Archive | February, 2016

Oscars 2016: the winners

29 Feb
mad_max_fury_road_wallpaper_1920x1080_by_sachso74-d8r49ti

And the overall Oscar winner is… Mad Max: Fury Road

The #Oscarssowhite controversy notwithstanding, the ageing white males of the Academy actually seem to have got it right this year. There can be little outrage over last night’s Oscar winners, which produced only mild surprises, all of them pleasant.

For Best Picture, they ignored The Big Short which, at one stage, was leading in William Hill’s betting. At the time, I wrote that I would be shorting The Big Short, ie betting against it winning, so I’m pleased with that. Instead they chose the early favourite, Spotlight, but honour in The Revenant camp was satisfied by awards for Best Director and – obviously! – Cinematography.

Leonardo DiCaprio, to the utter astonishment of precisely no one, took best Actor at last after six nominations. The Supporting category delivered a teeny surprise K.O.: Sylvester Stallone was tipped for his elegiac reprise of Rocky Balboa in Creed, but the desire to reward genuine skill prevailed over sentiment, and Mark Rylance very justly took it down for Bridge of Spies. His restrained, unshowy performance was the anti-Leo: a cotton-wool cocoon of quiet dignity wrapped around a core of pure steel.

No shocks at all in the Actress categories, as Brie Larson won for The Room and Alicia Vikander took Best Supporting for The Danish Girl. The two screenplay awards were shared between Spotlight and The Big Short – again, no surprise – and Inside Out was the clear runaway winner in Best Animation.

But the biggest winner of the night, numerically at least, was Mad Max: Fury Road. Though it won none of the big awards (action and sci-fi movies rarely do) it took six of the technical awards, including production design and editing. Sad that Carol could not win for its sumptuous and meticulously recreated costume and production design, but Mad Max had the arguably greater challenge of creating a whole new world. Kudos to its unsung hero, genius UK comics artist Brendan McCarthy, who, as I wrote here, was behind much of the look of the film as well as its story.

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Evening Standard Film Award winners: not all white on the night

7 Feb
beasts of no nation

Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation: ignored by the Oscars, triumphing at the Evening Standard Film Awards

So great to see British films properly recognised: at the Evening Standard Film Awards tonight, the awards were full of them. Admittedly, only British and Irish films were actually eligible for this award, but still: go team GB!

Idris Elba took a swipe at the all-white Oscars when collecting his Best Actor award for Beasts of No Nation, pointing out that the director was half Japanese, the crew were from New York and Ghana, and the money came from all over. “That’s f***ing diversity,” he said.

Other deserving winners included Emma Donoghue for scripting Room and Amy for best Documentary, while The Lady in the Van took Best Actress for Maggie Smith and the Outstanding Contribution award for writer Alan Bennett, who wryly called this particular accolade “a sharp nudge in the direction of the grave”. Brooklyn won Best Film, though I would have loved it to go to The Lobster, certainly the most singular and original of the year’s crop.

Hollywood was thrown a bone in the shape of the Best Blockbuster award, voted for by members of the public – no surprises there, then, to find Star Wars: The Force Awakens triumphing. Funnily enough, it was picked up by Anthony Daniels – a man most famous for playing what is essentially a life-sized, ambulant version of the Oscars statuette.