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SCREEN-SPACE got the jump on some of the Sydney Film Festival’s big drawcards at Cannes, so no Julietta, Aquarius or Personal Shopper amongst this lot, however deserving. The vastness of the 2016 programme nonetheless ensures there were many special cinematic moments worth celebrating. Oh, and one that had us cringing. With the Festival winding down to Sunday's Closing Night screening of Whit Stillman’s Love and Friendship, we line up (in no order) the frames of film that lingered longest in the memory (SPOILER WARNING)…

‘The Not-So-Nice Guys’ in WAR ON EVERYONE
Writer-director John Michael McDonagh aced it with The Guard and Calvary, thoroughly earning this shot at the all-American ‘buddy cop’ genre pic. He winningly transplants his brand of rhythmic Brit banter and whip-smart in-jokes to the dusty New Mexican setting; Michael Pena and an unhinged Alexander Skarsgård (pictured, above) are the riotous, R-rated double act that we all hoped Crowe and Gosling were going to be in that other buddy pic. So many memorable moments; we’ll go with the African-American snitch that decides that Iceland, the whitest country on Earth, is a good place to hide.

‘Janis’ School Reunion’ in JANIS: LITTLE GIRL BLUES
Janis Joplin had fled her smalltown life, the victim of callous bullying by her school peers. When she guests on the Dick Cavett show, she flippantly tells an enormous television audience she is heading home for her high school reunion. A media frenzy, 70’s style, ensues, capturing both her defiance and discomfort with vivid acuity. Amy Berg’s best film ever is full of extraordinary moments culled from the songstress’ life, none more insightful than her return to the high school hellhole that drove her away.

‘Weiner Does it Again’ in WEINER
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s fly-on-the-wall account of the New York politician’s professional self-immolation moves at cracking pace from the first frame, capturing the momentum of a career public servant fast-tracking himself to the upper echelons of New York society. Then, with one dick-pic scandal behind him, another breaks and the house-of-cards resurrection he and his team had accomplished comes crashing down. It is train-wreck documentary gold, and plays out as such in this teeth-gnawingly entertaining film.


That Song’ in TONI ERDMANN
Maren Ade’s 162-minute black comedy masterpiece (that we missed in Cannes, despite it being the festival’s best reviewed film) skates by on an emotional razor’s edge of anxiety and embarrassment. How to release crucial audience pressure as the narrative veers towards excruciating humiliation? Have your incognito anti-hero, ‘Toni Erdmann’ (the wonderful Peter Simonischek) accompany his put-upon daughter (a near-perfect Sandra Huller) in an impromptu rendition of a classic 80’s power ballad. The sequence is as hilarious and empowering as any on-screen moment this year.

The great German auteur Doris Dorrie took her two leads – stunning countrywoman Rosalie Thomass and enigmatic Japanese actress Kaori Momoi – deep into the devastated Fukushima landscape for this moving story of grief, friendship and forgiveness. The impact of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown is beyond horrific, as was captured in the line, “The ghosts still can’t believe they’re dead.” The words, spoken nonchalantly by Momoi’s grieving Satomi when she learns of the spirits that materialise while she sleeps, echoed silently in the cavernous State Theatre; they convey both the terrifying suddenness and immense scale of one of the worst tragedies in human history.

‘Mermaid Vagina’ in THE LURE
Frankly, there are about 50 remarkable moments we could have selected from Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Smoczynska’s insane vampire-mermaid-musical, a sort of Rocky Horror Show-meets-Showgirls-meets-Splash concoction that is unlike anything Australian audiences have seen….well, ever. When sultry siren Silver (Marta Mazurek) wants to seduce bass player Mietek (Jakub Giierszal), she reveals to him exactly where on her huge tail he needs to concentrate. Yeah, that’s right…

‘Ragin’ Mel’ in BLOOD FATHER
Young moviegoers view Mel Gibson as an old Hollywood ‘boogeyman’, his real life anger issues far more defining than the two decades he spent as one of the biggest movie stars on the planet. Those of us who prefer to recall his edge-of-insanity onscreen moments in Mad Max, Lethal Weapon, Hamlet, Ransom, Braveheart and Payback were thrilled to see ‘Meltdown Mel’ back in full-force in Jean-François Richet’s dad-and-daughter road movie. As he unloads a verbal tirade on a double-crossing Michael Parks, Gibson taps into the true nature of madness and desperation; stare into the actor’s eyes at these moments, I dare you.

