‘The Dead Horse’ and OSCARS Predictions 2016

A poor old man came riding by

“And we say so, and we hope so”

Sais I, “Old man your horse will die”

“Oh, poor old horse”

For years, I’ve been watching movies and have itched to write about them. And so it is with PirateMTL that I finally found inspiration and a medium to express myself. Hopefully, this pirate life will bring me some comfort and some peace on these foreign lands –eu sou brasileiro.

Sea shanties like The Dead Horse (seen above) are only an escape for a sailor’s monotony and hard work. They tell the most different of stories. In this one, a poor man whose only possession is the old horse that he rode many times with and the only trade he can offer for a space in the crew. Both the man and the horse come on board, and everyone’s only hope is for the horse not to die before its sold, but once the sale is made, there is no refund. Like the old horse, I hope that my writing serves, above all, a bartering tool to get you on board.

Since today is the day it is, –Academy Awards– no less than eight reviews will be attempted. And on this, the 88th Academy Award Ceremony, for the first time in my life, I managed to watch every Best Picture Nominee before the award is given. So, with that being said, here are some of the categories followed by a brief description of why they should or not win:

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

From the nominees, I didn’t manage to watch Straight Outta Compton and I think that The Hateful Eight deserved to be nominated simply because it’s Tarantino, as the script that made it a good film. However, two films keep this award out of reach: Inside Out & Spotlight. First things first, Pixar is my all-time favorite animation studio –and who can forget the many great stories they’ve given us! I think their writers have some of the most creative minds in the world. This balance might have failed them during Cars 2 but Inside Out represents a return to form. Pete Docter has presented us a story, equal parts sentiment and fantasy, that preserved my feelings for this incredible studio. HOWEVER, for this one, I have to go with Spotlight by Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy (for reasons that I will explain later).

Still of Spotlight by Kerry Hayes. Property of Universal Studios. Source: IMDb.
Still of Spotlight by Kerry Hayes. Property of Universal Studios. Source: IMDb.

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

It is so upsetting when I hear people say “the book was different”; “he would never say that in the book”; “this character shouldn’t be like that”. Really, if everyone was interested in the book (whatever it is) they wouldn’t watch the f****** film. Besides, a film is a different medium and it needs a different narrative so it can stand alone. In my opinion, this year’s best script that was based on something else, and that make many connections between it’s amazing cast, with such harmony is…. The Big Short.

Best Visual Effects

Let’s see what the options are. The Revenant had it’s amazing scenes with the bear and the horse (no spoiler because both appear in the trailer). Mad Max: Fury Road and Ex Machina both deserve honors in this section, as well as The Martian (because it took me some time to realize that he was not actually in Mars :p), but after a while without seeing a lightsaber fight and with the astonishing scene of X-wings flying by the water there is no better candidate than Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Best Sound Editing / Sound Mixing

Special honors for Mad Max: Fury Road, Sicario and Star Wars but after watching this film in IMAX and being impressed by the sounds that brought so much immersion to the film, I have to choose The Revenant.

For Short Film, Short Animated Film, Documentary, Short Documentary and Foreign Language Film, my apologies, I didn’t see any of them 🙁
I promise I’ll catch up along the year.

(let’s keep things moving…)

Best Original Song

If it was any other James Bond film, I would go for it, but after so many positive things in Skyfall (including original music), Spectre was a complete disappointment, and the change of rhythm of Writing’s On The Wall definitely makes this song filler for the group. After listening to all the songs on my Spotify, the best self-standing one and for having won The Golden Globe, I choose Til It Happens To You, by Lady Gaga.

Best Original Score

It’s always nice listening to John Williams in Star Wars, but it wasn’t so original… Sicario and The Revenant deserve honor for having scores that complemented the story telling. But please, for everything that is musically sacred, give this one to Ennio Morricone for The Hateful Eight.

Best Production Design

All of the nominees are exceptional, and, even though The Danish Girl might take it (my second favorite for this one), all the terrific steam punk elements and the “V-EIGHT, V-EIGHT, V-EIGHT”, that composed it’s visuals it must go to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Still of Mad Max: Fury Road by Jasin Boland. Property of Warner Bros. Pictures. Source: IMDb.
Still of Mad Max: Fury Road by Jasin Boland. Property of Warner Bros. Pictures. Source: IMDb.

