Oscar Picks and Predictions

It’s an interesting year. Only one film is a true, ground-breaking masterpiece, but all of the films in the mix are good – very good. Common wisdom seems to suggest that the one that I found least brilliant is going to triumph on the night in the top two categories, but by my reckoning, the best film of the year is going to take home six Oscars – no mean feat for a bonkers action movie that is the third sequel to a crazy little unregulated Ozploitation flick from the late 70s.

Listen to the Podcast version of this stuff here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/movieland/id668507582?mt=2

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: World of Tomorrow

SOUND EDITING

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

ORIGINAL SONG

SHOULD WIN: ‘Earned It’ – Fifty Shades of Grey

‘Manta Ray’ – Racing Extinction

‘Simple Song No. 3’ – Youth

WILL WIN: ‘Till it Happens to You’ – The Hunting Ground

‘Writing’s on the Wall’ – Spectre

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Burwell’s score for Carol is perfect. But Morricone is old, the maestro of western scores, and only has an “honorary” Oscar.

Thomas Newman – Bridge of Spies

SHOULD WIN: Carter Burwell – Carol

WILL WIN: Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight

Johann Johannsson – Sicario

John Williams – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

VISUAL EFFECTS

This will be where Star Wars gets one – or will Mad Max: Fury Road get this too?

Ex Machina

SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

WILL WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

COSTUME DESIGN

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

FILM EDITING

If The Big Short wins here, then the whole night may go a different way. But until that happens:

The Big Short

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: The Revenant

Sicario

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

The best category of the night. All deserve the award. What a year for adaptations!

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay – The Big Short

Nick Hornby – Brooklyn

Phyllis Nagy – Carol

Drew Goddard – The Martian

Emma Donoghue – Room

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

It would be deeply embarrassing if the academy voters tried to “give one to black artists” in this year of The Diversity Oscars, only to see the white authors of Straight Outta Compton ascend the stage. Awkward!

Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies

Alex Garland – Ex Machina

Pete Doctor, Meg LeFauce, and Josh Cooley – Inside Out

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff – Straight Outta Compton

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Alicia Vikanda plays a leading role in The Danish Girl and should have been nominated in the Lead Actress category – or at least submitted for it. She should not win a supporting Oscar, but she will.

SHOULD WIN: Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara – Carol

Rachel McAdams – Spotlight

WILL WIN: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Again, there were better supporting performances this year – including John Cusack, for example, in Love and Mercy. Tom Hardy would deserve it, but Sly will get it.

Christian Bale – The Big Short

SHOULD WIN: Tom Hardy – The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight

Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

WILL WIN: Sylvester Stallone – Creed

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Really, the Best Actor of 2015 was Paul Dano in Love and Mercy, and he’s not nominated. Fassbender is the best of a very misguided, incomplete list. But it’s “Leo’s year,” right?

Bryan Cranston – Trumbo

Matt Damon – The Martian

WILL WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

SHOULD WIN: Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Saoirse Ronan made Brooklyn work in an old-fashioned star vehicle but Brie Larson made you believe she was the mother of that kid – plus everything else.

Cate Blanchett – Carol

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Brie Larson – Room

Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Amy

Cartel Land

The Look Of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight For Freedom

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

SHOULD WIN: Anamolisa 

Boy and the World

WILL WIN: Inside Out

Shaun The Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Colombia – Embrace of the Serpent

France – Mustang

SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Hungary – Son of Saul

Jordan – Theeb

Denmar – A War

DIRECTING

Up until the Director’s Guild Awards, I thought George Miller was going to win here. Now I think the DGA winner will, giving him two in a row (he won this category last year for Birdman).

Adam McKay – The Big Short

SHOULD WIN: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

WILL WIN: Alejandro González Iñárritu – The Revenant

Lenny Abramson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

BEST FILM

My opinions here have been previously expressed and haven’t changed. The Revenant is gorgeous, but Mad Max: Fury Road is a game-changing cinematic masterpiece.

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

WILL WIN: The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Enjoy the Oscars folks!

