Oscar Predictions (87th Academy Awards)

February 19, 2015

oscars-logo

Here we go folks! It’s that time of the year again when everyone makes their predictions and then posts it online. I’m no exception, and though I always tried to stay clear from the “Will Win, Should Win” format, I’m finally caving in and will structure my post in that format. So let’s get started!

Best Picture

– American Sniper
– Birdman
– Boyhood
– The Grand Budapest Hotel
– The Imitation Game
– Selma
– The Theory of Everything
– Whiplash

Will Win: Birdman

Like I wrote in my previous Oscar post, Birdman definitely has the support from Hollywood. It won the important SAG, DGA, and PGA awards, making it a practical lock to win Best Picture. So why are so many people confused and voting for Boyhood? Well, there is simply A LOT of love for the movie (rightfully so, it was my favorite film of the year), but I think people are letting their personal feelings cloud the logical choice. Yes, Boyhood won the Golden Globes and the BAFTAs, but neither of them are voted by the same people who vote for the Oscars. And look at some of the most recent Best Picture winners: The Artist and Argo. What do those films plus Birdman have in common? The film industry plays a part in the plot. Look for Hollywood to pat themselves on the back, once again, and vote for Birdman.

Should Win: Boyhood

I absolutely loved this movie, though I’m not exactly sure why. Sure, it can be considered a gimmick with how it took 12 years to make this film and we actually witness a young boy grow up. But in a film-making perspective, think about how difficult that must’ve been. The ability that Linklater showed to be patient, adapt to every situation, write and re-write the screenplay to match the times, keep all of the actors consistent, etc. Boyhood is the result of a mastermind after a lot of hard work for over a decade. I sure hope it wins.

Best Director

– Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
– Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman
– Richard Linklater – Boyhood
– Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
– Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Will Win/Should Win: Richard Linklater

To continue what I was saying above, this film is a masterpiece. It’s a film that was universally loved, critically acclaimed, and most importantly it’s a film that everyone can relate to. The brilliance of the film is how there’s something that everyone can take from it, no matter who you are or how you were brought up. Everyone likes this movie for a different reason, and that feat alone is outstanding. Finally, it’s easily the most memorable film of the year. It’s the one film that film buffs will be talking about for years to come. The man behind Boyhood will be awarded for that.

Best Actor

– Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
– Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
– Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
– Michael Keaton – Birdman
– Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Will Win/Should Win: Eddie Redmayne

This is a battle between Redmayne and Keaton, and it’s an extremely close one, but I’m picking Redmayne for a few reasons. First, he won the SAG award, which practically makes him a guarantee winner at the Oscars. In addition to that, Redmayne had the flashy performance, the one that actually wowed audiences by playing Stephen Hawking. Keaton, on the other hand, gave a spectacular performance but you can argue he was over-powered by Ed Norton and Emma Stone, two characters who were much more aggressive and extreme in Birdman. Keaton was the man who kept Birdman together and if he wins it will be well-deserved. But Redmayne hit a grand slam with his portrayal of Hawking.

Best Actress

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

Will Win: Julianne Moore

It’s clear that Moore is going to walk home with the Best Actress Oscar on Sunday night. Some are saying that this is more of a career achievement Oscar rather than one that she specifically deserves because of her performance in Still Alice. Nonetheless, there is no one who has a chance to steal the award from her.

Should Win: Felicity Jones

While Redmayne is receiving all the attention and awards success, I feel that Jones should be right there besides him at every ceremony. Sure, playing Stephen Hawking is going to catch everyone’s eye, but only those who have seen the film can understand how important Felicity Jones was to the success of The Theory of Everything. Without her performance as Jane, nothing works for Redmayne as Hawking. You can even argue that Jane is the true main character of the film, the real force behind almost every scene. She was able to give Jane the strength and understanding to represent a smart and independent woman, something not so common in Hollywood. Felicity Jones would get my vote, hands down.

Best Supporting Actor

– Robert Duvall – The Judge
– Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
– Edward Norton – Birdman
– Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
– J. K. Simmons – Whiplash

Will Win/Should Win: J.K. Simmons

If J.K. Simmons didn’t frighten the hell out of you in Whiplash, then there’s something wrong with you. Simmons gives a ground-breaking performance and completely owns every scene he’s in. It’s also important to note that this category usually goes to the more “showy” performances. Some very showy past winners include: Christian Bale in The Fighter, Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight, and Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. I think Simmons would fit right in with this group, don’t you?

