Bun B is a big time cinefile. When reached by phone shortly after the Oscar nominations where announced at the end of January, the Texas rapper had seen every one of the films in the running for Best Picture save for one (Brooklyn), as well as a number of films that either received nods in other categories or were perhaps overlooked. Below are his thoughts on some of the year's biggest films, and his hopeful predictions as to who will be taking home a statue at Sunday night's ceremony.
Straight Out of Compton
I felt like maybe there should have been at least something in the sound categories for Straight out of Compton. Don't get me wrong, it's a great screenplay. They're not going to get best song, because these songs had been released except for the new stuff from the Compton soundtrack, but they're not going to get that, because unless they nominate “Fuck the Police,” the pivotal song in the movie. It's not a new song. But they should have given it something in the music editing kind of department, because the way it showed them breaking those songs down and how those songs are created—those things always get acknowledged: they get acknowledged in Ray and Walk The Line and all that kinda shit.
I think Straight Outta Compton is one of the greatest biopics of at least this decade, but I am biased on that one, obviously. There are some things the Academy gets wrong and it's important to call them on it. But in other instances, there are simply just better actors. They're doing a better job than they've done, but there's still room for improvement.
Fast and the Furious 7
Obviously movies like this don't get any love from the Academy. If they do, it may be special effects or sound editing or something like that. But you would be very hard pressed to find a song that sums up everything about a movie the way Wiz Khalifa's song does. The song made men cry. The song made a movie built entirely off machismo and created an emotional dedication in the center of it to a great actor and a good friend to everybody involved. You couldn't have made a better song to fit the sentiment, not just of the movie, but Paul's life and his connection with everyone involved. And I think that not even acknowledging that is sad and very tragic from the Academy.
The Big Short
I thought The Big Short deserved a nomination because Adam MacKay is one of the best filmmakers out today. A lot of what he does deals in comedy and he co-produces with Will Farrell, people don't really give it the credit that it deserves. I think that they actually do great screenwriting and they make great films, very entertaining. They took everything that we normally see in a dramatic film or docu-drama, everything that we conventionally know about movies like this, and turned it on its head and made it more entertaining and more engaging. This is a very pivotal time in America and I think families are still reeling from events depicted in that movie.
Everything with The Revenant they got right. The conditions that these guys had to film under? And I want to know who thinks they can shoot a better scene in the next twelve months than Leo DiCaprio fighting a fucking CGI bear. [Alejandro González Iñárritu] went from Birdman to this—these are incredible ledges that he's stepping out on in making these films. I think his only threat for best director is Room, to be honest.
Lenny Abrahamson is really the only threat to Iñárritu, simply because the entire act one of Room is amazing. I believe Brie Larson is absolutely deserving of her nomination [for Actress in a Leading Role]. I'm not sure if she's going to win, but I think this is a big moment for Brie Larson, I think her trajectory is going to go straight up. She's had a great run, don't get me wrong, she's had amazing films, but this movie itself, the entire concept of it as her as a mother and coming back and trying to assimilate herself in the child's life—Room is a beautiful movie.
I'm very surprised at Carol didn't get a best picture. Todd Haynes is an Academy darling, his period pieces are nothing short of brilliant, and they hold up. And I definitely feel like Carol speaks to, even though it's set in the past, it speaks to themes we're dealing with in life right now. It's really really shocking that it didn't get it.
The only one that I have to go and see is Brooklyn. I was surprised to see it get the best picture nod, but Saorise Ronan, she's very mesmerizing; she has probably the most piercing set of eyes in Hollywood. It doesn't surprise me that she could hold a movie like that. But I really need to see that because it's in competition and I don't want to call anyone an outright winner without having seen everything. It was a very small film and it was only here for a very short time and I wasn't able to catch it.
Even if I don't see Brooklyn I have to see Anomolisa, because it's Charlie Kaufman. No one is doing things that they should't be doing more in cinema than Charlie Kaufman. This is how I look at it: he had an incredible story that was going to resonate regardless, but just shooting that movie is too easy for Charlie Kaufman. So it's, how do we take this story that has a strong emotional center but present it in a way that there's always a bit of uncomfortableness? How do I make this something that they are never quite comfortable with all the way through? So I know that Anomalisa is gonna be one where I come back and be like, they owe the fucking puppet an award.
