Elessar: Hello and welcome to another exciting* edition of Moar Powah’s Oscar coverage. (*Excitement not guaranteed.) I am, as always, Elessar.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I’m Guyinthe3rdRow, slowly returning from pseudo-self-imposed exile, which sounds much cooler than it really is.
Starshine5050: I’m Starshine, also returning from the oblivion from the dark corners of grad school, which is definitely uncool.
Elessar: Well I have been rather definitively present on the site, and that is definitely cool. But we’re not here to talk about who’s cool or not (it’s me). We’re here to talk…about the Oscars.
Starshine5050: Ah, yes, the soon to be the whitest program on TV
Elessar: I dunno, Supernatural got renewed
Starshine5050: And worst pop culture reference in a post goes to…
GuyInTheThirdRow: Was about to say…yeah, I can’t top that one. I’ve just been calling it the Blizzard of 2016.
Elessar: Oh I’m sure I’ll make a worse pop culture reference by the end of the post, you know me.
Starshine5050: So what category should we skewer first?
Elessar: I think we should just start at the top and move our way down.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Would make the most sense.
Elessar: Alright, so we’ll start with the big one: Best Picture. Who should win, who will win and who should be here, and who should just f**king leave.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I’ll admit, I’ve not seen it myself, so maybe I’m missing something and if so, someone enlighten me…I’m still not sure how Brooklyn is as much of a contender as it’s turning into.
Starshine5050: Well, in my opinion, Spotlight would be a great winner but The Revenant will likely grab it up. I agree Brooklyn seems like a weird choice, though I wish Room had more of a fighting chance.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I REALLY want to see Room do well (sidebar to leave from the article: FINALLY putting that review up this week) and likewise would be fine with Spotlight taking it.
Elessar: Brooklyn does seem to be the odd one out in…well basically every category it’s nominated in. 3 days ago I would have said that Spotlight was a lock for the win, but now The Big Short came out of nowhere to grab the Producers Guild of America win, so it might grab the big prize too. Last time PGA and Oscars didn’t line up was 2006.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I’m not sure I can see Room taking Best Picture, but I’m at least pleased it’s getting the nom (similar to how I feel about Fury Road. Though I plan to laugh maniacally if THAT somehow takes it.)
Starshine5050: I am also a little surprised by The Martian. It was a fun time but it was not what I would consider Oscar-nom bait.
Elessar: I desperately need to see Room before the show. And while I LOVED The Martian, I too was surprised to see it hit Best Picture. Not unhappy mind, just…surprised.
GuyInTheThirdRow: The Martian is kind of in the same camp as Room for me. I won’t be angry if it wins, but I’m not gonna be devastated if it doesn’t. Actually, nothing from this list would really make me go “Oh COME ON!” shy of maybe the Brooklyn upset.
Elessar: On that note, if Big Short wins Picture, I will be 3 for 3 of my Best Movie of the Year winning Best Picture, and that’s after 2 years of my Best of the Year not even getting nominated. So I’ll be pretty psyched. I gotta agree with you though. Best Picture is a solid spread this year, without any real duds. Except Brooklyn…maybe? I dunno, I haven’t seen it. Moving on!
GuyInTheThirdRow: That said, statistically speaking, The Revenant has a bit of the deck stacked against it What with the Academy trying not to double up in consecutive years. Which is a statistic I’ll be coming back to in Best Director.
Elessar: They do hate to double up.
Starshine5050: Still, though, I think it’s got the best chance of all of them, save maybe The Big Short.
GuyInTheThirdRow: If I had to pick three most likely of the Best Picture, it’d be Revenant, Big Short, and Spotlight. Of those, I think I’d be okay with any of them taking it. As far as should have been in…I do feel like Creed and The Hateful Eight could have been decent contenders (though I acknowledge the latter is shaking up to be pretty polarizing, so it wouldn’t have had a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning).
Elessar: I still need to see Hateful 8, but I can say with a fair amount of certainty, they could have nominated Creed in Brooklyn’s place and no one would have said a word.
Starshine5050: This is true. Hateful Eight was not one of Tarantino’s best work so I would have certainly been annoyed if it had gotten a nom.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Also, put that Creed snub in your pocket for later, readers. Cause that’s gonna be coming back too.
Elessar: Oh yes it will. We here at Moar Powah do not forget. So. On to Best Director?
Starshine5050: I’d be giddy with glee if George Miller won. What an excellent job directing action. Never going to happen though
Elessar: If he wins, he should turn to the person next to him, gesture up at the stage and ask “Am I awaited?”