Best Supporting Actress

– Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
– Laura Dern – Wild
– Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
– Emma Stone – Birdman
– Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Will Win/Should Win: Patricia Arquette

What can I say about Arquette in Boyhood? She runs the whole show, to the point where I’m somewhat scratching my head to why she’s in the Supporting Actress category. If Boyhood is about Mason, then Arquette’s Olivia is with him every step of the way as he grows up. But you can even argue that Olivia is the main character of the film, the one person trying to keep everything together as their lives become tangled up with different people and different situations. On top of all that, she does one hell of a job. I can’t imagine many mothers not being able to relate to what she goes through during Boyhood. In my opinion, she’s the heart and soul in the most memorable film of 2014.

Best Original Screenplay

– Birdman – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo
– Boyhood – Richard Linklater
– Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
– The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
– Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Will Win/Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson has written and directed a number of very interesting films, and if there is something that makes them all in common it would be that they’re all unique. The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception. The world that Anderson creates and draws you in right from the beginning of the film is a brilliant gift that he has. The process in which the story is told, which is a story within a story, is carefully penned and executed to perfection. And for all of the characters, it’s almost too easy for them to jump out and make an impact on the film because of how colorful they were all written. This is the best screenplay of the year and Anderson and Guinness will be rewarded.

Best Adapted Screenplay

– American Sniper – Jason Hall from American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
– The Imitation Game – Graham Moore from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
– Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson from Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
– The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten from Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking
– Whiplash – Damien Chazelle from his short film of the same name

Will Win: The Imitation Game

It’s a fascinating story about a truly memorable man. It’s a story that isn’t known by everyone, but one that resonates with everyone still to this day. The story of Alan Turing is one that everyone should learn about, and the fact that it was able to be made into a successful and thrilling film makes it that much more appealing. Certainly there were facts that were stretched and details that were left out, but as a strict screenplay point of view, it was a very well-written one.

Should Win: Whiplash

From just a short film, Damien Chazelle was not only able to create these characters, but he blew them out of this world that crashed against the ridiculous. Did you ever believe that a film about a jazz ensemble and the relationship between a student and teacher could be more suspenseful that the majority of thrillers you’ve seen? Somehow, it all comes together and works, and it’s because of the brilliant screenplay by Chazelle. Give him the Oscar.

And the major categories are done. Here are the rest of my predictions listed below:

Best Animated Feature Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

Best Documentary Feature: Citizenfour

Best Documentary Short: Crisis Hotline

Best Live Action Short: The Phone Call

Best Animated Short: Feast

Best Original Score: The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song: “Glory” from Selma

Best Sound Editing: American Sniper

Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash

Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Cinematography: Birdman

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Film Editing: Boyhood

Best Visual Effects: Interstellar

And those are my predictions! I must say that even though I’m predicting The Grand Budapest Hotel to win the most Oscars, there’s a decent chance that we can see a Birdman sweep. Yes, Hollywood might be that full of themselves. Let’s see how I do with my predictions come Sunday night.

Advertisements

The Race for Best Picture (87th Academy Awards)

February 11, 2015

boyman

Let’s cut right to the chase, this year’s Oscar award for Best Picture is between two films: Boyhood and Birdman. Which film has the edge? That’s what I’m going to try to figure out during this post. Bear with me folks.

For Boyhood, it was the critics’ darling of 2014, collecting A LOT of accolades from critic circles. Here are a handful:

Best Film from:
– Austin Film Critics Association
– Boston Society of Film Critics
– Chicago Film Critics Association
– Critics’ Choice Movie Awards
– Detriot Film Critics Society
– Georgia Film Critics Association
– Houston Film Ciritcs Society
– Iowa Film Critics
– London Film Critics’ Circle
– Los Angeles Film Critics Association
– New York Film Critics Circle
– Oklahoma Film Critics Circle
– San Francisco Film Critics Circle
– Toronto Film Critics Association
– Vancouver Film Critics Circle
– Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association

So what’s the problem? Well for one, The Academy who vote on the Oscars aren’t critics. They’re people in the film industry and a lot of them either 1. don’t have the same taste as critics or 2. simply don’t like movie critics. Now with all the support from the critics to Boyhood, who can the industry back for Best Picture? How about a film with a distaste for critics… Birdman!

This is no major spoiler, but in Birdman, Riggan Thomson is looked down upon by a very influential theater critic because she can never see Thomson as anything else other than his super-hero days. He uses this to fuel his passion and enthusiasm to push his play to a greater level, but with extreme consequences. So basically, Hollywood can overcome the evil critics and produce incredible pieces of art, no matter what you did in the past. Is it a coincidence that Birdman has been receiving the love from the Guilds, made up of people in the film industry?

Birdman has won the top awards from the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild of America, and the Directors Guild of America. It’s obvious that Hollywood is standing behind Birdman, but let’s make this even more interesting. Two other award ceremonies that are seen as precursors to the Oscars are The Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards (British Academy of Film and Television Arts). Is it coincidence that Birdman lost Best Picture at each ceremony, and instead Boyhood won because those are two awards not voted by members of Hollywood?

While all of this speculation is fun, it’s time to crunch some numbers. First, I’m going to be concentrating on 2007-present. Here are the Best Picture winners since then:

Best Picture:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – ???

Now let’s look at the SAG Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

SAG Winners:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Inglorious Basterds
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Help
2012 – Argo
2013 – American Hustle
2014 – Birdman

In the last seven years, four films that won the SAG Award for Best Ensemble went on to win Best Picture. It’s not a great award to predict who will win Best Picture, but it’s noteworthy because the SAG is the guild with the most members in The Academy. So if it’s a coin toss and it’s down to the wire, it’s likely that the majority of the SAG votes Birdman and therefore you’ll know who will win.

How about the Directors Guild of America…

DGA Winners:

2007 – Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
2008 – Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2010 – Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
2011 – Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2012 – Ben Affleck, Argo
2013 – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2014 – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman

During the last seven years, the movies with the DGA winner have won six times. The only time they didn’t line up was last year when Alfonso Cuaron with Gravity won, even though 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. But isn’t it true that typically, if you win Best Director at the Oscars, you’ll win Best Picture? Let’s take a look…

Academy Award for Best Director:

2007 – Ethan and Joel Coen, No Country for Old Men
2008 – Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
2010 – Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
2011 – Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
2012 – Ang Lee, Life of Pi
2013 – Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
2014 – ???

It looks like they matched up nice and tidily up until 2012, then it’s been chaos ever since. Ang Lee won the strange year where Ben Affleck won the DGA but wasn’t even nominated for Best Director (then Argo wins Best Picture). Last year it was a tight race between 12 Years a Slave and Gravity throughout, and they ended up splitting the Best Picture/Best Director categories. Can the same thing happen again this year to make it three in a row? It’s very possible.

Let’s look at the Producers Guild of America…

PGA Winners:

2007 – No Country for Old Men
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave/Gravity
2014 – Birdman

Here’s one that looks like a sure thing. Since 2007, EVERY movie that has won the PGA award has gone on to win Best Picture. Its only slight blemish is that last year the vote resulted in a tie between the obvious two front-runners in 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. But this year in another very tight race, Birdman came out victorious. Is that a sign pointing at Birdman, or is this a Hollywood statement from the industry?

With the guilds out of the way, let’s look at the Golden Globes:

Golden Globe Winners (Drama/Comedy):

2007 – Atonement/Sweeney Todd
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire/Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2009 – Avatar/The Hangover
2010 – The Social Network/The Kids Are All Right
2011 – The Descendants/The Artist
2012 – Argo/Les Miserables
2013 – 12 Years a Slave/American Hustle
2014 – Boyhood/The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Globes used to be a joke. When movies like The Hangover wins a so-called “prestigious” award, everyone starts scratching their heads. But recently, the Globes have been quite spot on in predicting the Best Picture winners. The Artist, Argo, and 12 Years a Slave won the big award at the Globes. This year, Boyhood won Best Drama and Birdman lost to The Grand Budapest Hotel. So what’s the deal? Did you know that the Globes are voted by the HFPA, a group of journalists from around the world. That’s right, no one from Hollywood. So without a Globes win for Birdman, can it become the first film in four years to win Best Picture?

