The 88th Annual Academy Awards were held last night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Like last year, it came up with one or two surprises and more than a few talking points.
You'd kind of have to have been living under a stone to have missed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy which engulfed social media in January when, for the second year in a row, all 20 Oscar acting nominees were white (which, given the brilliant performances by Michael B. Jordan in Creed and Idris Elba in Beasts Of No Nation seems like a bit of an oversight). Many column inches were written and several high-profile names- Spike Lee, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith- boycotted the event. Given this powderkeg background, there was bound to be some nervousness over how host Chris Rock would address it.
He did it as only he could; head on and unapologetic. His opening monologue was funny but sharp, calling Hollywood out on its 'sorority racism'. Generally speaking, Rock was more comfortable as host than he was in 2005 and handled what could have been a massively awkward situation extremely well. Not every joke found its mark, not every joke can, but he did well. Trying to raise money for his daughters' Girl Scout pack by selling cookies to the audience is a bit random, but this is the ceremony that gave us a social-media-crashing selfie and Neil Patrick Harris in his underwear, so I guess it's all relative.
The evening followed the life of a film, from genesis to execution, so the first awards of the evening were for the screenplays (something I appreciated). With wins for Spotlight and The Big Short- two films with strong social messages- the political aspects of the acceptance speeches started early with an astonishingly blunt message from Adam McKay about not voting for presidential candidates who are in the pockets of big business or banks.
The political speeches continued with Jenny Beavan speaking about the reality that the dystopic future Mad Max: Fury Road presents being scarily close, to Leonardo DiCaprio's plea for something to be done about climate change, director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's call to eliminate prejudice and the powerful message given by Vice President Joe Biden about sexual abuse on campuses before introducing Lady Gaga to sing 'Til It Happens To You' from The Hunting Ground (a sobering documentary about the epidemic of campus abuse). I thought Sam Smith's acceptance speech- dedicating his award to the LGBT community- was sweet in intention but could have done with some fact-checking (no openly gay actor has won the Best Actor Oscar, but openly gay men and women have won Oscars in the past).
On to the awards themselves:
Not a clean sweep for me this year but I'm incredibly happy with 5 out of 6 (especially given certain uncertainties, if that makes sense)
There were a couple of surprises- mostly, Mark Rylance winning Best Supporting Actor and Alicia Vikander winning Best Supporting Actress- but generally the awards fell where expected. I was gobsmacked yet overjoyed that Spotlight picked up Best Picture- it was the right decision. I was also pleased by the Oscar wins for Amy, the Original Screenplay win for Spotlight, Emmanuel Lubezski's third consecutive Cinematography Oscar (after Gravity and Birdman) and Ennio Morricone for his superb score for The Hateful Eight. I was surprised by 'Writing's On The Wall' winning Best Original Song, but that's down to a matter for personal taste rather than anything else.
Mad Max: Fury Road was the big winner of the evening, with six Oscars. The Revenant took home three, with Spotlight winning two. Despite multiple nominations, there were no wins for The Martian, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Brooklyn or Carol.
Below is the full list of winners at the 88th Annual Academy Awards:
Best Motion Picture of the Year: Spotlight
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Best Actress: Brie Larson (Room)
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies)
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (The Revenant)
Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short
Best Animated Feature Film of the Year: Inside Out
Best Foreign Language Film of the Year: Son Of Saul
Best Cinematography: The Revenant
Best Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Original Score: The Hateful Eight
Best Original Song: 'Writing's On The Wall' (SPECTRE)
Best Sound Mixing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Sound Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Visual Effects: Ex Machina
Best Documentary (Feature): Amy
Best Documentary (Short Subject): A Girl In The River: The Price Of Forgiveness
Best Animated Short Film: Bear Story
Best Live Action Short Film: Stutterer
Congratulations to all winners and nominees!