GuyInTheThirdRow: I wouldn’t count him as out of the game yet. He DID take the Director’s Guild award, and Inarittu is, again, potentially hamstrung by the Academy’s weird resistance to consecutive wins.: And I’ll say it now, if he wins, I can’t promise I won’t be doing the crossed hand salute to the screen and yelling “WITNEEEEEESS!!!”
Starshine5050: The only person I am actively against winning in Iñarritu, who I think did not as good as job on The Revanent as his win from last year
Elessar: That’s true. I think Miller is an outside chance, but not entirely impossible and it WOULD give the Academy the chance to prove their not entirely out of touch. AndI agree. The Revanent looked good and all, but nowhere near as good as Birdman.
GuyInTheThirdRow: From a directing standpoint, The Revenant may be this year’s Boyhood. The movie where the talk of how it was made garners more attention than the actual direction seems to.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Outside of Miller, I’d be okay with McKay taking it. McCarthy wasn’t bad, but like Abrahamson, it’s more the movie in general was good rather than me thinking “This is going above and beyond as a director”
Starshine5050: I think this is the most solid category this year — I’m not outright displeased with anyone
Elessar: Personally I think it’s either Miller or McKay, with maybe McCarthy. But if McCarthy doesn’t win, he should just get an anonymous letter saying “Sandler directors don’t get Oscars.” Hey, you would know GuyInTheThirdRow: How was his directing in The Cobbler?
GuyInTheThirdRow: Man, if McCarthy DOES win, my brain might bleed. Not because Spotlight was bad – it’s in my top 5 of last year easily – but the knowledge he was also responsible for The Cobbler would make that…hard to reconcile. The direction was…acceptable. But he DID also write the script, which was a whole heaping helping of uncomfortable implications and unintentional creepiness. But to quote another of last year’s movies, that’s another story for another time.
Starshine5050: Everyone has a bad film in them, or in the case Shyamalan, eight or nine, but people can do better. Not to mention everything Adam Sandler touches dies — it is his curse
Elessar: Now I’m just getting the image of him being handed a script and it warping in his hands.
GuyInTheThirdRow: This is true. Let’s not forget, the only time Bergman regular Max von Sydow has been nominated for an Oscar was for the critically panned Extremely Loud and Incredilby Close.
Elessar: Let’s try not to remember that…thing
Starshine5050: More proof that the Oscars are out of touch with everything.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Indeed. A point I imagine we’ll be coming back to quite a bit tonight.
Elessar: Speaking of out of touch…how about that Best Actor category?
Starshine5050: The worst of the worst, as I call it.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I’m gonna be honest. I have three people I wanted to see nominated this year. None of them got in and I can’t honestly bring myself to give the proverbial damn for the ones who DID make it.
Elessar: I knew, going in, Leo was gonna get his this year, so him I’m not mad about. The rest of it though…No Carell, no Jordan, no Keaton…what movies did YOU watch this year Oscar voters? Yes fine, Damon was good, and Fassbender was great and I guess Cranston was okay in an otherwise mediocre film, but come the f**k on.
Starshine5050: Eddie Redmayne won’t win by the double up standard but I’d like to give the Academy a round of applause for yet again honoring a cis-white man for playing a trans character. SO BRAVE.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I’m honestly convinced if Leo keeps going home empty handed, his desperation will eventually culminate in his killing someone in a snuff film jut to deliver the realest of real performances. And Starshine, the ONLY silver lining I’m taking away from that movie’s academy presence is that Tom Hooper isn’t get a directing nom.
Elessar: Agreed. I don’t know how Hooper keeps getting away with being such a boring director.
Starshine5050: I love Cranston in Trumbo, but it was definitely not the kind of film or performance he is going to get that little golden statue for.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Yeah, I was pulling hard for Carell and Jordan (and personally, I would argue Samuel L. Jackson is now 2 for 2 on some genuinely great work in Tarantino’s films, regardless of thoughts on the movie itself, and he’s had bupkiss to show for it.)
Elessar: No one I’ve talked to even liked the Danish Girl, so maybe just…let Redmayne go away?
Starshine5050: Let him slip into obscurity or better yet, let him follow his predecessor and play the Joker and be considered a total asshole.
GuyInTheThirdRow: The one fascinating thing about The Danish Girl – this may be one of the first years in a long while it looks like the Weinsteins aren’t exercising their full muscle at the Oscars.
Elessar: Oh no no no. We are NOT talking about Suicide Squad now, we do not have time.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Starshine, let’s be real – if Redmayne is going to be playing any Batman villain ever, it’s gonna be Edward Nygma. A suspiciously British Edward Nygma.
