards, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ took home the prize for best costume design – even if I feel this is unwarranted on the level of the others films work. However, the most acclaimed film of the year took home 6 awards so what do I know.

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DIRECTING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road 

The Revenant 

Room

Spotlight

A real surprise, when you consider the fact that George Miller is over 70 and yet produced such a critically acclaimed film – with every effect done as practical over CGI. Bookies favoured him, but the academy saw fit to give this to Alejandro G Inarritu – to make him only one of three previous winners to win best director two years in a row. An achievement that will mark his name in film history.

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DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Amy 

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Following in the footsteps of the other acclaimed documentary, ‘Selma’, ‘Amy’ took a harsh but true account of the doomed singer/songwriter and her turbulent career. A moving showpiece that carried true emotion through its filmic foundation.

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DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Body Team 12 (T)

Chau, beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness 

Last Day of Freedom

As I have not seen any of these films, I can only go on what the Academy deems the best. Well done to all nominations.

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FILM EDITING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant 

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Another technical and another win for ‘Mad Max’. A high octane chase of a movie with some outstanding set pieces, was it ever a competition for this award. Probably not.

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FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Son of Saul 

Theeb 

A War

On my research for this award, I looked into the predicted winner form the largest publications within the UK. With ‘Son of Saul’ the standout candidate, it does not surprise me that the film received the accolade of best Foreign Language Film. Now on to watching it.

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MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Mad Max: Fury Road 

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant 

In much the same was as the Best Costume Design Oscar, ‘Mad Max’ beat stiff competition to take home this reward. This is even more impressive when you look into the level of Makeup used to give across the grizzled and broken man that carried the revenant throughout its duration. Impressive indeed.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight 

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Utilising some of the riffs composed for other acclaimed Westerns (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly being but one) Ennio Morricone went back to his roots and received the applause the music he composes so majestically deserved. An outstanding attribute to the film industry, his score is deserved of this acclaim most definately.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey 

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre 

Following in the footsteps of the last Bond theme (Adele’s Skyfall), Sam Smith took home the prize for best original song. With most punters going for the more powerful ballad of Gaga, this win most definitely shows the power of franchise. At least it did not go to ‘Fifty Shades of Greys’ “Earned it”.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road 

The Martian 

The Revenant

How ‘Mad Max’ beat ‘The Martian’ I will never know, but alas another technical and another win for the post apocalyptic chase feature.

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SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Bear Story 

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team 

We Can’t Live without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

An award that I hold no opinion on, well done ‘Bear Story’. I might go back and watch it soon.

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SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ave Maria

Day One 

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Shok

Stutterer 

An award that I hold no opinion on, well done ‘Stutterer’. I might go back and watch it soon.

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SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road 

The Martian 

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ really did capitalize on the strength of its technical aspects with another win for the production standards that the film delivered. An outstanding achievement, whether you deem it like me to be unwarranted in the present company it shared with the nominations this award carried. It should also be noted for the beating of the power of ‘Star Wars’.

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SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road 

The Martian 

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

Another award for the chase picture, and another time it beat the power of ‘Star Wars’.

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian 

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

In perhaps the nicest surprise of the evening, ‘Ex Machina’ won the award for best visual effects. For a fairly meagre budget of only $15million, the film out ranked much higher calibre pictures – especially the $200million space epic ‘The Force Awakens’. Completely deserved, film enthusiasts around the world can marvel at the spectacle created and the acclaim it has received.

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WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

The Big Short 

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room 

Was there any other choices? Not likely and yet ‘The Big Short’ received high level of plaudits for the manner in which it was adapted. Following the authors over filmic adaptations (Moneyball and Blind Side) the film allowed for a strong reception from critics and film watchers throughout the world.

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WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight 

Straight Outta Compton 

Unsurprising in hindsight, with the best screenplay going to the best film. I did find the controversy played on my prediction for this award. With the ceremony marred in a lack of black candidates I presumed the award would go to the predominately black ‘Straight Outta Compton’. Alas I was wrong. Spotlight deserved this award and rightly so got it.

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Oscar Nominations (The Revenant, 12/ Mad Max: Fury Road, 10/ The Martian, 7)

Oscar Winners (Mad Max: Fury Road, 6/ The Revenant, 3/ Spotlight, 2)

In all a brilliant award ceremony. Roll on next year and the level of film which will encapsulate audience this year.

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