Oh…my…God! The Oscars are my Superbowl so the day the nominations are announced is like the Conference Championship Games. I also enjoy the Superbowl because, living in Texas, it is a state law that you must love football. It’s anyone’s year but more and more it is looking like the Patriots are going to…wait a minute. I was talking about the Oscar nominations. Sorry. I get distracted sometimes! Ooohhhh… SQUIRREL!
Let’s look at the major awards in some detail. I’ll have a more comprehensive prediction for all categories before the awards, but here is my first blush reaction:
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Theory of Everything”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: The only question for me was whether Budapest and Whiplash would get best pictures. No one deserving was really left out except maybe Foxcatcher. Ryan is calling the list BORING for no “District 9” film on the list of 8 (the very reason for expanding past five). [It’s the WHOLE DAMN POINT! – Ryan] I think we should just go back to five…
WHO SHOULD WIN: Though I had Imitation Game higher on my Top Movies of 2015 list than Birdman, I think the surreal Birdman is more Best Picture worthy. Favorite mvoie is not always the same as Best Picture. If popular meant award winning, Adam Sandler would have more Oscars that Daniel Day Lewis. Not to say Imitation Game wouldn’t be worthy. It is certainly a prestige picture. Boyhood has also gotten a lot of love, but it is more of a brilliant concept than a Best Picture worthy film. I think that one is rewarded by giving Linklater Best Director.
WHO WILL WIN: Look for Birdman to take the prize.
Steve Carrell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: No love for Fiennes, Gyllenhal or Oyelowo. Oyelowo was a question mark, but given Nightcrawler’s rise lately, I thought for sure that Gyllenhaal was a lock. Cooper and Carrell took their spots. Fiennes gets the comedy curse. [Wait, Grand Budapest Hotel was a COMEDY? Huh. – Ryan] I would have voted for him over anyone but Redmayne. Not a real snub, but a special shoutout to Andy Serkis for his transformative role as Caesar in Planet of the Apes.
WHO SHOULD WIN: I am a Benedict Cumberbatch homer, so I’d love to see him win. Michael Keaton was also brilliant in a semi-autobiographical role (though he thinks that analysis is lazy and derivative…). In the end, Eddie Redmayne gave the most impressive performance of the year as Steven Hawking.
WHO WILL WIN: I think Redmayne wins this one. The Academy is known for rewarding performances by characters with a physical handicap. Of course they also reward beautiful women who wear makeup or prosthetics to look ugly. Hollywood can’t cast ugly people even to play ugly people apparently… [No chance. The plaque has already been engraved with Keaton’s name. Even the two Ernst & Young people who count the ballots have called it. – Ryan]
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: Marion Cotillard took the spot people were pencilling in Jennifer Anniston (“Cake”). The lesson here is when in doubt, the Academy will choose the star of La Vie En Rose over the star of We’re the Millers.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Julianne Moore has given so many Oscar deserving performances and never collected a statue. This one is the one that should get her there. The only other contender in my mind, and it is only a puncher’s chance, is Ryan’s favorite Rosamund Pike. [Pike was amazing, but I was unaware Moore had never won the grand prize. That’s shocking. Pike can get hers later. – Ryan]
WHO WILL WIN: Moore.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: Duvall was the only question mark.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Didn’t you know? JK Simmons has ALREADY won. It isn’t even worth talking about anyone else. He has such a lead in this race that next year his award season will be eligible for Best Actor in the leading man category. [The Ernst & Young folks aren’t counting this one either. – Ryan]
WHO WILL WIN: If it isn’t Simmons it would be the biggest surprise at the Oscars since Marlon Brando avenged the Trail of Tears with Sacheen Littlefeather.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: I thought Jessica Chastain would have gotten some love here but I don’t know who she bumps.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Emma Stone’s performance was much more complex and profound than Arquette’s fairly straightforward mother trying to make it work on her own. Stone’s monologue (in one take) [That’s not a thing–the WHOLE movie are scenes shot in one take. She’s an actor. She should be able to do one take every time. I like her, I just don’t consider this a plus. Oh, wait, you were making a point. Sorry. Please continue. – Ryan] where she confronts her father’s inadequacies was about as good as it gets. [That was it? I should’ve cut you off. – Ryan]
WHO WILL WIN: Though I think she wasn’t as great as the hype she’s getting (she was very good, just not utter brilliant), I think Arquette takes this home.
