Yep, it’s that time of the year again. The 87th Academy Awards will be held tomorrow (23rd February, 12:30pm AEST time) from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. So who and what will take out the big prizes? Well, this is what I think.
American Sniper (Clint Eastwood)
Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum)
Selma (Ava DuVernay)
The Theory of Everything (James Marsh)
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
The Academy have chosen a mixed bag of contenders to fight for the Grand Prize this year, with an array of both big hits and dismal misses. There are some notable absentees from the likes of Nightcrawler, Gone Girl and Foxcatcher; which is odd because the weakest picks of the bunch, American Sniper and the two “Brit-biopics” The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game, seem like only fill-ins. Their spots on the nomination list could have been given to more deserving films.
Whiplash and Selma are both very, very strong films whose directors will go on to do great things I’m sure. Selma would be a shoe-in for Best Picture in any other year, but unfortunately Whiplash and Selma are up against three of the biggest, Best Picture contenders of recent time. The race for the grand prize will be the battle of the “Bs” with Boyhood, Birdman and Budapest all equally as beloved, critically acclaimed and boldly unique.
Boyhood was the indie darling of the festival circuit this year. Richard Linklater’s daring effort to make a film over 12 years has not gone unnoticed by awards season, with the film taking out Best Picture at the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs and on pretty much every critic’s end of year list (including my own). But with such a simple storyline, is it really something the Academy will be drawn to?
Birdman is one of the most unique films of recent time. It has everything the Academy usually looks for in a Best Picture winner: strong performances (three actors in Birdman are nominated), ingenious storytelling (Best Original Screenplay nominee), brave directing (Alejandro González Iñárritu has been nominated before) and revolutionary camera work (Birdman’s cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki won an Oscar last year for his work on Gravity). But is Birdman too perfect and too “out-there” for the Academy?
Then we arrive at The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s been called Wes Anderson’s “magnum opus” (by, *ahem* me) and is undeniably breathtaking in its originality and beauty. Previously, Anderson’s films have only been nominated for singular awards like Best Screenplay or Best Animated Film, so with 9 nominations this year, Anderson’s Oscar night will be a little bit more special. And to tell the truth, The Grand Budapest Hotel has a gosh darn good chance of winning. But is its uniqueness and the Academy desire to redeem Anderson for past snubs enough to win?
What Will Win: Boyhood
What Could Win: Birdman or The Grand Budapest Hotel
What Should Win: Birdman or Selma
What’s Missing: Gone Girl and Nightcrawler
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tydlum, The Imitation Game
Everytime I read the Best Director nominee list I’m conflicted with opposing emotional states. At once I am both overwhelming joyful and seething with heated anger. The reasoning? Three of my favourite directors are nominated (Anderson, Linklater and Iñárritu), yet I can’t help but feel anger towards the Academy for not nominating the wholly deserving Ava DuVernay. Miller’s film Foxcather isn’t even nominated for Best Picture so why is he included on the list? And Tydlum’s direction in The Imitation Game was generic and by far the least exciting thing about the film. On the other hand, the three main contenders of Anderson, Linklater and Iñárritu have all devoted a lot of time and effort into creating their films, which are all seen as masterpieces and career highlights.
Who Will Win: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Who Could Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Who Should Win: Richard Linklater, Boyhood or Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman or Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Who’s Missing: Ava DuVernay, Selma
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
For a long time it seemed like Keaton would take home the top prize for his incredible, career reviving performance in Birdman. But along came Redmayne, whose brave and committed performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything tested the actor’s physical and emotional capability. The British actor has taken home both a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for his performance, making him the red-hot favourite to win at the Oscars. But is a performance from another biopic about a white, male, disabled genius really something we should be rewarding? Where’s the originality here? Keaton in Birdman, that’s where it is.
Who Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Who Could Win: Michael Keaton, Birdman
Who Should Win: Michael Keaton, Birdman
Who’s Missing: Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler, David Oyelowo – Selma and Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
There is hardly a doubt in anyone’s mind that this will be the year Julianne Moore will finally be rewarded for being one of the greatest actors of her generation. Snubs in past years (especially in 2002’s The Hours) finally will be redeemed and she can add “Academy Award winner” to her endless list of achievements. Her heartbreaking performance in Still Alice as a woman diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s is dignified and captivating, which will no doubt catch the Academy’s attention. But Rosamund Pike’s even more extraordinary turn in Gone Girl really should be the one to take it home; it’s one of the most gutsy and revolutionary performances of recent time.
Who Will Win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Who Could Win: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Who Should Win: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
J.K Simmons will always be “Juno’s dad in Juno” to me. The character actor has one of those faces that makes you go, “Oh yeah, that guy! What have I seen him in?” His performance as psychotic conductor, Fletcher, in the “Jazz thriller” (new genre?) Whiplash made me almost throw up in the nail-biting final scene, it was that terrifyingly good. Simmons’ only real competition is from Norton, a third time nominee and one of the most underrated and beloved actors of his generation. His performance in Birdman as a cocky theatre actor, is just one of many in the film that deserves to be rewarded. But Norton will have to wait for another year to say, “I’d like to thank the Academy”, because this will be Simmons’ night to shine.
