THE OSCARS 2015: THE THOUGHTS OF A CINEMA CYNIC

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I have enjoyed reading what everyone has written about tonight’s annual Hollywood get together of smug self-congratulatory back-slapping. Though I haven’t seen literally everything up for awards tonight, I think I have seen enough to justify throwing in my two pence worth, especially as a lot of my thoughts seem to be against the wave of popular opinion (how I like it).

Of course very rarely do all the films that dominate the awards season reflect general opinion of what are the best films of the last twelve months; of all the films dominating the Oscars categories, only Birdman and Whiplash would be the films I would consider to be in my top 10 of the best films I have seen in the last twelve months. Though it may well be a democratic process, every year there are inevitably films made with the intention to win awards, those that involve individuals that are darlings of the academy, those that manage to schmooze academy members into voting and the films nominated not because those that voted actually think that they are one of the best films of the year, but because it shows that the academy is not an out of touch insular little club. Meaning we get the token independent film chucked in there and a film sometimes wins because it shows those that voted are aware of the real world. I like to think we were all furious about Crash undeservedly winning best picture, I most certainly was!

In a nutshell I would argue that Birdman (review), The Grand Budapest Hotel (review) and Whiplash (review) deserve to clear up with nearly all of the awards between them tonight.  Though I must confess to be extremely (but very pleasantly) surprised just how the wondrous romp that is The Grand Budapest Hotel has done considering the type of film it is and when it was released. Though I expect it to dominate the so-called ‘minor’ awards, its nominations in the big categories will probably not bring any wins as I cannot help but think its nominations is just the Academy trying to show they have a quirky and fun side.

I would argue there are three films dominating the Oscar categories that do not deserve hardly any nominations; though it is an impressive achievement, the hideously overrated Boyhood (review) seems to have everyone falling for the novelty of how it was made and forgetting that with that taken away it is a solid and engaging, but also very forgettable film. The Imitation Game (review) is without doubt a story that deserves to be told, but the film is an overly competent, polished, neat and tidy TV drama and Locke (review), Pride (review) and Mr Turner (review) should have featured in the nominations over this in my opinion. Then there is the most commercially successful of all the nominees; American Sniper (review). For the third year in a row Bradley Cooper is in a film that gets a plethora of undeserved awards nominations.  American Sniper is a dull and poorly made drama and I sincerely hope it wins sod all!

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Then of course if I had my way all the films up for best picture word be predominantly world cinema and Maps to the Stars (review) would be up for absolutely everything. Though I will try to avoid going on too much about omissions and focus on the actual nominations, there are some omissions I just have to mention. I will try to be brief and often my review of the film will back-up why I think it should win certain awards so I won’t repeat myself, and for the so called ‘minor’ awards I will not even try and second guess what I think will actually win as that is impossible. Likewise I have not seen the short films or any of the nominated documentaries and so I am in no position to pass comment.

At least the academy has got one thing right; Ignoring Gone Girl (Review) (apart from Rosamund Pike who of course deserves her nomination). It was enjoyable and often hilarious forgettable nonsense, but not award worthy!

THE CATEGORIES:

Best Picture: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash.

What will win: Boyhood

What should win: Birdman

Surprising omissions: Foxcatcher (review)considering that there can be a maximum of 10, I am really surprised that there are only eight and despite being up for other major categories, this dark and compelling drama does not feature here. Likewise, though I wouldn’t select them for best picture myself, I would have expected Interstellar (review) and maybe even Guardians of the Galaxy (review) to feature here just to reflect popular opinion. It is surely only a matter of time now that The Return of the King’s domination was a few years ago that a fantasy film once again features, and I really thought because of just how popular it was Guardians of the Galaxy would have been the film to get a few cheeky nominations.

Leading Actor: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Who will win: Eddie Redmayne

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Who should win: Eddie Redmayne or Michael Keaton – both are excellent and deserving of a win.

Surprising omissions: Timothy Spall owned the screen in the excellent Mr Turner. I must confess to not getting round to seeing it but form all the footage I have seen of it and from what I have read Jake Gyllenhaal should have got a nomination for Nightcrawler.

My biggest fear: It is not unheard of for actors who have a history of nominations and no wins to get an Oscar that is not necessarily for the actual performance, but for their career. This is preposterous anyway, but if it goes to Bradley Cooper for American Sniper I may well completely lose faith in humanity!

Leading Actress: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Who will win: Julianne Moore

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Who should win: I didn’t get round to seeing Wild and Still Alice is not released on these shores until March, so perhaps I am not in a position to say too much. However Julianne Moore is consistently excellent and should have also received a nomination for Maps to the Stars in my opinion, so I think it would be safe to say judging by the footage I have seen that she deserves it for Still Alice. However, of all the categories, this is the one I tend to concur with the academy most, as the three I have seen are all deserving of their nominations.

Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash).

Who will and should win: J.K. Simmons

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Of all the categories this seems to be the easiest to predict and the one with the most consensus; though every performance is deserving of its nomination (I personally would have Channing Tatum over Ruffalo for Foxcatcher though), J.K. Simmons deserves every award going for his exceptional and commanding performance in Whiplash.

Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Who will and should win: Patricia Arquette – though I certainly have my criticisms of Boyhood, I of course cannot deny that Patricia Arquette delivers a stunning performance and deserves to win an Oscar to go with her BAFTA.

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The big fat ‘WHY!’: Meryl Streep – I know I am not the first to say this, Meryl Streep was without doubt the best thing about the incredibly dull Into the Woods (review), but that is not saying much and in no way deserving of a record Oscar nomination!

Best Director: Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Who will win: Richard Linklater – more for his persistence/stubbornness than actual directing.

Who should win: Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman is an absolute marvel on so many inventive visual levels

Glaring omission: Mike Leigh should have been nominated for Mr. Turner over Tyldum.

Well done The Academy: Thankfully there is no nomination for Eastwood and Bennett Miller and Wes Anderson are thoroughly deserving of their nominations.

Best Foreign Language film: Tangerines, Ida, Leviathan, Wild Tales, Timbuktu

Who will win: Ida (review)

Who should win: Leviathan (review), but only just over the also excellent Ida.

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Glaring omission: Two Days, One Night (review), The Golden Dream (review) and most definitely last year’s Palme d’Or winner and my personal favourite film of 2014 Winter Sleep (review). Though I will confess to not seeing Tangerines, Wild Tales and Timbuktu and so they may well deserve their nominations, the aforementioned three films were three of the best films of 2014 for me and so deserve awards nominations in my highly biased opinion.

Best Original Score: The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat), Interstellar (Hans Zimmer), The Theory of Everything (Jóhann Jóhannson), Mr. Turner (Gary Yerson).

What will and should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

In a category very close to my heart I cannot disagree with any of these nominations as generally they are all superb scores in their own right and I firmly expect Desplat to finally win his first Oscar, especially as he is nominated twice. Though his score for The Imitation Game was just as competent but unspectacular as the rest of the film, it only has been nominated as the film is up for so many other awards. However his wonderfully inventive score to The Grand Budapest Hotel paid a huge contribution to the audio visual experience of the film and was a character all of its own.

Omission: John Powell got a nomination for his sublime score to How to Train Your Dragon, and for me definitely deserved a nomination for his score to last year’s incredible sequel. Which brings me neatly to…

Best animated film: The Boxtrolls, Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, The Tale of Princess Kaguya

What will and should win: How to Train Your Train Your Dragon 2 (review), a visually stunning and deeply engaging film. Though I am yet to see any of the others as I hate sharing a cinema with children, this is one of the best films of last year.

Best Original Screenplay: Boyhood, Birdman, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

What will and should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel – though there is a small part of me that fears Boyhood may win this (a naturalistic screenplay that though good, is not Oscar worthy), I have faith that the Academy will choose Wes Anderson and Huge Guinness’ hilarious and highly quotable screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Shameful omission: Though in reality it was never going to fare very well in awards season, for me Steven Knight’s exceptional screenplay to Locke (review) deserves a nomination.

Best Adapted Screenplay: American Sniper, Inherent Vice, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

What will win and should win: Whiplash

Damien Chazelle should not be too disappointed at the Academy surprisingly deciding Whiplash is an adapted screenplay, as it means he faces weaker competition and should get a deserved win for his sharp script, even though there is a part of me that fears The Theory of Everything may snatch it. Though this may be a film of minimal dialogue at times, a screenplay always contains more description than dialogue anyway, and for a film like Whiplash it was crucial that this was written very well, and when there is dialogue Chazelle makes every word count.

What should NOT win: Adapting Thomas Pynchon’s novel was an admirable effort, but Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation is nowhere near award worthy, and I am just pleased Inherent Vice (review) did not get any other major nominations.

Best Cinematography: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken

What will win: Birdman

What should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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All deserving nominations (I am in particular very pleasantly surprised that Ida’s stunning monochrome cinematography got a nomination) and I think Birdman will win this as a sympathy vote for missing out on the awards it deserves, but of the five strong contenders Robert D. Yeoman’s stunning and lush cinematography for The Grand Budapest Hotel is in a league of its own.

Surprising Omission: though it was certainly a film that had an abundance of flaws and problems, Robert Elswit’s cinematography for Inherent Vice captured the sweat and sleaze of the film’s setting perfectly.

Best Editing: Boyhood, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, Amercian Sniper

What should win: Whiplash

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods, Mr. Turner

What should win: Interstellar ­­– a film that had its flaws and was way too long, but there is no denying that Interstellar was a stunning visual spectacle that had to be seen at the cinema.

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, Maleficent, Mr. Turner

What should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy

What should win: Foxcatcher

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Best Sound Mixing: American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar, Unbroken, Whiplash

What should win: Whiplash

Best Sound Editing: Amercian Sniper, Birdman, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Interstellar, Unbroken

What should win: Birdman

Best Visual Effects: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past

What should win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – though Interstellar had some stunning moments, for me Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (review) just edges it with the incredible motion capture and CGI design of the apes and some exceptional set pieces.

DAWN PLANET APES MOV

About MoodyB

An extremely passionate and (semi) opened minded film reviewer, with a hint of snobbish.
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