The Mayward Oscars 2016

The 2016 Oscar nominees have been announced, and it’s all fairly predictable stuff. The only real surprises might be the snubs–no Best Picture or Best Director for Carol, no Best Screenplay for Aaron Sorkin or Quentin Tarantino, no acting nominations for non-white actors, etc.

In my view, the Oscars rarely recognize the truly best films of the year. Let’s examine 2011 as a case study. In a year with films like The Tree of Life, A Separation, Drive, The Descendants, Hugo, The Mill and the Cross, Moneyball, Take Shelter, Pina, Of Gods and Men, Incendies, Midnight in Paris, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Certified Copy, what film won Best Picture and Best Director? The Artist. Can you recall a single line of dialogue from that film or the names of the major characters, without looking it up?  Have you watched it again since 2011? I rest my case.

Still, there’s something strangely enjoyable about looking back upon a year in film and creating lists of performances, images, stories, and filmic achievements. Thus, here are my personal choices for various major Oscar categories (as well as some original Mayward categories), including a runner-up:

Best Picture: Spotlight. Runner-up: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Director: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road). Runner-up: Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

Best Actor: Michael B. Jordan (Creed). Runner-up: Michael Keaton (Spotlight)

Best Actress: Nina Hoss (Phoenix). Runner-up: Brie Larson (Room)

Best Supporting Actor: Richard Jenkins (Bone Tomahawk). Runner-up: Liev Schreiber (Spotlight)

Best Supporting Actress: Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria). Runner-up: Julie Walters (Brooklyn)

Best Foreign Language Film: The Assassin (Hou Hsiao-Hsien). Runner-up: Phoenix (Christian Petzold)

Best Animated Film: Inside Out (Pete Docter, Ronnie Del Carmen). Runner-up: Shaun the Sheep Movie (Mark Burton, Richard, Starzak)

Best Screenplay: Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer). Runner-up: Brooklyn (Nick Hornby)

Best Cinematography: The Assassin (Ping Bin Lee). Runner-up: Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)

Best Animated Short Film: World of Tomorrow (Don Hertzfeldt). Runner-up: None

Best Documentary: The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer). Runner-up: Twinsters

Best Coming-of-Age Movie: Mustang (Deniz Gamze Erguven). Runner-up: White God (Kornel Mundruczo)

Best Film Exploring Christian Spirituality: Something, Anything (Paul Harrill). Runner-up: Stations of the Cross (Dietrich Bruggemann)

Best Horror Film: It Follows (David Robert Mitchell). Runner-up: Bone Tomahawk (S. Craig Zahler)

Best Comedy: Mistress America (Noah Baumbach). Runner-up: What We Do In the Shadows (Jermaine Clement, Taika Waititi)

Best Performance by Batman: Michael Keaton (Spotlight). Runner-up: Christian Bale (The Big Short)

What were your favorite films of 2015? What were your Oscar nominee snubs and surprises?

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3 Responses to The Mayward Oscars 2016

  1. Marko January 16, 2016 at 8:03 am #

    Was very intrigued by your review, and had it in mind when I saw the film tonight. But I came to very different conclusions. Yes, revenge was clearly a strong motivation, (SPOILER ALERT) the final scene dramatically shifted that, as he backed away from his blood thirst, quoted scripture, and seemed to let go. This was immediately followed by the vision of his wife (which haunted him throughout the film) being released and moving on (implying that he was also letting go and moving on). In those last few minutes, the turn felt redemptive. At least that was my take!

    • Joel Mayward January 16, 2016 at 6:11 pm #

      (HUGE SPOILER ALERT for THE REVENANT): While many I’ve talked with interpret the final scene as redemptive and anti-revenge, I actually found it to be just as darkly cynical and pro-vengeance as the rest of the film. In the final bloody battle between Glass and Fitzgerald, when Glass quotes “Revenge is in God’s hands…” (or something along those lines), he’s alluding to the moment when the young Native woman he rescued also says this (immediately before castrating her captor). Others have interpreted this line as the moment where Glass comes to a revelation and chooses to not enact revenge on Fitzgerald, to take a different path beyond vengeance. But I heard that line as ironic, even cynical, because he *does* kill Fitzgerald: he’s already stabbed him with a fatal blow, then drags him to the river and dumps him in, having already seen the Natives downstream. He says the line, then sends Fitzgerald to die. The Natives have killed every other white person they’ve encountered so far, and Glass knows this–he’s letting the Natives finish the job he’s already started. The revenge arc is complete. Even if Glass had spoken the line then stood up and walked away, leaving the wounded Fitzgerald in the snow, the Natives are still present. The only reason they don’t kill Glass too is due to his previous actions–he saved the young woman, and she’s there with the group, so they show Glass mercy. Perhaps he even saw her before he mutters the line alluding to her, inspired by her presence? I can’t recall his exact gaze or exactly when he notices the Natives. Regardless, I’m not convinced he gives up vengeance in this act; if anything, he’s simply let someone else do it. Maybe it’s akin to Batman telling Ra’s Al Ghul, “I won’t kill you. But I don’t have to save you.”

  2. Marko January 16, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

    Sorry – I totally thought I left my comment on the film review! Don’t know how I ended up posting it here. Oh well.

    So, you wrote you don’t remember that exact moment in the film (the gaze, etc). Maybe you forgot that he looks at Fitzgerald and says, “Just as Christ has forgiven me, I forgive you.” Did you forget that?? #fakespoiler

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