Monday Morning Critic – 10 Thoughts on the 2016 Academy Awards: The Winners, Losers (and Maybe Some of the Fashion)

MMC New>

You can see my predictions, right here, but this is the easiest column of the year to write as I can kick back, relax and watch the Oscars and give you the ten most pertinent thoughts I had on tonight’s events.

10. I don’t think there’s a more useless thing in the entirety of the Academy Awards than the build to it. Seriously … anyone who watches them in their entirety will learn absolutely nothing about acting, the craft of acting or anything about the films nominated this year. It’s the one thing that could make it a much better broadcast if they focused on what the ceremony is supposed to be about (the best of film) as opposed to what it actually is about (celebrity culture).

9. One of the stories that flew under the radar was that a lot of celebrities were wearing bracelets to campaign against gun violence. More power to them, I suppose, but I’d be more impressed if they didn’t have armed guards at every turn while doing this. Deadline is saying it’s incredibly secure tonight, for what it’s worth.

8. “Hollywood is sorority racist.” That was the high water point of Chris Rock’s monologue this year. It had some high points, including pointing out the amusing level of racism in even progressive Hollywood, but this wasn’t insanely brave. Everyone walked into it expecting Rock to say something, of course, and he did. But this wasn’t a “burn every bridge in Hollywood” kind of speech. This was a “I’m going to point stuff out but I want to work with other people besides Adam Sandler” type of speech.

He walked a fine line but coming out to “Fight the Power” was more powerful than anything he actually said. All he really said was things that most people think about Hollywood already. And for all the big to do about it in the immediate aftermath, and people labeling it a “classic,” nothing will change in Hollywood. The aftermath will fire off “hot takes” that liken it to an “emperor has no clothes” kind of moment but Rock’s skits after felt like rejects from a Wayans Brothers film. Throw in the rest of his skits, which were huge hits (and one was recreation of one he did the first time he hosted) and this was a hosting performance that screamed “Kevin Hart should’ve been the guy.”

7. Alicia Vikander won for the wrong movie. She was the glue that carried Ex Machina but got nominated for The Danish Girl in a more awards-oriented role. Brie Larson looked to have it locked down but the biggest upsets in Hollywood history always happen in the supporting category on a regular basis. It’s much more of a crap shoot and we can all just pretend she won for the right movie.

6. The Oscars were Shiny and Chrome! Mad Max: Fury Road won all the right awards it should’ve won; I didn’t think much of it as a film on the whole but it’s a masterpiece of design and style. It’s a brilliantly designed film on every level. Winning as many ancillary design and production awards as it did was what it should’ve won. Without a “five or more” rule for Best Picture it wouldn’t have been in consideration for that, of course, but the fact that watching the highlights for it made it look like a way better movie than The Revenant makes me want to see it again to be sure. The one thing Fury Road has over the rest of the field is that the people who liked it the most are the most passionate about that film. I also think it’ll be the film we remember the most from 2015 when all is said and done, too.

5. The only presenter or award winner that didn’t find some way to make a lackluster political crack was the Star Wars robots. I was half expecting C-3PO to make a jock about how Donald Trump looked like a Wookie.

4. The sidebar of “Thank Yous” underneath helped try to shorten up a still overly long broadcast, which was nice. Acceptance speeches focused on things other than the art of film, which was a bold choice, as opposed to trying to thank as many people in the limited time given. To be fair it also kind of gave the film a cheesy Eurovision type of feel on occasion, especially given a lot of the attempts at comedy, but it felt different which isn’t a bad thing.

3. Mark Rylance with a big upset … but not shocking considering Stallone’s reputation. Rylance winning was my upset special, as I thought he was terrific in an unexpected way, but this felt like karma catching up to Stallone in the same way Eddie Murphy was the seeming lock for Dreamgirls and lost to Alan Arkin. Stallone probably will wind up getting a Lifetime Achievement Award at some point but this was probably his last chance at winning an Oscar. Everything aligned up perfectly … and he still lost. Creed was the last great fastball in his fairly underwhelming career; Stallone’s high points are marred by the sheer quantity of terrible films he’s been in over the years. He had everything perfectly lined up; the great franchise that made him, the character he brought back, the young cast that he worked well with and the momentum of nostalgia. And he lost.

2. If Lady Gaga hadn’t spent what feels like a decade as a weirdo, trying to ape 1980s Madonna, we’d properly recognize her as a profound vocal talent. She absolutely MURDERED IT at the Oscars and whenever she has the prestige moment to do something spectacular she does. It’s amazing. I keep thinking if we didn’t have years of meat dresses, eggs hatching and other goofy things right now we’d think of her as an amazing singer and not as someone who inspired the dress code of The Hunger Games with an amazing voice.

1. Leo DiCaprio’s Oscar should be officially entitled a “Participation Oscar” because his performance really didn’t warrant it. He was the weakest of the five but he wins because no one wants an A-list Susan Lucci.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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