‘The Old Man at the Bedroom Door’ in UNDER THE SHADOW
Iran’s first foray in the horror genre is a claustrophobic haunted-apartment yarn that works ancient Djinn demonology into the modern life of a young Tehran family. With her medico husband is called into active duty, young mum Shideh (Narges Rashidi) must care for her increasingly anxious daughter, Dorsa (Avin Manshadi), who has formed an unhealthy, perhaps unholy alliance with a presence in their apartment. The extent of their troubles is revealed in one particularly bone-chilling moment, when the deceased old man from upstairs appears in their bedroom doorway at night. In a display of precise unity, the audience at the sold-out ‘Freak Me Out’ session lifted off their seats as one.

‘The Old Man at the Film Archives’ in A FLICKERING TRUTH
New Zealand documentarian Pietra Brettkelly embedded herself in Kabul to capture the film archival efforts of Ibrahim Arify and his team, who endeavour to save the remaining spools of Afghanistan film history. In addition to a powerful story of determination in the face of a regime’s destructive cultural redefinition, Brettkelly discovered Isaaq Yousif, the self-appointed keeper of the Archives who had lived in the building for 30 years. Ageing and frail, Yousif lead a shut-in’s life through the worst years of the Taliban’s rule, determined to preserve what he could of the region’s cinematic heritage. The old man’s narrative may be the greatest heroic arc of any at this year’s festival.

‘A Little Girl’s Tears’ in UNDER THE SUN
Russian director Vitaly Mansky gained unprecedented access into the life of a seemingly normal Pyongyang family. What is revealed is how meticulously staged all the ‘normal’ moments really were. At the centre of the film is 8 year-old Zin-mi, whose transformation from spirited, smiling sweetie into a confused, indoctrinated cog in the DPRK ideology is heart-breaking. Mansky’s devastating final frames capture a little girl consumed by the pressures of adhering to Kim Jong-un’s dictatorial rule. Zin-mi weeps despite herself; when an off-screen voice demands she finds happy thoughts to quell her tears, she can find none. Instead, she summons politicised rhetoric, like the good citizen into which she has been moulded.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Two incredible shorts that left indelible impressions – Axel Danielsen and Maximilien van Aertryck’s high-dive tummy-tightener, Ten Meter Tower; and, the nightmarish Id-on-the-rampage vision, Manoman, from Simon Cartwright.

And the worst moment of 63rd Sydney Film Festival…

‘Dead Deer Ukulele Eulogy’ from COCONUT HERO
The Sydney Film Festival programmers love the ‘Sundance Film,’ the feel-good, sentimental yarn wrapped in an indie aesthetic made popular at the Redford’s Utah love-in. At best, they look like Little Miss Sunshine (SFF, 2006), but in recent years they have found a just-ok middle ground (The Way Way Back, SFF 2013; Liberal Arts, SFF 2012). In 2016, the ‘Sundance Film’ parodied itself with Florian Cossen’s insufferable millennial navel-gazer Coconut Hero, in which outsider dullard Mike (Alex Ozerov) mumbles through a worthless existential non-crisis. A road trip with man-saviour caricature Miranda (Bea Santos) turns bad when they hit a deer; things get worse (for the deer and the audience) when the pair take out a ukulele and giggle their way through an improvised musical farewell – over the dying animal. Hipster disconnect from real-world emotion in favour of indulging one’s own unique (read: self-centred) perspective has never been so clearly articulated, though one doubts that was the filmmaker’s intention.



Becoming the biggest teenage movie star in the world came at a price for Kristen Stewart. As the star of the most succesful YA franchise in film history, her every movement, every word and every romance (notably with co-star Robert Pattinson) was media fodder. Her often surly public persona masked a general distaste for the level of celebrity she had obtained. So, when planning a post-Twilight career, fame and fortune were inconsequential; instead, the indie world and international cinema beckoned.

