The ‘sentimental narrative’ is being bandied about with shameless abandon in most prognostications over the 2016 Academy Awards. Key categories are not being discussed on merit, but more so as if nominees are nearing death; those “Oh, it’s his time,” and “Wouldn’t it be fitting if…” kind of comments. SCREEN-SPACE can play that game as well as the best of them so, just over 24 hours out from host Chris Rock’s highly-anticipated opening monologue, here are our winners and why…
Bridge of Spies is the best film amongst the eight nominees, but Spielberg was bumped from the director category and its Cold War setting (and, yes, Tom Hanks’ casting) makes it feel like a throwback to a bygone Hollywood era. Room will earn kudos elsewhere; The Martian and Brooklyn will have been shutout across the board by this time of the night. With no nomination in the script categories, it would go against the grain for The Revenant to pick up the trophy, but that is likely to happen. The upside is that the absence of Innaritu and co-writer Mark L Smith from the writing honours list means Spotlight and The Big Short won’t go home empty-handed. But could Mad Max Fury Road steal the Best Picture spotlight….?
Who will win: THE REVENANT.
Who should win: INSIDE OUT.
…No, but the sentimental narrative will help its director George Miller to a surprise Best Director trophy. If the Academy rank-&-file are in a ‘body of work’ mindset, no one would be more deserving than the Aussie filmmaker; he has one trophy already, for Best Animated Film winner Happy Feet, and is high on the AMPAS membership radar after Babe (7 noms), The Witches of Eastwick (2 noms) and Lorenzo’s Oil (2 noms). Industry types know that the journey he undertook on the action franchise reboot was every bit as fraught with hardship as anything Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu and his team undertook on The Revenant. Adam McKay’s giddy, fresh vision for The Big Short could be the bolter; Tom McCarthy’s work on Spotlight was solid; Lenny Abrahamson for Room is this category’s ‘reward enough to be nominated’ guy.
Who will win: GEORGE MILLER for MAD MAX FURY ROAD (pictured, above; on-set with star Tom Hardy)
Who should win: GEORGE MILLER for MAD MAX FURY ROAD
45 Years star Charlotte Rampling had the sentimentalists on her side until she laid into the Academy over the diversity issue. Jennifer Lawrence’s industry pull and not her performance in Joy got her a spot on the ballot, but she’s doing no campaigning for the prize. It’s a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ for Saoirse Ronan, but the current is running against her for Brooklyn. And the frontrunner a few months back, Cate Blanchett in Todd Haynes’ lesbian romantic drama Carol, has found no awards season favour come trophy time (Ed: fine with that, it’s a hammy performance). When the terrific Ms Larson is cradling the little gold guy back stage, will any of the pap gallery have the verve to call out, “Hey Brie, say ‘cheese’?”
Who will win: BRIE LARSON for ROOM.
Who should win: CHARLIZE THERON for MAD MAX FURY ROAD
Just how the sentimental narrative surrounding Leonardo DiCaprio’s bare Oscar cabinet emerged is a mystery. He’s been “snubbed for this” and “denied for that” over the years, according to page after page of fawning editorial (in all fairness, he perhaps should have won for The Aviator…or Revolutionary Road…or The Wolf of Wolf Street). But his cause quickly became the catchcry of the modern American film industry, the shrill shrieking reminiscent of Oscar matriarch Shirley Maclaine’s “Give my daughter the stuff!” meltdown in Terms of Endearment. Fassbender is fantastic as Steve Jobs; the buzz on Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl was hotter than the technically proficient but chilly performance that finally emerged; Trumbo was undersen, so Cranston remained an outsider. Damon’s space dude from The Martian? Puh-leeze.
Who will win: LEONARDO DICAPRIO from THE REVENANT.
Who should win: GEZA ROHRIG from SON OF SAUL.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
No one begrudges Rachel McAdams’ nod for her fine work in Spotlight but she didn’t have the big showy moment that usually gets noticed amongst support players. Rooney Mara is the warm heart and soul in the otherwise overpraised Carol, but it’s a lead performance, surely? Winslet has a Lead Actress statue (and 6 other noms), which should be enough to discount her in a close race. If the 2016 Oscars fully commit to the sentimental, industry veteran Jennifer Jason Leigh could win for The Hateful Eight. Likely, though, that Alicia Vikander will top off a breakthrough year with the crown for The Danish Girl (also essentially a lead performance). If the male winners seem steeped in gooey sentimentality, the actress categories seem to be looking to the future of the industry.
Who will win: ALICIA VIKANDER for THE DANISH GIRL (pictured, above)
Who should win: KRISTEN STEWART for CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
No category pulses soloudly with a sentimental heartbeat as the Supporting Actor contest. Mark’s Ruffalo and Rylance (for Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, respectively) can feel hard done by; in any other year they would have been duking it out (pardon the boxing analogy, but it’s fitting). Christian Bale is in peak form at present; his role in The Big Short represents an actor mature enough to back his instincts and deliver. Tom Hardy had a great year and bad guys, such as the creep he played in The Revenant, often win this category. But does the potential for overflowing goodwill and a minutes-long standing ovation (if the broadcaster allows it) exist anywhere else in the Oscar schedule than with the feting of Sylvester Stallone? No, it doesn’t and he will win and win big.
Who will win: SYLVESTER STALLONE for CREED
Who should win: Well, take your pick – JACOB TREMBLAY for ROOM; PAUL DANO for LOVE & MERCY; MICHAEL SHANNON for 99 ROOMS.
OF THE REST…
As stated, Adapted Screenplay honours will go to Adam McKay and Charles Randolph for The Big Short, while Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer will win Original Screenplay honours for Spotlight (both earned WGA gongs); Emmanuel Lubezki will win for lensing The Revenant, though John Seale could take this slot if the night turns in Fury Road’s favour; Mad Max will sweep the tech categories, including Editing, Makeup/Hair Styling, Production Design and the Sound categories; Inside Out is a cert for Animated Film; harrowing Holocaust drama Son of Saul for Foreign Film; the sentimental favourite for Original Score will be the legendary Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight, earning him his first Oscar; box office dominance will be rewarded with a VFX win for Star Wars The Force Awakens; doco honours for Amy; costuming to Sandy Powell for Cinderella; remarkably, the years forgotten hit Fifty Shades of Grey will earn Oscar bragging rights with a Best Song win, for ‘Earned It’ by The Weeknd.