UPDATE: While I’m pleasantly surprised that Spotlight won for best picture, it’s a Pyrrhic victory since Iñárritu won Best Director. Also happy to have been wrong about Rylance’s win.
I’m gonna go out on a limb and state what isn’t at all risky: The Revenant will win Best Picture at tonight’s 88th annual Academy Awards. I have to admit I’ve gotten into it quite a bit with friends and colleagues over this year’s nominees, but none has rankled me more than the best picture nod for this atrocious film.
Let me start by saying, SPOILERS ABOUND in this post. I have seen all the films this year and with the exception of Mad Max: Fury Road, I can’t say that any of the nominees are outstanding. They are as follows:
- The Big Short – Wherein Christian Bale goes the full Aspergers and everyone kinda sorta no not really feels bad about making billions of dollars off millions of people becoming homeless. I would agree this deserved a nom simply because they took what could have been very dull and gave us Margot Robbie in a bubble bath drinking champagne.
- Bridge of Spies – Wherein Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks do Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks (but Mark Rylance deserves the win for Best Supporting Actor which he won’t get*).
- Brooklyn – Wherein a girl from Ireland where nothing really happens gets on a boat and learns to apply makeup before landing in Brooklyn where nothing really happens only to go back to Ireland where she flirts with Domhnall Gleeson because, well, Domhnall Gleeson before going back to Brooklyn where she teaches another girl how to apply makeup. I think this movie is basically about how to apply makeup.
- Mad Max: Fury Road – Wherein George Miller makes his own remake that has nothing to do with an actual Mad Max, although Tom Hardy can be understood when he speaks, which isn’t often, which is probably a good thing.
- Room – Wherein a made-for-lifetime movie that you thought was based on a real event is so much less harrowing when you find out the story is fictional.
- Spotlight – Wherein a made-for-lifetime movie that you thought was based on a fictional event is so much more harrowing when you find out the story is real.
- The Martian – Wherein Matt Damon has to overcome an unbelievable personal calamity that leaves him stranded and alone and trying to survive.
- The Revenant – Wherein Leonardo DiCaprio has to overcome an unbelievable personal calamity that leaves him stranded and alone and trying to survive.
So why pick on The Revenant when none of these films is a stand-out to beat it? Because The Revenant is just so damn stupid that I want to pluck out my own eyeballs after watching it! Don’t get me wrong, I am fine with all different kinds of movies, but you know there’s a problem when a movie about a guy growing potatoes in his own shit on a distant planet is way more realistic than one “inspired by actual events.” There are so many things wrong with the verisimilitude in The Revenant that I could probably stroke out before I could enumerate them all, so I have limited myself to 10 things that make The Revenant the most preposterous and, therefore, least deserving film to win the Oscar in recent memory (and, yes, I’m even including Crash on this list):
- Every single arrow shot by every single Ree has GPS tracking enabled. I mean, these damn arrows will shoot around trees! Unless of course…
- You’re aiming at Leo. Hugh Glass is immortal. You can’t shoot him (with arrows or guns), you can’t maul him to death, you can’t toss him off a mountain, you can’t stab him to death… he is the only man in the entire movie who is impervious to mortal instruments.
- A well known naturalist and guide runs into a momma bear, and after playing dead gets her to leave him be. SO WHAT DOES HE DO NEXT, MY PRETTIES? He attacks the bear. Because, you know, the bear had left and he had to show us that…
- THE BEAR IS A METAPHOR. DID YOU HEAR ME??? BEAR = METAPHOR. GET A SLEDGE HAMMER AND POUND IT IN SO EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS. THE. BEAR. IS. A. METAPHOR. A metaphor is a something that is symbolic for something else. In the case of this movie, the bear is a metaphor for Hugh Glass, a man who will not give up once he’s been attacked or his young are in danger. The bear, much like Hugh, will go to any ends to seek revenge. And in case you didn’t get the memo about THE BEAR IS A METAPHOR, Dying Hugh’s compadres will skin the bear and for no particular reason whatsoever put the dead bear’s hide on Dying Hugh, who will wear the hide for 2/3 of this awful film.
- Always eat your bison liver raw whilst sitting alongside a roaring fire. Does it make sense? Of course it doesn’t. As none of this film does.
- An utterly undecipherable Tom Hardy (you thought Bane’s mask was the problem; nope! can somebody give this truly talented actor some elocution lessons STAT) kills people for no apparent reason (see the “does it make sense” part of #4) EXCEPT FOR HUGH GLASS. He lets Hugh live.
- A man mauled by a bear and practically bleeding to death in the frozen tundra gets up and walks away within minutes of his son’s execution. Had he gotten off his deadbeat a$$ an hour earlier, his son wouldn’t have been killed.
- The arrow in the backside of a horse will not send it sailing into a ravine. Just FYI in case you are ever in a similar situation.
- The Ree want to kill Hugh Glass every second of this movie but then don’t when he offers up a sacrifice to them. Does it make sense? OF COURSE NOT!!!
- People are completely unaware of their surroundings: First, there’s Tom Hardy’s sidekick who is literally standing over the dead body of the boy who has gone missing asking, “Where is the boy who has gone missing?” The French hang the only decent character (and the only one you care about in this whole story) right over a lean-to hiding Hugh and never look inside; wouldn’t one single soldier think, “Hmm… I wonder what’s inside this lean-to?” And then at the end of the film when Domhnall Gleeson – who just can’t catch a break in love or war – gets ambushed by Tom Hardy… I guess they didn’t notice the thigh-deep foot prints leading off to that rock he was hiding behind! Because you know… you can track someone in the snow!
The only slight silver lining? The cinematography on The Revenant is outstanding and deserving of the Oscar Emmanuel Lubezki will receive.
And there’s a wee bit of hope on the directing front: I think that George Miller will win Best Director for his superior film. I’m holding out that the Academy won’t reward Alejandro González Iñárritu with back-to-back Oscars (he won last year for Birdman) despite his film’s momentum towards its inevitable gold statuette. I definitely won’t be tuning in to watch beyond Chris Rock’s monologue (I’m sure it will be worth a few #OscarsSoWhite moments) and *probably Sly Stallone’s acceptance speech (per Forbes, the Best Supporting Actor Oscar will be the first award given out tonight). After that, I’ll head to bed with a teddy bear and the dream of better movies being recognized at next year’s ceremony.