Clarice’s Oscar Derby: And They’re Off!

Make a cocktail, gather 'round and let's all play the awards season ponies!

‘tis the season, darlings!

Christmas? Winter solstice? The promise of The New Year?

Hell no!

‘tis the season of awards shows! Yes, that merry few months when it’s cold outside, and we snuggle under blankets with warm liquor drinks and pass judgment on the blatant recognition-seeking amongst the film industry.

Now before we begin, let’s get two things out of the way up front:

    1. Do these awards shows represent an actual fully-comprehensive Best In Film covering the whole year? Answer: Nope! Absolutely not! There will always be the film festival circuit darlings and under-recognized blockbusters and genre films that get no love by the aging, white male establishment. But then again, such are the hazards of just about any form of awards for any creative medium.
    2. Related to that… Are the Academy Awards plagued by very real problems with inclusivity and diversity? Answer: Hell yes they are. If you take a look at almost all of the films being viewed for awards considerations this year, it is once again overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. This is a problem with the industry as a whole.

I love film; and I love seeing the idea of the industry and artform celebrated. And I don’t think anyone’s answer to any of this is in dismissing the Academy Awards. That doesn’t actually fix anything. It’s the whole damn industry that needs very real revolution. This is why I think it’s so important for people to keep talking about it. Literally, never stop talking about it. Perhaps then we can continue making actual moves towards a long-term change (versus the self-congratulatory back-patting that happens every other year or so).

All that said… do I have an enormous amount of fun following the sheer ridiculous Drama! of it all?

Answer: I totally do.

So for now (here, at the start of January) these are my opening questions going into the race…

  • Is this race truly as “open” as everyone is hyping? Or should we be honest with ourselves and assume Tom McCarthy’s unsensationalized, slowburn Spotlight probably has Best Picture in the bag?
  • Will The Revenant make this Leonardo DiCaprio’s year? (Answer: Perhaps? In the past five years he’s certainly turned in solid performances in otherwise questionable films: the overly long and overly bizarre Wolf of Wall Street, the eh-it’s-not-Tarantino’s-best Django Unchained, the no-one-needed-it Great Gatsby, the bloated and tiresome J. Edgar, and the zeitgeist-film-everyone-loved-at-first-but-now-hates Inception. But I dunno… I’m not convinced he’s earned it quite yet.)
  • OR will Michael Fassbender come out on top for his double duty this season in both Steve Jobs and Macbeth? (Not to mention his steady collection of top-notch work which, in the last five years alone, has yielded 12 Years a Slave, Slow West, Frank, Shame, A Dangerous Method… and even Prometheus*)
  • Will anyone remember to include Alex Garland’s Ex Machina? It’s sci-fi, and came out early in the year — are those two factors going to be a problem? (Answer: Probably!)
    • RELATED: how many nominations can we give Alicia Vikander? She’s been recognized for both Ex Machina and The Danish Girl… Will they pick only one role? Which? (Answer: it’ll be the latter.)
  • So… what exactly is the Academy going to do with Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa? Could it actually get a Best Picture nomination? Or will it be rather awkwardly relegated to “Best Animation?” Or will it be too divisive and ‘too Charlie Kaufman’ in general?
  • Is Ridley Scott’s The Martian this year’s lead contender for Movie That Everyone Will Bitch About Not Getting Enough Attention? Or will that honor go to Creed?
  • And speaking of… holy shit guys! Does George’ Miller and his beautiful, high-octane masterpiece Mad Max: Fury Road actually really truly maybe have a shot???
  • Is Todd Haynes’ Carol the quiet and lovely film that deserves all due praise and thus I will have almost no jokes to make about it? (Answer: certainly is seeming that way…)
  • What is Brooklyn, and why does it keep appearing on everyone’s lists? 
  • And for that matter… where did Trumbo come from?? Wait — it’s Bryan Cranston? In a period film? As a black-listed Hollywood screenwriter?? Doth this portend trouble for Leo and Fassie??
  • Will Room be Clarice’s official yearly Movie I Know I Should See But Probably Won’t? (Answer: Most likely!)
  • Is the Hungarian Son of Saul going to be only foreign film anyone sees or cares about?**
  • Is it just me or does it seem like everyone was talking about, and then stopped talking about Beasts of No Nation?
  • Does Crimson Peak stand a chance in Production Design against Fury Road and Carol??
  • Will the Academy heap more undeserved praise upon Tom Hooper and his primo Oscar-bait biopic The Danish Girl?***
  • Why are there no documentaries or short films in this entire list of questions? (Answer: Because I am terrible at actually remembering to watch them!)
  • And finally… OMG OMG OMG what happens to all of these questions once Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant hits theaters??? Should we just go ahead and mail Emmanuel Lubezki his third consecutive Cinematography award now?


* YES I SAID PROMETHEUS! The film may be hilarious, delicious awfulness in a blue filter, but Fassbender remains pure fabulous.

** I myself can be very hit and miss on the foreign cinema, depending on the year. Sometimes I see them all; sometimes I see maybe one. So we’ll see…

*** Note/Disclaimer: this is not any kind of intelligent / cogent comment on the quality of The Danish Girl, and is specifically a reflection of my completely biased distaste for Tom Hooper as a director. It is a thing; it will be a thing going forward. You have hereby been duly warned.