The 2015 Oscars (Updated)

Tonight is the night.  The 2015 Oscars have arrived and unlike any other award show they actually matter—my apologies Emmy voting board.  Unlike the Grammys, the Oscars may not represent that actual “best of” but they are not laughably misinformed on the topic.  Unlike the Tony’s you don’t have to live in NYC to actually see the nominees.  But unlike the Oscars, I’m not actually friends with any of the nominees so my unbiased opinion remains just that—an unbiased opinion.

Over the last few months I have watched every film nominated for every category except animated feature film, any short films (because they are essentially impossible to get a hold of), and documentary and foreign language films.

Overview:

Will Win: The movie/actor that is most likely to win the actual award

Upset: The second most likely movie/actor to take the award Oscar night

Should Win: The nominee that is actually best in its category (because we all know… I know all)

Snubbed: The movies/actors that were better than at least one of the nominees

The Big Boy Awards

Best Picture

By no means are any of these movies perfect.  Even the best of them struggles, some with hamfisted directors, and some with disserves to their female leads.  There have been many complaints about the films struggling with factual accuracies pointed most damningly to The Imitation Game, Selma, and American Sniper.  Some of the films have lackluster performances from key players and even more have distracting performances from second string characters.  All that being said these are the films that should have been nominated for the most part.  Some of these movies were truly breathtaking.

American Sniper

American Sniper

American Sniper is a character piece with none of the heart, trapped inside a war movie with none of the tension, which is actually two separate boogeyman stories with all the one-dimensional characters that usually come with it.  It’s only real charm comes from a stellar performance Bradley Cooper.  The film is basically just an American propaganda film with flat characters on both sides and if you don’t have the ra-ra-American spirit there is little in it for you.  Clint Eastwood continues his streak of directing films that would have been better suited for a 1950s America.  Not only is it one dimensional the pacing is hectic and the editing is a joke.  Cooper deserves a medal for carrying this movie as far out of mediocrity that he did.

Rating: 71/100

Birdman

Birdman

I’ve never been impressed with Alejandro Iñárritu’s particular form of heavy handed filmmaking.  But Birdman is a different beast entirely from Babel or 21 GramsBirdman is daring and funny and brilliant.  It was thirty minutes into the film when the long shot started to stress me out, you never realize how grounding the scene cut really can be until it’s just not there.  Iñárritu insists on drawing the audience into Riggan’s head which is why the whole film is staged as though it is happening in the theater.  Keaton is spectacular but it’s the supporting cast that steals the show.  The story is complex and enthralling just like the characters, few films in recent years have been able to do so many things so well.

Rating: 89/100

Boyhood

Boyhood

You can’t make a shitty movie over twelve years and try and convince me it’s good.  That’s not allowed.  It just means you took a really long time to time to make an awful movie.  It’s no one’s fault I suppose that the boy that was casted at five turned out to be a bad actor but the fact still remains that the main character was bad on screen—really bad in fact.  It’s a movie about nothing that is simply a worse version of the coming of age story that we’ve gotten a thousand times before.  Intimate Boyhood certainly was, ambitious—yes, well-done—not at all.

Rating: 42/100

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel_3

I was surprised by this nominee.  Not because The Grand Budapest Hotel wasn’t a great film but because it is not the typical Oscar affair.  It is certainly possible this is compensation for Moonrise Kingdom but whatever the reason, Wes Anderson and this film were very deserving.  Stylistically The Grand Budapest Hotel was this year’s most amazing triumph.  Long shots and zipping panoramas put the audience in a magical world that is decidedly non-magical.  The film is funny and heartfelt, and still manages to allow its actors room to impress.  The Grand Budapest Hotel continues Wes Anderson’s streak of fantastic releases.

Rating: 82/100

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

If you’re a fan, you’re familiar with my thoughts on The Imitation Game.  If you’re not: shameless plug.

This is what a war movie should be, take notes Eastwood and Jolie.  The Imitation Game is tense and suspenseful.  The film does an incredible job of representing stakes even though we never set foot on the battlefield.  Cumberbatch is captivating on camera and his chemistry with Kiera Knightly is one of the most impressive aspect of the film.  The writing is well crafted and punchy and tells the story of the most interesting man in history—which is certainly not a detriment to it.  But like any biopic the burden of its success rests on the shoulders of Benedict Cumberbatch who does an incredible job as Alan Turing.

Rating: 87/100

Selma

Selma

The biggest story of the 2015 Oscars—for better or worse—Selma, is the story of the Civil Rights Movement’s fight for fair voting laws in Alabama.  The movement lead by Martin Luther King Jr., who is played by the wholly underappreciated David Oyelowo.  The film is admittedly something you’ve seen a million times before but just like the romantic comedy or superhero film you continue to see it because when done right it is infallible.  And despite what the Oscar committee might believe Ava DuVernay has done this film well.  The personal story of a man who seems more than a man is a hard thing to accomplish.  While a difficult task she and the actors pull it off without a hitch.

