Thursday, June 25, 2015

Oscars 2016: Worthy Contenders Half Way Through The Year

Hello, Bloggers, since we are nearing the end of the first half of 2015, I figured I'd share my thoughts on films that came out in the first half of the year that I feel are worthy of awards consideration and reveal which categories they should be considered in. Here we go:

Clouds of Sils Maria: While the film overall is a slow burn, it's greatest strength lies in the chemistry of both Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart that is comical, tragic, and at times sensual. Binoche gets to showcase her more darkly comedic side while Kristen Stewart is slowly leaving Twilight behind her with her career-best work in this. Both are worthy in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively.

Kingsman: The Secret Service: One of the best surprises to come out this year, this action-packed film is, while entertaining, also a heartfelt story about a young man trying to better himself. Taron Egerton gives a terrific star-is-born performance while he also has a great cast surrounding him including a newly found action hero in Colin Firth and a scene-stealing Samuel L. Jackson. The last two actors are worthy of Best Supporting Actor while I wouldn't be against the idea of Egerton in the Best Actor category. Realistically, I could see it landing a tech nod, like Sound Editing/Mixing.

Ex Machina: As I mentioned in my review, this is an intellectual sci-fi masterpiece that serves as an answer to the rather dismal and disappointing Avengers: Age of Ultron. While that film is likely to get Visual Effects, Ex Machina is worthy of recognition across the board. Not only do I think it deserves a spot for Best Picture, but also Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Score, Best Supporting Actor for Oscar Isaac, and most importantly, Best Supporting Actress for Alicia Vikander. Her being nominated for this performance would be the cherry on top of a banner year for her.

Spy: Since the Academy will occasionally shine a light on a full-on comedy like Bridesmaids, also directed by Paul Feig and also starring Melissa McCarthy, it doesn't seem far fetched to think this one can be a legitimate contender. Obviously, I think the Spy herself, Melissa McCarthy, should get a push for Best Actress for her best work to date. Also, there is Best Original Screenplay for Paul Feig and Best Supporting Actress for both Rose Byrne and Miranda Hart.

Mad Max: Fury Road: While it has a near-perfect rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has audience support, its biggest Achilles heel working against its favor of getting major recognition is that it's a genre film. But Charlize Theron's turn as Furiosa has drawn comparisons to Sigourney Weaver's work as Ripley which did garner her a nomination for Best Actress for Aliens back in 1986. So, there is hope. There should also be talk for the traditional tech categories, but here is hoping it gets buzz in other areas, so to speak (i.e., Best Picture, Director, Actress, Editing, etc.).

Dope: After all the bad press the Academy received for its lack of diversity, here comes an opportunity to recognize a different type of film dealing with the black experience. While most black films that get recognition are ones that deal with racial tension between blacks and whites, here comes a coming-of-age story set in the ghetto with a Scorsese feel. While some minor race issues are addressed, it is mostly about three inner city kids trying to escape their surroundings. Like other films on this list, I think it is worthy of recognition across the board: Best Picture, Best Director for Rick Famuyiwa, Best Actor for Shameik Moore, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress for Zoe Kravitz, Best Film Editing, Best Sound, and even Best Song for "Don't Bring Me Down."

Inside Out: Lastly is my current pick for Best Film of the year. Obviously, this is going to be in the conversation for Best Animated Feature and thanks to the expanded Best Picture field, it could also sneak in for Best Picture. Thanks to its box office success and critical acclaim, getting into the latter category is plausible. I would also include it for Best Original Screenplay, Best Score, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, Best Director for Pete Docter, and even Best Actress for Amy Poehler. Sure, it is a voice performance, but like Scarlett Johansson in Her, Poehler creates a three-dimensional characterization with mainly the use of her voice which is pretty difficult to pull off.

So those are my thoughts on which films that came out so far this year I think are worthy of awards consideration. If you have seen any of these films, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!