The nominations are in for the 88th Academy Awards. The Oscars will be handed out on February 28th.
If you’re looking for a brief bit of nerdy analysis along with the nominees and some predictions – including Who Will Win (the odds on favourite), Who Should Win (a.k.a. who I’m rooting for), and Who Slipped/Through (a.k.a. who got snubbed) – then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s dig in…
Christian Bale // The Big Short // This performance didn’t work for me. Bale over-acted some of those physical ticks. He also didn’t have a stand-out performance scene. Bale had a good energy, but where’s the highlight? His character arc isn’t that visible, reduced to a Zero Dark Thirty wipe-board countdown clerk.
Tom Hardy // The Revenant // The chameleon disappears once again, altering his physical appearance and voice to fit the part. His motives are clear, but his deeds are dirty. Hardy is deserving of the nomination.
Mark Ruffalo // Spotlight // The best performance of the impressive ensemble cast. Ruffalo clenches his jaw and talks quickly out of the side of his mouth. The audience roots for him because he stands up to the system and tackles the tough interviews. This is a worthy nomination.
Mark Rylance // Bridge of Spies // A subtle yet commanding performance. Rylance sets the stage with his complicated character. No dialogue is necessary to feel his presence. While not in the film for that long, his scenes are memorable.
Sylvester Stallone // Creed // The silver screen veteran returns to the drama that launched his career. His legendary character has evolved over the years, and so has Stallone. There are several stand-out moments which rely on his acting skills.
Who Will Win: Mark rylance for bridge of spies.
Who Should Win: sylvester stallone for creed.
WHO Slipped/Through: Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton.
Jennifer Jason Leigh // The Hateful Eight // Leigh delivers a despicable character that is at times brutish and vile, and at others intelligent and cunning. She shifts tones as much as the movie does. Balancing a variety of emotions, and holding the screen without dialogue, is no easy task, but Leigh is up against some heavyweights. She’s the dark horse candidate here.
Rooney Mara // Carol // Perhaps she deserves a starring role, despite the title this is Mara’s story. She also has to command the screen and convey emotions with a glance. The subtleties may be lost on some viewers, but Mara’s performance is extremely impactful. In the traditional Oscar nominated romance, the man and woman usually both get leading role recognition. Perhaps more will be said of this as the Awards Show approaches? On the positive side, this way Mara won’t have to compete against her co-star Cate Blanchett. Both could take home statues.
Rachel McAdams // Spotlight // McAdams forms part of an impressive ensemble, but her character doesn’t have a shining moment that everyone can latch onto. Her most powerful scene relies on how restrained she is. Will the Academy award a quiet performance like this?
Alicia Vikander // The Danish Girl // Like Carol, one could argue that Vikander deserves a leading role nomination. The film begins and ends with her, after all. The relationship also hinges and develops based on her acceptance. This emotional performance is quite daring and a welcoming sign of things to come from Vikander.
Kate Winslet // Steve Jobs // While she recently won the Golden Globe, I still consider Winslet a dark horse in this category. She delivered an amazing performance, and was born to fire off Sorkin’s rapid dialogue; however, her character doesn’t have an incredibly satisfying arc. In a way, she’s there to better develop the character of Jobs.
Who Will Win: Rooney Mara for Carol.
Who Should Win: rooney mara for carol.
Who Slipped/Through: Alicia vikander for Ex Machina.
Bryan Cranston // Trumbo // His performance is the best part of this HBO made-for-TV feeling biopic. There is so much interesting subject matter that never gets latched onto. Cranston never has that spotlight moment either. He definitely sells a personality, and a physicality with acidic mannerisms, but it won’t be enough.
Matt Damon // The Martian // Will the comedian win the Oscar? Damon definitely captured our attention, as the only person on screen for large chunks of time. He managed to play the goofball without losing his intelligence. The hokey action of the ending is forgiven for how resilient and strong Damon comes off. This is the dark horse candidate for this category.
Leonardo DiCaprio // The Revenant // DiCaprio deserves the Oscar for the physical demands alone; however, he also delivers the internal side of the performance. Injured and barely able to talk for some of the movie, the drama really boils down to how much he feels this “reality.” For me, he sold every second. I also liked the more fragile emotional side of his character.
Michael Fassbender // Steve Jobs // This is a real battle here. While Revenant is more action based, Jobs is totally the opposite. This film is essentially talking. Thankfully, the script is written by the mad scientist Aaron Sorkin. Fassbender’s performance is so provocative because of his arc from asshole to someone you come to understand and feel for.
Eddie Redmayne // The Danish Girl // The young Redmayne delivers another physically transformative performance. He does so much with a look. I didn’t expect to get so emotionally invested in his characters here, but I really got absorbed into the story. Part of this is due to how real Redmayne and Vikander made each moment feel.
Who Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant.
Who Should Win: leonardo diCaprio for The Revenant.
Who Slipped/Through: Shameik Moore for Dope.
Cate Blanchett // Carol // Blanchett draws you in from the first glance, like a powerful magnet. You can’t look away. She commands attention. The character is also rather complex, with several obstacles stopping her from finding love. The era and the politics are kept to the background. The focus here is on Blanchett’s and Mara’s relationship and how it struggles to blossom. Every note is played beautifully by our lead actress.
