OSCARS ’15: Predictions for 87. Academy Awards

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Academy Awards are tomorrow, and here is my best stab at what might happen, what I wish happens and why. I did not go over all the categories, just the ones I love to look into. So, here we go.

BEST PICTURE

Birdman

Boyhood

Selma

Theory of Everything

The Imitation Game

The Grand Budapest Hotel

American Sniper

Whiplash

boyhood

The race has never been closer – Boyhood or Birdman? No one can really tell. Boyhood won the BAFTA. Birdman swept the guild awards. Boyhood started as fan favorite early on while Birdman came out of nowhere. Boyhood is an average film at best sold under the pretenses of a grand experiment, which fell flat due to its boring screenplay, unimaginative characters and uncharismatic male lead. Yes I know, it is a nostalgic film about childhood and growing up, but, the problem is, as a child of divorced parents, who moved as well, changed schools and so on, I don’t remember my childhood to be so boring, mundane and bleak. I remember laughing, dreaming, wanting, smiling, screaming, climbing, yearning, being full of life and hope, none of the things which I discovered in Mason, who seemed like the most lifeless boy that ever lived. Birdman, on the other hand, is a masterful achievement, which lost its perfect ending due to the copyright controversy and unavailability of Johnny Depp. Therefore, I will go with The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s best film thus far. Oh what a delight that would be!

Will win: Boyhood or Birdman *fingers crossed*

Should win: Birdman or The Grand Budapest Hotel

Doesn’t belong here: Boyhood, The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything

Should’ve been here: Gone Girl, Inherent Vice, Under the Skin

DIRECTING

Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Birdman

Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

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Boyhood would not even be in the contest if it weren’t for Richard Linklater and his “original, once in a lifetime” experiment. However, is this enough to win him the award? Is it fair? Is it a right thing to do? I certainly hope not. Then there is Whiplash, Chazelle’s second film if I am not mistaken. Directing is precisely what makes people go crazy about this achievement. Yes, Simmons and Teller were also great but their acting skills are not what makes this film so loved. It is directing. Hands down. But, as it turns out, even amongst the greats there is always that one that is just better and for me that is Inarritu’s Birdman. By comparison, unfortunately Whiplash had some fallouts, which Birdman did not. Granted these are two different films that tell a different story (or do they?!), however, I am looking at them from within their own private micro universes. And in these “micro universes” Chazelle has made some mistakes whereas Inarritu did not. Especially if we are thinking about Whiplash in the terms of “a musical film”. In fact, looking back, I am still not sure what Whiplash was about. If it was indeed about music, then it was terrible. If it was about student/teacher relationship then The Master was by far better. If it was about one’s wish to become one of the greats even at the cost of loosing everything and everyone that matter then The Social Network is far superior. Neither The Master nor The Social Network got crowned with the title of Best Directing even though they have dealt with a particular idea clearly and with surgical precision. Moreover, they have done it in a flawless fashion. And it is in this respect that Whiplash stayed somewhat incomplete or sketchy. Simply put, it wanted more than it could achieve. So, I am going to go with Inarritu, who is by far the strongest contender here. On the other hand, if you want to bet on a dark horse, then by all means go with Anderson and his brilliant The Grand Budapest Hotel. Just like in the previous category, I believe Anderson absolutely stands a chance and might be a delightful surprise of the evening. Unfortunately for Bennett Miller and his Foxcatcher, he didn’t stand a chance from the get go. And as for Morten Tyldum, I am guessing you wonder what is he doing here in the first place. Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Will win: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu

Should win: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu

Doesn’t belong here: Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Should’ve been here: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), David Fincher (Gone Girl)

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

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Every year, this category proves to be more difficult than the others, unless Daniel Day Lewis is one of the nominees, that is. Fortunately for Keaton, Redmayne, Cumberbatch, Carell and Cooper, this year he is not, which opens a possibility for a debate. Who could or should win? They were all absolutely brilliant. Granted, some more than the others, like Michael Keaton who made a comeback for the ages. Bravo! Cumberbatch was good as always. Redmayne better than usual. Carell was mostly make-up. And then there is Bradley Cooper. Interestingly enough, it took David O. Russel to show us that Cooper can actually act (just remember Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, my favorite Cooper edition) but I will dare to say that Clint Eastwood managed to bring out even more by showing us how great of an actor he actually is. I know I know. How dare I say Redmayne was better than usual?! He was remarkable. Yes he was…but Theory of Everything was not a very remarkable film. And Redmayne has played a character who already won an Oscar for Rain Man, My left Foot, Forest Gump and so on. With this in mind, Redmayne is like Sean Penn, who did not win an Oscar for his role in I am Sam. And Sean Penn was better. I am not sure if my attitude towards this particular performance comes of as shocking but I will remain unapologetic about it. In fact, what I find truly shocking is that Fiennes, Gyllenhaal and Oyelowo got snubbed. I mean, what were the members of Academy thinking?!

