2016 Oscar Predictions

With the Oscars tonight at 7 pm ET, here are my predictions for who will and who should be the winners in each of the major categories at this year’s Academy Awards. Who will win the race for Best Picture? Will “The Revenant” win big, or will “Mad Max” defy all the odds and bring home a slew of awards? Here’s what I think will happen.

Best Picture:

-Who Will Win: The Revenant

-Who Should Win: Spotlight

This is probably the most interesting Best Picture race we’ve had for a while. Everything about “The Revenant” epitomizes what the Academy looks for in films, and winning the BAFTA for Best Picture certainly helps. That being said, I still stand by the fact that “Spotlight” is by far the best film from this year, does many more things better than “The Revenant,” and should be honored accordingly. Still, don’t be surprised if the Academy develops a soft spot and gives the idea to dark horse film “Room.”

Best Director:

-Who Will Win: Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant)

-Who Should Win: George Miller (Mad Max Fury Road)

While Inarritu and his crew went through hell to create “The Revenant,” I still think that George Miller produced a better piece of directorial work, a kin to what we saw from Ang Lee in “Life of Pi.” I think the Academy will give it to Inarritu, especially if “The Revenant” wins Best Picture, but George Miller did a better job with his film.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

-Who Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

-Who Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

While I don’t think that this role is particularly deserving of winning an Oscar, DiCaprio does deserve one for his career and this is probably the best year to give him one since the rest of the competition doesn’t present a stand out performance like the past five years have. Don’t be surprised if Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) or Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl) snags the award from underneath DiCaprio’s nose, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

-Who Will Win: Brie Larson

-Who Should Win: Brie Larson

This is a lock at this point. Only Blanchett (Carol) stands a vague chance of taking the award, but it’s Larson’s to win.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

-Who Will Win: Sylvester Stallone

-Who Should Win: Mark Rylance

Stallone is not bad in “Creed” but at the same time, he is far from Oscar worthy in my opinion. That being said, he has been continuously recognized at various awards stages this year and it’s easy to see the Academy following suit. Mark Rylance is the best of those nominated, but this category will be overshadowed by the fact that Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) wasn’t nominated despite being the best supporting performance of the year in my opinion.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

-Who Will Win: Kate Winslet

-Who Should Win: Kate Winslet

Rooney Mara might pull off the upset but Winslet has been the best through and through all throughout this awards season.

Best Animated Feature:

-Who Will Win: Inside Out

-Who Should Win: Inside Out

Pixar’s best film in the past few years isn’t going to miss out on winning another golden statue for the animation studio giants.

Best Cinematography:

-Who Will Win: The Revenant

-Who Should Win: The Revenant

Emmanuel Lubezki is on track to win an unprecedented third straight Best Cinematography award at the Oscars and after seeing the beauty that is “The Revenant,” it’s hard to see him losing this one.

Best Costume Design:

-Who Will Win: The Revenant

-Who Should Win: Carol

“The Revenant” will continue its string of Oscar awards by winning this category, but if I was able to vote, I would give it to “Carol” especially since the movie has been snubbed in so many categories despite being the third best film this year in my opinion.

Best Documentary Feature:

-Who Will Win: Amy

-Who Should Win: Amy

All the documentaries this year were phenomenal, but “Amy” has been the stand out since the summer and should be rightfully rewarded.

Best Film Editing:

-Who Will Win: Mad Max Fury Road

-Who Should Win: Mad Max Fury Road

Considering the amount of film that Miller had to go through when crafting this film, it would be a crime if “Mad Max” didn’t win this award.

Best Foreign Language Film:

-Who Will Win: Son of Saul

-Who Should Win: Son of Saul

Almost as much of a lock as Larson for best actress or “Inside Out” for animated feature, “Son of Saul” should ease to a victory in this category.

Best Visual Effects:

-Who Will Win: The Revenant

-Who Should Win: Mad Max Fury Road

The visuals in “The Revenant” are beautiful and the bear scene is brilliantly crafted but it’s hard to ignore the visual effects that drive “Mad Max” to greatness. The cornerstone of the film, the visuals for George Miller’s epic adventure are too great to ignore, but I feel that the Oscars are going to have a soft spot for “The Revenant” in this category

Best Writing Adapted Screenplay

-Who Will Win: The Big Short

-Who Should Win: The Big Short

Stimulating dialogue is what carries this film through its entirety. I didn’t particularly like the film for reasons that you can see in my previous review, but I have to admit that it is probably the most likely winner in this category.