Her potential for greatness was glimpsed in commercial non-starters shot between Twilight chapters (Adventureland; The Runaways, On The Road). Early Oscar buzz for Peter Sattler’s 2014 Guantanamo Bay drama Camp X-Ray failed to bolster the  box office for the Sundance hit, though praise was unamnimous for the leading lady (“Stewart is riveting,” said Variety). It would be her performance in Olivier Assayas’ Clouds of Sils Maria that firmed her as a world class talent; as Juliette Binoche’s wise PA, Stewart won the Cesar for Best Supporting Actress – the first time an American actress has taken home a ‘French Oscar’. She shared some intense scenes opposite Julianne Moore in Still Alice and shone in a quality ensemble (Corey Stoll, Sam Waterson, Glenn Close, Gretchen Moll) in Tim Blake Nelson’s little-seen campus crime drama, Anesthesia.

2016 may prove to be the defining year in the re-emergence of Kristen Stewart. She hasn’t opened a film since the 2012 global hit Snow White and The Huntsman, and has suffered the ignominy of a box office bomb with American Ultra. But she wowed opening night audiences at  Cannes 2016 opposite Jesse Eisenberg in Woody Allen’s Café Society. It was the first of five diverse films that will snake out globally in the months ahead, each with the potential to strengthen her crown as the #1 International Movie Star of her generation. (Pictured, right; Stewart and Eisenberg in Cafe Society)

EQUALS (Dir: Drake Doremus / U.S.A.; 101 mins)
Stewart plays Nia opposite Nicholas Hoult’s Silas, two lovers in a Utopian future metropolis whose secret feelings for each other fly in the face of the repressed, emotion-free world of tomorrow. Romance and genre have been kind to the actress, though early buzz suggest some style-over-substance issues affect indie-kid Doremus’ first major work. Each generation have their own Logan’s Run or Gattaca, films that don’t usually break box office records but tend to develop an adoring fanbase. Launches May 26 in the U.S.

PERSONAL SHOPPER (Dir: Olivier Assayas / France, Belgium; 101 mins)
Reteaming with her Clouds of Sils Maria director, Stewart appears in almost every frame of Olivier Assayas’ strange, startling supernatural drama/stalker thriller. As the PA to a spoilt-brat super model who shops for her employer by day and channels the spirit of her dead twin by night, Stewart is fearless on-screen, energising a character arc that takes in such extremes as horror, grief and sexuality. The recent Cannes premiere got wildly diverse reactions from the world’s press, though none questioned Stewart’s ability to plumb emotional depths. French season starts October 9; will test Stewart’s pulling power outside the director’s homeland.

CERTAIN WOMEN (Dir: Kelly Reichardt / U.S.A.; 107 mins)
Stewart joins Michelle Williams and Laura Dern in Kelly Reichardt’s three-hander about tough, independent women in smalltown America. Arthouse audiences and festival crowds know Kelly Reichardt’s name, but she is a determinedly non-commercial filmmaker; despite critical raves, Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff and Night Moves stayed firmly niche. Working with Reichardt means Stewart is furthering her craft and credibility which, if positive press and award season support come the film’s way, may breakout and further strengthen her box office status. She also gets to play a gay character for the first time, reflecting an aspect of her private life about which much has been speculated and which she neither confirms nor denies.

Landing in time for serious Oscar consideration is Ang Lee’s latest, a stunning anti-war work taken from the best-selling novel. Some left-field casting (Steve Martin, Vin Diesel, Chris Tucker) and a hi-tech frame-rate will be talking points, but all eyes will be on Stewart. As the sister of returning soldier Billy Lynn, she will be carrying intense scenes with newbie Joe Alwyn in his debut film. If she nails a part that is crucial to the narrative’s emotional impact, her Cesar may have an Oscar be its side. Opens November 11 Stateside.



