True colours of Oscars

True colours of Oscars

The Oscars this year, to be held on Sunday (Monday morning Singapore time), will be remembered as the one with the cloud of #OscarsSoWhite looming over it.

Strong performances by non- white actors such as Michael B. Jordan in Creed, directed by Ryan Coogler, also black, were ignored, sparking a revamp of the voting system at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The backlash against #OscarsSoWhite from the likes of actress Charlotte Rampling (nominated in the Best Actress category for 45 Years) has been telling and serves only to reinforce the idea that the bias runs so deep in the academy that only institutional change will offer minorities a fair shake.

Still, without the colour bias, this year features the usual drama about who will win versus who should, and who was snubbed for nod, as the list shows.

The 88th Annual Academy Awards airs live on HBO (StarHub TV Channel 601) on Monday from 7.30am.


The Big Short

Bridge Of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant



WILL WIN: The Big Short

Photo: UIP

SHOULD WIN: Spotlight

Photo: Shaw Organisation

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Sicario, Straight Outta Compton, Creed (below), Ex Machina

Photo: Warner Bros

The Big Short - a big, splashy take on the 2008 financial crisis seen through the eyes of the outsiders who predicted it- has momentum.

It has picked up the Producers Guild Of America Award, along with a British Academy of Film and Television Arts Award, for its adapted screenplay.

Voters like The Big Short's brashness, with how it backs the idea that capitalism is flawed but corrects itself.

But the prize should go to the better-crafted Spotlight, a low-key, realistic look at how journalism revealed cover-ups by the Catholic Church of abuses carried out by paedophile priests.

This will be a year when the Best Director prize will go to someone who did not work on the Best Picture winner - it is rare, but it happens.


Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

WILL WIN: Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant

Photo: Twentieth Fox Century

SHOULD WIN: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Photo: Golden Village Pictures

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Cary Fukunaga, Beasts Of No Nation

Photo: Facebook

This will be one of those years when the Best Director and Best Picture prizes will go to two different films.

The academy voters think The Big Short has an important message, but recognise that The Revenant is more epic and technically more difficult to execute.

Also, they might yearn to make history by giving Inarritu the Best Director award two years in a row, after his win for Birdman last year.

The more deserving win should be Miller's, for the astounding vehicular mayhem of Mad Max: Fury Road, packaged within a rich story, peopled by vivid characters.

Fukunaga should be recognised for the powerful Beasts, which was probably shunned by the academy for being distributed by online service Netflix, which it sees as a threat to the traditional movie business.


Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

WILL WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Photo: Twentieth Fox Century

SHOULD WIN: Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Photo: Shaw Organisation

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Michael B. Jordan (right), Creed; Will Smith, Concussion

Photo: Warner Bros

It is not hard to understand the hurt of the #OscarSoWhite protestors when Matt Damon's wise-cracking astronaut in The Martian gets a nod, while Michael B. Jordan's strongly dramatic performance in Creed does not.

DiCaprio, nominated five times for an acting prize at the Oscars without winning any so far, has been spotted pressing the flesh at every party in Los Angeles, campaigning hard.

Voters also love suffering and he suffered a great deal in the wintry outdoors shooting the western The Revenant.

He will beat Cranston, who turns in a winning, low-key performance in Trumbo.


Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

WILL WIN: Brie Larson, Room

Photo: Shaw Organisation

SHOULD WIN: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox


Photo: Shaw Organisation

Hollywood loves an ingenue and Larson fits the bill, seeming to have come from nowhere to nail her role as the young mother in the kidnapping drama Room.

She, of course, comes from somewhere - television (The League, Community) and edgy indie movies (Short Term 12, 2012).

But the voters, all older, do not watch television or independent films, so they have no idea.

But it is Ronan who turns in a stronger performance as the immigrant Irish woman in Brooklyn.

Mara's part in the period romance Carol was as large, if not larger than Blanchett's, and she turned in a performance that was just as strong.


Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge Of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

WILL WIN: Sylvester Stallone (left), Creed

Photo: Warner Bros

SHOULD WIN: Mark Rylance (centre), Bridge Of Spies

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Idris Elba, Beasts Of No Nation

Photo: Facebook

Stallone is a sentimental favourite with Oscars' older voting demographic, who remember him from the first Rocky movie.

He has already picked up a Golden Globe for playing Rocky in Creed - not bad for an actor who won a Worst Actor of the Century Razzie for his roles in the Rambo and Rocky sequels.

Stage actor Rylance, however, was the best thing in Bridge Of Spies and he deserves a win.

The worst snub on this list is that for the powerful war drama Beasts Of No Nation, propelled by a scary and charismatic warlord, played by Elba.


Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

WILL WIN: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Photo: United International Pictures

SHOULD WIN: Rooney Mara, Carol

Photo: Shaw Organisation

SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOMINATED: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

Photo: Golden Village Pictures

Hollywood's love affair with fresh faces continues with Vikander - they are not likely to have seen her in Ex Machina (2015) or A Royal Affair (2012).

Her performance in The Danish Girl has already bagged a Screen Actors Guild award, so she is likely to win the Oscar too.

Too bad for Mara, who made a better impression for her work in Carol.

Theron was unfairly snubbed - her turn as Furiosa gave Mad Max at least 50 per cent of its punch.


This article was first published on February 24, 2016.
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