#Oscars Round Up: Leo’s Win, Mad Max and Spotlight Were the Heroes – #OscarSoWhite the Villain
#Oscars Round Up: Leo’s Win, Mad Max and Spotlight Were the Heroes – #OscarSoWhite the Villain

#OscarsSoWhite notwithstanding, as it turns out, the 88th Academy Awards was one of the fairest ever, no pun intended

#OscarsSoWhite notwithstanding, as it turns out the 88th Academy Awards was one of the fairest ever, no pun intended. For the second year running, the Academy has not nominated any black actors. And while we must acknowledge Idris Elba and Will Smith putting forth some of their punchiest performances, it is well worth a debate whether they would have made the top five who were all very deserving. Some of the criticism is plain nitpicking and far-fetched (for instance Straight Outta Compton had only one nomination: for its white writers) but the fact is that the controversy provided a perfect platform for host Chris Rock’s opening monologue; for him to make it a theme laced with biting humor that will ensure black representation at least in the next few editions. Rock came out all guns blazing with a good balance of wit and weight as he grilled Hollywood, calling them the “nicest, most liberal white people” but also the same folks who “don’t hire black people”. The momentum slipped away as there were running jokes featuring girl scout cookies and – most outlandish of all – a bizarre Stacey Dash appearance that seemed to have backfired big time. However, Rock ended on a somber note with a “We want opportunity. We want black actors to get the same opportunities.”

 

 

On to the awards. It was no surprise that Mad Max Fury Road swept the technical honours, reeling them in quick succession – costume, production design, editing, makeup, sound editing and mixing. Out of the two tech awards it didn’t win, one was very surprising (though not undeserving): VFX for Ex-Machina, making it the lowest budget winner in the category since Alien; and the other not at all: Emmanuel ‘Chivo’ Lubezki for the third time in a row for The Revenant. Long, wide-lensed, impeccably choreographed sequences shot only in natural light, the effort is sublime and signals a return to a time when the craft of cinematography was uncontaminated by VFX.

 

However, The Revenant in itself isn’t the film that deserves all the accolades it has been getting. Though not an upset, it is certainly upsetting that Alejandro Iñárritu won Best Director for The Revenant when surely George Miller had earned it for Mad Max. The 70-year-old’s exhilarating vision, innovation, and total control of the craft and narrative was unmatched in 2015. It certainly seems that a lot of Academy voters have confused good cinematography and performances with a director’s job of keeping an assured grip on the storytelling and making every department – from the writing to costume – come together seamlessly; something The Revenant struggles with at times.

 

 

As for the actors – the biggest ‘upset’ of the night was Mark Rylance taking Best Supporting Actor. This was the toughest category with every single performance warranting its own Oscar; especially Mark Ruffalo’s transformation in Spotlight and menacing, unrecognizable Tom Hardy in The Revenant. Exquisite Alicia Vikander thoroughly deserved all the praise and the statuette she won for The Danish Girl. She could have won even if she was nominated in the Best Actress category. That trophy however went to the talented Brie Larson (Room). And finally, Leo DiCaprio, a win after six nominations. That he is right up there as one of the finest actors in the world, there is no doubt. But is this his best performance of the five he’s been nominated for? I’m going to go out on a limb and say he was better in The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street.

 

But of the all wins, Spotlight winning best picture was most satisfying. In a time when every one is baying for a film like Mad Max to take top honours, Spotlight comes as a pleasant surprise. Directed with restraint, it has no gimmicks; every aspect – scenes, characters, stats – is memorable and stays with you for a long time after you’ve watched the film. Like a wrecking ball in slow motion, Spotlight glides innocuously past until it leaves a permanent destruction with what it has to say and its relevance. And in a sense the Oscars have always been about relevance. It is what explains outrage on the diversity issue and DiCaprio using his moment to talk of climate change.

 

However, several questions remain unanswered. Why did The Martian, a most mediocre movie, keep showing up every few nominations? Why were winners thanking people while there was scroll on thanks at the bottom? This was supposed to be a Thank you-free Oscar, instead it looked like a subtitled Oscar. Why didn’t Star Wars win anything at all? And most intriguing of all, how did Leonardo DiCaprio hold himself back from saying “Finally, mother****ers!”

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