1300 Words, 43 Nominations, 19 Films, 8 Foods, 1 Oscar! 88th Academy Awards (2016 Oscars) Tips & Analysis!

Oscar Party Food Guide

Celebrate the 2015 Best Picture Nominations by serving the following treats at your Oscars party!

The Big Short French Champagne
Bridge Of Spies Apple Pie
Brooklyn Spaghetti Bolognaise
Mad Max: Fury Road Mother’s Milk
The Martian Potato
The Revenant Deer Liver
Room Birthday Cake
Spotlight Communion Wafer

Wall Of Text About The Oscars

I did it! For the first time in my 25 years of passionately following the Academy Awards (Oscars henceforth) I saw all the films nominated in the eight major categories. Nineteen films make up the 43 individual nominations for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, and Original and Adapted Screenplay.

My Oscar film-watching journey commenced on 3 September 2015 when I walked to the Event Cinemas on George Street in Sydney’s CBD to see Straight Outta Compton (rap films aren’t generally shown in Cremorne) and concluded earlier this afternoon when I watched Inside Out at home. Fifteen of the films were seen on cinema big screens, three (Mad Max: Fury Road, Ex Machina and Inside Out) on my 50-inch Hisense TV and one (Creed) on my 13-inch PatrickBook Air.

The 2015 clutch of cinematic contenders was high quality. Without any Coen Brothers detritus to sully the field (Spielberg’s greatness whitewashing them from Bridge Of Spies!), the Oscar Bait was able to hit a high watermark and maintain it, with even the least enjoyable films of the bunch — childish Inside Out, boring Creed and made-for-TVish Trumbo — still eminently watchable. If the Academy has erred, it was not by heaping praise upon the undeserving, a la Crash, Avatar or Silver Linings Playbook; but by omitting several standouts, either completely (viz The End Of The Tour, Sicario, Trainwreck and Macbeth) or from certain categories (see Jobs unemployed for Adapted Screenplay and Film, 45 Years’ Tom Courtney not being courted for Best Actor, Jason Mitchell straight outta contention for Best Actor and Domhnall Gleeson somehow weasling out of Best Supporting Actor nominations for Brooklyn, Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Revenant).

Speaking of actors that seem to be in every film this year, Tom Hardy continued his run of being completely unintelligible, if gorgeous in a roguish way, as two cockneys (Legend), an Aussie (Mad Max: Fury Road) and a Dakotan (The Revenant), which is also the start of an hilarious Mardi Gras-themed joke.

Photo Of Patrick Writing This Piece In His Fave Modest Mouse T-Shirt


Wall Of Text (Continued) 

Mad Max’s success is a 2-fold surprise: it’s increasingly rare that a bone fide box office hit (#21 of 2015), an action-adventure no less, is so broadly nominated; and it’s also a sequel (or perhaps more accurately a reboot or reimagining). In that second regard, it joins the second two Lord of the Rings instalments and the second two Godfathers as the only recent follow-ups to vie for Best Picture. Two other genuine smash hits — #8 The Martian and #16 The Revenant — are also nominated, alongside the traditional boutique fare of #42 Bridge of Spies, #45 The Big Short, #69 Spotlight, #71 Brooklyn and #116 Room. And if you think Room’s ranking is so low that its mere contention is a revelation, consider this: Best Actress hopeful Charlotte Rampling is nominated for 45 Years, a film that has grossed just $3.5 million, making it the #159 film of the year (between We Are Your Friends and What We Do In The Shadows), which is one-twohundredandsixthfourth of Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ takings.

In 45 Years, a picture I loved, Rampling plays a septuagenarian finding herself increasingly trapped in a marriage, touching on a broad theme that runs throughout the films this year. In some cases the women are actually, like quite literally, trapped, as in Room, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Hateful Eight and Ex Machina; and then there are the woman trapped by abstractions like convention (Brooklyn), love (The Danish Girl), patriarchy (Carol); and then there is the woman trapped in a man’s body (The Danish Girl, again). What interests from this theme isn’t the bleak predictability of cinema’s male gaze — and only around half the titles pass the Bechdel Test — but the slivers of optimism that pass through the interstices: whether it’s the love of a woman for her lesbian paramour, her transitioning husband, her son sired from evil, her estranged husband or her mop — it’s all good, live and let live, don’t let Cory Bernardi tell you how to live your life!

Then there’s The Big Short and Spotlight, two ensemble dramas that distill deeply complex episodes in recent history for mainstream consumption. What a manful job director Jay Roach does in the former to explain and, more importantly, create a riveting, hilarious and engaging absurdist narrative out of sub-prime mortgages. In the latter, the Catholic Church’s shameful child sex abuse cover-ups are retold with vivid social realism through the prism of investigative journalism. From these outstanding achievements come head-to-head Best Supporting Actor past masters Christian Bale (previous winner for The Fighter) and Mark Ruffalo (previous nominee for The Kids Are All Right and Foxcatcher). This category has a loose tradition of being a bastion of idiosyncratic nominations (Jonah Hill x 2, Jeremy Renner, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Eddie Murphy, Mark Wahlburg and Robert Downey Jr) and even wins (Heath Ledger as the Joker, current Joker Jared Leto, joker Robin Williams and joke Cuba Gooding Jr), giving hope to Sylvester Stallone, reprising his Rocky character 40 years after being nominated for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay.

For fans of genre fiction, there is belief through recognition. Science fiction and animation account for eight of the 10 highest grossing films of 2015, and while only The Martian is in the mix for Best Picture, the presence of Inside Out, Straight Outta Compton, Creed and Ex Machina among the major nominations, alongside the genreish Bridge Of Spies, shows that the door is being left ajar for more populist releases to be honoured. If the Oscars wants to stay relevant, it doesn’t just need to increase diversity of the actors it nominates, but also the types of films it considers worthy of ardour.

Of the eight films nominated for Best Picture… Room moved me the most (I cried at the end). The Big Short’s exploration of form was peerless. Brooklyn evoked nonpareil laughter (quite unexpectedly too: the marketing for this film has been dreadful). Mad Max: Fury Road was the most thrilling (despite smallish screen consumption). The Revenant locks down the epicness prize (I felt like I needed a saline drip afterwards). Spotlight clearly covers the most important, topical subject matter, and it does it very well, but it lets itself down with a couple of overwrought scenes, one that unintentionally triggered laughter at the session I attended. Bridge Of Spies is very American, which always helps. The Martian has Matt Damon, who I love. It is a really open year!

It was a good year in cinema, it has been thoroughly enjoyable watching the films, I am looking forward to watching the ceremony. My love of the Oscars is totally pure — it is not ironic — I like the lame jokes at the start, the montages, the acting clips, the acceptance speeches, the impromptu swearing, the contrived social media activations, the constant references to how long it is, the in memoriam, the singing of the nominated songs. Even that year they did the interpretive dance — I quite liked that too!

Bit About If Leo Will Finally Win

Yes, I think he will, though I think The Revenant is the least deserving of his erstwhile five acting nominations. I thought he should have won for Blood Diamond!

Oscar Tips Grid

Who Will Win Who Should Win
Picture Spotlight Room
Director Alejandro G Iñárritu (The Revenant) Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
Actress Brie Larson (Room) Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Supp Actor Sylvester Stallone (Creed) Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Supp Actress Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) Alicia Vikander (but for Ex Machina)
Original Screenplay Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight) Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus (Straight Outta Compton)
Adapted Screenplay Drew Goddard (The Martian) Emma Donahue (Room)

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