Spotlight: 2016 Oscar's Best Picture Nominees
Writer: Casey Lee
Who do you think will take Best Picture?
2015 has been an odd race to the Oscars. While there was certainly no shortage of amazing films being made that year, there haven't been clear frontrunners throughout, unlike previous years.
Sure, the Golden Globes may have heralded the first names that we would be hearing for the Oscars, but the number of Oscar-worthy titles could have made up a completely different list of titles.
Well, all that has finally cleared with the announcement of the Oscar nominations yesterday by Ang Lee, Guillermo del Toro, John Krasinski and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs. The race is on, and one of these films will be named Best Picture of the 88th Academy Awards on 28th February (and makes for very good reason to catch these films if you haven't).
The Big Short
Since this sub-prime mortgage crisis comedy-drama has been on the shortlist as one of the potential Oscar nominees, it has ejected Adam McKay's profile from crass comedy director to prestige Oscar nominee overnight. Granted the talents assembled onscreen is almost like the "Avengers" for serious Oscar contenders, but it was also the casual handling of a serious economic disaster that rounded the rough edges. "The Big Short" has thumbs in five major Oscar categories this year (including the Best Picture), which gives it a shot, if the other nominees are not matching technicality.
Bridge of Spies
Spielberg's recent attempts for Oscar glory since 2012 has not panned out so well for his Best Picture closet that has probably been gathering dust. Still, it's rather impressive that he is the one director here who has consistently pumped out Oscar-nominated films in recent year, more than any other of the filmmakers that make up this list (maybe even combined). With most of its 5 other nominations scattered in technical and non-technical areas, and only one of them for acting (that is not for Tom Hanks), the chances for "Bridge of Spies" pulling an upset is cold, but for its effort, it is already worth celebrating.
The Oscar clearly wasn't about to let too many women-leading pictures take up space in the Best Picture category and frankly, we don't know if we would take "Brooklyn" over "Carol" or vice versa (with David O Russell's "Joy" booted from the Oscar party for far outliving his welcome). Given how the nominations are shared between "Carol" and "Brooklyn", we suspect this to be a compensation vote for the immigrant drama, but that only makes us sadder that we won't be seeing a female-leading Best Picture this year.
Mad Max: Fury Road
One of the titans of this year's Oscar race, and it has simply been a revelation how far this little madness has gone since it was shown during the cold slots at the start of 2015. Many who have seen it knew that it has all the trappings to be a major Oscar winner in the technical categories, but being able to sustain a high-octane momentum throughout the year is already a feat that is as ambitious as the film itself. The only Best Picture contender without a single nomination in acting, which would traditionally spell doom in most cases, but still being able to score 10 nominations in mainly technical categories and having incredible goodwill from critics and craftsmen that might tip the balance; a win here could change be the game-changer that "Gravity" failed to launch.
This is the one name on this list that could have been easily replaced by other titles with Oscar buzz. Although the real science of "The Martian" probably was more appealing to the technophobes of the Academy than giving "Ex Machina" more nominations, but in the big boy's playground of the Best Picture, "The Martian" is outgunned and outsmarted by its closest competitors (in technical and major categories). It's only saving grace may be to take Best Adapted Screenplay, or else Hollywood needs to spend more money to save Matt Damon before he walks away with an Oscar.
The real fight of this year's Oscars is between "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "The Revenant". While the Academy is really pouring love for practical effects, natural lightning and the sacrifices made to reach higher technical achievements, "The Revenant" has the added edge of having strong nominees in two major acting categories; making this a bona fide candidate to win the Oscar in the most traditional settings. But this race has shaped up to be one of the least traditional match up it has ever had, so traditions may not do any favors for Iñárritu to take his second consecutive Best Picture Oscar.
While the main card of this year's Oscars is between "The Revenant" and "Mad Max: Fury Road", the side attraction that is the showdown between "Spotlight" and "The Big Short" is also not one to be forgotten. Although both deal with vastly different scandals, but the assemblage of actors, writers, directing and editing is where they collide head-on. "Spotlight" may have the Oscar buzz following it between the two, but it has the extra nomination for Best Supporting Female that may be the advantage it needs to take more wins than "The Big Short".
Not even the PGA had predicted that "Room" would take a spot for Best Picture, despite scoring 3 other nominations where it should. Being the wildcard, we can't really gauge how great its chances are (which just adds to how hard it was predict the race until today), but any win from would mean better times for actress Brie Larson, director Lenny Abrahamson or screenwriter Emma Donoghue.
Cinema Online, 15 January 2016
Here's a closer look at the 2016 Oscar Best Picture Nominees!