Ranking The Best Picture Nominees

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The Academy Awards have now been and gone and ‘Moonlight’ ended up being triumphant edging out ‘La La Land’ which took the Golden Globes and BAFTA’s by storm. Here I rank the Best Picture nominees in order of my own personal preference. Unfortunately, I have only recently managed to watch ‘Hidden Figures’ hence why I am a little late.

Let’s get started…

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9) La La Land

The film that everyone loved and expected to win Best Picture, it is with heavy heart that I found ‘La La Land’ to be an incredibly disappointing film that is totally undeserving of all the praise it received. I really wanted to like this film and I kept trying to make excuses for Chazelle but there’s just too many mis-steps to ignore and the film feels very disjointed in its pacing. The performances are admirable and Gosling and Stone carry the film well but by no means are they awards-worthy and the script in particular, which is normally Chazelle’s main attribute is dismally lacking and doesn’t have any direction to it. The whole plot of the film is by extension, confused and the film doesn’t know what it wants to be and the many elements of the narrative just aggressively don’t come together. Did I miss something in this film? Did I watch a different film to everyone else, not the one that has made such an impression on both critics and audiences and has attracted sterling reviews? (My Review here)

There is now a big step up in quality…

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8) Moonlight

‘Moonlight’ makes for quite a mixed watch and starts off well enough in its first two segments only to undo itself in its third. I couldn’t really connect with the characters in the third act and found the film quite alienating. That said, the film is not an easy watch and this is a film that warrants rewatching so the rating of this film has the potential of increasing. Aside from my issues with the film, it features some great performances, a superb score  and some interesting cinematography and the film can only be admired for what it is trying to do even if Jenkins doesn’t quite have the experience to fully execute his vision. In terms of positioning on this ranking, I did have to juggle this with my no. 7 pick, ‘Fences’ and whilst this film warrants a rewatch, the reason why I am ranking it below is because I found ‘Fences’ a little more fulfilling the first time. (My Review here)

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7) Fences

Just edging out ‘Moonlight’ but this could very easily swap places on rewatching it, the big problems that hinders ‘Fences’ for a considerable amount of its lengthy run time is that it isn’t particularly cinematic. Straight off the bat, the film felt this way and the film made me want to be in a theatre experiencing this narrative on stage. For the first half an hour or so, this is particularly problematic but I began to settle into the film when its narrative kicked in and through its excellent performances. Even when the film settles, it can still never quite shake off this feeling. Funnily enough, it is in the film’s quieter moments where it isn’t so dialogue-laden that it begins to feel more cinematic and it is on the strength of August Wilson’s screenplay which is a terrific piece of work that the film overall just about works. There are a number of really touching scenes peppered throughout the film that are stunning to behold and I found the narrative in Wilson’s script particularly strong. It’s a good film but I don’t think it’s Oscar material. (My Review here)

Now we get to the excellent films:

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6) Arrival

‘Arrival’ is masterfully constructed by Villeneuve and for its first two thirds is particularly gripping. The performances are strong here too and yet again, Villeneuve’s team behind-the-camera do some good work. However, the film bites off a bit more than it can chew in its last third and although the film is still very interesting and original, it does begin to derail and struggle through towards its ending. I’m not going to go into spoilers as this is a film that needs to be watched blindly but I felt the film did leave a lot of questions unanswered and the ending does have a few plot holes to it. This is a film that warrants multiple rewatches so perhaps things will become clearer on subsequent viewings. It’s a film that for a sci-fi is very low on action and big set-pieces – this is very much a thinking person’s sci-fi and is not too dissimilar thematically from films such as ‘Contact’ or ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ for example. Denis Villeneuve is one of my favourite directors currently working in Hollywood so for this film to come 6th is testament to the quality of not only this film but the subsequent films in this list. (My Review here)

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5) Lion

To my surprise, I really liked ‘Lion’ and found it to be an emotionally rewarding and heartfelt experience and the material was respectfully judged by Garth Davis. It features some very real performances with the standout being Dev Patel and although it can’t quite shake off the biopic feel at times, its narrative manages to do a lot of the heavy lifting. It also features a very memorable score that is respectful and well-judged and the cinematography is equally effective in encapsulating the narrative of the film. (My Review here)

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4) Manchester By The Sea

‘Manchester By The Sea’ is a heartfelt, expertly crafted film that features a career-defining performance by Casey Affleck and it takes its time in really developing its characters and allowing its audience to emotionally connect with them. The rest of the cast are also very strong and the narrative really goes to town with these characters who all go through their own equally debilitating experiences. That said, the film does have some flaws in its tone which is a little unbalanced at times and a couple of baffling musical choices also awkwardly impact the film. (My Review here)

And now the top three…

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3) Hidden Figures

‘Hidden Figures’ is an extremely easy film to like and barely puts a foot wrong; I was utterly charmed by it the whole way through. It is competently directed by Melfi and has just the right blend of comedy and factual drama in it to prevent it from being too laborious or too comedic. Not only are the performances are great in this film, but the characters are all really well-developed and the screenplay by Melfi and Allison Schroeder is wonderfully written. What stops this film from being perfect is it is fairly conventional in parts and there are a couple of story arcs that are a little underwritten. But these are very small nitpicks in an otherwise near-perfect film. (My Review here)

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2) Hacksaw Ridge

‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is one of the best war films I have ever seen and features some stunning performances with Gibson’s signature gory yet visceral battle sequences that really throw these men into hell-and-back. Gibson is able to really portray the hardship that these men endure time and time again and whilst I am ever respectful of those fight for their country, this film elevated my respect even more for them whilst watching this film. The film is extremely well-shot and features many memorable sequences – this film fully deserves the Awards attention it is getting! That said, the film is not without fault and an inconsistency in tone is this film’s biggest problem as the two distinct halves of the film don’t quite gel together. The first half in particular of the film which develops these characters and prepares Doss for the battle that lies ahead often head into conventional territory and it is quite bizarre as it almost feels like Gibson is knowingly do this but to what purpose, I’m not sure. However, when the film is able to go berserk, it does and it is immensely satisfying. (My Review here)

And the best film is…

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1) Hell Or High Water 

Far and away the best film of this selection, I loved ‘Hell or High Water’ on first viewing and it gets better on every rewatch. It is a very well directed film that boasts some terrific performances by its cast, particularly Jeff Bridges and I normally don’t like Chris Pine so for him to not only be in a great film but give a great performance is a miracle. The film has a lot to say on American society and it perfectly develops its characters and features some terrific sequences. It also features one of the very best scores of the year by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. There wasn’t a chance in hell that this film would ever win but at least it’s getting the recognition it deserves – go and see this film!