Brie Larson // Room // This was one of the most emotional performances of the year. Larson doesn’t embellish any emotion to get you to step inside her skin either, it all feels natural. The character arc is also quite layered and compelling. Her journey means something different every step of the way. Larson loses herself in the character, and so do we.
Jennifer Lawrence // Joy // With such strong competition it isn’t likely that Lawrence will get another Oscar. Her portrayal of this true life character is utterly convincing. This underdog will have you rooting for her. She also knows how to spit venom and defend herself when needed. There are a few standout scenes, but nothing carries as much weight as Lawrence’s competitors.
Charlotte Rampling // 45 Years // Rampling always has a presence about her. She seems so regal, but has a hidden saucy playfullness within. I haven’t seen this film, so can only comment on earlier work. Please, let me know if you saw this film, and if you think the performance is deserving.
Saoirse Ronan // Brooklyn // I wasn’t expecting to get so absorbed by this tale either. While the story is quite simple, the performance is not. A lot of these dramaric roles demonstrate the actor’s ability to convey so much with seemingly doing so little. Ronan masters this, while also traversing an arc. She slowly gains confidence in a new land, develops new relationships, then is faced with a heart-breaking decision. Ronan is the deserving dark horse candidate for this strong category.
WHO WILL WIN: Cate Blanchett for Carol.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Brie Larson for Room.
WHO SLIPPED/THROUGH: Margot Robbie in Z for Zachariah.
The Big Short – This one really missed the mark for me. I was with it until they broke the 4th wall with Margot Robbie straight up teaching us by addressing us directly. This technique continues throughout, dumbing down the proceedings, repeating what the characters just said, and taking me out of the movie each time. For me, it’d be like watching Spotlight and all of a sudden Michael Keaton starts talking to the camera.
Bridge of Spies – Solid storytelling pairs with solid directing in a restrained thriller. The politics are balanced with the excitement. Impressive performances fill the cast. A good movie, but not one of the best of the year.
Brooklyn – This character piece tells a focused story. It avoids getting cheesy and too on-the-nose. We get a mature approach of the immigrant’s tale. Ronan is a pure delight to watch. The film captures an era and an innocence so well. It also tackles familial themes and the process of establishing an identity.
Mad Max: Fury Road – An action thrill-ride gets nominated because of how visceral it was. While it’s unlikely to win, it’s nice to know the Academy recognizes adventures that take themselves seriously. George Miller filmed this car chase story like it was a sprawling epic on the high seas. Atmosphere is king, and Miller rules the kingdom.
The Martian – Ridley Scott helms this sci-fi adventure, giving us equal doses of comedy and excitement. Damon portrays a charismatic and intelligent hero who uses his wits instead of guns to save the day. A stacked ensemble cast may prove a little distracting, but nothing beats the universal themes of space exploration and the world uniting over a common cause.
The Revenant – The best piece of old-fashioned cinema this year is this haunting and brutal survival tale. Filmed in real locations with natural lighting freed up the camera to float around large-scale battles. The scope is amazing. Mother Nature is a domineering presence and formidable opponent. The themes are as beautiful as the visuals. This is the rare blend of art and entertainment.
Room – This Canadian indie is one of the best hidden gem finds of the year. The story is simple, but executed beautifully. The direction carefully frames each universe we experience. The characters feel real. The emotions resonate. There are intense moments that will get your pulse racing, then there are emotional moments that will get your heart breaking. Watching characters overcome incredible obstacles is rarely tackled so matter-of-factly.
Spotlight – Incredible storytelling moves this compelling thriller along at blinding speed. Each character is important, and each performance is impressive. There is no real star, nor are there any really big standout moments. However; as a whole, this true story is incredibly satisfying. It avoids melodrama, as well as manipulative techniques, and embellishing “easy” villains.
WHAT WILL WIN: SPOTLIGHT
WHAT SHOULD WIN: THE REVENANT / ROOM
WHAT SLIPPED/THROUGH: BONE TOMAHAWK
The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room
WHO WILL WIN: CAROL // WHO SHOULD WIN: ROOM // SLIPPED/THROUGH: STEVE JOBS
Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton
WHO WILL WIN: SPOTLIGHT // WHO SHOULD WIN: EX MACHINA // SLIPPED/THROUGH: HATEFUL 8
The Big Short, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight
WHO WILL & SHOULD WIN: THE REVENANT
Best animated feature
Anomalisa, Boy and the World, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep Movie, When Marnie Was There
Amy, Cartel Land, The Look of Silence, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
Best foreign language film
Embrace of the Serpent – Colombia, Mustang – France, Son of Saul – Hungary, Theeb – Jordan, A War – Denmark
Carol, The Hateful Eight, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Sicario
Bridge of Spies, Carol, The Hateful Eight, Sicario, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Here is the full list of nominations. Star Wars managed to get a few technical award nods, but none of the big time Oscars. It seems like the Academy is growing more accepting though, with action flicks like The Martian and Mad Max getting recognition. This was such a great year for adventure AND drama. It truly is an amazing time to be a movie fan.
What do you think? Who should win? Who got snubbed?
Leave a comment below.
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