Tag Archives: nominations

Reactions to 2016 Oscar Nominations

Another year, another Oscars. The nominations for the 88th Academy Awards were announced on Thursday, and as usual there were some surprises, both good and bad, with the best film of 2015, “The Revenant,” rightfully leading the pack with 12 nods. Here I’ll do a quick rundown of the major nominations along with my thoughts.



The Big Short

Bridge of Spies


Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revanant



I’ve seen all of these but “Brooklyn,” and while none are a surprise, a few, in my humble opinion do not deserve their nominations. By now I’ve made I clear I am the only human on the face of this earth that hated “Mad Max,” but apparently I’m wrong and everyone else saw a movie that wasn’t dumb, loud and lacked anything resembling narrative. Fine. “The Martian” is a blockbuster film that picked up random momentum and pop culture support, and I sadly didn’t love “Bridge of Spies” or “The Big Short” (to varying degrees). Would have loved to see “Straight Outta Compton,” “Steve Jobs,” or even “Creed” get a nomination here, but “Revenant” and “Spotlight” are two of 2015’s best films, so hopefully one of them pulls it out.



Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revanant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

DiCaprio and Fassbender were the only locks here, and they gave the two best performances of 2015 so that makes sense. The other three aren’t surprising, but each one flirted with being odd-man-out and pushed out by likes of Johnny Depp or Will Smith. Much like the film he was in, I think Damon got a nod because it was the cool thing to do, and while I didn’t love “Trumbo” it’s cool and well-deserved that “Oscar Nominee Bryan Cranston” is a thing now.

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant



Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Only saw Brie Larson and “Room” of this bunch, but she’s essentially a lock to win. Jennifer Lawrence will get nominated for any and everything she does for the rest of time because she is this generation’s Meryl Streep, so not giving her an Oscar nod would be a crime.



Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Very satisfied with this group. Bale (along with Carell) was only bright spot of “Big Short,” Hardy was commanding in “Revenant,” Ruffalo is underrated in everything so glad to see him get love, Rylance gave the best supporting performance of the year in my opinion, and Stallone’s comeback story can’t help but be loved. Idras Elba and Michael Shannon were both on the outside looing in, and I still think Seth Rogen’s work in “Steve Jobs” has been overlooked all awards season, but what on that film hasn’t been ignored?

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Sylvester Stallone, Creed



Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Winslet for “Steve Jobs,” yay. Alicia Vikander for “Danish Girl,” didn’t see the movie but love her so yay. RACHEL MCADAMS, HECKS YES… (clears throat) sorry. That nomination came out of nowhere but I really thought I was the only person who thought she gave the best performance in “Spotlight” and assumed she wouldn’t get her name called.



Adam McKay, The Big Short

George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Lenny Abrahamson, Room

Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Like…ok. I’m happy McKay got an Oscar nomination (or rather, two, more on that in a second) but the fact he got them for “Big Short” baffles and almost angers me. That film has no real scope or reigns on its story, and that is due almost entirely to his direction and screenplay (again, more in a second). Iñárritu deserves love for “Revenant,” what he had to do for that movie is insane, and McCarthy’s direction in “Spotlight” is so subtle it’s almost brilliant. Like, cool, George Miller gets his “Mad Max” nomination, whatever, it’s a well-made film; more surprised at Abrahamson getting nominated for “Room.” Unless he is the sole reason Larson and Jacob Tremblay gave stellar performances, it seemed he didn’t have a great grip on the material.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant



“Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3” – Youth

“Til It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre

“Oscar nominee ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’” is my suicide note but at least it isn’t for “Love Me Like You Do.” How Wiz Khalifa and “See Your Again” didn’t get nominated is a mystery. I guess the Academy either (A) hates rap songs (but Eminem won an Oscar, so) or (B) thought they were being hipster by give two random films nominations. Either way…


The Big Short



The Martian


How, in the actual heck of it, do you not nominate Aaron Sorkin and “Steve Jobs?!” I know the film underperformed at the box office, which in turn turned voters off from the film, but it was not only an apparent lock to get a nod, it was the odds-are favorite to win. I’m actually physically upset at this. It still is the best script of the year, but then again “Gone Girl” was one of the best of 2014 and it didn’t get a nomination… I don’t get the love for “Room’s” screenplay, like it’s fine, but “The Big Short” is a mess that didn’t do a good job describing its confusing stock terms despite thinking it was mastering it. “Two-time Academy Award nominee Adam McKay” is now a thing, so I guess that’s cool. Like he’s a nice guy… [sigh]


Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out


Straight Outta Compton

Pumped “Straight Outta Compton” got some love, although a little surprised it was for Screenplay; it’s a fun script but nothing I thought the Academy would recognize. Glad “Spotlight” got nominated but I think “Inside Out” got love for the originality of its concept more than the actual content of the script (the whole idea of the film actually falls apart if you think about it for more than a minute, like so do the emotions have emotions? I’m getting off track).

Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

Those are my thoughts on the big awards, I’ll have more as Award Season pushes on, including predictions and my own personal awards for the best in 2015 films. The 88th Academy Awards air on February 28, 2016.

2015 Oscar Nomination Reactions

Who says the Oscars are boring?

The 87th Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday, and with them came some shocks, both good and bad. Here I’ll give a quick rundown of my thoughts.

Best Picture

I knew my top film from 2014 “Captain America: The Winter Solider” wasn’t going to get any love here (although it did score a Visual Effects nod), buts some of the other films from my Top 10 list did earn the nomination, including the amazing “Birdman” and “Imitation Game”, as well as “Boyhood”. A surprising and welcome addition was “Whiplash”, and a snub I am surprised but not crushed by is “Foxcatcher”. “Selma” earned a nomination for Best Picture and that’s about it, but more on that in a second. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” continues its momentum ride, earning a Best Picture nod on its way to nine total nominations, tied for most with “Birdman”.

"The Imitation Game" Variety

The Imitation Game Variety

Best Director

Alejandro González Iñárritu and Richard Linklater both got their expected nominations for “Birdman” and “Boyhood”, respectively, but the biggest surprise to most people is that “Selma” director Ava DuVernay’s name is not on the ballot. Replacing her is Bennett Miller for “Foxcatcher” (rare to see a director get nominated for a film that is not). I am not saddened or shocked by this move, as I thought Miller handled his real-life subject matter better than DuVernay, but still, some are upset. Morten Tyldum for “The Imitation Game” and Wes Anderson for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” round out the group, the first time either man has scored a Best Director nomination.

Richard Linklater Variety

Richard Linklater Variety

Best Actor

Oh, hello there, Bradley Cooper. Cooper is by and far the biggest surprise on this list, as it seemed David Oyelowo was a lock for his portrayal of Martin Luther King, Jr. in “Selma”. I am shocked by the lack of Oyelowo, both because of how great his performance was, and the fact that the Academy loves biopic pieces (Michael Keaton is the only actor in this group who did not portray a real-life person). Also, Steve Carell earned a nomination for his chilling, career-defining role in “Foxcatcher”. Admission: I was freaking out that Carell wasn’t going to get nominated, but now I can say “Michael Scott has an Oscar nomination”, so that’s pretty cool. Jake Gyllenhaal’s name was in discussion for his creepy work in “Nightcrawler”, but I guess one psychopath was enough for the Academy.

Steve Carell Variety

Steve Carell Variety

Best Actress

The probable winner of this category, Julianne Moore, got her nomination for her role as a professor struggling with early onset Alzheimer’s. The women Moore will likely beat out include Marion Cotillard, Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike and Reese Witherspoon. Of those names, only Cotillard surprises me, as it seemed Jennifer Aniston had a lot of buzz. Golden Globe winner Amy Adams will have to wait another year to get her 6th career nomination.

Julianne Moore Variety

Julianne Moore Variety

Best Supporting Actor

Probably the least surprising category. All five guys were nominated in the category at the Golden Globes, with J.K. Simmons taking home that trophy, and likely come February will have his name read at the Oscars, too. My vote would go to Edward Norton who was mind-blowingly good in “Birdman” as an egocentric actor, but beggars can’t be choosers. The hype-train didn’t stop for 84-year-old Robert Duvall, who scored his 7th nomination for “The Judge”, and to that I say… *shrugs* (it’s an OK movie certainly elevated by him and Downey’s chemistry).

