Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Oscars Wrap-Up: 'Spotlight' takes Best Picture, while DiCaprio finally wins Best Actor

The long national nightmare is finally over.

Leonardo DiCaprio has finally won his Oscar.

The beloved star, who received four nominations in the past for What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, The Aviator, Blood Diamond and The Wolf of Wall Street, took home one of the night's biggest awards for The Revenant, ending his cold streak and sparking the most tweeted-about moment in Oscars history. The internet jokes and memes are no more, as DiCaprio won one of three awards for Alejandro G. Inarritu's frontier epic, which also took home Best Cinematography for Emmanuel Lubezki's gorgeous all-natural look and Best Director for Inarritu's sweeping vision. This was Lubezki's third cinematography Oscar in a row (after back-to-back wins for Gravity and Birdman) and the second-straight directorial victory for Inarritu, the first director to do that since Joseph Mankiewicz in 1949/1950. Overall, a strong night for 20th Century Fox and The Revenant.

But overall, when Morgan Freeman walked on stage to present the award for Best Picture, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose Tom McCarthy's journalism procedural Spotlight as the best film of the year. It was the first film since 1952's The Greatest Show on Earth to only win two awards, easily winning the Best Original Screenplay award as well. Many were predicting PGA winner The Big Short or late-surging favorite The Revenant for the top prize, but ultimately, the early favorite took the cake. Spotlight was the leader of the race from its premiere at Toronto until December, when the tide began to shift against the film. But with the preferential ballot system, the universally liked film (presumably) managed to get a lot of 2nd and 3rd place votes to win. This was a huge victory for Open Road Films, for journalism and for skilled craftsmanship in subtle filmmaking.

The biggest surprise of the night came from the Best Supporting Actor category, where Bridge of Spies' Mark Rylance topped the heavily favored Sylvester Stallone. The Creed star delivered a nuanced, terrific performance, and many believed that Stallone would win the nostalgia vote. But I guess it just wasn't meant to be. Patricia Arquette stunned audiences by presenting the award to Rylance on Sunday, leaving Stallone in the dust.

It was the saddest moment in a rather raucous broadcast that tackled the issue of #OscarsSoWhite head-on with a pointed monologue from Chris Rock. Constantly referencing the controversy throughout the show, Rock created the funniest (and lowest-rated) show in recent memory. There were so many great bits and despite my overall exhaustion with the Oscar season, Rock created an undeniably entertaining show.

Mad Max: Fury Road won six Oscars, as the Academy handed the trophies for Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing and Best Film Editing to George Miller's Wasteland epic. I was so incredibly happy when Mad Max got on a roll and it was one of the best moments of Oscar night. I was also excited to see Ex Machina win Best Visual Effects, which is a true triumph of independent filmmaking.

The Hateful Eight won Best Original Score, which became a great moment for Ennio Morricone, one of the most legendary composers of all time. And of course, I was ecstatic when Inside Out won Best Animated Film, as it's certainly one of the best movies in recent years. Beyond that, there's not much to discuss. It was an undeniably satisfying conclusion to a long and intermittently thrilling awards season. I'm sure it won't be long until it starts up again.

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