After all, it's just a ride….

Academy Award Nominations 2016

OScar161Well now doesn’t this all seem just a little frivolous after this week’s terrible bereavements? Nevertheless the remorseless wheels of industry can ever forward, with this years Academy Award nominations. As always this exercise focuses the mind and schedule into sighting a number of pictures which haven’t arrived on our shores, and although there are some gaps in the watch list I take comfort that the majority of nominees were already on my horizon. I realise people have been praising Brooklyn and I’m sure its very good but I just couldn’t muster much enthusiasm for it, but even worse is the appearance of The Danish Girl on a few which just looks painful – a two hour ponderous drama by Tom Hooper is my cinematic equivalent of Japanese water torture. Still I take succour as in a curious development the day-job is intersecting with this hobby in a quite unexpected fashion, following on from some previous exposure to regeneration activities in Essex. I can’t really speak too much about it due to confidentially and commercial constraints, and I don’t wish to sound too mysterious, but let’s just say I am becoming actively involved with the exhibition side of the UK film industry via my current assignment, and will shortly be initiating some interesting negotiations & discussions with some senior delegates….

oscar162But back to the matter at hand. Quickly casting my eyes over the nominees I can’t see any particularly controversial choices, there are no major upsets or major surprises that spring to mind, although I’m sure as usual I’ve overlooked some major snub as it’s not as if I sit here comparing and contrasting the Golden Globe, BAFTA or other award season portfolios as I couldn’t give a fuck. The lack of diversity seems to be the first point of criticism which is not a unreasonable complaint nor a particular surprise, but for me it’s encouraging to see Mad Max represented in so many categories as I concluded it was going to be snubbed due to its genre birthplace. As always I make the same annual disclaimer that awards have precisely zero connection to a movies intrinsic brilliance of lack thereof, the Oscars are the pinnacle of the industry however so this is just a fun parlour game to predict the winners as a worthless thought exercise. So as usual those in bold are the films I have seen, in italics are these I think should win and underlined those which I think will win. With The Reverent programmed for Saturday and other major nominees like Spotlight, The Big Short and Room to follow over subsequent January weekends I’ve certainly got my work cut out for me viewing wise, just as some press screening invites are also starting to barge their way into my schedule – it’s a hard life eh?

Best Picture


Until I’ve assessed the other nominees this is a hard one to call this year, I’m tempted to go with The Revenant but would the Academy go for the same director two years in a row? Then again Spies and The Martian don’t seem to be best picture quality – entertaining but not particularly memorable – and Spotlight seems too controversial / political and The Big Short strikes me as biting the hand that feeds the studios these days. Where does that leave us? Utterly confused, so I won’t finally call this until I’ve seen The Big Short, Room and Spotlight, but until then we will pray with The Revenant….EDIT – having seen the latter, yeah I guess this is the front runner, even if Mad Max is the more rounded film. No way on earth the Academy is going to give best picture to a post apocalyptic genre picture though….

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant



Best Actor In A Leading Role


I think Leo is finally gonna get his dues, and if the physical conditions he suffered are anything to go by this category is closed. I was toying with the idea of seeing Trumbo given the Kubrick connection – he wrote Spartacus if you follosh civilians didn’t know – and I really can’t see Damon being rescued by the Academy nor Redmayne reprising last years tedious win. So let’s go with Leo;

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo

Matt Damon – The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

Best Actress In A Leading Role


Hmm, looks like the rumblings of discontent over Blanchet essentially having a supporting role, and Mara being the lead in Carol haven’t quite permeated through the Academy’s aged skulls. Also, perhaps not surprising but no Charlize Theron’s amputee energy? I was considering going to see Joy over the festive break but I just couldn’t summon the energy, I like Jennifer Lawrence but have never been entirely convinced by David O. Russell, maybe I need to reconsider. In the interim I’m going to have to go with Brie Larson who has the momentum for this at the moment, while I’ve got 45 Years on high priority via Lovefilm as its just hit the Blu-Ray rental market.

Cate Blanchett – Carol

Brie Larson – Room

Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Best Actor In A Supporting Role

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Best Director


There is such a varied bag of material here its difficult to decouple the achievements from the genre requirements – both Miller and Inarritu have obviously crafted searing films in exceptional physical and environmental circumstances, but by all accounts Lenny Abrahamson’s claustrophobic Room  excels in what could be considered an equally challenging space – how do you keep a movie interesting in a single location, and how do you hammer out great performances that reinforce that isolation? It’s a long shot but I’m going with my heart and Miller for this, to storm back with such a masterpiece that will be studied for years to come was quite remarkable,

Adam Mckay – The Big Short

George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro G Inarritu – The Revenant

Lenny Abrahamson – Room

Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Best Cinematography


So once again here’s everyone’s favourite Roger Deakins on the shortlist, for his 1,057 nomination in his long and illustrious career. I’m calling it now, while I’m thinking strategically that Lubeski will get this for shooting on location, in magic hour, and achieving those phenomenal panoramas as lenses were freezing and camera equipment shattering in the remote cold  the Academy will finally give Deakins the award he deserves, in what was also brilliant work in those desert scorched landscapes of Sicario.

