Monday, February 29, 2016

Oscar Prediction Scorecard: 2016

"We will make these puny gold men shiny and chrome!"
On Saturday, I published my predictions for the 88th Academy Awards, predicting not only who would win, but how badly I would be wrong about who would win. It's time to pay the piper, and it turns out that I was slightly off on both counts. I guessed more correctly than I expected, while also being wildly incorrect on some that I assumed would be sure things. I can take some solace in the knowledge that some of the ones I misjudged were also misjudged by basically everyone else in the entire world.

Before we get to the business of the real predictions, let's see how I did with my predictions for the ceremony itself.
  • It will run long by between 30 minutes and two days.
    • This was the very definition of low hanging fruit. I don't think any bookie in the world would have given me odds on this one.
  • Chris Rock will be a great but underused host, and will spend much of the broadcast fighting against the inherent unwieldiness of a bloated awards show.
    • He was not underused - far from it, he was all over the place - and he found every opportunity to take jabs at both Hollywood for its lack of diversity and the people complaining about the lack of diversity. He handled a difficult situation with aplomb, and only struck a few false notes.
  • Related: there will be lots of jokes about the lack of diversity which will be met with uncomfortable silence.
    • That's a-bingo, as Hans Landa once so memorably said.
  • If Quentin Tarantino gets up to speak at any point, that will be a good time to go and grab a drink, make a sandwich, or read twelve chapters of War and Peace.
    • Thankfully Ennio Morricone attended the ceremony, so we were spared another dose of Drunk Uncle Quentin airing his grievances.
  • There will be at least five montages, two of which will be completely inessential and will leave the audience wondering why they couldn't cut them and include performances of the two nominees for Original Song which were left out due to "time constraints".
    • Very low on montages this year, and the ones that were included were appropriate and, in  the case of the Sound Editing and Sound Mixing categories, genuinely innovative in how they conveyed the impact of the work on screen. Someone at the Academy had a good idea!
  • The In Memoriam segment will lead to worldwide exclamations of "oh, right, he/she died this year" and will probably include slightly more of David Bowie's work than might be expected given how limited his filmography was.
    • Finally, Zoolander gets its due at the Oscars!
    • On a more serious note, it was great (and totally unexpected) to see Holly Woodlawn, the transgender actress and Andy Warhol favourite who was immortalised by Lou Reed in "Walk on the Wild Side", included in an Oscars In Memoriam.
    • On an equally serious note, I was surprised to see Douglas Slocombe and Daniel Gerson included considering that they both passed away within the last month. Back in 2008, Brad Renfro was infamously left off the In Memoriam despite dying more than a month before the ceremony. I guess the rules have changed to make more sense, but it seems like that level of compassion should not have had to be added into the mix at such a late stage. People have been dying for much longer than the Oscars has been around.
One final thought on the ceremony itself: Chris Rock was a great, fearless host who was not cowed by the #OscarsSoWhite controversy. Instead, he tackled it head-on and repeatedly, in a way that probably no other host could have. If it was Neil Patrick Harris, say, there would probably have been a few jokes at the beginning, then the show would have moved on. Instead, Rock kept revisiting the subject of the Oscars' (and, by extension, Hollywood's) diversity problem as often and in as many ways as possible. It was a spectacular thing to see and I can't wait for him to host again in 2027.

Okay, I lied. One more point. How amazing was it that the Academy Awards, the stuffiest of awards ceremonies, featured a sitting Vice President addressing endemic sexual violence, a direct callout to the Black Lives Matters movement, and multiple calls for action on climate change? It probably didn't help dispel the image people have of Hollywood as a land of Leftist extremists, but it was a hell of a sight to see.

Finally, and I'm sorry that I keep lying, but I am undeniably and understandably stoked that Fury Road won six Oscars, more than any other film nominated. Sure, they were in the technical departments, but it was still an unlikely triumph for an even more unlikely film.

Anyway, here's how the night played out for me, predictions-wise, complete with assorted thoughts on how each category shook out.

Best Short Film - Live Action

Ave Maria - Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont
Day One - Henry Hughes
Everything Will Be Okay - Patrick Vollrath
Shok - Jamie Donoughue
Stutterer - Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage

Predicted Winner: Day One

Actual Winner: Stutterer

This was a total guess, but it's galling because my podcast co-host Matt Risby correctly guessed that Stutterer would win, which means that he'll easily win the SRS Oscar pool. There is no prize, just humiliation.

