88th Academy Award Winners

Tom Munday 

Hollywood’s night of nights, the 88th Academy Awards, did exactly what it needed to do. Avoiding any major fluffs, offensive slip-ups, or John Travolta appearances, this year’s ceremony said what we were all thinking. In an awards season of diversity issues, upsets, and Ricky Gervais’ antics, the show was, at the very least, not completely embarrassing or rote.

Comedian Chris Rock, the perfect host in light of the recent controversies, refused to pull his punches. Refusing to rehearse his set before the event, Rock let loose on white privilege and the lack of care for minority performers in tinsel-town. Pulling out all the stops, the comic made his high-end audience uncomfortable with gags referencing rape, lynching, protests, and stereotypes. Referring to Hollywood’s particular form of racism and misogyny, his opening monologue ended with a witty retort about the ‘Ask Her More’ campaign.

Unlike preceding Oscar ceremonies, this year’s event had a brash, hyperkinetic sense of humour. Rock’s hand in the writing stage paid off, with several gags balancing between necessary and inappropriate. Despite the perfunctory ‘2015 in Film’ montage introducing the show, its skits let many acclaimed performers let their guards down. One skit, inserting African-American actors Whoopi Goldberg, Tracy Morgan, and Leslie Jones into nominated features, was a standout moment.

The night was packed with easy-to-predict winners, well-deserved honours for technical achievement, and jaw-dropping surprises. Deservedly so, Spotlight picked up Best Original Screenplay for its brutal, electrifying dissection of this century’s biggest journalistic endeavour. However, The Big Short’s concoction of convoluted, Wall Street jargon unfairly picked up Best Adapted Screenplay over four more-deserving nominees.

The acting gongs became an entertaining mix; acting titan/supermodel wrangler/environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio, after five preceding nominations, finally picked up his first Oscar for his grizzly, near-wordless turn in The Revenant. After a standing ovation, the 41-year-old megastar launched into a romantic speech about a life in cinema and our lives in the midst of climate change.

Brie Larson’s captivating performance in Room earned her the Best Actress statuette. Shockingly, despite a solid subdued performance in Bridge of Spies, Mark Rylance beat out crowd-favourite Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor. Overcoming The Danish Girl’s shoddiness, 27-year-old Alicia Vikander pipped Kate Winslet to the post for Best Supporting Actress.

This year’s ceremony, although more refined and impactful than previous shows, proved the Academy needs its own multi-million-dollar reboot. Highlighting the overwhelming political overtones, Sam Smith’s lacklustre Bond theme, Writing’s on the Wall, won best Original Song, proving just how useless that category is. Seriously, get rid of Best Original Song for something substantial like stunt coordination or casting! Even Vice President Joe Biden couldn’t help Lady Gaga get her song’s message across.

Our film industry stole the night, with the highest number of Australian nominees and winners per event. Mad Max: Fury Road pulled off a miracle, turning from troubled production to one of the most critically and commercially viable blockbusters in history. The film swept the technical awards, collecting six trophies including Production Design, Costume Design, and Editing. Its recipients screeched and drawled into the microphone in true Ocker fashion, perplexing their American counterparts.

As the night drew to a close, the biggest awards came and went without surprise. Inside Out and Son of Saul showed no sign of slowing down in the Best Animated Feature and Best Foreign Film slots respectively. For the second consecutive year, Alejandro G. Inarritu picked up Best Directing for the squalid, visceral thrills and harsh production conditions The Revenant has become notorious for. Spotlight, by far the best of a mixed bunch, scooped Best Picture away from the favourites.

The finale – with Rock, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Keaton eating Girl Scout cookies on the world’s grandest stage – made for a more human moment than anything the eight film nominees had delivered.

Full List of Winners

Best Picture

Best Director
Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Brie Larson – Room 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

 Best Actress in a Leading Role
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

 Best Original Screenplay
Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer – Spotlight

 Best Adapted Screenplay
Adam McKay, Charles Randolph – The Big Short

Best Foreign Language Film
Son of Saul

Best Animated Feature
Inside Out

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki – The Revenant

Best Production Design
Mad Max: Fury Road

 Best Film Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road

 Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina

 Best Make-up & Hairstyling
Mad Max: Fury Road

 Best Sound Mixing
Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Costume Design
Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Original Score
The Hateful Eight

Best Original Song
Writing’s on the Wall – Spectre

Best Documentary Feature

Best Documentary Short
A Girl in the River

 Best Live-Action Short

 Best Animated Short
Bear Story

Images copyright Tinseltown and shutter stock.com 2016 



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