Review: My Ballot and Countdown (2015)

And just like that, my fourth annual Oscars Ballot and Countdown blogging has come to an end. And in bigger news: The Academy Awards are finally here! Per usual, in preparation for tonight’s ceremony, I am providing a review of my blog from these past few weeks. This review includes all of the winners of the 16 categories in which I have seen each nominated film/performance and have subsequently blogged about (my personal ballot), and it also includes my list of the “Top 15 Films of the Year.”

Get caught up on my picks, and feel free to look back over any of my previous posts this season, which feature much more in-depth commentary on each of these films and performances. Lastly, make sure to tune into the 88th Academy Awards tonight at 7:30pm (CST) on ABC, live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Enjoy, everyone!

My Oscar Winners:

Best Picture: Mad Max: Fury Road

Actor in a Leading Role: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)

Actor in a Supporting Role: Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

Actress in a Leading Role: Brie Larson (Room)

Actress in a Supporting Role: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)

Best Director: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Cinematography: John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Costume Design: Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Film Editing: Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Original Score: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)

Best Production Design: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Sound Editing: Mark A. Mangini and David White (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Sound Mixing: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff, and Ben Osmo (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Visual Effects: Mark Williams Ardington, Sara Bennett, Paul Norris, and Andrew Whitehurst (Ex Machina)

Best Adapted Screenplay: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short)

Best Original Screenplay: Alex Garland (Ex Machina)

Top 15 Films of the Year:

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. The Big Short
  4. Sicario
  5. Ex Machina
  6. Spotlight
  7. Straight Outta Compton
  8. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  9. Steve Jobs
  10. Creed
  11. ’71
  12. Room
  13. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  14. Beasts of No Nation
  15. The Martian

 

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Best Original Score (2015)

The Oscar for Best Original Score is awarded to a musical composer for the best body of musical work in the form of underscoring for a particular film. This is perennially one of my favorite Academy Award categories because in my opinion, music is essentially what makes or breaks a film. A movie is just a bunch of images and words, but with the addition of a musical score, the film develops feeling and emotion in a way that better connects with the viewers. The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Original Score:

Ennio Morricone conducting at the O2 Arena in London

WINNERThe Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)

2. Sicario (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

4. Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)

5. Carol (Carter Burwell)

Best Original Score

Best Original Score Nominees Johann+Johannsson+Theory+Everything+Premiere+eocuGB4PLOPlThe Oscar for Best Original Score is awarded to a musical composer for the best body of musical work in the form of underscoring for a particular film. This is perennially one of my favorite Academy Award categories because in my opinion, music is essentially what makes or breaks a film. A movie is just a bunch of images and words, but with the addition of a musical score, the film develops feeling and emotion in a way that better connects with the viewers. This year’s nominees include two composers with deep roots at the Oscars (Hans Zimmer & Alexandre Desplat, the latter of which earned two nominations this year) and two other nominees earning their first nomination (Gary Yershon & Jóhann Jóhannsson). Between the two previously nominated composers in this year’s group, they have received a combined 15 nominations in the Best Original Score category, winning one of those (Hans Zimmer for The Lion King). The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Original Score:

WINNER: Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything)

  1. Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
  1. Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner)
  1. Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
  1. Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Top 15 Films of the Year, No. 4 – Skyfall

Skyfall

Skyfall is a film directed by Sam Mendes, with a screenplay written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and John Logan.  This is the 23rd James Bond film and the third in the Daniel Craig era, preceded by Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008).  In the newest addition to the 007 series, Bond begins the film with an intense fighting scene as he is chasing a mercenary.  He ends up falling over a bridge and is presumed dead by all of MI6; however, when MI6 comes under attack by a major terrorist, Bond must reemerge from his hiding and help Britain’s intelligence agency hunt this rebel down.  As more details of the terrorist and his plot are revealed, dark secrets about M are uncovered, and 007’s loyalty to his superior is greatly tested.

In the third of Craig’s Bond movies, he and Mendes have created one of the greater films in this storied franchise’s history.  After Quantum of Solace, I began to think Craig would never make another 007 film as great as Casino Royale and would end up fading into history as another average Bond that could never measure up to the greatness of Sean Connery’s original portrayal.  That was until I saw Skyfall.  Daniel Craig clearly made a statement in this film that he is the best James Bond since Connery.  Mendes and Craig have included much more dramatic elements than previous Bond films, not to mention some dazzling special effects that make the terror and destruction in the movie feel real to the viewers.  I rank Skyfall as the second-best film in the franchise, ahead of Casino Royale (2006), From Russia with Love (1963), and Dr. No (1962), but I have put it behind Goldfinger (1964), which I still consider to be the top Bond movie of all time.

