Full disclosure, I have not seen every movie nominated in the five major categories of the Academy Awards, but I have seen the majority and here are my five immediate reactions to the nominees.
1. Saoirse Ronan for Best Actress
I was thrilled to see Ronan nominated for her role in Brooklyn — loved her and loved this movie. It is the type of performance where you sit in the audience and say, “Who is this woman and where has she been?” I should probably hold off on my final prediction until I see Brie Larson’s and Charlotte Rampling’s performances. Regardless of who takes home the statue, I think Ronan is going to be a name we see appearing on the Oscar ballot for many years to come.
2. Mad Max: Fury Road as Best Picture
Really? It is hard to imagine that this movie was one of the best of 2016. The movie is the fourth in the Mad Max series, so an Oscar nomination is pretty impressive. Other sequels and prequels to get a best Oscar nod include The Godfather Part II and The Godfather Part III, Toy Story 3 and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Mad Max: Fury Road did get great reviews from both movie critics and audiences alike. However, I think several of the other nominees in this category are much stronger.
3. Matt Damon for Best Actor
The guy eats potatoes he grows in his own poop! That is pretty impressive — and pretty gross. Granted it’s just acting, but it is good acting, and this is a worthy nod. This role reminds me a lot of Tom Hanks’ role as Chuck Noland in the movie Cast Away in that the majority of the story rests in the character’s isolation from the rest of the world. At least Hanks had his trusty volleyball, Wilson, to converse with — Damon basically talks to himself for half the movie and the audience truly feels they are being voyeurs on his courageous journey back to earth. I do think Will Smith deserved a nomination for his role in Concussion, even though I do not think he would win over Damon.
4. Rachel McAdams for Best Supporting Actress
I saw Spotlight and loved it. Rachel McAdams was good in it, but I really can’t remember her doing anything memorable at all — not a pivotal scene or great monologue. Spotlight is a true ensemble piece where the sum is greater than the parts. In comparison, Rooney Mara shines in Carol. While the movie is titled Carol, Mara’s Therese is just as integral to the storyline as Cate Blanchett’s titled character. For me, it’s Mara over McAdams. While I want to see all the other movies in this category, I cannot believe I will be more impressed with another performance.
5. Sylvester Stallone for Best Supporting Actor
This is an amazing performance. In Creed, Stallone is strong, funny and vulnerable at the same time. The audience roots for him in his latest fight as much as we did when he stepped in the ring with the original Creed in 1976. The chemistry between Stallone and fellow actor Michael B. Jordan, playing the title character of Creed, brings amazing depth to Stallone’s performance. Stallone forgot to thank Jordan in his Golden Globe acceptance speech. Hopefully, he gets a chance to redeem himself on Oscar night.
So, I have my initial predictions — as well as a list of movies I have to get to before Feb. 28. What about you? What are your thoughts on this year’s Oscar nominees?