The Academy Awards are right around the corner, and the controversy on the awards have seemed to be going on forever. Everyone has been complaining about the lack of diversity and fun movies such as Star Wars not being nominated for Best Picture, Will Smith not being nominated for Best Actor, or Straight Outta Compton and Creed not having any nominations except for their white cast and crew members. Are the Academy voters too old and out of touch? Are the ratings this year going to drop like a squat?
While I can just complain about it in this article, I have decided to not just complain, but also create my own ballot for seven major nominees.
Best Animated Feature
While Disney/Pixar's Inside Out is an obvious choice and the one most likely to take home a small and fancy C3PO on Oscar night, there were two snubs in the category. Peanuts was a film that could have been a disaster. A 3D animated feature about the classic and flat Charles Shultz's characters sounded like a crazy idea. While the characters were never meant to be computer generated imagery, Blue Sky Studios pulled it off wonderfully with a simple and sweet story and young voice actors who were on point bringing beloved characters of our childhood to life.
Another snub from this category was Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet. Never heard of it? Honestly, neither did I until I was lucky enough to see Director, Roger Allers (The Lion King) and Salma Hayek, star and producer of the film, introduce this collaborative work of art. If you enjoy the traditional animation of Disney, poetry, and the peaceful, soothing voice of Liam Neeson, it is definitely worth a watch and worth a nomination.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Best Supporting Actor
This was one of the most difficult categories to construct. Stallone is a consensus choice, however he is the only one who made the cut here and received an Oscar nod. Samuel L. Jackson in The Hateful Eight is one of the most layered characters I have seen in years and he carries the film.
Jason Mitchell in Straight Outta Compton brought countless amounts of charisma and charm to Eazy-E, the bad boy of N.W.A. Bencio Del Toro shines in Sicario as a mysterious hit man who leaves the audience puzzled on what side he is on. And finally, Oscar Issac steals every scene in Ex Machina and acts circles around his co-star, Domhnall Gleeson, as the surprisingly funny, yet menacing genius inventor who can dance.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Best Supporting Actress
While this was a year of many talented actresses in supporting roles, I had to narrow it down to five. Jennifer Jason Leigh's performance as a monstrous female antagonist with a foul-mouth leaves us stunned in Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. Olivia Cooke wins everyones hearts as the kind-hearted, sweet dying girl in Me, Earl and the Dying Girl.
Tessa Thompson as the talented singer/ love interest in Creed does not only win the heart of underdog, Adonis Creed, but also the heart of the audience. While Alicia Vikander is nominated for her performance in The Danish Girl, it is truly her captivating performance as an artificial intelligence in Ex Machina that deserves an Oscar nod. Finally, Phyllis Smith brings a powerhouse, hysterical performance by lending her voice to Sadness in Inside Out.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
This list, being the most controversial, was extremely tough as well. Leonardo DiCaprio is a given for this nomination delivering a raw and authentic performance and leaving everything he has on the table. He made himself vomit for crying out loud! Just give him the gold!
As terrific as Leo is, let us not forget the other great performances by male leads this year, both black and white. Matt Damon gives us a performance that leaves us cheering and rooting for him the whole film. Idris Elba, who apparently almost died on set, is a revelation playing the intimidating and powerful Commandant in the hard-hitting African war drama, Beasts Of No Nation.
Despite the discrepancy, Michael Fassbender brings a performance capturing the firepower, wit and fierceness of the late Apple founder, Steve Jobs. Finally, Will Smith proves that his woman, Jada, is right for boycotting the Oscars. You keep forgetting that he is the fresh prince as he portrays the quirky, passionate genius, pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu in Concussion.
Woman kicked ass this year in film. Cate Blanchett is the coolest, calmest and most relaxed pimp I have ever seen and can pick up any chick or guy she wants. People, forget about Tinder and take notes while watching Carol. Emily Blunt delivers an extraordinary performance in the cruel picture, Sicario. Brie Larson gives a tense and astonishing performance in Room, a small film that feels epic in every sense of the word. Larson is sure to take home the award this Sunday.
In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Daisy Ridley does the impossible. After years without a new beloved character in the most celebrated franchise of all time, Daisy Ridley gives life, delight, and intensity to Rey, a character who will be loved and cherished for many years to come. And finally, Charlize Theron brings us the true star of Mad Max: Fury Road. Imperator Furiosa steals the show from the title character of the movie, bringing us a character that is, for lack of a better way to say it, badass.
There were a lot of talented directors this year bringing their vision to life. Many of them had a job that was an all of nothing situation including J.J. Abrams and Ryan Coogler. J.J. was the one to make Star Wars great again with the return of practical effects, collaboration and authenticity. Ryan Coogler resurrected the Rocky franchise and did not only match our match my expectations, he exceeded them. F. Gary Gray nailed the '90s hip-hop vibe in Straight Outta Compton and found the perfect combination of entertainment, music and drama by giving a great history lesson and epic film that left us wanting more.
After the success of Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu's incredibly ambitious followup could have been a disaster. Of course, he knocked it out of the park again by bringing The Revenant, a cruel and hard-hitting film of survival. George Miller returns to his beloved franchise, raising it to new heights, trimming the fat and raises the possibilities of filmmaking in Mad Max: Fury Road.
Out of all the categories, this was the most difficult one. I could copped out and have eight to ten nominees, however I narrowed it down to five. While I was not looking forward to the movie and my expectations were low, Creed got me throw a punch in the air. It was a motivational and powerful film about self-discovery and pushing yourself to keep going.
Ex Machina was a quiet yet intense film with a small yet stellar cast that was an overall brilliant and realistic take of the possibilities of A.I. Mad Max: Fury Road is off-the-wall bonkers and one of the greatest action films ever made. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a return to greatness and leaving overall die-hard fans hungry for more and lit up the imagination for new fans, young and old. Straight Outta Compton is a monumental and electrifying origin story following a journey of five guys who stick it to the man.
Do you agree with my list? Do you think I am crazy? Are you upset that The Revenant is not up there for Best Picture? Are you butt-hurt that J-Law didn't make my cut for best actress? Are you angry that The Big Short didn't get anything? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!