What a day, what a lovely day to be an Australian at this year’s 88th Academy Awards (aka The Oscars). Our post-apocalyptic extravaganza Mad Max: Fury Road took home a whopping six wins in the categories of costume, design, editing and sound. Although visionary director George Miller wasn’t personally recognised with a Best Director gong, it was further proof that that Aussies have their fingers on the pulse in terms of creating epic entertainment.
Hosted by funny-man Chris Rock, this year’s awards more than addressed the #OscarsSoWhite race controversy that dominated the lead up to the annual industry event, declaring in his tongue-in-cheek opening monologue that “you’re damn right Hollywood is racist!” Although laugh-out-loud funny at times, there was a dark and solid point to his speech, and he left a lasting impression when referring to the Oscars in the 50s and 60s having the same discrimination – “Black people did not protest, because we had real things to protest at the time. Too busy being raped and lynched. When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, you don’t care about Best Documentary Short!”
Like last year, the nominees this year were tight. Babel and Birdman director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was predicted to lead in the major categories with The Revenant, and it was almost a done deal that he would win for Best Direction and Best Actor – and he did just that. It was a long time coming for his leading man and fan favourite Leonardo DiCaprio (his sixth nomination so far), and humble in his victory, the actor used his big win to promote action on climate change. (And although The Revenant went into the Oscars with an impressive 12 nominations, it actually only walked away with 3).
Musical performance wise, it was a diverse range of epic songs. British chart-topper Sam Smith lead the night’s numbers with his Spectre Bond theme ‘Writing’s On The Wall’ (for which he later won Best Song). Pop-star Lady Gaga got the tears flowing with her emotionally stirring and powerful rendition of her original song ”Til It Happens to You’ from the documentary The Hunting Ground, where she was joined on stage by hundreds of sexual abuse survivors with the words ‘It’s Not My Fault’ scrawled in marker across their arms. Also, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl did a moving acoustic performance of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’ for the In Memorium section, which celebrated the industry’s late great talents, including Leonard Nimoy, Alan Rickman and David Bowie.
Room‘s Brie Larson – as predicted – trumped our Cate Blanchett for Best Actress for her role as an abducted young mother. Alicia Vikander took home the next best thing, Best Supporting Actress, for her role as the wife of a man undergoing groundbreaking gender confirmation surgery in The Danish Girl. Steven Spielberg’s spy drama Bridge of Spies was an upset in the Best Supporting Actor category, with it’s co-lead Mark Rylance beating Creed‘s Sylvester Stallone who was backed to win in the Rocky sequel.
Although most of the audience – and cast and crew for that matter – looked surprised, they shouldn’t have been, when Spotlight took home the coveted Best Picture award. Starring Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams, the film covers the Boston Globe’s investigation into sexual abuse by 90 priests in the Boston archdiocese in the early 2000s. Poignant and relevant (particularly here in Australia in light of the current commission and Cardinal George Pell), the win was an important message and stand for survivors, not to mention recognition purely for the fact that it was a bloody brilliant film. Period.
Full list of winners below:
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Brie Larson, Room
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
The Big Short, Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Spotlight, Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Mad Max: Fury Road, Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson
Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
Ex Machina, Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett
Mad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan
Makeup and Hairstyling:
Mad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin
Mad Max: Fury Road, Mark Mangini and David White
Mad Max: Fury Road, Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
‘Writing’s on the Wall’, from Spectre, Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
Foreign Language Film:
Son of Saul (Hungary)
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Live Action Short:
Watch the trailer for Oscar Best Picture winner ‘Spotlight’ below: