Tuesday, February 9, 2016

2016 Oscar Talk - Part I

We're less than three weeks out from the 88th annual Academy Awards ceremony and now seems like a perfect time to put the major categories under a microscope. But before I discuss the current state of the notable races, here's a reminder about our FREE OSCAR POOL with a chance to win a $50 movie gift card. Now, here's a look at how the Oscars are shaping up:

Best Picture

After a powerful SAG Best Ensemble win, Tom McCarthy's frontrunner, Spotlight, is doing an admirable job of fending off the fast-rising housing crisis drama, The Big Short. Spotlight has held onto its frontrunner status since October and, during this stretch run for the voters, Academy members generally are looking for another film to latch onto. Arguments can be made for the cinematic conquest, The Revenant, but its violent and visceral content may be too big of a turnoff to the voting body. Therefore, Spotlight currently holds a slight and dwindling lead over The Big Short.

Dark Horses: Mad Max: Fury Road earned 8 nominations in all and The Martian followed close behind with 7. Both films are clearly adored by the Academy and can't be fully counted out just yet.

Best Actor

In what's become the most solidified competition of Oscar night, Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) has become an absolute shoo-in for the win. It's been a long time coming but DiCaprio better start preparing his speech for what's guaranteed to be a milestone evening.

Dark Horse: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) is the only other name worth mentioning but even his chances seen like a lost cause.

Best Actress

After her humbling SAG win, things are shaping up nicely for the marginal Best Actress frontrunner, Brie Larson (Room). Despite all of Larson's recent accolades, her lead doesn't feel quite safe thanks to the lofty support for her biggest rival, Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn). Both women are extremely deserving in a year that's truly propelled the state of female acting talent. 

Dark Horse: If you're forcing me to pick a potential spoiler in this category, I know for a fact that, despite her recent controversial remarks, the many elder voting members have a lot of respect for the career work of Charlotte Rampling (45 Years).

Best Director

The Best Director competition is a bit more intriguing. On one hand it seems unjust for the Academy to deny Alejandro G. Inarritu's phenomenal work in The Revenant simply because he took home the director statue for last year's Best Picture winner, Birdman. Yet, the deserving filmmaker's biggest rival comes in the form of a lifelong auteur, George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), who revived a classic franchise to unbelievable heights. Miller could be rewarded for a career of fine work, but I still think it's too outrageous to overlook Inarritu's unmatched direction.

Dark Horse: With the recent head of steam surrounding Adam McKay's The Big Short, it's a distinct possibility that a late surge in the Best Picture race could be coupled with a directorial statue as well.

Best Supporting Actor

For a long while I've felt like the only person on the planet who hasn't fawned over the boxing hit, Creed. And although i was very fond of Sylvester Stallone's emotional turn, I was shocked to see him outlast a long list of worthy supporting performances. With the outpouring of love for the film and a fantastic rebound story to go along with a potential win, Stallone will be tough to knock down. However, Mark Rylance absolutely commanded every second of screen time he was given in Bridge of Spies, and he's far and ahead the most deserving nominee. It's an uphill battle but I have faith that the Academy will get it right just like they did in 2013 when they shocked viewers worldwide by awarding Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained).

Dark Horse: You shouldn't discount Tom Hardy's chances at winning either. The highly regarded performer co-starred in the Oscar's two most-nominated films, The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. Tack on a strong dual-role showing in Legend, and Hardy could be rewarded for a fantastic year all-around.

Best Supporting Actress

Their studios pushed hard as Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) and Rooney Mara (Carol) both landed in the Supporting Actress race, despite their large roles and massive amounts of screen time. While many view Mara as the likely choice, I'm leaning slightly in favor of Vikander after her statement-making SAG win. Carol's omission from the Best Picture competition puts the two actresses on an even playing field and I was more impressed by Vikander's work. This is the tightest race by far, so don't be surprised by either one of these ladies getting their name called.

Dark Horse: Kate Winslet's role in Steve Jobs wasn't as prominent as either women above, yet her performance was utterly brilliant and as deserving. Hopefully she gets rewarded for her impactful work.

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