Continuing to stay clear from Hollywood, let’s take a glance at the recent BAFTA winners:

BAFTA Winners:

2007 – Atonement
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire
2009 – The Hurt Locker
2010 – The King’s Speech
2011 – The Artist
2012 – Argo
2013 – 12 Years a Slave
2014 – Boyhood

Since 2008, the films that won Best Picture have also won the Best Film award at the BAFTAs. And as you can see, Boyhood won the big prize at the BAFTAs this year. Will the streak continue?

Last, but not least, let’s take a peak at the Academy Award for Best Editing. Throughout the years, there has been a direct link with this category and what film is considered a true front-runner for Best Picture. Just take a look…

Academy Award for Best Editing:

2000 – Gladiator (nominated)
2001 – A Beautiful Mind (nominated)
2002 – Chicago (won)
2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (won)
2004 – Million Dollar Baby (nominated)
2005 – Crash (won)
2006 – The Departed (won)
2007 – No Country for Old Men (nominated)
2008 – Slumdog Millionaire (won)
2009 – The Hurt Locker (won)
2010 – The King’s Speech (nominated)
2011 – The Artist (nominated)
2012 – Argo (won)
2013 – 12 Years a Slave (nominated)
2014 – ??? Boyhood (nominated), Birdman (not nominated)

As you can see, every single movie that has won Best Picture since 2000 has been at least nominated for the Best Editing category. You have to go back all the way to 1980 to name a film that won Best Picture without receiving a Best Editing nomination (Ordinary People). That’s just whacky! But to be fair, Birdman’s fluid style doesn’t give much to the editors, though there are plenty of editing tricks throughout the film. So how glaring is this omission?

So what does this all mean? When there is a really tight race for Best Picture, like we have this year, plenty of patterns and logic will be broken. Will Boyhood defy all logic that you need to win the guild awards to win Best Picture? Will Birdman be the first film since 1980 to win Best Picture without a Best Editing nomination? We’ll find out soon!


Top Ten Films of 2014

January 27, 2015

2014-logo

What a year of films we just had! It was somewhat more of the same in regards to the highest grossing films of the year. Last year, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire grossed the most ($424 million) and the money-makers were dominated by superheroes, animations, and an Oscar front-runner. This year… The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 led all movies ($334 million), the box office was dominated by Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Transformers, and X-Men, The LEGO Movie and Big Hero 6 both grossed over $200 million, and American Sniper was a huge hit.

And once again there were a bajillion sequels and remakes that cluttered the summer, such as another Spider-Man film, Godzilla, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and 22 Jump Street. There were also a number of book adaptations that were critically acclaimed, like Gone Girl, The Fault in Our Stars, and even The Maze Runner.

But what 2014 will be remembered for most is for its smaller films that will certainly be embraced by larger audiences once the word of mouth really starts to spread. A lot of those films made my list this year so let’s just get on with it. Below are my favorite ten films of the year…

10. American Sniper

american-sniper-poster

Clint Eastwood returns to form by telling the story of Chris Kyle, America’s deadliest sniper in history. Bradley Cooper gives the performance of his life portraying the Navy SEAL with a Southern drawl, but the power of the film comes two-fold: one for the incredibly tense war sequences when Kyle has seconds to decide whether or not to pull the trigger, and two for the trauma from the war that affects Kyle’s personal life. Is this a pro-war or an anti-war movie? It doesn’t matter because it’s one that everyone should see.

9. The Imitation Game

imitation-game-poster

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing in this historical drama about the scientist and team who cracked the Nazi Enigma code that helped end WWII. The film was able to balance suspense, drama, and comedy quite well, keeping the tone mostly light-hearted until the end when Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley share a great scene together. But this is Cumberbatch’s show, as he plays the character with enough quirkiness for laughs but enough heart to win you over.

