A day or two ago Variety‘s Kris Tapley and Jenelle Riley posted a piece called “22 Deserving Oscar Contenders from the First Half of 2016.” I haven’t seen some of the films discussed. No excuses — I just didn’t or haven’t yet. But I feel highly enthused about two of their suggestions — Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner for Best Feature Doc (I’m ignoring the Best Picture idea) and Ralph Fiennes‘ giddy, motor-mouth performance in A Bigger Splash.
Kris and Jenelle don’t appear to be seriously suggesting that the others might actually score a nomination in their categories. They seem to be mostly saying “hey, at least keep some of these in mind for a Spirit Award.” Fine, but where they got the idea that Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman merit acting nominations for their performances in 10 Cloverfield Lane…fuhgedaboutit.
Best Picture: Kriegman and Steinberg’s Weiner. HE response: For a half-second I thought Tapley and Riley were cranked about Todd Solondz‘s Weiner Dog…whoaahhh! Kriegman and Steinberg’s doc about how “Carlos Danger” destroyed the career of former Rep. Anthony Weiner is a fascinating, appalling, sometimes amusing thing to sink into. On the other hand it’s about the suffocation of a guy’s life, an execution by media and twitter dogs, and who can laugh at this level of carnage? All the guy did was make an ass of himself online — no affair, no sexual harassment, no cruelty, just stupidity. But that’s all it takes.
Best Director: Jeremy Saulnier, Green Room. HE response: Uhhmm…haven’t seen it.
Best Actor: Ethan Hawke, Born to Be Blue. HE response: Missed it at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, haven’t had a chance since. Miles Ahead, another jazz biopic with a darkish tone, is already out on Bluray while Born To Be Blue, which is more or less a portrait of the late Chet Baker, is only on DVD plus it’s not streaming on Amazon or Vudu. Why?
Best Actress: Susan Sarandon, The Meddler. HE response: Missed this also. At least it’s streaming. Tapley-Riley are claiming Sarandon’s performance “is one of the most accurate portrayals of grief seen on film in recent years.” Bill Maher said it made him choke up. Sorry for the dereliction.
Best Supporting Actor: John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane. HE response: No way. Goodman is okay as a slow-burn paranoid hermit, but not once did I say to myself during Dan Trachtenberg‘s film (which popped in early March, and which I mostly hated) that Goodman was doing something truly out of the box. He can play guys like this in his sleep. He’s basically reviving Walter Sobchak of The Big Lebowski with the humor switched off and the dial turned down.
Best Actress: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane. HE response: Nope. I wrote the following on 3.13: “I don’t have a thing against Winstead. I just hated all those signalling expressions and classic ‘scared girl in a horror film’ techniques she uses here. The bottom line is that I hate ‘acting’ — i.e., when all you can see and feel are the tricks and the effort.”
Best Actress: Sally Field, Hello, My Name is Doris. HE response:
I really didn’t want to see this thing plus it didn’t screen all that much. I’ll get around to it.
Best Supporting Actor: Ralph Fiennes, A Bigger Splash. HE response: Yes! Here’s a Best Supporting Actor nomination that is not only completely deserved but required. Fiennes had been on a tear with his snooty comic perfs in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Hail Caesar!, but his aging rock ‘n’ roll groove hound in I Am Love is something else. In my book he deserves a nomination for his “Emotional Rescue” lip-synch performance alone. From my 4.16 review: “[Fiennes character] starts playing silly little head and mood games that are half-hilarious and almost reminiscent of Ben Kingsley‘s Don Logan in Sexy Beast…if Logan had been more personable and had honed his social skills.”
Best Original Screenplay: The Lobster. HE response: Nope. The film is more or less the script and vice versa, and the fact is that it works for the first hour — interesting/perverse concept, dryly handled, grimly half-funny — but then the whole enterprise out of gas. Interesting but not good enough.
Best Original Screenplay: Zootopia. HE response: I recognize that I’m in no position to say anything here as I don’t “do” corporate animation so let’s just leave it there. Actually, let’s not. I don’t care if Zootopia winds up curing cancer and defeating ISIS. I won’t see it, and my foxhole on this matter is deep and warm and well-stocked with canned goods. Fuck all corporate animation into eternity. I’m ready to die for this. Not high-end animation like Waltz With Bashir or Anomalisa, but the family-friendly stuff.
Best Cinematography: The Witch. HE response: Agreed. Pretty much every aspect of this authentic, highly unnerving horror film is grade-A, and that goes for Jarin Blaschke’s skillfully composed images, all candle-lighted or sun-streamed, that capture the creepy 17th Century mood.
Best Costume and Production Design: Hail, Caesar!. HE response: Few will argue the general consensus about Joel and Ethan Coen‘s movie not working. I thought the script was pretty good but the film was a “wait…what’s going on here?” experience. I don’t know why there would be any talk about praising the costumes and production design in a misfire like this. Alden Ehrenreich‘s performance, Channing Tatum dance number and that’s all.
Best Costume Design: Zoolander 2. HE response: Sure, why not? No one’s going to even flirt with the idea of remembering Zoolander 2 at the end of the year so what the hell.
Best Film Editing: Krisha. HE response: Fine but in my head Krisha is a 2015 film. Move on.
Best Production Design: High-Rise. HE response: Complete agreement. What a cold, distinctive vibe this film put out, and this was largely driven by the look of it.
Best Original Score: Midnight Special. HE response: Midnight Special was and always will be a bust. The score made no impression. Okay, I remember hearing something musical but I was focusing so hard on the movie ending that it didn’t register. Out of sight, out of mind.
Best Original Song: “I’m So Humble” from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. HE response: I’m starting to get annoyed now.
Best Sound Editing: The BFG. HE response: Nothing for the film except the VFX, but the best awards scenario would be no nominations or recognitions of any kind.
Best Sound Mixing: 13 Hours. HE response: Agreed. I wasn’t persuaded that Michael Bay’s film amounted to a great deal, but the anxiety current got through to me and the combat sequences were fairly impressive. The sound design was part of this.
Best Animated Feature Film: Finding Dory. HE response: Finding who?
Best Documentary Feature: O.J.: Made in America. As Tapley/Riley remind, Ezra Edelman’s 8 1/2 hour doc is technically eligible for Oscar consideration having played theatrically in New York and Los Angeles prior to the ESP airings. 110% agreement with this statement: “If the documentary branch of the Academy passes it up — which, given its perennial quirks, would not shock — it will be a facepalm the likes of which we haven’t seen since Hoop Dreams.”