picture courtesy of: whatculture.com

 By: Mike Reistetter

On Feb. 28, The 88th Annual Academy Awards ceremony took place at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, CA, honoring the best films of  2015.

Comedian and host Chris Rock drove the predictable route of blasting the industry, accusing of Hollywood of being racist amidst the topical #OscarSoWhite Controversy. Despite some elements of his demonstration of such racism proving a bit awkward and contrived at times, the overall collection of jabs were done in a widely tasteful manner, channeling comedic resonance to exert powerful and undeniable realities.


Tom McCarthy’s investigative journalism drama Spotlight, about the Boston Globe team responsible for first bringing awareness to the sexual abuse of children committed by priests in the Catholic Church, secured the Best Picture victory.


George Miller’s fourth installment of the post-apocalyptic Mad Max film series, Mad Max: Fury Road, with Tom Hardy (Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, The Revenant) replacing Mel Gibson as the titular character, received the most awards of the night, nearly sweeping all of the technical awards, save for Best Visual Effects, which surprisingly went to the underrated Sci-Fi psycho-thriller, Ex Machina.



Brie Larson (Room) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) won Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, respectively. Larson was seemingly a unanimous selection, but Vikander, who arguably could have been nominated for her role as an a Artificial Intelligence named Ava in the aforementioned Ex Machina, faced strong competition from Job’s Kate Winslet, who had defeated Vikander a month earlier in earning the Golden Globe Award for the same category.


Alejandro G. Iñárritu did not shock most when he took home his second consecutive Best Director Oscar, following up last year’s Best Picture-winning Birdman with the dark revenge epic, The Revenant.


Perhaps the biggest story of the night was The Revenant’s leading man, Leonardo DiCaprio, a five-time Oscar nominee and arguably the most prolific actor of the past twenty-five years, earned his first ever Academy Award. Internet forums and meme culture rejoice as they can finally retire the array of DiCaprio media in circulation, related to his constant failure to win the Oscar, or even secure nominations, for some of this generation’s most praiseworthy performances.


On the other side of the spectrum, the most devastating upset of the night was Sylvester Stallone losing to tenured thespian Mark Rylance for Best Supporting Actor.


Stallone just last month had won the Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe for his seventh turn as Rocky Balboa, the character which first put him on the map in 1976, when his sports drama, the original “Rocky” film, won Best Picture. Returning to train the son of his former opponent-turned-best friend, Apollo Creed in Ryan Coogler’s Creed, Balboa seemed bound to help his real-life counterpart “Sly” Stallone win his first ever performance Oscar.


Rylance certainly had some powerful dialogue in Stephen Spielberg’s Cold War Thriller Bridge of Spies, but his monotone portrayal of a humble and non-exuberant Russian Spy facing prosecution pales in comparison to Stallone’s revival of Balboa, an American and pop cultural phenomenon, who proved he can still undoubtedly captivate audiences after five decades of on-screen heroics.


The 2016 Oscars were not the best, as far as television ratings were concerned. But broadcasting statistics do not change the fact that those who tuned in were kept entertained by the antics and ‘in-your-face,’ ‘twisting-of-the-knife’ humor attributed to Rock’s hosting platform.


While multi-decade box-office darlings and entertainment staples like Sylvester Stallone and Star Wars: The Force Awakens both came up short in landing themselves golden invitations upon the Academy’s stage to receive awards, the very fact they were nominated shows there is real promise for the often-discriminated against and overlooked ‘franchise’ genre. George Miller and his Mad Max: Fury Road crew can surely attest to this.