It’s always a special night. The Oscars. No matter how entertaining the event feels or not, it makes a mark in history, it makes a mark in the lives of those people who are committed to their professions in the entertainment industry. This year’s event is no different. Many new winners, some veterans, young ones and old, the Academy Awards does not discriminate (barring on color, eh!?) but honours one for the performance shown on the screen or behind it. Chris Rock was hosting the Oscars for the second time, the previous one was back in 2005, and he did a swell job in mixing the lighter moments with the tougher messages. The opening monologue addressing the big issue of racism in the Academy was spoken of without mincing words but with sensibility and clarity, mixed with a lot of hilarious moments. It’s one of the best openings to an Academy Awards show that I have seen.
With the ball set rolling, the show began with the first set of Oscars handed out for the best screenplay. Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy won it for for Spotlight for best screenplay written directly for the screen, while Charles Randolph and Adam McKay bagged it for The Big Short for best screenplay based on material previously published. I loved the fact that directors of both these films, Tom McCarthy and Adam McKay, by virtue of being part of the screenplay team bagged Oscars for their amazing work which they thoroughly deserved, and did not go home empty-handed since the Best Director award went to someone else. It’s a bit like that for Quentin Tarantino, who is a two-time Oscar winner, but is yet to win the award for Best Director.
The Best Supporting Actress Oscar to Alicia Vikander came as a total surprise to me. Her role in The Danish Girl was fantastic, and she is one of the most talented young actresses who is rising up the ranks pretty quickly. Nonetheless, Kate Winslet’s win at the Golden Globe awards and the BAFTAs gave me the impression that she was heading for her second Oscar win, seven years since winning it for The Reader. Nonetheless, I expect to see Alicia Vikander in that massive room full of nominees again and again, because at 27 years of age, she still has a lot more to give to cinema.
What followed then was a blitzkrieg of sorts as the name Mad Max: Fury Road kept on ringing in the hall. It went on to win six Academy Awards (Six!) of the seven announcements that followed, pretty much sweeping the technical sections: Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. It was simply phenomenal, a movie based on a road chase in an apocalyptic world getting such adulation at the Oscars which I did not expect at all. Director George Miller sat there and soaked in all the praises that were being heaped on him, and rightly so, for it was his vision that put this marvelous film together. The only award in that section which this movie missed out on was for Best Cinematography which went to, who else but Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant. Lubezki’s work is a piece of art in itself, and his three back-to-back Oscar wins are hardly surprising – the previous two were for Birdman and Gravity. His cinematography is pivotal to what director Alejandro G. Iñárritu wanted viewers to experience in The Revenant; Oscar-worthy, indeed! The Oscar for Best Visual Effects surprisingly went to the team of Ex Machina. A fantastic sci-fi movie, but it never held my attention for its visual effects alone as they seemed low-key. Now didn’t Star Wars: The Force Awakens deserve that award? After all, it has been that kind of a year for the returning space saga that an Oscar would have seemed fitting.
Pixar’s Inside Out was hands-down favourite for the Best Animated Film Oscar, and there was going to be no surprise here. This is the eighth Pixar film to win in this category ever since the Academy Awards started to hand out awards to animated movies separately from 2001 onwards. Mark Rylance was the next one to walk on stage to accept the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his restrained and commendable performance in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. While many would have loved Sylvester Stallone to win the award for playing Rocky Balboa in Creed given the sentiments associated with that series, Rylance was always a tough contender to beat and this time Rocky found his match.
Oscars for the documentary Amy and the foreign film Saul fia (Son of Saul) will come as no surprise if you were keeping your ears close to what the critics were saying. Both movies had been earning rave reviews and had generated enough buzz about them to land the golden statuettes. For the music awards, no one is going to argue on Ennio Morricone’s win for The Hateful Eight. At the age of 87, of which almost 60 years have been spent in the world of films, this fabulous music composer won his first Oscar which led to the Prime Minister of Italy tweeting – “Superb Maestro, finally!” He has been nominated five times before and has already been given an honorary award, but nothing beats the real thing! Singer Sam Smith along with James Napier won the award for the Best Original Score for “Writing’s on the Wall” which had been written for Spectre. It’s a song that gradually grows on you, and is only the second James Bond song to win this award following Adele’s theme song for Skyfall.
The top four awards began with Alejandro G. Iñárritu bagging his second Oscar for Best Director for The Revenant, following last year’s win for Birdman. If the win last year was closely fought with Richard Linklater for Boyhood, I doubt if anyone comes a close second this year round. While there were four other great directorial works competing, Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s movie simply stood out with the scale at which he made his emotional saga that leaves a deep impression with the audience. Am so eager now for his next work! The Best Actress Oscar went to Brie Larson for Room, and hardly anyone was surprised. A knockout performance which has been awarded with trophies at many shows already, this could be the beginning of a brighter career for Larson. I truly hope so, for such a breakout role that has been much loved and appreciated should not end as a one-time achievement.
The big moment came when the winner in the Best Actor category was announced and a huge cheer went up as the fan-favourite Leonardo DiCaprio finally turned into an Oscar winner from an Oscar nominee. His performance as Hugh Glass in The Revenant was one of the best he had delivered, but as fate had it in the years before, someone else always stole the show. Not this time, and thankfully so, for soon DiCaprio would have started running out of new roles to try. A heartfelt speech that even gave a shout out to save the climate, it was DiCaprio’s Oscars more than anyone else’s this year. The ceremony came to an end with a bit of a surprise in the Best Picture category, though a pleasant one, as the drama Spotlight bagged the award despite The Revenant being expected to do so. Spotlight had almost everything perfect about it: a great screenplay, fantastic music, masterful direction and one of the best ensemble casts who gave the movie a soul which eventually led it all the way to an Oscar.
A great night which had Mad Max: Fury Road winning the highest number of awards (6), which had the Best Picture award being won by a movie that bagged only one other Oscar, which had Leonardo DiCaprio turn fifth time lucky, which had the 87-year old Ennio Morricone win his first Oscar, which had a splendid monologue opening by Chris Rock, thus finally came to an end. Until next year!
Best Motion Picture of the Year: Spotlight (Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin, Blye Pagon Faust)
Actor in a Leading Role: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Actress in a Leading Role: Brie Larson for Room
Supporting actor: Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies
Supporting actress: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl
Directing: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant
Adapted screenplay: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay for The Big Short
Original screenplay: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy for Spotlight
Animated feature film: Inside Out (Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera)
Production design: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson for Mad Max: Fury Road
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant
Film editing: Margaret Sixel for Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound mixing: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo for Mad Max: Fury Road
Sound editing: Mark A. Mangini and David White for Mad Max: Fury Road
Original score: Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight
Original song: “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre by Sam Smith and James Napier
Costume design: Jenny Beavan for Mad Max: Fury Road
Makeup and hairstyling: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega, Damian Martin for Mad Max: Fury Road
Visual effects: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Williams Ardington, Sara Bennett for Ex Machina
Documentary feature: Amy (Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees)
Foreign language film: Son of Saul from Hungary; Directed by László Nemes
Documentary (short subject): A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Animated short film: Historia de un oso – Gabriel Osorio Vargas, Pato Escala Pierart
Live action short film: Stutterer – Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage