2016 Academy Award Winners & Round-Up

It is easy, as a member of an unofficial community of online film lovers, to forget that the majority of America and some parts of the rest of the world tune into the Oscars in order to see some of the most famous movie stars on the planet act like normal people and reward themselves or better yet, recognize the best of what they had to offer from the previous year, and not because they've actually seen many of the films. In talking to a co-worker in the office this morning about the ceremony they commented they'd only seen The Revenant, The Martian, and Mad Max: Fury Road and so they were happy to see some of what they recognized take home a fair amount of awards. Naturally, I was inclined to tell them that Brooklyn, Room, and Spotlight were essential viewing given they were each already on or will be coming out on home video soon while also stressing the entertainment value of The Big Short despite some clear hesitance based on the complicated subject matter. In short, it is a strange dynamic between what general audiences expect given the types of films nominated and the hope that seeing so many nominations for films not widely known will make some if not all of them gravitate toward the ones they might have previously disregarded once the films can viewed from the comfort of their own home. As for the actual show, it was a rather entertaining three and a half hours given the lackluster energy of last year's ceremony if not at least an hour too long. The best part about this year's awards though is that there were in fact some uncertainties going in, especially in the biggest category of the night. After the jump I go through my predictions and what I guessed right and wrong, where I wished I would have been wrong, why I was happy to be wrong a few times as well as highlight the full list of the winners.

Of course, this year was always going to be relevant for the circumstances under which the Oscars would be airing. This factor didn't hurt host Chris Rock, but more aided in his opening remarks, as he had a lot to play with in terms of the conversation around the whitewashing of the acting nominees once again this year. What was most impressive about Rock's opening monologue though, was that he was able to address the issue as an African-American member of the Hollywood community with the balance of being both forthright about the prejudices he himself has faced as well as acknowledging this wasn't simply an issue with the Academy, but a larger, industry wide issue. Though a few of the bits were funny, Rock ultimately seemed to lose his footing along the way with his best jabs coming in the form of off the cuff remarks as he introduced presenters. That said, the race card was hit so repeatedly it did begin to lose some of its effect rather quickly. The part where Rock interviewed black movie-goers outside a Los Angeles cinema seemed to have the opposite effect of what he was intending. My only hope is that with all of this discussion happening that African American actors are not given a pity vote next year, but are instead given the opportunity to star in quality films that deserve to be nominated.

In the major categories all of the choices were fairly obvious sans how Best Picture would shake out...or so I thought. Easily the biggest surprise of the night was the win for Mark Rylance in the Best Supporting Actor category over Sylvester Stallone. While it always felt as if there were a chance Rylance might creep in and win it never felt like it would actually happen. The narrative with Stallone was simply too good to ignore. Having written Rocky, been nominated for Best Actor in 1977 for the film and it going on to win in Picture, Directing, and Editing it seemed things would come full circle as Stallone would finally win an acting award for playing the now legendary Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, the majority of the Academy didn't seem to think so. That is not to say Rylance didn't deserve the award, he was certainly one of the best things about Bridge of Spies which was otherwise an all-around superb piece of filmmaking. Still, for some reason it felt more like Stallone had earned such an award after being labeled as nothing more than a meathead for so many years. It was assumed his intelligence for the business, for storytelling, and for relaying an emotional performance might finally be recognized, but alas that was not to be. Stallone has said that Creed was the last time he'll portray Balboa, but after this heartbreaking loss (you could really see it in his face) I wouldn't be surprised if Stallone goes for it one more time in the inevitable follow-up to Creed. The other major surprise of the night was the $15 million budgeted Ex Machina beating out heavy hitters like Star Wars, Mad Max and The Martian for the Visual Effects award. I remember hearing around the film's release back in April about how the visual effects team would stay after hours without getting paid overtime to work on the film simply because of how much they loved the project. I couldn't help but allow that to influence my picking of the film in my ballot and was more than happy to see it pay off.

There was also the Original Song shocker where Sam Smith's SPECTRE theme took home the prize over presumed winner Lady Gaga, but given I feel like one of the few who actually enjoyed Smith's Bond theme I didn't mind seeing it win. Also, what is the record for consecutive Bond songs winning? I know Alicia Keys and Jack White's "Another Way to Die," from Quantum of Solace wasn't even nominated in 2009, but with Adele winning three years ago and now Smith winning I'd be interested to know if this is some type of first.

