The ceremony itself was far from memorable in my opinion. I usually love watching the Oscars, whether there are upset winners or not, but this year it turned out to be a bit flat and boring. I think it was due to the political bent it had to have to acknowledge and address the fact that racism is a malaise in Hollywood just like anywhere else, even though perhaps better hidden.
Chris Rock, a host I don't particularly like, did a pretty good job of setting the tone and discuss the topic. He forwent the usual opening monologue centered around the Best Picture nominees, or other interesting nominees in the audience, and didn't even really talk about the movies at all. Rather, he almost went into stand-up mode and started jabbing and poking at the industry about its restrictive practices.
He was funny and to the point, and didn't shy away from delivering a caustic commentary on the industry as a whole, even though he was able to keep the tone light enough to avoid dropping a wet blanket on the proceedings.
He kept throwing hand grenades around throughout the night, and although a couple of times they fell a bit flat, hopefully they were the wake-up call the Hollywood needed to speed up the changes already put in motion by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The only thing I really regret about Rock's handling of the ceremony is that he used the few montages usually dedicated to celebrating the craft of moviemaking (that I love so much) to further talk about racism, but trying to put a comedic spin on it. They worked well, especially the one with black actors playing roles that went to white actors in this year's crop of contenders, but I missed the montages because they always feel very nostalgic, and in a good way.
Anyway, the ceremony was pretty fluid, and it marched decidedly on towards an almost on time finish, but without feeling rushed.
And here's my list of random comments on the night:
- I did like that they changed the order in which the awards are handed out. The Best Supporting Actress category is usually always the first, but this time the two writing categories started the show, and those are considered to be among the top prizes of the night.
However, the presenters said the awards would be presented in the order in which a movie is made, so they started with the idea, which becomes the story, which becomes the screenplay, and it sounded cool, but they didn't really continue the theme, since they kept the lead acting awards for the end of the ceremony as usual. Oh well, nice try.
- Ostensibly in order to save time, all the nominees were asked to compile a list of the people they would have thanked in the even they won an award. The list of random names would then have been scrolling at the bottom of the screen during the recipient's walk up to the stage, so they could have done away with mentioning those names and only talked about more "important" things.
While I appreciate the sentiment, the crawler à la CNN was a bit odd for a ceremony of the caliber of the Oscars. It was also a bit distracting, not to mention useless for anyone who didn't personally know the nominee and those who did would have had to scramble to find their name in the sea of fast moving ones.
So, while it might have worked in shortening the boring list of names the winners often get into, not all were eliminated, and not all the winners were subjected to the crawler, thereby establishing another tiered system of importance.
- The handsome Ryan Gosling played a skit with Russell Crowe that closely resembled the one he did at the Golden Globes. It wasn't new, but it worked because the two actors played it really well.
- Sarah Silverman's presentation was very funny. She made fun of James Bond's sexual prowess with her trademark comedic style, which is quite sexual and raw, but I thought it worked great. It gave a jolt to the seriousness of the night and I'm sure gave cold sweats to the guy in charge of the censor button behind the scenes.
I also love how she worked the "he's too ghetto" comment in there, in reference to Idris Elba not being good enough to play 007, which is utterly ridiculous. I actually think he would be the ideal actor to replace Daniel Craig when he gets sick of being Bond.
- Sam Smith's performance of Writing's on the Wall, nominated for the latest Bond movie, Spectre, was very good. He has a beautiful voice and good stage presence, even though I could hear his lisp more than I had ever heard it before.
Ultimately, he and his (super hot!) writing partner Jimmy Napes pulled one of the few upsets of the night by winning Best Song over Lady Gaga and Diane Warren's song, which was considered the favorite to win.
With this win, Spectre becomes the 2nd straight James Bond film to win an Original Song Oscar (after Adele's Skyfall), and that's why I thought Smith was the favorite, until I listened to Gaga's song and found it superior because of its anti-rape message.
Also, both winners for the Bond song are British nationals.
As for Smith, I liked that he dedicated the award to all LGBT people in the world, even though he erroneously stated that he was probably the first openly gay man to win an Oscar and social media mercilessly attacked him for it. C'mon, he didn't say anything offensive. Sure, others preceded him, but it's not like he was cocky or hurtful. Let the guy have his moment!
- Henry Cavill and Chris Evans were the most handsome gentlemen of the night. Period. Michael B. Jordan was a close third.
- When Jenny Beavan won her Oscar for Costume Design I couldn't help but wonder, How come a costume designer talented enough to win an Oscar for her work can't find something "decent" to wear at the ceremony?
This is the same woman who recently won Costume Design at the BAFTAs and wore a similarly ragged outfit, for which Stephen Fry joked she looked like a bag lady (and got a lot of heat for it, even though the two are friends and she didn't mind the jab at all). Well, turns out, he hit the nail right on the head. She did look like a bag lady. No jokes.