They're not gong to give Hateful Eight its credit now, they'll give it its credit later. Hateful Eight was too long. I think we've indulged Quentin so much with his monologues. Quentin has this very strong cult following around him and his projects, and people are always expecting so much from him; I think at this point, he's tired of living up to other people's expectations. I think as he gets older, Quentin is growing more and more into his directorial side, but the writer in him won't stop the pen. I don't think he deserved a directing nod. Like I said, it's beautifully shot—it's cinematography, obviously, deserves a nomination—but he's not the camera man. Just someone trying to shoot in 70mm deserves the nomination, and he's shooting interiors, like tight interior shots, for that matter. Obviously [Quentin] is the director and demanding the shots, but all credit for the beauty of that film goes to the director of photography.
I knew that Sylvester Stallone's involvement would outweigh everything else from the film. I think people went into Creed expecting a boxing movie and something that superficially ties Stallone in, but Creed was really well written. I think the whole nostalgia for the forty year gap for Stallone was bigger than the movie, but it's good because the movie still gets recognized with Stallone's involvement. I'm sure the director [Ryan Coogler] is still proud of his film, but it's very hard to nominate a director. And Fruitvale was exceptional, and more Oscar friendly.
You gotta remember that this is a Rocky film, and music in Rocky has always been pivotal. Meek Mill did a great song and it worked in with this movie. Future's song was really good! But there is a generational gap, I don't think [the Academy gets] the connection of certain songs in certain films. Maybe it's also not their kind of film. It's not what normally comes across the Academy's desk in December; it's not a prestige film, so it's not going to be looked at or considered in the same breath as prestige films.
Son of Saul
The idea of watching an entire film basically from one person's perspective—and not even really from their perspective, but [it's] probably the most intimately shot film that's in any of these categories. If you're not familiar with Son of Saul, basically it's a film about a Jewish guy who's in concentration camp, but he helps dispose of the bodies after they leave the gas chamber. So, you watch the entire movie looking at Saul's face and looking at his interactions with people. There are things that happen in the background or in the distance that you never see clearly, and some things you never see. So it's literally right in his world, it's hard to explain. It's extremely emotional; you're watching people walk in, you're watching people die. It centers around a child that goes into the ovens but survives the gassing. The child eventually dies, and he wants to give the child a proper Jewish funeral, so he's trying to figure out how to do this. It's extremely intimate and the entire movie is very intense. I don't know how it works, because Charlotte Rampling gets a nomination for 45 Years, which is a foreign film, but I think it should have been nominated for Best Picture.
I think Sicario [deserved Best Picture], everything about that movie was just incredible to me, The most taboo thing in film is killing a kid. Hollywood goes there, they touch on everything—I mean, we have Gaspar Noe—but this was different. Sicario draws you in as a movie that I thought was going to be an action movie, about the U.S. side and then seeing a drug dealer on the Mexican side and his plans, that kinda thing. But, no. This movie was super fucking political. And I live on a border state, Texas. It resonated with me.
Sicario was so fucking beautifully shot as well. Probably my second favorite shot—my first favorite obviously is Leo's fight with the bear—my second favorite shot of any film is that fucking five car caravan crossing that border. You seeing how easy it is for anyone to get into Mexico, and how hard it is to get out of Mexico. Just that tracking shot, with the helicopters and then there's a mountain shot in one of the jeeps and you see these federal police guys just flying through these streets in Mexico—I don't know how you pull that kind of a thing off.
I also thought it was incredibly well-acted. Josh Brolin murdered this movie, and Benicio [del Toro]—the monologue at the table at the end of that movie was one of the greatest things I've ever seen: I just knew he wouldn't, and he fucking did. That scene was one of the best acted scenes I've seen in a long time. And I feel like Emily Blunt got completely ignored in this one. Watching her go from this earnest agent to this abused, betrayed person was incredible.
And it's extremely fucking well-written, and it comes from a guy that we don't see it coming from. The director Denis [Villeneuve] is actually an actor (he's from Sons of Anarchy and he's a great character actor) and he's also a screenwriter (he wrote What Lies Beneath). It blows my mind to see when people from one sector move to another and excel. I think Sicario was one of the best directed and written films. It did get [a nomination for best] cinematography, though. Well that's justice, then.
I didn't like the tone of Steve Jobs at all. It was very ugly, kind of rude. I didn't laugh, it was very uncomfortable. It seemed like all the worst moments of his life. It was very critical of Steve Jobs as a person, and it didn't make for a comfortable viewing experience for me. But I guess I don't know who Steve Jobs is, and I guess I didn't know what I was gonna go see. I thought it was gonna be celebrating the rise of Apple, but it wasn't that at all.
