The most coveted cinematic awards, the Oscars, were presented at the 88th Academy Awards Ceremony last night, 28th February 2016. Here are some of our favourite categories, who the winners were and who we thought should have won.
Best Picture: Winner- SPOTLIGHT
Nominations Included: The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight.
We had two favourites for this category. Our main contenders for the award were Spotlight and Room. We liked the idea of Room taking Best Picture as it’s clearly the underdog in the category, at least financially, with a meagre budget of $6 million, as opposed to Brooklyn’s $10 million, Spotlight’s $20 million, The Big Short’s $28 million, Bridge of Spies’ $40 million, The Martian’s $108 million, The Revenant’s $135 million and Mad Max:Fury Road’s whopping $150 million usd budget. It’s satisfying and promising when we see lower budget films holding their own at this and other awards ceremony’s against the more commercial, high production value and CGI drenched blockbusters such as Mad Max:Fury Road.
As we outlined in our review of Spotlight the other month, it’s most definitely one of our favourite pictures of 2015/16. At the heart of it, we have a intriguing, terrifying and well written story which is then delivered through honest and gritty acting. The pacing of the film keeps the viewer gripped and engaged throughout as we are made to feel an integral part of the Spotlight investigative team.
Out of the list of nominees, Spotlight and Room have been the films we’ve been recommending to friends, family and colleagues above the others.
Actress in a Leading Role: Winner- Brie Larson in Room
Nominations Included: Cate Blanchett in Carol, Brie Larson in Room, Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years and Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn.
What a tough list of nominees to select a favourite from, but we feel a great decision was made with Brie Larson in Room! Innocent, raw and beautifully acted, Room relies on the performances of two main characters, ‘Ma’ (Brie Larson) and her son, 5 year old Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who deliver captivating performances which reinforce an entirely beautiful and heartbreaking bond between parent and child. Their on screen chemistry and delivery of the cleverly written dialogue truly immerse the viewer into the world within Room and their touching bond.
Another strong performance came from Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn. Ever since we saw a preview screening of Brooklyn at the London Film Festival last year, we were keen for it to do well at the Oscars and so were over the moon to see Saoirse Ronan nominated for her performance and the film up for Best Picture. It’s rare that we see a film rely on one strong female lead to carry the story, especially where the character is displayed as human, multi-dimensional and realistically flawed. It was refreshing to see a more well rounded characterisation of a woman displayed, meaning the audience don’t condemn her very human actions, but rather appreciate the subtle and more realistic representation of a 20th century woman and the social pressures she faces throughout the film.
Nominations Included: Bryan Cranston in Trumbo, Matt Damon in The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant, Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs and Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl
Despite the fact that most of the nominees deserved to be included for their performances as a leading actor, we felt as if Leonardo DiCaprio particularly shone in The Revenant. It’s about time his incredible acting prowess was recognised and it seems ludicrous to us that he was not granted the accolade sooner (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Catch Me If You Can and Inception are just a handful of films which prove the actor’s worth).
His dedication to creating a credible character in The Revenant went above and beyond where most actors would draw the line and the result meant that audiences were provided with a gut-wrenching portrayal of a man who has lost everything and who will never give up on seeking retribution for the crimes committed against him.
Costume Designer Jenny Bevan on the set of Mad Max: Fury Road
Nominations Included: Carol, Cinderella, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant.
Overall we agree with the award’s allocation, although part of us would have loved to have seen Sandy Powell’s costume design in Cinderella take the prize, simply for the beautiful manner in which she dressed the live action versions of the animated fairytale characters we’ve grown to love over the years. Undoubtedly there’s something special about the magical blue ball gown Cinderella wore in the film. But alas, the pristine, fairytale tulle was torn apart at the awards ceremony to make way for the the oil stained, sand parched, leather buckled, blood soaked, sweat stained and diesel drenched costumes of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Making up one of the six Oscars that Mad Max: Fury Road won on the night, we feel Jenny Beavan’s costume design is well deserving of the award. Charged with dressing the inhabitants of a future dystopia desert wasteland where gasoline and water are scarce commodities, Beavan and her team expertly convey characteristics and the human commodity value, of a number of tribes, wives warlords and gangs through their dress and adornments.
Writing (Original Screenplay): Winner: Spotlight
Nominations Included: Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton
We are pleased to see Spotlight take the award for this category. Not only was the film well written as a story and engaging and entertaining to the viewer, but it also helped to raise awareness about important taboo issues such as paedophilia and child abuse within institutions. By dealing with these sensitive topics though the medium of a ‘fictional’ film (based on a true story) these issues are made much more palatable to a mass market who might not otherwise choose to look into factual avenues regarding such topics. Seeing actors going through difficult times and dealing with issues, can indeed give strength to viewers who might have first hand or personal experiences with the topics touched upon, to come forward and seek support and help.
However, we also thought Ex-Machina was equally-deserving and would have been just as happy to see Alex Garland recognised for his incredibly imaginative, well-crafted and near-perfect screenplay.
Here’s a link to a PDF of the Screenplay http://openroadfilms.com/awards/pdf/Spotlight-Final-Script.pdf
For more on the Oscars including the winners of the other categories please visit http://oscar.go.com
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Happy Movie Going!