Spencer Smith ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Today is the biggest day in tinseltown. The Academy Awards this year have been as controversial and unpredictable as ever before. Emertainment Monthly is throwing our own predictions into the mix, in what will most certainly turn out to be an evening of upsets and surprises.
Will Win: The Revenant
Could Win: Spotlight OR The Big Short
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Biggest Snub: Sicario, Anomalisa
The Revenant has become the surprising frontrunner in one of the most insanely unpredictable races in a long time. First it was Spotlight, then The Big Short, and now it seems that The Revenant has come in as the frontrunner thanks to a number of award wins and multiple predictions. The Revenant plays off more as a Man vs. Wild episode if it was directed by Lars Von Trier who wanted to make Apocalypse Now. Now it’s not as if The Revenant’s a horrible film or anything but it hardly feels like a film that will be remembered a few years down the road. It’s a film that feels overly self indulgent in it’s message. The other two previous frontrunners: The Big Short and Spotlight are the only films that may take the crown from The Revenant and even though the latter is a great film it’s probably not the film that should win. Of the nominees, Mad Max: Fury Road probably should win as it’s probably the film that most people will remember 5 years from now from this nominees list. Among the most sorely lacking includes Denis Villeneuve’s haunting, masterfully crafted Sicario and Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa, which may be the best film of the year along with George Miller’s chaotic magnum opus.
Will Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant
Could Win: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Biggest Snub: Todd Haynes- Carol
George Miller is one of the unsung filmmakers of his era, despite what some may say is a weird filmography, Miller always has a clear vision and Fury Road is just further proof. Miller knows how film works, he understands the world of it better than perhaps any other person right now and he seemed like a lock for the gold… then the tides suddenly shifted in favor of Alejandro González Iñárritu. It could be that the Academy doesn’t favor action movies for major awards or it’s just rubbing off more love for The Revenant. If ever an Oscar was more deserving it would be now. Not only is Fury Road the best directed movie in the category (and of the year) but it’s a highlight for Miller’s long career and a chance for him to be rewarded. Yet, for some reason the Academy deems Iñárritu worthier, maybe it’s due to how grueling The Revenant was to make. Many are missing in this category, but most inexcusable is Todd Hayne’s understated work on Carol where he works an almost poetic piece of direction into the piece.
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Could Win: Matt Damon – The Martian
Should Win: Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Biggest Snub: Johnny Depp – Black Mass
It seems like it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s time to shine since he’s been winning award after award with his innumerable horde of fans. DiCaprio is one of the biggest names in the Hollywood scene, his name sells out theaters, millions of his fans crawl up to try to get his love and attention and his career will not die without this Oscar win. He’s certainly getting it though despite his performance feeling more like an exercise in endurance rather than emotional memory; the much publicized commitment he had makes himself look more talented than he is. Even by DiCaprio’s standards his performance isn’t the best male performance of the year, just because he went through a difficult production doesn’t warrant an Oscar. Arguably the best actor in this year’s race was Michael Fassbender showing a remarkable performance that feels all too real as the manipulative, business genius that was Steve Jobs. It’s a great performance, and certainly an Oscar worthy one. Of the many snubs Johnny Depp is the most sorely lacking here for his work in Black Mass. It was really one of his best performances in years and when Johnny Depp gives one of his best, it should stand proudly among the best of the year.
Will Win: Brie Larson – Room Could Win: Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Should Win: Brie Larson – Room
Biggest Snub: Emily Blunt – Sicario
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, the Best Actress seems to be rightfully going to not just the best female performance of the year, but maybe the best performance of the year in general. Brie Larson is one of the finest young actress we have right now, and she’s provided one hell of a role for her to outdo. Larson’s performance as a kidnapped woman, trying to protect her son from the same trauma she’s endured is a stunning experience. It’s one of the most raw, convincing and honest performances to come from 2015. Larson is simply incredible, and she even manages to outshine some truly outstanding actors who populate this nominee list such as Cate Blanchett and Charlotte Rampling; the only real threat she has is Saoirse Ronan’s performance in Brooklyn and that too is a very good performance, but it still seems small compared to the giant that is Brie Larson. While a good five nominees, the one who should be here is Emily Blunt’s under appreciated role in Sicario which was the fine actress’ best performance by far of her career.
