My Own 88th Annual Academy Awards – Part II (Their Nominees)


by Brian Surber

Hello again! Here is Part II of My Own 88th Annual Academy Awards were I pick the winners of the actual nominees. I have ranked all the nominees in order of what I would vote for.

I have only ranked categories in which I have seen every film (Damn you The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared!).




Best Picture


1. Spotlight
2. Brooklyn
3. The Martian
4. Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Bridge of Spies
6. The Big Short
7. The Revenant
8. Room

Spotlight takes the biggest prize of the night for simply being the most compelling film in the bunch. With a story that could have easily been slow or un-engaging, the film is instead thrilling and highly compelling. The performances are top notch, the score is eerie and perfect, the writing is blisteringly enthralling, and as old school entertainments go this was unquestionably the most entertaining.




Best Director


1. George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
3. Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
4. Adam McKay – The Big Short
5. Lenny Abrahamson – Room

To have pulled off, at 70(!), the most electrifying action film of the year and one of most critically acclaimed films of the year earns Mr. Miller his award. Ingenious stunt work, Charlize Theron’s brilliant star turn, and high-octane action aside, the reason Miller gets my vote is the infectious confidence he shows in every frame of his film. This is George Miller’s film and he makes you completely aware of that.




Best Actor


1. Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
2. Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
3. Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
4. Matt Damon – The Martian
5. Bryan Cranston – Trumbo

Yes, yes, Leonardo will win his first Academy Award and it’s well deserved. But there was no performance on this list more impassioned, more immersive, and more impressive than Michael Fassbender’s complete transformation in Steve Jobs. Fassbender brings forth a human being who you root for, who you root against, and who you can ultimately identify with.




Best Actress


1. Brie Larson – Room
2. Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
3. Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
4. Cate Blanchett – Carol
5. Jennifer Lawrence – Joy

Brie brings such dynamic range to the role of Ma that it’s impossible to look away. Saoirse is a really close second, but the power Larson projects through the screen is breathtaking and heartbreaking.




Best Supporting Actor


1. Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
2. Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
3. Sylvester Stallone – Creed
4. Tom Hardy – The Revenant
5. Christian Bale – The Big Short

Exploding onto the screen in the quietest role of the year, Mark Rylance was hands down the most supporting of actors. He brings a much needed sympathy to his performance as a Soviet spy. And by doing so helps the audience root for Tom Hanks’ character who must defend him. Layered, subtle, and powerful.




Best Supporting Actress


1. Rooney Mara – Carol
2. Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
3. Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
4. Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
5. Rachel McAdams – Spotlight

Technically the lead in the film (actually so is Vikander), Rooney Mara gives what may be her best performance to date as a young woman who seeks understanding of herself. She’s soft spoken and naive, but what’s astounding about Mara is her ability to slowly change right under our noses. By the end of the film she’s so different in subtle but meaningful ways that we realize we’ve seen someone reborn.




Best Original Screenplay


1. Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, & Ronnie del Carmen – Inside Out
2. Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer – Spotlight
3. Alex Garland – Ex Machina
4. Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, & Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies
5. Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, & Alan Wenkus – Straight Outta Compton

Witty, imaginative, colorful, vivid, and so incredibly honest, Inside Out is the screenplay of the year. So true in it’s ambition and emotions it perfectly incapacitates what it means to grow up and learn to be yourself. The screenplay is a wonderful love letter to everyone’s adolescence.




Best Adapted Screenplay


1. Adam McKay & Charles Randolph – The Big Short
2. Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
3. Drew Goddard – The Martian
4. Phyllis Nagy – Carol
5. Emma Donoghue – Room

To take your audience through the 2008 financial crisis and make it this entertaining, funny, smart, and, most importantly, understandable is a true feet of writing. The fact that the movie then turns to heartbreak and horror is surprising and impactful.




Best Original Score


1. Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight
2. Carter Burwell – Carol
3. Jóhann Jóhannsson – Sicario
4. John Williams – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
5. Thomas Newman – Bridge of Spies

These are actually five great nominees but the classic here is Morricone’s dark and brooding score for The Hateful Eight. Cinematic in every sense of the word it sticks with you long after the film is over. When your score outshines the movie itself you’re doing something right.