Best Short Film - Animated

Bear Story - Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
Prologue - Richard Williams and Imgoen Sutton
Sanjay's Super Team - Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle
We Can't Live Without Cosmos - Konstantin Bronzit
World of Tomorrow - Don Hertzfeldt

Predicted Winner: Sanjay's Super Team

Actual Winner: Bear Story

I haven't seen Bear Story, it's probably great, but I can't help but wonder if it beat Sanjay's Super Team and World of Tomorrow because some Academy voters assumed that it was another name for The Revenant.

Best Documentary Short Subject

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
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness - Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Last Day of Freedom - Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

Predicted Winner: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

Actual Winner: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness

Another total guess, so I'm not too cut up about being wrong. Really, it came down to a race between which film used a colon the best.

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies - Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
Mad Max: Fury Road - Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
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

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Actual Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

The entire cast and crew of Mad Max: Fury Road seem like an incredibly fun and cool bunch and I'm sure that they had the most raucous Oscar party. That would probably have been the case regardless of whether they won anything, though.

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road - Mark Mangini and David White
The Martian - Oliver Tarney
The Revenant - Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
Sicario - Alan Robert Murray
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Matthew Wood and David Acord

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Actual Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Man, there were more Australian accents on display in this broadcast than in an entire Neighbours omnibus. Between the winners and presenters like Cate Blanchett and Margot Robbie, it seemed like the show was being broadcast on the other ABC.

Best Visual Effects

Ex Machina - Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
Mad Max: Fury Road - Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould
The Martian - Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
The Revenant - Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Actual Winner: Ex Machina

It's weird to think that a technical category could produce one of the biggest upsets of the night, but such was the case when Ex Machina's subtle, seamless special effects triumphed over its ostentatious rivals. As much as I would have liked to see Fury Road get an even bigger haul, this felt like a deserved win.

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spies - Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich (Set Decoration)
The Danish Girl - Eve Stewart (Production Design); Michael Standish (Set Decoration)
Mad Max: Fury Road - Colin Gibson (Production Design); Lisa Thompson (Set Decoration)
The Martian - Arthur Max (Production Design); Celia Bobak (Set Decoration)
The Revenant - Jack Fisk (Production Design); Hamish Purdy (Set Decoration)

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Actual Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Deserving winners, for sure, but it's insane that Jack Fisk has only received two Oscar nominations over the course of a career unparalleled in its brilliance. He's the Roger Deakins of Production Design, if Roger Deakins was even less appreciated.

Best 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

Predicted Winner: The Revenant

Actual Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Immortan Joe's luscious locks were finally recognised as the pristine works of keratin architecture that they truly are.

Best Costume Design

Carol - Sandy Powell
Cinderella - Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl - Paco Delgado
Mad Max: Fury Road - Jenny Beavan
The Revenant - Jacqueline West

Predicted Winner: The Revenant

Actual Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

My biggest error came from being too bearish on Fury Road's chances, assuming that The Revenant would pick up at least a few of the technical awards in addition to the three big awards it eventually did win. I don't think I've ever been happier to be wrong. Also, Jenny Beavan could not have looked more like the Costume Designer for Mad Max: Fury Road as she walked up to the stage in her studded leather jacket.

Best Music - Original Score

Bridge of Spies - Thomas Newman
Carol - Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight - Ennio Morricone
Sicario - Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens - John Williams

Predicted Winner: The Hateful Eight

Actual Winner: The Hateful Eight

It's a testament to how great Morricone's work in The Hateful Eight was that it made the sight of an 87-year-old man making his way to the stage feel incredibly ominous and momentous.

Best Music - Original Song

"Earned It" from Fifty Shades of Grey - Music and Lyric by The Weeknd, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Quenneville and Stephan Moccia
"Manta Ray" from Racing Extinction - Music by J. Ralph; Lyric by Anohni
"Simple Song #3" from Youth - Music and Lyric by David Lang
"Til it Happens to You" from The Hunting Ground - Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
"Writing's on the Wall" from Spectre - Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Predicted Winner: "Writing's on the Wall"

Actual Winner: "Writing's on the Wall"

I've long held the belief that the Best Song Oscar should be decided on the night of the ceremony and only after seeing all the nominees perform live. If that was the case, this result absolutely would not have happened. Lady Gaga would have taken it over The Weeknd and Sam Smith by a 70-20-10 split.

Best Cinematography

Carol - Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight - Ralph Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road - John Seale
The Revenant - Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario - Roger Deakins

Predicted Winner: The Revenant

Actual Winner: The Revenant

If Chivo wins one more Oscar in a row, they legally have to rename it the Emmanuel Lubezki Award for Excellence in Cinematography.

Best Editing

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

Predicted Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Actual Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fuck Yeah Margaret Sixel! The Miller-Sixel household can now boast an Oscar apiece, which is the secret to a happy marriage.

