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The 88th Academy Awards



The 88th annual Academy Awards are almost upon us!

Thanks to the #OscarsSoWhite campaign, we have one of the most talked about and controversial award ceremonies in years.  For the second consecutive year in a row, there was a complete ‘white out’ in the acting categories and boy did it get noticed.

#OscarsSoWhite lead to some prominent entertainers boycotting the ceremony including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Spike Lee and Michael Moore.  Mark Ruffalo also publicly entertained the idea of boycotting the event before eventually committing to go in support of victims of Clergy sexual abuse.

The debate surrounding the lack of diversity in both Hollywood generally and the Oscars in particular has drawn some disappointing responses from old, white British people.  Charlotte Rampling famously remarked that the campaign was racist to white people.  Michael Caine called for calm and said that black actors needed to ‘be patient‘.  He argued that we shouldn’t simply give someone an award for being black or having some sort of awards quota based on ethnicity.  Which isn’t a very helpful statement to make since no one is asking for that.  Ridley Scott took the defensive and argued that he wouldn’t hire ‘Mohammed so-and-so‘ or otherwise no one would finance his biblical epics which tank at the box office.

Of course there are two separate issues at play here.  Diversity in Hollywood and diversity at the Academy Awards.

Firstly, the Hollywood studio system is so ass-backwards in their views on social equality that they didn’t even think to pay women the same salaries as men until Jennifer Lawrence and Patricia Arquette shamed them into it last year.  Marvel Studios is still silent on when they could possibly ‘take a risk’ on making a super hero film with a female lead.  So as sad as it is, the idea that Hollywood might produce better roles for women, blacks, Asians or Latinos isn’t something I would expect overnight.  The Baby Boomers in charge are too resistant to change.

However, once they are no longer making movies, I think changes will come in think and fast.  Gen Y actors such as Emma Stone and Rooney Mara have distanced themselves from their white-washed roles in Aloha and Pan.  Directors like Damien Lindeloff are much more enthusiastic and pro-active about casting choices for big budget films like Star Wars.  The box office speaks for itself when a multi-ethnic cast for Fast and Furious 7 broke records and became one of the highest grossing films of all time.  Change will come but it will be slow.

Secondly, the Academy Awards.  Same problem, quicker solution!

Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs publically expressed her remorse at the #OscarsSoWhite debacle and explained that the Academy would be making some significant changes to its membership.  By broadening the number of members, she hopes to affect quick and significant change to the types of the performances and films that get nominated.

It’s one of the most exciting developments for the Academy in years.  I think the change will achieve both the desired effect of having greater representation at the Oscars but I think a secondary effect is that by making the member base younger, more diverse and with newer faces, it will change the types of films that get nominated for the better.  I’ve been used to it for years but it bugs me that so many genres are marginalized at the Oscars.  We should have more films like Mad Max: Fury Road in contention.  We should have less plodding by-the-numbers choices like Crash and The Reader.  My hope is that the new Academy members are more receptive to comedies, action movies, animated films and foreign language films and subsequently we see them get nominated with far greater frequency in future.

Aaand on that note, let’s get to the predictions for this year.

Happily, despite all the controversy, 2015/16 has actually produced plenty of great films that are up for awards.  There are some categories that appear to be a shoe-in (Leo!!!) but some of the other awards aren’t nearly so clear cut.

Here they are, my picks for the 88th annual Academy Awards.

















liloscar  BEST PICTURE  liloscar



Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Room, Bridge of Spies, Room, The Big Short, The Revenant, Brooklyn

Who Should Win

This is one of the better collection of Best Picture nominations that the Academy has come up with with no egregious omissions and plenty of diversity.  The Martian and Mad Max Fury Road are both surprising inclusions considering their respective genres.  I think Room and The Big Short are the weakest selections in the mix but neither are bad films by any means.  I just remember having much stronger reactions to the others on this list.

