Holy Oscar Fallout 2016!
By Lawrence Napoli
(Editor's note: the article was written live as the Oscars happened)
As the red carpet nonsense starts to simmer down, I’m thinking about a couple of things. First, is it beyond a foregone conclusion that Leo takes home his first Oscar? It does seem it would take an act of God to prevent this from occurring seeing how he has as much hype to win as any other “favored” star in the past. Second, what is Chris Rock going to do or say: Is he going to play it safe - corporate and PC - or is he going to set the show on fire? Third, what kind of surprises are we going to experience during the show (please let there be an appearance by Deadpool)? I hope the show producers do more than simply speed things along, but find an entertaining twist without using musical interludes as a crutch. Fourth, will there be more disdain for the rise of comic book/special effect driven adventure films, or will there be a deeper appreciation for the ones that really pull out all the stops? Blockbusters deliver the magical spectacle to audiences as well as any other heavy handed drama. I understand the argument for over-saturation, but purists should shut their mouths when it comes to scoffing at and mocking these films. There’s nothing wrong with bringing more attention to smaller, indie productions that have bare bones budgets and make their films as much about “the art” as possible, but make no mistake, The Academy Awards is a show that is much more about money and politics in Hollywood and studios that own winners have big pay days to cash in on. We’ll leave post show analysis to the end and hopefully we will be treated to a good one; on with the show.
[Side note: Holy crap! It’s Louis Gossett Jr. prior to the show! He had a great message regarding diversity that was short, sweet and poignant and probably going to be ignored by the majority of people on the planet.]
Opening Monologue by Chris Rock: All race; all the time. Major props go out to Chris for not shying away from the issue and going straight for the jugular and never letting it settle for the entire speech. He had a great observation regarding the racism of Hollywood as “Sorority Racism.” Sure we like you, but you’re not a Kappa. This is perhaps the most accurate description of Hollywood racism (and let’s be honest, Corporate racism) and you’ll probably be hearing this repeated on social media, but probably not the mainstream. He may have gone a bit far with that bit regarding the "In Memoriam" sequence of black people being shot on their way to the Oscars, though. Let’s just say that Ellen would have about zero percent chance at addressing the elephant in the room, but Chris Rock was pretty calm and collected the whole time, and he kept at it and didn’t give it a chance to dissipate.
Really Charlize, writers are the backbone of the industry? Two words: my ass (also written by a writer). If that were really true, they’d be getting paid much more and we’d be getting higher quality stories.
Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer are our first candidates to ignore the thank you scroll at the bottom of the screen who get played off stage cutting off their speeches.
Best Adapted Screenplay: (Good awkward comedy between Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling) The Big Short – Adam McKay and Charles Randolph also get played off stage by the orchestra. I predict that the Academy will attempt to damage control the lack of diversity among its nominees by putting corporate big money in as much bad light as possible. This means that The Big Short will probably win best picture.
Oh My. Chris Rock certainly has the racism angle playing strong with the “funny” media promos featuring black people that didn’t make the cut for The Martian, The Danish Girl and Joy with help from Whoopi Goldberg and Tracy Morgan.
Sarah Silverman making fun of James Bond. One word: Yikes!
Sam Smith performing "The Writing’s on the Wal"l theme from Spectre was nice, but certainly not an example of his best vocal work live or recorded. I felt he forced it a little bit as opposed to being smooth and legato.
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. Seeing her performance in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. didn’t exactly pave the way for her victory here. The effort she made in Ex Machina was certainly more telling. Ultimately, it was a great performance in a period piece for a British actress that brought home the gold for this relative newcomer. Well done Alicia. 2015 was an incredibly busy year for you.
Best Costume Design: Jenny Beavan for Mad Max: Fury Road. WOW! This was a legitimate surprise for me. Usually this award goes directly to one of the annual period pieces, but to go to an action film was pretty bold.
Best Production Design: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson for Mad Max: Fury Road.
The Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) present for best makeup. Appropriate.
Best Makeup: Vanderwalt, Wardega and Martin for Mad Max: Fury Road. They probably should have seated these folks a bit closer to the stage than the nosebleeds.
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki forThe Revenant. There was never any doubt. No film in 2015 did more with its framing than this. The cinematography made the harsh environment of this film as imposing a character as any other in this story.
Best Film Editing: Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road. The George Miller juggernaut continues to roll, and it’s only picking up steam. Thank you again orchestra for another awkward play off.
[Black History Month Presentation thanking Jack Black for his contributions was a tactical jab at Will Smith for his personal boycott of the Oscars. This being the second moment Chris Rock put the finger on the Smith household is more than likely going to start a Twitter war. The Smith's are likely to be righteously pissed come the morning.]
Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) and Captain America (Chris Evans) present Best Sound Editing: which goes to Mark Mangini and David White for Mad Max: Fury Road. Ah, cursing blotted out by the satellite delay. Well done sound editors! More love for George Miller!
Best Sound Mixing: Jenkins, Rudloff and Osmo for Mad Max: Fury Road. Thanks to Australians! I’m starting to get upset with the show’s director and orchestra for not giving the film production nerds a chance to say anything.
