Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch!

The Awards Season “Officially” comes to an end this Sunday as the Academy hands out the Oscars, with Chris Rock hosting. I spoke a lot about some of the topics such as #OscarsSoWhite and some of the individual races in episode 3 of the Sonic Cinema Podcast here, but I have caught up with some nominees since then, sometimes changing my thoughts from a couple of weeks ago.

Before we start, here is what my 10 Best and Favorite lists of 2015 look like as we go into the big night. They are unlikely to change in the future. I hope you enjoy!

Brian’s 10 Best Films of 2015
1. “Halina” (Ralph Suarez)
2. “Return to the Garden” (Jake Hutchinson and D. Erik Park)
3. “Call Me Lucky” (Bobcat Goldthwait)
4. “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens” (JJ Abrams)
5. “Spotlight” (Tom McCarthy)
6. “Sea Change” (Nickolas Duarte)
7. “Straight Outta Compton” (F. Gary Gray)
8. “Inside Out” (Pete Doctor)
9. “Ex Machina” (Alex Garland)
10. “Parallel” (Mikel J. Wisler)

Brian’s 10 Favorite Films of 2015
1. “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens” (JJ Abrams)
2. “Halina” (Ralph Suarez)
3. “Inside Out” (Pete Doctor)
4. “Return to the Garden” (Jake Hutchinson and D. Erik Park)
5. “Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief” (Alex Gibney)
6. “Straight Outta Compton” (F. Gary Gray)
7. “Sea Change” (Nickolas Duarte)
8. “Akibet (Aftermath)” (Tofiq Rzayev)
9. “Mad Max: Fury Road” (George Miller)
10. “Crimson Peak” (Guillermo Del Toro)

Viva la Resistance!

Brian Skutle
www.sonic-cinema.com

Best Picture
“Spotlight”
“The Big Short”
“The Martian”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Room”
“Brooklyn”
“The Revenant”
“Bridge of Spies”

Brian’s Top Eight: “Call Me Lucky”; “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “Spotlight”; “Straight Outta Compton”; “Inside Out”; “Ex Machina”; “The Wolfpack”; “Anomalisa”

Brian’s Pick: “Spotlight”

Oscar’s Pick: “Spotlight”. This is a difficult call between “The Revenant,” which leads in total nominations, “The Big Short,” which won the Producers Guild, and “Spotlight.” But I’m going with the SAG Best Ensemble winner over the nomination leader because of how actors make up the majority of the Academy. It’s a toss-up, though.

Best Director
George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant”
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”

Brian’s Top Five: JJ Abrams, “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; F. Gary Gray, “Straight Outta Compton”; George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”; Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”; Ridley Scott, “The Martian”

Brian’s Pick: George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Oscar’s Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu. As much as I would love to see George Miller win the Oscar here, I have a feeling Iñárritu will win his second straight Oscar for the epic and uncompromising vision he displays in “The Revenant.”

Best Actor
Matt Damon, “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo” (Haven’t Seen)
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs” (Haven’t Seen)
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Matt Damon, “The Martian”; Abraham Attah, “Beasts of No Nation”; Steve Carell, “The Big Short”; Samuel L. Jackson, “The Hateful Eight”; Shameik Moore, “Dope”

Brian’s Pick: Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Oscar’s Pick: Leonardo DiCaprio. Just accept it. Leo will finally have his first Oscar.

Best Actress
Brie Larson, “Room”
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Brie Larson, “Room”; Teyonah Parris, “Chi-Raq”; Cate Blanchett, “Carol”; Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, “Tangerine”; Charlize Theron, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Brian’s Pick: Brie Larson, “Room”

Oscar’s Pick: Brie Larson. Leo is the sentimental lock, Brie is the precursor’s lock, and honestly, she deserves it.

Best Supporting Actor
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”

Brian’s Top Five: Jason Mitchell, “Straight Outta Compton”; Michael Keaton, “Spotlight”; Paul Dano, “Love & Mercy”; Jacob Tremblay, “Room”; Benicio Del Toro, “Sicario”

Brian’s Pick: Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Oscar’s Pick: Sylvester Stallone. Stallone lost at SAG, but who he lost to (Idris Elba for “Beasts of No Nation”) failed to get a nomination here, paving the way for Stallone to win an Oscar for his most recent performance as his iconic boxer, Rocky Balboa, in Ryan Coogler’s terrific continuation of the story.