8. The Theory of Everything

theory-of-everything

Behind every great man, there’s a great woman. That was shown during The Imitation Game and is even more  relevant in The Theory of Everything. Eddie Redmayne gives a career-changing performance as Stephen Hawking and while there’s no doubt he was a great man, the film focuses in on his counterpart, Jane Hawking. Felicity Jones also gives an exceptional performance as the wife who stood by Stephen’s side, motivating him and making sure he never gave up on his dreams despite a crippling disease. On top of the film being a celebration to Hawking’s accomplishments, it also tells the tale of his personal life, a story that is less known.

7. The Drop

the-drop-poster

It might be known as James Gandolfini’s final appearance in a film, but The Drop is an excellent crime drama that was written by Dennis Lehane. Tom Hardy gives a powerful performance as Bob Saginowski, showing off some acting chops as he hones in on the quiet moments before the storm erupts. It’s a film that might feel like you’ve seen before, but will surprise you with plenty of unpredictable events. Nonetheless it was a solid, hidden gem in 2014.

6. Gone Girl

gone-girl-poster

There is so much going on in Gone Girl that it makes the 145 minutes go by in a flash. Credit that to the direction of David Fincher and the tight screenplay by Gillian Flynn for making a great thriller (just another great thriller to add to Fincher’s filmography). Rosamund Pike shines as Amy Elliott, the girl with dark secrets and a craving for revenge. It’s a grim film but it’s one of the year’s best.

5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand-budapest

Wes Anderson has always made quirky, small films for the indie-lover, but this year he hits a home-run with The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film is smart, quick, witty, and most of all entertaining as hell. Ralph Fiennes gives a fine performance as Gustave, one that you will thoroughly marvel at throughout but will possibly forget once the movie concludes. I thought Moonrise Kingdom was Anderson’s most mainstream to date, but Budapest trumps that film in all categories.

4. Interstellar

interstellar-poster

Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date (and that includes films told backwards and based in your dreams) had the wow-factor across the board. With stunning visuals of space and an in-depth understanding of different dimensions, universes, and time traveling, Interstellar packed a powerful punch and was relentless with its story-telling. While the ending has divided audiences and critics alike, it didn’t take away the tremendous impact the film had on me.

3. Whiplash

whiplash-poster

I never would’ve imagined that a film about a student-teacher relationship in a prestigious music school would be so suspenseful. I was talking about JK Simmons’ performance for weeks after I saw this film, and the young Miles Teller is great in it as well. Damien Chazelle hits the jackpot with Whiplash and without a doubt it was one of the most memorable films of 2014. Now about sending your kid to band practice…

2. Birdman

birdman-poster

I love Inarritu, but Birdman steers away from his past, heavy dramas and towards a somewhat light-hearted, chaotic story of an actor trying to regain his status. Michael Keaton gives arguably the most important performance of the year (and of his career) as Riggan Thomson. And I must mention the direction of Inarritu that makes the film look like it was taken in one shot. Yeah, it’s quite mind-boggling and a daring decision to make. There was plenty of brilliance throughout Birdman, and to top it off, I love a film with a controversial ending.

1. Boyhood

boyhood-poster

Richard Linklater has provided me with some of my favorite films with the Before series, and now with Boyhood, he’s proven to be the master at showing us the passage of time and how it affects everyone in different ways. This project was incredibly ambitious for Linklater and everyone else involved, with its 12-year period of shooting. It’s a no-brainer to say that it has never been done before because there are just so many risks and challenges to shooting a film this way. But Linklater pulls it off and was able to draw the world into his little movie with a big, big heart.


Reaction: The Nominations (87th Academy Awards)

January 15, 2015

oscars-logo4

Well, you can’t be shocked by the amount of surprises that The Academy showed us this morning when the nominations were announced. The first surprise was how The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature. Seriously, I thought that was a lock for a nomination, but it wasn’t acknowledged by The Academy. Then as the categories were getting announced, I noticed a few trends: American Sniper was receiving a lot of love (the exact opposite that I expected), Gone Girl and Selma was getting NOTHING, and how Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel were cleaning up the show (they both lead with 9 nominations). There are two other things that I noticed: with Bradley Cooper’s nomination for American Sniper, he’s been nominated three years in a row! Not too shabby at all. And finally, that there is not one film nominated for Best Picture that grossed over $100 million. Doesn’t that defeat the original purpose of expanding the Best Picture nominations? Anyway, let’s take a closer look at the Big 8 Categories:

