Last night, the 88th Academy Awards were held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, hosted by black comedian Chris Rock (a fact notable for the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that had been building ever since the all-white nominees were announced).
Below are this year’s winners of the main categories, with brief commentary on each:
- Bridge of Spies
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Spotlight WINNER
- The Big Short
- The Martian
- The Revenant
Thoughts? The true life drama of the Boston Globe’s investigation into child sex abuse at the Catholic church won through with Spotlight, perhaps because Academy voters always have a soft spot for weighty, important stories that actually happened.
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
- Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
- Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
- Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant WINNER
- Matt Damon – The Martian
- Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Thoughts? It was Leo’s year. Like it or not, it’s not always about who gives the best performance of the five nominations. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of who the Academy want in their club, because they’ve come so close, so many times before. Just ask Colin Firth, Matthew McConaughey, or Jeff Bridges. DiCaprio deserved his statuette more for Wolf of Wall Street, but here it comes 22 years after his first nomination for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. To be fair, considering the physical hell he went through on The Revenant shoot, it does feel more deserving of praise than the other nominees. Although maybe they should create a Best Endurance category?
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
- Christian Bale – The Big Short
- Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
- Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies WINNER
- Sylvester Stallone – Creed
- Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Thoughts? There was a lot of buzz about Sly walking away with the Oscar, because it would have made a fantastic Oscar-story, given how he first won back in 1976 for the first Rocky film. It might have been just the kick his career needed to ease him into his twilight years, as performing in action films becomes less and less viable. Unfortunately for Stallone, the Academy couldn’t deny the simple fact Mark Rylance is a far better actor, which is fine by me. The hugely respected theatre star has set his sights on film now, so he’ll be sweeping up awards for years to come.
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
- Brie Larson – Room WINNER
- Cate Blanchett – Carol
- Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
- Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
- Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Thoughts? There had been no buzz about anyone else (although some people had started to suspect Charlotte Rampling could sneak this one), so the path was mostly clear for Brie Larson to ascend to Hollywood royalty. The days of her playing bit parts in low-budget indies are well and truly over, thank God. Our own Francesco Cerniglia will be pleased.
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
- Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl WINNER
- Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
- Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
- Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
- Rooney Mara – Carol
Thoughts? A great choice. Many people had noticed how her ‘supporting role’ in The Danish Girl was more fairly described as a co-starring one, and Vikander’s now made it in Hollywood after a phenomenal breakthrough year with Ex Machina and, ahem, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. But hey, maybe the latter can sell a few extra DVDs by slapping an Oscar sticker on the front cover.
ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
- O Menino e o Mundo / Boy & The World
- Inside Out WINNER
- Shaun the Sheep Movie
- When Marnie Was There
Thoughts? There was never any doubt, was there? Inside Out is a glorious cross-generational film. That said, having realised just how much of a gargantuan challenge it was for the small team behind Anomalisa to get their stop-motion film made, without the money and manpower of Pixar, a part of me wishes they’d pulled off a big shock.
- Edward Lachman – Carol
- John Seale – Mad Max: Fury Road
- Roger Deakins – Sicario
- Robert Richardson – The Hateful Eight
- Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant WINNER
Thoughts? All very worthy winners, but the sheer visual majesty of The Revenant won through. Emmanuel Lubezki should raise a glass to Mother Nature, his colleague on this one. This is also his third consecutive win after Gravity and Birdman.
- George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
- Lenny Abrahamson – Room
- Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
- Adam McKay – The Big Short
- Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant WINNER
Thoughts? It may seem counterintuitive, but Best Picture and Best Director often get split to spread the love. It’s a sign The Revenant perhaps came close to beating Spotlight to the top award, but it wasn’t tackling a Big Important Issue. Iñárritu cements himself as one of the Academy’s favourites after Birdman also landed him the Best Director Oscar last year; and the last person to do that was Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949-50.
WRITING (Adapted Screenplay)
- Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
- Phyllis Nagy – Carol
- Emma Donoghue – Room
- Charles Randolph & Adam McKay – The Big Short WINNER
- Drew Goddard – The Martian
Thoughts? A little unexpected, I thought. I had a feeling Brooklyn would take this.
WRITING (Original Screenplay)
- Matt Charman, Ethan Coen & Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies
- Peter Docter, Meg LaFauve & Josh Cooley (original story by Pete Docter & Ronnie del Carmen) – Inside Out
- Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy – Spotlight WINNER
- Alex Garland – Ex Machina
- Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff (story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus & Andrea Berloff) – Straight Outta Compton
Thoughts? A clear sign that Academy voters loved the story of Spotlight, which went towards it also winning Best Picture.
The full list of Academy Award winners for 2016 can be read here. Of particular note for me: the Academy were more impressed by Ex Machina’s ‘transparent robot’ effect than the multi-million dollar pizazz of Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Mad Max: Fury Road swept the technical awards (winning Make-Up & Hairstyling, Costume Design, Editing, Production Design, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing); legendary 87-year-old composer Ennio Morricone won for The Hateful Eight’s soundtrack (his first after six nominations); and even a weak song doesn’t matter if you’re affiliated with James Bond, as Sam Smith found out with Spectre’s dreary “The Writing’s on the Wall”.