Best Makeup and Hair-styling

Great work in The Revenant but after looking at Immortan Joe’s eyes as he screamed “WITNESS ME” it must go for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Costume Design

Even though Brooklyn deserved at least a nomination for this, I could say Mad Max: Fury Road should take it for the same reasons as mentioned in the previous categories but films that take time the past usually win best costume, for this reason and for adding a subliminal meaning to the characters it could go to Carol, but The Danish Girl did way better in this one.

Film Editing

I could say that for all the classical techniques such as removing frames to add speed to the film and for the constant change of shots that added adrenaline to the scenes, I should say Mad Max: Fury Road, but as a part that helped the story to make sense and for being a great film because of such part, it must go to The Big Short.

Best Cinematography

All of the nominees had an incredibly and striking photography. Long story short: honors to Sicario and The Revenant, also for The Hateful Eight simply for using 70mm which gave me one of the best cinema experiences in the last decade. For the intensive work on lighting (and they surely had), I think this should go for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Animated Feature Film

Everyone that I hear talking about Anomalisa describe the film with so much proud and passion, however I must sincerely apologize for not having watching it. But, as for having a really good screenplay and for being another heart touching (or mind touching) story from my favorite animation studio, this award should go to Inside Out.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Honors to Alicia Vikander not only for The Danish Girl but also for Ex Machina, revealing herself as a great actress, but for the extensive work on her character, this Oscar must go to Kate Winslet, in Steve Jobs.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

A hard choice to make since all the nominees had performed really well, Sylvester Stallone deserved the Golden Globe, Mark Ruffalo did extremely well in Spotlight, but as a hard guess, it will Christian Bale, in The Big Short.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Again, my apologies for not having seen Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, and even though Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actresses, the role of a mother imprisoned with her son, the award goes to Brie Larson, in Room.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender are some of the best actors today in the film industry, but this year they are just fulfilling the group. Eddie Redmayne could win for the second time in a row since he was again able to express the right emotions in a perfect tone for his character in The Danish Girl. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut, this guy has deserved an Oscar for a long time, since Aviator, but all the times he was nominated, he was walking among giants, like Jamie Foxx, who won for Ray in the same year of Aviator or Matthew McConaughey, who won for Dallas Buyers Club in the same year as The Wolf of Wall Street. Now, it might be just because of the hype on his behalf but he performed incredibly well in this role and there is no one at the same level to compete with, so it must be Leonardo Di Caprio, in The Revenant.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Leonardo Di Caprio on location for The Revenant. Property of 20th Century Fox. Source: IMDb
Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Leonardo Di Caprio on location for The Revenant. Property of 20th Century Fox. Source: IMDb

Best Director

If it wasn’t for a good directing, any of these films could have been better executed and it was, perhaps what led them to be nominated as Best Picture, too. Out of the nominees, two have exceeded with good work in their films. George Miller could take it, for the techniques in production as previously mentioned and for the clear passion that he had for the making of this film, Mad Max: Fury Road. For a great work on techniques and for the choices that a director should make when looking after the quality of his productions, for the second time in a row Alejandro G. Iñárritu, for The Revenant.

And finally… Best Picture

Ok, The big one. First of all, great films! All of them! However, being a nominee is already enough rewarding for any kind of film. It brings pleasure to the producers, directors and all of people that directly or indirectly worked in the film. All of this year’s nominees had a reason to be there but the academy could have nominated at least two more in my opinion: Creed and The Walk (I know that The Walk might not be good enough to be a nominee but it was one of my favorites from the last year).

The Martian is still great in its own proposal. The film is a lot like Gravity, but with a more harmonic storytelling and sarcasm. It introduced awesome concepts and made it to be the best movie from October, a deserved nominee but not the wining.

Mad Max: Fury Road: WHAT A LOVELY DAY. The return of this post-apocalyptic universe to cinema made to be one of the best action films in years. However, the film has a lack of story, it could have explored a lot more and for this reason it was only nominated for this category.

