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Monday, February 29, 2016

Mad Blax: Fury Oscars

In case the title of this post confuses you, it's a cheeky version of Mad Max: Fury Road, which won the most awards at last night's 88th Annual Academy Awards (six including Best Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Costume Design and Film Editing). Presenter Louis C.K. - as a joke - almost gave the award for Best Documentary Short Subject to the film since it was winning so much.

And then, of course, there was the outrage over the lack of diversity amongst the nominees, which caused director Spike Lee and actor Will Smith and his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, to boycott the ceremony. Thankfully, host Chris Rock did an outstanding job of discussing this serious issue in a rational but often hilarious way throughout the evening. I agree with him that the problem has more to do with Hollywood itself and that black actors (and other minorities) just want the same opportunities as white actors. I also strongly believe that Oscar acting nominations should be based on performance and not on race. As for Mr. Rock's amusingly edgy hosting performance, I give him a grade of A. He did his best to keep the 3 1/2-hour telecast moving along, but the Oscars always tend to drag a bit during the endless technical awards.

So here are my choices for the best and the worst of the evening:

Opening Monologue Highlights: Chris Rock's humor was definitely dark, but it worked for me because there was a lot of truth in it.
  • "I’m sure there were no black nominees some of those years, say '62 or '63. Black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won Best Cinematography. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about Best Documentary Foreign Short."
  • "Jada’s mad her man Will was not nominated for Concussion. I get it - it’s not fair that Will was this good and didn’t get nominated. You’re right. It’s also not fair that Will was paid $20 million for Wild Wild West, okay?"
  • "This year, in the In Memoriam package, it’s just going to be black people that were shot by the cops on their way to the movies."
Thank You But No Thanks: The new "Thank You" scroll at the bottom of the screen was pointless as it went by way too quickly AND most winners still thanked everyone.

Best Comedy Bit: Whoopi Goldberg in Joy and especially Tracy Morgan as The Danish Girl (eating a danish).

Best Comedy Bit Runner-Up: Rock asking the audience to buy his daughters' Girl Scout cookies - and raising $65,243!

Worst Comedy Bit: I like actress Angela Bassett, but her Black History Month Minute featuring Jack Black just wasn't funny.

Most Confusing Joke: I didn't understand Rock's joke involving an appearance by Stacy Dash (Clueless actress and Fox News commentator), but you can click here for an explanation.

Most Pointless Appearance: Did Star Wars' R2-D2, C-3PO and BB-8 just show up to give a shout-out to composer John Williams' 50th Academy Award nomination? At least the Minions and Toy Story's Woody and Buzz Lightyear got to present actual awards.

Hottest Hunk at the Oscars: Producer and animator Pato Escala, who - along with director Gabriel Osorio - won Best Animated Short Film for Bear Story.

Hottest Hunk Runner-Up: Director/producer J. J. Abrams

Hottest Hunk Honorable Mention: Actor Mark Ruffalo

Funniest Presenter: Louis C.K., who said the Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject would be going home in a Honda Civic.

Worst Presenter: Sacha Baron Cohen (as Ali G) was supposed to introduce the film, Room, but instead he did his comedy, which didn't do much for me.

Hollywood Royalty: Sadly, there was a serious lack of movie star royalty as presenters, but at least Gena Rowlands - who won an Honorary Award at the Annual Governors Awards ceremony in November - was in the audience. Personally, I would rather see Julie Andrews and Shirley MacLaine hand out awards than Olivia Munn and Olivia Wilde, but that's just me.

Best Music Performances: I actually liked Dave Grohl's performance of "Blackbird" during the In Memoriam tribute the best - it was nice - but Lady Gaga's "Til It Happens to You" (from the documentary, The Hunting Ground, about campus rape) deservedly received a standing ovation as many survivors of sexual assault appeared on stage with her.

Grooviest Gay Winner: Sam Smith, who won Best Original Song for "Writing's on the Wall" from Spectre (and Lady Gaga seemed genuinely happy for him). Also, the young man now knows that he is not the first openly gay Oscar winner AND he and British Olympian Tom Daley are apparently just texting pals, which does not upset Daley's Oscar-winning fiancé, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (click here to read all about it - if you care).

Most Surprising Win: Did anyone predict that Tony Award-winning actor Mark Rylance would win Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies?

Best Speech: It wasn't a great evening for memorable speeches, but I think Leonardo DiCaprio, who won Best Actor for The Revenant, gave the best one.

Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for The Revenant

Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl

Best Actress: Brie Larson for Room

Best Picture: Spotlight (which also won Best Original Screenplay)

And that, folks, is my review (click here for a complete list of the winners). I didn't do that well with my predictions - correctly selecting only 11 out of the 24 categories. And I didn't do much better with my predictions for this year's Razzie Awards - 4 out of 10 categories - which were announced on February 27. Below are the "lucky" Razzie winners:

Worst Picture: Fantastic Four and Fifty Shades of Grey
Worst Actor: Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey
Worst Actress: Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades of Grey
Worst Supporting Actor: Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending
Worst Supporting Actress: Kaley Cuoco in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (voice only) and The Wedding Ringer
Worst Director: Josh Trank for Fantastic Four
Worst Screen Combo: Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades of Grey
Worst Screenplay: Fifty Shades of Grey
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel: Fantastic Four
Razzie Redeemer Award: Sylvester Stallone (From all-time Razzie champ to 2015 award contender for Creed)


joel65913 said...

I DVR'd the show and zipped through a lot but I did like Dave Grohl's performance because while the song was appropriate they kept the focus on the people who had passed and he remained in the background. The last few years they've blown it by taking repeated closeups of the performer or included them in the shot of the tribute reel.

I was delighted by Mark Rylance's win. The idea of the phrase "Best Supporting Actor winner Sylvester Stallone" just doesn't sit well. A sentimental win should be earned by a career full of quality work, there's nothing of that in his filmography.

I agree about the lack of star power, the least they could have done since they shoved the honoraries into another non-televised ceremony was to have Gena Rowland & Debbie Reynolds present Best Picture.

Marc Harshbarger said...

Thanks for your comment, Joel. I agree with everything you said - and although I thought maybe Stallone might win, you are quite right that he has not had a career full of quality work.