The 88th Academy Awards were sparked by a little bit of controversy for weeks leading up to the big event. Really sparked by the video from Jada Pinkett Smith:
Where she essentially called for a boycott of the Oscars by Black actors and other celebrities, but one couldn’t help but wonder: is she doing this only because she felt that Will Smith got slighted? Or does she really believe there is a larger problem. The cynic in me thinks this is totally a reaction to Will Smith not getting a best actor nomination, but the realest in me thinks that there is some racial bias by the Academy. However, I want to make it clear that Will Smith was not slighted because he was black, he was slighted because he just wasn’t very good. Period.
So of course, with all of the controversy, Chris Rock had so much material put on a tee for him to just lay into. And he threw some punches, but he also held some back. Listen, the Academy and the Hollywood movie industry is going to survive a little bit of controversy, so I’m sorry Jada, there was no way Chris Rock was going to hurt his future career for your personal vendetta. He had some great lines, some not so great lines (i.e. Stacey Dash) but overall his monologue and other scattered jokes and skits really did well.
Once all of the awkwardness was out of the way, it was finally time to get to the good stuff: the actual awards. So here are some of the winners, thoughts and analysis:
The biggest winner of the night was Mad Max: Fury Road. To me, this was shocking, because very rarely to get a movie that isn’t an Oscar-grubbing drama winning all types of awards. Max won Film Editing, Costume Design, Makeup, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Production Design. This type of night, for a movie such as this brings me back to the Lord of the Rings years where they seemed to win a lot. However, despite their early success in the night, they came up short when it came time for the “big awards”. Some considered it a snub, and although they had a lot of nominations, they were not really the forerunner for the big ones.
Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
I think this one was pretty predicable, although The Revenant did not do as well throughout the night as many people predicted it might, they still went home with some big awards, and they were well deserved. The best actor in the movie, however, went home without winning and that was Tom Hardy.
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
I did not see this movie, it is not my cup of tea, but some could argue this film is the beginning of some serious barriers being broken down. An Oscar nominated film about gender identity and transformation that is set in the 1920s is somewhat revolutionary, and in today’s world where there seems to be a lot of social revolution, this movie is going to be the start of something. Vikander, from the clips I’ve seen looked to be phenomenal, cannot argue her winning.
Best Supporting Actress: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
This is on my list of films I want to see, and I think Rylance looks like he is excellent in the part, but this win came with some controversy. I thought Tom Hardy in the Revenant should have won this award, he was fantastic. A lot of people thought Sylvester Stallone in Creed was a shoe-in, and he was good in the movie, but he wasn’t Oscar-good. I saw Creed, it was entertaining, but overrated. Rylance obviously did something right to win this.
Best Actress: Brie Larson (Room)
Brie Larson was the heavy favorite for this category. Her performance in this movie was powerful. Since it mostly is only her and the little boy in the room for a large part of the film, she had to dominate the screen, and she did. I don’t think anyone could really argue she didn’t deserve to win, but as always, the nominees are all great so there’s really no bad winner. Larson has really come a long way since playing Molly in 21 Jump Street.
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
FINALLY! I’m sure that was on his and everyone else’s minds when Leo won for the first time in his illustrious career. I’ll be honest, as a big fan, this was not his best movie, not by a long shot. He was great don’t get me wrong, but he has had a lot of remarkable films. However, that’s not taking away from Leo finally winning that award that just seemed so far out of reach for the longest time. I think everyone in attendance was genuinely happy for him.
Best Picture: Spotlight
I’ll be honest, I haven’t seen this movie, and I have no interest in seeing it either. Here’s why: maybe it is just me, and I know the focus of the movie is on the journalism, but there is just something about watching a film for 2+ hours where the centerpiece is child abuse, rape and the cover-up that came with it. I don’t know why, I just cannot bring myself to watch it. From what I heard, Ruffalo and McAcams are outstanding, and it was based on a revolutionary discovery so for those reasons and some others, it was a well deserved award.
What a time to be alive!