Oscar Derby Special: How I’d Vote if I Could

which white person will it be???

The day is almost upon us, darlings! We are in the homestretch! The 88th Academy Awards are on Sunday, and it’s about time we reviewed everything. If you haven’t done so (but are curious), you can catch-up with the rest of my Oscar Derby by linking here.

Before we begin this monster of a post, I will take a moment to explain the Oscar voting process that will be dictating the winners on Sunday.

Ok. So other than Best Picture, every other category winner is determined by a standard popular vote (i.e. an Academy voter selects one of the nominees, and the Oscar goes to the nominee with the most votes.) Easy!

Best Picture, however, is decided by a more complicated system. Yes, folks, welcome to ridiculousness that is the Academy’s preferential voting system! 

I will now try to explain this as clearly as I can:

  • So what happens is that voters fill out a ballot ranking the Best Picture nominees, from #1 on down to however many nominees there are (but note: members do not actually have to rank all 10)
  • All of the ballots are collected, and then sorted into stacks based upon which film is listed as #1.
  • Once that is done, each stack is counted. Whichever film has the fewest ballots in its stack is eliminated.
  • All of those ballots are taken and then redistributed to the stacks of whatever the #2 choice on each was.
  • The stacks are counted again.
  • If no film has yet hit the required 50% + one threshold, then the stack that now has the fewest #1 votes is eliminated next, and all of its ballots are redistributed to the next choice.
  • But they are redistributed only as long as a particular choice still has a stack in play (In other words: should a ballot’s #2 choice no longer have a stack in the running, then it would be redistributed to its #3 choice. And so on down.)
  • This process of elimination and redistribution will continue until a single film’s stack reaches at least 50% + one ballots. That film then becomes the Best Picture winner.

Essentially this is intended to be a fairer system where everyone’s votes are counted. Repeatedly. It aims to award the broadest support over necessarily ‘the most #1 votes.’

Therefore it can actually be the film that was consistently ranked #3 or #4 that wins. This is especially true since not every Academy member engages in the actual ranking process. A number of voters will still just put in their top one or two selections. You may be able to see now how that can wind up a waste, and ultimately detrimental to your #1 pick.

Ok. Now let’s get on with the fun part of this!

In addition to a reminder round-up of all the nominees going into Sunday, this post is also serving as a chance for me to talk semi-briefly about what I actually think of the different categories, and for funsies’ sake tell you how I’d vote.

To be clear: this means I’m not always choosing which nominee I expect will win… nor does my opinion equate to a definitive should (because that is a tricky concept to assert). It is literally just my own humble opinion if I had voting power. There is easily more than one category in which I’m choosing against the movie I would actually bet on in favor of where my conscience leads me.

As a quick visual reference for you, in each category I have greyed out any nominees that I, personally, haven’t seen. And as a rule, I’m restricting myself (in most instances) to only judging / voting on those movies I have seen.

And for extra Killer Moose fun, both Cole and Hanna decided to jump in to cast some votes of their own in certain categories! We enjoyed ourselves.

Let’s go!


Mad Max: Fury Road 

The Revenant
The Martian
Bridge of Spies
The Big Short 

Huzzah! Yes! There is nothing weird with the greying out — I have in fact seen all 8 of the Best Picture nominees this year!

And, by the way, you will note I don’t have a check-vote up there, and that is because the order of the films as you see them is how my ranking system for them would shake out.

I want to start this section off with a brief mention that I honestly think Straight Outta Compton should be in here. Just saying that upfront. Even if you set aside its vital social relevancy, it is a remarkable film that seethes with emotion and is brought vibrantly to life by an array of powerful performances. If I were to whittle these 8 nominees down to a traditional 5 pick, Straight Outta Compton would still be in that list (along w/ SpotlightMad Max: Fury RoadThe Revenant, and either Room or Brooklyn — as you may be able to tell by my ranking.) 

Surprised to see The Revenant in that list of 5? Me too, as it happens!! Yes, while my feels on The Revenant continue to be complicated, I cannot deny either the technical achievement in play or the fact that it is a film that manages to strike some chord in some people (even if I struggle to personally understand it.) Whether or not I can say I like The Revenant, I can say that I do respect it. Think of it this way: ultimately I have talked about this movie a great deal, and read many discussions on it. In many ways that is exactly what can define higher achievements of Art.

