It is Oscar Nominations Eve and as I make my final predictions for the names that will appear on the Academy Awards ballot that will be announced Thursday in Beverly Hills, I am asking “Will I hate myself in the morning?”
Oh, I know I will, I’m just not sure when and how often it will happen.
For instance, I just included Ennio Morricone’s music for “The Hateful Eight” in my predictions for Best Score, even though I personally think it’s the worst work the Italian master has ever done for a movie, particularly for a Western. If I leave it off and it appears, I’ll hate myself. And if I put it on and it doesn’t appear, I’ll hate myself for ignoring my own tastes.
I have a different dilemma about Best Director. Four of the spots seem safe for Ridley Scott (“The Martian”), Tom McCarthy (“Spotlight”), Alejandro Innaritu (“The Revenant”), and George Miller (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) while the fifth slot could go to Steven Spielberg (“Bridge of Spies”), Todd Haynes (“Carol”) or Adam McKay (“The Big Short”).
Among critics, “Carol” shared the spotlight with. . .well, “Spotlight.” But after failing to make the 10-deep ballot of the Producers Guild and the five-deep ballot of the Directors Guild, it has lost much of its luster and Haynes probably misses tomorrow’s cut, too.
So, I’m choosing between Spielberg and McKay for the fifth spot. I want Spielberg to get it; not because I am a fan of his – God and Armond White know that’s not true – but because I think “Bridge of Spies” is one of the five best pictures of 2015. And for me, it’s the best Spielberg movie since “Schindler’s List.” (Yes, including his platoon weepie “Saving Private Ryan.”)
But the name I have just placed in that final slot is McKay. His “The Big Short” seems to be the movie that is peaking at the right moment, as his DGA nomination attests. If Spielberg makes the ballot, I am going to so hate myself in the morning. But I’ll be a little big happy, too.
Easily the most competitive of the acting categories this year is Best Supporting Actor. There two strong contenders from both “The Big Short” (Christian Bale, Steve Carrell) and “Spotlight” (Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo). Do they cancel each other out and none of them makes the ballot? I’m choosing Keaton over Ruffalo because the academy owes him after leaving him out of the “Birdland” sweep last year. And I’m choosing Bale over Carrell because, reputed bad ass that he may on sets, he is an electric presence on screen.
The actual front-runners in the category are Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) and, gulp, Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”). Rylance should win the Oscar easily, but that standing-O for Stallone at the Golden Globes suggests that thy Razzie Hall of Famer may earn redemption with a single honest performance. I hate the act of putting him on my ballot, there he is.
My fifth spot is reserved for Canadian Jacob Tremblay, who was a seven-year-old playing a five-year-old in “Room.” I have been critical of the academy in the past for nominating very young child actors, reasoning that their performances were more an example of great direction than raw talent. But this kid’s performance defies that logic and it would be a travesty if he were left off the ballot tomorrow. I won’t hate myself if he’s not nominated, but I will have very severe thoughts about the academy voters.
It will also be a travesty if Jennifer Jason Leigh is nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Nothing against her work in “The Hateful Eight”; she is certainly the best thing about that over-long, over-wide, over-written, over-acted, over-graphic Western cartoon. But I think showing comic defiance in the face of constant physical abuse, including being cold-cocked, pistol-whipped, shot and having food and brain matter spewed in her face – is more suited to a skit on "Saturday Night Live" than a motion picture. Nevertheless, I have put her in my top five, replacing “Spotlight’s” Rachel McAdams, meaning I will hate myself in the morning whether I’m right or wrong.
However things go tomorrow, the self-loathing will quickly subside as I refocus and try to predict the winners from the list of actual nominees. Then, I won’t hate myself again until the Oscars are handed out on February 28.
Sylvester Stallone, are you serious?
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