Lisa’s Oscar Predictions For December!


For the final time this year, here are my monthly Oscar predictions.  Usually, the critic groups and the guilds help to make it a bit more clear what is going to be nominated.  That’s not so much the case this year.  It’s been a very good year for film and let’s hope the actual Oscar nominations reflect that.

You can also check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November.

Best Picture

Beasts of No Nation

The Big Short

Carol

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Trumbo

Best Director

Tom McCarthy for Spotlight

Adam McKay for The Big Short

George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road

Jay Roach for Trumbo

Ridley Scott for The Martian

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston in Trumbo

Johnny Depp in Black Mass

Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant

Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett in Carol

Brie Larson in Room

Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn

Sarah Silverman in I Smile Back

Best Supporting Actor

Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation

Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies

Michael Shannon in 99 Homes

Sylvester Stallone in Creed

Jacob Tremblay in Room

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara in Carol

Helen Mirren in Trumbo

Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria

Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina

Here Are The Very Confusing SAG Nominations!


Spotlight

The nominees for the SAG Awards were announced earlier today!  The SAG Awards are usually one of the more accurate of the various Oscar precursors.  Because so many members of the Academy are also members of the Screen Actors Guild, the SAG Awards are usually a pretty good indication of what films are on the Academy’s radar and which ones aren’t.  Occasionally, an actor will be nominated by SAG and then snubbed by the Academy.  Last year, for instance, SAG nominated Jake Gyllenhall for Nightcrawler, Jennifer Aniston for Cake, and Naomi Watts for St. Vincent.  None of those three received any love from the Academy.  But, for the most part, SAG is one of the most reliable precursors out there.

And that’s why so many of us are in shock today!  The SAG Awards in no way resembled what many of us were expecting.  Other than Spotlight, none of the film’s that many of us expected to be nominated for best ensemble (the SAG’s equivalent of the Academy’s best picture) were nominated (and even Spotlight only received one other nomination, for Rachel McAdams who, up to this point, hasn’t really figured into the Oscar discussion).  The Martian was not nominated for best ensemble or anything else for that matter.  Creed was totally snubbed.  Brooklyn was nominated for actress but not ensemble.  Mad Mad: Fury Road was nominated for its stunt work and nothing else.  Helen Mirren received two nominations, for films that hardly anyone (outside of the SAG, obviously) was really paying any attention to.  Sarah Silverman received a best actress nomination for I Smile Back, which I hadn’t even heard of until about a week ago.  It’s an unexpected and strange group of nominees.

Keep in mind, it’s not necessarily a bad thing that the nominees are unexpected.  Beasts of No Nation and Straight Outta Compton will both receive deserved boosts in their hunt for Oscar gold.  At the same time, I have to admit that I wasn’t happy to see either The Big Short or Trumbo nominated for best ensemble because I know I’m going to feel obligated to see them and they both look so freaking tedious and blandly political!  But consider this: if The Big Short and Trumbo are both huge Oscar contenders, we may face a situation where both Jay Roach and Adam McKay are nominated for best director in the same year.  I think that’s one of the signs of the apocalypse and, at this point, I’m kind of ready to welcome the end of the world.

Anyway, here are the SAG nominations!  Look them over and, after the Golden Globe nominations are announced tomorrow, update your Oscar predictions accordingly.

Best Performance by a Cast Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Helen Mirren – Woman in Gold
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
  • Sarah Silverman – I Smile Back

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
  • Helen Mirren – Trumbo
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Best Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture

Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series

  • Downton Abbey
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • House of Cards
  • Mad Men

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

  • Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
  • Jon Hamm – Mad Men
  • Rami Malek – Mr. Robot
  • Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
  • Kevin Spacey – House of Cards

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

  • Claire Danes – Homeland
  • Viola Davis – How to Get Away with Murder
  • Julianna Marguilles – The Good Wife
  • Maggie Smith – Downton Abbey
  • Robin Wright – House of Cards

Best Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Key and Peele
  • Modern Family
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Transparent
  • Veep

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Ty Burrell – Modern Family
  • Louis CK – Louie
  • William H. Macy – Shameless
  • Jim Parsons – The Big Bang Theory
  • Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black
  • Edie Falco – Nurse Jackie
  • Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
  • Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation

Best Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series

  • Idris Elba – Luther
  • Ben Kingsley – Tut
  • Ray Liotta — Texas Rising
  • Bill Murray – A Very Murray Christmas
  • Mark Rylance – Wolf Hall

Best Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Mini-Series

Best Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series

  • Blacklist
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland
  • Marvel’s Daredevil
  • The Walking Dead

A Quickie With Lisa Marie: The Campaign (dir. by Jay Roach)


Opening last weekend, The Campaign is the latest comedy from director Jay Roach.  The film tells the story of North Carolina Congressman Cam Brady (played by Will Ferrell), a Democrat who will remind viewers of such previous party statesmen as John Edwards and Anthony Weiner.  The complacent Brady has been in office for nearly a decade and he is regularly reelected without opposition.  However, when Brady accidentally leaves an obscene message on a random family’s answering machine, the multimillionaire Motch brother (John Lithgow and Dan Ayrkroyd) see a chance to replace Brady with a congressman who will essentially belong to them.  They recruit the naive and well-meaning Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis) to run against Brady.  While Huggins is initially an awkward and unimpressive candidate, his image is soon transformed by a possibly demonic campaign manager (Dylan McDermott).  As Huggins starts to move up in the polls, Brady reacts by having a nervous breakdown of his own and soon the campaign gets very personal as both Huggins and Brady go to increasingly outrageous lengths to win the election.

As a work of political satire, The Campaign is fairly uneven.  This is largely because, while the film raises some valid points, those points are still the same points that have been made by hundreds of other films about the American political system.  If you didn’t already know that the American political system was controlled by wealthy corporations before you saw The Campaign then you probably shouldn’t be allowed to vote in the first place.  At its best, the film reminds us that both the Democrats and the Republicans pretty much answer to the same corporate masters.  At its worst, the film’s “message”  just feels like a stale and predictable lecture that one might hear while visiting an old  Occupy camp site.

But if the film doesn’t quite come together as a satire, it does work wonderfully well as a comedy.  Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis are two of the funniest guys around and they are at the top of their game in this film.  Both of them bring such a sincerity to their absurd characters that even the most predictable of punchlines feel fresh and hilarious.  Zach Galifianakis is surprisingly likable and earnest as the painfully sincere Marty.  It’s no surprise to see Galifianakis playing someone who could charitably be described as a weirdo.  However, Galifianakis also bring a gentleness of spirit to the role and it’s impossible not to root for him.  Meanwhile, Will Ferrell not only manages to master a North Carolina accent but also manages to capture both the arrogance and the ignorance that’s necessary for a truly mediocre man to become a succesful politician.

However, the film’s best comedic performance comes from, believe it or not, Dylan McDermott.  Playing a slick political operative who always dresses in black and who, occasionally, appears to be possessed by the devil, McDermott is a wonder to behold in this film.  He steals every scene that he appears in and the prospect of his return alone should be reason enough for some brave film executive to greenlight The Campaign Part 2.

The Campaign works best when it’s content to simply make us laugh.  When it attempts to make a serious statement about the state of American politics, the film often feels flat.  But as a laugh-out-loud comedy, The Campaign is a definite winner.