Farewell, Awards Season. See You Again Soon.
And so the awards season, which started in mid-December with the announcement of the Golden Globes nominations, came to an end this last Sunday in February with the Academy Awards. Guilds, critics and independent filmmakers had their say, issues surfaced and were debated (hotly, sometimes) and careers were consolidated or launched.
Established by the Globes noms three months ago, the class of 2016 was defined by two larger-than-life films: the non-stop action of Mad Max: Fury Road and the nature vs. man odyssey of The Revenant. Two issue-based titles ran right behind in the pack: Spotlight, about child molestation in the Catholic Church, and the efforts to expose it; and The Big Short, about the many financial shenanigans that led to the Great Recession of 2008. Exceptional performances were highlighted by Room – Brie Larson, winner of best actress awards at both the Globes and the Oscars, – The Danish Girl – Alicia Vikander, best supporting actress at the Oscars, Steve Jobs – Kate Winslet, nominated for the Oscars, winner as best supporting actress at the Globes – Bridge of Spies – Mark Rylance, nominated for the Globes, winner at the Oscars as best supporting actor and Creed – Sylvester Stallone, nominated for the Oscars, winner at the Globes as best supporting actor.
On the musical side, both Globes and Oscars recognized Ennio Morricone for the score of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, and the song “Writing's on the Wall”, from the James Bond film Spectre. Hungary’s Son of Saul was, across the board, singled out as the best foreign picture of 2015. The same unanimous praise showered Pixar’s Inside Out as the best animated feature of the year.
Crowned with six Oscars – all on the technical side – the twice Globes nominee Mad Max: Fury Road established itself, easily, as the pop movie of 2015: with $377 million in tickets sold worldwide plus all these accolades (add four BAFTA awards, plus awards from the American Cinema Editors, Art Directors Guild and a Screen Actors Guild trophy for best stunt ensemble) George Miller’s dusty post-apocalyptic saga came out of the fray as the thinking person’s picture, at the same time visceral and cerebral.
Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu’s The Revenant emerged from the Academy Awards with two accolades – best director (the second in a row for Iñarritu) and the best actor statuette that has long eluded Leonardo Di Caprio. The best picture Oscar ended up going to Spotlight, differently from the Globes, that had chosen The Revenant as their best motion picture-drama. A winner also in the best original screenplay category at the Oscars, Spotlight was just the second movie in the 88 years of the Academy Awards to win the top prize with just one other statuette. A day before the Oscars, however, director Tom McCarthy’s picture had taken the top prize at the Independent Spirit Awards, a repeat of the Screen Actors Guild choice.
Nominated for four Golden Globes, and winner of best adapted screenplay at the Oscars (and best picture at the Producers Guild Awards), The Big Short came out of awards season as a shining black horse, an unexpected picture zooming from left field with an exciting blend of comedy and drama that leaves us all waiting for more projects from writer/director Adam McKay – a brand name in comedy (Anchorman, Talladega Nights, The Other Guys) and who now has, officially, license to pursue serious subjects.
Is it too soon to start talking about awards season 2017? It has already begun, actually – with Sundance, Berlin and, soon, Cannes. The golden wheel never stops turning.