How do you predict the Oscar winners? Do you watch all the nominees and weigh up their relative merits? Nothing so simple or subjective here at Mild Concern. We gather data, we analyse it, and then we stay up all night to see if our predictions were right and if Leo and Kate recreate their Titanic pose holding matching statuettes onstage.
Why try to guess when you have maths on your side? According to the BBC it is all the rage these days.
For anyone with no more time to spare my predictions are below and for aspiring data nerds I go into more detail afterwards.
Alejandro G Inarritu – The Revenant
ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Brie Larson – Room
ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Sylvester Stallone – Creed
ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
The Big Short
Son of Saul
To make my predictions I will be using 14 other awards ceremonies and looking back at how often the winners they chose have overlapped with the eventual Oscar winners since the year 2000. Using this I can see which awards are good at predicting the Oscars in which category and using the award winners so far this year I can see who will win on Sunday night. Simple!
This is one of the trickiest categories to predict with a variety of films winning predictor awards. Until a few weeks ago Spotlight was in the lead having won three awards but The Revenant jumped into the lead having won the BAFTA which matches the Oscar winner 63% of the time.
Chance of winning: 19%
Runner up: Spotlight (18%)
Alejandro G Inarritu The Revenant
This is another award that was previously veering another direction. Mad Max: Fury Road was cleaning up at various critic’s choice awards but The Revenant stormed into the lead after grabbing the Director’s Guild Award which predicts the Oscar a massive 80% of the time.
Chance of winning: 39%
Runner up: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road(30%)
Actor in a Leading Role
Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant
There is no real competition here. DiCaprio has won four predictor awards including the SAG and Critics’ Choice awards which each overlapping with the Oscars 73% of the time.
Chance of winning: 61%
Runner up: Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs (12%)
Actress in a Leading Role
Brie Larson Room
Brie Larson accepts no defeat in her victory-heavy journey to the Oscars. Her chance of going home with the Oscar is even more certain that Leo’s having won a total of five predictor awards for Room. If you haven’t seen the film yet then please do, and take some tissues.
Chance of winning: 62%
Runner up: Charlotte Rampling (15%)
Actor in a Supporting Role
Sylvester Stallone Creed
A close call here with the eternal Rocky star winning three awards to Mark Rylance’s four victories. Luckily Stallone got his hands on the Golden Globe which has a solid 87% overlap with the Oscars.
Chance of winning: 39%
Runner up: Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies (30%)
Actress in a Supporting Role
Kate Winslet Steve Jobs
Alicia Vikander has received a lot of love this awards season but her nominations have been spread between The Danish Girl and her far superior performance in Ex Machina. Winslet has remained focussed and has three predictor awards with 60+% Oscar overlap.
Chance of winning: 43%
Runner up: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl (27%)
As the only nominee to win any of my predictor awards there is no competition outside of pure fluke. Not that the Oscars are immune to pure flukes… That said Spotlight has won a total of 5 awards so this is far from a token win.
Chance of winning: 53%
The Big Short
A more mixed field for adapted screenplay but The Big Short walked away with the Writers’ Guild Award which is right 73% of the time.
Chance of winning: 40%
Runner up: The Martian (18%)
Putting The Good Dinosaur firmly behind them Disney Pixar will still win an Academy award on Sunday as Inside Out has won almost all of my predictors including the animation specific Annie Award. This is the award that I feel most confident about.
Chance of winning: 88%
Runner up: Anomalisa (4%)
Son of Saul
Time to pretend you’ve heard of any of the nominees! Hungarian critical darling Son of Saul is all over this.
Chance of Winning: 43%
This tragic British documentary about Amy Winehouse is set to take home a golden statue despite the protestations of her father. Having won all but one of the key awards nobody else comes close.
It is 2001 and a new editor at The Boston Globe asks its special investigations team, Spotlight, to look into claims that a Catholic priest had abused children and been protected by the Archbishop. What starts as a column hidden in the middle of the paper develops into months of painstaking investigating as the four members of Spotlight uncover a conspiracy larger than anyone feared and one which the entire city, including themselves, had turned a blind eye to.
