I predict an award season sweep for The Revenant. And, if this prediction is to come to pass, it will be very well deserved.
Those who remember my lack of award season support for Alejandro Inarritu's last directing effort, Birdman, (at least in the directing category) will be please to hear that I've pulled a total 180 in terms of recognizing this year's directing (producing and writing) effort as a job 100% well done.
Stories like The Revenant are hard to come by in today's modern cinema. A flawless, three act, fully-thought out script captured to perfection by brilliant camera work, acting, set design, makeup and seamless use of CGI. Each act allotted to its own hour which, in order, could have been simply titled as The Why, The Survival and The Revenge.
Although there were many other films to love this year, The Revenant as a whole was the perfect package. (And, since The Hateful Eight was snubbed in all of the big categories, I can now publicly throw my full support behind The Revenant.)
Here's my support of the sweep in each category:
Cinematography: AMAZING!!! I've been critical in the past of too-close camera work. (Beasts of the Southern Wild) But, today, while I watched the lens fog up as Leonardo DiCaprio's Hugh Glass painfully pulled in and out each sleeping breath... I thought to myself, "THIS is when you decide against the slow pan and just shove the camera right up in there!" Toughest Competition in this Category: The Hateful Eight. My eyes enjoyed both films for the same reason: The magnificent capturing of our nation's topography in the winter snow. Such a thing is much more appreciated on screen than in my driveway.
Visual Effects: I can already predict the Academy's choice of using "The Bear Scene" while introducing The Revenant as a nominee. CGI has never been trickier and it will be the right choice. Toughest Competition in this Category: Any of the other nominees (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Ex Machina, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) should have a fair shake in this category. (Although, that bear alone, should give The Revenant an edge...)
Production Design: Come on...
We may also need to give an honorary award to the continent of North America for this. Toughest Competition in this Category: Well, The Martian's team did create Mars and all...
Film Editing: I completely humiliated myself by being the only one in the theater to audibly gasp during the "Horse/Cliff" scene. That's some good editing right there, not to mention the epic battle and fight scenes cut to perfection throughout. Toughest Competition in this Category: Possibly Mad Max: Fury Road. This genre tends to do well in the technical categories and, although I haven't seen the film yet, the trailer alone has enough cuts to impress in this category.
Sound Editing: Fight scenes, battle scenes, bear noise scenes, hallucinatory Pawnee voice scenes, Leo grunting scenes... the ingredients are all there. Toughest Competition in this Category: Any of the other nominees have a chance at taking this one home. The fact that Leo's voice didn't always seem to match up with his lips might be reason enough for this Oscar to slip out of grasp and ruin a full sweep.
Makeup and Hairstyling: Two scalped skulls and a thousand bear wounds just might seal this deal. Toughest Competition in this Category: I don't know what on earth The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is. But, it sounds like something some aging techniques may have been used in.
Costume Design: Furs, suede, leather... all the classic Western elements were there. Toughest Competition in this Category: Any other nominee. I love when the costume designers are allowed to shine in films that are otherwise not recognized during award season. I will not cry if we take a loss on this one. (And, at one point, Tom Hardy had a fleece blanket thrown over him that I swear could have been purchased at Walmart.)
Directing: Alejandro, Alejandro... please forgive my criticism of Birdman's single-shot steady cam experimentation. Consider this full endorsement as penance. Toughest Competition in this Category: Not a chance he will lose this one.
Supporting Actor: for Tom Hardy's punk ass bitch... er, portrayal of Tom Fitzgerald. I absolutely hated him, so job well done. (I would have loved to see some recognition for Will Poulter in this category as well. If Leo was this picture's grit, that kid from We're the Millers was its heart. Maybe he'll be recognized with his cast at the SAGs?) Toughest Competition in this Category: I'm personally rooting for Sylvester Stallone as Rocky in Creed. And, no one's ever safe against Christian Bale.
Best Actor: I've been rooting for Leo's Oscar since What's Eating Gilbert Grape. This year is his best chance at being rewarded for his best role to date. Toughest Competition in this Category: Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl. I cannot find a more sensitive way to say this; but he went full trans at a time when it is very trendy to do so.
Best Picture: Add together all my endorsements above and this should equal a Best Picture statue to have and to hold. Toughest Competition in this Category: *crickets*