Oscar night 2016

Son of Saul is a film I have no desire to see.

OscarsIt’s an odd thing that I always record Oscar night, which will be a week from today, on the DVR. I never watch it in real time, and it usually takes me five or six days to get through, by which time I know, of course, who won.

Sure I can find the “best moments” online – and I’ve stopped trying to hide myself from those – but I seldom watch them when they just pop up, because I like to see these things in the context of the evening.

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith announced her boycott of the Academy Awards because, of the twenty acting slots, none of the nominees were black. Or Hispanic. Or Asian. Director Spike Lee and Jada’s husband Will Smith followed suit.

Larry Wilmore did a bit on The Nightly Show that wasn’t terribly funny, but had elements of truth. Blacks get nominated when they are slaves (12 Years a Slave), or still feeling the sting of slavery (e.g., the Help). The joke is that the filmmakers should have made Michael B. Jordan in Creed, or the cast of Straight Outta Compton, more tied to their slave roots.

When there’s a lack of diversity, in any organization, there’s a recognition that “something” should be done. When there were no Major League Baseball managers who were black or Hispanic, the sport required teams with vacancies to at least interview a minority candidate. They didn’t have to hire them, just meet with them. Lo and behold, more diversity in MLB managers.

I don’t know if the Academy’s move to diversify will be helpful, or just tick off some folks unnecessarily. SamuraiFrog has some useful links on this topic.
Anyway, I have no sense anymore, if I ever did, what is the BEST picture. But here are some random observations.

# means I actually saw it.


# The Big Short – Anyone who wants to understand the 2008 crash should see The Big Short. This is the film I believe everyone OUGHT to see.

Bridge of Spies – This played at the local theater, The Spectrum, for quite a while, at a busy time in my life, and I missed it. I would have watched it.

# Brooklyn – This is a movie I would have liked to have seen with my late mother. It’s sweet, and well done.

Mad Max: Fury Road – I saw bits of the Mel Gibson movies, but the original wasn’t my thing. This film took me by surprise. My bud Chuck Miller is all hot for it. My bud Amy Biancolli finally got around to seeing it.
“I said to my son: ‘This is a silent movie.’ With all the sped-up action footage, scenes of warlord pageantry and bare-bones dialogue, it has all the hallmarks — everything but the buckling swash of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. I’m not exactly sure why it was nominated for Best Picture, but it’s an intriguingly wacko mashup of silent throwback and modern, testosteronal action flick.”

# The Martian – I enjoyed it. Those wacks at the Golden Globes put this in the comedy/musical category, and while that’s a bit silly, it had quite a few laughs.

The Revenant – I have no real interest in seeing this film. It just looks too dark for my tastes, just based on the trailer. And Ken Levine agrees.

# Room – I feared this would be too dark as well, but the bond between the boy and his mother won out. Well done.

# Spotlight – This is well acted, well written, and tells an important story. It rightly took the prize for outstanding performance by a cast in a motion picture at the Screen Actors Guild awards this month.


Bryan Cranston, Trumbo – This film played too briefly at the Spectrum. Would have seen it.

# Matt Damon, The Martian – He’s quite likable in this.

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – Everyone says Leo will win, and he’s been in some fine films, so I wouldn’t argue.

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs – Yet another film I WOULD have seen, but time got in the way.

# Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl – He WON’T win two years in a row.


# Cate Blanchett, Carol – She is so consistently good, that this good performance won’t take home the trophy.

# Brie Larson, Room – Start the engraving of the award.

# Jennifer Lawrence, Joy – She was OK, the movie was OK. I’m guessing there were better Best Actress candidates out there.

# Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years – She almost certainly will not win, unless her controversial comments about race and the Academy mirror many other Oscar voters.

# Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn – She had a solid performance and is worthy of the nomination.


# Christian Bale, The Big Short – He’s my personal favorite.

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

# Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight – He was also excellent, and I like how he’s gone from indie film star to Marvel Comics to mainstream film success. Also, I admit to liking his politics.

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

# Sylvester Stallone, Creed – Wouldn’t be surprised if Sly won.


Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight – Another film I decided not to see, not because of comments by Quentin Tarantino about cops, but because I hear the movie does what QT movies always do: build the tension to the inevitable bloodletting. And it’s REALLY long.