Starshine5050: I would watch the hell out of that movie (though all in all, Suicide Squad looks like a fun but stupid romp).
Elessar: He already played his Batman villain in Jupiter Ascending.
Starshine5050: Yeah, but not a very good one.
Elessar: Well yes. Ugh. I’m done acknowledging Best Actor. Leo’s gonna win, most of the rest is bad, let’s just move on.
Starshine5050: Best Actress, then? Four words: No. More. Jennifer. Lawrence
Elessar: God yes. I honestly think they just nominated her without watching the movie.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I’ve heard it said a few times, and I genuinely want to believe it – this year’s is Brie Larson’s to lose. I think Cate Blanchett may be her only real competition.
Starshine5050: I feel like if Charlotte Rampling doesn’t have an Oscar, we should just give her one. Blanchett is fine, but poor Saoirse Ronan — nominated before her time.
GuyInTheThirdRow: In light of the recent comments from her, I think Rampling’s shot her foot off on this one.
Elessar: Agreed. Even the academy was like “…No, this is a problem, we need to fix it.” And I also agree Larson and Blanchette are the only real nominees.
Starshine5050: It makes me laugh that they had so little care in nominating women that they literally put Jennifer Jason Leigh in with Supporting Actress. Like that’s just showing how few movies you actually went to see.
Elessar: As for who should be nominated…nothing for Charlize Theron?
Starshine5050: That was a bad move on their part — she essentially MADE Mad Max the hit that was
GuyInTheThirdRow: That…yeah, that was a bit of an odd call with Jennifer Jason Leigh. Especially since I feel like she’d be a viable contender in the Best Actress pool on this one. And yeah, Charlize getting shut out for a nomination was…especially strange amid all the other love Fury Road got this year
Elessar: Maybe they wanted to put her in a category she had a chance in, ala True Grit?
GuyInTheThirdRow: Elessar, I’ll say this much now – I am still pulling for her on Best Supporting in the meantime.
Starshine5050: I don’t know about that, Alicia Vikander might have a fighting chance. She is a damn fine actress, even though she was much better in that robot movie than this one.
Elessar: I sincerely though she got nominated for Ex Machina at first and was very disappointed to find otherwise. And hey, we’ve basically moved on to Supporting Actress, so let’s go there next
GuyInTheThirdRow: Tough to say on Vikander. She is riding high in general…but again, for some reason, the Weinsteins don’t seem to be flexing their usual Oscar muscle behind The Danish Girl as much as they usually do.
Elessar: I think they decided it wasn’t worth going to bat for, and elected to save their muscle for next year.
GuyInTheThirdRow: So while I’m willing to consider her a decent contender, I’m still backing JJL on this one.
Elessar: I think Supporting is a wide open category this year. I think JJL has a good shot, as does McAdams and Winslet. Hell, maybe even Mara.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Especially since, besides being a good performance, the Academy DOES have a soft spot for physical transformation into a role…and damn, she takes on a lot of that as Daisy. Even moreso as the movie goes on. McAdams I’d be okay with in it. Not my first pick from that movie but I wouldn’t begrudge her the win.
Starshine5050: It’s a very lackluster category.
Elessar: It is. Very “eh” across the board. I’d loved to have seen one of the Brides from Mad Max nominated, or Jessica Chastain from Martian, but no dice apparently.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Re: Chastain – not gonna lie, I’d have been up for the wild card of her getting nominated for Crimson Peak, but I stress wild card cause people just sort of forgot about that one pretty fast.
Elessar: Which is a shame, because it was a damn fine little movie.
Starshine5050: I’m so surprised Crimson Peak didn’t get anything for cinematography or design.
Elessar: You know what would have been a great outside nomination for Actress though, thinking of it? Rinko Kikuchi.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Thanks for reminding me. I still need to watch that movie.
Starshine5050: I have heard only good things.
Elessar: You do. It’s one of those moments where they had the perfect nomination for a POC and just let it slip through their fingers.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Story of this year.
Elessar: Alright let’s move on to the one, comparatively, good acting category.
GuyInTheThirdRow: It’s funny you say that after mentioning letting POC noms slip by, cause I’m just gonna start this off by saying – I liked Bale in TBS, but I’d give his spot to Benicio del Toro for Sicario in a heartbeat.
Elessar: I’ve not seen it, and I would too (or Carell from The Big Short). Bale was great, better than he’s been in years, but he’s not going to win this year, he didn’t need to be here. Honestly, I think this is one of the better categories. It’ll probably be Stallone, with maybe Rylance as the upset, but there’s no one I’d be straight up unhappy that won.
