The Best & The Worst Of Oscars 2016 By A Brutally Honest Oscar Watcher.

February 25, 2016  |  Awards, Outcast Opinions
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The 2016 Oscar season has showcased the very best and the very worst of the grotesquely entertaining awards event. Like a horrendous car accident that you don’t want to look at, but you slow down anyway because you can’t help yourself not to, the Oscars are an expensive, bloody mess that every film fan talks about. The ballot boxes are closed, and we’re three days away from the show, so I want to share my 2c. on why I think this season went from being one of the most exciting in years, to one of the most insufferable, before it’s too late. I’ll end with my personal should/will win predictions (or you can just skip to that directly).

For the longest time, this Oscar season has managed to be something it hasn’t been in years: totally unpredictable. From “Carol” to “Spotlight,” “The Big Short” to “The Revenant,” predictions were flying left right and centre during a time when the Best Picture winner is usually a foregone conclusion. It seemed like every time a major guild or awards-body announced a winner, everyone got whiplash. “The Revenant” won big at the Globes, taking Best Drama and Best Director. “The Martian” beat “The Big Short” for Best Comedy (which is literally funny), but then the big shock when “The Big Short” went on to win the coveted PGA, beating out “The Revenant.” “Spotlight” won best ensemble at the SAGs, then “The Revenant” roared back to clinch the BAFTA. Now, with 3 days to go, the race for Best Picture is between “The Revenant” and “The Big Short,” with a snowball’s chance for “Spotlight.” Most will predict “The Revenant” based on its current momentum, but no one will be surprised if it’s “The Big Short” or there might be a few gasps (and plenty of cheer) if it’s “Spotlight.” That’s as unpredictable as the Oscars have gotten in a long time for Best Picture.

 

Mad Max Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road,” the best film out of all the nominees by a wide margin, never stood a chance to win Best Picture, but many held out hope for its director, George Miller. The Aussie embarrassed every comic book film by making the greatest, most multi-layered and creative, action film in forever. All he’s gotten so far is a slew of nominations and a nice chunk of critic awards, but you know what? It doesn’t even matter. You know why? Because not a single speck of sand in “Mad Max: Fury Road” was designed or intended to be part of an “awards movie,” but now its crew can walk on Sunday’s red carpet with a total of 10 shiny and chrome nominations, including Best Director and Best Picture. The love shown to this masterful film is one of the greatest and wonderfully unlikely narratives of the season. And Miller is still a dark horse!

 

rampling-45-yearsThen there’s Charlotte Rampling. Legendary 70-year-old Brit who can either calcify molten steel or melt icicles with one glare and has never been nominated before. She’ll be attending the ceremony as a Best Actress nominee for what is the second best film with any nominations. “45 Years” is such an immense, raw, fantastically simple and ridiculously profound film, and Rampling’s central performance is hauntingly riveting. She’ll be losing to young Brie Larson on Sunday (just like young Jennifer Lawrence snatched the Oscar away from legendary Emmanuelle Riva a few years back). But ok, fine. Only blind people can rightfully take something away from Larson’s excellent portrayal of Ma in “Room,” all the more powerful because she had to work with a migraine-inducing screenplay that rusts with engineered sentimentality and generic direction. It’s one of two most predictable categories this year, but it’s not undeserving, so I’m happy for Rampling like I’m giddy for ‘Fury Road;’ at least she was recognized.

 

oscars-2016-diversityBut then, everything changed once the nominations were announced. It took all of two minutes for Film Twitter to bandy together behind a hashtag, and discuss how terrible it is that every actor nominated is white. Talking about #OscarsSoWhite all of a sudden became more important than discussing any film, performance, nomination, snub, or prediction. Nevermind that the only two non-white performances with any real shot at a nomination were Idris Elba‘s supporting turn in “Beasts Of No Nation” and Michael B. Jordan‘s lead performance in “Creed” (sorry Will Smith, but you never had a legit shot and you know it). Had they gotten in, it would’ve been 2 to 18 for the caucasians in the diversity pool and Spike Lee would’ve still gone on Instagram with his blunt conclusions. But with the 0 to 20 ratio, for a second year in a row, it just looks so much worse. I am of the unpopular opinion that Elba is too hammy and unintentionally comical in ‘Beasts’ and Jordan is excellent, but not award-worthy, in “Creed.” But the point is that fundamentally worse performances by white people were nominated in the past, so the outrage is understandable. Especially as it comes right after 2015, where all the acting nominees were also white.

 

Rock Oscars

The reason why Oscars 2016 season became insufferable for me, after the nominations were announced, is because of how quickly the conversation turned away from the movies and the performances. I understand why it happened, I just hate how it happened. And I hate that it’s been dominating conversations ever since. Everything that still had any artistic value with Oscars has been twisted into a footnote to a primary source for some future Socialism 101 classroom. So much dust has been raised that the Academy, breaking under pressure, quickly announced a changing of the guard only to realize it went against its own rules. This egalitarian idea that minorities need to be represented in these awards has taken such a big spotlight, it’s dwarfed everything else. Basically, due to a combination of obvious diversity issues in Hollywood and too many people talking about it, the Oscars went from being a guilty pleasure to just being guilty, from film politics to full-fledged socialist grandstanding with little-to-no room for the actual movies themselves.

 

I’m far from being an expert on these matters, but what makes sense to me is what the many, many insiders (Oscar winners, most of them) have already said: the real problem of diversity lies with the Hollywood studio system, not the Oscars. The Oscars, with their very precise voting system and their old-school membership rules, are getting spat on for, essentially, doing the only thing they can do: reflect the industry. These awards are not a mirror for the quality of the art, they’re a mirror for the quality of the business. But at least there used to be more room to talk movies. I blame the industry for its inherently prejudiced system, and I blame the Academy for not changing its traditionalist rules a long time ago, but the people who keep talking about diversity issues and nothing else are not entirely blameless either. Mostly because a lot of them don’t seem to know what they’re really talking about and are just jumping on the circling bandwagon.

 

No knife will be able to cut through the tense feeling of guilt on Sunday night. Due to the unfortunate turn-of-events, too many people started talking about race while forgetting the Oscar race, and the whole thing just left a permanent stain on this Oscar season.

 

Ahem. With that said, my should/will win predictions are on the next page. Let’s hope Sunday night is filled with some genuine, guilt-free, laughs and most of all, let’s hope for some surprises in what was (until very recently) a very unpredictable Oscar race!

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