On May 11, Woody Allen will make history when his latest work, Café Society, has its World Premiere as the Opening Night film of the 69th Cannes Film Festival. It will be the third feature from the revered director to debut in the prestigious slot – the first time that a filmmaker has earned that honour. For the 80 year-old New Yorker, it is the latest declaration of respect and admiration from the event that has feted his work for over three decades…

MANHATTAN debuts in 1979
Like the rest of the cinema-going world, French cinephiles warmed to Allen as a true auteur in the wake of his blockbuster hit, Annie Hall. His early comedies Sleeper and Love and Death had played well to Euro audiences, but it was the 1977 Best Picture Oscar winner that put him on the map; a huge French hit, it would be nominated for the Foreign Film Cesar. When it was announced his follow-up would be a cinematic love letter to The Big Apple, interest from the Cannes Film Festival organisers was piqued. Manhattan opened in the US on April 25 to positive reviews and audience favour; a fortnight later, it had its international premiere Out of Competition at the 32nd Cannes Film Festival. Despite the reclusive Allen’s decision not to attend the screening (actress Mariel Hemingway represented), it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between Cannes and Woody. The Cesar voting body said thank you by honouring Manhattan with the Best Foreign Film trophy. (Pictured, right; Mariel Hemingway in Cannes, 1979)

(Above: Woody Allen and Mia Farrow in Broadway Danny Rose)

Allen’s cinematic fortune ebbed and flowed in the following years. Stardust Memories (1980) divided critics; A Midsummer’s Night Sex Comedy (1982) was considered a trifle; Zelig (1983) restored his critical lustre but only posted arthouse numbers. The resurgent career impetus that Allen would enjoy for the remainder of the 1980’s began when the 1984 Cannes Film Festival programmed out-of-competition the Oscar-nominated Broadway Danny Rose (the slot resonated with Allen, as it put him in the company of his film idol, Ingmar Bergman, who was presenting After the Rehearsal). Featuring a brilliant comic turn by then-wife Mia Farrow, Broadway Danny Rose was the first on Allen’s ‘Americana’ films, works that embraced the melancholy of show business’ early days, and the Cannes crowd loved them. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) would win the coveted FIPRESCI Prize at the 1985 event; Radio Days (1987) screened Out of Competition in 1987. Allen’s first taste of Opening Night prestige was 1989’s New York Stories, an omnibus film that featured Allen’s ‘Oedipus Wrecks’ short alongside contributions by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola; the film garnered a mixed reaction and would be the last of Woody Allen’s film on the Croisette for over a decade.  

HOLLYWOOD ENDING opens the 2002 Cannes Films Festival.
Cannes gave Woody some breathing space throughout the 1990’s, a decade that featured some of his most revered works (Husbands and Wives, 1992; Bullets Over Broadway, 1994; Mighty Aphrodite, 1995; Sweet and Lowdown, 1999). It would not be until 2002 that Cannes rekindled the love affair when they afforded his contemporary LA-set comedy, Hollywood Ending, his first solo Opening Night red-carpet rollout. In hindsight, the film seems an odd choice; it is not regarded as one of Allen’s best and represents, alongside 2003’s Anything Else, what many consider a low point in the filmmaker’s output. But the coverage provided in the world’s press, trumpeting the appearance of Allen in Cannes for the first time in his long career, was pure showbiz and entirely in line with the A-list event glamour one expects from the Cannes Film Festival. (Pictured, right; Co-stars Tiffani Thiessen and Debra Messing accompany Allen and wife Soon-Yi at the Cannes 2002 premiere of Hollywood Ending).

The director sensed that true creative freedom and an enriched appreciation of his work were best explored in Europe (much of his funding had been sourced from continental backers in recent years). Despite the occasional sojourn to his homeland (the underappreciated Melinda and Melinda, 2004; Whatever Works, 2009), the 2000s brought a re-energised Allen back to the critical and commercial forefront with three European-lensed films that played to adoring Cannes audiences. In 2005, his potent London-set thriller Match Point played Out of Competition, the ecstatic response paving the way for his best box-office performer in 20 years; in 2008, the erotically-charged Vicky Christina Barcelona set the Croisette ablaze, premiering at Cannes ahead of a US$100million worldwide gross and a Supporting Actress Oscar for Penelope Cruz; and, in 2010, Allen returned to London, this time with Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin, for the whimsical drama, You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger, premiering Out of Competition. It was a prolific period of production that saw the director at the height of his craft, offering a run of films that culminated in Allen’s second Opening Night honour…

(Above: Allen at the You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger press conference, Cannes 2010)