Best Picture

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

First and foremost, there were only 8 nominees, instead of the 9 that a lot of people predicted. That being said, what surprised me was how Foxcatcher didn’t get a nomination. It’s even stranger because Bennett Miller was able to snag a Best Director nomination, which USUALLY means the film will get a Best Picture nod. On top of that, Steve Carell got a Best Actor nomination, so there was love for the film, but no Best Picture nod. Strange. Anyway, I’m so happy that Whiplash got a Best Picture nomination because it was one of my favorite films of the year, but it was certainly a smaller film that wasn’t getting the support or campaign from Sony Pictures Classics (who supported Foxcatcher instead). And finally, it was good to see Selma get a nomination, but for a movie that was receiving a lot of momentum heading into the Oscar nominations, it really limped its way into the big award. More to come about that.

Best Director

  • Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman)
  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
  • Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

While it was sure that Inarritu, Linklater, and Anderson was going to receive nominations, the final two were a bit up in the air. I’m glad Tyldum received a nod, reassuring The Imitation Game’s strength through awards season, but Miller was certainly the surprise here. The way The Academy supported American Sniper, I couldn’t believe that it received a Best Picture nod without a Best Director nod to Clint Eastwood. And Miller gets in without a Best Picture nod for Foxcatcher? Seriously, something doesn’t make sense here. Also, Ava DuVernay (Selma) was snubbed, which would’ve been the first African American female nominated for this category. This year’s Oscars is certainly a white-wash. To be fair, I haven’t seen Selma yet so maybe it didn’t deserve the nominations that a lot of people predicted.

Best Actor

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

The snub: David Oyelowo of Selma. This is going to be a hard pill to swallow for fans of Selma, because Oyelowo was considered a lock for a nomination. Still, this race is between Keaton and Redmayne (who both won on the Golden Globes) with the edge going to Keaton. But if Keaton loses at the SAG Awards, then it’ll be a whole new ball game for Best Actor.

Best Actress

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

The snub: Jennifer Aniston (Cake). That was really it. I feel like there wasn’t enough people who saw Cake and therefore Aniston didn’t get enough votes. Though it wasn’t like Two Days, One Night was a big movie but The Academy loves her so they swung her way.

Best Supporting Actor

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

These were the nominees expected and The Academy came through. Nothing else to say here.

Best Supporting Actress

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

The snub: Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year). While Chastain can be considered a snub, these five women who received the nomination are all deserving. I’m glad Laura Dern snuck into the category because she was great in Wild. And this is Streep’s 19th Oscar nomination. Just wow!

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • American Sniper
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inherent Vice
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Again, I was a fool to think The Academy wasn’t going to go for American Sniper, but I guess that’s what happens when I don’t get to see a movie before the nominations. I’m glad that Whiplash got a nomination here, but I really felt Wild and Gone Girl would get a nod. But like I said above, there was love for American Sniper and none for Gone Girl.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nightcrawler

The snub: Selma and Mr. Turner. Mike Leigh has been nominated five times before for his screenplays, so I was a bit surprised to see that Mr. Turner wasn’t in the mix for Best Original Screenplay. And of course, the lack of love for Selma from The Academy. I am glad that Gilroy’s Nightcrawler got in here because that was certainly one of the most underrated films of the year.

So those are the major awards. Some other things to point out: I couldn’t believe that Life Itself wasn’t nominated for Best Documentary. It was about the best movie critic of all time for crying out loud! And to me, I always look at the Film Editing category to see which films are really in the race for Best Picture. All five Best Editing nominations are also in for Best Picture, so in a way that’s a better standard than Best Director (especially from the past few years). And finally, Roger Deakins gets his 11th nomination for his cinematography work for Unbroken. He has yet to win. Come on Academy, throw the guy a bone! That’s all for now.