Brooklyn related to me in many ways, for being a foreign, adapting to another country and culture, and for have visited Ireland and sympathized a lot with those people. It is a great story from a time when great stories occurred. The narrative of the film is what brings it to conquer Best Picture for not being strong enough as a story it will also not win.

Steven Spielberg will always be my favorite director, and it is joyful seeing he making another reunion with Tom Hanks. It is his kind of movie to make and it’s a fair nomination for him. The film has a difficulty to make the viewer feel the tension of the story and rely on poor moments to attempt it, it won’t win.

Room touches on a hard point and is emotionally striking for anyone, even more for the fact that it is a real fact and that it has happened to real people. Smartly, the film casts two great actors of which on might win (Brie Larson) and Jacob Tremblay, who deserved at least a nominee for his role. The only reason that this film can’t not win is because of the other great stories that were told, and if only one can get the big price, it is not Room.

There is a huge hype on The Revenant because of Leonardo Di Caprio and for a few reasons such as Alejandro Iñárritu and his decision of using only natural light and for succeeding on his abilities and knowledge as a director. The Revenant is technically impeccable and it might win not only in the sound categories but it also has a great chance on Cinematography and Production Design. The problem with The Revenant is the rhythm, as the film goes too slow in certain times and affects massively the storytelling, like if you were in the middle a book and started to wonder if you really want to finish it. The rhythm might be its worst problem but it’s not only because of it that it won’t win, it is because of two reasons: there are two other stories that work better as a film.

Spotlight is my favorite. If I was a member of the Academy it would have my vote, even though I know it will not win. Like Room, this film also touches on a hard subject to handle, which is pedophilia and worse, in the Catholic Church. I was tired and not really up to watch this one but I went anyways. And since the beginning it caught my attention. Spotlight made me want to be a journalist, in the same way that Iron Man made me want to be a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist. It catches the watcher not only because it is a delicate matter that it’s being investigated but because one cannot deny the how disturbing was the idea that children were being molested by catholic priests. It is a remarkable movie and my favorite nominee but there is one special reason for which Spotlight won’t win.

The reason is: Hollywood. More specifically, where Hollywood is? Obviously, in the United States of America, the country that so well applied capitalism in society saw its decline in 2008, and the recession it faced was almost as bad as in the great depression. So many people lost money, jobs and ended up homeless. This situation is not easy to digest even more because it’s hard to understand. Comically, The Big Short plays with financial terms, so that not only Wall Street brokers can understand what happened. The characters in the film are well developed and it’s understandable why only a few of them can break the fourth wall and speak to the viewer. Impressively the film works with different casts, and even though they don’t speak or relate to each other, they had one thing in common: the prediction of the fall. The Big Short sings in different tones and managed to transform the comic behavior of the characters into a serious one as they knew the effect of this chain effect and what was going to happen to their nation. It is for this delicate moment of the American history that the Big Short will win Best Picture. Not reason enough? Let’s just stop a moment to think about 12 Years a Slave, the best picture from 2014. Crazy not to think that these both films have Brad Pitt as a producer but 12 Years a Slave depicted a story that is still reflected in American society, just think that many people are boycotting this year’s ceremony because of the #OscarsSoWhite thing. It is something to say about, but it’s for America’s sake and for being the best one in its proposal that The Big Short will win this year’s Academy Award for Best Picture.

Still by Jaap Buitendijk. Property of Paramount Pictures. Source: IMDb
Still of The Big Short by Jaap Buitendijk. Property of Paramount Pictures. Source: IMDb

One thing that movies have taught me throughout my life is that it doesn’t matter if one got late to work ten minutes or what is the team that is going to win the world cup. What really matter are the incredible journeys in which these situations take us, and that by living them we can have memories, and it is from the memories that great stories come off. This way, it doesn’t matter what your favorite nominee is, because you have only to win by experiencing these amazing stories. I hope to find new journeys in this ship. Even though I’m just a freshman sailor, I can’t wait for what the wind is bringing to me.

-André Neder
Film Critic