The other big question mark of the night was who might take home the top prize this year. Going into the night it was seemingly a three-way race for Best Picture between The Revenant, Spotlight, and The Big Short. Though now, in retrospect, it seems The Big Short never stood a chance given its only win of the night was for Best Adapted Screenplay (still, the director of Anchorman, Talladega Nights, and Step Brothers is now Academy Award Winner Adam McKay), but my confidence never wavered in Spotlight despite the momentum The Revenant gained after a monster box office debut in January as well as the big wins for DiCaprio and Alejandro González Iñárritu earlier in the night. While it was easy to guess the Academy would give a film like The Revenant, a film that will be remembered more for its excruciating production and now the film that finally earned DiCaprio his Oscar rather than for the actual product, the Directing prize, but these factors didn't fall into its favor when talking about the best film of 2015. For me, Spotlight is a near perfect film and for it not to have won Best Picture or maybe even worse, lose to something like The Revenant, would have been a real crime. I don't mind seeing Iñárritu win two consecutive Directing statues and join the ranks of legends John Ford and Joseph Mankiewicz as he is clearly a skilled and innovative filmmaker, but the right film won this year and I'm happy the Academy decided it was okay to split the Director/Picture wins once again after doing so most recently in both 2012 and 2013.

And so, Leo finally earned his coveted Best Actor statue and his Revenant director became only the third director in the history of the awards show to win back to back Directing awards. Mad Max ended up taking home six Oscars (tying with the original Star Wars for the most wins by a film that won neither Director nor Picture) to the appeasement of much of the general audience and, unfortunately, Brooklyn was shut out. That said, Brie Larson certainly deserved her win for Room as did Alicia Vikander for what was arguably a lead performance in The Danish Girl. If you have trouble accepting this though, just view Vikander's win as one for Ex Machina for she was just as deserving for that performance if not more so.

That's it for this year's round-up. What were your thoughts on the show at large? Entertained? Bored to tears? Let me know in the comments section and check out the full list of winners (highlighted in Orange) below.

88th Academy Award Winners

Best Picture

The Revenant 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian 
The Big Short  
Bridge of Spies

Best Director

Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant) 
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road
Adam McKay (The Big Short
Lenny Abrahamson (Room

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) 
Matt Damon (The Martian
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

Best Supporting Actor 

Sylvester Stallone (Creed
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) 
Christian Bale (The Big Short
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight
Tom Hardy (The Revenant

Best Actress

Brie Larson (Room) 
Cate Blanchett (Carol
Charlotte Rampling (45 Years
Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn
Jennifer Lawrence (Joy

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara (Carol
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) 
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight

Best Animated Feature

Inside Out 
Boy and the World 
Shaun the Sheep Movie 
When Marnie was There


Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant) 
John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road
Dariusz Wolski (The Martian
Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight
Roger Deakins (Sicario)

Best Adapted Screenplay

Drew Goddard (The Martian
Phyllis Nagy (Carol
Emma Donoghue (Room
Nick Hornby (Brooklyn
Adam McKay & Charles Randolph (The Big Short) 

Best Original Screenplay

Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight) 
Alex Garland (Ex Machina)  
Meg LeFauve, Pete Docter, & Josh Cooley (Inside Out
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen (Bridge of Spies
Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton

Best Documentary Feature

The Look of Silence 
What Happened, Miss Simone? 
Cartel Land
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

Film Editing

Tom McArdle (Spotlight
Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road) 
Hank Corwin (The Big Short
Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant
Mary Jo Markey & Maryann Brandon (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Best Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul 
A War
Embrace the Serpent

Best Original Score

Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight) 
John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Carter Burwell (Carol
Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies
Johann Johannsson (Sicario

Best Original Song

"Writings on the Wall" from SPECTRE 
"Manta Ray" from Racing Extinction 
"Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey 
"Simple Song 3" from Youth 
"Til It Happens to You" from The Hunting Ground 

Sound Mixing

The Revenant 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
The Martian 
Bridge of Spies 

Sound Editing

The Martian 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Production Design

Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant
Bridge of Spies 
The Danish Girl 
The Martian

Visual Effects

Mad Max: Fury Road 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 
The Martian 
The Revenant 
Ex Machina


Sandy Powell (Carol
Sandy Powell (Cinderella
Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road) 
Paco Delgado (The Danish Girl
Jacque (The Revenant

Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Revenant 
The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared

Best Documentary Short Subject

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah 
Body Team 12 
Last Day of Freedom
Chau, Beyond the Lines 
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Best Short Film (Animated)

Sanjays Super Team 
Bear Story 
We Can't Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Best Short Film (Live Action)

Everything Will Be Okay 
Day One 
Ave Maria

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