Best Writing Original Screenplay

-Who Will Win: Spotlight

-Who Should Win: Spotlight

The dialogue and writing in “Spotlight” is so deliberate and brilliantly crafted that there’s no way that it should lose this award in my mind.

Best Makeup and Hair:

-Who Will Win: Mad Max Fury Road

-Who Should Win: Mad Max Fury Road

Best Music (Original Score):

-Who Will Win: Carol

-Who Should Win: Carol

Best Music (Original Song):

-Who Will Win: Earned It

-Who Should Win: Earned It

 

Who do you think will win big at the Oscars tonight? Let me know in the comments section.

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“Deadpool” Review

When Marvel started their true wave of success with the release of “Iron Man” in 2008, they have been the driving force for everything that relates to superhero films. While “The Dark Knight” stands as the best superhero movie of all time (no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it), Marvel has seen more consistent success than their rivals at DC Comics when it comes to the silver screen. As the years have gone on, and the number of superhero films released has reached near obnoxious levels, I have grown exponentially bored with the superhero genre. Every since watching “The Dark Knight” no superhero has ever been the same for me, but despite that, I have grown tired of the same old formula repeated over and over. The industry recognizes this potential stagnation, however, which is why we have seen an increase in crossover films, such as “The Avengers” along with “Captain America: Civil War,” “Batman V Superman,” and “Suicide Squad” all being released later this year. “Guardians of the Galaxy” tried to take the superhero concept and make it more comedic but still gave me the same bland feeling that I’ve felt the past few times I’ve left the theater after a superhero film. Now, along comes “Deadpool.” Could this film potentially be the savior to all the issues I’ve been having with the superhero genre recently?

If you haven’t heard anything about “Deadpool,” essentially it is meant to be a “college student after his parents have just left” type of superhero film in terms of profanity and humor. Obscene violence that would make Tarantino proud outlines a spew of obnoxiously crude jokes that often revolve around human genitalia or graphic sexual actions. This film was made with the intent of being the complete opposite of “family-friendly,” achieving that status and then some. “Deadpool” spends the entire film reminding us that he is not a superhero, but rather someone who is on a vengeance mission that will in no way benefit anybody but himself. There’s no denying that it deserves the R-rating that it strived above and beyond to garner, but does it succeed in being a good movie? Quite frankly, no it doesn’t.

While I have come to realize that I have a rather different sense of humor from most Americans, possible due to my exposure to excessive classic British humor as a child, I still find some American comedies to be very funny. “Deadpool” does not fall into this category. For all the jokes it made, I would say that I laughed at about three of them, and they were shameful laughs. The humor is in no way intelligent, but is plain immature and gratuitously absurd. The story is childishly simple, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I would’ve liked a little more than an hour and forty minutes worth of story about this admittedly interesting character. The violence is refreshingly different at times from the standard PG-13 bloodless battles we have become so accustomed to; however, even the violence is not enough to make this film worthwhile. If all I want is violence, I can go watch any Tarantino film or “Watchmen” if I want to see a superhero film with blood and gore.

What annoys me about this movie the most, though, is the irony surrounding the entire film. “Deadpool” desperately wants to be a movie that doesn’t care, but tries so hard to come across that way that it almost seems unnecessary. Nothing about the film feels natural or flows with any evenness. Everything feels forced and painful at times, which ultimately ruins the carefree attitude it so wants to portray to everyone watching the film. This film will do well at the box office and will be enjoyed by many late teen to early adult aged demographics, but it fails to change my mind that the superhero genre is anything worth my time, and just adds to my belief that the superhero brand of cinema is a dying breed.

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Deadpool (2016): 1.5/4 stars

“Deadpool” has Changed the Game for Superhero Movies

Unless we’re talking about “The Dark Knight,” every superhero movie is made with one sole purpose: money. Box office ticket stubs are the only thing that matter to studio executives when they sign up to invest in the newest feature film from Marvel or DC film studios. Some of the directors may say that they wish to reach new narrative grounds for a superhero film, but at the end of the day, whether they do or not will not largely affect the success of the film. Get a well-known superhero, a relatively famous cast, and some grand special effects sequences and you’re guaranteed at least $400 million in box office rewards. Besides “The Dark Knight” which redefined the concept that a superhero movie could also work as a complex crime noir, no other superhero film has contributed greatly to the history of cinema, and it doesn’t appear that any will any time soon. Some will argue that “The Avengers” changed cinema history by interweaving multiple story arcs, but that’s not special. The comic book did it first.

