Today has been too busy for me to provide any kind of in-depth response to the announcement of 2016's Oscar nominees, but here's an oversimplified rundown of The Good and The Bad (we'll hold off on The Ugly since most of these nominees are beauts). I'll have time to analyze each of the 24 races when "One Category at a Time" returns in a few weeks.
Until then, some off-the-top reactions:
-Kubo and the Two Strings for Best Visual Effects (If you read this space somewhat regularly you know how I clung to this pipe dream for nearly half a year -- What unfathomable bliss to bang a fringe contender's drum for so long and have it pay off!)
-Allied for Best Costume Design
-20th Century Women for Best Original Screenplay (Thank God we get to call this wonderful picture an Oscar nominee after all.)
-Passengers for Best Production Design (To think I axed this from my predictions a day earlier. This might be the first time in a while that three of the nominees in this category are fantasy efforts.)
-Jackie for Best Original Score (Also to have so many new faces in that contest is a nice change of pace from the music branch's usual insularity.)
-That entire Best Sound Mixing lineup will match my own very closely (give or take a Lion.)
-Isabelle Huppert (because... well, if I have to tell you why then you need a different hobby.)
There are lots of others, but none came as surprises so I'll save my praise for future individual posts.
One more 'THE GOOD' (for me anyway) was an improved prediction score of 86/107, my highest in six years. But that speaks more to weakness of the year's movie crop: Makes it easier for consensus to form around the good ones.
-Mel Gibson (and basically the ease with which Hacksaw Ridge has coasted this season.)
-Sucks to have no Annette Bening or Amy Adams in Best Actress, but we knew that category was a bloodbath.
-While the category fraud would annoy me to no end, I'll admit to feeling bummed for Hugh Grant, who was so good in Florence Foster Jenkins and probably won't come this close to his first nomination for a good long while.
-I suppose Fences is an improvement over Nocturnal Animals, but count me as one of those who doesn't think the late August Wilson did an especially great adaptation of his play.
-The Handmaiden getting shut out of both design categories. I trusted you, design branch!
-Thomas Newman's most self-derivative score in years (I mean, even by his standards) making a double nominee of the atrocious Passengers. One nod for Production Design is fine, deserved even, but this WALL-E rehash doesn't cut the mustard.
-Sing Street blanked in Best Original Song. WTF? And in favour yet another J. Ralph documentary single, albeit a pretty one. But seriously: Does this guy have the music branch on his payroll or something?
-The fact that there just wasn't enough room for Arrival in Best Visual Effects. Spoiler alert, the Oscar nominees in that category match up with my personal ballot five-for-five, but I would have loved to see its beautifully minimalist illusions recognized. Also, this may have been the only category that the sci-fi Best Picture nominee could have won; Now it looks like it's going 0/8. Ouch.
-People kvetching about "Oscar nominee Suicide Squad". Yes, I know the movie is terrible, currently sitting at the bottom of my list for 2016, but if it was to be rewarded anywhere, the makeup is certainly its most successful element. Folks need to stop comparing it to other one-nominee wonders like Silence, Elle, or 20th Century Women and assuming the Academy equates total number of nominations to quality. Credit where it's due, man. Even the shaggiest dog deserves its day.
-Joe's Violin for Best Documentary Short. I saw it on YouTube months ago and immediately worried that it would win this over more formally impressive and topically challenging contenders. Still looks like a middling winner.
One more 'THE BAD', my super early predictions from back in May were worse than usual, including predictions where I guessed the right actor but the wrong film (Garfield for Silence and Shannon for Loving)!