It’s that time of the year again.
That time of the year in which everyone gets up in arms about nominations, caring a lot about a broken awards ceremony run by a rather politically-driven organization. And people will always bring it back to a racial issue and a gender issue – which is completely valid. It is. But it’s not really up to the anonymous voting of the Academy to fix that, is it? It’s up to the entire film industry, that at its core, has a serious discrimination bias.
It’s not about the films and merits, everyone. It’s about who knows who and who likes who. That’s it. Anonymous voting, remember? But let’s talk about the fun stuff: The best picture nominations – because, usually, at least this category will have some entertainment (or frustration) as its foundation.
Now, before I get going, I must admit I have yet to watch Room and Bridge of Spies, both of which are in my agenda of things to do, but I can at least run down the rest, and one glaring misstep in nominations.*
The Big Short: This movie is incredibly creative when it comes to the genre it finds itself in. Educational and blunt, this film does a really good job of making the audience hate the people behind the market crash of the late 2000’s. Its acting never falters and it’s one of my favourite pieces of the year for its clever use of breaking the fourth wall and its incredibly witty characters making me understand so that I can feel smart. How often does that happen in a movie that depicts Wall Street?
Bridge of Spies: Spielberg pulled out all the stops by taking this Coen brothers’ classic, cold-war spy thriller that had the charm, tension and feel-good characters that come with watching a Spielberg period piece. I understand why it was nominated, and I think I’d like to see it a second time, but I really doubt this one is going to take home the award. It didn’t push enough boundaries nor did it satisfy that need to see something big and different that comes with the award season in contemporary cinema.
Brooklyn: Brilliantly emotional, well shot, and for some reason by the end of it both my girlfriend and I were homesick for Ireland despite never having been. Although it was very well written and acted, it did not exactly blow me away, and I really disliked the protagonist for how shitty she behaved when it came to her love back in New York. I understand positive critical appraisal for this film, but I’m honestly surprised that it was nominated for best picture.
Mad Max: Fury Road: Okay. The fact that this spectacle of action and imagery is nominated for best picture says a lot about how far the Oscars have come. Yes, we should be mad that Gone Girl and Wild were not nominated last year, and that Beasts of No Nation wasn’t nominated this year, all for obvious backward thinking. But the fact that the most action-packed two-hour-long chase scene was nominated for best picture? I honestly hope this one wins. Yes, it’s only an action film. But it’s an action film that managed to succeed in doing its genre to 100%.
The Martian: “That was a great flick,” sums up my feelings on this film. After seeing it I was both surprised and amused that I walked into what I expected to be the modern day Apollo 13, and what I got was the year’s best comedy. I’m surprised it’s nominated, though, and I don’t think I would have voted for its nomination. It was incredibly good, don’t get me wrong, but it falters in not really pushing anything forward or doing anything spectacularly different – it just did everything really well, which makes for a “great flick” but not one I think is by any means best of the year. It felt safe.
The Revenant: And here we are at the picture that will most likely take home every award. Gutteral, real, visceral, well written and well acted, the only downside to the film is that it’s obviously a little self-indulgent by the mind behind the piece, Alejandro González Iñárritu. As a friend put it, “There are some parts that are trying to be Tree of Life, but can’t be as Tree of Life as Tree of Life was.” Which is valid, it was definitely a bit slow and pandering at parts, but it was an incredible feat in storytelling on the big screen. If Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t win best lead this year, this whole “Oscars” thing is a sick joke to screw with him.
Spotlight: Brilliantly smart and well acted, if The Revenant doesn’t take all the awards home this year, it will be Spotlight. The film is an intelligent depiction of the events that led up to the discovery of the biggest scandal in the modern day Catholic church. And to boot, all the characters are so incredibly real that I felt like I was right there with them going, “Yeah! This is really fucked up!” I expect Ruffalo to take home the best supporting award if Tom Hardy doesn’t get it. My favourite part of this movie is that there’s no injected, fake character that tries to actively hold back the story to prevent the other characters from succeeding. These people felt like real journalists uncovering the truth, and their drive to success is as real as it can come on the silver screen.
Where is Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens?: This film has both fans and critics alike surprised and in love with where the series is once again headed. It has a higher metacritic rating than The Revenant, the picture everyone thinks will take home all the awards this year, and yet it didn’t make the cut for any of the “creative” nominations. Once again The Academy has shown to be biased on hand-shaking and drink-sharing and it has very little to do with actual film-making merit. And it’s not as if a space opera cannot take home awards at the Oscars, because the original Star Wars won several, including best picture. Oh well, at least we have Mad Max: Fury Road in the running.
I’ll add Room to the list once I’ve seen it. Thanks for reading!