Monday, February 29, 2016

THE 88TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS



While the controversy around the lack of color in the acting categories seemed like it would diminish the excitement over this year's Oscar ceremony however the show must go on. Host Chris Rock had remained silent during the whole eruption with calls for a boycott and for him to drop-out. He announced that he was going to stay but still said nothing on the subject. This made it clear he planned to say everything on stage. And he did not disappoint with an opening monologue that was edgy, enlightened and very funny. He took some hilarious jabs at Hollywood racism, Jada Pickett Smith, "Rocky" and not losing another job to Kevin Hart. Not all of the material worked (the Girl Scout cookies bit and Fox News shrill, Stacey Dash's clueless appearance just made me feel more sorry for her) and the lack of diversity jokes went on a bit too long and were far too narrow in racial scope but Rock managed to keep the show energized throughout the evening.

The acting nominees may not have been very diverse but the presenters most certainly were. We had distinguished African-American Oscar winners from the past  (Whoopi Goldberg and Louis Gossett, Jr.), an international cast of stars from India (Bollywood actress, Priyanka Chopra who currently stars on ABC's "Quantico"), Ghana (Abraham Attah, star of "Beasts of No Nation") , South Korea (Lee Byung-hun, known to U.S. audiences for the "G.I. Joe" films) and Columbia (Sofia Vergara, Why?) . We also had Buzz Lightyear, R2D2, Minions and uh,  Ali G.

"Spotlight" won the night as it became the Best Picture of 2015 and also received the prize for Best Original Screenplay. "Mad Max: Fury Road" took home the most awards with six in the technical fields while "The Revenant" had three-peat winner, Emmanuel Lubezki for Best Cinematography, two-peat Best Director, Alejandro González Iñárritu and first-time Best Actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Sadly, "Carol" walked away empty-handed (and was truly robbed of the costume design prize) and if Leo thought he had a long wait, Roger Deakins lost Best Cinematography for the thirteenth time.

Diane Warren didn't win Best Original Song for the seventh time but her co-writer, Lady Gaga gave a powerfully moving performance of their nominated song, "Til It Happens To You" which concluded with a highly emotional moment as real-life survivors of sexual abuse joined her on stage. However, the show did not allow two of the five Best Song nominees to perform due to an apparent lack of time. I found this completely disrespectful to them for they deserved the spotlight just as much as the others. Transgender nominee, Anohni, who co-wrote "Manta Ray" for the documentary "Racing Extinction", boycotted the show because of this unnecessary slight.

There were a few unexpected moments with the most shocking was Mark Rylance taking the Best Supporting Actor prize over sentimental favorite, Sylvester Stallone. What made this even more of a surprise was that Mark Ruffalo or Christian Bale seemed more likely to win if Stallone hadn't. The excellent sc-fi thriller, "Ex Machina" didn't receive nearly enough award recognition as it should have but it was the surprise victor in the Best Visual Effects category.

With important issues like diversity, climate change, sexual abuse and corporate greed brought up on the show, this was probably the most politically charged the Oscars has been in quite a while. The conversations have begun with promises of change. Now, let's see what happens.

Here is the complete list of winners from the 2016 Academy Awards:

Best Picture: "Spotlight"
Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, "The Revenant"
Best Adapted Screenplay: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, "The Big Short"
Best Original Screenplay: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, "Spotlight"
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Revenant"
Best Actress: Brie Larson, "Room"
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Mark Rylance, "Bridge of Spies"
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Alicia Vikander, "The Danish Girl"
Best Film Editing: Margaret Sixel, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "The Revenant"
Best Foreign Language Film: "Son of Saul" (Hungary)
Best Live Action Short Film: "Stutterer"
Best Documentary Feature: "Amy"
Best Documentary Short Subject: "A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness"
Best Animated Feature Film: "Inside Out"
Best Animated Short Film: "Bear Story"
Best Production Design: Colin Gibson (Production Design) & Lisa Thompson (Set Decoration), "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Costume Design: Jenny Beavan, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Original Score: Ennio Morricone, "The Hateful Eight"
Best Original Song: Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith, "Writings on the Wall," from "Spectre"
Best Sound Mixing: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Sound Editing: Mark Mangini and David White, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin, "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Best Visual Effects: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett, "Ex Machina"
Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Debbie Reynolds
Honorary Oscar: Spike Lee
Honorary Oscar: Gena Rowlands