Best Original Song


1. “Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
2. “Simple Song #3” – Youth
3. “Till It Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
4. “Manta Ray” – Racing Extinction
5. “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre

A very weak year for songs means I’m giving the award to the one great song on the list. “Earned It” is sensual and romantic. Sung to perfection by The Weeknd it captures the spirit of the film it was written for (also the song is so much better than the movie) and elevates it. Listen to it and try not to let that beat get to you. Just try.




Best Sound Editing


1. Matthew Wood & David Acord – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2. Mark A. Mangini & David White – Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Martin Hernández & Lon Bender – The Revenant
4. Oliver Tarney – The Martian
5. Alan Robert Murray – Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens wins this for that lightsaber in the snow fight alone (the sizzle when they hit the snow, though). But each of these sounds helps take viewers back to a galaxy far, far away.




Best Sound Mixing


1. Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio, & Stuart Wilson – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
2. Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, & Ben Osmo – Mad Max: Fury Road
3. Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom, & Chris Duesterdiek – The Revenant
4. Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom, & Drew Kunin – Bridge of Spies
5. Paul Massey, Mark Taylor, & Mac Ruth – The Martian

Similar to the reasons above, Star Wars: The Force Awakens incorporated sounds to make viewers feel like a kid again with an all new sound design that brings the series into the 21st Century.




Best Production Design


1. Colin Gibson & Lisa Thompson – Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Michael Standish & Eve Stewart – The Danish Girl
3. Rena DeAngelo, Bernhard Henrich, & Adam Stockhausen – Bridge of Spies
4. Celia Bobak & Arthur Max – The Martian
5. Jack Fisk & hamish Purdy – The Revenant

That city, those cars, those races: Mad Max: Fury Road had a design all it’s own. There was simply nothing else like it all year.




Best Cinematography


1. Roger Deakins – Sicario
2. Ed Lachman – Carol
3. Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant
4. John Seale – Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Robert Richardson – The Hateful Eight

Again, all great choices, but this was really a race between our top two films. Carol‘s use of 16mm film while framing much of it through windows is inspired and necessary to the films power. But Roger Deakins’ work in Sicario takes the cake. Dark colors and deep shadows fill the screen with suspense and intrigue. As far as a cinematographer serving the film their working on, no one did it better than him.




Best Costume Design


1. Sandy Powell – Cinderella
2. Sandy Powell – Carol
3. Paco Delgado – The Danish Girl
4. Jenny Beavan – Mad Max: Fury Road
5. Jacqueline West – The Revenant

Good for Sandy Powell. Her work in both Cinderella and Carol was wonderful but Cinderella is clearly superior. Full of color and texture as well as imagination the costumes are straight from the pages of a fairy tale.




Best Film Editing


1. Tom McArdie – Spotlight
2. Hank Corwin – The Big Short
3. Margaret Sixel – Mad Max: Fury Road
4. Stephen Mirrione – The Revenant
5. Maryann Brandon & Mark Jo Markey – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A bracing work of patience and power, the editing for Spotlight takes time to tell its story without letting up on the throttle. It’s spellbinding work that keeps us informed and entertained the whole way through.




Best Visual Effects


1. Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Andy Williams, & Tom Wood – Mad Max: Fury Road
2. Chris Corbould, Roger Guyett, Paul Kavanagh, & Neal Scanlan – Star Wars: The Force Awakens
3. Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence, Richard Stammers, & Steven Warner – The Martian
4. Mark Williams Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris, & Andrew Whitehurst – Ex Machina
5. Richard McBride, Matt Shumway, Jason Smith, & Cameron Waldbauer – The Revenant

The choreography, chaos, stunts, and imagination in each of Mad Max: Fury Road‘s action scenes are legendary. There was nothing so visually effective on screen all year.



Awards Tally:

Mad Max: Fury Road – 3
Spotlight – 2
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – 2
The Big Short – 1
Bridge of Spies – 1
Carol – 1
Cinderella – 1
Fifty Shades of Grey – 1
The Hateful Eight – 1
Inside Out – 1
Room – 1
Sicario – 1
Steve Jobs – 1


That’s it for Part II of My Own 88th Annual Academy Awards. There is no Part III because I don’t have another list in mind and these are very difficult to do.

I hope you enjoyed it and as always feel free to comment on whatever.

Just to be clear the actual Oscars won’t look anything like this. I didn’t give The Revenant anything.

Enjoy the show anyway!




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