Best Foreign Language

Embrace of the Serpent - Colombia
Mustang - France
Son of Saul - Hungary
Theeb - Jordan
A War - Denmark

Predicted Winner: Son of Saul

Actual Winner: Son of Saul

I was disappointed that director László Nemes didn't show up to the ceremony in the same natty sweater and jeans combo that he wore to the Independent Spirit Awards the night before. The Academy Awards could stand to embrace casual dress a little bit.

Best Documentary Feature

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

Predicted Winner: Amy

Actual Winner: Amy

The Look of Silence should have won, but Joshua Oppenheimer will have to be content with his MacArthur Genius Grant and having created two of the most astonishing works of cinema of my lifetime. Amy, meanwhile, is as exploitative of Amy Winehouse's legacy as it is celebratory, but Senna was fucking incredible, so I can't be too mad at Asif Kapadia.

Best Animated Feature

Boy & The World
Inside Out
Shaun The Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Predicted Winner: Inside Out

Actual Winner: Inside Out

The organisers took their lives and the lives of everyone in that theatre into their hands when they decided to play some of the score to Inside Out as the filmmakers took the stage. Hollywood's best and whitest brightest could all too easily have drowned in their own tears.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short
The Martian

Predicted Winner: The Big Short

Actual Winner: The Big Short

Long overdue recognition for all the TLC jokes in The Other Guys, which were deployed with frankly deadly precision.

Best Original Screenplay

Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Straight Outta Compton

Predicted Winner: Spotlight

Actual Winner: Spotlight

As a fan of Tom McCarthy, is was great seeing him pick up an Oscar for co-writing Spotlight. As a fan of The Wire, I had an overwhelming desire to declare him a fraud for getting any recognition. Scott Templeton is the absolute worst.

Best Supporting Actress

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

Predicted Winner: Alicia Vikander

Actual Winner: Alicia Vikander

Vikander did not give the best performance in this category, but she had a big year and I choose to believe that she was recognised for her far better (and actually supporting) turn in Alex Garland's Ex Machina.

Best Supporting Actor

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

Predicted Winner: Sylvester Stallone

Actual Winner: Mark Rylance

Probably the biggest upset of the night. As great as Stallone was in Creed, and he was great, Mark Rylance is a truly amazing actor who deserves every award under the sun. Kind of feel bad for Sylvester Stallone becoming this year's Mickey Rourke/Michael Keaton, though.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett - Carol
Brie Larsen - Room
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Charlotte Rampling - 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn

Predicted Winner: Brie Larsen

Actual Winner: Brie Larsen

A great performance, undoubtedly, but more importantly, it brought the world Jacob Tremblay, who was the MVP of the Oscars this year. All his reaction shots were gold, as was his unsolicited praise for Chris Rock's work in the Madagascar series.

Best Actor

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

Predicted Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio

Actual Winner: Leonaro DiCaprio

I make a lot of jokes about Leo's quest for an Oscar, and I maintain that The Revenant was far from his best work and probably the film he least deserved to win for. Wait, I forgot about Blood Diamond. So it's in the bottom two, at least. However, he gave a great speech, and he used his position as the one person who was not going to get played off to advocate for action on climate change, which speaks to his character as an activist, even if his character in The Revenant barely spoke to anyone.

Best Director

Lenny Abrahamson - Room
Alejandro G. Iñárritu - The Revenant
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
Adam McKay - The Big Short
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road

Predicted Winner: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Actual Winner: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

I don't like Iñárritu's films at all, but he gave a lovely speech when he went up to pick up his fourth Oscar in two years and refused to be shut up by the play-off music, which is a move I always appreciate. Also, this marks the fourth year in a row that the Best Director winner hasn't been white, which surely has to be annoying some racist cinephiles out there.

Best Picture

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

Predicted Winner: The Revenant

Actual Winner: SPOTLIGHT!!!

Okay, I lied. This was the biggest upset of the night. Maybe it shouldn't have been, considering that Spotlight was an early frontrunner, and in all honesty it's the film that most resembles a Best Picture winner out of the entire slate. I think it's fair to say that no one was more surprised by this result than Morgan Freeman, who seemed to think that he had misspoken when he read the result out.

So after all that, my score was 16/24, which is better than I expected, but not as good as it could have been if I had only had more faith in the Academy to recognise what a phenomenal piece of work Mad Max: Fury Road is. I can at least be happy in the knowledge that probably about 99% of Oscar prognosticators were thrown off by the Visual Effects, Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture results, so at least my miss was a popular miss.

So that's Awards Season done for another year, which means we now have only about 12 hours to wait until people start predicting what films will or won't be major players at the 89th Academy Awards. Here's to another year of undeserving winners, people finally getting their due, and furious conversations about worthy work being ignored!