Rating: 76/100

The Theory of Everything

Theory of Everything

The story of Stephen and Jane Hawking is one that I’m surprised took so long to make.  On the backs of captivating performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones the film plays surprisingly well for the first half of the film.  It is when we reach the third act when the film falls off.  Getting steeped in its own sentimentality the narrative becomes stagnant and draws to a halt.  The Hawkings’ story is a challenging one and it is hard to blame James Marsh for the short comings in the film.  All together the film is impressive, well directed and paced impressively not to mention the stellar performances from its leading and supporting casts.

Rating: 72/100

Whiplash

Whiplash_2

Now I can say, “I told you so” to all those people who laughed at me when I said Miles Teller was a great actor.  Despite picking some truly loathsome films he’s always been charming and capable of stealing the screen from anyone.  Whiplash is the first time in his career that he really got to flex his acting muscles.  Whiplash is a story of human limits, drive, and the price of talent and behind the impressive direction and writing of Damien Chazelle it is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year.  Whiplash fell in a hard year, in any other year it might have a real chance to upset the best picture race on the back of Teller and Simmons’ fantastic performances and impressive cinematography.

Rating: 85/100

Will Win: Boyhood

Upset: Birdman

Should Win: Birdman

(Update) Won: Birdman

I have never been more proud of the Academy they managed not to fall for the gimmick that all the critics went belly gaga for, and for the first time in a few Oscars actually gave the best picture to the best picture.

Snubbed: Guardians of the Galaxy, Edge of Tomrorow

Best Lead Actor

Theory of Everything_2

All the classics in showing here: mentally disabled, character piece, a little crazy, war hero, villain.  No huge stand out among the pack but Redmayne made Theory of Everything better than it ever should have been.

The Ranking:

  1. Eddie Redmayne
    The Theory of Everything
  2. Michael Keaton
    Birdman
  3. Bradley Cooper
    American Sniper
  4. Benedict Cumberbatch
    The Imitation Game
  5. Steve Carell
    Foxcatcher

Will Win: Bradley Cooper

Upset: Eddie Redmayne

Should Win: Eddie Redmayne

(Update) Won: Eddie Redmayne

I was sure they would give Cooper the award, but as was pointed out on the B.S. Report’s Oscar preview it’s probably in his best interest not to have won the Oscar.

Snubbed: Philip Seymour Hoffman A Most Wanted Man, Miles Teller Whiplash, David Oyelowo Selma, Andy Serkis Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Best Lead Actress

Two Days One Night

Everyone is just penciling in Moore this year despite the fact that there were actors who did far more with much less cloying material.  Felicity Jones was incredible but was handicapped by her character and Reese Witherspoon was way better than I ever thought the girl from Legally Blonde ever could have been.  But there really isn’t much competition here, Cotillard had the best performance hands down.

The Ranking:

  1. Marion Cotillard
    Two Days, One Night
  2. Rosamund Pike
    Gone Girl
  3. Reese Witherspoon
    Wild
  4. Julianne Moore
    Still Alice
  5. Felicity Jones
    The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Julianne Moore

Upset: Reese Witherspoon

Should Win: Marion Cotillard And it’s honestly not even close.

(Update) Won: I’m not surprised.  It’s the “career achievement” award.  But not so far as I can remember has someone ever been nominated–much less won–a best actor award for such a bad movie before.

Snubbed: Jenny Slate Obvious Child, Emily Blunt Into the Woods, Scarlett Johannsson Under the Skin

Best Director

Birdman_3

This was the year of big chances.  Linklater has been praised for shooting a coming of age story over twelve years but despite that the true champion in this category is Iñárritu’s Birdman he gets the more out of his small setting and star-studded cast than any filmmaker this year.  Wes Anderson does, what Anderson does best and in any other year I would have been all gung ho for him to get the award.

The Ranking:

  1. Alejandro Iñárritu
    Birdman
  2. Wes Anderson
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Morten Tyldum
    The Imitation Game
  4. Bennet Miller
    Foxcatcher
  5. Richard Linklater
    Boyhood

Will Win: Richard Linklater

Upset: Alejandro Iñárritu

Should Win: Alejandro Iñárritu

(Update) Won: Alejandro Iñárritu

Just so damn proud of the Academy, in case you haven’t realized yet, I despised Boyhood.

Snubbed: Ava DuVernay Selma, Justin Simien Dear White People, John Favreau Chef

The Little Brother Honors

Best Supporting Actor

Whiplash_3

The Ranking:

  1. J. K. Simmons
    Whiplash
  2. Edward Norton
    Birdman
  3. Mark Ruffalo
    Foxcatcher
  4. Robert Duvall
    The Judge
  5. Ethan Hawke
    Boyhood

Will Win: J.K. Simmons

Upset: Ethan Hawke

Should Win: J.K. Simmons

(Update) Won: J. K. Simmons

Best performance, gets award, that’s kinda how it should be.