Despite the fact that the film is over two hours of mostly talking about a particularly grim subject Spotlight manages to be a gripping and non exploitative watch. The two hours are filled with gruelling persistence as the journalists scour through records, crossmatch printed databases, and follow up leads. Surprisingly, and to my huge relief, no time is spent lingering on the either the young victims or their persecutors apart from. At no point did I have to look away from the screen to shield my eyes from the exploitative recreation of an all too real person’s suffering and no flashbacks were in sight. Spotlight‘s writer/director Tom McCarthy instead decides that the film should celebrate the hard work of the investigation and in doing so condemn the horrors that it uncovered.
Spotlight is a no frills affair; the camera is unobtrusive and the film is lit in a bright uncinematic way. The film eschews any bells and whistles confident in the fact that the story itself is engrossing enough and the machinations of the plot inherently interesting enough to sustain your interest. Carrying the story are an excellent ensemble cast giving a variety of performances ranging from the superbly understated Liev Schreiber to Mark Ruffalo who fidgets his way through the film and gives the mostly noticeably actorly performance; hence securing himself some awards. While Ruffalo is far from being bad it is the less showy, and less applauded, roles in the film that reinforce its essential authenticity and authority.
Spotlight is not particularly fun but it not a film you need to avoid either. There is little light relief in a film about large-scale child abuse but I do not hesitate to recommend the film. While the territory is unpleasant the film does its best not to exploit the subject or those involved and instead creates a suspenseful and very watchable procedural drama in which journalists do their jobs well. Spotlight is not out to punish the viewers but spreads its important message in a palatable way but without sugar coating or shying away.
Spotlight is a devastating story meticulously told. This is a film that needs to be seen.
For seven years Joy (Brie Larson) has been held captive in just one room and for the past five years she has been kept company by her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who has grown up without knowledge of the world outside. Their lives consist of trying to stay fit and healthy within their universe of the small room and watching the flat people on the magic television. At night Jack hides in the wardrobe when their captor pays Joy a visit and on Sundays they are brought treats including essential clothing and tinned fruit.
Room is absolutely heartbreaking. That’s all you really need to know. Repeatedly throughout the film something would happen and I would find myself welling up again and again. Joy and Jack are so brilliantly realised by Larson and Tremblay that everything that happens to them, either good or bad, hit me right in the sleep deprived, emotional part of me. Tremblay gives a surprisingly authentic performance for someone so young and Larson is just so raw you can’t help but feel every emotional beat for yourself.
Emma Donaghue has skillfully adapted her own novel and as director Lenny Abrahamson has sensitively brought it to life. For the most part I was just sitting there crying but when Abrahamson needed to inject tension and jeopardy my heart was beating loudly in my throat. It’s not often I am this emotionally invested in the characters onscreen; so many films at the festival are entertaining but pass by without my head and heart getting involved. Room is not that kind of film. Room drags you through all the emotions and leaves you feeling deeply affected and emotionally drained.
Go see and be sure to take a few boxes of tissues. Expect lots of awards buzz for Larson at the very least*.
Room is in cinemas now.
*Written back in October before she won every award going
World-famous rock star Marianne (Tilda Swinton) is recovering from throat surgery on a small Italian island with her lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) when onto the island and into their lives bursts her former producer and beau Harry (Ralph Fiennes) with his recently discovered daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). Trapped together in a luxurious villa the scene is set for jealousy, sex, and resentment as tensions of all kinds brew between a quartet of troubled characters; a ticking time bomb of hormones simmering in the heat.
