So this year Oscar’s bad is white-ish . . . like that’s a new problem. I would just point out that last year - - and possible this year - - the Best Director award went to a Mexican and I doubt Donald Trump would call him ‘white.’ Actually, only two of the past six Best Directors were Euro-American males (a Brit and a Frenchman) which strikes me as pretty diverse. Yeah, there should be more black directors and producers. There should be more black Senators and Supreme Court Justices, too. But I digress . . .
Best Actor in a Starring Role - - Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant- - I’m tempted to go with Michael Fassbinder in Steve Jobs or dark horse Matt Damon in The Martian. Both were very subtle under the frenetic action. Actually Oscar Issac had a pretty good year (Ex Machina, A Most Violent Year). Bryan Cranston may be the bookmaker's alternative to Leo but I didn’t like Trumbo. I think DiCaprio will continue the sweep the awards and I’m fine with that. I didn’t see The Danish Girl.
Best Actress in a Starring Role - - Cate Blanchett, Carol - - I didn’t see Brooklyn or 45 Years so I’m out on a limb here but Cate Blanchett was spectacular as the (sorta) predatory lesbian in Carol. Cate’s entrance in the department store was actress heaven and her fur coat set PETA back twenty years. Ms. Lawrence was great again in Joy, as was Brie Larson in Room but they'll be back in future years, no doubt.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role - - Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies- - I actually thought Steve Carell in The Big Short was the best in this category. Christian Bale was fine but not as deep a performance. Tom Hardy and Mark Ruffalo were exceptional but there was something pure and true about Rylance as Soviet spy Rudolph Abel. I’d love to see him in more movies so maybe this will encourage him. I didn’t see Creed but one Oscar is more enough for Rocky Balboa.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role - - Rooney Mara, Carol - - Another open field. I hated The Hateful Eight but Jennifer Jason-Leigh was a bright spot. Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams were excellent in ensemble performances. Regardless, I have to go back to Carol and Ms. Mara’s dreamy, steamy ingenue. She impresses me more with each film.
Best Original Screenplay - - Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy, Spotlight - - This isn’t much of a contest although I missed Inside Out. Straight Outta Compton was not terribly interesting and Bridge of Spies had first-act problems. I did like the ambiguity of Ex Machina but the movie didn’t soar. Spotlight didn’t lift me up either - - quite the opposite - - but it was the best newsroom movie in a long while.
Best Adapted Screenplay - - Phyllis Nagy, Carol - - This was the only adapted movie where I read the book . . . Patricia Highsmith’s (Strangers On A Train, The Talented Mr. Ripley and many more) novella, The Price Of Salt. Ms. Nagy captured the warm underbelly of the story perfectly. The Martian and The Big Short had excellent scripts but Room was ambiguous in all the wrong places.
Best Cinematography - - Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant - - I did not see Sicario but poor Roger Deakins clearly deserves a statue after thirteen nominations. Unfortunately, he’s again up against some outstanding work, including Edward Lachman’s fascinating tracking shots on Carol and John Seale’s amazing camera set-ups on Mad Max: Fury Road. Robert Richardson gives us lots of lovely snow but missed the chance to show what 70 mm can do. Sorry guys; it’s got to be three in a row for Emmanuel Lubezki. The Revenant was amazing.
Best Music - - Carter Burwell, Carol - - I suppose they will give it to John Williams again but I did not see Star Wars: Episode Whatever. I always like Burwell. Like Richardson, Morricone, or maybe Tarantino, missed a great opportunity. By the way, costume designer Sandy Powell needs a fourth Oscar for this movie, although I did not see Cinderella.
Best Direction - - Tom McCarthy, Spotlight - - Adam McKay did a fantastic job with The Big Short but it seems unlikely that anyone will beat out Iñárritu, who is clearly wiping up all the other awards. George Miller was also great at rebuilding an old roadster and roaring home with it. I will go with McCarthy because he meshed his ensemble cast so splendidly and that’s what directors are supposed to do.
Best Picture - - Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mary Parent, Keith Redmon, The Revenant - - There are some really good movies here and I expect I will probably like Brooklyn, too, when I see it. The Revenant, however, has a beautiful, Ford-like sweep to it and I will definitely want to see it again and again. I think the opening attack on the trappers is the best battle scene since Saving Private Ryan . . certainly the best Indian raid ever put to film. In short, I think this movie will go on a list of Westerns that define the genre in this decade.
And so it goes . . . now that I’m a married man I can’t go trolling Brentwood Country Club for Oscar dates anymore. I guess I need to wait until next year to return to celebrity arm candyhood. Hey, if the wives are working, maybe Bill and I can do a boy's night out. Well, maybe not.