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Oscars recap: ‘Mad Max’ wins big

'Spotlight' receives due credit; Leo wins his long-awaited first Oscar

Grant Roberts, Editor-in-Chief

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The 88th Annual Academy Awards were this past Sunday in Los Angeles–and was one of the better Oscar presentations in recent memory.

Comedian Chris Rock hosted the show for his second time, and in light of the all-white acting nomination controversy, provided excellent comedic observation on the subject. Rock admitted he thought about dropping the gig in response, but decided to stick it out after realizing that the show would go on with or without him.

“The last thing I need is to lose another job to Kevin Hart.” Rock joked.

While I agree that the all-white acting nominations are a problem that need to be dealt with, I do feel Rock could have spent more time talking about the films that were nominated. None of them managed to come up in his opening speech. The best films of 2015 took a backseat to this ugly issue, which should not have been the case for a ceremony designed to honor the year in film.

That’s my only real complaint about Rock’s performance; otherwise, he did a decent job.

The ceremony saw many changes this year, as a result of the changing of it’s producers. The order of the awards presented was changed, and many additional subtitles were added on screen; detailing accomplishments of presenters, as well as individuals the winners wanted to thank. I personally found it a little irritating at first, but grew used to it as the show progressed.

Minor flaws of the show aside, I was very satisfied with the winners. I felt that they gave credit where credit was most-deserved, and truly honored the best of each category. (If you read my Oscar reaction last year, you know that I didn’t feel the same way a year ago.)

The black sheep of the nominees, Mad Max: Fury Road, surprisingly took home the most awards with six (all of which were in technical categories.) While I feel that the film is overrated, I can’t really argue that it didn’t deserve the awards it won, as it was a technical/visual stunner.

The acting winners were very deserving, even with the upset in the Supporting Actor category. Sylvester Stallone’s latest turn as Rocky Balboa in Creed might have been the fan favorite, but in the end he was no match for Mark Rylance’s communist spy in Bridge of Spies. I like this choice (even though I predicted Christian Bale would win for The Big Short.) Rylance’s performance was probably the most solid, but most critics had doubts due to the fact that he had the least amount of star-power of anyone in his respective category.

Alas, the Academy proved that they weren’t running a popularity contest, and deservedly gave Rylance the award. Sorry, Rocky fans.

The other acting winners were expected by most; Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl and Brie Larson for Room deservedly won Oscar gold in the Supporting and Lead Actress Categories, respectively. And, of course, much to the joy of cinemaniacs, Leonardo DiCaprio won his coveted first Oscar for his performance in The Revenant.

Nobody seemed to have any doubt that he would win, as he won pretty much every other award this year leading up to the ceremony. Leo has long been known as one of the best actors of his generation, how it took this long for the Academy to honor him is beyond me and his fans. While his performance in The Revenant wasn’t his best work, it was still Oscar-worthy, especially with his competition not being the strongest.

When Leo won the award, we witnessed something most of us thought we would not see in our lifetime. Now that Leo has his Oscar, maybe the Chicago Cubs can finally win the World Series.

The screenplay categories were rightfully awarded, with Spotlight and The Big Short winning the Original and Adapted categories, respectfully. In the animation category, the beautiful Inside Out unsurprisingly defeated it’s indie challengers and brought yet another Oscar to the Walt Disney company.

Following the success of his lead actor, Revenant director Alejandro G. Iñárritu won Best Director for the second year in a row (he won in this category last year for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).) Iñárritu’s direction was phenomenal, and along with its acting, was the saving grace in a slightly overrated film.

The popularity of the film worried me, as I knew it would become a threat to win Best Picture. I felt that the deserving film to win Best Picture was Spotlight, and I wasn’t alone. I feared that this year’s ceremony would be a repeat of last year’s, that an undeserving film would upset the clear choice in most people’s minds (when Birdman defeated Boyhood.)

Thankfully, my nightmare didn’t come true, and the best film of the year was properly honored when Morgan Freeman announced at the podium that Spotlight had won Best Picture.

No other film released last year came close to being as good as Spotlight. It details the story of four brave journalists who challenged the norm, and uncovered the child abuse scandal among priests within the Catholic Church. Their Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation gave hope and justice to millions of victims all over the world. This film shows us just how important journalism is, and the difference it can make in society. Much due respect to the other nominated films, the Academy unquestionably got it right this year.

Despite the controversy looming over the heads of the Academy, the Oscars accomplished what they were supposed to; they honored the best of cinema that 2015 had to offer.

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Oscars recap: ‘Mad Max’ wins big