Who Will Win: J.K Simmons, Whiplash
Who Could Win: Edward Norton, Birdman or Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Who Should Win: Edward Norton, Birdman or J.K Simmons, Whiplash
Who’s Missing: Tony Revolori – The Grand Budapest Hotel and Christoph Waltz – Big Eyes
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Does anyone in this category really stand a chance against Patricia Arquette? Even though Stone is a revelation in Birdman. Dern is, as always, radiant in Wild. Knightley, who has always been one of my favourite actresses, is the heart and soul of The Imitation Game. And I’m sure Streep feels a little embarrassed to be nominated again for the 19th time for an admittedly great performance in the mediocre Into the Woods. But it’s Arquette in a career defining, 12-years-in-the-making performance as a struggling single mother who survives numerous failed relationships, puts herself through school to pave a better life for herself and her kids, only to break down when seeing her youngest child, Mason, off to college in a heartbreaking scene towards the film’s end. Her character is by far the most likable and relatable in the film, and because of her, it shouldn’t be called Boyhood, it really should be called Motherhood.
Who Will Win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Who Could Win: Emma Stone, Birdman
Who Should Win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Who’s Missing: Carmen Ejogo – Selma, Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year and Rene Russo – Nightcrawler
Best Original Screenplay
Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Boyhood, Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy
The Best Original Screenplay is by far my favourite award on Oscar night. In my eyes, it’s the one that really matters. It awards creativity and originality and exciting bright ideas from some of the greatest writers of all time. I mean, if it weren’t for the screenplay, there wouldn’t be a film to begin with. You just have to look at past winners of recent years; Spike Jonze, Quentin Tarantino, Diablo Cody, Michel Gondry, Charlie Kaufman, Sofia Coppola; to know that this is one cool category to be in. And with this year, you can add the name “Wes Anderson” to that cool list, although he may feel a little bashfully shy when he humbly accepts the award. It’s been a long time coming too. He’s been previously nominated two times before in this category (for The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom), and The Grand Budapest is his most original and creative idea yet. However, Wes has real competition from Birdman and its team of writers, and Dan Gilroy and his psychotic thriller Nightcrawler.
What Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
What Could Win: Birdman or Boyhood
What Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman or Nightcrawler
What’s Missing: Selma, Paul Webb and The Babadook, Jennifer Kent
Best 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
Firstly, I’d just like to say, WHERE THE HELL IS GILLIAN FLYNN?????? Did the Academy NOT see Gone Girl???? This is an utter outrage and I refuse to believe that anyone else is worthy of this award but her. Well, anyone except Damien Chazelle and his screenplay for Whiplash, which I just assumed was an original because who the hell would write such an insanely creepy thriller about psychotic jazz musicians… oh, wait, Chazelle adapted his own short film. That makes sense now. If Whiplash doesn’t win for almost giving me a heart attack in its last 10 minutes then I don’t know what else to do. The Academy just obviously isn’t playing at my tempo.
What Will Win: Whiplash
What Could Win: The Theory of Everything or The Imitation Game
What Should Win: Whiplash
What’s Missing: Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn and Unbroken, Joel and Ethan Coen
Best Foreign Language Film:
Ida – Poland
Leviathan – Russia
Tangerines – Estonia
Timbuktu – Mauritania
Wild Tales – Argentina
I am the literal devil. I have not seen ONE foreign language film this year, so I’m just going to go off feeling and hear-say. Last year, I was 1000000% positive that my favourite film of 2013, The Hunt, would win. But it didn’t. Honestly I have no idea how the Academy votes on this award. Most likely they haven’t seen any of the nominees so they just choose the one from the country they last visited on holiday. So therefore, Ida from Poland is the most likely to win. It ticks all the boxes for a foreign language film Oscar: shot in black and white, sex scenes, Nazis, a young woman finding herself, nuns, artsy cinematography. Hmmm, otherwise Leviathan from Russia is in for a chance, since it won the Golden Globe. But an American awards show giving an award to Russia? Seems ironic to me. But then again, who the hell knows. I’m just gonna swallow my words now.
What Will Win: Ida
What Could Win: Leviathan
What Should Win: Ida
Best Animated Feature
I am the literal devil. I have not seen ONE animate film this year, so I’m just going to go off feeling and hear-say. What can I say? I’ve been very busy and seemed to have missed the boat on foreign language and animation this year. What I do know is that the people were in utter uproar when The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated. The Danish toy construction company should’ve filed a lawsuit against the Academy for not providing them with even more free advertising for their brand. How to Train Your Dragon 2 is apparently very popular, although I tried to watch the first and couldn’t get past the notion that Vikings and dragons existed in the same time period. The Boxtrolls was made by Laika Entertainment, which is a very good animation house, and stop-motion is usually a favourite with the Academy. I haven’t seen The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, but it looks like another beautifully crafted Studio Ghibli film, and I love Studio Ghibli so very much, so I’ll be rooting for this one.
What Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
What Could Win: The Boxtrolls
What Should Win: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
What’s Missing: The Lego Movie