Starshine5050: Oh Tom Hardy. Nominated for the absolute wrong movie
Elessar: …okay, maybe Tom Hardy, fine.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Not gonna lie, if Fury Road got in on this category, I’d actually have made the case for Hugh Keyes-Byrne on this one. For a character who, on paper, isn’t particularly strong, he makes a lot from a little through sheer presence and delivery (…not unlike what he did back in the first MM movie).
Elessar: Yeah, but then if he didn’t win, he’d just stand up and yell “MEDIOCRE!”
Starshine5050: Which, mind you, would be hilarious.
GuyInTheThirdRow: That’d make it even more worth it to me.
Elessar: …yeah me too.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Of the people we have nominated…yeah, I figure Stallone may get it. Also, I feel conflicted with Ruffalo’s nomination. I liked his performance, but I feel like the Academy’s gonna put their money on the ‘Oscar’ scene (“THEY KNEW AND THEY LET IT HAPPEN!”) Honestly, for me the bigger selling point was all the unspoken things – the little mannerisms and attention to detail that usually tends to get overlooked.
Elessar: I do love Oscar clips, but they rarely capture what’s great about the performance. So Stallone is my Supporting Actor pick, but don’t be surprised if Ruffalo or Rylance pulls an upset. Stallone’s name is…not as good as it used to be.
Starshine5050: Well, at least he’s trying.
Elessar: That is something. So, how about those screenplays?
GuyInTheThirdRow:We want to go Original or Adapted first?
Elessar: Let’s go Original. Because that’s the order it’s listed on Wikipedia in
GuyInTheThirdRow: This one’s actually a pretty solid block all in all. Tough to really gauge which the favorite will be. Most likely Spotlight, but I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t love to see the upset if Straight Outta Compton takes it.
Elessar: I’d be cool with any of the winners, but I gotta admit, I’m pulling for Spotlight or Ex Machina
Starshine5050: I would love to see Ex Machina. Though Spotlight definitely deserves it as well. Inside Out is the odd man out in this category.
Elessar: They occasionally like to toss animated films a screenplay bone. Personally I’d have preferred to see Anomalisa get a screenplay nod here, but you can’t get everything.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I have a feeling, true to their general rule about animated, Inside Out’s gonna be given Best Animated and the script nom is just a tip of the hat in the meantime
Elessar: So, anyone we’d like to see there that isn’t? Or someone we’d like to see kicked out? Personally I’d like to have seen Dope get a nomination over Straight Outta Compton. Dope’s screenplay was straight up better.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Another I still need to watch.
Elessar: Well I guess that’s it for Original. How about some of those Adapted? I mean, we all know who I’m pulling for.
GuyInTheThirdRow: I’d be good with The Big Short or Room taking this one.
Starhine5050: More or less the same, though seeing the mess the book version of The Martian was, I would like to give Drew Goddard a well deserved pat on the back. Carol might have a chance though.
Elessar: I’m pulling for The Big Short, although I think Room has a good chance. I definitely wish Steve Jobs had been there though…not that Aaron Sorkin needs to be any more full of himself.
Starshine5050: Any bigger and his ego won’t fit on airplanes.
Elessar: I think he’s already required to take out a second seat. That’s not for safety though, they just don’t want to force anyone to have to listen to him for an entire plane ride.
GuyInTheThirdRow: It really is telling that his best work comes when he has a director who’s willing to push him back. Though I just imagine in David Fincher’s case it involved whacking him on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.
Elessar: See, I just like the idea of Danny Boyle listening to him talk for a bit and then very slowly turning away from him and going back to what he was doing before.
Starshine5050: Fincher has no time for you bullshit. He’s making the intern fill 300 notebooks full of gibberish already, he can make anyone do anything.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Elessar, if Steve Jobs ended with that as a behind the scenes clip, I’d mark it as a career high for Boyle.
Elessar: Alright, enough of this boring talky business. Let’s get on to our last two sections: Animated and Documentary. In Animated: Anyone else surprised to see Anomalisa there?
Starshine5050: Not really, I’m more surprised to see Shaun the Sheep.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Not as surprised by StS, actually. Academy’s always had a soft spot for Aardman. That said, Anomalisa IS a pleasant surprise.
Starshine5050: Won’t beat Inside Out though. Even When Marnie was There doesn’t stand a chance to that
Elessar: Oh yeah. I’m surprised they even bother going through the pagentry. I think they should just walk up to the mic, say “Pixar,” and walk away.