Snubbed: Zach Galifianakis Birdman

Best Supporting Actress

Boyhood_2

The Ranking:

  1. Patricia Arquette
    Boyhood
  2. Keira Knightley
    The Imitation Game
  3. Emma Stone
    Birdman
  4. Meryl Streep
    Into the Woods
  5. Laura Dern
    Wild

Will Win: Patricia Arquette

Upset: Meryl Streep

Should Win: Patricia Arquette

(Update) Won: Patricia Arquette

Would I have liked to see Emma Stone win?  Yes, of course.  Did Patricia Arquette deliver a better performance–he admits begrudgingly.

Snubbed: Helen Mirin The Hundred-Foot Journey

Cinematography

Birdman

The Ranking:

  1. Birdman
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Turner
  4. Unbroken
  5. Ida

Will Win: Birdman

Upset: Not gonna happen my friend

Should Win: Birdman

(Update) Won: Birdman

Emmanuel Lubezki rightfully won for Birdman.  But there really wasn’t a chance anyone else was going to win.

Snubbed: Edge of Tomorrow, Guardians of the Galaxy

Writing Original

Birdman_2

The Ranking:

  1. Birdman
  2. Nightcrawler
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Foxcatcher
  5. Boyhood

Will Win: Boyhood

Upset: Birdman

Should Win: Birdman

(Update) Won: Birdman

I really should have given the Oscar committee more credit.  They’re really just not the boys from the Grammy’s when it comes down to it.

Snubbed: Dear White People, 22 Jump Street

Writing Adapted

The Imitation Game_2

The Ranking:

  1. The Imitation Game
  2. Whiplash
  3. Inherent Vice
  4. American Sniper
  5. The Theory of Everything

Will Win: American Sniper

Upset: The Imitation Game

Should Win: The Imitation Game

(Update) Won: The Imitation Game

Maybe I have a vote for the Oscars and I don’t even know it.  They clearly waited for my post to come out to make all their decisions.

Snubbed: Guardians of the Galaxy

The Middle Child Awards

Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel_2

The Ranking:

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Into the Woods
  3. Maleficent
  4. Turner
  5. Inherent Vice

Will Win: Maleficent

Upset: Into the Woods

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Update) Won: The Grand Budapest Hotel

I would have thought the academy just felt really bad for Unbroken and would give Jolie everything they could.  I was wrong, apparently Wes Anderson is far scarier.

Snubbed: The Monuments Men, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Film Editing

Whiplash

The Ranking:

  1. Whiplash
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Boyhood
  5. American Sniper

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Upset: Boyhood

Should Win: Whiplash

(Update) Won: Whiplash

At the end of the day Whiplash was basically a sports movies, and sports movies always win film editing–it’s rule or something.

Snubbed: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Makeup and Hairstyling

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Ranking:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Foxcatcher

Will Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Upset: Foxcatcher

Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

(Update) Won: The Grand Budapest Hotel

So just like… fuck Marvel movies in general this year? No love for one of the best movies of the year just because it made money took less than 12 years to make and didn’t star a gay war hero suffering from a debilitating disease destroying him physically and mentally while he fights for civil and social freedom while being haunted by the demons of his past?  That hardly seems fair.

Snubbed: X-Men Days of Future Past

Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Ranking:

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Into the Woods
  3. Interstellar
  4. Turner
  5. The Imitation Game

Will Win: Interstellar

Upset: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Update) Won: The Grand Budapest Hotel

It’s always easy to forget the Academy is not the critics and that they weren’t the ones blowing smoke up Interstellar’s asshole.

Snubbed: Hercules

The Red-Headed Stepchild Accolades

Sound Editing

The Ranking:

  1. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
  2. Birdman
  3. Unbroken
  4. American Sniper
  5. Interstellar

Will Win: Unbroken

Upset: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Should Win: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

(Update) Won: American Sniper

Really? This is the consolation prize?  Fine.  Although just between you and me Oscar committee, we both know The Hobbit took this category by a mile right?  I mean the opening scene alone.

Sound Mixing

The Ranking:

  1. Whiplash
  2. Birdman
  3. Unbroken
  4. American Sniper
  5. Interstellar

Will Win: Unbroken

Upset: Whiplash

Should Win: Whiplash

(Update) Won: Whiplash

Those brutal practice scenes would have been nothing without their editing or their sound mixing and that is a fact so rarely acknowledged.

Original Score

The Ranking:

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Interstellar
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Mr. Turner
  5. The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Interstellar

Upset: Mr. Turner

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Update) Won: I cannot honestly say this is a category that means much of anything to me.  But Desplat did a fantastic job with The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Original Song

The Ranking:

  1. Glory by John Stephens and John Lynn
  2. I’m Not Gonna Miss You by Glen Campbell
  3. Lost Stars by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
  4. Everything is Awesome by Shawn Patterson
  5. Grateful by Diane Warren

Will Win: I’m Not Gonna Miss You

Upset: Glory

Should Win: I’m Not Gonna Miss You

(Upset) Won: Glory

This one always just goes to the better story.  I thought Glen Campbell had John Legend and Common beat out narrative-wise.  But seeing all those tears when they announced it clearly I was wrong.

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