Thoughts on Oscar Noms 2016

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The Academy released their nominations for the big show next month. Here’s what they got right and got wrong. See the full nominations list here

1. Not using all 10 spots for Best Picture is a mistake

Up to ten spots can be given out for the Best Picture field. This year there are eight nominees. While the field selected is by in large fine, you have to wonder how Carol, Sicario, Ex Machina missed a nomination especially when you have 10 spots available for use. Realistically there two clear leaders (Revenant and Spotlight) in the category but even a nomination would be nice for some of the aforementioned films.

2. This is Leo’s weakest competition yet

Leonardo Dicaprio has famously never taken home an Oscar and if he doesn’t this year, he may never win one. This is easily the weakest field Leo has ever faced in comparison to his previous 4 bids. You could come up with strong cases as to why he deserved to lose in his prior nominations but the field is so weak this year, he almost wins by default. Though I must say I found his co star Tom Hardy to be better than him in The Revenant but that’s neither here nor there.

3.If you’re betting against Leo, Bet on Redmayne
I have a lot of issues with the Danish Girl, most notably that it was perhaps too conservative and simple in nature but if I had to bet against Leo I’d bet on Eddie Redmayne. The subject matter coupled with the physical transformation that Redmayne undergoes in the film are prime Oscar fodder and has in the past been heavily favoured by voters.

4. Emily Blunt / Benicio Del Toro snubbed

Sicario (deservingly) received some love for cinematography and score but its stars Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro absolutely got robbed in the acting categories. Blunt’s snub in particular is a tough pill to swallow especially because Jennifer Lawerence was nominated for Joy, a very mediocre film that is nowhere near as good as Sicario.

5. Mackay over Spielberg, Coogler and Garland for Best Director is odd

Mackay uses a documentary style approach to shooting The Big Short which is fine given the subject but the framing is often dizzying jumping from one person to the next. This feeling is compounded by the awkward historical montages that signify the passing of time which really should come with an epilepsy warning.

Coogler should get a nod above Mackay for the single long take fight alone, Spielberg for creating tension and ominous energy in the dialogue heavy scenes as well as the action and Garland for using colours, reflections and capturing minute facial expressions to fully effect.

The Big Short is a good film built on an excellent screenplay that takes dense subject matter and makes it accessible but from a direction standpoint it has no business taking a spot over Spielberg (Bridge of Spies), Coogler (Creed) or Garland (Ex Machina).

6. Leaving Star Wars and Straight Outta Compton out was the Right Move

Star Wars and Straight Outta Compton are quality films that are among the highest grossing of the year (all time for Star Wars) leading many to question why either film didn’t get more nods in the best picture / acting categories. This was the right move not because they didn’t deserve recognition but because the field had many more candidates worthy of the spot.

While excellent Star Wars loses points in the Best Picture discussion for being far too similar to A New Hope. From an acting standpoint it is much more of an ensemble piece with no one really standing out to warrant a nomination (at least not above those nominated). Leaving with the most nominations since A New Hope ( still missing a costume nod in my opinion) I doubt anyone at Disney is really all that disappointed with the results

As for Straight Outta Compton, It was never going to make the cut with the aforementioned films in number 1 not making it. It should be happy with the original screenplay nomination (a debatable choice at best)

7. Sorkin’s Steve Jobs and Tarantino’s Hateful 8 Snubbed Screenplay

Sorkin not getting a screenplay nod for Steve Jobs is ridiculous, The entire film is built around his dialogue, every ounce of tension comes from his words (credit to Fassbender / Winslet on their delivery too of course). Same goes for Tarantino (to a lesser extent) for Hateful 8, though not as dependent on dialogue it is still an excellent written movie.

8. Wrapping up the Snubs

  1. End of the Tour / Beasts of No Nation : Extremely disappointed these great movies didn’t get more buzz especially for Jason Segel and Idris Elba who I thought could easily have received actor nods.
  2. Cranston for Trumbo is the biggest surprise for me with the aforementioned duos more deserving in my opinion
  3. I don’t know the exact rules but I feel like Alicia Vikander could have gotten double nods for her role in Danish Girl as well as Ex Machina. I know you can’t be doubled nominated for a single category but maybe best and supporting?
  4. Jacob Tremblay (Room) is a minor snub for me, could have probably knocked off Bale
  5. I would take Carrell or Gosling in the Big Short over Bale if I had to choose but once again playing the disabled guy carries weight when it comes to Oscar nods
  6. Animated category is stacked: Both Inside Out and Anomalisa could have been Best Picture nominees

9. Not Perfect but Decent

The academy will never be perfect but this year wasn’t too bad. I realize the irony after listing a bunch of snubs but that’s the nature of having limited space for nominations. Doesn’t take away from the fact that the snubbed weren’t great at all.

10. I Don’t Envy Voters

Some of the categories have clear frontrunners but there seems to be lacking a clear number one choice in many of the categories, There will be some difficult decisions made especially in the Actress and Best Original Score fields

Nate Lam
Nate Lam
Editor-in-chief of Before The Cyborgs. Part time filmmaker and occasional short story author. One day he hopes to be as cool as Bill Murray. Follow his latest work on Before The Cyborgs or follow him on twitter (@NateTheCyborg) to get the latest updates.



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