Summary

Overall, this is not the strongest collection of films nominated for Best Picture by any means, but it generally a consistent and worthy selection of films with the exception of ‘La La Land’ but I can see why many people have taken to the way that they have with the film. ‘Moonlight’ ultimately won the Best Picture Award which is deserving due its subject matter and I hope the film manages to reach the heights of the others on this list on subsequent viewings – it does have that spark but I couldn’t quite connect with it. ‘Hell or High Water’ is by far and away the best film here but it didn’t connect with critics and audiences as much and many were surprised to see it even nominated. I’m just happy that ‘La La Land’ didn’t win as I cannot understand the praise that that film has received, as much of a fan of Damien Chazelle as I am, it really missed the mark.

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2017 Oscar Nominations – My Thoughts

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The nominations for this year’s upcoming Academy Awards have been announced today and we now know what has been included / snubbed. It’s not the best mix of films I’ve ever seen but then again they never are and I do have some wildly differing opinions to a few of the films that have been nominated this year.

Best Picture

Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight

Predicted Win: ‘La La Land’

In my opinion, a mixed bag. This category can between 5 and up to 10 nominees depending on the Academy’s votes. I think it’s between ‘La La Land’ and ‘Moonlight’ seeing as both have sterling reviews and both won the Golden Globe for their respective genre earlier on this year. Whilst I didn’t like ‘La La Land’ and am annoyed it has done as well as it has, clearly it has connected with audiences and critics so there’s no stopping that and I also have my reservations on ‘Moonlight’ too (review coming soon). I’m surprised ‘Fences’, ‘Hidden Figures’ and ‘Lion’ got in and even ‘Hell or High Water’ but it’s good news for me for the latter as it’s one of my favourite films of the year. A much better choice of films to be included would have been ‘Jackie’ which has been snubbed, ‘Sully’ and ‘Silence’ – how is ‘Silence’ not in here?!

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Best Actor

Casey Affleck for ‘Manchester By The Sea’
Andrew Garfield for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
Ryan Gosling for ‘La La Land’
Viggo Mortensen for ‘Captain Fantastic’
Denzel Washington for ‘Fences’

Predicted Win: Casey Affleck for ‘Manchester By The Sea’

Although this category is probably between both Affleck and Gosling, I think Affleck will end up with the win due to his strength across the board of Awards ceremonies so far. This is a good set of nominations as all are worthy for and Affleck in particular gives a tour-de-force performance.  The only person I would have liked to have seen here is Tom Hanks for his performance in ‘Sully’ but otherwise, it’s a very good set of nominations. (My Review of ‘Manchester By The Sea’ here)

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Best Actress

Isabelle Huppert for ‘Elle’
Ruth Negga for ‘Loving
Natalie Portman for ‘Jackie’
Emma Stone for ‘La La Land’
Meryl Streep for ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

Predicted Win: Emma Stone for ‘La La Land’

A mixed bag of nominations and it’s a real shame that Amy Adams couldn’t find her way in here with either of her performances in ‘Arrival’ or ‘Nocturnal Animals’.  I’m happy to see Isabelle Huppert getting a nomination here and Natalie Portman’s intelligent portrayal of the First Lady in ‘Jackie’. Both have got a shot here but I think the win will go to Emma Stone for her performance in ‘La La Land’ which I suspect will sweep the board so why not give this to the film as well? (My Review of ‘La La Land’ here)

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Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali for ‘Moonlight’
Jeff Bridges for ‘Hell Or High Water’
Lucas Hedges for ‘Manchester By The Sea’
Dev Patel for ‘Lion’
Michael Shannon for ‘Nocturnal Animals’

Predicted Win: Mahershala Ali for ‘Moonlight’

A fantastic collection of nominations but does Dev Patel really count as a ‘Supporting Actor’. Anyway other than this hiccup, all of the nominees can be proud of themselves. It’s quite hard to predict a winner seeing as Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon’s co-star in ‘Nocturnal Animals’ took the Golden Globe from Mahershala Ali who beforehand had been widely tipped to win but I think Ali will get it. In my opinion, Shannon gives the best performance in ‘Nocturnal Animals‘ but Ali has gained more traction amongst viewers. Both are deserving as both are equally good in both of their respective films.

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Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis for ‘Fences’
Naomie Harris for ‘Moonlight’
Nicole Kidman for ‘Lion’
Octavia Spencer for ‘Hidden Figures’
Michelle Williams for ‘Manchester By The Sea’

Predicted Win: Viola Davis for ‘Fences’

I’m going to predict Viola Davis will win for ‘Fences‘ as she has got a lot of buzz for her performance but it could also very easily go to Michelle Williams. I’m a little surprised to see Naomie Harris feature here as she publicly announced that she initially didn’t really want the role but it looks like that’s all gone in her favour now!

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Best Director

Denis Villeneuve for ‘Arrival’
Mel Gibson for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
Damien Chazelle for ‘La La Land’
Kenneth Lonergan for ‘Manchester By The Sea’
Barry Jenkins for ‘Moonlight’

Predicted Win: Damien Chazelle for ‘La La Land’

A strong set of nominations other than in my opinion, one snub. Where is Martin Scorsese for ‘Silence’?! The man did a fantastic job on that film particularly seeing as it was a passion project for him for 25 years. Anyway Scorsese aside, this is probably the collection of nominations one would have expected. I’m a little surprised Gibson got in but this really has cemented his comeback after a troublesome last decade or so and ‘Hacksaw Ridge‘ is a great film. I’m very happy to see both Villeneuve nominated as he is one of the best working directors today even though I don’t think ‘Arrival’ is quite as good as his other films. I would expect Chazelle to win this and I’d be happy if he did – the guy is a great director who did a fantastic job on ‘Whiplash’ and has written some excellent scripts. Even though I don’t like ‘La La Land’, I have to admit that Chazelle is a great talent.

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Best Original Screenplay 

Taylor Sheridan for ‘Hell Or High Water’
Damien Chazelle for ‘La La Land’
Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthimis Filippou for ‘The Lobster’
Kenneth Lonergan for ‘Manchester By The Sea’
Mike Mills for ’20th Century Women’

Predicted Win: Taylor Sheridan for ‘Hell Or High Water’

A mixed bag but my favourite screenplay which is penned by Taylor Sheridan for ‘Hell Or High Water’ I think might have a shot at this seeing as the film is unlikely to win for anything else. He also wrote the script of last year’s ‘Sicario‘ which was also very good. The screenplay for ‘The Lobster’ is very strong as well as is ‘Manchester By The Sea’. I’ve said it before and I’ll voice my opinion again that ‘La La Land’ is completely undeserving of featuring here but it’s done now and it is. I’m happy if anything other than that wins.

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Best Adapted Screenplay

Eric Heisserer for ‘Arrival’
Luke Davies for ‘Lion’
August Wilson for ‘Fences’
Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for ‘Moonlight’
Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi for ‘Hidden Figures’

Predicted Win: Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney for ‘Moonlight’

A strong set of nominations, I think this is between everyone except ‘Lion’. My personal pick for this category would be ‘Hidden Figures‘ as the script is note-perfect but realistically, I think this is where ‘Moonlight’ will make up some lost ground in terms of wins as it isn’t up against ‘La La Land’ here so I think that’s probably going to win here.

