All About That Oscars, Take 3

New year, new Oscars. That’s how the saying goes, right? Anyways, it’s my favorite time of the year, once again. Legitimately, I’ve been on edge all week waiting for Sunday. Yes, I understand it is just another awards ceremony, but we can dive into my bad habits another time. Truthfully, this has been an outstanding year in film and I’m very excited to see what the Oscars brings to the table.

Best Supporting Actor

My Pick: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Who Will Win: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

If I had to pick one performance that truly outshone the rest this year, it would be Mahershala Ali’s turn as a lovable drug dealer in Moonlight. What’s even more remarkable is the imprint he leaves, despite only starring in the film for maybe 20 minutes. How was his performance so effective? Every little detail. The way he carries himself, the inner turmoil you see on his face when dealing with the main character, his heart and, honestly, the list could go on and on. One thing I constantly highlight is how his presence is still felt after he is gone. He played such a significant role in the main character’s life, and this type of feeling is unmatched by any of the other supporting actors.

Best Supporting Actress

My Pick: Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Who Will Win: Viola Davis, Fences

On any given Sunday, you would hear me singing all of the praises for Viola Davis and that isn’t going to change today. Viola Davis is a master class actress who is in a league of the best and brightest, but the problem here in the category she is in. Davis rightfully deserves to be the in the Best Actress race. Unfortunately, the supporting actress category was viewed as less crowded and a guaranteed shoo-in for a win. This leaves true supporting roles, such as Naomie Harris and Michelle Williams, out in the cold. Don’t get me wrong, Viola deserves this award. I just wish she would have chosen to run in her true category.

Back to Harris, who was a marvel in Moonlight. She dominated what a supporting role is supposed to be. Although she was a hard character to support, you wanted her to be the type of parental figure needed. You witness her cruelty driven by an addiction and the heartbreak she experiences a little too late due to the deteriorated relationship with her son. It’s a role worth examining and praising, and Harris pulled it off in three days. Just remember that years down the road.

Best Actor

My Pick: Andrew Garfield, Silence

Who Will Win: Denzel Washington, Fences

No, your eyes do not deceive you, I did say Silence. And no, I do not mean Hacksaw Ridge. I know what movie Andrew Garfield is nominated for, but we all know what role was Oscar worthy. I think very, very highly of Garfield and his acting abilities, and I think they are something that gets overshadowed because he played Spider-man. Side note, I will happily argue with you as to why he is the best Spider-man to date. Back to the main point, Silence was a hard film that was very much carried on Garfield’s back. I do not think it would have had the same soul without his presence, and I don’t think Scorsese’s passion project would have its heart without him. I would continue to layer on the compliments, but we need to get back to the actor’s race at hands.

With those nominated, Denzel Washington brings another award winning performance in Fences, even if it isn’t his best to date. It still feels raw and vulnerable, which is one of the reasons people love watching Denzel onscreen. Similar to Harris, this isn’t a character you root for, but it is a role that feels real and worthy of telling. While there is a lot of stylistic choices that I would change to Fences, Denzel and Viola’s chemistry and, at times, volatile relationship is one that I wouldn’t. It sticks out like a sore thumb and keeps you watching as you journey through this life with them.

Best Actress

My Pick: Emma Stone, La La Land

Who Will Win: Emma Stone, La La Land

Genuine, heartbreaking and loving. These are the three words I would use to describe Emma Stone’s performance in La La Land. Want another one? Effortless. While this is a musical, this film isn’t built upon her singing or dancing abilities. No, that’s just part of the charm. La La Land is based on ordinary people who dream of tackling something greater in life. If you don’t understand Stone’s talent, watch her face throughout the movie. She carries all of her best dialogue through her posture, her eyes and the subtle way she moves her mouth. She conveys emotions with ease but holds firmly in a role surrounded in reality. Fall and onwards is carried on her shoulders. Through her audition to the tear duct inducing ending, Emma Stone is the one who whisks you away and makes you feel the heartache and memories of love.

Best Director

My Pick: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Who Will Win: Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Whiplash was not a one-hit wonder, and we should all be wondering what else Damien Chazelle has up his sleeve. While there is a lot of deservingly wonderful directors here, Chazelle created something that couldn’t be done: a modern day, original musical. The weight of those words might feel light, but we haven’t seen a musical with this much heart and soul for ages. The film serves not only as a love letter to LA but to those who try to embark on their dreams each day. Between the technicolored wonderland and intimate relationship built between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, Chazelle never misses a beat. He has created something that will last for ages to come.

Best Picture

My Pick: La La Land

Who Will Win: La La Land

You’ve made it to the big prize, and if you read my other picks then this one comes as no surprise. La La Land stole my heart, and I partly think it is because it is the first film that has shocked me and affected me in such a long time. As I’ve mentioned before, I was lucky enough to see this at the opening of the Denver Film Festival. My god, I was blown away. Every movie should be seen in an opera-worthy auditorium. Here’s the thing, with each repeat viewing I’ve fallen more in love. In its flaws, I see a story that has been waiting to be told. At its best, it is a feeling that I want to be wrapped in forever. I don’t think I’ll ever be over the ending, and I don’t want to be. Ultimately, La La Land is something that will haunt me and move me, and I can’t wait to experience it again.