Also, she started droning on with her acceptance speech and finally the get-the-hell-out-of-here background music started playing, and that's when she started saying something important she wanted to say. A bit of advice, dear, if you have something important to say on such a big stage, forgo the silly jokes and get to the point, because you know you only have like 30 seconds to talk. You ain't that important. They won't give you more air time.
- Tina Fey and Steve Carell were very funny, he's got the best deadpan face and she is one of the funniest actresses ever.
- The handsome Jared Leto is pretty much the only straight guy in the world who could get away with wearing a tux that sported red trims and a large, red flower as a necktie. Enough said.
- With his win for Best Cinematography for The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki becomes the first cinematographer to win 3 straight Oscars in a row (after Gravity and Birdman).
He's only 52.
- On that topic, with his win for Best Foreign Language Film for Son of Saul, László Nemes took the Oscar for his first feature and he's only 29!
- I loved the introductory clips for Best Sound Editing and Mixing. It's really impressive how much detail goes into the making of a film, and how sounds are crafted and carefully added to the images is simply incredible.
- The Best Visual Effects going to Ex Machina was another upset, especially considering the sweep that Mad Max: Fury Road was making of the technical awards and, even more so, the nomination of the newest, and first in many years, Star Wars movie.
- Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens was actually one of the biggest losers of the night, given that it won none of the five awards it was nominated for.
- The biggest winner of the night was Mad Max: Fury Road, which nabbed awards in 6 of the 10 categories it was nominated for. Granted, they were all technical awards, except for Best Editing, which is one of the major ones, but it was a pretty impressive sweep nonetheless. And more than well deserved.
- The Revenant, on the other hand, was leading the field with 12 nomination but took home just 3. Two were among the top categories, but it still fared less well than it was expected. It especially lost the top prize, Best Picture, in spite of being the heavy favorite in the lead up to the ceremony.
Goes to show that one can never really know...
- By winning Best Director for The Revenant, Alejandro González Iñárritu became the first director in 66 years to win back-to-back directing Oscars!!
I really liked his speech and he shouldn't have had that awful music shooing him away in the background. That was bad manners. I know that one shouldn't make exceptions, but it's the Best Director winner and he's actually saying something very important and current, so just give him a few more seconds already! I don't think anyone would have minded really.
- The clips and skit with the Minions, Woody and Buzz Lightyear, and the Star Wars droids were all very cute.
- On the other hand, Chris Rock's Girl Scout cookies skit was a total debacle. Unlike Ellen selling pizza slices, this one dropped like a steaming turd.
And did you notice at what point he decided to pull the audience's attention away from the stage for that stupid crap? Yes, when the "lesser" categories for shorts and documentaries were up. Of course! Way to add salt to the wound Chris!
In fact, precisely because they're regarded so lowly by those in attendance as well as the audiences at home, I really appreciated Louis C.K.'s short but effective commentary on the importance the Oscars have for the people who make documentaries and shorts. He's totally right.
And how awesome when winner Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy said that because of her movie Pakistan's Prime Minister has decided to change the laws of the country? That's the power a movie can have.
- When Gabriel Osorio Vargas and Pato Escala Pierart won Best Animated Short for Bear Story, possibly the weirdest thing I've ever seen at the Oscars happened: they walked onstage wives in tow. What the frack! Sure they might have been supportive of your work, but unless they actively participated in the making of the film, that's not their place. No one brings his family up onstage when they win an Oscar!! They totally looked out of place, worse than the pizza delivery guy Ellen ordered her pizzas from.
- Kevin Hart also addressed the racism controversy, and he actually gave a very nice, to the point speech.
Damn, that guy is really short!
- The Weeknd's performance of his beautiful Earned It, from Fifty Shades of Grey, was classy and very well done. He's got a really nice voice.
And there was no way he would win this award given that Fifty Shades of Grey was pummeled by critics. It even won Worst Picture of the Year at the Razzies the night before (tied with Fantastic 4)
- Mark Rylance's win for Supporting Actor was another big upset of the night. Sylvester Stallone was a shoo-in here, and had won pretty much every other award, even though Rylance was always hot on his heels. I guess in the end enough voters were sick of seeing old Sly taking home all that metal and voted for the other guy. I wonder how close the vote count was...
- I liked Cheryl Boone Isaacs' speech. It was simple, to the point, and addressed the controversy about racism that has rocked her organization.
- The In Memoriam segment was touching as always, and Dave Grohl beautifully sang the perfect song.
- Vice President Joe Biden's speech introducing Lady Gaga's performance of Til It Happens To You was poignant, and you could tell he is really invested in the issue.
