Oscar Watch 2016: What has been seen

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A recap of what has already been seen

Hello and welcome to the first entry in my ramp up to Oscars 2016! I had previously listed the Nominees, and now we shall dig into it!

Before we dive into the new films I am watching , lets review what I’ve already seen.

Mad Max: Fury Road

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This is a big one for me, my #2 film of the year. Not only is it the best action film of the year, it is the best in decades. It is a masterpiece in every sense of the word. George Miller has crafted a cinematic “symphony” for us, the work of a true master. It has several nominations, many of technical nature, but 10 in total:

  • Motion Picture: This was a very good decision. I don’t think it has a snowball’s chance in Brazil of winning, but it deserved to be in the conversation.
  • Director: There are some extremely good directors listed this year, but Miller has a shot. I think Iñárritu will walk away with it, but Miller might be the surprise of the night.
  • Cinematography: Another very tough category. John Seale performed magic in this film. Deakins is an academy darling, and Lubezki might win in a Revenant sweep, but Max has a shot.
  • Costume Design: The Academy tends to give this to “pretty” films, especially period pieces. Cinderella might win, but The Danish Girl, and it’s strong emphasis on fashion has this one locked.
  • Film Editing: I think Mad Max has a legitimate claim to this one, if it loses everything else. Editing is a HUGE part of action cinema. One bad cut can ruin a scene, and this film was flawless.
  • Makeup and Hairstyling: I can’t make a call on this just yet. Mad Max had some excellent work on the mutants of the wasteland, but I’ve not yet seen The Revenant, and have never even heard of “The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared”. Yes, I had to google that.
  • Production Design: I’ve seen a few of these, and I am pretty cool with crowning Fury Road. This film created a completely new world, which has spawned a whole slew of fan art.
  • Sound Editing:
  • Sound Mixing: Fury Road excels in it’s sound work, but I have this sneaking suspicion that Either Star Wars or The Revenant will take it.
  • Visual Effects: This could go anywhere. All the nominees had some incredible effects. Mad Max used it to great effect, but Star Wars will likely win.

The Martian

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Matt Damon’s best film to date, and that is saying something. While not the best Ridley Scott has made, this was definitely one of the best hard science films of all time. 7 Nominations:

  • Motion Picture: I don’t think it has a chance. Too much competition, superior competition.
  • Best Actor: He has a shot, a slim shot, but I cannot discount him. He carries the film, but so did DiCaprio. Redmayne (more on that to come), has a strong chance of repeating.
  • Adapted Screenplay: This being the first BIG self published eBooks to make it the transition to film. This might walk away with the prize.
  • Production Design: This movie re-created MARS. It was beleivable. That puts it in the conversation with Mad Max.
  • Sound Editing:
  • Sound Mixing: Excellent sound work. The storms of Mars, the blending of so many pieces to create the fantastic story presented is worthy of a nomination, but I don’t think it will win.
  • Visual Effects: It is tough to argue with this nomination. As I stated before, THEY MADE MARS! I still back Star Wars for this one.

Trumbo

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A great look back at the Blacklist, but notable for only thing.

  • Best Actor: The entire film was a showcase for Bryan Cranston’s abilities. A worthy nomination, but barring a shocker, he won’t win for this one. In the future perhaps. The Bernie Sanders effect might help him.

Creed

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The second best Rocky film. It had some major buzz a few months back, and I think it will do well.

  • Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone returns for the 7th time as Rocky Balboa. He really is the structure upon which Michael B Jordan builds his Adonis Creed. He is also the designer of the original franchise, which Director Ryan Coogler builds this amazing movie. I think he’s going to win.

The Hateful Eight

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Not Tarantino’s best, but even a minor Tarantino epic rivals 95% of the films released any given year. It managed to snag 3 nominations, has one locked down, but there is a glaring omission. Samuel L Jackson gave us his BEST work in this one. He should have gotten an acting acknowledgement.

  • Supporting Actress: Jennifer Jason Leigh is not going to win. That disappoints me. She just about stole the film in a movie where every actor is stealing it, one scene at a time. By the end of the film she was enthralling.
  • Cinematography: 70MM Roadshow. It might win just for this. The Academy loves film, not just as in “A movie”, but as in classic film format. The competition might win out, but I give props for the attempt, and the experience of seeing FILM again.
  • Music: Ennio Morricone writes music for Tarantino. Original Music. His first Western in 40 years. He is winning.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Ok, this wins every category…if I ruled the world. I think this is an amazing film. The acting was great (especially for a Star Wars film), the effects work was superb, and it is honestly my favorite film of 2015. I’ve seen it 7 times with my final theatrical viewing scheduled for tomorrow. I think I can be impartial though. As I’ve given so much attention to TFA, I will keep it short.

  • Film Editing: Not gonna win.
  • Music: I love you Johnny, but Morricone is gonna win.
  • Sound Editing: Nope, but a shout out to Matthew Wood. Met him several times. Good guy.
  • Sound Mixing: Nope.
  • Visual Effects: Maybe. Star Wars is the gold standard for special effects and this might win for the quality of it’s digital work, and the seamless integration, and resurrection, of practical work. Puppets!

Spectre

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Bond movies are better than most movies. Even the weak ones. This is weak Bond. They tried to shoehorn classic 007 elements but did so poorly. The only silver lining is that in their ham-fisted attempt to bring back Spectre, the gave us Christoph Waltz as Blofeld. Amazingly, they went the Austin Powers route and made them brothers. Ugh. Anyway, on to the nomination.

  • Original Song: “Writing’s on the wall” by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith. Easily the worst Bond theme. Sadly forgettable. Maybe it’s estimation will rise in time, but I don’t see this taking an Oscar.

That is it! This recaps everything I’ve seen up to this point (1/21/16), save The Danish Girl and Steve Jobs. More on them next time!

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