Of the more conventional choices, I think both The Revenant and Spotlight are my favourite films.  Which is funny since The Revenant is such a visceral experience whereas Spotlight is noteworthy for being deliberately played under a quiet register.

Having said that, it’s hard for me to go past Mad Max: Fury Road which has a special place in my heart.  I vividly remembered the experience of watching that film in the cinema last year.  It was such an unexpected adrenaline rush and an incredible film from an old master.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Who Will Win

The Revenant is probably one of the most well received films of the year and it has scooped a number of Best Picture awards at the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs.  You’d think this should make it a shoe-in but its been something crazy like over half a century since a director made back-to-back Best Picture films.  So I think there’s a chance that Spotlight sneaks in under the radar.

Nah, who am I kidding.

The Revenant

Who Did Win

It didn’t pick up anything all night long and then – bam! – Spotlight wins Best Picture.  I’m okay with that.


liloscar  BEST DIRECTOR  liloscar



Adam McKay (The Big Short), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant), Lenny Abrahamson (Room), Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Who Should Win

If the Best Director was handed out of the merits of the greatest improvement in film quality from their last film, Tom McCarthy would win this award hands down.  McCarthy is a talented and capable director who made some of my favourite films (The Station Agent, The Visitor) before inexplicably making the godawful Adam Sandler film The Cobbler.  Fortunately, it turned out to be only a temporary moment of madness and he’s back with Spotlight which is one of the best films of the year.  I felt McCarthy never got his due for The Station Agent or The Visitor so I’d love to see him get the nod.

But on the other hand, lets be real here.  It should be George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road shouldn’t it?  The other four films on this list are great films but nothing visionary or game changing.  George Miller did the impossible.  He revitalized action films in a way that both enthralled casual audiences and made film critics and industry insiders sit up and pay attention.  The films have so much going on visually but it is presented in a way that is totally coherent.  Furiosa is the best thing since Ripley.  Who can forget the adrenaline rush watching those chase sequences?  Okay, I’ve made my choice.

George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Who Will Win

Once again, the award season favourite has been Inarritu for The Revenant.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu  (The Revenant)

Who Did Win

Called it.  Inarritu with the double!

Alejandro Inarritu (The Revenant)


liloscar  BEST ACTOR  liloscar



Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Matt Damon (The Martian), Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs), Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant), Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Who Should Win

I’m out of my depth with this one.  I’ve only seen The Martian and The Revenant.  Of those two films, I’d give the nod to Di Caprio for putting his heart and soul into his quest for vengeance compared to Damon’s cool and breezy performance as a wise-cracking astronaut who uses to book smarts to survive on Mars.

Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant)

Who Will Win

This is it!  Leonardo Di Caprio finally has his moment in the sun.  Apparently, he’s actually been up for five Oscars if you count a nom that he picked up as a producer for a Best Picture award.  So sixth time lucky!  If you wanna see the full breakdown, this website has you covered.

I remember the Best Actor category being much more competitive in previous years.  It’s interesting that this year most of the performances are from films that didn’t make the cut for Best Picture.  For that reason, Di Caprio has a huge leg up on his rivals.  There is very little award season hype for any of these others films.  Most Academy members have a very specific fetish for actors who suffer for their craft.  And they love a good comeback story.

For all those reasons, place your bets, put the life savings, the partner, the kids, the family dog, the mortgage, everything you own on Leo winning.  He’s got this.

Leonardo Di Caprio  (The Revenant)

Who Did Win

Feel good moment of the night.

Leonardo Di Caprio (The Revenant)

liloscar  BEST ACTRESS  liloscar



Cate Blanchett (Carol), Brie Larson (Room), Jennifer Lawrence (Joy), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn), Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)

Who Should Win

It would be hilarious if Charlotte “Racism to whites” Rampling won.  The reactions would be incredible.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any thoughts to offer on her film as its only just come out in Australia and I haven’t had a chance to see it yet.