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Best Animated Feature

Kubo And The Two Strings
The Red Turtle
Moana
Zootopia
My Life As A Zucchini

Predicted Win: ‘Zootopia’

‘Zootopia’ is pretty much a dead cert to win and deservedly so, it is a  masterfully crafted film by Disney. I’m a little disheartened that ‘Finding Dory‘ hasn’t managed to find a place here as it really is a beautiful film but I suppose having 3 Disney films may have been pushing the boat a bit.

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Best Cinematography

Bradford Young for ‘Arrival’
James Laxton for ‘Moonlight’
Linus Sandgren for ‘La La Land’
Rodrigo Prieto for ‘Silence’
Greig Fraser for ‘Lion’

Predicted Win: Linus Sandgren for ‘La La Land’

Pretty much what we expected and nice to see Martin Scorsese’s ‘Silence’ at least getting one nomination despite being shut out everywhere else. Bradford Young‘s work on ‘Arrival’ is also very good and although ideally, I would like either Prieto or Young getting this, I think Linus Sandgren is pretty much a lock to win this. In terms of snubs, Larry Fong’s work on ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ was quite frankly jaw-dropping as was Seamus McGarvey’s work on ‘Nocturnal Animals’.

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Best Editing

Joe Walker for ‘Arrival’
Tom Cross for ‘La La Land’
John Gilbert for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders for ‘Moonlight’
Jake Roberts for ‘Hell Or High Water’

Predicted Win: Tom Cross for ‘La La Land’

A tough one to call, I think it could be either ‘La La Land’ or ‘Moonlight’ but ultimately, I think ‘La La Land’ will prevail due to its projected sweep at the Academy Awards

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Best Production Design

Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte for ‘Arrival’
David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco for ‘La La Land’
Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’
Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena for ‘Passengers’
Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh for ‘Hail Caesar!’

Predicted Win: David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco for ‘La La Land’

I have to admit that ‘La La Land’ does have some pretty incredible set pieces and is definitely a cut above the rest. But I’m really happy that ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them‘ managed to get in and also ‘Hail Caesar!‘, a film I was surprised to see featured seeing as it came out in March and most likely would have been forgotten. Both films manage to encapsulate their context, in particular ‘Hail Caesar!’ which really does feel like it’s taken straight out of 1950’s Hollywood. But ‘La La Land’ does boast some great set pieces that are the backdrop to many of the songs in its soundtrack so this is pretty much a lock.

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Best Costume Design

Joanna Johnston for ‘Allied’
Madeleine Fontaine for ‘Jackie’
Colleen Atwood for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’
Mary Zophres for ‘La La Land’
Consolata Boyle for ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

Predicted Win: Colleen Atwood for ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’

There’s always a film that hasn’t received any awards buzz that ends up winning an award for this kind of category and this year, I’m going to hedge my bets on ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them’ being that film. They’re all very worthy contenders though other than ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’ which is a shoe-in. That said, another one to add to the collection for either ‘La La Land’ isn’t necessarily out of the picture either.

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Best Make-Up and Hairstyling

Eva Von Bahr and Love Larson for ‘A Man Called Ove’
Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo for ‘Star Trek Beyond’
Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Allen Nelson for ‘Suicide Squad’

Predicted Win: Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Allen Nelson for ‘Suicide Squad’

As inappropriate as ‘Suicide Squad”s nomination might initially seem, I actually think it’s got the highest probability of taking the win here particularly compared to the competition its up against. (My Review of ‘Suicide Squad’ here)

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Best Original Score

Mica Levi for ‘Jackie’
Nicholas Britell for ‘Moonlight’
Justin Hurwitz for ‘La La Land’
Thomas Newman for ‘Passengers’
Dustin O’Halloran and Volker Bertelmann for ‘Lion’

Predicted Win: Justin Hurwitz for ‘La La Land’

A mostly rubbish field – how on earth did Thomas Newman get in here and Nicholas Britell? Britell’s score was an improvement over ‘The Big Short’ last year but still was undeserving. Mica Levi’s inclusion though is a good thing – it’s a fantastic, memorable score as is Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka’s score for ‘Lion‘.  For me, Justin Hurwitz is undoubtedly going to win this. There were loads of snubs in this category that could have dramatically improved this – Nick Cave and Warren Ellis for ‘Hell or High Water’ for example seeing that film has had plenty of nominations and deservedly so. Abel Korzeniowski’s score for ‘Nocturnal Animals’ is also endlessly haunting.

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Best Original Song

‘Audition (The Fools Who Dream)’  – ‘La La Land’
‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ – ‘Trolls’
‘City Of Stars’ – ‘La La Land’
‘The Empty Chair’ – ‘Jim: The James Foley Story’
‘How Far I’ll Go’ – ‘Moana’

Predicted Win: ‘City Of Stars’ – ‘La La Land’

This will definitely win. No question about it.

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Best Sound Mixing

Bernard Gariepy Stobl and Claude La Haye for ‘Arrival’
David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’
Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth for ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers Of Benghazi’
Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steven Morrow for ‘La La Land’

Predicted Win: Bernard Gariepy Stobl and Claude La Haye for ‘Arrival’

One of the reason why ‘Arrival’ works very well as a film is because of its innovative soundscape which I don’t think the other films can boast as much. How on earth has Michael Bay’s ’13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi’ managed to make its way onto here though?! (My Review of ‘Arrival‘ here)

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Best Sound Editing

Sylvain Bellemare for ‘Arrival’
Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli for ‘Deepwater Horizon’
Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’
Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Latou for ‘La La Land’
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for ‘Sully: Miracle on the Hudson’

Predicted Win: Sylvain Bellemare for ‘Arrival’

Again, I think ‘Arrival’ is probably the best example here but this could equally be another award for ‘La La Land’. Really good to see ‘Deepwater Horizon’ and ‘Sully‘ here too.

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Best Visual Effects

Craig Hammack, Jason H. Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton for ‘Deepwater Horizon’
Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould for ‘Doctor Strange’
Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon for ‘The Jungle Book’
Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff for ‘Kubo And The Two Strings’
John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal T. Hickel and Neil Corbould for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

Predicted Win: John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal T. Hickel and Neil Corbould for ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’

A very tough field to call, I think this could be either a win for ‘Rogue One‘, ‘Doctor Strange‘ or ‘The Jungle Book‘ but I think ‘Rogue One’ will probably win here due to what it has brought to film as a medium and something that can be replicated in years to come – the ability to digitally regenerate deceased actors. Whatever you may think of that ethically, it’s certainly an evolution for the industry. In terms of snubs, think what you will of ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ but you certainly can’t complain about the visual effects which were remarkable.