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl” (Haven’t Seen)
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”; Rooney Mara, “Carol”; Alicia Vikander, “Ex Machina”; Daisy Ridley, “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; Mya Taylor, “Tangerine”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”

Oscar’s Pick: Alicia Vikander. It’ll be weird watching her win for a movie I haven’t seen while she has a non-nominated performance equally worthy that I did see, but I think the SAG award lined this one up for the up-and-comer Vikander.

Best Original Screenplay
“Inside Out” (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie Del Carmen)
“Spotlight” (Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer)
“Ex Machina” (Alex Garland)
“Straight Outta Compton” (Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus)
“Bridge of Spies” (Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Inside Out” (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie Del Carmen); “Spotlight” (Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer); “Anomalisa” (Charlie Kaufman); “Ex Machina” (Alex Garland); “Straight Outta Compton” (Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Inside Out” (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie Del Carmen)

Oscar’s Pick: “Spotlight”. The literate, journalistic screenplay by McCarthy and Singer for their investigative drama wins out over the more imaginative likes of Pixar’s most recent masterpiece and Garland’s sci-fi drama.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Martian” (Drew Goddard)
“The Big Short” (Adam McKay, Charles Randolph)
“Carol” (Phyllis Nagy)
“Brooklyn” (Nick Hornby)
“Room” (Emma Donoghue)

Brian’s Top Five: “The Martian” (Drew Goddard); “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens” (J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasden, Michael Arndt); “The Big Short” (Adam McKay, Charles Randolph); “Love & Mercy” (Oren Moverman & Michael A. Lerner); “Chi-Raq” (Spike Lee & Kevin Willmott)

Brian’s Pick: “The Martian” (Drew Goddard)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Big Short”. The geek in me so wants “Cabin in the Woods” and “Buffy” alum Drew Goddard to win for his funny and scientific script for Ridley Scott’s epic, but I think we will be saying “Academy Award winner Adam McKay” for the rest of the “Anchorman” filmmaker’s career thanks to his and Randolph’s sharp, incisive look at how the housing market collapsed.

Best Original Score
“Hateful Eight” (Ennio Morricone)
“Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens” (John Williams)
“Sicario” (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
“Carol” (Carter Burwell)
“Bridge of Spies” (Thomas Newman)

Brian’s Top Five: “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Tom Holkenborg); “The Hateful Eight” (Ennio Morricone); “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens” (John Williams); “Jupiter Ascending” (Michael Giacchino); “The Revenant” (Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto)

Brian’s Pick: “The Hateful Eight” (Ennio Morricone)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Hateful Eight”. There are legitimate reasons any one of the nominees could/should win this year, but I have a feeling Morricone will finally be taking home his first competitive Oscar for his wild and riveting score for Tarantino’s latest genre epic.

Best Original Song
“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey” (The Weeknd, Belly, Jason ‘DaHeala’ Quenneville, Stephan Moccio)
“Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground” (Diane Warren, Lady Gaga)
“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction” (J. Ralph, Antony Hegarty) (Haven’t Seen)
“Writing’s On the Wall” from “Spectre” (Sam Smith, James Napier) (Haven’t Seen)
“Simple Song #3” from “Youth” (David Lang) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Pray 4 My City” from “Chi-Raq” (Rico Cox, Robert Amparan, Leroy Griffin, Jr., and Nick Cannon); “See You Again” from “Furious Seven” (Justin Franks, Andrew Cedar, Charlie Puth, Wiz Khalifa); “Flashlight” from “Pitch Perfect 2” (Sam Smith, Sia, Christian Guzman, Jason Moore); “Love Me Like You Do” from “Fifty Shades of Grey” (Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Ali Payami, Tove Lo, Ilya Salmanzadeh); “Salted Wound” from “Fifty Shades of Grey” (Brian West, Jarvis Church, Sia, Oliver Kraus)

Brian’s Pick: “Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey” (The Weeknd, Belly, Jason ‘DaHeala’ Quenneville, Stephan Moccio)

Oscar’s Pick: “Til It Happens to You”. Without a clear, runaway winner, I think Diane Warren will be in line for her first Oscar with her lovely song for an important documentary.

Best Animated Feature
“Inside Out”
“Anomalisa”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
“Boy & the World” (Haven’t Seen)
“When Marnie Was There” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Inside Out”; “Anomalisa”; “Shaun the Sheep Movie”; “Home”; “Minions”

Brian’s Pick: “Inside Out”

Oscar’s Pick: “Inside Out”. I fully expect Pixar’s most ambitious masterpiece to win, but would not be surprised in the least if Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s elegant, melancholy “Anomalisa” were to “upset” here.