# Rooney Mara, Carol – This is an impressive role, and some are predicting a gold statue in her future.

# Rachel McAdams, Spotlight – Very effective, not flashy.

# Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – This is pretty much a starring role, and would be my pick.

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
oscar nom 2016


# Anomalisa – absolutely will not win.

Boy and the World

# Inside Out – I LOVED this movie.

Shaun the Sheep Movie – Actually had the highest Rotten Tomatoes score, 99%, of ANY film this past summer.

When Marnie Was There


– I always feel inadequate to judge these things.

# Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario – This was in town for about five minutes. Looked intensely violent.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Oscars 2016


# Carol

# Cinderella – Well, yes, they’re lovely, of course.

# The Danish Girl – My rooting interest is here. There were LOTS of great outfits.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant


# The Big Short – Adam McKay. This would be my pick.

Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller.

The Revenant – Alejandro G. Iñárritu. I admit to not liking this director’s Birdman. He won last year, and he could win again.

# Room – Lenny Abrahamson. This would be a worthy choice.

# Spotlight – Tom McCarthy. I would be pleased, though, if this won.


Amy – This is the film about singer Winehouse, another Spectrum film missed.

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom


Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Last Day of Freedom


# The Big Short – I’d pick this film, for certain. More than the directing, the putting together of this film was extraordinary.

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

# Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang – This was a movie that, had it stayed another week, I would have seen. Here’s the plot summary: “Early summer. “In a village in northern Turkey, Lale and her four sisters are walking home from school, playing innocently with some boys. The immorality of their play sets off a scandal that has unexpected consequences. The family home is progressively transformed into a prison; instruction in homemaking replaces school and marriages start being arranged. The five sisters who share a common passion for freedom, find ways of getting around the constraints imposed on them.”

Son of Saul – This is a film I have no desire to see. The plot summary: “In the horror of 1944 Auschwitz, a prisoner forced to burn the corpses of his own people finds moral survival upon trying to salvage from the flames the body of a boy he takes for his son.”


A War


Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared – a movie I had never heard of!

The Revenant


Bridge of Spies

# Carol

The Hateful Eight


# Star Wars: The Force Awakens – it’s John Williams, of course.


“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre


Bridge of Spies

# The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

# The Martian – I thought this film looked great.

The Revenant




will get their own post this week.


Mad Max: Fury Road

# The Martian

The Revenant


# Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

# The Martian

The Revenant

# Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Ex Machina – A summer film I might have seen, given time.

Mad Max: Fury Road

# The Martian

The Revenant

# Star Wars: The Force Awakens


# The Big Short – Having read none of the source material, I’d pick this one, based what I have heard was the assumption that it was an unfilmable book.

# Brooklyn

# Carol

# The Martian – One of my coworkers was very disappointed in the film, after having read the book. I DIDN’T, so I liked the film far more.



Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

# Inside Out

# Spotlight – The ONLY category for which I will promise a winner.

Straight Outta Compton – still ANOTHER film I meant to see.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Oscar night 2016”

  1. I like Spotlight for Best Picture. Ronan winning for Brooklyn would be okay with me. She was wonderful in it and it’s a great movie. I think Anomalisa should win something but it’s not Best Picture material, unlike Synecdoche, New York, the director’s previous film. I need to watch Anomalisa again because I think it’s a richer and deeper film than an be comprehended in a single viewing.

  2. Spotlight was tremendous. Revenant, meh; I don’t like DeCaprio and have no stomach for gross-out films. Trumbo was a great film; I strongly suggest you give it a try, Roger, if only for historical context.

    How Mad Max rates a nod, but not Straight Outta Compton, just torks me!!

    I saw the nominations and (although I have been an Oscar junkie from childhood) said, “No more.” It was a visceral reaction to the sea of beige.

    Didn’t wait for the boycott call, just announced my own. Seeing The Martian (white, white, white to the point of WTH) really sealed the deal (as well as the latest Star Wars movie, with John Boyega having to do the Will-Smith-in_Independence-Day foolishness and no kiss between the mixed race lead couple, plus the slavery undertone and his character being NAMED by the white buddy)…

    Thx, Roger! Amy

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