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?