Of the films I’ve seen the clear choice is Saoirse Ronan.  I think Brie Larson had a more challenging role to play in Room but I preferred Saoirse Ronan’s subtle and charming performance in Brooklyn.  It’s the part that demands the most character development and Ronan absolutely nailed it.

For both actors, they’ve delivered breakout performances that should land them plum roles in the future.

Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)

Who Will Win

I half wonder if the Academy will give it to Jennifer Lawrence as an apology for the whole ‘paying-her-less-than-Jeremy-Renner-in-American-Hustle‘ deal.  The safe money is on Brie Larson.  The chemistry she has with the kid in Room was incredible.  She’s been scooping up awards left and right ever since.

Brie Larson (Room)

Who Did Win

And well deserved too.

Brie Larson (Room)


liloscar  BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR  liloscar



Christian Bale (The Big Short), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Who Should Win

If The Revenant scoops up most of the major awards at the Academy Awards this year then I hope the Best Supporting Actor award is one of the opportunities used to recognize some of the other great films in contention.  The two stand outs for me were Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight and Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies.

In Spotlight, Ruffalo plays a scruffy, tenacious and gregarious investigative journalist.  The highlight reel will play the clip where he goes ballistic at Michael Keaton but honestly, its the lone grandstanding moment in an otherwise beautifully understated performance.

But my favourite this year is Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies.  Even in that picture above, I think you can get a sense of the character.  He is thoughtful, aloof and unflappable as convicted spy Rudolph Abel.  Three times in the film Tom Hanks asks him “Are you nervous?” to which he replies coolly “Would it help?”

One of my favourite performances of the year.

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Who Will Win

I have a hunch that Mark Ruffalo will win this.  Tom Hardy is well liked and delivered a fine performance in The Revenant but I think the Academy will be hard pressed to go past Ruffalo’s turn as Mike Rezendes and it has the added advantage of being a film with a social cause which the Academy loves.

Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)

Who Did Win

Yay, Mark!  I was pretty surprised by this one.

Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)


liloscar  BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS  liloscar



Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Rooney Mara (Carol), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl), Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs), Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)

Who Should Win

I thoroughly enjoyed Jennifer Jason Leigh as the demented, foul mouthed and deadly bandit Daisy Domergue.  It was one of the most over the top and memorable performances of the year.  Every bloody second of it.  I don’t believe for a second she’ll win though unfortunately.

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Who Will Win

Even though I haven’t seen her specific performance in The Danish Girl, I wonder if Alicia Vikander might pick up the award for the cumulative roles she has worked on the last eighteen months including the excellent Ex Machina.

My other hunch is Kate Winslet based on award season form.  Unfortunately, I haven’t seen Steve Jobs yet.

But let’s go with that.

Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Who Did Win

Should’ve gone with my first instinct.

Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)


liloscar  QUICK PICKS  liloscar

Best Original Screenplay
“Bridge of Spies” liloscar
“Ex Machina”
“Inside Out”
“Straight Outta Compton”

Winner: Spotlight

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Big Short”
“The Martian”
“Room” liloscar

Winner: The Big Short

Best Foreign Film
“Embrace of the Serpent”
“Son of Saul”
“A War” liloscar

Winner: Son of Saul

Best Documentary Feature
“Amy” liloscar
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Winner: Amy

Best Animated Feature
“Anomalisa” liloscar
“Boy and the World”
“Inside Out”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“When Marnie Was There”

Winner: Inside Out

Best Film Editing
“The Big Short”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” liloscar
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Winner: Mad Max Fury Road

Best Original Score
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Hateful Eight” liloscar
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

Winner: The Hateful Eight

Best Digital Effects
“Ex Machina”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” liloscar

Best Cinematography
“The Hateful Eight”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant” liloscar

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Costume Design
“The Danish Girl” liloscar
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

About Edo

Edo currently lives in Australia where he spends his time playing video games and enjoying his wife's cooking.

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