Hateful Eight – Robert Richardson

Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale

The Revenant – Emmanuelle Lubeski

Sicario – Roger Deakins

Best Visual Effects


It’s great to see Ex Machina here, assimilated among the big boisterous Hollywood SFX houses, with a much more low key approach to visual camouflage. Nevertheless I think Star Wars has to get some love for their fiscally shattering achievements, even if they surprisingly didn’t get a Best Picture nod.

Ex Machina

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Film Editing


I’m surprised the Academy even bothered nominating the other candidates as this is about as certain a prediction as possible. With that blistering chase narrative, with the mastery of space, cause and effect and the nerve shredding action sequences this is Mad Max’s award without question, and I’ll be furious if it doesn’t steal at least this one award.

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Best Production Design


Hmm, another difficult call. Again I’m urged to go with Mad Max as the future world designs were fantastic, organically evolved that made perfect logical sense within the hermetic world, but the sweeping prestige pictures like Spies and Danish usually get the attention in this category. Then maybe The Martian will sneak in and capture this one, with its ergonomic, realistic NASA colony designs? Fuck it, I’m putting the pedal to the metal and taking a risk with the really quite seriously cheesed off Max, what have we got to lose?

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Best Original Screenplay


There were raised eyebrows to see an animated film in this schedule, but I can’t imagine a more worthy inclusion given Inside Out’s brilliant combination of internal and external alignments, and the revolutionary absence of a major antagonist to the grist the narrative mill.  Spies is more traditional and as I understand it Compton is a terrific example of the well utilised bio-pic rags-to-riches model, so who knows?

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out


Straight Outta Compton

Best Adapted Screenplay


No screenplay nod for Sorkin and Jobs? That seems……unusual. As I understand it Carol deviates from the Highsmith original so I’m not sure that will be favoured, so this might be one other place where the crowd pleasing The Martian gets a chance. It’s either than or Room which sounds like it has an interesting little screenplay flip halfway through, so in lieu of seeing the film I’m opting for that…..

The Big Short



The Martian


Best Original Score


The only category where I’ve already seen all the nominees, although that doesn’t make the choice any easier. I’m tempted to think some may opt for Morricone as a final tribute to the great man, but having seen the film there is relatively little original material buried in the contemporary pieces and previously chilled chords. I’m going for Carter Burwell’s delicate score for Carol which beautifully complemented the visual elements, of all the nominees that’s the one that most affected me emotionally which makes it a winner.

Bridge of Spies


The Hateful Eight


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Original Song


Oh here we go again, just who bloody cares? The fact that the god awful Spectre howling is in here shows just how relevant this category is, so I’m going for the Shades track even though I can’t recall a single cadence of it. Pure guesswork.

Earned It – 50 Shades of Grey

Til It Happens To You – The Hunting Ground

Writings On The Wall – Spectre

Manta Ray – Racing Extinction

Simple Song 3 – Youth

Best Documentary – Feature

Best Costume Design


As with the production design the Academy favours the historical fidelity, the classy joint which drapes a picture in some prestigious threads. So I’m going for Carol again, and that evocation of the 1950’s wafts from the screen.



The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Best Sound Editing


The sound mixing awards usually come down to a battle between the action pictures scrunched with all those Foley blasts, so I’m going with Mad Max instead of Star Wars although veteran Lucasfilm sonic-smith Ben Burtt might harness some respect among the loyal old guard.

Mad Max : Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant


Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Mixing


As above, I’m going with the really quite ill-tempered Max again;

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Documentary – Short Subject


Well, I’ve heard of Claude Lanzman, the epic director of Shoah so that’s enough of a guess for me.

Body Team 12

Chau, Beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of The Shoah

A Girl in the River

Last Day of Freedom

Best Makeup And Hairstyling


Strange inclusion of the Danish film about the guy who ages quite dramatically throughout the film, a rare domestic box office smash which didn’t translate to a international audience. So again I’m going with the irksome max for one final flaming guitar lick;

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Diasappeared

The Revenant

Best Live Action Short Film


I wonder if they send screeners of these to Academy members? I suppose they do, but I’m surprised to see this category still hanging in there on the prestige portfolio, not relegated to the ‘boring’ technical awards which are awarded in the separate ceremony. Guesswork as always,

Ava Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay



Best Animated Short Film


As above, pure guesswork as always unless I find the time to see which of these may be on-line. Lets go with the Cosmos one…

Bear Story


Sanjay’s Superteam

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

Best Animated Feature Film


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