And the Oscar goes to…

Published: January 28, 2016
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This year around all the nominations in the Best Picture category were decent in their own way, but a valid argument does arise; regardless of the movies not being mediocre, most of them weren’t great enough to be part of the line-up.

The 88th Academy Awards are nearly a month away. The nominations have been announced, the snubs have been snubbed and the finger-pointing hashtags have been tweeted. This can only mean that it’s high time we get down to discussing who will and should win on Hollywood’s biggest night.

This year around all the nominations in the Best Picture category were decent in their own way, but a valid argument does arise; regardless of the movies not being mediocre, most of them weren’t great enough to be part of the line-up.

Here’s my ranking of eight films vying for the Best Picture Oscar next month along with their chances at winning.

8. Brooklyn

Brooklyn is incredibly well-executed. It is charming, well-acted and easy to understand. It has all the trappings of a Best Picture nominee. Despite these factors, it has to be the worst film nominated because for all the craftsmanship and gorgeous period aesthetic, it comes across as painfully conventional and clichéd. It just isn’t nearly as good as any of its competitors.

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Chances at winning

Brooklyn has a good shot at winning a couple of Oscars for its wonderful production and costume design as well as a slight chance at Best Adapted Screenplay for Nick Hornby. It may also be able to bag Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan but an Oscar for Best Picture seems extremely improbable.

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7. Room

Room is half a great movie. The first half of the film features some of the most powerful cinematic moments produced in 2015. Performances from Brie Larson and newcomer Jacob Tremblay are astonishingly great. Unfortunately, everything that follows afterwards feels disjointed and contrived and lessens almost all the impact the film had managed to build up earlier. Despite this setback, the movie is worth watching for the two fantastic central performances.

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Chances at winning

Best Actress for Brie Larson feels like a definite lock since she has won nearly every acting award leading up to the Oscars and has been a front-runner for some time. Best Adapted Screenplay for Emma Donoghue who adapted her own book for the screen, but I wouldn’t bet on Room winning Best Picture.

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6. Spotlight

Tom McCarthy’s ode to investigative journalism emerged as one of the most riveting and important films of the year. It is a subdued and restrained film, but at the same time it is extremely engaging and powerful.

A terrific ensemble cast led by Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and John Slattery makes the movie worth a watch. They have delivered captivating performances but the lack of much needed greatness holds Spotlight back.

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Chances at winning

Spotlight was the front-runner for winning Best Picture since September; unfortunately the film’s Oscar campaign has fizzled out lately. It still has a decent chance at winning top prize, but the front-runner status is no more. Best Original Screenplay for Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer seems like a definite possibility.

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5. Bridge of Spies

Bridge of Spies has allowed Steven Spielberg to return to the prestige period-picture genre, which he has grown fond of lately, keeping in mind films such as War Horse, Lincoln and Munich. The result is an immaculately crafted courtroom drama cum espionage thriller in the form of Bridge of Spies.

Now, the film is definitely flawed. It is covered in a layer of jingoism and schmaltz, but it is easy to look past the flaws because the film is genuinely compelling and engrossing. Not to forget, performances by Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance are truly wonderful which makes Bridge of Spies consistently engaging, if not always captivating.

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Chances at winning

While Bridge of Spies received a handful of nominations, a win seems unlikely. Mark Rylance has the best chance of winning among all the nominees, but he too comes in at a distant third in the Best Supporting Actor category.

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4. The Big Short

The Big Short could quite possibly be the most entertaining film made about finance. It focuses on the 2008 financial crisis with pin-point accuracy. Writer/director Adam McKay, whose resume includes comedies such as The Other Guys and The Anchorman movies, has delivered what I feel could be his best work so far, thanks to great casting with the likes of Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt.

The subject-matter is undeniably complex but Adam McKay, through his sharply funny screenplay and exceedingly unconventional film-making techniques, keeps the film engaging throughout. The end result is a smart, enthralling and riveting tale of greed and power.

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Chances at winning

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph’s screenplay, adapted from Michael Lewis’s book should take home the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay if Brooklyn or Room don’t manage an upset. Best Picture seems like a long-shot but keeping in mind the film’s recent win at the Producer’s Guild Awards, it certainly isn’t impossible.

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3. The Martian

After years of making one dud after another, Ridley Scott has finally returned to form through a genre he has always excelled in. Anchored by a charming and entertaining central performance by Matt Damon, The Martian has emerged as one of his best works in quite some time.

It is a wonderfully optimistic film which, despite brimming with tension and suspense, it never forgets to be a funny and is a straight-up enjoyable picture.

Drew Goddard’s smart screenplay is full of some of the most memorable and quotable lines of the year. It is visually outstanding and the most ‘feel-good’ movie of the year.

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Chances at winning

Even though The Martian bagged seven nominations, its chances of winning any Oscar range from slim to none. Ridley Scott was considered to be a major contender in the Best Director category but was unfortunately snubbed. The films best shots come under technical categories such as sound design and visual effects.

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2. The Revenant 

It was only last year that I found myself being absolutely floored by Alejandro González Iñárritu’s brilliance in the form of Birdman.

One year later, Iñárritu has returned with a film that not only challenges Birdman’s level of greatness, but also its level of success. The Revenant is an immersive, haunting and jaw-dropping survival turned revenge tale.

Leonardo DiCaprio has delivered the most committed and challenging performance of his career and is complimented by a menacing and show-stealing Tom Hardy. It is undoubtedly one of the most brutal, unflinching and starkly beautiful films of the year which quite simply exemplifies the power of cinema.

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Chances at winning

First things first, Leonardo DiCaprio is definitely winning Best Actor, there’s simply no way he can’t. Tom Hardy could win Best Supporting Actor for his turn as the villainous Fitzgerald. If The Revenant does win Best Picture, it will be the first time a film directed by the same director will win two years in a row.

The Revenant nabbed 12 nominations, the most nominations by any film and it has a great chance at a number of wins such as, Best Sound, Best Makeup, Best Cinematography and arguably the best one at winning Best Picture.

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1. Mad Max: Fury Road

There were a lot of great films this year, but no film came close to matching the sheer ferocity and dynamism of Mad Max: Fury Road. George Miller brings new life to his long dormant franchise in the best way imaginable. This is a film which is thrilling, exhilarating, breath taking and exquisitely made.

There’s almost a measure of controlled chaos to the entire film, which, along with its use practical effects, not only sets it apart from modern-day blockbusters, but stands as something they should all strive to be. Fury Road is an action behemoth, a visual spectacle and a work of art.

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Chances at winning

Fury Road was nominated for 10 Oscars, second to The Revenant and while winning Best Picture seems highly unlikely, the film should dominate most of the technical categories.

Wins for Best Visual Effects, Production Design, Sound and Video Editing all seem like sure bets, but the most significant award that Fury Road could take home may be Best Director for George Miller, which he is certainly poised to win.

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So what do you think?

Do you agree with my rankings? Let me know in the comments section below.

 

Khalid Rafi

Khalid Rafi

The author is an aspiring writer and a passionate lover and supporter of Pakistan Cricket. He blops at The Blazing Reel. (www.theblazingreel.wordpress.com) and tweets as @TheKhalidRafi

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Talha

    you did a great job, perfect analysis, lets see how close it goes.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Couldn’t agree more with your list . The moment I saw mad max on #1 , I was like hell yeaaaah!!!!!!

    However that’s not how the academy works. They usually let a boring art film always win. Recommend

  • Syed Muhammad Antiq

    If Dicaprio doesn’t get to grab an Academy award for his show in The Revenant i don’t think he ever can. That was his best performance till date.Recommend