Here are my thoughts on last night’s show:
Chris Rock did a fine job the last time he hosted the Oscars, but this time he turned in one of the better performances in recent memory. After several straight years of disappointing hosts, it was great to see someone really nail it with the studio audience and the next-day critics alike.
Spotlight winning over The Revenant was an upset, but the good kind of upset. I can’t think of any way in which Spotlight shouldn’t be considered the better film. I didn’t think it would happen, but I’m glad that it did.
Congrats to Mark Rylance for winning Best Supporting Actor over sentimental favorite Sly Stallone, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hardy, and Christian Bale. Rylance is by far the least well known of this quintet, and he didn’t have much buzz coming in. However, he was fantastic in Bridge of Spies, so this award is well-placed.
The other big upset of the night was in the Visual Effects category. I didn’t think Star Wars was going to win (although I certainly hoped after it won the Visual Effects Society Award), but I was shocked that Mad Max didn’t take home this award, especially after it was winning every production award in sight. I guess I’ll have to check out Ex Machina now.
Otherwise, the awards themselves went as predicted for the most part. Mad Max swept most of the production awards, Inside Out won best animated feature, Alejandro González Iñárritu won Best Director, Brie Larson won Best Actress, and Leo won Best Actor for the fourth or fifth best performance of his career so far. Even the writing awards tracked the Writers Guild Awards.
Here’s what I’m worried about. I’m worried that Denzel Washington, Will Smith, or Jamie Fox will be in something next year, get nominated, and the Academy will think everything is hunky-dory. We need to continue the conversation about the representation of our increasingly diverse society in popular entertainment. One or two nominations next year won’t fix this issue.
Aside from being the right thing to do, when people from different backgrounds and experiences make art, there are a wider variety of stories being told. This is the only way to move the ball forward creatively. Otherwise we’re going to be stuck in a kind of repeating time loop of comic book movies and historical “prestige” movies about Europeans forever.
There are only so many superheroes and interesting historical Europeans after all. Which would you rather see? The 100th adaptation of the story a British person who helped win World War II, Superman 17: This Time It’ll be Good Again We Promise, or a film adaptation of a certain Lin-Manuel Miranda musical (written by Miranda himself preferably)? I, for one, want to learn more about Alexander Hamilton.
(c) 2016 D.G. McCabe