The scandal! The insult! infamy! Turning Oscar 2016 into a Whites-Only affair means the Academy will take the red-carpet walk of shame on Feb. 28th. How could it not since people are mad as hell that there’s not a single person of color among the 20 acting nominees. Oscar voters got a pass last year when they did the exact the same stupid thing. But this time it’s personal. Spike Lee, Will Smith and wife Jada are among those calling for a boycott. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs quickly announced reforms to “begin the process of significantly changing our membership composition.” Translation: It’s mostly old white dudes.
Meanwhile, we get to shift through those who are nominated in the major categories, looking for frontrunners and spoilers and leaving some space to bitch about the snubs. Party on. Here are our picks for will win in the six major categories — and who we think should be going home a winner.
The Academy of Old Farts and Outdated Sciences holds the option of nominating 10 movies for Best Picture, but it chose only eight, leaving out work crafted by people of color (Straight Outta Compton), directed by women (Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl), and starring transgender actors (Tangerine). OK, Compton did get nominated for best screenplay, but it’s written by two white people. WTF!
Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith are calling for a boycott of the February 28th Oscar ceremony in protest against the nearly 6,000 Academy voting members (who are 94 percent white). Not one of the 20 acting nominees is a minority. The same thing happened last year when David Oyelowo, so brilliant as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, was among the snubbed, along with director Ava DuVernay. No disrespect to the new crop of nominees, but we should be looking for winners among the best of the best, not the best of the rest.
Should Win: Spotlight
Tom McCarthy’s film took a hot topic (the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer-winning report on Catholic Church cover-ups of abuse by pedophile priests), executed it with precision and expelled all Hollywood bullshit in the most iconic film about journalism since All the President’s Men.
Will Win: The Revenant
The Oscar usually goes to the film with the most nominations. The Revenant has 12; Mad Max: Fury Road got 10. If Spotlight has to go down to any other film, Max would be my choice, though Adam McKay’s all-star financial farce, The Big Short, is picking up speed as a spoiler.
Robbed: Todd Haynes’ Carol and Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobs join F. Gary Gray’s Compton and Ryan Coogler’s Creed on my list of most egregious kiss-offs.
— Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
— Matt Damon, The Martian
— Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
— Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
— Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
The big joke this season is that Johnny Depp didn’t get a nod for playing gangster Whitey Bulger in Black Mass because “black” is in the title. Good one. But Depp wouldn’t have taken the prize anyway.
Should Win: Fassbender.
This knockout performance and the audacious film that contains it were largely ignored at the box office. Fassbender’s achievement as the Apple guru will only grow in luster over the years.
Will Win: DiCaprio.
It’s Leo’s time. Four previous nominations and no win? What! Leo froze his ass off. Let’s hope he thanks the bear.
Robbed: Michael B. Jordan (Creed) put real muscle and artistry into a fight film that went beyond the call of sequel duty. But he went out with the black tide, along with a fully committed Will Smith (Concussion).
— Cate Blanchett, Carol
— Brie Larson, Room
— Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
— Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
— Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Did Jennifer Lawrence really need a fourth nomination to make her the Meryl Streep of millennials? If Blanchett hadn’t just won, for Blue Jasmine, she’d be out front. And first-time nominee Charlotte Rampling, 69, would soar if her film won the viewer support it deserved. It did not.
Should Win: Ronan
She’s just 21, but the miracles she works as an Irish immigrant bravely facing a scary new world define astonishing.
Will Win: Larson
With nominations for film, directing and writing, Room is an Oscar-voter favorite. And the core of its success can be found in Larson’s tour de force as a mother confined in all areas save the heart.
Robbed: It wasn’t race that took a hit here, it was age. Lily Tomlin, 76, was ignored for Grandma; Blythe Danner, 72, for I’ll See You in My Dreams; and Maggie Smith, 81, for The Lady in the Van. Damn you, Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
Courtesy of Warner Brothers
— Christian Bale, The Big Short
— Tom Hardy, The Revenant
— Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
— Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
— Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Yo, Adrian. you can send the other nominees home – such is the heat generated by the resurgence of Rocky. Even Bale, Ruffalo and Hardy can’t survive that comeback offensive.
Should Win: Rylance
The one actor who could block the Rocky siege. As a Russian spy being traded for one of ours in Steven Spielberg’s old-school spy thriller, Rylance is a marvel of subtlety and wit. Fans could launch a Rylance campaign. Would it help? Probably not.
Will Win: Stallone
His widely acclaimed, easy-does-it return to his most beloved role is impossible to resist. He lost the 1976 Oscar (to Network’s Peter Finch) for playing Rocky the first time. It won’t happen again.
Robbed: Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation) — I’d boycott for this slight alone. Sure, Michael Keaton and Liev Schreiber nailed their roles in Spotlight. And Paul Dano captured the talent and torment of Brian Wilson in Love & Mercy. And nine-year-old Jacob Tremblay deserved at least half the acting credit for Room. But Elba is peerless as the West African warlord who trains children to kill. I once wrote that the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor should have Elba’s name on it. I stand by that statement, though Academy ignorance has made that impossible.
Best Supporting Actress
— Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
— Rooney Mara, Carol
— Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
— Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
— Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Here’s the problem. Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander are not giving supporting performances. Mara has as much screen time as her Carol co-star, Blanchett, who is nominated as Best Actress. Ditto Vikander and her Danish Girl co-star, Best Actor nominee Eddie Redmayne. Mara and Vikander are both stellar (I use the word advisedly), but this category scam puts other nominees at a disadvantage.
Should Win: Leigh
As the only woman among Quentin Tarantino’s despicable octet, Leigh delivers a true supporting performance, one that serves the ensemble as she rebels against macho abuse.
Will Win: Mara
She progresses from scared girl to independent woman by learning that she alone must decide who she loves. Mara won the Best Actress prize at Cannes, whose judges accurately understood the scale of her role.
Robbed: Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road) — if the Academy is going to fudge the lines between lead and supporting, why not reward Theron for her stupendous job as Furiosa?
Courtesy of Warner Brothers
— Lenny Abrahamson, Room
— Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
— Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
— Adam McKay, The Big Short
— George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Just might be the most contentious category of Oscar 2016. The smart money says there’ll be a split between Best Picture and Best Director.
Should Win: Miller
At 70, the Aussie filmmaker reinvented his action franchise with a feminist twist and a poet’s eye.
Will Win: Iñárritu
Only twice in 88 years (the last in 1951) has a director won back-to-back Oscars. And no one has directed consecutive Best Pictures. By honoring the Birdman winner, the Academy can make history.
Robbed: Ridley Scott (The Martian) — the legend behind Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator and Black Hawk Down — had been touted to take home his first Oscar, at 78. Now he’s not even nominated. See, white dudes get shafted too. Disturbing? Yup. But eclipsed by the Academy’s growing exclusion of minorities. If he doesn’t quit his Oscar hosting job, Chris Rock might kick racist ass. If not, #OscarsSoWhite is trending. Speak up.