Sunday, February 22, 2015

2015 Oscars Picks

Well here we are. For the fourth year in a row, I saw all the Best Picture nominees, as well as a handful of the other nominated films this year. Let's get started with my personal preferences in the Big 8 Categories. I have not ranked the nominees I did not see.

Best Adapted Screenplay
1Damien ChazelleWhiplash
2Graham MooreThe Imitation Game
3Anthony McCartenThe Theory of Everything
4Jason HallAmerican Sniper
-Paul Thomas AndersonInherent Vice

While the categorization of Whiplash as Adapted is silly, (according to the academy, it is "adapted" based on a short of the same name by Chazelle, that was made to sell the film after the film's script was completed) it is, to me, the best written of the four I saw.

Best Original Screenplay
1Richard LinklaterBoyhood
2Wes Anderson and Hugo GuinessThe Grand Budapest Hotel
3Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando BoBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
-E. Max Frye and Dan FuttermanFoxcatcher
-Dan GilroyNightcrawler

This is the first of a few head-to-head-to-head battles between Linklater, Wes Anderson, and Iñárritu, and the only one where Anderson has a real chance. I personally think this is the best place to honor Linklater's 12 years of work, but I have also heard good things about the Nightcrawler screenplay.

Best Supporting Actor
1J.K. SimmonsWhiplash
2Edward NortonBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
3Ethan HawkeBoyhood
-Robert DuvallThe Judge
-Mark RuffaloFoxcatcher

Another case of category fraud for Whiplash, as Simmons is as much the lead of the film as Miles Teller is. That said, he's also phenomenal and well deserving of the win.

Best Supporting Actress
1Patricia ArquetteBoyhood
2Emma StoneBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
3Keira KnightlyThe Imitation Game
4Meryl StreepInto the Woods
-Laura DernWild

Patricia Arquette was the soul of Boyhood. Stone and Knightly both gave interesting performances, but this category is not close. Meryl Streep was the third best supporting actress in Into the Woods.

Best Actor
1Eddie RedmayneThe Theory of Everything
2Michael KeatonBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
3Bradley CooperAmerican Sniper
4Benedict CumberbatchThe Imitation Game
-Steve CarellFoxcatcher

This is by far the closest of the acting categories, and deservingly so. Keaton and Cumberbatch likely took these roles assuming they would be Oscar wins, and both of their performances are deserving of recognition. And Cooper, who is now nominated for the third consecutive year, impressively became Chris Kyle and carried the movie in a way few could. But to me Redmayne's performance and transformation throughout the film stands slightly above the others.

Best Actress
1Rosamund PikeGone Girl
2Felicity JonesThe Theory of Everything
-Marion CotillardTwo Days, One Night
-Julianne MooreStill Alice
-Reese WitherspoonWild

Pike is a revelation as Amy in Gone Girl, while Jones' performance is not much more substantial than Knightly's supporting role. This category goes to one of the biggest problems with this year's Oscars, as only one nominee is from a Best Picture nominee, and she is undeniably the second character in that. My attempt to see Still Alice was derailed by a couple hours of shoveling slush today, but this is obviously not a real race.

Best Directing
1Alejandro González IñárrituBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
2Richard LinklaterBoyhood
3Wes AndersonThe Grand Budapest Hotel
4Morten TyldumThe Imitation Game
-Bennett MillerFoxcatcher

Iñárritu vs. Linklater vs. Anderson Round 2 goes to Iñárritu, who has the more clearly directed film the Linklater. Boyhood is more about the concept, while Birdman is about what you see on screen.

Best Picture
1Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
4The Grand Budapest Hotel
5The Theory of Everything
6The Imitation Game
8American Sniper

Birdman was definitely the movie I found to be "best," although Whiplash is the film I enjoyed the most. On the other hand, American Sniper was a well executed version of a film I would never love, while Boyhood just didn't hit me; I appreciated it more than I enjoyed it. But for the third straight year, no films I truly disliked.

That's what I would pick, but here are my actual predictions for what happens tonight, based on both my opinions and my weighting various "experts":

PictureBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
DirectingRichard LinklaterBoyhood
ActorEddie RedmayneThe Theory of Everything
ActressJulianne MooreStill Alice
Supporting ActorJ.K. SimmonsWhiplash
Supporting ActressPatricia ArquetteBoyhood
Adapted ScreenplayGraham MooreThe Imitation Game
Original ScreenplayAlejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando BoBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Animated Feature FilmHow to Train Your Dragon 2
Foreign Language FilmIda
Documentary FeatureCitizenfour
Documentary ShortCrisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Live Action ShortThe Phone Call
Animated ShortThe Dam Keeper
Original ScoreThe Theory of Everything
Original Song"Glory"Selma
Sound EditingAmerican Sniper
Sound MixingWhiplash
Production DesignThe Grand Budapest Hotel
CinematographyBirdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Makeup and HairstylingThe Grand Budapest Hotel
Costume DesignInto the Woods
Film EditingBoyhood
Visual EffectsInterstellar


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