Oscars 2016: A fearful forecast



WITH trepidation, I await tomorrow’s Academy Awards.

Fervently, I pray Leonardo DiCaprio wins his first Best Actor Oscar for “The Revenant.” If he doesn’t, there’s nearly nothing left for him to do by way of courting his peers’ coveted thumbs-up. How to top mangling by a bear and then birthing by a dead horse? (I’m choosing my words very delicately here.) Being crucified is out, with the last memory-searing version by Jim Caviezel in 2004 precluding competition in the next several decades.

I watched “The Revenant” twice, thoroughly prepared the second time—socks, sweater, scarf, coffee. The first viewing had spooked the vegan in me so badly, I hardly noticed frigophobia creeping up, until the final sequence that reminded me of the ritual winter suicides in “The Ballad of Narayama” (remember, I’m 65— but you can check out this 1950s Japanese classic on YouTube).

Come on, guys. Michael Fassbender could play Bill Gates next time, or King Lear (seems the jurors missed his “Macbeth”); Bryan Cranston, another disenfranchised writer—that well of materials is inexhaustible; and Eddie Redmayne, maybe a second Danish girl who… has a Finnish terrier; Matt Damon, well, there are 500 other solar systems, and that’s only in our galaxy.

I have been a Leo fan since “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” I almost fainted when I saw him food-shopping in an LA grocery once (I’d have defied the whole security force, but he was standing in the huge and forbidding red meats section, way outside my private mythic circle of protection).

His Hugh Glass character gets by amazingly without so much as a single paragraph’s worth of dialogue in one go. Mostly, he’s just grunting and groaning, like Tom Hardy does in “Mad Max: Fury Road” (which didn’t snag a nod).

Speaking of which, just a little less zealously, it’s Hardy for me in the Best Supporting Actor race as the super-nega motor-mouth villain John Fitzgerald also in “The Revenant.” I had never seen this actor— whom I resolved to keep an eye on after “Warrior”— play a character so annoyingly talkative, ranting until his dying breath! I shall remember that cinematic comeuppance for a long time.

As a journalist, I have a soft spot each, equally, for Best Picture entries “Spotlight” (up next in this blog) and “The Big Short,” based on news occurrences that both had global impact, though the first is served up as a drama and the latter as a “comedy-drama.” But “Mad Max Fury Road” and “The Revenant” are too visually spectacular to ignore.

Then again, “Argo” won over “Life of Pi” and “Django Unchained” in 2013. And “The Big Short” direction by Adam McKay is clever; his own screenplay (written with Charles Rudolph) crisp and cadenced.

Awards season stats and expert forecasts notwithstanding, the Oscars never once failed to pull a surprise or two. Although I have favorites all the time, I love surprises.

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