By Dom Cioffi
Other than the chants of racism in the weeks leading up to this year’s Academy Awards broadcast, it’s still shaping up to be an enthralling night for movie buffs.
There’s little doubt that host Chris Rock will address the elephant in the room within minutes of the show’s start, but hopefully, after a few thought-provoking jokes, the attention will turn back to recognizing the year’s most outstanding work in motion pictures.
So, given the huge audience and prevalence of Oscar parties being planned, I thought I’d offer up my opinion regarding some of the more popular categories in the hope that it will aid those looking to fill out their own ballot.
In my opinion, the most intense race of the evening will be in the Best Supporting Actor category. I cannot remember a year where one category was so completely overblown with talented portrayals. I’ve seen every actor in their respective roles and they were all legitimately Oscar-worthy. In fact, I believe that all of the roles in Best Supporting Actor category were more intense and emotionally charged than those in the Best Actor category.
In my mind, any one of the nominees could win and you wouldn’t be able to argue with the result. Personally, I’m leaning toward Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies,” with Tom Hardy in the “The Revenant” being a very close second. However, I think nostalgia will take over for voters, giving Sylvester Stallone the win for his reprisal role in “Creed.”
The Best Supporting Actress category is full of diverse portrayals, but in my mind it’s a two-woman race between Rooney Mara in “Carol” and Jennifer Jason Leigh in “The Hateful Eight.” Tarantino films have a way of creating winners so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Leigh walk away with the Oscar. However, watch out for perennial favorite Kate Winslet (even though I found her role in “Jobs” to be slightly inconsistent).
It’s obvious that Leonardo DiCaprio is in the driver’s seat in the Best Actor category with his portrayal in “The Revenant.” Leo was fully committed in this role and its immersive requirements were worthy of recognition. But had there been a truly mesmerizing nominee like Eddie Redmayne’s cloning of Stephen Hawking last year, I believe Leo would have come up empty handed again.
However, it’s often about timing and I think the time is right for Leo to take home the gold.
Any time Cate Blanchett is nominated there’s a good chance she will win. However, I personally believe this year’s Best Actress statuette should go to Brie Larson for her portrayal of an abducted teenager in “Room.” Larson’s role was moving on an intensely emotional level. Jen Lawrence was equally adept in the feel-good picture “Joy,” but I think her level of exposure as of late will work against her.
But take note: the Oscars are also devoid of older thespians this season so don’t be surprised if underdog Charlotte Rampling wins for her gritty portrayal in “45 Years.”
Look to see Alejandro González Iñárritu to repeat as the Best Director for his work on “The Revenant.” This might be the easiest pick of the night given the film’s epic scale and Iñárritu’s mesmerizing integration of nature (not to mention that horribly intense mauling scene).
Fans of “Mad Max: Fury Road” may still be reveling in the film’s Best Picture nod, but I highly doubt its eclectic storyline will translate to a win in that category. However, I believe it should walk away with the Best Cinematography Oscar. The modernization of this classic was beautifully executed and its unique filming style was one of the main catalysts to its success. It’s also a good bet to win the Best Editing Oscar.
Then we come to the all-important Best Picture category. I think this is another two-picture race between “The Revenant” and “Spotlight” with “Spotlight” being the odds-on favorite.
However, for me, “Room” was the year’s best movie. I highly doubt this film will win given its lack of market saturation, but no other film in 2015 affected me on the level that this picture did. I thought about “Room” for weeks after seeing it and even had dreams about what I might do if I found myself in the same circumstance. Unless you have issues with claustrophobia, make sure you put this on your upcoming rental list.
Well, that sums up a few of the more popular categories. Go online to find your own ballot whether you plan to party Sunday night or not. To help with your choices, remember to visit the official website to see clips from all the nominated actors and films.
As I said, I cannot remember a year that was as closely contested in so many categories as this year. Sunday will undoubtedly be an interesting night no matter who wins.
Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at [email protected].