GuyInTheThirdRow: This is true. That’s kind of the problem with Best Animated. If Pixar’s in the running, more often than not, the race is already won.
Elessar: Ah well, at least we have some variety this year. How about those documentaries?
GuyInTheThirdRow: This is actually one of the trickier areas to weigh/predict. Partially because there’s very little actual studio politicking in it compared to the rest of the awards.
Elessar: I will say, I was surprised to not see Going Clear there. Guess the Scientologists got to the voters.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Goes without saying. I mean – Best Picture Winner Crash…nuff said.
Starshine5050: Haven’t seen any of the documentaries so but I’ve heard good things about What Happened, Miss Simone?
Elessar: I haven’t seen any of the docs either, so I don’t have a dog in that fight. I will say, I do have a dog in one of the smaller fights this year: Best Animated Short.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Likewise, admittedly kind of low on dogs in the fight for Best Doc. I really need to work on that more, though again – always tougher to gauge (wouldn’t have said no to a shout-out to Lost Soul, but the Academy likely wouldn’t be AS keen on a documentary about how a promising director got f**ked over 8 ways from Sunday by Hollywood)
Starshine5050: World of Tomorrow is my go to for that category though Sanjay’s Super Team is adorable
Elessar: Agreed on World of Tomorrow, especially after It’s Such a Beautiful Day got ignored…probably cause It’s Such a Beautiful Day will make you want to DIE. (Seriously, I came out of those 62 minutes in a state of such exisential depression that I could barely stand up).
GuyInTheThirdRow: …that just makes me want to see it more now.
Starshine5050: Wow, that’s one hell of a description.
Elessar: So, before we go (we’re skipping technicals because it would just be us ranting about how great Mad Max is some more) how about we address the…big issue some people have been taking with the Oscars this year?
GuyInTheThirdRow: Prior to that, I would like to make one note as far as those technicals (sort of).
Elessar: Go ahead.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Anyway – as of today, I’ve now seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens three times in theaters.
Goes without saying, pleased with movie. Having said that, I still don’t understand how in the Hell it got a Best Original Score nomination over Fury Road.
Starshine5050: Preach to that.
Elessar: Agreed. Mad Max’s score was unique, memorable, intense and engaging…like the entire film.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Hell, that CD is still in regular rotation in my car for good reason
Elessar: Alright, let’s talk racism people.
Starshine5050: The herd of elephants in the room.
Elessar: I mean, it’s not QUITE as horrible as last year when Selma got shut out for some stupid f**king reason but it’s…it’s not great.
GuyInTheThirdRow: As far as the comparison to last year – last year was bad enough where it was largely just Selma getting shafted. This year, they had a number of opportunities across several different films to really step up. And…well….they blew just about all of them.
Starshine5050: The issue at hand, I think, is the committees that make the nominations. These are people who watch a certain kind of movie, which has gotten cliche as hell. That’s why we all make the jokes about how it’s the huge cliche of what is or is not Oscar bait. Hopefully, now that people are getting mad about it, they will be smarter as to who they let in but its been a long time coming. It used to be that cinema depicting people of color was more limited, but that’s not the case anymore. We needed a new voting group two years ago.
GuyInTheThirdRow: Oh, it’s definitely been overdue. Especially after the years and years of interviews with anonymous voters confirming just how many things get overlooked or written off wholesale, even when they DO manage to get the nominations. The new rulings stand to give the whole Academy a much needed transfusion.
Elessar: I was a lot more angry about it until I saw the changes. I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction and I really do hope next year will be better. It basically has to be. In closing, 2015 was just…a pretty bad year for movies, so I was prepped for the Oscars to be on the disappointing side.
GuyInTheThirdRow: For as disappointing as this Oscars is on its own, I have a feeling we’ll look back on it for some good at least – if only as a final wake up call.
Starshine5050: I think it wasn’t bad, just polarizing. I saw a lot of stuff I loved and a lot I loathed but in the end, I think we got some pieces out of it. Let’s just hope the ceremony itself is not the bore fest it has been. Remember when Hugh Jackman hosted? That was so much fun.
Elessar: Agreed. Chris Rock never bores…Except in his actual movies.
Starshine5050: Here’s to a better round of Oscars next year.
Elessar: Hey, the Coens are back behind the camera in a couple weeks, so there’s something to look forward to
Starshine5050: Hail, Caesar indeed!
Elessar: And with that, I’m Elessar.
Starshine5050: I’m Starshine.
GuyInTheThirdRow: and Guyinthe3rdRow.
Elessar: And we’d like to ask you: Be excellent to each other.
Starshine5050: Or save me from grad school. Either or.