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Overall

So based on my predictions, I’m predicting ‘La La Land’ to be a very dominant presence with potentially ‘Moonlight’ following in its footsteps and the odd win here and there for another film. I strongly suspect ‘La La Land’ will mostly sweep the board though. In the technical categories, ‘Arrival’ and ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ pose the biggest threat but ‘La La Land’ could still sweep here too. The Academy have clearly also reverted on the Although decidedly mixed on these nominations, there are a few films that have been overlooked. These include:

  • ‘Silence’ – only one nomination for a brilliant film that could have been a dominant presence everywhere
  • ‘Nocturnal Animals’ – this film had a strong presence in the Golden Globes and BAFTA’s but only one nomination for Michael Shannon here
  • ‘Sully’ – Clint Eastwood is normally a good presence for the Academy but couldn’t find its way here really

But other than these, a generally sound set of nominations and it’ll be interesting to see who goes home with what award. Although I strongly suspect it’ll be ‘La La Land’ that takes home most of the awards as undeserving as I find that notion to be.

The Academy Award Winners will be announced on Sunday 26th February 

Ranking The Best Picture Nominees

The Academy Awards have now been and gone and ‘Spotlight’ ended up being triumphant edging out ‘The Revenant’ which took the Golden Globes and BAFTA’s by storm. Here I rank the Best Picture nominees in order of my own personal preference. Unfortunately, I have only just got round to watching ‘Brooklyn’ hence why I am a little late.

Let’s get started…

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8) The Martian

Unfortunately, ‘The Martian’ was very disappointing. Even though it had been overhyped, as a film it just didn’t work. The performances were not bad although Matt Damon’s nomination was rather undeserved and allowed talents such as Johnny Depp for his performance in ‘Black Mass’ to get snubbed. Ridley Scott’s direction was also ok but he has done far better work, for example 2012’s ‘Prometheus’ is a much better film than this.

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7) The Big Short

A very original and intelligent film that does deserve a place in the ‘Best Picture’ category but it is towards the bottom of the list due to the fact the film has a lot of issues tonally. At times it comes across as very smug and obnoxious and the film has a bit of an identity crisis as director Adam McKay can’t quite shake off his comedic roots. That said though, it is very original in the way it all plays out and the acting, particularly by Christian Bale and Steve Carrell.

(Click here to read my review)

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6) Brooklyn

‘Brooklyn’ is a fairly unremarkable film that feels quite disjointed and a little too ordinary for the Best Picture Academy Award. However, Saoirse Ronan gives a career-best performance here and there are some outstanding scenes that work separately to the rest of the film. Compared to ‘The Big Short’, I would argue that ‘The Big Short’ is definitely more original and better Awards material but ‘Brooklyn’ is stronger as entertainment.

There is now a big step up in quality…

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5) Bridge Of Spies

In parts, ‘Bridge of Spies’ is outstanding, particularly in its first half and has a revelatory turn from Mark Rylance which won him the Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’, deservedly so. Tom Hanks manages to carry the film along, but Rylance’s absence is sorely missed in the second half and the film loses steam. Usual business from Steven Spielberg, but still good fun.

(Click here to read my review)

Now we get to the excellent films:

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4) The Revenant

A little sluggish in parts, ‘The Revenant’ is a fantastic piece of work with outstanding performances and assured direction from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. It’s a very sensory experience and Lubezki’s cinematography is gobsmacking and earned him another Academy Award. This was also the film where Leonardo DiCaprio finally was given an Oscar for his role here, deservedly so.

(Click here to read my review)

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3) Spotlight

A gripping tale of the Catholic Church scandal, ‘Spotlight’ is a very assured film that features fantastic performance from the entire cast and a brilliant, tight script penned by Tom McCarthy who also directs. The only reason why it doesn’t rank higher is the fact that it doesn’t particularly do a lot to set itself apart from other films of this type but it’s still supremely entertaining and satisfying.

(Click here to read my review)

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2) Mad Max: Fury Road

An astonishing piece of work by director George Miller against all the odds. Whilst ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is not perfect by any means and lacks in the story department, the action sequences are a gargantuan work of art and on a technical scale, the film is jaw-dropping. Interwoven into all the action on-screen is a wonderful female leading role by Charlize Theron who is able to redesign the role of the woman in the action film genre.

And now for the best film…

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1) Room

‘Room’ is a flawless piece of work. It is an inspiring watch and reaches various emotional heights. The performances from the cast all round are nothing short of incredible and Lenny Abrahamsson’s careful and assured direction works wonders. The film has a beaming heart at its core – at times the film is devastatingly sad and at others, warm and feel-good. It is expertly paced and takes ample time to develop its characters. ‘Room’ has received a rare 5-star rating from myself and on top of that, is one of the best films of the decade so far. 

(Click here to read my 5-star review)

Summary

Overall, a worthy selection with the exception of ‘The Martian’ and ‘Brooklyn’, but in terms of originality, ‘The Big Short’ deserves its spot even if it is a flawed film. It’s also one of the strongest fields in recent years. ‘Spotlight’ ultimately won the Best Picture Award which is deserving. ‘Room’ is by far and away the best film here but it didn’t connect with audiences as much as this and it was a toss-up between ‘Spotlight’ and ‘The Revenant’. I’d have been happy if ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ would have won but the Academy would be very trepidatious to say the least, to give the highest Award to a blockbuster. 

 

2016 Oscar Nominations – My Thoughts

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I realise I’m a bit late, but here are my thoughts on this year’s Academy Awards nominations. It’s a decent mix this year – of course there are some snubs which I will mention but I think they have got it mostly right.

Best Picture

The Big Short
Brooklyn
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Predicted Win: The Revenant

Overall, a good mix of nominations and I’m glad that the Academy have been quite tough. Before this category was announced, there were about 15 films that could’ve got here, so I’m glad they’ve stuck to 8 this year. This category can have up to 10 nominees if needed. I think ‘The Revenant’ will win seeing as it cleared up at the Golden Globes but ‘Spotlight’ is a close second – it could be any of the two. I’m a little annoyed to see ‘The Big Short’ and ‘Bridge of Spies’ here as they were by no means one of the best films of last year. A much worthier contender would have been ‘The Hateful Eight’, ‘The Danish Girl’, ‘Steve Jobs’ or ‘Carol’.