Swinton is a chameleon as an actor and it is always a surprise to see what kind of character she will be playing. In A Bigger Splash Swinton plays it incredibly low-key as she tackles the role of a mostly mute singer who quietly oozes cool and sexuality. Swinton playing a more reserved character allows for Ralph Fiennes to go large as her bombastic ex. Rather than be cool and subtly sexual Fiennes is giving it his all, shouting from the rooftops and blasting sexual energy towards anyone foolish enough to cross his path. Before Fiennes arrives everything is serene but once he enters the film all is noise and energy. Fiennes is pure dad dancing, pelvis grinding, obnoxious energy and has never been better. He blasts into the calm poolside living with an unsettling jolt last seen produced by Ben Kingsley in Sexy Beast. What a great double bill those films would make.
Completing the quartet are Dakota Johnson as Harry’s daughter and Matthias Schoenaerts as Marianne’s partner and Harry’s former bestie. Both are more difficult to read that their counterparts as they observe the actions of others and quietly plot away in their heads. Johnson gives an infinitely more complex performance that Fifty Shades allowed and a sexier one too. I realise I’ve mentioned sex in every other sentence in this review but it runs at the heart of the film. While the actual sex in the film is minimal it is sex that drives every character’s motivations. It is what they are pursuing, resenting, or trying to avoid.
Luca Guadagnino’s direction gives us a film that is positively humming with energy. To watch the film is to have your pace racing. His camera moves around with great inventiveness and the music is at times playful and others timeless. Most importantly he has made a film that is a complete joy to watch. He has dialled up Fiennes to 11 and it is this performance that makes or break the film. Watching A Bigger Splash was pure enjoyment and admiration; a fine two hours spent in the dark of the cinema.
A Bigger Splash is a big, bold, brash, funny and shocking drama.
We’ve all seen films like Trumbo a dozen times. Glossy Hollywood films about America’s past that talk of some shameful part of their history but do so in a way that is very clean and safe. These are films that are good but not great. These films give actors scenery to chew but give the audiences nothing to remember by the end. Trumbo opens as Suffragette does; with white text on a black background setting the scene and with slow fades in between. The subtext here is that what you are watching is important and so should be instantly respected and eventually rewarded with golden statues come awards season.
Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is a screenwriter and a communist at a time in America when being a communist would soon get you called in front of congress and banned from working for any major studio. Trumbo was, so we are told, the greatest screenwriter of his generation. The film covers decades of Trumbo’s life as he goes from his career peak to being put on the Hollywood blacklist and then fighting to continue writing to support his family and show that without the communists there would be no screenplays.
This is not the proudest chapter in America’s story so it at first glance seems like a brave and worthwhile film to make. Sadly the film that has been produced is simultaneously theatrical and mundane. That’s not to say it hasn’t been made without skill. Every set and costume is made to exacting period detail and every scene is littered with witty one liners and the best in supporting character actors. John Goodman, Alan Tudyk, and Louis C.K. are particularly enjoyable but eventually the short functional scenes in which someone delivers some exposition and another counters with a quip become tiresome. Elle Fanning is particularly good as Trumbo’s daughter as she brings probably the only human element to the film while Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife is life to just smile from the sidelines.
As for Cranston himself; he brings to mind part of what made Breaking Bad so great, but in the worst way. What Cranston could do so well was make it clear when his character Walter White was himself acting. His performance there had to layers; a level of artifice on top of the real character he was playing. Sadly in Trumbo we only get the top layer of pretending as if Cranston is playing an actor playing Trumbo. It is all caricature and no character. The result of this is that when bad things happen to Trumbo you don’t care as much as you should and you are infinitely aware that you are not watching something real. This film does not immerse you in its world but keeps you at arms reach.
Trumbo is not a bad film. Yes it could lose 30 minutes from its runtime but the film is certainly enjoyable and had me chuckling throughout. The story itself is also interesting but once the film was done no part of it was racing through my head the way the best films do. With films like Trumbo about an important subject the films themselves want to be treated as important. As Trumbo finished it was begging for applause and some of the press audience dutifully applauded but frankly it didn’t really deserve it. Just because a film is about admirable people doesn’t make that film automatically admirable itself.