“Spotlight” Cleans Up At The Indie Spirits

Though it’ll face more competition tomorrow night at the Oscars, Spotlight won big at tonight’s Film Independent Spirit Awards.

The film beat out nomination count leaders Carol and Beasts of No Nation for Best Film, Screenplay and Director.

Carol, however, did pick up a Best Cinematography trophy, while newcomer Abraham Attah and Idris Elba won in their respective categories.

Tangerine actress Mya Taylor made history by being the first trans actress to win an award. After being ignored all season, it was great to see her get up on stage and accept her win. Someone cast this woman in more movies please! She has screen presence for days.

Room actress Brie Larson completed her major awards collection by winning Best Female Lead. An Oscar tomorrow night will complete her SAG-BAFTA-Globe-Indie Spirit combination.

See the full list of winners below.

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Oscar Predictions: Who Will, Could, And Should Win?

After a wild ride of an awards season that started out with so much hope and promise, only to end with major disappointment, Oscar night is just about here. Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio is assured his elusive first trophy, and unfortunately it’s come down to The Revenant and Mad Max with some heat from Spotlight.

Yes, the races have solidified pretty quickly; there’s a general consensus of who’s winning. But that doesn’t mean were in for a total snooze fest, right? (I can hold out some hope).

So, let’s get on with putting a cap on this season already by looking at the major races. Who will, could and should win? And who got snubbed?

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Best Performances of The Year: 2015

This year’s awards season started off with so much promise and a wealth of contenders. You had inspired choices like Kristen Stewart in Clouds of Sils Maria cleaning up with the critics, Idris Elba on the cusp of his first Oscar nomination for Beasts of No Nation and Michael B. Jordan having a true breakout moment in Creed. You had films like Chi-RaqThe End of the TourTangerine and Love & Mercy all of which were brilliant, but ultimately passed over in favor of mindless Oscar bait. In the end, the Academy’s narrow scope once again limited the possibilities of what was possible to a mindless lineup that required no imagination. In doing so, they saw the revival of #OscarsSoWhite for the second consecutive year.

But what if the Academy thought outside their narrow bubble? What if they used their imaginations and rewarded actually great performances, instead of the ones with the biggest campaigns behind them? I imagine we would see Mya Taylor’s brilliantly rendered Alex from Tangerine, instead of Jennifer Jason-Leigh’s half-baked “feminist” take on a battered woman in The Hateful Eight. Or maybe Benicio Del Toro’s menacing Alejandro from Sicario over Christian Bale’s hammy, phoned in performance in The Big Short.

2015 gave us so many amazing films with fully realized performances, that still live on despite the Academy’s ignorance.

Here’s my acting ballot. Who really deserved a nomination this year. 

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“The Revenant” Wins Big At The BAFTAS

I don’t know how we got here, but it would seem like The Revenant has got the best chance at winning Best Picture at the Oscars.

The film showed a surprising strength after leading the nomination count with The Academy last month, but there was still a strong consensus around Spotlight and The Big Short. And while those two films each have a big award from an important guild (SAG and the PGA respectively), The Revenant’s unexpected win with the DGA and the BAFTAs makes the heat around it seem that much stronger.

Leonardo Dicaprio’s star power is not be underestimated; He’s been cleaning up this awards season due to a lack of competition and the “it’s time” narrative. But there seems to be an extreme enthusiasm for the film outside of Leo’s work, and director Iñárritu’s win for Birdman last year doesn’t seem to be slowing the momentum down whatsoever.

It’s clearly between The Big Short, Spotlight and The Revenant for the win; a photo finish. Each have their appeal, but if you had to ask me which film stood the best chance at winning right now, I’d say The Revenant. It has the actors, the directors, and the various crafts behind it. And while there’s a case to be made for Mad Max: Fury Road, I’m not sure there’s been enough enthusiasm from the guilds (in terms of wins) to justify that theory.

There’s always room for surprises however; I think it’s been too crazy of a year to have The Revenant take home the gold. When I say it’s going to win, that’s what the stats would suggest. My heart tells me Mad Max: Fury Road is going to win due to a 3-way split. There’s no sure way to say with how spread out the awards have been. This will be one of those years where it won’t be revealed until Oscar night.

Take a look below at the full list of winners from the BAFTAs below.

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“Spotlight” Gets A Boost At The SAG Awards

After losing Best Picture at the Producer’s Guild Awards last week, Spotlight got a bump after winning the top prize over The Big Short at the Screen Actor’s Guild this evening.

Seeing as the actors are the largest voting body in the Academy, this is pretty substantial. However, the Best Ensemble prize matches with Oscar’s Best Picture choice less than the PGA’s award has in the past. Films like The Help have won with SAG and gone on to lose the Oscar, so it isn’t always a sure thing.

It’ll be interesting to see how the other guilds vote, and how much of the absence of Mad Max here plays out with the Academy.

In the other categories, Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander and Leonardo DiCaprio predictably won, while Idris Elba unexpectedly (and deservedly) won in Supporting Actor.

Though he was snubbed for an Oscar, it was his first major win of the season (and his first of two wins tonight). Presumed frontrunner, Sylvester Stallone, was not nominated tonight. Though it did rub salt in the wound of Elba’s snub, I was happy to see him get a win. He’s clearly beloved by his peers, and it’s time the industry as a whole took notice of that.

Take a look at the full list of winners from tonight, below.

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The 10 Best Movies Of 2015

There was a lot to see this year at the movies, and looking back at everything I’ve seen, it’s a fool’s errand to try and list 10 of the best films. Even some of the ones I wasn’t crazy about had some absolutely amazing aspects that left me stunned. From Charlize Theron completely owning every bit of the amazingly crazy Mad Max: Fury Road, to Saoirse Ronan’s growing into a leading lady before our very eyes in Brooklyn, and of course the immaculately constructed “Carol” (Is there anything Cate Blanchett can’t do?). The Martian came close to dismantling the record Gravity set just 2 years ago, while Johnny Depp found his way back to critical acclaim, and the Rocky franchise found new life in director Ryan Coogler and star Michael B. Jordan. Oh, yeah, maybe you heard about that little indie movie called Star Wars: The Force Awakens that broke a dozen box office records.

So what films made the cut? And which films came close? Let’s take a look.

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