Sunday, February 28, 2016

Share the wealth: Spotlight wins, Mad Max cleans up, Leo steals the show

Spotlight took home the award for Best Picture on Sunday night at the Academy Awards.

We can now put a bow on the most unpredictable Oscar season in recent memory. With four films battling it out for the top award going into the night, the Academy spread the love around to all of them. Tom McCarthy’s masterful investigative journalism drama Spotlight took Best Picture, as well as Best Original Screenplay, while George Miller’s action extravaganza Mad Max: Fury Road picked up six awards, all in the crafts categories.

Alejandro González Iñárritu won his second consecutive Best Director award – just the third person in history to achieve that feat – for his epic The Revenant, for which Leonardo DiCaprio earned his first Oscar for Best Actor and Emmanuel Lubezki won his record third straight Best Cinematography award. Adam McKay and Charles Randolph won Best Adapted Screenplay for McKay’s The Big Short, which was shut out elsewhere on the night.

With DiCaprio taking home Best Actor and frontrunners Brie Larson and Alicia Vikander winning Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively, the only surprise in the acting categories came in Best Supporting Actor, where Mark Rylance won for his glorious, subtle performance in Bridge of Spies, besting sentimental favorite Sylvester Stallone for Creed.

Chris Rock proved a tremendous host and pulled no punches when it came to the diversity issue that has hovered over this Oscars season. He was funny, sharp, and quick, moving the show along while also delivering a damn fine evening of entertainment. His bit with the Girl Scout cookies was hysterical – a relative of and improvement upon Ellen Degeneres’ pizza-delivery stunt from two years ago – and he successfully revisited one of the most famous sketches in recent Oscar history, asking movie-goers in Compton whether they had seen the nominees. They had not.

DiCaprio, who earned a standing ovation from a crowd clearly excited to hand the thespian his first Academy Award, thanked the people who made The Revenant possible and thanked his parent before going off on an impassioned speech about the environment and our responsibility to be stewards of the natural world. DiCaprio’s victory was as much a foregone conclusion as any on Oscar night, and the whole movie-loving world was waiting for this moment. DiCaprio owned every second of it with a speech that will be replayed and rewatched for decades to come.

The biggest surprise of the night came when the low-budget sci-fi thriller Ex Machina beat out four huge blockbuster hits in Best Visual Effects, likely due to split support among the more popular films. The win was one of my favorite moments of the evening on a show full of moments that made me cheer out loud. In addition to wins for DiCaprio, Spotlight, and Ex Machina, I was most excited for Bear Story in Best Animated Short, Stutterer in Best Live Action Short, and Ennio Morricone winning Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight.

I had some problems with the broadcast and some of the winners, but I am just so overjoyed for the Spotlight team and DiCaprio that I do not want to focus on those right now. I will have a more thorough reaction tomorrow, but for tonight, let’s just enjoy the fact the Academy awarded a masterpiece of American film its top award.

Good night. More to come tomorrow.

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