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Sylvester Stallone – Creed
Could Win: Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Should Win: Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Biggest Snub: Michael Keaton – Spotlight AND Benicio Del Toro – Sicario
While Sylvester Stallone seems poised to win based on his career, rather than performance, that’s not to say that it’s bad that he wins, on the contrary seeing Stallone with an acting Oscar is something that would be a crowd pleasing moment. But as far as the best performance goes, it’s Tom Hardy who gave perhaps the best piece of acting here. Hardy has always been one of those actors who gets far less credit as evidence when everyone talked about DiCaprio as opposed to his acting which is vastly superior as an actual performance. Hardy may have it, but if Stallone goes up for that trophy, it’ll be well deserved win as well. However, this is a category full of missing names, one of note includes Idris Elba for Beasts of No Nation however the two biggest snubs include Michael Keaton for Spotlight and Benicio Del Toro for Sicaro both of which belong on a year’s best list for acting with both of these great actors providing some of their very best work.
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Could Win: Rooney Mara – Carol
Should Win: Rooney Mara – Carol
Biggest Snub: Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
2015 particularly favored Alicia Vikander. She’s not only up for her first Oscar but she may actually be posed to win despite her leading role in The Danish Girl. While it’s still quite a hard race to between Vikander and Rooney Mara, it’s clear that their studios petitioned supporting in order to get them better chances of winning. Vikander currently has the edge in this race but it’s Mara who should probably win here. Not only was her performance in Carol a fantastic standout of the year, Mara should have a beef with the Academy after she was snubbed out of a win for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Now if we were going by deserving supporting roles, Vikander takes the cake not for The Danish Girl but her turn as the mysterious Ava in Ex Machina. Not only was it one of the best of the year but if it was nominated Vikander should have won for her role as the manipulative and nearly emotionless android.
Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer – Spotlight
Could Win: Pete Doctor, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen – Inside Out
Should Win: Alex Garland – Ex Machina
Biggest Snub: Rick Famuyiwa – Dope
Where The Revenant looks to be taking the big prize, the previous frontrunners are getting their writing credit as penance it seems. Spotlight is a fine film and certainly a well written one at that. The story of one of the most important pieces of modern journalism is brought to startling reality by Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer’s writing. It’s a very good screenplay, it’s layered with a layer of depth and realism you don’t see very much in films these days. Apparently the Spotlight team themselves have called the movie about 99% accurate so if journalists are giving their stamp of approval it seems that the Academy will follow suit. The only possible threat at this point is Pete Doctor, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie Del Carmen for their fantastic writing on Inside Out. One of Pixar’s best in years it’s another worthy winner but both of these in actuality shouldn’t be rewarded. Instead, the Best Original Screenplay Oscar should go to Alex Garland’s outstanding writing for Ex Machina. For Garland to write artificial intelligence in such a unique, mysterious, and possibly realistic way is possibly the best hard sci-fi screenplay in years. It’s an outstanding piece of writing, almost on Philip K. Dick levels of philosophy, and he should be given that shiny golden man for his work here. Among those missing at the party was Rick Famuyiwa’s great coming-of-age film Dope which was one of the biggest casualty in the white washing this year.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph – The Big Short
Could Win: Drew Goddard – The Martian
Should Win: Emma Donoghue – Room
Biggest Snub: Charlie Kaufman – Anomalisa
The Big Short is the other Best Picture front runner, that has the best chances at scoring the adapted screenplay Oscar. The only real threat is Drew Goddard’s The Martian which is the funniest film to ever depict a year long survival story. The film that should win though is Emma Donoghue’s work on Room, is a harrowing adaption and a heartbreaking experience. Donoghue’s script is all the more impressive considering the novel was also written by her. Of the snubs, the fact that Charlie Kaufman’s writing for Anomalisa wasn’t even rewarded with a nomination comes across as simply wrong. Almost like when you listen to an instrument out of tune. Whenever Kaufman writes a film it’s usually 97% more original, better written, and groundbreaking than any other movie of the year. It’s one of the most personal films of Kaufman’s and one of his very best.