Since all superhero movies are just means to generate obscure amounts of profits, the ideal rating for all superhero films is PG-13. All the new wave Marvel films and superhero movies of old are either rated PG-13 or PG; it is incredibly rare to see an R-rated superhero film. There are a few exceptions to this rule. “Watchmen” was given an R-rating and the same with “Kickass,” but “Watchmen” is based off a very violent graphic novel and “Kickass” uses its violence as an added form of parody to enhance to comedic undertones of the film. Even then, “Kickass” only made $96 million at the box office and “Watchmen” made $185 million, probably because it had such a strong fan base from the graphic novel. These numbers aren’t bad per say, but compare that to the fact that “Ant-man,” which is one of the lesser Marvel films, pulled over $500 million at the box office and the difference between R-rated and PG-13 rated films becomes evident. “Captain America: The Winter Solider” made over $700 million and “The Avengers” made over $1.5 billion worldwide. PG-13 films make more money than R-rated films, meaning it would be stupid for a company to turn their current superhero flick into a violent R film and risk losing that money.

“Deadpool,” however, has done something unprecedented. As of February 16th, less than a full week after its release, and “Deadpool” has already managed to earn just under $300 million at the worldwide box office, with $163 million of that coming in the United States. It’s on course to overtake some PG-13 rated superhero films and will set records for highest grossing R film before it’s time in the theaters is done. “Deadpool” has the potential to single-handedly change superhero movie history by showing that it is possible for a film to be rated-R and still make large sums of money at the box office. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an increase in the amount of R-rated superhero movies over the next few years after the final box office numbers for this fowl-mouthed, blood-spewing action film are recorded.

Looking back at previous superhero films and one dud that could have been salvaged by a change in mindset is “X-men Origins: Wolverine.” While there were many things wrong with this film, one of the worst things about it was the vast amount of violence that was made to look unrealistic by the decision to show no blood in order to protect that precious PG-13 rating. Back when the film was released, it was normal to assume that the film would’ve made less money if it had been transformed into an R, essentially wiping out large audience demographics. If the film were more open to the idea of having an R-rating, then maybe we would have had a gritty and more thrilling experience than what we actually had. The same goes for the upcoming film “Suicide Squad.” The trailer looks dark and alluring, but it was recently announced that the film would be rated PG-13 instead of the R that so many people, myself included, were hoping for. We have yet to see it, but it may be a film that would be more enjoyable with the freedom that comes with having an R-rated film. Hopefully the success of “Deadpool” will change this perception that all superhero movies need to be rated PG-13 in order to make more money, and we will start getting movies that have a grittier and more impressionable effect on the viewer.

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“Deadpool” is in theaters now across the country

Netflix Films: February

Looking for a movie to watch on Netflix this February?  Look no further because here are my suggestions for three films you should watch this month:

Feeling depressed about the cold?: Back in the 1990’s before they were household names, the Coen brothers stormed onto the stage with the release of “Fargo.” Packed with dark comedy and brilliantly cast, led by Frances McDormand in an Academy Award winning roll, this movie perfectly blends violence, comedy, and atmospheric ambiance to create an engaging tale. Highly original and brilliantly clever, this movie will help you realize that you can still have fun even when the ground outside is frozen.

Stephen’s Rating: 4/4 stars

Looking for a romantic movie?: Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and I’m sure not all of you have a hatred for this “holiday” like I do, and some of you might be looking for a nice romantic movie to watch with a significant other come February 14th. Look no further than “Silver Linings Playbook” for a romance film that has a brain and a soul that most romantic comedies can’t match. Brilliant chemistry from Bradely Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence make this film soar higher than most other romances. If you’re looking for a more quirky, indie romance film then “Moonrise Kingdom” is a good choice for you.

Stephen’s Rating: 3.5/4 stars (Silver Linings Playbook); 4/4 stars (Moonrise Kingdom)

Holiday season is over and missing your family?: The holiday season is now done and we’ve all gone back to our daily routines, and some of you may be missing your family. Being with family is what makes the holidays so great after all. To help fill the void I suggest watching “Philomena”, a highly sentimental film about a woman who tries to find her son many years after her was taken away from her. Philomena is a film that recognizes the important bond between family members but does the topic justice by not trying to fully explain that bond because its complexity is experienced differently by each of us, just as it is by the two leading characters.

Stephen’s Rating: 3.5/4 stars

 

If you watch all these are you still want more, check out my recommendations for movies to watch during the month of January in my previous post.