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The 88th Academy Awards took place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood last night, and the results were… interesting. A selection of films took home the awards, with no one picture dominating, but whilst this might seem like a fair way of distributing pats-on-the-back, it isn’t so apt for giving out gold statuettes.

The biggest winner on the night numerically was “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but having collected six awards from a possible ten, it’s slightly confusing that it didn’t take Best Picture. If you read my predictions then you will know that I didn’t think it deserved to win the award, but it seems a little farcical to me that it can win in six categories which relate to technical achievement, yet lose Best Picture to “Spotlight” when that film only won one other award.

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via independent.co.uk

“Spotlight” won the award for Best Original Screenplay in what was a pretty weak category, with the only worthy competition being “Straight Outta Compton”, but after that it was largely ignored; that is, until the big award reared its controversial head. After a quiet night for Tom McCarthy and his team, “Spotlight” was announced as the Best Picture, to the surprise of a worldwide audience. In the run-up to the ceremony nobody tipped it to make an impact, mainly because it doesn’t really scream ‘I am the best, pick me’. It’s a good film with many positive features, but nothing about it is particularly exceptional; from performances, to cinematography, to direction, it’s a pretty standard affair.

Nobody expected it to beat out the favourite, “The Revenant”, particularly after that film took home three big awards before Best Picture was announced (Best Leading Actor – yes DiCaprio finally did it – Best Directing, and Best Cinematography). The only other films in the discussion prior to the ceremony were “The Big Short”, and “Mad Max : Fury Road”, so the result really was a shock, especially given that those films took home 10 awards between them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that it beat “The Revenant” because I think that would’ve been an incredibly dull choice, but there were plenty of better films this year than “Spotlight”; “Straight Outta Compton”, “Room”, and “The Big Short” to name just three.

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Alicia Vikander as Ava in “Ex Machina”.

Strange choices were a theme of the night, as “Ex Machina”, an isolated low-budget science-fiction film from the mind of Alex Garland (“28 Days Later”), took home the award for Best Visual Effects ahead of huge blockbusters like “The Martian”, “Mad Max: Fury Road”, and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. This was another decision that had my mouth wide open, because whilst the effects in “Ex Machina” are admirable given its $20,000,000 budget, it isn’t exactly visually stunning. Alicia Vikander was mesmerising as a robot pretending to be human, and the set was pretty cool, but most of the time the effects were only effective (excuse the pun) because of how good Vikander was at playing the robot. Her movements and delivery are spot on, and ultimately it is her, not the effects, which make the film feel so other-worldly.

Vikander’s performances this year were rewarded by the Academy, as she won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in “The Danish Girl”, defeating her more experienced counterparts. I’ve already stated that I thought Vikander deserved a nomination for “Ex Machina” over her work in “The Danish Girl”, but I’m still pleased that she took home an award because she’s had a pretty great year, and she seems like she has a really bright future.

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Brie Larson accepting her well-deserved award.

Finally, the award that I was most invested in was Best Actress In a Leading Role, because I loved “Room” and I was desperate for Brie Larson to win. To my great relief and joy, she did, and I can now go on with my life with a feeling of justice in my heart.

Other Award Winners

Best Original Score – “The Hateful Eight”

Best Original Song – “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith (“Spectre”)

Best Foreign Language Film – “Son of Saul”

Best Documentary – “Amy”

Best Animated Feature – “Inside Out”

Best Supporting Actor – Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”)

Best Adapted Screenplay – “The Big Short”

Notable Snubs

“The Revenant” (Beaten by “Spotlight” for Best Picture)

“Mad Max: Fury Road” (Beaten by “Ex Machina” for Best Visual Effects)

Kate Winslet (Beaten by Alicia Vikander for Best Supporting Actress)

Films That Had More Than One Nomination But Failed To Win An Award

“The Martian” (7 nominations)

“Carol” (6 nominations)

“Star Wars : The Force Awakens” (5 nominations)

“Brooklyn” (3 nominations)

“Sicario” (2 nominations)

“Steve Jobs” (2 nominations)

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