Will win: Eddie Redmayne 

Should win: Michael Keaton

Doesn’t belong here: Steve Carell

Should’ve been here: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), David Oyelowo (Selma)

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night

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Give Julianne Moore her Oscar already! Although, in all honesty, Pike and Cotillard deserve it more this year. Speaking of merits, what is Felicity Jones doing here? What happened to Scarlet Johansson and Kim Dickens, who were absolutely wonderful in Under the Skin and Gone Girl, respectively?!

Will win: Julianne Moore

Should win: Rosamund Pike or Marion Cotilard

Doesn’t belong here: Felicity Jones

Should’ve been here: Kim Dickens (Gone Girl) and Scarlet Johansson (Under the Skin)

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Edward Norton, Birdman

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

Robert Duvall, The Judge

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J.K. Simmons will win it. No question about it. And yes, he was good. In fact, he was great. No, he was spectacular. In comparison to Ethan Hawke (who apparently had strayed into this category) Simmons is an easy choice. Even compared to Mark Ruffalo, who was terrific in Foxcatcher, Simmons is an easy choice. I don’t know what Duvall is doing here so I will skip him altogether. So with Hawke, Ruffalo and Duvall out of the picture, the problem still remains. The problem being that as good as Simmons was in Whiplash, Norton was better in Birdman.

Or, let me put it like this: Most of A list Hollywood actors could play the role of Terence Fletcher (Daniel Day Lewis, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joaquin Phoenix, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender, Denzel Washington, Willem Dafoe, Ralph Fiennes, Christoph Waltz, Jack Nicholson just to name more than a few). Edward Norton included. On the other hand, not everyone could play the role of Mike Shiner. J.K. Simmons certainly could not.

Will win: J.K. Simmons

Should win: Edward Norton

Doesn’t belong here: Ethan Hawke, Robert Duvall

Should’ve been here: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Ema Stone, Birdman

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Laura Dern, Wild

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What saved Patricial Arquette is the fact she got a nomination for a supporting role although, in fact, she played a lead, making Boyhood more her movie than it was Ellar Coltrane’s. Therefore, the role is hers to take. However, I preferred Emma Stone, who turned out to be a nice and refreshing surprise.

Will win: Patricia Arquette

Should win: Emma Stone

Doesn’t belong here: Keira Knightley

Should’ve been here: Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Birdman, Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Aramndo Bo

Boyhood, Richard Linklater

Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson

Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy

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Screenplay for Boyhood?! I will pass.
As in the category for Best Picture, here we have a race between two strong contenders – Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel – for the award as well. Just because I feel that The Grand Budapest Hotel, a film that gets stronger and better with each new viewing, doesn’t really stand a chance in the competition for the “big” awards my heart lies with Anderson here. The story in question is a dreamy, nostalgic (in all the ways Boyhood is not), extremely charming and rich text, which, from the look of it and the internet comments, the audiences across the world failed to understand. I guess, the context is what speaks the volume here, just like in Birdman.

Will win: Birdman

Should win: Birdman 

Doesn’t belong here: Boyhood

Should’ve been here: A Most Violent Year

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

American Sniper, Jason Hall

The Imitation Game, Graham Moore

Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson

The Theory of Everything, Anthony McCarten

Whiplash, Damien Chazelle

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Without much ado, and this must be said, Whiplash has quite simply cheated its way into this category. And to make things even worse it stands a fairly good chance at winning. If it was placed in the category where it belongs – Original Screenplay – the chances for winning would giddily drop. For those of you who are not familiar with the background story, Whiplash (feature film) is in fact an adaptation of a Whiplash (short film) meant for fund raising. I cannot remember if the Academy ever made a decision like this one before or are we in fact dealing with a precedent here? Whatever the case might be, during the process of determining the screenplay’s significance, the adaptation of Pynchon’s unadaptable novel should gain some priority over the adaptation of a short film into a feature since it logically seems like more hard work was notably put into it. Or, perhaps I am completely mad and my logic is flawed. A part from Whiplash, The Imitation Game is also a strong contender. But controversy regarding historical accuracy follows both The Imitation Game and American Sniper. Will this have any role to play in the long run remains a mystery. So what is the difference between these two? Well, American Sniper deals with the recent past we all remember while The Imitation Game deals with the past from which we have a sufficient deflection. But, come to think of it, if accuracy is of any importance for the members of the Academy then Argo wouldn’t have won the Best Adapted Screenplay now would it?