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-Banner-Charlize-Theron-Tom-Hardy ***** (out of five)

It was only about six or seven minutes into Mad Max: Fury Road that I knew that I’d be seeing it again in a matter of days. It was a couple of minutes after that when I realised that this film was going to look freaking spectacular in 3-D (I was watching it traditionally). I was already getting excited for my second viewing not ten minutes into my first. Fury Road is everything you want from a Mad Max film. It’s got the action, the cars and the characters; more importantly, in allegiance with the first three films – and especially The Road Warrior, the classic of the series – it’s got the weird vernacular, the Australian-ness, and the complete commitment to its own unique and totally insane universe. It may have cost a studio hundreds of millions of dollars, but it still feels home-grown, hand-made, and completely deviant.

George Miller, supposedly directing not from a script but from 3,500 storyboards he has created over the last decades with Brendan McCarthy (2000 AD), Mark Sexton and Peter Pound, has delivered one of the most kinetic, energetic, vibrant and thrilling action movies ever made. Like Gravity of a couple of years ago, and Avatar before that, Fury Road is a game changer, one of those films that has your jaw on the floor and your head spinning as you wonder just how in the world this thing possibly got made.

Don’t listen to the already often repeated cliché that it’s a two hour car chase. Like any good movie, Fury Road has its ebbs and flows, a three act structure, and a storyline to be excited by and characters to care about. There is emotion, there are gargantuan stakes, and a very moving emotional connection is made between Max (Tom Hardy) and Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron).

The plot is simple but elegant. Alone in the wasteland, Max is kidnapped and brought to the Citadel run by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played The Toecutter in the original Mad Max). Joe’s lead driver Furiosa is about to head off and make a fuel run. In these opening moments of the film we see a fully realised world that could only have been created by George Miller (and must have been driving him mad for the many years it took him to get them from his brain onto our screens). Every simple cutaway shot, every prop, every strange growl and weird squeak reveals a richly textured and highly specific cinematic universe.

Furiosa is meant to travel to Gas Town, but she has other plans. She’s stolen something very valuable to Joe and he’s pissed. A massive chase party is established and Max is used within it in a particularly ghoulish way. The stage is set, the chase is on, and 200 unique, incredible, mind-boggling vehicles careen across the desert.

The stunt work is astonishing: mind-blowing, game-changing, unbelievable. But there is so much more to the film. The depth of connection able to be achieved between the characters in the midst of all this mayhem is beautiful – as is the look of the film (the spectacular cinematography is by John Seale, who will be getting an Oscar nomination, mark my words). It has been graded (colour corrected) phenomenally; the reds of the desert and the blues of the sky; the cast of Charlize Theron’s face; the blacks and greys of the vehicles and the bad guys – it’s a little richer and more vibrant than real life; it’s a comic book, a fantasy. It looks brilliant.

Hardy’s Max is perfect. For the first half he’s not very proactive, but in the second he gets to make choices, offer solutions and figure himself out a little bit – and it works. His relationship with Theron’s Furiosa is not just surprising but touching. They’re two lost souls uniting in a form of heroism. Don’t worry – there’s nothing mushy; it’s much more Mad Max than that. Miller doesn’t do mushy, but he respects his characters and gives them hearts and souls, damaged as they may be.

Theron is fierce as you might expect, but also vulnerable and multi-faceted. Furiosa has an agenda and it’s all about women. The last act of the film gives us a panoply of older female characters with weapons, and using them. It’s fun, it’s kinda feminist, and it’s far more moving than any of the trailers could’ve possibly led you to guess.

Miller is up there with Kubrick, Spielberg, Cameron and Jackson as one of the great conceptualists working on the largest possible scale. This film is the work of a singular balls-to-the-wall visionary. About two thirds of the way through I thought, gosh, if Miller happened to pass away at any time during this film’s production process (he was 70 during principal photography) there is no-one who could’ve finished it – at least not like this. Essentially the script is his brain. He has claimed that there are two more ready to go. Let’s get rolling, people!

For dedicated adherents to the Book of Max, this film falls firmly into the canon. Tom Hardy is playing Max – not his son, not someone else called Max – and this film definitely takes place after the first three. It’s a continuation of  that universe, absolutely. There are many shout outs / Easter eggs / references / sly winks at the first three films – in fact so many that I could watch it a third time just to check up on all of those.

You know what? I will. Of its type this film is bloody perfect, and I’ll be seeing a lot of it.