Not so is my respect for The Big Short which I may have actively despised. I have read review after review after review of this movie, trying to come to grips with it and understand it better. And I can’t. For all of the arguments on McKay’s ‘style’ and satirical, ‘purposeful’ sexism & contempt for the audience, I can’t find it within myself to see it that way. At the end of the day it is still a movie in which I’m watching shitty rich white guys exist as relative ‘nobler’ protagonists vs. shittier and richer white guys… At the end of the day the sexism and contempt only seems to highlight what is parallel sexism and contempt entrenched into a ‘straight, hetero male’ filmmaking system that essentially presumes a straight hetero male audience by default… And at the end of the day, it feels like every shallow, distracting film trick thrown into one bag. It’s a fucking Oscar nominee, not a teenage boy’s sample for admittance into his first year of film school.

And on that extreme, perhaps overly snide note…

Spotlight, too, is a bunch of white guys (and Rachel McAdams) walking around. Literally, the pale palette color is strange at some points — most of it is white guys in pales shirts and khakis walking around pale offices, and is almost aggressively not visually compelling. But I actually think it contributes to the somewhat clinical precision of the movie (and yes, I mean that in a good way). Possibly what I love most about Spotlight is how it the understated antithesis of what experience has taught me to expect from this kind of film. It doesn’t have an overdramatic bone in it — there are no gory flashbacks, no big impassioned inspirational speeches set to swelling music, no dazzling sparks of shallow conflicts between clashing individuals. There is no sensationalism. It is calm, sensible, sober, and it steadily and responsibly builds its case. The characters in it are full creations, hedged out of what is ultimately very little. You are given enough specific details to know who everyone is to make them humans, without any of it overwhelming the main issue at hand. It’s filmcraft.

In a similar vein of unsensationalized dramas… Brooklyn was probably one of my other absolute favorite things I saw this season. It is lovely and grounded — so refreshingly real. I realized by the end that I spent the whole movie worried because I kept expecting TERRIBLY OVERDRAMATIC THINGS to tragically happen to central heroine Eilis. But they don’t; and that feels nice. It’s a small drama that doesn’t rely on dramatic external obstacles hurled into Eilis’ path so much as it makes Eilis’ obstacle Life. Self-discovery, joys, sorrows, personal messes, and internalized complexities are what Eilis contends with. As if she were, ya know, AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING. Gasp.

And speaking of more actual human beings, that is largely what Room has going for it. It has Joy/Ma and Jack. Room is profoundly intense and upsetting and difficult to watch. Nothing about it is easy or simple. But it is profoundly wonderful, and ultimately worth it all in the end. In fact, now that I think about it, I could probably make a solid argument that THIS is the better ‘Triumph of the Human Spirit Over Awful, Unfair Circumstance’ far over anything of the bloody pain porn of The Revenant. Hm. Going to keep thinking about that now…

Moving on, though…

Bridge of Spies. Hm. Well, the thing Bridge of Spies has going for it is that it’s such a ‘classicist’ drama feel to it that no doubt appealed to older (male) Academy members. And hey, for the most part I can appreciate Spielberg doing his Spielberg thing as well as Spielberg does, but I think this film gets easily overshadowed by other more unique offerings. That… and I’m frankly starting to chafe against Spielberg doing these projects centered around A GREAT AND NOBLE, YET HUMBLE, MAN WHO SITS/STANDS HALOED IN SOFT LIGHT AS HE IS GAZED UPON!!! (cough cough looking at you too, Lincoln)

The Martian is a solidly done, highly entertaining big-screen movie-going experience. I’m not always the biggest Ridley Scott proponent, but I enjoyed the fuck out of watching this damn movie. It was a genuinely fun way to spend a couple hours, and there is definitely an argument to be made that that’s all cinema needs to be in essence. I also have a soft spot for casts full of competent characters…

… But as far as entertaining big-screen entertainment goes, I don’t think The Martian does anything that Mad Max: Fury Road didn’t do… And I think Mad Max did it all better. To me, in many ways, Mad Max represents near perfect cinema. It is brilliant vision, executed to near perfection. It is engaging, enthralling, and a stunning visual marvel, all while never dropping the ball on things like consistent, creative worldbuilding or fine-tuned character nuance explored beyond its very little dialogue.

Cole says: Mad Max. It was one of my favorite films of the year and, honestly, I just want someone to get up and scream “WITNESS ME!” into the microphone at the Academy Awards.

Hanna says: Max! Max! Max! Max! Ahem…Pardon my bias.



Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant)
Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
Adam McKay (The Big Short)
George Miller
 (Mad Max: Fury Road) ☑ 

Well I think you may be able to guess how I feel about Adam McKay being here. I may not have loved Carol, but Todd Haynes could have been in here instead. Or Ryan Coogler (who The Academy really should be making it up to for neglecting 2013’s Fruitvale Station alone.)

As pleased as I am to see Lenny Abrahamson here, and as much as I love McCarthy’s Spotlight as a film, I honestly would vote George Miller here. I expect Iñárritu to be a lock for the actual win. But I think Miller’s film has vision easily equal to Iñárritu; I think his film is arguably even more of a grand, technical spectacle; I think his film is orchestrated to finer tuned perfection; and I think that despite his film being just as sparing with its dialogue, his questing characters still manage to be well-fleshed people.

Cole says: George Miller. Mad Max. NO SUBSTITUTES ACCEPTED.



Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) 
Matt Damon (The Martian)
Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) ☑ 
Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

No comment on Michael B. Jordan being absent here because I still haven’t seen Creed. But based upon Fruitvale Station, I would expect he was great.

Oh, Leo… I honestly don’t think DiCaprio did anything overwhelmingly outstanding (see again my thoughts & feels on The Revenant.) He put himself through snowy hell, sure. And I don’t have anything actively against him, per se. But I guess I see it as: Matt Damon also had to carry a survival movie mostly on his shoulders, and he remained enjoyable/entertaining to watch…

I’m always happy to let Bryan Cranston do whatever he wants and get some attention…

But Fassbender commendably performed as the strutting focal point inside the tumble-dryer of idiosyncratic assholery that was Steve Jobs. Suffice to say it’s nowhere close to being my favorite film, but Fassbender is good. Fassbender is always good.

Cole says: At this point it’s pretty much a given that it’s Leo’s year, but I would really love to see Bryan Cranston get some Oscar love.

Hanna says: My feelings on this are basically summed up by the Leo’s Red Carpet Rampage Game… When I played I outraced Bryan Cranston, and then got my ass handed to me by Fassbender.



Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room ☑ 
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Brie Larson. Hands-down. No question in my mind.

I was sitting in Saoirse Ronan’s corner for a while, because Eilis is so specifically detailed and empathetically embodied as a person. Then I saw Room.

Brie Larson takes on layer after layer of so many swirling, boiling, conflicting emotions. It is as harrowing and heartbreaking as it is validating and inspirational. Joy (aka Ma) has so many feelings at once, and is so many things at once. ‘Indomitable human being’ and ‘broken human being.’ ‘Resolved survivor’ and ‘wilting victim.’ ‘Selfless mother’ and ‘selfish, scared little girl.’ She is fury and fragility, hopelessness and determination.

And regarding Cate Blanchett? Well I think  1) it felt like she was going through the paces. And, even more critically 2) that she shouldn’t actually be in the Best Actress category. Despite being Carol‘s titular character, the story belongs to Rooney Mara’s Therese.

Enjoy your well-earned Oscar, Brie Larson.

Cole says: Brie Larson is also an almost certainty at this point and she truly seems like the most deserving nominee this year.



Christian Bale (The Big Short)
Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Tom Hardy (The Revenant) ☑
Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight) 
Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Remember I mentioned Straight Outta Compton? Well Corey Hawkins should be here. But he’s not. And neither is A Certain Irish Ginger Whose Name I Will Not Say For Once.

I liked Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight. A lot. But that truly is an ensemble piece, and I’m on the fence if there’s anything particularly unique to single out about his performance when he’s in a movie full of them all pulling weight (it’s part of the whole appeal of the movie.)

Mark Rylance is good. Seems a very ‘classic’ sort of Supporting Actor Oscar role. But do I feel strongly enough about his performance to vote for him?

Even if I have my frustrations with his movie as a whole, Tom Hardy commendably makes Fitzgerald a frustrating and terrifying thing… And he was also GREAT  in Mad Max… So do I vote in favor of that dual work this year? … Dear god I think I might.

Huh. Whadaya know… I talked myself into that.

Cole says: Mark Ruffalo. Because he’s adorable and my level of caring about the other nominees is minimal. Give it to the Hulk. … Or, alternately, give it to Tom Hardy, but for Mad Max instead of The Revenant. Because, let’s be honest, even though his name is on the poster that film is all about Furiosa… OR (jumping on the bandwagon with this one) surprise everyone and give it to Domhnall Gleeson1 for being the best damn supporting actor of the year!2

Clarice is taking a moment and writing in Hanna says: Ruffalo! Because Hanna loved Ruffalo’s performance in Spotlight. She gushed through all of Spotlight about Ruffalo’s performance. Last second she abstained from comment because Cole already mentioned Ruffalo. Which is silly. Hanna, darling, your vote is totally for Ruffalo, and we both know it. 



Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Rachel McAdams (Spotlight)
Rooney Mara (Carol) ☑
Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Rachel McAdams is in the same boat as Mark Ruffalo above.

I would definitely vote for Alicia Vikander if she were nominated for Ex Machina… but I haven’t seen The Danish Girl. I have no love for Tom Hooper. I am tempted to vote for her based off of Ex Machina alone, and thus technically award her dual work… but again: I haven’t seen The Danish Girl… and I have no love for Tom Hooper… Hm. Pass a moment while I consider further.

I enjoyed Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs, but I don’t think there was enough there…

Despite various quibbles about a few interpretations of certain themes lying within Carol, I do think Rooney Mara gave a great performance. And in my mind, she was actually the lead.

Cole says: Alicia Vikander all the damn way. But for Ex Machina, not The Danish Girl. It’s the film she should have been nominated for anyway.



Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (Spotlight) ☑
Matt Charman, Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Bridge of Spies)
Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savage & Alan Wenkus (Straight Outta Compton)
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve & Josh Cooley (Inside Out)
Alex Garland (Ex Machina) 

I loved Straight Outta Compton, but I don’t know if I can pass Spotlight or Ex Machina in favor of it…

I thought Bridge of Spies was a solid script, but I’m not exactly electrified by it…

I have little hearts for Inside Out. I might be more jazzed about seeing an animated film in here, if said animated film weren’t something that felt like such Disney-fied Vanilla to me…

Ex Machina was an amazing debut for Alex Garland. It’s smart and creative and engrossing. It’s thoroughly considered and entertaining. It’s driven by a script, by characters, and by ideas. It’s a rare occurrence of a sf/f script getting some widespread respect. And it feels boring of me to pass something different like it over for something so unsexy (so to speak) as Spotlight. 

And yet… And yet. My people-talking-in-rooms-loving heart is very distracted by the lure of Spotlight… by the fact that it is such a methodical, subtle slowburn of tension and intrigue. They don’t slap you in the face with shock and outrage. They let the horror and frustration seep into your bones slowly and deeply. You don’t realize how drained and angry you are until you’ve reached the very end.

I am having a legitimate dilemma over Ex Machina vs. Spotlight… Ok. Will vote Spotlight (but I really really love you, Ex Machina and I really really want you to win too!)

Cole says: I feel like Spotlight or Straight Outta Compton deserve this one. But I would not be unhappy to see Ex Machina win… just saying….

Hanna says: Ex Machina. I loved Spotlight, and there’s a science fiction geek part of myself that thinks that at it’s core, Ex Machina is very simple when it comes to the speculative elements. But I think Ex Machina was more reliant on the writing in the end and didn’t have a historical basis from which to build. So I’ll throw in a cheer for Ex Machina to win it.



Emma Donoghue (Room) ☑
Drew Goddard (The Martian) 
Nick Hornby (Brooklyn)
Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short)
Phyllis Nagy (Carol)

That’s a pass on McKay and Randolph (but who are the likely winners anyway.)

I don’t love Carol enough… But congratulations, Phyllis Nagy to being a rare woman nominated!

I like Drew Goddard, and I enjoyed The Martian immensely (when I did not expect to), but I’m not sure the script itself is as major a thrusting factor in that film’s case…

While have massive affection for Nick Hornby’s Brooklyn script, I think I have to cast my vote for Emma Donoghue’s harrowing and beautiful adaptation of her own book.

Cole says: Going with The Martian on this one. Mainly because I LOVE the book and the movie did a bloody good job at capturing the book’s spirit.



Roger Deakins (Sicario)
Edward Lachman (Carol)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant
Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight)
John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road) ☑ 

Lachman managed a lot of fascinating things with Carol. Everything about that movie was soft and gauzy and trapped under glass, and it made for a definitive, effective tone that permeated the whole movie…

Umm… probably one of the only things I actually liked about Sicario was the visual tone it strikes. But of course Roger Deakins is always reliable in this arena (he who does many Coen brothers films.) Fun fact for your Oscar party: Deakins has been nominated 12 times for this particular award, and has never won. Back in 2007 he was even nominated for two films (No Country for Old Men and Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), and still lost to Robert Elswit for There Will Be Blood.