Will win: The Imitation Game 

Should win: Inherent Vice

Doesn’t belong here: Theory of Everything and Whiplash 

Should’ve been here: Gone Girl

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Robert Yeoman

Ida, Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewsku

Mr. Turner, Dick Pope

Unbroken, Roger Deakins

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Roger Deakins got an Oscar nomination. Again. This year marks his twelfth nomination (The Shawshank Redemption, Fargo, Kundun, O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Man who wasn’t there, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, No Country for Old Men, The Reader, True Grit, Skyfall, Prisoners, Unbroken). It is a streak that will most likely remain unbroken (pun intended). Mind you, he is an excellent cinematographer, who should’ve win his Oscar for O Brother Where Art Thou? or Skyfall or any other film he got a nomination for in the past 20 years or so but not for Unbroken. Not when he is up against Lubezki, the absolute star of Birdman. My only fear is that the members of the Academy will base their decision on the fact that Lubezki won his first Oscar last year for Gravity. If they do so (which would be terribly unfair) and if he somehow manages to lose the certain lock, next in line is Robert Yeoman for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is too a better and more memorable (especially visually) film than Unbroken. Besides, Deakins will be there again next year, and the one after that and the one after that.

Will win: Birdman

Should win: Birdman

Doesn’t belong here: Unbroken

Should’ve been here: Gone Girl

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Adam Stockhausen

The Imitation Game, Maria Djurkovic

Interstellar, Nathan Crowley

Into the Woods, Dennis Gassner

Mr. Turner, Suzie Davies

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Generally, I am a huge fan of Nathan Crowley’s work. But Interstellar is, for the most part, a rip of…Yes, it is meant to be an homage (to Space Odyssey among others) but somehow along the lines it became an act of plagiarism instead. The rest of the nominees do not come even close to Adam Stockhausen’s masterful scene design. I enjoyed every little bit of Anderson’s recognizable visuals, which is just one of the reasons he is more of an auteur than a Hollywood director. Now, it is a whole different thing if you don’t like how The Grand Budapest Hotel looks. That is the matter of taste. The fact that visually this film is superior to the rest is not.

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Doesn’t belong here: Interstellar

Should’ve been here: Birdman

BEST FILM EDITING

American Sniper, Joel Cox and Gary Roach

Boyhood, Sandra Adair

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Barney Pilling

The Imitation Game, William Goldenberg

Whiplash, Tom Cross

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I guess Boyhood deserves this one.

Will win: Boyhood

Should win: Whiplash

Doesn’t belong here: The Imitation Game

Should’ve been here: Birdman

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat

The Imitation Game, Alexandre Desplat

Interstellar, Hans Zimmer

Mr. Turner, Gary Yershon

The Theory of Everything, Johann Johannsson

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Of all the things Hans Zimmer has done so far, original score for Interstellar is the worst. On top of the poor quality it also completely dominated (not to say destroyed) the film, annulling the diegetic sound altogether. Desplat got two nominations and I am crossing my fingers for him. The one I would prefer is of course The Grand Budapest Hotel, but, The Theory of Everything must win something, so why not original score? It seems the least painful.

Will win: The Theory of Everything

Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Doesn’t belong here: Interstellar

Should’ve been here: Gone Girl

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Big Hero Six

The Boxtrolls

How to Train your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Princess Kaguya

Baymax

No The Lego movie?! Booo!

Will win: Big Hero 6

Should win: Big Hero 6

Doesn’t belong here: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Should’ve been here: The Lego Movie

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Citizenfour, Laura Poitras

Finding Vivian Maier, John Maloof and Charlie Siskel

Last Days in Vietnam, Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester

The Salt of the Earth, Wim Wenders

Virunga, Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegra

citizen

I haven’t seen all of the contenders in this category but I have seen Citizenfour. And if you have seen it as well then you know that that is enough. Citizenfour is not just extremely well made documentary, it is also relevant to each and every one of us and NOW, it is a brave film told in real time!!! by a brave director about even braver former NSA employer. You all know the story, but what you don’t know is that the story was being recorded as we were seeing it happen before our very own eyes. And whatever you know, or you think you know, or you imagine, nothing, but I mean nothing can prepare you for what you are about to witness head on in the 114 minutes of this powerful documentary. One thing is sure, paranoia is a certainty.

Will win: Citizenfour

Should win: Citizenfour

FOREIGN FEATURE FILM

Leviathan (Russia), Andrey Zvyagintsev

Ida (Poland), Pawel Pawlikowski

Tangerines (Estonia), Zaza Urushadze

Timbuktu (Mauritania), Abderrahmane Sissako

Wild Tales (Argentina), Damian Szifron

Ida, other films

History repeats. Again. Meaning that just like in all the previous years, category for Best Feature Film features films that are far superior (in every aspect) than anything nominated for Best Picture. Who ever wins deserves it but my heart is with Zvyagintsev.

Will win: Ida

Should win: Ida or Leviathan 

 

Text written by: Monika Ponjavić

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