I don't know why people don't acknowledge The Martian as a comedy. The Martian was funny as shit. Obviously it had dramatic moments, the blowing up when he had to start all over again—but The Martian was really funny. I thought [Matt Damon] injected an incredibly light tone that carried it through. He was like, "I'm on Mars, fuck it." You hear people talking about making the best of the situation... It was very upbeat and different for Ridley Scott, he doesn't really make movies like that. He [Matt Damon] pretty much carried the whole movie.
AND THE AWARD GOES TO...
Best Picture: Spotlight
The top two for me are Spotlight and The Revenant. Everything says The Revenant, but Spotlight is special. I think this movie would have been a lot more jumpy and fast-faced if anyone else had done it. This movie is very unassuming in how powerful it is. It very calmly, and very cooly, eats you up inside. I think if there's anything that will upset the Revenant run, it's gonna be Spotlight.
Best Director: Lenny Abrahamson for Room
I feel like the only person who has a chance against Alejandro González Iñárritu is Lenny Abrahamson. [The Room] was very awkward, very odd, very uncomfortable as it should have been. And then it became very beautiful. It tugged all the emotional chords beautifully.
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Géza Röhrig, Son or Saul
I'd swap out Brian Cranston [who is nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Trumbo] for Géza Röhrig, the star of Son of Saul, all fucking day. Brian Cranston's a great fucking actor, but not in Trumbo. Hell, I liked him better in Godzilla than fucking Trumbo. But Trumbo's one of those movies by Hollywood for Hollywood.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
I'm going with Charlotte Rampling. In 45 Years, you start out feeling so bad for her, and then it kind of shifts. I don't know how long you have to act to be able to say everything when you say nothing. The acting feels so real. It's not a fluke that a movie that probably no one's heard of, an actress performance comes out of it.
Can I just say, that I don't think Jennifer Lawrence deserves to be in this category? Joy is a great movie, obviously. She's a great actress and I don't want to take anything from her, but it ain't American Hustle. I think in an ensemble cast she will always stand out. But it can be tiring after a whole movie. Kate Winslet [for Steve Jobs] is the darling. If you wanna be the king you gotta kill the king. I think Charlotte is the dark horse on this one. No one does classic beauty better than her.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Sylvester wins, obviously. That's the whole point of this. We're all getting dressed up to go to the Oscars to hear Sylvester Stallone, let no one get this twisted. The academy can't pay for a better moment than this: this is the Oscar's original darling. I would have liked to have seen [Spotlight's] Mark Ruffalo win this one because it's another one of those movies where the acting is just so subtle, it could almost slip right past you. But this one's written.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Hateful Eight (and everything else)
It would be kind of ill to see Rachel McAdams win an Oscar [for Spotlight]—I don't think people give her credit for her range, she started in a kind of character with younger demographic-aged films and really made a push to be taken more seriously and got a lot of opportunities and knocked it out the park. But I feel like Jennifer Jason Leigh deserves one, maybe not just for Hateful Eight but for [Anomalisa] and everything. Like, I tried to watch Adaption again, that's rough!
Best Original Score: Hateful Eight
Hateful Eight is probably gonna win because Ennio Morricone is royalty. He doesn't really do this a lot and Quentin brought him back. Quentin basically went back and made his The Good, The Bad and The Ugly-kind of film, the ultimate epic spaghetti western, and then you've got mister spaghetti western himself scoring your movie. It's gonna be hard to not vote for him in a landslide. Probably the easiest win of the night.
Best Original Song: "Earned It," by the Weeknd for Fifty Shades of Grey
It should be Wiz Khalifa for "See You Again," but this is an amazing song and it's easily the biggest song out of any of the songs nominated. It was a huge hit. And really, I'm just happy for Weeknd as a person. I've seen the way that he's tried to remain true to himself throughout this entire process, and you could have done something a lot more accessible but this song is just as dark, just as sexual, as anything else that he does. Which makes all the sense int he world, because this is a very dark, a very sensual movie. This is the exact kind of artist that he is and I think that he complimented that movie very well. Kudos to them for even thinking outside the box like this, because the Weeknd was still kind of teetering at this moment, but the people in charge of the soundtrack recognized that he is an artist that creates music that plays along the lines of dealing in sin and having a darker side.