And when Lady Gaga took the stage to sing her incredibly moving song, time stood still. It actually made me cry because of its meaning. Hats off to all those courageous young women and men who joined her onstage at the end. She did a wonderful job.
- So happy that Ennio Morricone was awarded a long deserved Oscar before he passes away. His speech was sweet and he looked frail and vulnerable, but also very proud and moved.
- Sacha Baron Cohen in his Da Ali G character was simply priceless. It was pertinent, funny, slightly outrageous, and over the top like only he can be. The gorgeous Olivia Wilde could barely keep a straight face, as was required of her.
- Leonardo DiCaprio finally got the recognition from Hollywood he so long deserved. He has done solid work for decades now, and this was his sixth nomination. I'm glad he won, and it seemed like everyone thought he deserved that Oscar outright and also that it was his time.
His speech was beautiful too, and he was even able to spin it in such a way as to be able to get out a message about the seriousness of climate change and the need to protect our planet that has been so dear to his heart for many years.
- As Michael Keaton was heading to the stage as part of the ensemble for Spotlight's Best Picture coronation, I realized he was in the Best Picture winner for two years in a row now. Pretty cool.
Ok, phew, that's it. I'm sure there was more, but that's all I got.
Here's the full list of winners:
Spotlight, Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers
- The Big Short, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
- Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
- Brooklyn, Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
- Mad Max: Fury Road, Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers
- The Martian, Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers
- The Revenant, Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers
- Room, Ed Guiney, Producer
The Revenant, Alejandro G. Iñárritu
- The Big Short, Adam McKay
- Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller
- Room, Lenny Abrahamson
- Spotlight, Tom McCarthy
Actress in a Leading Role
Brie Larson, Room
- Cate Blanchett, Carol
- Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
- Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
- Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Actor in a Leading Role
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
- Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
- Matt Damon, The Martian
- Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
- Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Actress in a Supporting Role
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
- Rooney Mara, Carol
- Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
- Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Actor in a Supporting Role
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
- Tom Hardy, The Revenant
- Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
- Sylvester Stallone, Creed
- Christian Bale, The Big Short
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
The Big Short, Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
- Carol, Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy
- The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard
- Room, Screenplay by Emma Donoghue
- Brooklyn, Screenplay by Nick Hornby
Writing (Original Screenplay)
Spotlight, Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy
- Bridge of Spies, Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
- Ex Machina, Written by Alex Garland
- Inside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
- Straight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff
Animated Feature Film
Inside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera
- Shaun the Sheep Movie, Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
- When Marnie Was There, Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura
- Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran
- Boy and the World, Alê Abreu
Foreign Language Film
Son of Saul, Hungary
- Mustang, France
- Theeb, Jordan
- A War, Denmark
- Embrace of the Serpent, Colombia
Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
- The Big Short, Hank Corwin
- The Revenant, Stephen Mirrione
- Spotlight, Tom McArdle
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
- Carol, Ed Lachman
- The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson
- Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale
- Sicario, Roger Deakins
Mad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson
- Bridge of Spies, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
- The Danish Girl, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish
- The Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
- The Revenant, Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy
Mad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David White
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Matthew Wood and David Acord
- The Martian, Oliver Tarney
- The Revenant, Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
- Sicario, Alan Robert Murray
Mad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
- Bridge of Spies, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
- The Martian, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
- The Revenant, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
Mad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan
- Carol, Sandy Powell
- Cinderella, Sandy Powell
- The Danish Girl, Paco Delgado
- The Revenant, Jacqueline West
Makeup and Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
- The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
- The Revenant, Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini
Ex Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
- Mad Max: Fury Road, Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
- The Martian, Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
- The Revenant, Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
Music (Original Score)
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
- Bridge of Spies, Thomas Newman
- Carol, Carter Burwell
- Sicario, Jóhann Jóhannsson
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Williams
Music (Original Song)
Spectre, “Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre; Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
- Fifty Shades of Grey, “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey; Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
- Racing Extinction, “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction; Music by J. Ralph, Lyric by Antony Hegarty
- Youth, “Simple Song #3” from Youth; Music and Lyric by David Lang
- The Hunting Ground, “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
Amy, Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees
- Cartel Land, Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
- The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
- What Happened, Miss Simone?, Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes
- Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor
Documentary (Short Subject)
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
- Body Team 12, David Darg and Bryn Mooser
- Chau, beyond the Lines, Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
- Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, Adam Benzine
- Last Day of Freedom, Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman
Short Film (Animated)
Bear Story, Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
- Prologue, Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
- Sanjay’s Super Team, Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
- We Can’t Live without Cosmos, Konstantin Bronzit
- World of Tomorrow, Don Hertzfeldt
Short Film (Live Action)
Stutterer, Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage
- Ave Maria, Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont
- Day One, Henry Hughes
- Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut), Patrick Vollrath
- Shok, Jamie Donoughue