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All About That Oscars Take 2

It’s my favorite time of the year: awards season, more specifically The Oscars. I’ve been keeping up with all the different award shows, taking in all the best picture nominations and generally being upset about the Oscar nominations (and potential winners) this year. We’ll dive more into that later, but without further ado, let’s get this show on the road.

Best Supporting Actor

Who I want to win: Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Who will win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Let’s be real for just a second. Look at all of the past award shows and notice that Idris Elba won best supporting actor for Beasts of No Nation. Does the Oscars have a very real problem? Yes, 100 percent. I’m just scratching the surface of what every other entertainment site has been saying, but I just want to be real when I say that when Sylvester Stallone accepts the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in Creed, we all know that the award should have gone to Idris Elba. Now, of the people nominated, Tom Hardy (hands down) had the best supporting actor performance. Hardy is phenomenal in everything he does, and this year was no exception between his two performances in Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, respectively. Unfortunately, the two vying for the award are Sylvester Stallone and Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies). In the end Sly will end up taking home the little gold man because he was the underdog of the late 70s and 80s and people want to see him win for the Rocky series since he was”robbed” the award in 1976.

Best Supporting Actress

Who I want to win: Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Who will win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Spotlight was my favorite film this year, just like Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was last year. Out of all the Best Supporting Actress nominees, Rachel McAdams has one of the quietest performances but also one of the strongest. Like I was real earlier, let’s be real here: Rooney Mara (Carol) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) should not be nominated in this category, they should have been nominated in the Best Actress category. This year we had a ton of strong performances from actresses in every movie nominated, more powerful than a lot of the actors who were nominated. If Vikander was nominated in this category for Ex Machina though, she would win the Oscar. Like Tom Hardy, Vikander had a lot of strong performances this year, especially since these roles were her breakout roles. Personally, her presence in Ex Machina was what really sold the film, and she was what carried The Danish Girl, but her role in Ex Machina just was on another level. Ultimately, I think the Oscar will be awarded to Kate Winslet. She is an awards season sweetheart, and with her early nab for Steve Jobs at the Golden Globes, I see her taking it again at the Oscars. And like Vikander with The Danish Girl, Winslet carried Steve Jobs on her back and delivered a beautiful performance (really though, she is the only reason worth watching Steve Jobs).

Best Actor

Who I want to win: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Out of all the categories, Best Actor is the weakest link this year. Yes, the performances were good, but they weren’t on the level of the actress categories or even the supporting actor category. Will Leo take home his first Oscar? Yes, and he knows it. Was it Leo’s best performance to date? Absolutely not, and for some reason I’m really disappointed that this is what he will win for. The only performance I really feel passionate about from The Revenant is Tom Hardy, mostly because he made me hate his character so much. A great performance makes you feel something, it makes you connect. Leo’s was another “pat on the back” good performance, but this isn’t top notch Leo. Alas, I digress. In tune with my last opinion, Michael B. Jordan should have been nominated for Creed over Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs (another awards show sweetheart, but I just don’t get it), and if we are giving away awards for performance with a strong penchant for grunting then Tom Hardy should have been nominated for Mad Max: Fury Road over Matt Damon for The Martian. Just to push the envelope a little bit more, Abraham Attah (who just won Best Actor at the Independent Spirt Awards yesterday) and Jacob Tremblay should have been nominated for their respective roles in Beasts of No Nation and Room. Ending this on a sweet note, of the performances nominated, Bryan Cranston was my favorite. He always brings such charm to every role he is in, and Trumbo was no exception. The film itself is simply okay, but Cranston is a delight in it. If anyone nabs the Oscar from Leo, it will be Cranston.

Best Actress

Who I want to Win: Brie Larson, Room

Who will win: Brie Larson, Room

The only performance that could give Brie Larson a run for her money is Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn (who is always a pleasure to watch). Besides that, this award is pretty much being thrown at Brie Larson, and rightfully so. She dominated her performance as a mother struggling to adapt to the new world after being kidnapped for 7 years. Larson is constantly turning out amazing performances (see Short Term 12), and I’m happy she is getting the recognition she deserves. On a nomination note, Jennifer Lawrence should not have been nominated for Best Actress in Joy. Another awards season sweetheart, but this was probably her weakest performance to date.

*Side Note: Why There Should Be a Best Acting Ensemble Category

Before we leave the acting categories, I want to address something real quick. My favorite awards event is the Critics Choice Awards, their awards always seem to mimic how I feel about the awards season in general. They also have my favorite category, Best Acting Ensemble. There are a lot of performances that get overlooked or don’t get nominated because they’re amazing together in a film, but there might be stronger individual performances. You could argue that with this year’s Spotlight and The Big Short, my two favorite films of 2015. There was so many performances that got over looked this year or that will not get the awards they deserve, but if this category exsisted, let me show you how it would play out: Spotlight, The Big Short, Straight Outta Compton, Star Wars: Episode 7 -The Force Awakens, Beasts of No Nation and Mad Max: Fury Road would be nominated (in my dreams, okay?). This wouldn’t take away from the Best Picture award, but more so acknowledge the performances that worked better as a collective. I’ll leave this here and you can mull it over, but I think we could come to an agreement that this category would be a breath of fresh air at The Oscars. Furthermore, best performance doesn’t always mean best picture.

