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I should probably just start this post off by saying that I haven’t seen The Revenant and don’t intend to. Actually, I haven’t seen The Big Short either, though I’m a bit less strident on that one. Both these films represent the kind of macho hubris I have no interest or intention of supporting with my cinema dollars anymore, even if they are up for an Oscar. Life is just too damn short and there are far too many movies I’m interested in seeing instead.

With that said, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of making a movie and take a look at the candidates that some of the major craft branches have given us.

The nominees are…

Directing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Will Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant. This is where the money is but I’m hoping for an upset. Will the Academy really give it to the same director two years in a row? I wonder. Unfortunately the Directors Branch has given them very few options. I guess the best I can say about this likely win is that at least Iñárritu represents a cinematic vision, which is more than I can say for most of the nominees here. Though I think the critics over at Variety said it best:

But examining it now, in the cold light of day — a light uncaressed by the hand of the great Emmanuel Lubezki — all I can see is a towering and onanistic monument to Inarritu’s ego, the work of an aesthetic bully who is by now too enamored of his own technical virtuosity to see through the poverty of his emotions and the banality of his ideas.

Damn, that’s colder than the set of The Revenant.

Should Win: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road. No contest for me here. This was a director’s picture from start to finish. Impeccably crafted visual storytelling with outstanding performances. Is it one long car chase? Yes, but if that is all you see you are not watching closely enough.

Should Have Been Nominated: Marielle Heller for The Diary of a Teenage Girl. Speaking of directorial vision and impeccably crafted visual storytelling with outstanding performances, you can’t do much better than the 1970s San Francisco that Heller brought to life on what was likely a very low budget. I will be very interested to see what she does next. You could sub her in for any nominee except Miller and I’d be okay with it.

Oscars_Fury Road

Cinematography
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

As with Original Score, I can’t really complain much about who the Cinematographers Branch has put up this year. These five films are all masterfully shot and look gorgeous.

Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki for The Revenant. Again, this is where the money is (followed by John Seale for Mad Max: Fury Road) but I’m hoping for an upset by any of the others. Not that I begrudge Lubezki winning, I just don’t want to see this film rewarded. And he did just win last year.

Should Win: Robert Richardson for The Hateful Eight. I think this is who I’d pick if I were voting. There were things I’d change in the film if I were editing it, but the use of the frame just blew me away.

Should Have Been Nominated: Radium Cheung for Tangerine. This film looks gorgeous. It was shot using iPhones. Need I say more? Oh, yeah, I need to say who I’d replace. As much as I hate to say it, I guess Roger Deakins? I love you, man, but Sicario is the least technically interesting choice here.

Bel Powley in the impeccably dressed set of The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Bel Powley in the impeccably dressed set of The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Production Design
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

I realize the production designer does way more than set decoration but I don’t get these nominations at all. It’s like they used a dartboard. I’m assuming there are individual designers at play here more than films.

Will/Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. There’s not much of a contest here. Fury Road is favored by a huge margin. Well deserved, but not the first thing I’d think of rewarding in this movie.

Should Have Been Nominated: Brooklyn, Carol, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl instead of The Danish Girl, The Martian, and The Revenant. My personal preference would be for The Diary of a Teenage Girl but I think if Carol had been nominated here it would have won.

Costume Design
Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

This makes a little bit more sense than the Production Design nominations, but still, The Revenant? Fury Road? Come on.

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road, but Cinderella and Carol are close on its heels. If you remember, I did predict a nomination for Cinderella here.

Should Win: Carol. As much as I loved Cate Blanchett’s outfits in Cinderella, Carol has the better costuming work overall. I mean, the hats and gloves alone!

Should Have Been Nominated: Brooklyn and The Diary of a Teenage Girl instead of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant. I thought Brooklyn especially would find its way here: The costumers did excellent work in depicting the subtle transformations of Eilis throughout her immigration journey.

Taking in the sights and sounds of Coney Island in Brooklyn

Taking in the sights and sounds of Coney Island in Brooklyn

Los Angeles at Christmas as shot by Radium Cheung in Tangerine

Los Angeles at Christmas as shot by Radium Cheung in Tangerine

What did you see on the screen that most impressed you last year? Let me know in the comment box below.

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