I'ma Let You Finish: These Things Must Win on Oscar Night

We have some thoughts on who should win Oscar gold.

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We're just three days away from the Oscars, during which we can expect second-time host Chris Rock to go all in. For the second year in a row #OscarsSoWhite has dominated the conversation, with zero black actors nominated in the major categories. Many have called for Rock to boycott his gig, but staying on puts him in the best position to make a statement. The Academy wouldn't dare censor him—imagine the PR nightmare—so he'll have carte blanche to lambaste the great white sea. Legendary talk show host Dick Cavett even egged on Chris Rock to be unafraid of offending in an essay for The Hollywood Reporter. And though he's remained mum on his plans, he's reportedly been testing out new material in L.A. comedy clubs. Anything less than scathing hilarity would be a letdown. So, while we know that Rock is going to get a W for the Academy Awards, we're not so sure what else will be winning big. 

There's also some hardware to hand out, and the Complex Pop Squad has many feelings about said awards. To prepare you for the big white night, here are our arguments for who should win the 88th Academy Awards. 


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Sylvester Stallone

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World of Tomorrow

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Oscar Category: Best Animated Short

How can someone watch it: Netflix or local theater playing Oscar-nominated shorts

When I describe a movie I love I usually use words like "amazing," "masterful," maybe something along the lines of "a cinematic triumph!", but Don Hertzfeldt's World of Tomorrow is of the rare life-changing variety. I've seen it four times now and each view has offered a wondrous dive into an ocean of feels. Seriously, like WAVES. The 17-minute animated short is up for an Oscar this year and it's also available to stream on Netflix, so there's really no excuse not to see it. Trust me, you'll be a better person for it.

On the surface, World of Tomorrow, with its stick figure drawings, pales in comparison to some of the other shorts that are in the running. There's much more complexity to the drawings/animations of the other films, most notably the incredibly detailed Bear Story and the shockingly brutal but beautifully sketched Prologue (not that World of Tomorrow isn't also visually captivating). But none quite live up to the emotional depth of World of Tomorrow, which is a hilarious, adorable, poetic piece about human connection and loss. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll have to see it again and again. (Fellow sci-fi animation We Can't Live Without Cosmos, from Russia, is a close second.) World of Tomorrow, thanks to the genius of Don Hertzfeldt, illustrates a futuristic world like you've never seen before.

The sci-fi short is set 227 years into the future, where people are cloned and live in the "outernet," not the "internet." It's a strange, geometrical world, but his pairing of classical music and vibrant colors makes it play out like a visual symphony. The film is about a present-day toddler named Emily who meets her future clone self, together journeying through different spaces and memories. (Toddler Emily a.k.a. Emily Prime, the cutest character you'll ever see, was voiced—and largely improvised—by Hertzfeldt's own niece while older clone Emily was voiced by animator Julia Potts.) On their exploration of this world together, we encounter a really poignant portrayal of grief and how one deals with the loss of loved ones. It's also about what it means to love and how we choose to do it and with whom. Hopefully we will all no longer fall in love with rocks.—Kristen Yoonsoo Kim

George Miller

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Oscar Category: Best Director

How can someone watch it: DVD

Judging by winning all the awards leading up to the Oscars, voters seems hellbent on giving Alejandro González Iñárritu his second Best Director Oscar in two years. They like The Revenant, sure, but they also love the story of how hard it was to shoot; it was shot in all natural light, see!. Many of the crew quit due to hellish conditions (or wanted to quit because of Iñárritu's demands in those conditions). They had to break for weather and wait for the setting to look the same as when it started in order to shoot the climactic ending. The lengths they went for art! Well, if the Academy loves that narrative they should've given Terrence Malick the award for Days of Heaven in 1978, when he shot a film in all natural light, most of his crew quit and people thought he was mad. Since Days of Heaven is a masterpiece and perhaps the most beautiful film ever, it would've been one of their best decisions ever. Instead all the awards that year went to the bloated Deer Hunter. Bloated is also an adjective I'd give The Revenant. Iñárritu is becoming irksome. He seems to revel in discussing the difficulty in shooting The Revenant because he bleeds for his art and if that story is told enough (and respected) it probably would get golden statue returns. So if Hollywood must reward someone for directing a very difficult shoot starring Tom Hardy, the perfect option is right there, not talking about how hard everything was: George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road.

And Miller had it hard.

Miller re-acquired the rights to his own 1979 franchise in 1995. He had funding, he lost it, he had it again, he lost it. That's not all that rare, (indeed The Revenant was in various stages of production for five years and had different directors kicking it around from time time, Oldboy's Park Chan-wook included). But Mad Max: Fury Road was always a dicier idea. The wheels constantly came off, but Miller stayed on track, reshaped his ideas... and never, ever let it get bloated. The Road Warrior hadn't had a film since the 80s. Miller, the only director of the original trilogy, hadn't directed anything other the real animals (Babe: Pig in the City) or animated animals (Happy Feet) since 1992. Heath Ledger (originally considered to take over for Mel Gibson) died. It was under consideration to be a 3D animated movie. Scrapped, scrapped, scrapped. When it was given the go to be live-action, production stalled twice, and even switched continents. Miller, perhaps a madman, storyboarded 3,500 pages, hoping Fury Road could be understood universally with minimal dialogue. He hired a feminist playwright, Eve Ensler, as an on-set advisor for the stolen wives.

After 138 days of shooting, 2,000 visual effects, Mad Max emerged as something more than cool—despite being one long chase scene. It emerged as an anti-war, anti-patriarchy, pro-plants, pro-revolution anarchic film with great action set pieces, stunning visuals, and something so off-kilt and not screwed in to how action movies are made now that it'll inspire filmmakers for decades to come. Mad Max could've been a disaster, and by all reports many of the cast and crew thought it was until they saw the film. The Revenant was made to win Oscars. Only one film looks shiny, chrome, and new. And it's the Tom Hardy film where Hardy didn't strangle his director. It's the guy who last directed tap-dancing penguins and mohawked poodles, and just seems happy to be nominated. George Miller deserves it more. It's not that hard to understand.—Brian Formo

Rooney Mara

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Edward Lachman

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