Academy Awards 2016 Recap

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Oscars-logo#OscarsSoWhite.  The Oscars have seen its share of controversies, but this year kicks it up a notch.  2016 marks the second year in a row where no one in color has been nominated for acting, spurring boycotts, racial talks, diversity discussions, and call for institutional change.

For his part, Chris Rock, the host of the 88th Academy Awards, tweeted a cryptic message, #Blackout, ahead of the show, fueling speculations that the comedian would not be deterred from digging into the highly charged topic.

Rock rocked the room from the start, calling the Oscars the “White People’s Choice Awards.”   Had hosts been nominated, he quipped he would not have got the job. He said that while he was encouraged to back out, he would not quit because only unemployed people would do it.  He plainly remarked that decades ago when there were no black nominations, they were not protesting… because they had real issues to protest about (than fussing about an award show).  If we would like to guarantee blacks getting nominated, we should have a black nominees category every year.  In all seriousness, he concluded that black people would just like to receive the same opportunities.

On sexism in Hollywood, it’s simply common sense. Rock pointed out that actors did not get asked about what they’re wearing because they all essentially wore the same clothing, unlike actresses with varied (and sometimes outlandish) styles.

Following the black vs. white theme, a black actor was inserted in clips of several nominated movies, eliciting hilarious reactions from fellow actors in those movies.  Also celebrating Black History Month (February), there were mocking snippets, such as showcasing Jack Black (with “Black” being his real last name).

Writers received the first honors of the night, with “Spotlight” winning Best Original Screenplay and “The Big Short” Best Adapted Screenplay.

Best Supporting Actress award went to rising newcomer Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl,” who also gave a terrific performance in “Ex Machina.” “Ex Machina” pulled an upset win (although well-deserved) by winning Best Visual Effects.  Brie Larson, frontrunner for Best Actress, nabbed the statue for her emotional performance in “Room.”  Another first-time nominee, Mark Rylance, won Best Supporting Actor for “Bridge of Spies,” besting nostalgic-favorite Sylvester Stallone.

Something new this year, some of the costumes and set decors from nominated films were displayed on stage, which is a nice touch.  Sci-fi “Mad Max: Fury Road” cleaned up with a half dozen awards, Best Costume Design, Production Design, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Makeup and Hairstyling.

Best Original Score award went to “The Hateful Eight” and Best Original Song to “Spectre.”

Emmanuel Lubezki became the first cinematographer to have won Best Cinematography award three consecutive years; for “The Revenant” this year, “Birdman” last year and “Gravity” two years ago.  Its director, Alejandro G. Innaritu, also earned a win for the film.  He won last year for “Birdman.”  And it’s finally Leo DiCaprio’s year.  Having been nominated several times and lost each time, he was locked in this time for Best Actor and scored the prize for his extreme role in “The Revenant.”  He gave an eloquent speech and took the time to vocalize environmental concerns, a cause close to his heart.

To mix thing up a bit, Star Wars and Toy Story characters, and Despicable Me minions took part on stage for animated skits and awards announcement.  Like clockwork, Pixar’s “Inside Out” took home Best Animated Feature.

Vice President Joe Biden made an appearance to put a spotlight on sexual abuse awareness and asked everyone to pledge intervention.  He introduced Lady Gaga, who then performed a piano piece and song, “Til It Happens to You.”  The performance was capped with dozens of sexual abuse survivors joining her on stage and held hands together, a moving sight received with a standing ovation.

Best Picture award was a three-pronged wild card (“The Revenant,” “Spotlight,” “The Big Short”) and it came down to “Spotlight,” an important story that needs to be seen.

For a complete list of winners, check out the official site here.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Picture – “Spotlight”

Best Leading Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Best Leading Actress – Brie Larson, “Room”

Best Director – Alejandro González Iñárritu, “The Revenant”

Best Original Score – “The Hateful Eight,” Ennio Morricone,

Best Original Song – ‘Writings on the Wall,’ “Spectre,” Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Best Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”

Best Animated Feature Film – “Inside Out,” Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera

Best Visual Effects – “Ex Machina,” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett

Best Sound Mixing – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo

Best Sound Editing – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Mark Mangini and David White

Best Film Editing – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Margaret Sixel

Best Cinematography – “The Revenant,” Emmanuel Lubezki

Best Makeup and Hairstyling – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin

Best Production Design – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson

Best Costume Design – “Mad Max: Fury Road,” Jenny Beavan

Best Supporting Actress – Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”

Best Adapted Screenplay -“The Big Short,” Charles Randolph and Adam McKay

Best Original Screenplay – “Spotlight,” Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy

Copyright (c) 2016.  Nathalia Aryani.

Nathalia Aryani is a film columnist and has a movie blog, The MovieMaven( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at



Nathalia Aryani is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic ( She has a movie blog, The MovieMaven ( Twitter: @the_moviemaven. She can be reached at [email protected].

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