The 88th Oscars: An Overview

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Siddharth Jejurikar

By Siddharth Jejurikar, ’16, Entertainment Editor

A host of great films from 2015 were recognized for their excellence in the art last Sunday during the 88th Academy Awards. Clear stars of the show were the films The RevenantMad Max: Fury Road, and Spotlight, but many more great films were recognized. Though the overall nominations were well chosen, there were a few key snubs. Overall, the 88th Oscars were a particularly historical one. Great actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy were recognized along with great production design teams in Mad Max and Revenant. Though I disagree with Spotlight’s win for Best Picture, it was an undoubtedly good film. On the unfortunate side, the Academy again refused to play their role in fixing the issues of prejudice in the film industry, even with it finally recognizing the fact the problem exists. That being said, The Oscars were a good capstone to the 2015 film year, one that was especially good.

Following the trend of the past few years, the ceremony was mired in controversy over the lack of black actors and directors being nominated. This became the focus of much of the show’s intermediate comedy sections, but all that achieved was giving the Academy an even worse image. It seemed as if The Academy believed making enough jokes about The Oscars being prejudiced would make them appear less prejudiced. They attempted to deflect the cause to Hollywood’s discrimination of black actors—a fact that is admittedly true and problematic, but refused to take any of the blame. This is shameful considering the fact that none of the actors from Straight out of Compton or Beasts of No Nation were recognized. The stellar acting of O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube) and Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E) as well as the heart-wrenching performances of Idris Elba (Commandant) and Abraham Attah (Agu) were ignored by the influential awards ceremony, not to mention Michael B. Jordan’s performance in Creed. In order for there to be a change in the industry, all of its parts need to be a part of it, not just the producers and directors.

Chris Rock hosted this year, performing at a less than stellar level. Though Chris Rock commented on his similarity to Kevin Hart, his boring and repetitive bits proved that he is only a less funny version of his contemporary. Perhaps I only felt this way in comparison to previous ’s after that was equally hilarious. Regardless, many of the individual presenters such as Sacha Baron Cohen and Louis CK were hysterical and topical, evening out the night.

Moving away from the subject of race, Mad Max: Fury Road utterly annihilated the film-production and editing section of the awards, winning in the Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Production Design, Makeup/Hairstyling, and Film Editing categories. Director George Miller’s strict use of practical effects and imaginative world-building, combined with an excellent production design team, earned the film these awards. The category clearly missing is Visual Effects, which was won by Ex Machina. Considering how the film so flawlessly integrated a computer-generated body with the real body of Alicia Vikander, this was an award well deserved. The Revenant, meanwhile, took home awards  for Cinematography and Directing. Director Alejandro Iñárritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s portrayal of pain and nature combined with a clear and deep artistic vision earned him these awards. Shockingly the winner of the prestigious Best Picture award was neither of these films; it was SpotlightSpotlight also won in the Original Screenplay section of the Writing category and was nominated for various other acting and production awards.

The highlight of the acting awards was Leonardo DiCaprio’s first Oscar win for his role in The Revenant. The prolific and highly-regarded actor has starred in great films from The Departed, to Titanic, to Inception. Despite his undoubtable acting ability that golden statue has consistently eluded him until now. Joining him in the club for first Oscar wins despite constant nominations was Ennio Morricone, composer of The Hateful Eight’s soundtrack. His 51 year-long career in film score composition has led to 6 nominations in the past, but this is his first win. Brie Larson took home the award for Best Leading Actress for her harrowing portrayal of The Room’s main character. Alicia Vikander won for Supporting Actress and Mark Rylance won for Supporting Actor for their performances in The Danish Girl and Bridge of Spies respectively. The night concluded fairly well, considering the circumstance, as many great films, actors, writers, directors, and editors were credited for their amazing work.

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