Kurland On Film’s Oscar Recap for The 88th Annual Academy Awards

By Scott Kurland

 I always look forward to the Academy Award’s. Now, I look forward to the day after more. Why? Because now the actual spectacle is more entertaining than predicting who will take home that little gold statue. There’s just no real surprise anymore when it comes to Best Picture, Actors, and Supporting Actors. The 88th Academy Awards however, proved to be more surprising in ways far different than those of previous year. Without further adieu, I give to you the 2016 Oscar wrap-up for the 88th Academy Awards.

The Mighty Rock VS. Speculated Awkwardness
We all knew that the lack of Black nominees would be discussed by Rock this year. What we didn’t know is how graceful Chris Rock would handle the elephant in the room. Surprisingly, Rock did a good job. I truly believe he did the best that he could do given the controversy. Instead of pointing the finger and saying Hollywood is racist, he did what he does best…he talked it out. He recalled the many who told him to turn down the offer of hosting but, to quote Rock, all those people telling him to quit were, ironically,  “unemployed quitters.”  Rock also broke down the idea that Hollywood is exclusive in the way that Sororities and Fraternities are exclusive. “Oh You’re a Kappa? We’re Deltas sorry!” There’s just not a lot of room for actors looking to break the mold. Throughout the night, Rock did a brilliant job as host. I think he’s the best host we’ve had since Billy Crystal in 2012.

How Do You Open and End The Oscars? Shine a “Spotlight”

If you want to know how to predict the best picture winner, the last two years provided have us with a new formula: bookending. What do I mean by this? Well, last year, Best Original Screenplay was the first award up for grabs. Who won that? “Birdman”. What film won best picture? “Birdman”. What award was the first to be presented this year? The answer is the Best Original Screenplay award, and it went to “Spotlight”. “Spotlight” also won best picture. Two years of Michael Keaton films voted as Best Picture winners…weird right? Long ago, if you wanted to know what was going to win, you had to wait until they announced the Best Director category. It doesn’t add up. Direction and Best Film don’t go hand-in-hand. Screenplay and Best Picture go together to create the new formula. By knowing one, you know the other.

The Renegade Of The Wasteland Cleans Up Big Time

One of the biggest surprises that left me feeling a glow of euphoria was seeing my favorite hero, Mad Max, clean up. It’s accolades, to name a few, included Best Production Design, Best Costumes, Best Make-Up etc. While it was in all the technical categories, “Mad Max: Fury Road” was the film no one saw coming.. I can’t believe how unstoppable this film was when judgment day finally arrived. I love when the Academy rewards films that aren’t normally what you except to be Oscar-caliber. Actually, that’s not true. “Bourne Ultimatum” cleaned up pretty well a few years back. “Mad Max: Fury Road” was just a gorgeous-looking film filled with fantastic editing as well as make-up, so it was well deserved. To quote the production team, “Mad Max: Fury Road” brought diversity to the Oscars in the form of“…a man with mental health issues, an Amazon amputee, and five runaway sex slaves.” What a perfect way to sum up this pulse-pounding Oscar winning film.

Rylance, DiCaprio, Larson, and Vikander Oscar’s Acting Court

This year’s acting race was pretty routine and by the numbers, well, or the leading actors anyway. We all knew Leo was going to win for “The Revenant”. That was a given from the first trailer we saw last summer. If you didn’t know DiCaprio was going to take home the gold, then you weren’t watching any of the awards coverage this season. I did like his speech. Yes, he was very direct about saving the environment, but DiCaprio is and will always be an environmentalist. Vikander was another given, since they nominated her for supporting when she was most definitely a lead. “The Danish Girl” needed to win an award, and Vikander was the most incredible thing about that film. I think what brought me the most joy was seeing Mark Rylance and Brie Larson win. After seeing her performance in “Room,” I knew that Larson was going to win for Best Actress. I think what I will miss the most is seeing her and her co-star, Jacob Tremblay, steal America’s hearts on the red carpet. 
I saved my favorite for last. I wanted Mark Rylance to win after I saw “Bridge Of Spies”. I loved all of the supporting roles in the actor’s category, but Rylance was perfect. His speech was equally moving. This is a humble man, a grateful man and he deserves all the success he’ll be getting in the years to come.

BOND BEATS GAGA?!?! Are We Living In An Alternate Dimension?

You may be wondering how Lady Gaga lost to Sam Smith and, normally, I’d be just as baffled as you were it not for this one little fact: last night was the first time I heard Gaga’s song ’Til It Happens To You’. The song is moving, powerful, and the message is so important. But why did it lose? the answer is no one heard it. Barely anyone saw “The Hunting Ground.” If the opposite were true, it would have gotten a documentary nomination. It was better than Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall” and, honestly, a lot of people from the LGBT Community are mad about Smith’s speech.  According to Smith, Sir Ian McKellan stated that no openly gay man ever won an Oscar. Smith said that it was a shame and he’s an openly gay man…etc…etc… This is such a false statement. Howard Ashman, the song writer for “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty & The Beast” has won many Oscars and he was honored  at the Oscars when he died of AIDS in 1991. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar winning screenwriter of “MILK,” is openly gay. Graham Moore won last year for writing “The Imitation Game” and he came out on air. Is this a reason to get mad at Smith for his comment? No, it’s just ignorance. He should have checked with his PR team before he opened his mouth. It was certainly a bad move to speak on the behalf of  a prominent member of the LGBT community…but the guy wrote ‘Stay With Me’ so can we cut him some slack?

Closing Remarks, Final Thoughts, and Other Words To Say Don’t Worry It’s Almost Over

This years Oscars weren’t full of surprises like those of previous years. No one was truly upset or shocked when “Spotlight” won best picture, nor were they in disbelief when Alejandro G. Inarittu won his second consecutive Oscar, or when Lubezki made history after winning his third. Why? When people deserve their awards like the three mentioned above, people applaud rather than hiss. When Chris Rock appeared throughout the night, no one was groaning or saying “not this guy” like they did with Neil Patrick Harris. This was a great Oscars, a safe Oscars, but great. I think the crowning moment of last night was Louis C.K. introducing the award for Best Short-Subject Documentary. In his words “…this Oscar is going home in a Honda Civic.” That might sound harsh, but it’s true. C.K.’s speech not only showed his appreciation for independent filmmakers, but I think it earned him a position as next year’s host. He’s starred in three Oscar nominated films, he knows comedy, and he loves cinema. Rock hosted the Oscars to perfection, now let’s wait patiently for next year to see if Louis C.K. can do it too.
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