Last week, the nominations for the 86th annual Academy Awards were announced. There has been much criticism to the nominations, especially the four acting categories. With the second straight year of this controversy, the Academy has to be feeling the heat. However, we as movie enthusiast do not want African American actors, actresses, or directors to receive a nomination simply because they are African American. For me, I want the best performances to be recognized on the grandest stage of all. This year, there were notable snubs that were left out of the nominations because their work was superior to what received recognition. In this article, I will look at categories that hold some of these snubs and my opinions about who will/should win the award. I cannot look at every category because I have not seen every movie being recognized. For example, the category of Best Actress will not be discussed since I have not seen any of those movies. Besides the few omissions, here is my take on the 86th Academy Award nominations.
In this category, I have seen three of the five films that were nominated. The Revenant has not been working well with my schedule where I can go out and see it, but hopefully that will change soon. Meanwhile, Room was never released in theaters around me. Hopefully it will turn up since the theater near me is beginning to play Oscar nominated movies. Now to focus on the movies that I have seen. Firstly, there is a significant snub in this category. Ryan Coogler, director of Creed, deserves the nomination for his work. He created a masterpiece out of a franchise that trotting toward (if not already approached) irrelevance. It is difficult for me to choose who Coogler should replace in this category because I loved all of the movies (that I have seen) nominated. However, I would replace Adam McKay with Coogler because I believe Coogler had the more difficult task in continuing the Rocky franchise with Academy Award caliber quality. McKay was working with source material that had already been nominated once before (Michael Lewis books) versus Coogler rejuvenating a dead franchise. That is not to say McKay did not director a fantastic film in The Big Short, however, I believe that the task for Coogler mounted a bigger challenge.
Between Tom McCarthy (Spotlight) and George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), it is nearly impossible for me to decide a winner. I loved both movies tremendously. Both were directed beautiful, but in different ways. Miller is nominated for a film that no one would have predicted to receive any significant nomination while McCarthy had a movie that held great Oscar promise and delivered on that promise. Miller has the action flick that was a spectacle to watch while McCarthy had the gut check recent historic movie that is a clinic of amazing acting. I could make back-and-forth points for another ten sentences, but I do not want this post being overly long. In my opinion, Tom McCarthy should win the Oscar here. He handled a troubling moment in Boston history with perfect tone and pacing that displayed his cast at their finest. Miller deserves huge credit for his work as well. Fury Road was my favorite movie of last year, but McCarthy edges him here. Will McCarthy actually win? That depends on The Revenant honestly. While I have not seen the movie, from what I have heard it seems like Alejandro G. Iñárritu could be walking away with it.
I am clumping these two categories together since I have only seen a combined one movie between them. When I saw some of the nominations, I never heard of two of the movies nominated. Meanwhile, there were other movies that simply did not intrigue me enough to go see. Also, as usual, there were movies that simply did not come out in the local theater. For these two categories, I will declare snubs or a winner. Instead, I will simply implore intriguing absences from these nominations. Starting in the Best Actor categories, there are three men who I believe had to be in strong conversation to be nominated. These men are: Michael B. Jordan for Creed, Samuel L. Jackson for The Hateful Eight, and Michael Keaton for Spotlight. All of these performances were remarkable in their own respect. Jordan commanded a strong presence in his role as Adonis Creed, stealing the spotlight away from Rocky Balboa in his own franchise. That franchise has new life following a new character that is very compelling. Samuel L. Jackson has his best performance since Pulp Fiction. His monologue in the middle of the movie alone is deserving of an Academy Award. No one can compare to Jackson when it comes to speaking a Quinten Tarantino script. It was a return to a classic form for Jackson. Finally, Michael Keaton has been on a surge in the past couple of years. After a strong performance in Birdman, he follows it up with another incredible role in Spotlight. Playing the editor for the Spotlight team in the Boston Globe, Keaton demonstrates strong heart and leadership in his role. These three men were surprising exclusions from the Best Actor category. However, since I have not seen four of the five movies in this category (plus Matt Damon deserves his nomination), I cannot call them snubs.