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Best Actor

Bryan Cranston for Trumbo
Matt Damon for The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl

Predicted Win: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant

Surely it’s got to be Leo’s turn this year? A very good set of nominations and all very deserving. The only person I would have liked to have seen here is Johnny Depp for his performance in ‘Black Mass’ but otherwise, it’s a very good set of nominations. Michael Fassbender for either of his roles in ‘Macbeth’ or ‘Slow West’ is another good shout. Leonardo DiCaprio won the Golden Globe for his role in ‘The Revenant’ so I would guess he will emulate his success here too. His performance is very good, although I personally think Michael Fassbender put in the better performance here but DiCaprio had to go through a lot for his role so I’d be happy either way. (My review of ‘The Revenant’ here)

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Best Actress

Cate Blanchett for Carol
Brie Larson for Room
Jennifer Lawrence for Joy
Charlotte Rampling for 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn

Predicted Win: Brie Larson for Room

Another strong set of nominations, I wouldn’t say there are any snubs here. I’m happy to see Charlotte Rampling getting a nomination here as she is terrific in ’45 Years’. I think the win here will go to Brie Larson for her exceptional performance in ‘Room’ – a film that I loved very much and gave a perfect score. (Review here)

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Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale for The Big Short
Tom Hardy for The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight
Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone for Creed

Predicted Win: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies

Another solid set of nominations although I am a little surprised to see Tom Hardy feature here. I thought he was excellent in ‘The Revenant’ but Benicio Del Toro who got a BAFTA nomination for his role in ‘Sicario’ is a much better fit in my opinion and more deserving. Idris Elba for ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ is also another fantastic performance. I think the winner here will be Mark Rylance and if he does, deservedly so. He is one of the highlights of the flawed ‘Bridge of Spies’ (Review here) and really elevates the film. Although Sylvester Stallone won the Golden Globe, he failed to acknowledge ‘Creed’ co-star, Michael B. Jordan and director Ryan Coogler in his acceptance speech and this left a bit of a sour note. Also I think Rylance is far more deserving.

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Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara for Carol
Rachel McAdams for Spotlight
Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs

Predicted Win: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

Please, please, anyone but Kate Winslet. She was absolutely horrendous in ‘Steve Jobs’ and her accent was sliding all over the place. I don’t understand why she is getting so much awards attention for it. I’m going to predict Alicia Vikander will win for ‘The Danish Girl’ as she has got a lot of buzz for her performance and I think she’s the next best thing if they do give Winslet the Oscar that she thoroughly does not deserve. Instead of Winslet, I think Alicia Vikander should get nominated again but for her role in ‘Ex_Machina’.

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Best Director

Adam McKay for The Big Short
George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson for Room
Tom McCarthy for Spotlight

Predicted Win: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road

Could the Academy be nice and reward George Miller for his hard work on ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ which took him a very long time to make. It’s all well and good giving Iñárritu a second Oscar but Miller is so much more deserving. I’m very pleased to see Lenny Abrahamson getting a nod here as he did a perfect job of ‘Room’. I do also think Quentin Tarantino did a great job with ‘The Hateful Eight’ which I think could replace Adam McKay as ‘The Big Short’ was a mixed bag, in my opinion but still, not a bad set of nominations at all.

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Best Original Screenplay 

Matt Charman, Ethan Coen & Joel Coen for Bridge of Spies
Alex Garland for Ex_Machina
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley & Ronnie Del Carmen for Inside Out
Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy for Spotlight
Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savage & Alan Wenkus for Straight Outta Compton

Predicted Win: Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy for Spotlight

An interesting set of nominations apart from Quentin Tarantino’s snub who deserves to be here. Out of who’s here, I’m going to stab a guess at ‘Spotlight’ taking the gong due to its consistency in the rest of the nominations. ‘Straight Outta Compton’ and ‘Ex_Machina’ seem a little shoehorned in and I don’t see the other two winning.

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Best Adapted Screenplay

Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for The Big Short
Nick Hornby for Brooklyn
Phyllis Nagy for Carol
Drew Goddard for The Martian
Emma Donoghue for Room

Predicted Win: Emma Donoghue for Room

Easily the best of the group, Donoghue deserves this award through and through for her adaptation of her own novel. The other nominations are all very respectable, but Aaron Sorkin has been unfairly snubbed and he put a lot of work into his script for ‘Steve Jobs’.

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Best Animated Feature

Anomalies
O Menino e o Mundo
Inside Out
Shaun The Sheep Movie
Omoide no Mânî

Predicted Win: Inside Out

A battle between ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Anomalisa’ but ‘Inside Out’, the Disney Pixar smash hit has appeared on so many critic’s Top Ten lists and is generally loved in the film industry. For me, a no brainer. (My review of ‘Inside Out’ here)

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Best Cinematography

Edward Lachman for Carol
Robert Richardson for The Hateful Eight
John Seale for Mad Max: Fury Road
Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant
Roger Deakins for Sicario

Predicted Win: Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant

A very interesting category. Whilst it would be unfair for Lubezki to win a third year in a row, his work on ‘The Revenant’ outshines everyone else nominated. His decision to shoot the film with lots of extreme close ups and landscapes is revolutionary and really elevates the film. I do want to see Roger Deakins finally get an Oscar, but as much as I loved ‘Sicario’, Lubezki’s work is much better. Both Robert Richardson and John Seale have done fantastic work on their respective films as well, but it’s just got to go to Lubezki.

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Best Editing

Hank Corwin for The Big Short
Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road
Stephen Mirrione for The Revenant
Tom McArdle for Spotlight
Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Win: Stephen Mirrione for The Revenant

A tough one to call, I think it could be either ‘The Revenant’, ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ or ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’. Ultimately, I think ‘The Revenant’ will prevail as its editing is a notch better than these two other films.

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Best Production Design

Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo & Bernard Henrich for Bridge of Spies
Eve Stewart & Michael Standish for The Danish Girl
Colin Gibson & Lisa Thompson for Mad Max: Fury Road
Arthur Max & Celia Bobak for The Martian
Jack Fisk & Hamish Purdy for The Revenant

Predicted Win: Colin Gibson & Lisa Thompson for Mad Max: Fury Road

‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ has some incredible set pieces and is definitely a cut above the rest, but then again don’t be surprised if ‘The Revenant’ takes another one. Both ‘The Danish Girl’ and ‘Bridge of Spies’ are respectable in this category but ‘The Martian’ seems a bit of a shoe-in for me. ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ would be a better pick in my opinion.

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Best Costume Design

Sandy Powell for Carol
Sandy Powell for Cinderella
Paco Delgado for The Danish Girl
Jenny Beavan for Mad Max: Fury Road
Jacqueline West for The Revenant

Predicted Win: Sandy Powell for Cinderella

There’s always a film that hasn’t received any awards buzz that ends up winning an award for this kind of category and this year, I’m going to hedge my bets on ‘Cinderella’ being that film. They’re all very worthy contenders though, so another one to add to the collection for either ‘The Revenant’ or ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ isn’t necessarily out of the picture.

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Best Make-Up and Hairstyling

Love Larson & Eva Von Bahr for The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared
Lesley Vanderwalt, Elke Wardega & Damian Martin for Mad Max: Fury Road
Sian Grigg, Duncan Jarman & Robert A. Pandini for The Revenant

Predicted Win: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elke Wardega & Damian Martin for Mad Max: Fury Road

This should be an easy one for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’, the make-up and hairstyling are one of its highlights. That said, I’m surprised ‘The Danish Girl’ didn’t get a nomination here and ‘Carol’ too would have been deserving.

