February 28 2016
He’s back and ready to argue his case with YOU!
Hello and welcome!
This is my first column of 2016…and it’s a pretty exciting one as I look ahead to that great big jamboree called the Oscars today (February 28).
Regular www.asianculturevulture.com readers will know I had a regular monthly column in 2015, looking ahead at what was coming out and what got me excited as a film buff – just from the trailers.
There was a lot going on towards the tail end of 2015. Let me explain, I was ill for a bit – now happily back to full health and more importantly, our BBC Radio commitments changed quite significantly.
We are now on BBC radio seven days a week (you can read about that all that very shortly – make sure you’re connected to us, click on the tabs at the top of the page), and what I’ve been up to since the last column.
You can listen to all our programmes on i-player, just type in BBC Sunny & Shay, and you can keep up with us by liking our page on Facebook and you can engage with us directly – so don’t be shy, we love to hear from you and do call us on any of our shows!
So, let’s not waste any more time – let’s get into my predictions for the main Oscars this evening.
It is the most prestigious film awards ceremony on earth – now there’s been a lot of flak about the lack of diversity in the nominations this year.
The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite is very popular. Not a single black or minority actor features in the nominations, which is a little sad considering, there have been some great films (“Straight outta Compton”, anyone?) and great performances (our own Idris Elba in “Beasts of No Nation”) – but that is the reality this year.
Now, some of Hollywood’s finest, Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith and others from the African American and other minority communities, including iconic black director, Spike Lee, have decided to boycott the ceremony in protest.
To be frank, I do not think the nominations this year recognise the great work that has been made by minority actors, but you can only win an Oscar, if you’re nominated, so we have to deal with the nominations as they are, not how they should be. The key aspect is that more films need to be made for black and minority actors and then they will get nominated.
With that said, let’s get to our first prediction – it’s a shame that one of the best documentaries of all time – “Senna”, made by our very own Asif Kapadia, never got an Oscar. The director didn’t even get nominated for best documentary that year (2010) but he did win the BAFTA.
BEST DOCUMENTARY (FEATURES)
Amy – Asif Kapadia
Cartel Land – Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
The Look of Silence – Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
What Happened Miss Simone? – Liz Garbus and Justin Wilkes
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom – Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmar
Asif Kapadia (pictured right) is now up for best documentary this year with his film “Amy”, about the rise and tragic death of jazz siren, Amy Winehouse – and I believe this is the best documentary by far this year.
The home-grown talent that is Kapadia is going to take the Oscar for best documentary away and he is from an Asian (Indian) background but British (Hackney-born & bred) – so there is going to be some diversity to celebrate on the night and all the better because it is going to a Brit!
BEST ANIMATION NOMINATIONS
Anomalisa – Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson, Rosa Tran
Boy & The World – Alê Abreu
Inside Out – Peter Docter & Jonas Rivera
Shaun The Sheep Movie – Mark Burton & Richard Starzak
When Marnie Was There – Hiromasa Yonebayashi & Yoshiaki Nishumura
I have made no bones about this but I love animation. I believe that Pixar’s “Inside Out” is going to win. They have done a beautiful job, and it’s an amazing story, it’s worthy of being the Oscar winner. However, I am going to put my head on the block as I like doing in this film column and say, “Anomalisa” is my choice – it is beautifully shot and a bit more for the adults but the children will not get lost in it either. I hope it is going to win. Made by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (of “Being John Malkovich” fame) and Duke Johnson, it really deserves an Oscar.
Last year, I predicted “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” was going to win but it went to Pixar and “Big Hero 6”. I still believe “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” was better, but this is what Oscar predictions are all about – I think “Anomalisa” should take away the best Oscar for animation but “Inside Out” was a popular film and was really well done. Maybe I would have picked this as the Oscar winner if it appeared in last year’s list…no, on reflection, I would still go for “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Without a doubt, this award should go to Sylvester Stallone playing his character of Rocky Balboa in “Creed”. I’ve been on this man’s journey ever since Ricky Balboa first hit our screens – he has been a part of my life for many, many a year – if you’re a fan of the Rocky franchise then Stallone in “Creed” gives an amazing performance which actually brought me to tears. If I didn’t have an history with this character, then I don’t think it would have been as emotional for me, but the performance from Stallone is worthy of an Oscar.