Lubezki once again turned in something seemingly impossible and truly astounding, and is once again the presumed winner in this category. For the third damn year in a row (winning for Iñárritu’s Birdman last year, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity the year before that.)

However I’m voting for John Seale out of sheer stubborn principle. There are jaw-dropping visual sequences in Fury Road too.

Cole says: As hot as my love for Mad Max burns I’m going to have to go with the icy coldness of The Revenant for this one if for not any other reason than as a salute to glorious insanity. There’s no other explanation for shooting an entire film in natural lighting.

Hanna says: **continues to quietly chant “Max!” in the background**



Hank Corwin (The Big Short)
Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)
 Tom McArdle (Spotlight) ☑ 
Stephen Mirrione (The Revenant)
Maryann Brandon & Mary Jo Markey (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

I personally have no love for the editing choices in The Big Short, and my voting judgment does get to be as arbitrary as that. Similarly, I don’t see/find enough of interest in what was required of the editing process for The Revenant… 

Although seeing Force Awakens here is heartening (especially with two women editors), it feels like an also-ran to me.

Spotlight has to arrange a lot of information and cast into a smooth, digestible flow. Not only that, but they need to do so and simultaneously build overall tension. That movie is all about quietly and carefully putting pieces into place. And I have a fascination and respect for that.

Fury Road must have been bonkers fun to edit, and it I were ranking my follow-up choices, it would be #2.

Hanna says: I will also raise my hand for Spotlight. So good.



Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road 
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As subtly perfected as the effects in Ex Machina are, visual effects awards tend to go to the flashiest. In this case that would be either Mad Mad: Fury Road or Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the latter of which is bolstered by the fact that it was such a grand-scale, sublime integration of computer and practical effects on a blockbuster scale that even the popular Fury Road just isn’t/wasn’t.

I would expect Force Awakens to take it; however, as much as I have all the love for JJ and his movie, I think I’ll still vote Fury Road first.

Cole says: Tough one. My love for Star Wars runs deep and Maz Kanata is wonderful and SHIPS AND LIGHTSABERS AND…you get the idea. BUT MAD MAX! And then there’s Ex Machina with it’s perfect, beautiful, subtle use of visual effects. Call it a three-way tie?



The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road ☑ 

Bridge of Spies
The Martian
The Revenant 

Remain truly surprised that there is no Crimson Peak here. That movie is pure nonsensical hilarity, but goddammit was fucking gorgeous nonsensical hilarity!

With Crimson Peak (or even Carol) not in play, I’m voting Mad Max: Fury Road for the sheer insanity, boldness, creativity and clarity of their world.

Cole says: Mad Max. Because everything from the cars to the landscape was just so perfect for the world.



Sandy Powell (Carol)
Sandy Powell (Cinderella) ☑ 
Paco Delgado (The Danish Girl)
Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road) 
Jaqueline West (The Revenant)

Once again, no Crimson Peak to vote for!

Despite desperately wanting to vote for someone named Paco Delgado, I have not seen The Danish Girl

Mad Max is fun, but the costumes in Carol are stunning/drool-worthy, and Cinderella has pure pageantry going for it (which is often what wins here). Considering Sandy Powell is nominated for both Carol and Cinderella, I’ll vote for the pageantry.

(Listen, I know it’s still technically costume design with a great deal of professional intent and all… but The Revenant is a bunch of dirty/bloody uniforms and furs. It just can’t compete with Richard Madden in very tight pants well fit clothes…)

Cole says: Cinderella because it’s all very pretty and they put Richard Madden in wonderfully tight pants.3

Hanna says: I’m pretty sure the poof of the sleeves disqualified Crimson Peak from contention, via Article 1 Section 7 of Screen Sleeve Regulations. Mad Max it is again!



The Revenant
The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared
Mad Max: Fury Road ☑ 

I think I’ll keep with my Mad Max: Fury Road voting.

Cole says: Mad Max because Furiosa looks BADASS.



Carter Burwell (Carol)
Jóhann Jóhannson (Sicario)
Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)
Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies) ☑
John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) ✓

Yeah yeah yeah John Williams and Star Wars… But this will probably go to Ennio Morricone who came out of a 40+  year retirement to score The Hateful Eight.

That being said, I haven’t seen The Hateful Eight yet, so I will hold back and instead vote for Thomas Newman’s Bridge of Spies score which I enjoyed a lot.