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Best Original Score

Thomas Newman for Bridge of Spies
Carter Burwell for Carol
Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight
Jóhann Jóhannsson for Sicario
John Williams for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Win: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight

A very interesting field. For me, Jóhann Jóhannsson is the clear winner but I highly doubt he will win here. I think Ennio Morricone will win as it is one of his first scores in many years and it is still very effective. If not Morricone, then John Williams but he has, of course, had to reuse themes from the other films which lowers the originality a little bit. Thomas Newman’s score for ‘Bridge of Spies’ was completely forgettable – Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto’s score for ‘The Revenant’ despite being banned, is a much better call. As is Jed Kurzel for either ‘Slow West’ or ‘Macbeth’, Tom Holkenborg for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ or Michael Giacchino for ‘Inside Out’.

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Best Original Song

‘Earned It’ – Fifty Shades of Grey
‘Til It Happens To You’ – The Hunting Ground
‘Manta Ray’ – Racing Extinction
‘Writing’s On The Wall’ – Spectre
‘Simple Song #3’ – Youth

Predicted Win: ‘Simple Song #3’ – Youth

Hmmm. A lot has changed since the Golden Globes where there were nominations for ‘Furious 7’ and ‘Love and Mercy’. I’m going to say ‘Youth’ here seeing as music is a key theme of the film.

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Best Sound Mixing

Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom & Drew Kunin for Bridge of Spies
Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff & Ben Osmo for Mad Max: Fury Road
Paul Massey, Mark Taylor & Mac Ruth for The Martian
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom & Chris Duesterdiek for The Revenant
Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio & Stuart Wilson for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Win: Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio & Stuart Wilson for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m going to say ‘Star Wars’ will win here as its sound mixing is superb but it could also be ‘The Revenant’ again.

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Best Sound Editing

Mark A. Mangini & David White for Mad Max: Fury Road
Oliver Tarney for The Martian
Martín Hernández & Lon Bender for The Revenant
Alan Robert Murray for Sicario
Matthew Wood & David Acord for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Win: Martín Hernández & Lon Bender for The Revenant

Another tough one to call, I think ‘The Revenant’ should win here again, but again this could go to ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ or ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’.

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Best Visual Effects

Andrew Whitehorse, Paul Norris, Mark Williams Ardington & Sara Bannett for Ex_Machina
Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver & Andy Williams for Mad Max: Fury Road
Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence & Steven Warner for The Martian
Richard McBride, Matt Shumway, Jason Smith & Cameron Waldbauer for The Revenant
Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Neal Scanlan & Chris Corbould for Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Predicted Win: Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver & Andy Williams for Mad Max: Fury Road

A very tough field to call. I hope ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ wins as the craft that has gone into it is sublime and the film looks extremely original. However, don’t be surprised if ‘The Revenant’ wins here again.

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#OscarsSoWhite?

There’s been a lot of debate over diversity in this year’s Academy Award nominations and I do agree in several respects. Idris Elba has been very unfairly snubbed from a Best Supporting Actor nomination for ‘Beasts Of No Nation’ and although he never had any Awards attention in the first place, I thought Samuel L. Jackson was a fantastic lead in ‘The Hateful Eight’.

However, nominations should be based on merit, not on race and that is very important. What’s the point of having all of the Best Picture nominees and then sticking in ‘Straight Outta Compton’ in there too just to tick off any diversity issues? Unfortunately this film and any other film this year with a predominantly African-American cast was not good enough to get nominated so what’s all the fuss about? Will Smith especially narks me off as he somehow managed to get a nomination for Best Actor in ‘Concussion’ but the film is meant to be ‘good, not great’ so I don’t understand why he expects a nomination when he hasn’t been hotly tipped. Miss the Oscars, Will Smith, I don’t care.

Overall

So based on my predictions, I’m predicting ‘The Revenant’ to be a very dominant presence with potentially ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ following in its footsteps. ‘Spotlight’ may possibly win Best Picture but I think ‘The Revenant’ is more likely to. I’m generally fairly happy with the nominations this year, but there are a few films that have been overlooked. These include:

  • The Hateful Eight – ok, it did get some nominations, but got unfairly snubbed in other categories
  • Sicario – this only received technical nominations and it’s so much better than that
  • Slow West – another outstanding film that failed to get nominations for anything
  • Beasts Of No Nation – a nomination for Idris Elba

But other than these, a generally sound set of nominations and it’ll be interesting to see who goes home with what award.

 

Golden Globe Nominations – My Thoughts

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It’s that time of year – Awards Seasons has begun and the Golden Globes have been announced. Here I offer my views on them and predict who will be the winners. Overall, it’s a pretty good mix this year and the HFPA have got it mostly right, but understandably there are a fair share of snubs as well, some that are unforgivable.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

An interesting field of contenders here and good to see ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ getting the recognition that it deserves. I think the winner here will be ‘Carol’ as that’s the film that’s been getting the best reviews out of the five.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

The Big Short
Joy
The Martian
Spy
Trainwreck

I think the winner here will be ‘The Big Short’. Again, it has very strong reviews and its actors have been recognised further down the nominations. The only other possibility would be ‘The Martian’, but it hasn’t featured much anywhere else so that’s why I’m going with ‘The Big Short’. ‘Joy’ has received rather polarising reviews and ‘Spy’ and ‘Trainwreck’ are filler.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Bryan Cranston for Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne for The Danish Girl
Will Smith for Concussion

Now here I have some issues. What is Will Smith doing here?! Johnny Depp for ‘Black Mass’ or Michael Fassbender for ‘Macbeth’ or Ian McKellen for ‘Mr Holmes’ is a much better fit than Smith. As for the rest of the nominations, it’s pretty much spot-on. Naysayers think that DiCaprio could win here and then go onto win at the Academy Awards – I disagree. I think it’s Redmayne’s year again as he is playing a role that is ‘different’ and these kinds of roles are the ones that ultimately end up bagging the win. However, I would still be happy if DiCaprio did end up taking the win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama

Cate Blanchett for Carol
Brie Larson for Room
Rooney Mara for Carol
Saoirse Ronan for Brooklyn
Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl
This is a toss-up between Blanchett and Larson, I think and Blanchett could possibly prevail but they’re neck-and-neck at the moment. Mara and Vikander shouldn’t be in this category as they play supporting roles in their films but in terms of performances, all are really worthy of a spot.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Christian Bale for The Big Short
Steve Carrell for The Big Short
Matt Damon for The Martian
Al Pacino for Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo for Infinity Polar Bear

I think this is a win for Matt Damon but don’t expect a further nomination at the Academy Awards. Audiences really connected with his character in ‘The Martian’, particularly as he has the screen mostly to himself. Impressively, ‘The Big Short’ has managed to get two nominations here but seeing as both actors received recognition recently, I think this should be Damon’s. Pacino and Ruffalo are filler.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Jennifer Lawrence for Joy
Melissa McCarthy for Spy
Amy Schumer for Trainwreck
Maggie Smith for The Lady In The Van
Lily Tomlin for Grandma