Cannes organisers knew Allen’s 41st film was something special when they secured it for the 64th edition’s May 11 Opening Night slot in 2011. The Festival broke with tradition and opened the event to both industry types and the general public. It was a coup for Allen’s French distributor, who put the film into day-and-date national release, ensuring massive media coverage. The director jumped on board the promotional juggernaut, bringing to the Croisette his stars Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Adrien Brody and local starlet Lea Seydoux. And critics were unanimous; Midnight in Paris was Woody Allen’s best work in years, the time-hopping romantic fantasy ultimately earning Allen the Best Original Screenplay Oscar (from the pic’s four nomination). Robert Weide’s Woody Allen: A Documentary would follow in 2012, and the director himself would return in 2015 with his Emma Stone/Joaquin Phoenix starrer, Irrational Man, but the rapturous Midnight in Paris soiree remains the night to remember from the Cannes Film Festival’s long and affectionate romance with Woody Allen. (Pictured, right; Allen with his Midnight in Paris cast, Cannes 2011).

The 69th Festival International du Film de Cannes will launch with a screening of Woody Allen’s new film, Café Society, on Wednesday 11 May in the Palais des Festivals’s Grand Théâtre Lumière as an Official Selection Out of Competition title.



CANNES, April 19: Artistic director Edouard Waintrop (pictured, below) set a solemn tone at the press conference to announce the line-up for the 2016 Director’s Fortnight sidebar. In an emotion-filled speech, he paid tribute to the late Israeli actor/director Ronit Elkabetz, who had succumbed to cancer only hours before after a long and determined fight.

In 2014, Waintrop had programmed Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, the 51 year-old auteur’s most acclaimed work. Elkabetz, a mother of four year-old twins to husband Avner Yashar, had served the Cannes Film Festival with honour in 2015 as Jury President at the Critic’s Week sidebar.

Following his kind words, Waintrop proceeded to the order of the day and the unveiling of the 2016 Director’s Fortnight selection. Slightly down in number from the traditional 20 films to a tighter 18, the selection skews heavily to European productions. Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio’s Sweet Dreams, starring Berenice Bejo, snared the Opening Night slot and is one of three films from the country to feature in the sidebar (alongside Paolo Virzi’s Like Crazy and Claudio Giovannesi’s Fiore). The region’s strong showing should go some way to silencing dissent that arose when no Italian works were for Official Competition. (Pictured, right; director Marco Bellocchio)

Homegrown fare features strongly, with French cinema accounting for seven titles in the mix. They are Sebastien Lifshitz’s Les Vies de Therese; Rachid Djaidani’s volatile racial drama, Tour de France; Claude Barras’ stop-motion drama My Life as a Courgette; Sacha Wolff’s Mercenaire; Joachim Lafosse’s L’econimique du couple, a co-production with Belgium; the late Solveig Anspach’s L’effet aquatique; and, Uda Benyamina’s Divines.

Other continental entrants include Denmark’s Wolf and Sheep, from Afghani director Shahrbanoo Sadat; Neruda, the Gael Garcia Bernal thriller from Pablo Larrain that sourced production funds from France, Spain, Chile and Argentina (pictured, left); and, the legendary Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Endless Poetry, a co-production between France, Chile and Japan. 

Tough-guy American auteur Paul Schrader closes the sidebar with his noir-ish crime melodrama Dog Eat Dog, starring Nicholas Cage (reteaming with the director after the trouble-plagued Dying of The Light) and Willem Dafoe. Other North American entrants include Laura Poitras’ Risk, a study of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange; and, Two Lovers and a Bear, the highly anticipated follow-up to War Witch from director Kim Nguyen.

Asian cinema’s sole representative is Psycho Raman, a serial killer thriller from India directed by Gang’s of Wasseypur helmer Anurag Kashyup. The cinema of the United Kingdom was shut out, as was representation from New Zealand or Australia (despite the readiness of Cannes favourite Cate Shortland's latest, Berlin Syndrome).

The Director's Fortnight/Quinzaine des Realisateurs sidebar, overseen by the French Director's Guild, runs May 12-22 as part of the 2016 Festival de Cannes.



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)

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.

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 should win:  GEZA ROHRIG from SON OF SAUL.

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)

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 should win: Well, take your pick – JACOB TREMBLAY for ROOM; PAUL DANO for LOVE & MERCY; MICHAEL SHANNON for 99 ROOMS.

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.

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