Edward Norton Indiewire

Edward Norton Indiewire

Best Supporting Actress

This one features one of the biggest surprise nominations in Laura Dern. There was little talk about her getting nominated for “Wild”, but apparently the Academy saw her work better than Jessica Chastain’s in “A Most Violent Year” (a film that earned as many nominations as “Dumb and Dumber To”). I love that Emma Stone got nominated, I roll my eyes at Meryl Streep’s obligatory yearly nod, and I continue to applaud Patricia Arquette’s work in “Boyhood”, and she is the clear front-runner.

Patricia Arquette Indiewire

Patricia Arquette Indiewire

Other Notes

“The Lego Movie” not getting a nomination for Best Animated Film is shocking, even though it did get a Best Song for “Everything is Awesome”. Many people are up-in-arms about “Selma” only getting two nominations (Picture and Song) and to that I only say that in my personal opinion, everything in every category that was nominated over it was more deserving, except Cooper over Oyelowo (Cooper got a Best Picture nod, too,a for “Sniper” so it really seemed fair to give Oyelowo the Actor slot). I didn’t love “The Grand Budapest Hotel” but after it won Best Comedy at the Globes I knew a big day at the Oscars was inevitable (again, NINE nominations!). I’m so glad Tom Cross got nominated for his amazing editing job in “Whiplash”, I’m thrilled and astonished “Transformers: Let’s Blow Up the World Again” didn’t get a single visual and sound nomination, and I’m happy to see “Whiplash” and “Nightcrawler” get Screenplay nods, even if “Whiplash” did steal “Gone Girl”’s Adapted slot.

"The Lego Movie" Variety

“The Lego Movie” Variety

Neil Patrick Harris will host the 87th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 22, 2015 on ABC.

‘American Hustle’ Mainly Bells and Whistles


Sometimes in movies it is very apparent the actors had much more fun making the film than the audience has watching it. That pretty much sums up “American Hustle”, the new David O. Russell film with an all-star cast including Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence.

Set in the late 1970’s, the film follows con man Irving and his partner Sydney (Bale and Adams), who are forced to work with an FBI agent (Cooper) and take down politicians in exchange for their own freedom.

The premise of the movie is very intriguing, and could have been something fantastic. People trying to scam the mafia, corrupt Congressmen and other con artists all in one big deal? With a tighter script it might have been like “Goodfellas” meets “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” (how’s that for a movie reference?). But instead we get a movie that decides to focus more on its characters, rather than its plot or story arch.

According to Christian Bale, Russell allowed the actors to improvise their lines whenever they felt the desire, even if it changed the plot. This may seem like a creative, fun idea at the time however the end result is the movie lacking solid flow or a true narrative (try and decipher whether this is a drama, comedy or political thriller, because it doesn’t have a clue). It seems like the whole film was just a scene with a punchline or dramatic moment, followed by another scene with a punchline or dramatic moment which is almost unrelated to the previous scene.

All the actors do a fine job, particularly Bale. His dedication to any role he does is admirable, as he gained 40 pounds to play Irving. Bale went from dangerously skinny in “The Machinist” to ripped in “Batman Begins”. He then lost weight again for “The Fighter”, and had to put muscle back on for “The Dark Knight Rises”. Bale is the best part of “Hustle”, as he plays a man who deep down has good intentions but can’t seem to get out of the rut he has put himself into with his scamming.

The rest of the cast is solid, albeit nothing memorable. I’m sure they will all earn their award nominations, however I couldn’t help but get the feeling their roles could be done by anyone, particularly that of Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Bale’s wife. Until the film’s climax she really isn’t anything but an extended cameo, and I just never felt she brought anything special to the table (except that she is Jennifer Lawrence).

There are flashes in “Hustle” that made me think the film would rise above the mediocrity that had so far been presented, but it never does. I’m not sure if it was the pacing or the lack of any true resolution, but I just never got absorbed into its world of 1970’s New Jersey. People disappear from the plot never to be seen again, and others do actions that are just completely out of character and leave you shaking your head wondering why that just happened.

“American Hustle” may have looked good on paper, and it is clear the actors all had a fun time with each other while filming it, but in the end it just feels like a missed opportunity. The ending is clever and some of the dialogue is sharp, but it just doesn’t come together in a pretty bow, which is a disappointment considering the cast. The movie may not be a scam, but it certainly sold itself short.

Critics Rating: 6/10