5. Leo's Red Carpet Rampage and other fun stuff
Leo winning what many would call his overdue Oscar for such an uninteresting performance (Hoo-Ah!) would normally bother me a lot more, but a couple of things allowed me to enjoy it. A) I don't weep for his competition. B) There was just so much glee to be had on the Internet! The Red Carpet Rampage video game is an obvious highlight, but there were plenty of other good guffaws.
OR DID HE pic.twitter.com/yenp8y1twP— Andrew Staley (@DigitalCantina) February 29, 2016
4. Cheryl Boone Isaacs
Now here's a distinction Sid Ganis, Tom Sherak and Hawk Koch would never have earned from me, but Isaacs' cool head and courage under fire in the wake of a second controversial season has been nothing short of admirable. The new voting measures yielded from her emergency board of governors meeting marked a perfectly reasonable step towards modernity, and her publicized statements on the tricky diversity issue have been transparent but tactful. It's comforting to know the Academy is in the hands of such a savvy leader.
3. Ex Machina shocks in Best Visual Effects
Honest shockers are so incredibly rare these days. Either a film is a stone cold lock or there's a range of possibility for multiple contenders. It almost never happens that something considered outside that realm of possibility takes the win. The last I can remember was Geoffrey Fletcher stealing Best Adapted Screenplay from Jason Reitman in 2010, but even this feels like a bigger WTF moment. And not in a bad way. Ex Machina's beautifully subtle CG embellishments would have been my third choice of the nominees, but I love the precedent this sets. Will supporting effects be considered more seriously in future Oscar contests? Even if not, it's an encouraging thought. This win is bound to age very well, along with the six trophies for Mad Max and the victory for this guy...
2. Ennio Morricone wins an Oscar
The only thing keeping this looooooong overdue win from being #1 on this list is the sense of inevitability that took hold early in the season. The critics sure weren't going to let anyone overlook the legendary Italian maestro, and with the Globes and BAFTA following suit, it became clear that this was happening. That doesn't make the moment less special. To think ten years ago, when Celine Dion was singing tribute to him at the Oscars (back when honorary recipients got to accept on the air), I thought that was as good as Ennio would ever get. Oh, and the score itself? Pretty awesome.
1. Best Picture goes to Spotlight
It's no coincidence that my three highs of the year come down to three individual Oscar night wins, because most of the buildup felt like a disheartening march towards one of two films for which I personally did not care winning Best Picture. Honestly, it's hard to invest yourself in a contest between “didn't like it” and “didn't like it more”.
It wasn't until Morgan Freeman read the final envelope of night that my disinterest boomeranged into a spontaneous combustion of elation.
In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. The preferential ballot is all about weeding out divisive titles and settling on something everyone can get behind. And who can't behind something as refined and intelligent as Spotlight?
It does illustrate the fallacy of stats. This is just the fourth time that Oscar's Best Picture has taken neither the DGA or PGA, and the first time in the expanded era. Just how did The Big Short manage that PGA win?
Above it all, the overall lack of homogeneity among those usually informative guilds has been refreshing. Let's hope we have a season as close as this one again soon (Just please make it between three or four films that are all good).
And that's it. I'm done with 2015 now. Time to take a much-needed breather before assaying the 2016 cinematic landscape.