Best Foreign Language Film– Haven’t Seen Any
“Embrace of the Serpent” (Columbia)
“Mustang” (France)
“Son of Saul” (Hungary)
“Theeb” (Jordan)
“A War” (Denmark)

Brian’s Top Five: Have not seen any foreign features.

Brian’s Pick: “Son of Saul”

Oscar’s Pick: “Son of Saul”. By all accounts, a stunning film about the Holocaust. Hopefully, I’ll get to see it sometime.

Best Documentary Feature
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”
“Amy”
“What Happened, Miss Simone?”
“Cartel Land”
“The Look of Silence” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Call Me Lucky”; “The Wolfpack”; “Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief”; “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”; “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck”

Brian’s Pick: “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”

Oscar’s Pick: “What Happened, Miss Simone?”. In a battle between musical icons, the Civil Rights rebellion of Nina Simone will likely win out over the heartbreaking tragedy of Amy Winehouse. It could very well be the other way around, though.

Best Visual Effects
“Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Ex Machina”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”

Brian’s Top Five: “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Ex Machina”; “The Martian”; “Ant-Man”

Brian’s Pick: “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”

Oscar’s Pick: “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”. This could go any number of ways (watch out for “Ex Machina”), but I think the return to a galaxy far, far away, with it’s combination of practical effects and CG spectacle, will be too much to ignore for the Academy.

Best Sound Mixing
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”
“The Revenant”
“The Martian”
“Bridge of Spies”

Brian’s Top Five: “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “Straight Outta Compton”; “The Revenant”; “Crimson Peak”

Brian’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Revenant”. A very good group of nominees, with the win, I think, going to the ambient power of “The Revenant.”

Best Sound Editing
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”
“The Revenant”
“The Martian”
“Sicario”

Brian’s Top Five: “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “The Revenant”; “…In the Dark”; “Crimson Peak”

Brian’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Oscar’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”. A split decision for the sound categories, with this one going to the sonic fury of “Mad Max.”

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

Brian’s Top Five: “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “The Revenant”; “The Hateful Eight”; “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “Z for Zachariah”

Brian’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Revenant”. This is one of the most difficult categories to predict this year, with three films being wholly deserving, and Roger Deakins (“Sicario’s” cinematographer) still without an Oscar for no reason whatsoever, but I’m guessing Chivo (Emmanuel Lubezki) will be winning his third straight Oscar in this category for his stunning camerawork in Iñárritu’s epic.

Best Film Editing
“Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Spotlight”
“The Big Short”
“The Revenant”

Brian’s Top Five: “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Creed”; “Spotlight”; “Straight Outta Compton”

Brian’s Pick: “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”

Oscar’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”. Expect a lot of back-and-forth between “Mad Max” and “The Revenant” in the technical qualities, with this round going to “Mad Max’s” thrilling action sequences.

Best Production Design
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
“The Martian”
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Danish Girl” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Crimson Peak”; “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “The Hateful Eight”; “The Revenant”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Oscar’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”. This is going to be another “Mad Max”/”Revenant” grudge match, with “Mad Max,” I think, winning out.

Best Makeup & Hair Styling
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Three: “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Chi-Raq”; “The Revenant”

Brian’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Revenant”. It’s really a toss-up again, but I think “The Revenant” will win this one.

Best Costume Design
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Carol”
“The Revenant”
“Cinderella” (Haven’t Seen)
“The Danish Girl” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “The Hateful Eight”; “Mad Max: Fury Road”; “Star Wars: Episode VII- The Force Awakens”; “Crimson Peak”; “Chi-Raq”

Brian’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Oscar’s Pick: “Mad Max: Fury Road”. It’s hard not to see “Mad Max” winning this one.

Here are the three awards those most devoted to movies care about. I haven’t seen any of these, so all these are just guesses.

Best Short Film- Live Action
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Alles wird gut”
“Shok”
“Stutterer”

Brian’s Top Five: “Halina”; “Return to the Garden”; “Sea Change”; “Parallel”; “The Cleaner”

Oscar’s Pick: “Ave Maria”

Best Short Film- Animated
“Historia de un oso”
“Mi ne mozhem zhit bez kosmosa”
“Prologue”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
“World of Tomorrow”

Brian’s Top Two: “Last Days of Coney Island”; “Lava”

Oscar’s Pick: “World of Tomorrow”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“Body Team 12”
“War Within the Walls”
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
“Last Day of Freedom”

Oscar’s Pick: “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”

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