Cole says: STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS STAR WARS. Because anytime the music started I wanted to cry from happiness (ok, I actually cried. Shut up.)

Hanna says: So John Williams won for Star Wars and he’s won four other Oscars, but… but… JOHN WILLIAMS! And the score for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was excellent. I would approve of that symmetry.



Earned It” (Fifty Shades of Grey)
“Manta Ray” (Racing Extinction) ☑ 
“Til It Happens to You” (The Hunting Ground)
“Simple Song #3” (Youth)
“Writing’s On the Wall” (Spectre) 

Um. Ok my rule needs to go out the window here. Because the only movie I’ve seen of these is Spectre, and I am of the belief that “Writing’s On the Wall” is a truly TERRIBLE Bond theme (and the appeal of Sam Smith doth elude me further…)

I refuse to vote for anything related to Fifty Shades of Grey

Hold on… … … Fixing this… …

Utilizing YouTube I have now listened to the other three nominees! And I have concluded that I will easily vote for “Manta Ray.”

Cole says: “Manta Ray.”  1) I’m not giving anything to a song associated with Fifty Shades of Whatever  2) Not a huge Sam Smith fan  3) What are the others?  4) IT’S CALLED “MANTA RAY”



Mad Max: Fury Road ☑
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Martian
The Revenant



Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road ☑
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens



Son of Saul, Hungary 
A War, 
Embrace of the Serpent, 

Nope. Haven’t seen any foreign cinema last year. I currently do have Theeb rented, but haven’t watched it yet. Nothing else was available to rent online… or a movie hadn’t been released wide in US yet… or I was screwed over because I live in the Ohio suburbs and seeing smaller and/or foreign films in theaters can be nigh impossible at times because NO THEATERS WITHIN REASONABLE DISTANCE SHOW ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

Son of Saul is the expected winner here, and because I know no better I shall blindly follow the herd…



Inside Out
Anomalisa ☑
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Boy and the World
When Marnie Was There 

Breaking my rule again!

It is going to win, but I cannot bring myself to vote for Inside Out. And hey — it’s not a bad movie, ok? Let’s get that out of the way. That’s not exactly what my problem is. I mentioned the Disney-fied Vanilla earlier to be an over-arching issue; and then without composing an entire diatribe, I’ll just state that for a narrative so dependent on playing with metaphor, I am unsettled by the notion that what everyone has inside them is a central deep dark pit of nothing where pieces of you just completely dissolve and vanish forever. I don’t think that’s how that works at all; and though I can acknowledge the value in giving children a recognizable mechanism by which to discuss feelings, I think the devil is in the details for how they present certain ideas/attitudes.

Unfortunately the only one of the nominees I’ve been able to see so far is Inside Out. Much to my disappointment I didn’t have a way to see Anomalisa yet (THANKS, OHIO THEATERS!) and when I checked, When Marnie Was There was not available for online rent/streaming.

I may very well regret this down the road, but Charlie Kaufman is at the least interesting and different. Anomalisa. Out of principle.

Cole says: Going to go with a bias here and say When Marnie Was There based solely off my love for Studio Ghibli.



Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone? 
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Yup. I’ve only seen the one. Documentaries, honestly, are just not my thing usually. I have lists of them I keep intending to watch… at some point… maybe. And then I don’t. And even then I rarely enjoy them.

I’ll vote for the one I’ve seen out of default.



Body Team 12
Chau, Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness 
Last Day of Freedom

I’ve seen only one of the feature-length documentaries. So no — I haven’t seen any of these.

But “A Girl in the River: The Price for Forgiveness” sounds very dramatic / is a really good title.



Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay

Shok sounds like a good title!



Bear Story
Sanjay’s Super Team 
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

I suppose I will simply vote for the one I’ve seen.

And that’s it, folks! 

The Oscars are on Sunday, and I will be back here Monday morning with the results, as well as any cheering and/or jeering and/or consoling that may or may not apply! How many awkward moments do we think there are going to be about all the white winners dealing with #OscarsSoWhite??? And hey, if The Big Short wins Best Picture, maybe there will be chance Cole or Hanna takes over for me lest my rage burn down the whole site… We’ll see!

It’ll be fun. 

  1. It wasn’t me who said it! — Clarice
  2. In other words: Cole does not have a vote in this category because Cole could not decide on his vote in this category.
  3. You see?? Richard Madden’s tight pants will win the Oscar! — Clarice