When we are talking about a lack of diversity in the nominations this shows that there should and could have been more nominations for minority actors but it just didn’t happen. There are many outstanding performances. It could have also had a nomination for directing “Creed” – Ryan Coogler. It could have had a lot more nominations but one is better than none. It just didn’t happen, I am hoping and believe Stallone is going to win for his role in “Creed” as the famous Rocky Balboa.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Rooney Mara is in the best supporting role – but she should be in the best actress category. She is really outstanding in “Carol” alongside Cate Blanchett. In this category, she is going to walk away with it.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Best Actor in a leading role – there is a lot of talk about Leonardo DiCaprio finally getting an Oscar (he got his BAFTA, his first just two weeks ago) for his role in “The Revenant”. This reminds me of the situation with his great friend a few years back – Martin Scorsese who finally got a directors’ award for “The Departed” in 2007.
DiCaprio should have won it for “Wolf of Wall Street” last year. Nevertheless, this was a really outstanding performance and there were huge physical challenges making this and the conditions were really tough, (mostly) filming in the frozen wastelands of Canada. There were great performances from his co-stars too, such as Tom Hardy and others. I think DiCaprio is going to get it and he deserves it – he is an amazing actor for our time and he should be recognised for that.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Actress in a leading role – this is one of the most difficult to pick. All the nominees give brilliant performances. I am going to put my money behind Brie Larson in “Room”. She is really amazing and she really shows her skill and her ability and really draws you into her character. Any of the other nominees in any other given year would have won an Oscar without a doubt. I wasn’t too keen to watch the film “Room” due to the subject matter but Shay insisted, and I have to say it’s a great film and with brilliant performances. Sometimes you come across a film you do not want to watch and are pleasantly surprised at how good it is and that’s the beauty of cinema.
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – The Revenant
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Last year, the best director award went to Alejandro González Iñárritu for “Birdman” and I think he is going to win again now for “The Revenant”. It is one of those films that is very brave and he manages to get the right crew on board and take them on this journey with him and he gets outstanding performances from his actors – even though the conditions were very tough. It is almost like a documentary – you could frame every moment as a picture in itself. It should also win for Best cinematography.
The Big Short
Bridge Of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
Now for the big Oscar of the night – I think the best picture should go to “Spotlight” but I am torn between this and “The Revenant” – only because of its accomplishments. I am really torn between these two films. “Spotlight” was an amazing film for me. Outstanding work all the way – I was on the journey all the way. It’s simple storytelling without the all the flair – but it’s all about the performances and it’s quite emotional. It’s a subject (the cover of up child abuse in the Catholic Church in Boston in 1980s and 1990s) that is still fresh in our minds – and well done for all the filmmakers and the actors for taking this on.
For me it is one of the outstanding films of the year across all the nominations – “The Revenant” takes you on a different journey and there is one part of me that believes it is going to take the Oscar.
However, I really want “Spotlight” to take the Oscar and I believe if there is going to be a surprise on the night – this will be it. “Spotlight” is going to take the best picture award and I am going to stick my neck out a bit more – but we’ll see on the night.
During the Oscars ceremony itself on the night/morning, WE will be tweeting live, so follow me (click here) and @asianculturevul – let’s see how many I get right this year. I got 5/9 last year and in 2014 I got 5/6 correct…
Please do engage with us, get in touch and I will be doing my regular film columns here, and talking about the films that excite me and let’s see if we are on the same wavelength.
If there any films you want me to cover or are excited about in the coming year, do get in touch with me here…and join me on the columns here…
Enjoy the Oscars and see you soon for the post-Oscar column…
*Also up for an Oscar this evening is Pakistani Sharmeen Obaid-Chinnoy in the documentary short category for her film, “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness“. She is up against “Body Team 12” by David Darg & Bryn Mooser; “Chau, Beyond the Lines” by Courtney Marsh & Jerry Franck; “Claude Lanzmann, Spectre of the Shoah” by Adam Benzine; “Last Day of the Freedom” by Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman.