Sunday, February 28, 2016

Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

Right after tonight's Michigan/Wisconsin hoops game (Go Blue!), the Heins will tune in for the Academy Awards, which aren't exactly bursting with excitement this year.

Can't wait to see what Chris Rock is going to do, but after that, it's all about the picks.

Last year, I nailed 'em all except for Best Picture, where I flip-flopped from Birdman to Boyhood. Still stings. This year, I think I learned my lesson.

For the "big six" categories:

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara - Carol
Rachel McAdams - Spotlight
Alicia Vikander - The Danish GIrl
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

Might as well start with the toughest category of the night. JJL is always great, Rooney Mara held her own with Cate, Rachel McAdams was also pretty good in True Detective, and Kate Winslet can do anything. Excellent performances all around, but Vikander is the one who shines above all others (she really stands out in Ex Machina). I thought The Danish Girl dragged quite a bit (pun not intended), but Vikander more than held her own during Eddie Redmayne's transformation. She will punch the Oscar winning ticket that I'm sure Eddie expected. If Winslet takes this, it could be an interesting night.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale - The Big Short
Tom Hardy - The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo - Spotlight
Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone - Creed

Rocky...Rocky...Rocky.  This is Hollywood, people. Bale was quirky and fabulous as always, Hardy continues to be underrated and not appreciated, Ruffalo was stellar, and Rylance gets lost in the shuffle. This category goes the sappy route, and Stallone's story is too good for Oscar to pass up. And by the way, he is VERY good in Creed.

BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett - Carol
Brie Larson - Room
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
Saorise Ronan - Brooklyn

Very strange when Jennifer Lawrence comes up fifth in an Oscar category, but she does here. Charlotte Rampling is a stellar actress, but she's not winning this Oscar. Cate Blanchett is too good these days - quickly drifting into Streep territory. Saorise just picked the wrong year - this one belongs to Brie. And how can the kid in Room not be nominated? That's just wrong.

BEST ACTOR
Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Matt Damon - The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl

Matt Damon is always solid and The Martian is entertaining, but not Academy Award worthy. I love Bryan Cranston, and he's great in Trumbo. He's got Emmys. Eddie Redmayne got his win - not gonna happen again this year. Fassbender will get one down the road, but his Steve Jobs felt like an Emmy winner, not an Oscar winner. Leo is too tempting for Hollywood to resist, and he's paid his dues with other projects. Slam dunk.

BEST DIRECTOR
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
Adam McKay - The Big Short
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson - Room

This one kills me. McCarthy and Abrahamson have much to be proud of, but they are 4th and 5th in this horse race. McKay did a great job making financial material interesting and deserves kudos, but not an Oscar. George Miller DESERVES this Oscar. All of those practical effects in Mad Max: Fury Road are nothing short of amazing. He's in his 70's. Hollywood should eat this up. But they won't. I think Leo fever plus Inarritu's recent success and acclaim will bring him a second Oscar. I wouldn't mind being wrong here.

BEST PICTURE
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Let's narrow this down quickly. Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, The Martian, Room - all good films, thanks for playing. The Big Short tells one heck of a tale, but it ain't Best Picture. Mad Max: Fury Road was an incredible ride, but there's no way it's taking home the big prize.

That leaves The Revenant and Spotlight. The Revenant is getting its acting and directing Oscars, and it doesn't need (or deserve) this one. I know Hollywood loves this movie and it's got so much buzz that it's tough to resist, but I'm holding back.

Spotlight had it all - excellent screenplay, direction and very fine acting. Plus a story that could have been portrayed in a completely different way, and it wasn't. It is the best movie I saw this past year, and I think it will win Best Picture. I also thought Boyhood would carry the day last year.

My Big Six:
Vikander
Stallone
Larson
DiCaprio
Inarritu
Spotlight

Remember, the best man/woman/film doesn't always win (or even get nominated). This is Hollywood after all.

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