Last week’s 88th Oscars film awards weren’t much different than most other year’s: pretty people in very expensive clothing took an evening to celebrate a private industries’ accomplishments, while poking fun at the lack of diversity in the industry. It was a fun event; Leo Dicaprio celebrated his first actual Oscar after five nominations, Mad Max unexpectedly won six awards, the most of any movie in the night, and a bear showed up in the audience. So let’s quickly review what the movies and the roles that won were actually about, for those of us who have been too busy studying to see them:
Best Picture, Best Original Script: Spotlight (2015), directed by Tom McCarthy. It’s a film adapted from a real life team of investigative journalists at the Boston Globe that exposed systematic sexual abuse of children and subsequent cover-ups by the Catholic Church in the Boston area. It’s a very serious drama, as most Oscar winners are, and feels more like a documentary than a narrative at times.
Best Lead Actor: Leo’s triumph at the awards last night was thanks to his role as Hugh Glass, a fur trader who gets mauled by a bear and then is left for dead. Whether the real events this film was based on happened or not, most of the internet was happy to see Leo’s hard work finally get a shiny trophy.
Best Lead Actress: Brie Larson of Room (2015) earned her award for a movie that is very, very reliant on the acting ability of the two main characters, Joy and her young son, Jack. The film scored a 94 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes, and is definitely worth watching if you want a solid character-driven film.
Best Director, Best Cinematography: The Revenant (2015) shot with natural daylight and in the cold—a feat that is much harder than it sounds. It’s a very visually stunning film, so when you look it up later try and find it in HD. The director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, is a Mexican director, making him one of the few non-white winners of the evening.
Best Supporting Actor: Mark Rylance’s character, a Soviet spy in this CIA film about an American spy plane that was shot down over the USSR in the Cold War, is a typical Oscar nominee: a good performance in a drama, somewhat older and definitely white. Spielberg’s new historical film about the Cold War is definitely worth seeing, even if it’s just for the fact that it’s a well-directed historical film.
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, a Swedish actress, took the award home for her role in The Danish Girl, a movie about a trans woman which lacked a trans actress in the lead role.
Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul (2015) is a Hungarian drama, revolving around the life of Saul Ausländer, a Hungarian prisoner in Auschwitz, and his young son. Again, not a very cheerful movie but an interesting one if you’re into historical films.
Best Original Song: “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith isn’t quite Adele’s “Skyfall,” but we’ll take it.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short (2015)—another movie that feels more like a documentary than a movie, but starring Christian Bale and Ryan Gosling. It follows the story of the men who took advantage of America’s economic housing crisis to make millions, and is adapted from a nonfiction book of the same name.
Best Visual Effects: Ex Machina (2015), an apt title meaning “From Machine,” towed the line between robot and uncanny valley in this sci-fi film. While the film may not be as visually stunning as Mad Max or Star Wars, the android was a technological feat.
Best Documentary Feature: Amy (2015), the story of Amy Winehouse. Pretty much sums it up.
Best Documentary Short Subject: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015) is a documentary about the unfair treatment of girls in the Pakistani judicial system, produced in collaboration with HBO’s documentary division.
Best Animated Feature: If you’re one of the few that hasn’t seen Pixar’s Inside Out (2015), you’re definitely in the minority. Being both incredibly popular and the latest Pixar film, it was pretty much a sure win.
Best Animated Short: Bear Story (2015) is an 11-minute Chilean short story that is available on YouTube and Vimeo in English (or you could brush up on your Spanish, if you’re really dedicated). It looks very adorable, and a completely different story than The Revenant.
Best Live Action Short Film: Stutter (2015) is a 12 minute Irish short film about an isolated man in an online relationship, which sounds very relatable.
Best Original Sound Score: The Hateful Eight (2015), despite destroying a priceless antique guitar during filming, still took this one.
Best Costume Design, Production Design, Makeup & Hairstyling, Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road, the visually amazing summer dystopian, took home most of the awards, proving that reboots don’t have to suck (looking at you, Jurassic World and Terminator). Guess all those awards must be shiny and chrome now.