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Tuesday, 5 January 2016

2016 Academy Awards - Thoughts on Best Picture

Ideas and Opinions | Joe Mulvihill

In this post, guest blogger and contributor, Joe will discuss his thoughts on who should win one of the most prestigious awards at the Academy Awards: Best Picture - Comment or hit us up on Twitter @PatientApproach

The 28th of February see’s the return of the most luxurious award ceremony in all of entertainment, The Academy Awards. Celebrating the highest achievement in film, the annual event will enter its 88th year with numerous hot contenders in the run. As a personal tradition I place several bets on the ceremony and I implore you to do the same, provided you don’t have an unfortunate gambling addiction of course. Not only does it make the Oscars that bit more interesting, but you also come away with that smug, I told you so feeling if you win. I understand it is too early to accurately say who will win, however here are my early thoughts on this coming ceremony.

As a warning if you’re somehow unfamiliar with the Oscars and have seen Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). Don’t expect it to win, let alone be nominated for Best Picture. Although I would place money on it winning awards for visual effects, Best Picture is reserved for films that hold a deeper meaning, tackle hard subjects and attack the subconscious. Yes I agree with those who call it a breath-taking visual masterpiece, but the academy awards are for timeless films and Mad Max, as great as it was, would not stand tall next to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Casablanca (1942) and The Godfather (1972). I wouldn’t rule out a nomination however as the Golden Globes recognised it enough for their selection and the two events tend to be fairly similar.

On an unrelated note, I definitely feel the academy awards should incorporate a best stunt team award into the ceremony. As such a key part of the industry, the fact that their hard work isn’t recognised on a greater level is beyond me. Mad Max would definitely take the cake in this category.

Also, don’t necessarily bet on your favourite film to win, especially if there is a film with more meaning behind it or features something never before seen. The 2015 ceremony saw one of my absolute favourite films, Whiplash (2014) lose to the amazing Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014). Whiplash was a tense masterpiece following a Jazz drummer’s troubling quest for greatness, featuring an incredible; Academy recognized performance by J.K. Simmons and an unbelievably anxious ending. Whiplash was my favourite film however even I knew Birdman stood well above it. Birdman featured fantastic performances and a convoluted story displaying complex themes, but its most standout feature was in its cinematography. The film featured no cuts. None. The transitions were seamless and it fit so perfect with the story. The film about a play became a play about a play, that’s actually a film, and it was amazing. Look at the nominees with an educated outlook and decide what films stand out as special rather than just great.

In this post I will be discussing the three films I feel have the greatest chances of securing Best Picture. Although I have only seen one of these films I’ll be going by Oscar Buzz, early reactions and historical factors. I believe Spotlight (2015), The Revenant (2015) and The Martian (2015) are the most likely to secure it. I originally figured Bridge of Spies (2015) would be more likely than The Martian however after being snubbed at The Golden Globes it is much less likely to win it. It will still however be nominated most likely along with Carol (2015), The Hateful Eight (2015), The Big Short (2015), Room (2015), The Danish Girl (2015) and Inside out (2015).

Coming away from three Academy Awards from last year’s ceremony for Directing, Original Screenplay and Best Picture, Alejandro González Iñárritu is in hot contention again for The Revenant. The narrative follows a revenge story in 1800s America as Hugh Gass (Leonardo Dicaprio) seeks to find John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) the man that left him for dead. A gripping story paired with the cinematography by the legendary Emmanuel Lubezki, I’m making this my number one choice.

On another unrelated note, the shoot was said to be a living hell by the crew as the filmmakers wanted to avoid overly using CGI. This meant the cast and crew were in terrible conditions to make the film with their safety jeopardised. I believe you may have to make sacrifices to produce a great film, however ask yourself this; do the ends justify the means?

Spotlight is my next most likely to secure Best Picture. Praised by critics, Spotlight follows a team of journalists as they uncover the massive child molestation in the Catholic Church scandal. Featuring a stellar cast including Michael Keaton, a man who almost secured best actor at last years ceremony had it not been for Eddie Redmayne’s fantastic performance in The Theory of Everything (2014). The film is said to be gripping throughout and the only reason The Revenant is ahead is because of the legendary filmmakers behind it.

My Final Unrelated note, the Director of Spotlight, Tom McCarthy, also had the worst death I had ever seen in film. Yes he Directed Win Win (2011) and The Visitor (2007) but he also played Gordon Silberman in 2012 (2009), the new boyfriend of the protagonist (John Cusack)’s ex wife. It wasn’t that his death was badly acted; however it still frustrates me now. It was unjustified and completely meaningless. He may have been portrayed as a bit of a wet blanket, however he saved everyone’s life, TWICE. They just unceremoniously got rid of him so they can be a happy family again, but what a shallow thought to have.

My final contender for Best Picture would be The Martian. Obama’s favourite film of the year, The Martian follows Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) as he tries desperately to survive long enough on Mars for a team to rescue him. This one I have actually seen and features tense scenes with strong performances throughout. Ridley Scott has struggled lately to make something even worth watching however The Martian is a fantastic piece of Sci-fi filmmaking. It may however be hindered by people becoming tired of space films following Alfonzo Cuarón’s Gravity (2013) and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014).

So here is my top three, I’m sure it’ll constantly change, especially with the 73rd annual Golden Globes on January 10th and the Oscar Nominations released January 14th, however you should do well with the ones I’ve listed. Once announced I plan on giving you tips for actor/actress as well as other awards, but until then, you stay classy, Planet Earth.

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