Academy Awards provided a few surprise winners

By Thomas Simpson

This year’s Oscars weren’t without controversy, and not the good kind. There were claims that talent of African descent were overlooked from the nominations which led to boycotts and the creation of the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. Of course the show must go on and the 88th Academy Awards concluded with its usual predictability/shocks, depending on the viewpoint you took.

Aside from claims of racial prejudice, the biggest talking point leading up to the Oscars was Leonardo DiCaprio. Hollywood’s most famous bridesmaid received his sixth nomination, and his fourth for Best Actor, for his outstanding performance in The Revenant. The internet had all their best memes dusted off only for him to go ahead and bag his first Golden Statue. It was long overdue and although well deserved, with the greatest respect to the other contenders, anything other than a win for Leo would’ve been a huge upset.

That wouldn’t be all for The Revenant as Alejandro G. Iñárritu received the award for Best Director while Emmanuel Lubezki won for Best Cinematography making it back to back wins for the duo (they both won the same awards last year for Birdman) and Lubezki’s third in a row (first win was for Gravity in 2014). While Lubezki was the obvious choice for me, albeit just ahead of Robert Richardson, I’d have loved to have seen George Miller win Best Director for Mad Max Fury Road. We can all dream.

It wasn’t all doom and Gloom for Mad Max Fury Road as it picked up Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound Mixing. An impressive haul for the rebooted franchise, and speaking of which, Star Wars: The Force Awakens walked away with nothing despite being up for five awards. It may have shocked many to see them lose out on Best Visual Effects to Ex Machina however if you were lucky enough to catch Alex Garland’s directorial debut, you’ll understand why.

The Best Actress in a Leading Role category was one of the most competitive of the night. While there was much speculation over Jennifer Lawrence for Joy, it was Brie Larson that pipped her to the post for Room. The film received near universal acclaim and found itself in contention for four awards overall.

Alicia Vikander won Best Supporting Actress for The Danish Girl while Mark Rylance won Best Supporting Actor for Bridge of Spies. Rylance may have caused the biggest upset as Sylvester Stallone (Creed) was the odds-on favorite. It was a tough break for the Creed crew who only received one nomination, noticeable by its absence from other categories.

It should’ve surprised no one that Inside Out won Best Animated Feature, and considering it was one of the best films of last year, it’s a worthy winner. It lost out to Spotlight for Best Original Screenplay while The Big Short picked up the award fort Best Adapted Screenplay.

The night wasn’t over for the Spotlight crew as they were awarded with the most prestigious prize of the night, Best Picture. Tom McCarthy’s film about how journalism exposed child abuse in the Catholic Church was an outside favorite making its success all the more pleasing for many.

As we celebrate a leap year, this gives those at the Academy an extra day to address the issues that plagued the run-up to this year’s ceremony. For now though, it’s time to kick back, relax and enjoy the slew of Superhero films that are about to grace our screens. Oscar season can be fun but now that it’s over for another year I’ll be stocking up on popcorn.

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