The cast that was assembled for Skyfall only adds to the sensation of the film.  Dame Judi Dench reprises her role as M, giving a stellar performance as a character she has played in each consecutive film since 1995, beginning with GoldenEye.  Another strong performance in the film is provided by Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem.  He plays the film’s villain, Raoul Silva, and portrays the character in such a creepy, disturbing way that it makes Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men (2007) look like the nicest guy in the world.  The film features some other great supporting performances by Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory, Ben Whishaw as Q, Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny, and Bérénice Marlohe as the newest Bond girl, Sévérine.

As this blog has proved, I am always excited for the Academy Awards, but this year, I have an extra layer of anticipation because the Academy plans to honor the 50-year anniversary of the first James Bond movie with a tribute to the legendary franchise, including Adele performing “Skyfall,” the newest film’s theme song, which is nominated for Best Original Song.  Skyfall is rated PG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language, and smoking.

Skyfall trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kw1UVovByw

Academy Award nominations for Skyfall:

Cinematography (Roger Deakins)

Best Original Score (Thomas Newman)

Best Original Song (“Skyfall,” music and lyrics by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth)

Sound Editing (Per Hallberg and Karen Baker Landers)

Sound Mixing (Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell, and Stuart Wilson)

Previous movies on the countdown of the Top 15 Films of the Year:

5. Django Unchained

6. Life of Pi

7. Amour

8. Les Misérables

9. Beasts of the Southern Wild

10. Looper

11. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

12. The Dark Knight Rises

13. Flight

14. The Master

15. Argo

Best Original Score

Skyfall Score

The Oscar for Best Original Score is awarded to a musical composer for the best body of musical work in the form of underscoring for a particular film.  This is perennially one of my favorite Academy Award categories because in my opinion, music is essentially what makes or breaks a film.  A movie is just a bunch of images and words, but with the addition of a musical score, the film develops feeling and emotion in a way that better connects with the viewers.  This year’s nominees include four composers with deep roots at the Oscars and one well-known composer earning his first nomination (Mychael Danna).  Between the four previously nominated composers in this year’s group, they have received 61 nominations in the Best Original Score category, winning six of those.  The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Original Score:

WINNER: Thomas Newman (Skyfall)

2. Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)

3. Alexandre Desplat (Argo)

4. Dario Marianelli (Anna Karenina)

5. John Williams (Lincoln)

And the Oscar goes to…

83rd Academy Awards, Oscar Envelope

Hey everyone!  The Oscars are only 19 days away, and this blog is about to heat up starting tomorrow.  Over the next 16 days, I will be updating this page with posts nearly every singe day.  Below I have provided a schedule of dates when I will post and the content that will be included each day.  This way, you can make sure to visit this page on any day that provides a topic that you are interested in.  These topics will include categories from my Oscars ballot and a countdown of my “Top 15 Films of the Year.”  After my Oscars ballot and list of “Top 15 Films of the Year” have been revealed, I will provide additional commentary leading up to the actual ceremony.  Feel free to comment and leave me any of your thoughts or suggestions.  Check out the schedule and make sure to follow all of the updates.

SCHEDULE OF POSTS:

2/6: #15 on the list of Top Films, Best Supporting Actress

2/7: #14 on the list of Top Films, Best Supporting Actor

2/8: #13 on the list of Top Films

2/9: #12 on the list of Top Films, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing

2/10: #11 on the list of Top Films, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

2/11: #10 on the list of Top Films

2/12: #9 on the list of Top Films, Best Adapted Screenplay

2/13: #8 on the list of Top Films, Best Original Screenplay

2/14: NO POSTS

2/15: #7 on the list of Top Films, Best Original Score

2/16: #6 on the list of Top Films, Best Actress

2/17: #5 on the list of Top Films, Best Actor

2/18: #4 on the list of Top Films

2/19: #3 on the list of Top Films

2/20: #2 on the list of Top Films, Best Director

2/21: #1 on the list of Top Films, Best Picture