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tydlum, “The Imitation Game”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: This one was a stunner. I thought Ava DuVernay would take a nod for Selma. Eastwood, a usual Oscar favorite, is sitting alone with an empty chair (Heh. That joke means TWO things!). Bennet Miller is the big surprises. Foxcatcher wasn’t a Best Picture of the year (even though there were technically two more spots), but Miller provided better direction that the nominated films? Bizarre. [Still not as bizarre as Affleck’s Director snub for the Best Picture WINNER! – Ryan]
WHO SHOULD WIN: Linklater took a huge risk picking an unknown kid and filming him one segment a year, for 12 years. He made a warm, cohesive film out of these moments in time. What he did was absolute art and should be rewarded.
WHO WILL WIN: Linklater has to be a heavy favorite. The only competition I see is Birdman’s Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu. In any single year, Alejandro would be a strong favorite, but Linklater is pulling from 12 Years!
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
SURPRISES/SNUBS: Gone Girl not getting adapted nod is a stunner. [I didn’t read the book–was there much adaptation? – Ryan]
WHO SHOULD WIN: American Sniper doesn’t open in the vast wastelands of Texas until Friday, so until that, my vote would be for Imitation Game.
WHO WILL WIN: I think Imitation Game carries it. It probably won’t win anything else unless it catches fire. [Nah. Sniper or Whiplash. – Ryan]
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
“Boyhood,” Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher,” E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“Nightcrawler,” Dan Gilroy
SURPRISES/SNUBS: This list looks pretty good.
WHO SHOULD WIN: The scripts for Boyhood, Foxcatcher, & Nightcrawler are not really amazing movies because of their screenplays. Birdman had a fascinating premise and some smart dialogue so it would be a worthy winner. But unlike Ryan and my pal Jarren who reads Gabbing Geek SOLELY for Oscar talk (and Clue jokes…), I loved Grand Budapest. Other than Fiennes’ brilliant performance, the script was what made this film pop. Give Wes Anderson another Oscar! [Because it was SOOOO different from his other movies. Heck, Grand Budapest should have been put in the adapted category as being derivative of EVERY OTHER movie he’s made. – Ryan]
WHO WILL WIN: Sadly, I think the evil pair of Ryan and Jarren will get their way and Budapest loses out the Birdman. [Justice is served. – Ryan]
“Birdman,” Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Robert Yeoman
“Ida,” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner,” Dick Pope
“Unbroken,” Roger Deakins
SURPRISES/SNUBS: The president of the Academy accidentally calling the cinematographer of Mr. Turner “Dick Poop!” This turned me from a sophisticated art house fan to a 13 year old boy in an instance!
WHO SHOULD WIN: I am almost as sure that Birdman will win here as I am JK Simmons will win in the Supporting Actor category. The camera work was just as surreal as the script. Perfection!
WHO WILL WIN: Birdman.
BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY
“Finding Vivian Maier”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“The Salt of the Earth”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: No Life Itself???? Did Ebert pan too many films of the Oscar voters? Wow…
WHO SHOULD WIN: Finding Vivian Maier was the best doc I saw in 2014. It was every thing a doc should be. It made me care about something that otherwise wouldn’t interest me.
WHO WILL WIN: Citizenfour is getting all the buzz. [The NSA has confirmed that it is getting all the buzz. – Ryan]
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Big Hero 6”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“Song of the Sea”
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: Everything ain’t awesome (how many times has that joke been made today?) When I was prepping this article in advance of the announcements, I preloaded the pictures of the sure fire bets so I could get this out faster. Lego Movie is like Ben Affleck getting snubbed for Best Director with Argo. [Except Argo was good. – Ryan] It was the frontrunner….until it didn’t get nominated.
WHO SHOULD WIN: I liked Big Hero Six the best but not enough to have a strong rooting interest like Ryan. [You should. Big Hero 6 was motherf&*#ing delightful. – Ryan]
WHO WILL WIN: I think Dragon will get it as a make up for the original not winning because it came out the same year as the 800 pound gorilla that was Toy Story 3. This was honestly a weak year for Animation.
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”
SURPRISES/SNUBS: None. This was a three horse race. And there are monkeys firing machines guns on those horses.
WHO SHOULD WIN: Planet of the Apes was the best use of effects ever employed by anyone other than Madonna’s makeup artist. It made me care about cartoon monkeys. Care!
WHO WILL WIN: Seriously. A damn dirty ape was riding a horse, firing an M60 and I didn’t laugh. SERIOUSLY! A horse. Not even a chuckle out of the audience. [Interstellar should win. The visual effects have spawned actual scientific learnings. Dawn’s visual effects have spawned a sequel. Oh wait, it’s Hollywood, yeah Dawn wins. – Ryan]
So excited. Can’t wait for the race!