Surely this has to be Jennifer Lawrence’s award? She’s the only one out of the five who is being tipped for Awards success. Smith is another worthy actress here and the rest are just filler.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Paul Dano for Love And Mercy
Idris Elba for Beasts Of No Nation
Mark Rylance for Bridge Of Spies
Michael Shannon for 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone for Creed

I think this is Mark Rylance’s award as he has been getting a lot of good recognition for the role. Elba and Shannon are closely following behind and Stallone is the ‘Robert Duvall’ (who got nominated for the extremely disappointing film, ‘The Judge’) of this year.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture

Jane Fonda for Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren for Trumbo
Alicia Vikander for Ex_Machina
Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs

Alicia Vikander has done really well to get nominated twice and she’s had a fantastic year in film. Ultimately whilst not on this list, I think her performance in ‘The Danish Girl’ will win at the Academy Awards, here I think the Golden Globe will go to Jennifer Jason Leigh as she’s been getting a lot of buzz for her performance. I’ll say this again, I really don’t understand why Kate Winslet is getting all the fuss she is getting, her performance in ‘Steve Jobs’ was atrocious and she kept slipping and sliding between accents – it’s enough that people like it but then to actually go and give her a nomination is just horrendous.

Best Director – Motion Picture

Todd Haynes for Carol
Alejandro  González Iñárritu for The Revenant
Tom McCarthy for Spotlight
George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott for The Martian

A very good field of nominations, maybe Ridley Scott’s direction is being bit optimistic and could have been replaced for Quentin Tarantino for ‘The Hateful Eight’. I think Haynes will win here as ‘Carol’ has received universal acclaim but Miller could also win here for his sterling work on ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ as he created arguably one of the best action films in recent years.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for The Big Short
Quentin Tarantino for The Hateful Eight
Emma Donoghue for Room
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer for Spotlight
Aaron Sorkin for Steve Jobs

This is a fantastic set of nominations and it could be anyone’s. My guess would be Sorkin for Steve Jobs as it is a very strong script but it could also be Donoghue for Room for adapting her own novel. Very tough list to call.

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

‘Love Me Like You Do’ (Fifty Shades Of Grey)
‘See You Again’ (Furious 7)
‘One Kind Of Love’ (Love And Mercy)
‘Writing’s On The Wall’ (Spectre)
‘Simple Song #3’ (Youth)

Well, it hasn’t particularly been a strong year in this category anyway so a very predictable set of nominations with the exception of ‘Love and Mercy’ and ‘Youth’ – I think one of these two films will take the win as the others are filler.

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

Carter Burwell for Carol
Alexandre Desplat for The Danish Girl
Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight
Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai for The Revenant
Daniel Pemberton for Steve Jobs

An interesting set of nominations – I think this will be a win for Morricone as it is his first score in years. The others are also very strong and it’s a shame that Sakamoto and Nicolai have been disqualified for the Academy Awards. There are a few snubs here though. Tom Holkenborg’s score for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is amazing, as is Johann Johannsson’s score for ‘Sicario’ and Jed Kurzel has also had a strong year for ‘Macbeth’ and ‘Slow West’.

Best Animated Film

Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun The Sheep Movie

A very strong set of nominations, this will undoubtedly go to ‘Inside Out’ with many hailing it as the return of Pixar and is was loved by audiences and critics alike.

Overall

Overall, a very strong set of nominations and the HFPA have got it almost correct. There are a lot of snubs here though and there are number of films that failed to receive recognition for anything:

– Sicario
– Macbeth (I had my issues with this film but that doesn’t stop it being deserving of so many awards)
– Slow West
– Black Mass

These films are deserving in so many categories and all received very strong reviews but the HFPA have failed to catch on – hopefully these will be recognised in the BAFTA’s and Academy Awards.

The Golden Globe winners will be announced  on Sunday 10th January at
8 pm ET / 5 pm PT on NBC.

The Oscar Nominations – My Thoughts

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Another year of film has ended and so another awards season. The nominations for the 87th Academy Awards were released yesterday and the ceremony is due to be broadcast on February 22nd. I will look at each category separately and offer my thoughts and predict who will win.

So the biggest category…

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Imitation Game

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Selma

The Theory Of Everything

Whiplash

Predicted Win – Boyhood

A very interesting field of contenders here. I haven’t seen all the nominees yet but the most bizarre omission here is ‘Foxcatcher’. The Academy have nominated it for 5 Awards and it doesn’t show up here? This category allows up to 10 nominees and I thought they would actually fill the board this year but no, even less than the 9 films that were nominated last year. I’m surprised that ‘American Sniper’ managed to get on this list (I haven’t actually seen the film yet) but in terms of its critical reception, there is no doubt that it is the weakest of the bunch with a 73% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment. ‘Foxcatcher’ would have been a much better addition as I’ve said (87%), or even ‘Wild’ (91%). Other than what I’ve mentioned, this is a very sensible (and somewhat easy to predict field). I will be surprised if ‘Boyhood’ doesn’t take the win.

Best Actor

Steve Carrell for Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game

Bradley Cooper for American Sniper

Michael Keaton for Birdman

Eddie Redmayne for The Theory Of Everything

Predicted Win – Eddie Redmayne for The Theory Of Everything

This, again, is a very predictable field with one bizarre nomination which again goes to ‘American Sniper’ for Bradley Cooper. I was hoping for either David Oyelowo for ‘Selma’, Jake Gyllenhaal for ‘Nightcrawler’ or Timothy Spall for ‘Mr Turner’ and before these nominations were even announced, I would’ve put money on one of these three nabbing the fifth spot (the other four were always locks). In terms of the win, I think it’s between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton. After the Golden Globes win for Redmayne, that’s who I’m betting on taking the win.

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones for The Theory Of Everything

Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl

Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Reese Witherspoon for Wild

Predicted Win – Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Again, a very predictable field, shame that Jessica Chastain is not here for ‘A Most Violent Year’. Julianne Moore is most probably going to take the win here.

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall for The Judge

Ethan Hawke for Boyhood

Edward Norton for Birdman

Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Predicted Win – J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Another very predictable set of nominees and again, J.K. Simmons should take the win here. What’s always baffled me here is the inclusion of Robert Duvall’s nomination – it never really garnered much attention and the film isn’t meant to be that great.

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Laura Dern for Wild

Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game

Emma Stone for Birdman

Meryl Streep for Into The Woods

Predicted Win – Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

These acting nods are really predictable this year, aren’t they? No surprises here, all deserve their space and the win will almost certainly go for Patricia Arquette’s gutsy performance in ‘Boyhood’.

Best Director

Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman

Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher

Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Predicted Win – Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Of course, Linklater must win for ‘Boyhood – the film has taken him 12 years to film after all! I don’t think the rest stand a chance here apart from possibly Iñárritu who might possibly prevail for his inventive film, but this has surely got to be Linklater’s and deservedly so.