Moving onto the Best Actress category, there were two women who had strong performances that might have been snubs. The first is Charlize Theron as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road. She stole the lead role in the movie from the titular character. Not only is her entire performance masterful, she has one of the most powerful scenes in cinema last calendar year. The performance (and the movie) transcend the genre to achieve remarkable feats. The other women who had an outstanding performance in 2015 is Alicia Vikander as Ava in Ex Machina. Another movie stealing role, Vikander dominates the attention of the audience. She plays a tricky role of combing numerous aspects of a character into one solid role. Her character not only has to act in the manner of an artificial intelligence, but also have childlike curiosity while using deception to achieve a greater goal. Both of these women had strong performances that could have been easily recognized by the Academy.
Best Supporting Actor/Actress
For completely different reasons, I am combining these two categories. The reason I am doing this for these two categories is because I have no additions to add (plus I have seen the majority of these movies). The Best Supporting Actor category might be the toughest category of all of the categories. Bale, Ruffalo, Rylance, and Stallone (sorry Hardy) all provided incredible performances in their movies. If I had to replace one man in this category, I would put Steve Carrol or Jason Mitchell in over Mark Rylance, but I have no problems with it. Other than that, there are no other actors who I can think of that deserve a nomination over any of these men. Who should win? I believe that Sylvester Stallone should win the Oscar this year. He truly filled the “supporting” aspect of the category perfectly as Rocky Balboa. Stallone brings a great performance while remaining in the background of the movie, allowing Michael B. Jordan to shine. The Balboa character does not steal any of the thunder that Adonis Creed creates in his movie. Will Stallone win? That is to be determined. I think that there is a strong chance that he will, but Christian Bale and Tom Hardy most likely are the strongest competition to him. Moving to the Best Supporting Actress category, Rachel McAdams should win this award. While Jennifer Jason Leigh has an incredible performance in The Hateful Eight, McAdams deserves the Academy Award for how fantastic she is in Spotlight. Again, the question is whether or not she will win. That remains to be seen, but I think she will.
Before discussing the Best Picture category, I will quickly run through the rest of the categories (that I have enough knowledge about):
Best Original Screenplay: I have seen all five of these movies. All of them were great in their own regard, however, I believe that Straight Outta Compton deserves the win here. This movie has been poorly recognized by the selection committee, which is a true shame.
Best Original Score: While there was the scores in the other films were good, nothing was more noticeable or powerful than the one by Ennio Morricone in The Hateful Eight.
Best Cinematography: Another strong category that is filled with beautiful shot movies. I believe that Mad Max: Fury Road will and deserves to win.
Best Visual Effects: This one is a three way race between Fury Road, Ex Machina, and The Force Awakens. I would have to give the edge to Fury Road.
I have seen the majority of the movies that are nominated in this category. Unfortunately, I have not seen one of the favorites to win this award (The Revenant). However, I believe the winner will come from a movie I have seen. While I would love for Mad Max: Fury Road to be the surprise winner, it is doubtful that it will happen. That movie simply is not what the Academy will select due to the nature of the film. It did receive ten nominations, which is promising, I cannot foresee Miller and Doug Mitchel walking away with the Oscar here. I believe that Spotlight or The Big Short will serve as the “upset” to The Revenant. Both of those movies are the type of movie that the Academy loves and they were brilliant. Both attacked recent events that effected the world in different scales. When I consider who will win, it is hard for me to decide. Who should win? I would say Mad Max because of all the things that it accomplished. “Who will win” is a completely different question. While it is tough to determine this, I believe that The Big Short will win. I would personally pick Spotlight over it, but I believe that The Big Short will emerge as the big winner.
Those are my Oscar opinions and predictions. What do you think? Am I on the right track or an ignoramus? Comment below with your own thoughts about this year’s Academy Award. If you have enjoyed what you have read here, check out my recent posts about the best movies of 2015. If you enjoy my writings, follow me on here at moviepilot.com/talkmoviestome. Also, follow me on Twitter @talkmoviestome. Thank you all for reading this. Something new will posted soon.