The Espire Strikes Back!


Dear readers, it’s that time of year when I return to contemplate the cinematic cream of the crop, but alas I found myself disillusioned, disappointed and disenfranchised.

But before I, as a black British woman, weigh in on why oh why Spike Lee is boycotting the Oscars when he just got one (creating less diversity at the Oscars as a reaction to less diversity within the Oscars seems odd to me)…

A moment of celebration

If, as is likely, Iñárittu takes home the Best Director Oscar it will be the 3rd consecutive win by a Mexican Director. That’s pretty cool.

Brie Larson is an excellent actress and I was super pleased that she may well take home the gold.

Roger Deakins – he ain’t gonna win (that’s 13 nominations without a win – take that Leo), but damn it I love it every single time he’s nominated. And I’m not the only one.

Chris Rock is hosting – he’s pretty funny (he’s also pretty black – did they predict the backlash? Is the term #blacklash too soon?)

Leo DiCaprio will finally get an Oscar so people will now shut up about it.

The Star Wars Reboot went really well!

 #Oscarssowhite – #oscarssodemographicallynarrow – #oscarssomeh

I don’t think I’m saying anything new to say that both the Academy and the film industry at large has issues with not only acknowledging but also actively supporting and cherishing the other – be it in terms of race, gender, physical disability or sexuality. It is interesting that Milk was lauded in ways that Selma (biopic of an even more iconic historical figure) and Carol weren’t.  I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions as to why.

First of all I want to clarify that last year I felt that Ava DuVernay was snubbed and Amma Asante was overlooked and David Oyelowo was somewhere in-between and in the good company of excellent brit Timothy Spall and a fabulous performance by Miles Teller.

Based on my personal preferences this year many performances that are being deemed Oscar-worthy and snubbed I would again consider overlooked – but then when you are supposedly exalting excellence, to be overlooked in favour of others who gave decent but not exceptional performances will still burn and I am happy that the Academy are being held under a Spotlight (yes I went there) for it.

But overall the crop of this year’s best features failed to really move me (literally out of the house in some cases) and my most egregious snub in the films category is Inside Out for Best Picture. I mean that was undeniably excellent and original film-making.

Whilst it’s okay to whinge and whine in the privacy of the internet, steps are being taken and here are a few things I’d like to see:

  • The Academy making good on its acknowledgement of its lack of diversity (if you’re not there to vote you’re not there to be recognised) and we can be in a position of blaming both the mainstream and the minorities for not getting minority films nominated.
  • If the exhibition sector supports screening more diverse films – Sweden’s identification of films that pass the Bechdel test has dramatically helped reduce gender bias in the screening of films and their box office.
  • Every time someone greenlights Micheal Bay* – a film must also be greenlit with double threat diversity – film lead and/or director must represent at least 2 of non male, non white, non heterosexual, physically or mentally disabled. (*insert any crap derivative blockbuster here).  I’m going for balance here – there is still room for mindless popcorn in my life!  Even better – give me popcorn with badass diverse performance so it’s not always White Guy saves the day! (thank you Spy!)
  • I would honestly love it if for 1 year anyone who had received a nomination in the previous year wasn’t allowed to be nominated again and winners were ineligible for 2.  I’m genuinely curious to see what would happen.
  • An Esther Lisk-Carew nomination (screenplay – I’m working on it!)
  • Let’s face it several films (we’re talking half of the Best Picture crop) being nominated that I consider unmissable at the cinema.

The Big and Short of it (apologies I can do better)

It will be interesting to see whether my ability to predict the winners differs in a year when I have seen the fewest number of Best Picture nominated films in a long time.

If you’re curious :

In 2013 I saw 23 of the 53 nominated films and predicted a career worst 13 /24 winners.

Before last year’s ceremony I had seen 15 of the 60 nominated films (accounting for 44% of the nominations) I hadn’t seen every film in any of the categories but was only 1 off in Best Picture, Best Director, Film Editing and Visual Effects.  I correctly predicted 16 /24 winners (my best year was 18 correct predictions)

This year I have seen 10 of the 57 nominated films (accounting for 42% of the nominations). Again I hadn’t seen every film in any of the categories but was 1 off Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects.

I am not sure how much longer I will continue to watch the Oscars live, my interest in film has not waned in the least, but the show fails to represent much measure of excitement in terms of winners and the entertainers themselves so often fall flat.

That said, every year I am compelled to stay until the bitter end, fighting fatigue in the wee small hours of the morning. I also get great joy and satisfaction from the short film winners  who are often the most enthusiastic, unpredictable and emotional and wondering if they will be stars of the future.

Check out my slightly tentative predictions below – as usual I have placed some bets at the bookies, and as I said I didn’t watch as many as I could (but then I suspect neither does the Academy) so I haven’t included my usual should win & commentary.


Join me during the Oscars at @shegeekbham #abrummieoscars

Feel free to DM me a drinking game link to keep it interesting! I have taken the precaution of booking Monday off work!

*edited found one – clearly Melissa Kravitz wants to kill me.

For other perspectives on the Oscars & diversity, check these out:

Honest Trailers:

The Daily Show:

Elders React:

This is hilarious – but I also want to point out that African descent is not all minorities and other minorities fare much, much worse.  Also guess how many women have been nominated as Best Director? That’s right 4.

And the predictions are…(about 60% wild guesses, 40% reasoned analysis)

Category Prediction Maybe?
Best Picture The Revenant
Best Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revneant
Best Actress Brie Larson, Room
Best Supporting Actor Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight  Mark Rylance
Best Supporting Actress Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Best Director Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
Best Adapted Screenplay The Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay Room
Best Original Screenplay  Inside Out Straight Outta Compton
Best Foreign Film Jordan, Theeb France, Mustang
Best Documentary Feature Amy, Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees Cartel Land
Best Animated Feature Inside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera Anomalisa
Film Editing Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
Best Song “‘Til It Happens to You,” The Haunting Ground, Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
Best Original Score John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Best Cinematography The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Costume Design The Danish Girl, Paco Delgado Carol
Makeup and Hairstyling Mad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
Production Design Mad Max: Fury Road The Revenant
Sound Editing Mad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David White ?
Sound Mixing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson ?
Visual Effects Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould ?
Short Film, Live Action Bear Story, Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala
Short Film, Animated Stutterer, Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage
Documentary Short Subject A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy




2 thoughts on “The Espire Strikes Back!

  1. Much as I love John Williams, I actually want to Sicario to win best score because a friend of mine worked on the orchestration. Also, while I do admire Iñárritu as a director, there’s a part of me going ‘he shot that whole film in sequence, what a huge waste of money, directors should be accountable for that sort of thing…’

    And I’ll admit it, I want Fury Road to win in one of the ‘big’ categories. I’m ashamed for thinking like this, because I’ve always felt production categories are dismissed in the mainstream media in a way that’s pretty offensive to the people involved, but the fact remains that the public often only seem to remember the best film, best director and best actor/actress wins, so it would be nice to see them shaken up with something unexpected.

    • Thanks Clare – I honestly don’t think it’s shameful to want Fury Road to win. It’s one of the better films, balancing a wild ride with themes of oppression and a truly bizarre dystopian future. I really liked The Revenant – but my main critisms are “dear god it’s far too long” and I came out thinking – so it’s basically Gravity. So much relentless struggle, I’ve seen it before. It’s a fabulous film, and fills the screen really well but it’s pretty overblown and… I should just review it already!

      On the subject of you bias on the score – go friends! I mean that’s mainly what the Academny does, vote for their mates!

      Thanks for your thoughts x

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