Best Original Screenplay

Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)

Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness)

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

Predicted Win – Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)

Tough one to call here, all very worthy nominations. I’m going to go with ‘Birdman’ just because it won at the Golden Globes.

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper (Jason Hall)

Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)

The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)

The Theory Of Everything (Anthony McCarten)

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

Predicted Win – Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

Another hard one to call, I’m going to go with ‘Whiplash’ because ‘American Sniper’ looks a little bit thin on words and ‘Inherent Vice’ got polarising reception. That said, it could be any of the three, but ‘Whiplash’ looks like it has a very sharp script.

Best Foreign Language Film

Tangerines

Ida

Leviathan

Wild Tales

Timbuktu

Predicted Win – Leviathan

I’m going to go with ‘Leviathan’ here as it’s got nothing but outstanding critical reception and everyone seems to love it.

Best Animation Film

The Boxtrolls

Big Hero 6

How To Train Your Dragon 2

Song Of The Sea

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

Predicted Win – How To Train Your Dragon 2

What a load of rubbish! Where on earth is ‘The Lego Movie’? Everyone loved that film (I myself found it overrated, but still it definitely deserves the win) and it redefined animation. No one took it seriously and thought it was going to be a flop, so it really surprised people when it turned out to be a good film, in fact in the UK, the highest grossing film of 2014. I don’t know what’s happened here, but it’s just not right at all. I personally would like to see ‘Big Hero 6’ win in this case, but I know it’ll go to ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2’. This is perhaps the biggest snub of the whole list.

Best Cinematography 

Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert D. Yeoman)

Mr Turner (Dick Pope)

Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

Ida (Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski)

Predicted Win – Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)

This has to be for ‘Birdman’, Lubezki’s probable second win in a row after last year’s ‘Gravity’, no question about it.

Best Editing

Boyhood (Sandra Adair)

The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)

Whiplash (Tom Cross)

American Sniper (Joel Cox, Gary Roach)

Predicted Win – The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)

I haven’t got a clue here, but in terms of my personal choice, I would say the award should probably go to ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. That said though, the editing in ‘Boyhood’ is excellent, the 12 years blend seamlessly together so this could also take the win.

Best Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock)

The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald)

Interstellar (Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis)

Into The Woods (Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock)

Mr Turner (Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts)

Predicted Win – Into The Woods (Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock)

Good selection here, although I feel ‘Birdman’ could have had a nomination here as well. I’m going to go for ‘Into The Woods’ here as the production design looks superb from the trailers (haven’t seen the film) but then again, I expect ‘Interstellar’ to sweep up the technical awards, so a win here as well?

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)

Inherent Vice (Mark Bridges)

Into The Woods (Colleen Atwood)

Maleficent (Anna B. Sheppard, Jane Clive)

Mr Turner (Jacqueline Durran)

Predicted Win – The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)

A tough one here, my personal choice would probably be ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, but could ‘Into The Woods’ or ‘Maleficent’ take the win here?

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher (Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier)

Guardians Of The Galaxy (Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White)

Predicted Win – The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier)

A very tough one here, I think it’s between ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ as there is some excellent work in those films. ‘Foxcatcher’ is good as well, but I think the other two do the job better.

Best Original Score

The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)

Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)

The Theory Of Everything (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

Mr Turner (Gary Yershon)

Predicted Win – The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)

This is an interesting category. Despite Jóhann Jóhannsson winning at the Globes for ‘The Theory Of Everything’, I think this will go to Desplat for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ as the score really develops and is ingeniously crafted. There is essentially music for each character and then the music blends with multiple characters and it develops as a whole as the film progresses. ‘The Imitation Game’ and ‘Mr Turner’ are definite no’s here. Zimmer does have a chance here (my personal favourite) as the score is innovative after he has stuck to his same formula for a while now. In terms of snubs, the most obvious one to call would be Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ score for ‘Gone Girl’ and also I personally quite liked Steven Price’s score for ‘Fury’. Mica Levi’s score for ‘Under The Skin’ would be an excellent addition here as would Clint Mansell’s score for ‘Noah’. Very interesting list here, I reckon Desplat could pip Zimmer and Jóhannsson at the win here.

Best Original Song

Selma (Common, John Legend)

Begin Again (Greg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois)

The Lego Movie (Shawn Patterson)

Beyond The Lights (Diane Warren)

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (Glenn Campbell, Julian Raymond)

Predicted Win – Selma (Common, John Legend)

Simply going on from the Globes win, I think this could be for ‘Selma’ to win. The only competition I can see here is possibly for ‘The Lego Movie’, but I think ‘Selma’ should probably have it here, particularly how it’s oddly absent from all other categories despite being nominated for ‘Best Picture’.

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper (John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin)

Birdman (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga)

Interstellar (Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten)

Unbroken (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee)

Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley)

Predicted Win – Interstellar (Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten)

Despite ‘Interstellar’ controversially being negatively received for its sound, I think it’ll clean up the technical awards so this should win.

Best Sound Editing

American Sniper (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman)

Birdman (Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández)

The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (Brent Burge, Jason Canovas)

Interstellar (Richard King)

Unbroken (Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro)

Predicted Win – Interstellar (Richard King)

Again ‘Interstellar’ will win, I’m betting, as it’s a technical marvel so should sweep up the entire technical awards.

Best Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick)

Dawn Of The Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist)

Guardians Of The Galaxy (Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould)

Interstellar (Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher)

X-Men: Days Of Future Past (Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer)

Predicted Win – Interstellar (Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher)

Surely this has to be ‘Interstellar’, right? The visual effects were marvellous and enthralling in that. ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ would be a runner-up here as Weta’s effects are incredible, but the other three are just filler in my opinion, particularly ‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’. Never once did I think to myself ‘Wow’ in terms of visuals, so I’m surprised this is here. A much more fitting option would be for ‘Godzilla’, I wasn’t a fan of the film but the visual effects were first-rate in that. I’d also argue that ‘The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies’ and ‘Noah’ deserve a place here as well.

Overall

Well, it really is an interesting set of nominations this year with its fair shares of worthy nominees and snubs. I’m expecting ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Birdman’ to share the bulk of the awards with ‘Boyhood’ taking Best Picture. ‘Interstellar’ should clear up the technical awards.

The acting awards are very predictable this year and it’s a real shame, in my opinion, that Bradley Cooper got nominated for Best Actor over the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, David Oyelowo, Timothy Spall and Ralph Fiennes.

Another horrific snub is ‘The Lego Movie’ in the Best Animated Film category, I honestly don’t know what the Academy are thinking.

In terms of the films that garner lots of nominations but don’t go on to win anything, I think this will be for ‘The Imitation Game’ this year which unfortunately is outmatched in all the categories that it is nominated for.

This should prove to be an interesting year for the Academy Awards and it really is a different mix to last year’s nominees and eventual winners. I can’t wait to see what happens!