Best Director

Who I want to win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Who will win: Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, The Revenant

As a visual achievement, it really is as good as it gets between George Miller with Mad Max: Fury Road and Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu for The Revenant. If you wanted a subtle approach, Tom McCarthy for Spotlight or Adam McKay with The Big Short also deliver. This category is the most fairly stacked this award season. The only nomination I would swap out is Lenny Abrahamson‘s Room with Ridley Scott‘s The Martian. With technical style, The Revenant should win for best cinematography, but I prefer Miller’s directing style with Mad Max: Fury Road. Either way, I won’t be too upset with whoever takes home the Oscar for Best Director. I’m a big fan of Iñárritu, and to see him repeat his win from last year’s Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) would be a great feat.

Best Picture

Who I want to win: The Big Short or Spotlight

Who will win: The Revenant

Down to the nitty gritty, Best Picture is the biggest award of the night. With Chris Rock hosting, staying engaged with the 3 hour show should be an easy task. Like I mentioned earlier, The Big Short and Spotlight were my favorite films of 2015. Also, like I argued last year for Best Picture between Boyhood and Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Best Picture captures everything: writing, editing, directing, cinematography, acting, producing, etc. On this basis alone, I feel that The Big Short and Spotlight are better films than The Revenant. The Revenant is purely a technical accomplish, it is so beautiful to look at, but the story itself is lacking and, at times, boring. There is a reason it was not nominated for any of the writing categories. I will be very disappointed if it wins because it is not the film that Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was last year. The Revenant, because of everything I listed, was one of my least favorite nominated films this year. Spotlight was the early favorite for this award, but as the awards season continued on, it lost steam. Although, it should be noted that it took home Best Feature at the Independent Spirit Awards yesterday. The Big Short, on the other hand, picked up the Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture. For the last six years, the film that won this PGA award have went on to win Best Picture at The Oscars. Will this streak continue this year? I don’t know, but I surely hope so.

All About That Oscars

Here comes my favorite time of the year, Oscars night. While we have gotten to enjoy various awards shows, we finally arrive at the end of awards season. Someone is going to be taking home that little guy we know as Oscar, and I will be home watching it all and enjoying a nice glass of wine. So before we get busy with the 6:00 p.m. (central time) fashion show, lets go over who is going to win it all.

Best Supporting Actor

Who will win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Who is falling short: Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

J.K. Simmons is owning this awards season. Although Edward Norton delivered an amazing performance, there is no way he is going to be able to crawl up and best Simmons for the grand prize. Simmons deserves this prize; Whiplash was a lackluster film that was boosted by Simmons’ presence. There should be no doubt who is walking home the winner tonight.

Best Supporting Actress

Who will win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Who is falling short: Emma Stone, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

This one just hurts to write. I never really understood the hype behind Boyhood. Sure, the concept of making a film over 12 years is amazing, but the story and acting itself were just okay. While I think Arquette winning highlights the strengths of motherhood and aging actress in Hollywood, I don’t know how I necessarily feel about her performance. Ultimately, there is no doubt on who will win, and if it allows for more strong roles for older actresses then I am okay with it.

Best Actor

Who will win: Michael Keaton, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Who is falling short: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

I think this will be the closest nominee race, in the acting category at least. Keaton had currently swept all of the awards, so it will be of little surprise if he takes home the Oscar tonight, but Redmayne delivered a groundbreaking performance as well. Although Redmayne is telling the story of one of the most influential beings alive, I believe Keaton gives a performance that hits close to home.

Best Actress

Who will win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Who is falling short: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Cotillard might have shocked a lot of people with her nomination, but I think she is the only other nominee giving Moore a run for her money. Moore will win the award tonight, but it is nice to see an unexpected player in the game. Speaking to Moore’s performance, her acting was powerful and moving. I have always been a big fan of hers and I am so glad she is getting the recognition she deserves.

Best Director

Who will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Who is falling short: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Both of these projects are of great complexity and the directing behind them is nothing short of brilliance. Although I am not a fan of Boyhood, I can appreciate the time and effort it took to create the film, but I believe Birdman delivered something that was more potent in both storytelling and directing.

Best Picture

Who will win: Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Who is falling short: Boyhood

Boyhood was the front runner since the beginning of awards season, but Birdman kept defying odds and snagging awards no one thought it would. Best picture is an award that honors excellence in all categories: acting, directing, script, editing, etc. On these levels alone, Birdman is something of a masterpiece. I think Boyhood was a great accomplishment, but I don’t think the story or acting are on the same level as a lot of the movies nominated. Boyhood has an old hollywood feel to it, which I think voters will be attracted to, but I think Birdman shows a new form of filmmaking that should be embraced. For me, this is reminiscent of The King’s Speech versus Black Swan/Social Network race, but I hope not because I didn’t like the outcome the first time around.