“We are not gifting Oscar nominees out of a sense of philanthropy. We are gifting them for the same reason that they are paid upwards of $20m for a single film…because their personal brand has value as a commodity.” These were the words of Distinctive Assets founder Lash Fary in a recent interview, defending his company’s right to use the Academy Award’s trademark after having provided goodie bags each worth a mere $200,000 for this year’s ceremony, which will take place at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre on February 28.
The Academy appear to have overlooked the fact that these bags contain, amongst other trinkets, marijuana vapourisers, but that’s the Oscars for you – a tad weird if nothing else. As you’re no doubt aware, this is merely the tip of the iceberg; aside from the ongoing row/boycott due to a lack of diversity in the nominations, it has transpired that Leonardo DiCaprio has been enjoying all-night benders in London with multiple Z-listers in tow. Good luck to him, we say, especially as he’s just picked up the Bafta for Best Actor and looks nailed-on for the Academy’s equivalent, it’s just that traditionally the big cheeses tend to frown upon that sort of thing.
But enough of the bad and the ugly. It’s not often that the Oscars conjure up some FA Cup-style magic, but everyone’s hoping that the Best Supporting Actor category will do just that. 39 years after his double-nod for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for Rocky, Sylvester Stallone is looking good to take the plaudits for Creed, a movie that has achieved that rare thing by breathing new life into a much-loved franchise. Sly’s nearest rival looks to be Mark Rylance, the man we’ll see as the lead in The BFG later on this year. At the opposite end of the spectrum, Best Actress should be going to a relative newcomer, in the form of Brie Larson for her show-stopping performance in Room. She’s certainly come a long way since her debut on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno as a nine-year-old in 1998.
But there’s always one movie that’s tipped to dominate the night, and this time it’s historical adventure The Revenant. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who is favourite to be named Best Director, and his heart-stopping tale have made the afore-mentioned Mr. DiCaprio odds-on for the coveted statuette that has eluded him for so long. If, horror of horrors, he were to walk away empty-handed, it would be arguably the biggest upset in the Academy’s history. If The Revenant has any chance of missing out on a win, it would most likely be for Best Picture, where Spotlight and The Big Short are well worth an outside punt.
And of course, overseeing it all will be Chris Rock in his second outing as host – and if there’s anyone who can keep egos worth upwards of $20m a film in check, it’s him. Will there be any upsets? Leave your comments below.