Best Visual Effects: Whitehurst, Norris, Adington and Bennett for Ex Machina. Hey, let’s give it up for a film not named Mad Max: Fury Road for winning something in a while. I don’t mind the extra kick to the groin The Force Awakens gets for its continued snubbing for the tech categories. Star Wars doesn’t need awards as cash is king in this business, and Episode 7 has plenty last I checked.
[C-3P0, R2-D2 and BB-8 make an appearance to give some love to John Williams. Sorry guys, you still haven’t won anything tonight.]
[Chris Rock fleecing his daughters to sell Girl Scout cookies continues the strange live interaction with the audience moment recent Oscar shows have adopted.]
Best Animated Short: Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala forBear Story. First Oscar for the country of Chile, well done folks!
Best Animated Feature Film: Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera for Inside Out. Once again, the winner for the Disney/Pixar category is another Disney/Pixar film. Yawn.
[Kevin Hart bringing more attention to Chris Rock’s agenda and even more cursing blotted out by the satellite delay.]
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies. Well, a Steven Spielberg film had to go home with something, even if it’s another period piece, even if it’s using another backdrop for war. No disrespect for Mr. Rylance, but this was a disappointment for me as I felt that either Christian Bale or Mark Ruffalo had this one in the bag. Oh well.
Best Documentary Short Film: Louis C.K. found a way to lighten up an otherwise dull presentation due to its heavy subject matter. I agree that this award can genuinely change the lives for the winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness.
Best Documentary Feature: Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees for Amy. Not a surprise here. Amy was critically acclaimed at every turn and in every film festival it was presented in. This was the equivalent of a Michael Moore documentary competing against the field.
A nice speech made by the president of the Academy regarding a more positive angle on the race issue in Hollywood, but despite the total combined political power in the entire auditorium, I feel this speech needs to be shared with the CEO’s and board of directors of every major studio and media conglomerate because they are the true gatekeepers.
In Memoriam was, once again, a classy remembrance of talented stars gone, but not forgotten.
Best Live Action Short Film: Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage for Stutterer.
Best Foreign Language Film: Lazlo Nemes for Son of Saul.
Best Original Score: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight. There was lots of love from Quincy Jones and much love for Tarantino and Harvey Weinstein in Ennio’s speech. Thank goodness they gave him time to have his short speech translated.
Best Original Song: Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith for Spectre – The Writing’s on the Wall. Well, if they gave one to Adele for doing a James Bond theme song they have to give one to Sam Smith for doing the same. Was anyone surprised here? Seriously, anyone?
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant. Why was J.J. presenting for this category when Alejandro won last year. Oh yeah, because he can’t present it to himself and as soon as I saw J.J., I knew, it was Alejandro’s time once again. Once again, an awful orchestral playoff to knock out his acceptance speech, but he stuck it through to finish strong despite the distraction. Stop doing it!
Best Actress: Brie Larson for Room. Another actress who had political momentum leading into this evening as well as strong showings in festivals took home the gold. She actually kept her acceptance speech very short and very sweet.
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant. Finally. It’s been a long time coming for the king of the world. Leo pulled out all the stops on this one because it was full of raw emotion despite the fact it wasn’t a very talky role. Pretty excellent as far as acceptance speeches go and whether or not you agree with his politics, you cannot argue with Leo’s sincerity.
Best Picture: Spotlight. Wow. Holy cow! No pun intended. In an evening of politics, the filmmakers here call out Pope Francis. It appears as though the Left has heard the Right in the news these past few months and a ton of crazy rhetoric has not gone un-countered. Hollywood drew its line in the sand regarding race, the environment, the church and the corporate conglomerate. I’m not so surprised that this film won more than the fact it won with very little build up individually prior to this evening. With Mad Max taking so many artistic and tech categories, it could have taken the grand prize. Leo and Alejandro’s wins for two major categories could have done the same. Everyone (other than the rich) hated Wall Street for the housing market disaster so there was a lot of talk for The Big Short. Still, congratulations to the victors, and we will soon see the various responses to what has occurred this evening.
In Conclusion: Another Academy Award show has come and gone and there was a solid mix of expected outcomes as well as surprises. Chris Rock took early command of the show and kept hammering at the race angle all evening long. Mad Max: Fury Road was more than a dark horse as the sheer number of categories it won had to have made it the second or third most important film of 2015. Leo can finally return to his magical mountain of mystical fairy virgins with his golden trophy. How about that big old goose egg for Star Wars? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Straight Outta Compton was woefully snubbed because it featured some damn fine acting by a cast of relative newcomers, and it was a very entertaining film overall.
I will say this in regards to diversity in Hollywood. Chris Rock made it very clear that more diversity means more roles, opportunities and recognition for black actors. Well, it really means more than that because the Oscars aren’t the BET awards that he invited everyone in the audience to attend next year. Yes, Hollywood IS “Sorority Racist,” but it needs equally strong recognition for Asians, Hispanics and far more cultures and ethnicities, too. As I said earlier in this overview, the studio heads need to lead on this issue. Unfortunately, IF the rumor is true regarding Hollywood coveting the Chinese market over all others, and IF the rumor is true that Chinese audiences don’t want to see black people in films they see, then no amount of socially responsible discussions and debates is going to amount to a hill of beans because white, yellow or black are colors that are irrelevant when compared to the color of green.