The most polarizing aspect of this year’s Academy Nominations was the fact that there were virtually no people of color among the nominees. The controversy has been sparkling on social media with the hashtag #oscarssowhite trending for long weeks and people such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee boycotting the event. Since then the Academy has been trying to make up for the obvious whitewashing in various ways. They announced that they were changing their line of members to be more diverse, and invited mostly black and hispanic presenters to the gala as well as keeping Chris Rock as the host. The comedian didn’t disappoint in his role: in his explosive opening monologue he shot his bullets in all the right directions, giving a bit of context to the controversy, cracking some edgy jokes and throwing some light on the real core of Hollywood’s race problem, which is rooted not in the award shows but in the casting decisions.
Probably the weirdest measure The Academy took to balance out the overwhelming whiteness of its nominees was bringing conservative actress and Fox News correspondent Stacey Dash on stage, who prieviously suggested the abolition of BET and Black History Month. The actress briefly took spotlight on today’s gala, and for everyone’s utter surprise wished the audience a happy Black History Month. Perhaps she thought it was a good joke, perhaps one of the organizers thought putting her on stage was one, perhaps everyone took all of this seriously. Nevertheless, the audience cringed, Twitter exploded, and this cameo is already likely to march into history as one of the most WTF moments of the Oscars.
If there was any real competition this year, it was between Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant, with both movies having been nominated in most of the technical categories, as well as for Best Picture and Best direction. During the first half of the show, Fury Road seemed to be the ultimate winner, collecting prizes for Best Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Film Editing, Costume Design as well as for Makeup and Hairstyling. Later The Revenant punched back with an award for Inarritu’s Tarkovsky-
imitatingesque direction, as well as with Leo’s prize, that will be featured in this article a bit later. As tensions rose high many could have assumed that the Best Picture too was going to one of these films, but the most important prize went to Spotlight, a drama that hasn’t really been in spotlight (wink wink) for the rest of the night.
So 2016 turned out to be Leonardo DiCaprio’s year after all. The actor finally won his Oscar after his sixth nomination for his performance in The Revenant. This of course makes no sense, especially if we take into consideration the brutal, transformative work some of the other nominees (with special regards to Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs) have done in their respectful movies, while Leo’s acting consisted of nothing but crawling and growling in the snow in front of Emmanuel Lubezki’s camera for an excruciating two and a half hours. It is safe to say that it was not his softcore exploitation, but the movie’s excessive marketing campaign and his preivous achievements (especially in The Departed) that have earned him his much anticipated golden statue.
It’s just the natural order of award shows that some people and productions get less than what they deserve, and this time was no difference. The most prominently ignored movies this year were The Martian and The Big Short, with the preivous not turning either of its seven nominations into actual prizes, and the later only getting one out of five. Further snubs include The Danish Girl and Room, both winning one award of the four they have been nominated to. Fans of thoughtful science fiction can also mourn Alex Garland’s not getting his perfectly deserved statue for the screenplay of Ex Machina.
As I wrote, the award for Best Original Screenplay should be sitting in Garland’s lap right now. Instead both him and his little brother Best Adapted Screenplay are going home with writers who didn’t take any risks and relied on the Academy’s decades-long affection for movies about white men arguing in offices. But rest assured, Spotlight or The Big Short won’t be remembered by history, while there is a stellar and amusing movie career in front of Garland, who will have the opportunity to prove himself in the next few years with his movie adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation.
Alicia Vikander is everywhere. Alicia Vikander is in everything. Alicia Vikander is everything. And she is amazing, so she deserves to be. The Swedish actress made her Hollywood debut in Joe Wright’s Anna Karerina and has been on the way to stardom ever since, working with directors such as Garland and Tom Hooper and now being scheduled to star into Win Wenders’ 2017 film Submergence. Her Oscar for The Danish Girl definitely cemented her status in Hollywood, so now she is officially someone you cannot ignore. But then again, why would you want to ignore someone like her?
You might care about Best Foreign Movie, you might not. Nevertheless, I want you to know that if you heard someone running up and down screaming on the second floor today, that was me after the victory of Son of Saul was announced. Besides being the first Hungarian movie to win an Oscar in 34 years, the film is also a game-changer in the Holocaust genre, as well as one the most breath-taking, unque masterpieces of the year. With its tight storytelling, gripping atmosphere and fantastic visuals, Son of Saul feels like a version of The Revenant made for adults: its tale of human endurance, hopelessness and loss is lightyears more impactful than Inarritu’s watered down epic of historical boredom, and just a look into Géza Röhrig’s eyes makes you forget any kind of achievement that might be hidden in Leonardo DiCaprio’s portrayal of Hugo Glass.
Photos taken from: oscar.go.com; world.korupciya.com; vulture.com; slantmagazine.com;