“It’s not enough to succeed; your best friend must fail.”

— Attributed to multiple sources going back centuries, but also graffiti seen on a Hollywood wall, 1983.

Trump is winning; Rubio and Cruz are losing. The Hillary and Bernie Show (a new sitcom?) is overtaking our lives. But we’re in luck; the best drug in February is available. Here come the Oscars, featuring that most wonderful of questions: “Who are you wearing?”

Personally, I’m wearing Chanel pour homme.

The Academy Awards are Sunday night.

Here are my takes, for what they’re worth to you.


“The Big Short”: Clever, timely, plays up Bernie’s alley.

“Bridge of Spies”: A history lesson for people who have forgotten or don’t care about history.

“Brooklyn”: Irish girl meets Italian plumber and adds to the melting pot. A love story with a happy ending in a year without many of those.

“Mad Max: Fury Road”: Missed it on purpose. Haven’t we got enough road rage, violence and noise?

“The Martian”: And you thought getting stranded in the Arizona desert with a flat tire was bad. Matt Damon, call home.

“The Revenant”: Big, scary and terribly authentic, it will make you think twice about Maine’s bear laws.

“Room”: Missed it. I try to avoid movies about small children in peril. My newspaper has enough.

“Spotlight”: So you thought all priests were like Bing Crosby and Barry Fitzgerald? A powerful revelation.

“The Revenant,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu, will emerge the double winner.


Adam McKay, “The Big Short”

George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant”

Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”

Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”

Inarritu. Done.


Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”

Matt Damon, “The Martian”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”

Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”

Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”

I once saw the real Trumbo in Hollywood, and Cranston’s “Trumbo” was spot on. Michael Fassbender’s “Steve Jobs” was intelligent, powerful. Damon’s work was cute, but anyone could have done it; and Redmayne’s “Danish Girl,” too cute by far, so I have to give it to DiCaprio just for the extreme and intense workout, and fending off the sexual assault of a bear. DiCaprio.


Cate Blanchett, “Carol”

Brie Larson, “Room”

Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”

Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”

Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”

Saoirse was touching, the woman is gifted, plus the whole Irishness of the thing captured me. I love Blanchett, but it was just a walk for her. Rampling does dark better than anyone; but here, it grew tiresome from her first scene.

Jennifer Lawrence does tough chick better than anyone, but she needs a stretch. A nun maybe? No, I don’t think so. I’ll go with Lawrence.


Christian Bale, “The Big Short.” Always delivers.

Tom Hardy, “The Revenant.” Hardy was wasted. He’s a leading actor, not supporter.

Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight.” The new John Garfield, but needs a super breakout role before it’s too late, and too late in Hollywood comes very fast.

Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies.” A master of subtly.

Sylvester Stallone: “Creed.”

Sylvester has to retire Rocky. He seems exhausted. I know we are. I pick Rylance.


Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight.” Didn’t see it. Flagship pulled the film early, but based on previews, she’s electric.

Rooney Mara, “Carol.” A soft role, written to be underplayed, a difficult spot, to be set against Blanchett.

Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight.” Important part, but not showy enough to grab the judges.

Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl.” Underplayed but powerful, a role full of opportunities, and she took every one of them.

Winner: Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs.” Always good, but again, overpowered by Fassbender’s very strong work.


“Bridge of Spies.” Could be.

“Ex Machina.” Interesting, but a bridge too far on the weird.

“Inside Out.” Haven’t liked cartoons since “Snow White.”

“Spotlight.” Truth in big letters.

“Straight Outta Compton.” Came and went.

A story about Compton written by two white writers? Excuse me? I pick “Spotlight.”


“The Big Short”



“The Martian”


I’m betting on “Carol.”


“A War”

“Embrace of the Serpent”



The winner: “Son of Saul”

Best Cinematography

“Carol”: Ed Lachman. Anyone who can make Cincinnati look good deserves something.

“The Hateful Eight”: Robert Richardson. Previews looked great, but it vanished without a sound.

“Mad Max: Fury Road”: John Seale. Avoided it.

“Sicaro”: Roger Deakins. Missed it.

“The Revenant”: Emmanuel Lubezki.

Emmanuel is the only real artist in the group. Breathtaking artistry. Emanuel is the winner.

O.K. Bring on the popcorn and beer and let’s get back to the caucuses.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer. His book, “Will Write for Food,” is a collection of some of his best Morning Sentinel columns.

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