Picture – What We Do in the Shadows: Would it kill the Academy to recognize a comedy, especially one as original as this one?
Picture – Straight Outta Compton: This film about gangsta rappers N.W.A. sets a new bar for biopics, and is a refreshing alternative to the staid fare the Academy predictably honors.
Actress – Bel Powley, The Diary of a Teenage Girl: Powley is unflinchingly honest as a teenager who undergoes a thrilling and messy sexual awakening in 1970s San Francisco.
Actress – Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Tangerine:
Rodriguez is a category 5 tornado as a jilted sex worker who takes no prisoners as she looks for the pimp that cheated on her during a prison stay.
Actor – Paul Dano, Love & Mercy: Dano is both charismatic and vulnerable as a young Brian Wilson as he records The Beach Boys’ masterpiece Pet Sounds.
Actor – Andrew Garfield, 99 Homes: While Michael Shannon has a showier role, Garfield excels as a young single dad who makes a deal with the devil to keep his family in their foreclosed home.
Supporting Actress – Marcia Gay Harden, Grandma: It might be Lily Tomlin’s movie, but Harden steals the show as Tomlin’s frustrated, acerbic daughter.
Director – Joel Edgerton, The Gift: The Aussie actor’s first time in the director’s chair is a winner in this perfectly paced thriller that would have been another B-movie in less assured hands.
Foreign Film – Goodnight Mommy: This unnerving Austrian import is terrifying; The Babadook and It Follows wish they were a tenth as unsettling.
Documentary Feature – Best of Enemies: This rollicking documentary about the debates between Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley during the 1968 presidential election sets the stage for today’s partisan political climate.
The 88th Annual Academy Awards will air on Sunday, February 28th, at 5:30pm (the Red Carpet starts at 4:00pm). Here’s your complete list of Oscar nominees.
Picture – The Forbidden Room: The only thing crazier than Guy Maddin’s fractured, funny, phenomenal fantasy would be if the Academy actually recognized it for what it is: the best movies [sic] of the year.
Supporting Actress – Mya Taylor, Tangerine: Taylor provides the grounded heart to the brash and boisterous Tangerine.
Actress – Daisy Ridley, Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Ridley’s remarkable performance isn’t just the greatest part of this year’s biggest blockbuster; she just might be the best Star Wars character ever. Sorry, Han.
Song – “The Final Derriere”, Sparks, The Forbidden Room: In the middle of Guy Maddin’s splintered celluloid phantasmagoria, he decides to direct a music video about a man with a predilection for butts that requires a lobotomy. And it’s catchy to boot!
Foreign Language Film – Mountains May Depart: Jia Zhangke’s tale of Western encroachment on modern China is a melodrama taking place over three time periods with an astounding performance from Zhao Tao at its center.
Production Design – Office: Johnnie To’s 3-D musical about financial markets was idiosyncratic from the get-go, but the film’s best feature is its setting, a stage-bound building without walls and a horizon of crisscrossing lines.
Cinematography – The Assassin: Every image is a painting in Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s long-awaited return to cinema screens (in classic Academy ratio!) with the meditative 8th century world of The Assassin.
Documentary Feature – Landfill Harmonic: Who can pass up the charming story of destitute kids from Paraguay that play classical music with Megadeth on instruments made out of garbage??
Original Screenplay – Don Hertzfeldt, World of Tomorrow: Hertzfeldt got a much-deserved Best Animated Short Film nomination but his existential cartoon about clones, loneliness, and the death of humankind should have been recognized for having more ideas in 16 minutes than most features.
Live Action Short Film – Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton: I’m just not going to shut up about Guy Maddin. Besides The Forbidden Room, he co-directed and starred in this hilarious behind-the-scenes “documentary” on Paul Gross’s war film about macho Canadian patriotism, Hyena Road.