Poor Sylvester Stallone. The Creed star was considered a shoo-in for Best Supporting Actor at this year’s Academy Awards, the 88th annual ceremony. But alas, like Eddie Murphy in 2007, despite collecting numerous trophies for reviving Rocky Balboa for his seventh silver screen appearance, he was ultimately passed over for British Shakespearean actor Mark Rylance who took home the only Oscar for Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed Bridge Of Spies. How delightfully ironic that a pro-Palestinian activist snatched one away from a longtime supporter of Apartheid Israel.
Speaking of Zionists, Leonardo DiCaprio finally took home a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in The Revenant. He thanked Michael Caton-Jones, who cast him in the underappreciated This Boy’s Life, and longtime collaborator Martin Scorsese, who directed him in Gangs Of New York, The Aviator, Shutter Island, The Wolf Of Wall Street & The Departed, while also making a public plea for powerful people to finally do something about global warming. When talking about indigenous people, it’s a shame he didn’t mention the long illegally occupied Palestinians. But he’s for Apartheid Israel so they were ignored, as usual.
Last year’s Best Director winner Alejandro G. Inarritu won again for helming The Revenant while lensman Emmanuel Lubezki made history becoming the first Best Cinematography winner to snatch the gong three consecutive years. He won last year for Birdman and in 2014, he received his first Oscar for Gravity.
Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth and best reviewed chapter in the recently revived franchise (which laid dormant for 30 years), took home six trinkets, the most of any nominated film, all in technical categories: Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Make-Up & Hairstyling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. It was the Star Wars of this year’s Oscars.
Speaking of The Force Awakens, as expected, like The Martian, Carol and Brooklyn, it was completely shut out. Nominated composer John Williams, however, got a couple of shout-outs from C3P0 and Best Original Score winner, the legendary Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight), despite having a hilariously bad seating arrangement. Having 5 golden gongs for creating some of the greatest movie music ever doesn’t mean anything, apparently. Even the bear from The Revenant got to sit in the balcony. (A killer sight gag, by the way. He seems much nicer than his on-screen character.)
Best Supporting Actress went to the lovely Swedish-born performer Alicia Vikander from The Danish Girl while Best Actress was awarded to the glammed up Brie Larson for her acclaimed work in Room. Larson thanked the Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals for giving the film an early boost before its theatrical run. (It’s out on DVD & Blu-ray this coming Tuesday as is the aforementioned Creed.) (UPDATE: The Danish Girl is out on home video Tuesday, as well.)
Besides Mark Rylance’s remarkable upset for Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture did not go to The Revenant as anticipated but to Spotlight, the highly regarded drama about the Boston Globe investigative team that helped expose some of the darkest secrets of the Catholic Church. Spotlight also won for Best Original Screenplay. The film ended up winning the first and last awards of the evening.
Far more predictable were the winners of Best Documentary Feature, Best Animated Feature and Best Foreign Language Film. Amy, about the troubled Amy Winehouse, Inside Out, the hugely popular Pixar film, and the Hungarian Holocaust drama Son Of Saul won those categories, respectively.
Other big winners included The Big Short which won Best Adapted Screenplay and a slimmed down, bearded Sam Smith (Chris Rock humourously mistook him for George Michael) whose forgettable James Bond theme, Writing’s On The Wall from Spectre, stole the glory away from Lada Gaga’s Til It Happens To You, the theme she co-wrote with the highly decorated Diane Warren from the anti-campus rape culture documentary The Hunting Ground. Gaga’s passionate but overwrought performance, which received a standing ovation and movingly featured a number of male & female survivors on stage with handwritten messages on their arms, was introduced by Vice President Joe Biden who also got an undeserved standing ovation, an ironic choice considering his reputation for being overly handsy with women. He got in a plug for the It’s On Us campaign launched by the White House last year.
As for host Chris Rock, much to my surprise, he was much sharper and funnier this year than his previous hosting gig back in 2005. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy proved to be, for the most part, a comedy goldmine for him as he took some very funny shots at a good-natured Kevin Hart (I was surprised he didn’t get him back), interviewed black filmgoers in a comically effective pre-taped spot, had mostly funny presenter intros, a great running gag involving a Suge Knight imposter in the balcony and threw to a Black History Month segment with Angela Bassett pulling an amusing swerve on the boycotting Will Smith. Not every joke in his monologue hit the mark but most of them did. I particularly enjoyed the Girl Scout Cookies segment which revealed that Hollywood stars are always too hungry at the Oscars and carry around way too much cash. Rock’s berating of DiCaprio and his kiss-off to Harvey Weinstein, in particular, were stand-out laugh out loud moments.
The best musical performance did not come from any of the overly orchestrated & ultimately underwhelming Best Original Songs, which only featured the overrated big-name nominees anyway, but from Dave Grohl whose low-key acoustic rendition of The Beatles’ Blackbird, a sly choice (Paul McCartney wrote it as a tribute to the black civil rights movement in the late 60s), nicely accompanied the traditional In Memoriam segment which began with Wes Craven and ended with Leonard Nimoy. For once, the audience didn’t applaud until the very end. Even cheekier was the song that played over the closing credits. It was Public Enemy’s Fight The Power from Do The Right Thing.
The complete list of winners:
BEST PICTURE – SPOTLIGHT
BEST DIRECTOR – Alejandro G. Inarritu (THE REVENANT)
BEST ACTOR – Leonardo DiCaprio (THE REVENANT)
BEST ACTRESS – Brie Larson (ROOM)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Alicia Vikander (THE DANISH GIRL)
BEST SUPPPORTING ACTOR – Mark Rylance (BRIDGE OF SPIES)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – SPOTLIGHT
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – THE BIG SHORT
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – INSIDE OUT
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – AMY
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – SON OF SAUL
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Writing’s On The Wall (SPECTRE)
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – Ennio Morricone (THE HATEFUL EIGHT)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST FILM EDITING – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST SOUND EDITING – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST SOUND MIXING – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – EX MACHINA
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – THE REVENANT
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT – A GIRL IN THE RIVER: THE PRICE OF FORGIVENESS
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – BEAR STORY
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – STUTTERER
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, Feburary 29, 2016