Predicting the Nominees (87th Academy Awards)

January 13, 2015

oscars-logo3

While it’s certainly fun to predict the winners, it’s even more challenging to try and predict the nominees and that’s what I’ll try to do right here, right now! Like I’ve said in my previous posts, 2014 had a great number of movies that are Oscar-worthy, but unfortunately not all of them can receiving nominations. No matter how the race shapes up on the announcement Thursday morning, there will be plenty of snubs. So without anything else, here are my predictions:

Best Picture

  • Boyhood
  • Birdman
  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Selma
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Gone Girl
  • Foxcatcher
  • Whiplash

The top six films here seem to be set and there seems to be a consensus that nine films will be nominated, so that means the last three spots are up in the air. I’m going first with Gone Girl to receive a nomination because 1. we found out two years ago how much the Academy loves Ben Affleck, 2. its excellence from Fincher (director), Pike (actress), and Flynn (screenplay), and 3. it received a PGA nod.

With two films remaining (and plenty of films), my next prediction goes to Foxcatcher. The SAG gave nods to Carell and Ruffalo and the PGA also gave it a nomination. I think it has just enough momentum to snag a Best Picture nomination.

This means with only one spot left, my guess will be for Whiplash. This prediction is highly personal since I loved this movie so much, but I think it’ll squeak in over the likes of American Sniper, Nightcrawler, and Into the Woods. The only thing that might hurt its chances is if not enough voters saw it, but if voters did see it then I believe they’ll fall for its power the way I did.

Best Director

  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman)
  • Ava DuVernay (Selma)
  • Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • David Fincher (Gone Girl)

With such a great year for cinema with plenty of talented directors, there will be a handful who get snubbed this year. It’s strange that with my predictions, I have directors such as Clint Eastwood, Bennett Miller, Mike Leigh, Christopher Nolan, and Paul Thomas Anderson not receiving a nomination. But that’s how it goes in such a competitive category. My slight upset in my predictions goes to Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) being snubbed, even though it’s likely he’ll receive a nomination.

Best Actor

  • Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  • Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
  • Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
  • David Oyelowo (Selma)

There has to be some snubs in this category, so I think that Oyelowo and Carell will sneak in while Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) gets snubbed.

Best Actress

  • Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  • Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  • Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
  • Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  • Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

I feel like these nominees are locks. Can Amy Adams or Emily Blunt spoil the party for one of these women? Maybe, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Best Supporting Actor

  • J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  • Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  • Edward Norton (Birdman)
  • Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  • Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes)

Call me crazy, but the Academy loves Christoph Waltz so I think he’ll sneak in past Robert Duvall and Josh Brolin to snag another nomination.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  • Emma Stone (Birdman)
  • Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
  • Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
  • Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

This category is probably the weakest of all the major ones, but this was the best I could come up with. Maybe Laura Dern will get a nod for Wild, maybe Rene Russo for Nightcrawler, but those are my predictions.

Best Original Screenplay

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Selma
  • Mr. Turner

I feel like Selma will have a good showing and therefore will sneak into this category, bumping out either Foxcatcher or Nightcrawler. I originally had Mr. Turner off my predictions, but realized that Mike Leigh has been nominated five times before for his screenplays, so it’s hard to ignore that fact.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Imitation Game
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Gone Girl
  • Whiplash
  • Wild

I really feel like the Academy isn’t going to go for American Sniper the way that some people believe. Therefore, I’m snubbing it for this category, along with the disappointing Inherent Vice and Unbroken.

Well those are my predictions. Like I said before, this is a pretty wide open year for Oscar nominations. I think that films like Unbroken and Into the woods won’t have much of an impact. Even films like Interstellar and American Sniper could have had strong showings on another year, but not this year. And I feel like Gone Girl and Foxcatcher are two films that are right on the edge of being snubbed, but will end up doing quite well. Tune into Thursday for the full list of nominees.


Best Picture Breakdown (87th Academy Awards)

January 10, 2015

oscars-logo1

I’ve been slacking a bit this year during the awards season but I’ll try to make up with it from this point on. This year is quite unique in the sense that it seems like it’s a wide open race for Best Picture. At this point last year we knew that Gravity and 12 Years a Slave would be favorites. The year before we knew Lincoln would be a favorite, with Argo’s momentum pushing violently towards the top. But this year? Not only isn’t there a real favorite but there are so many films that have a legitimate shot at receiving a Best Picture nomination. I would guess that there are usually about 12 or so films that have a real chance at a Best Picture nod, but this year? I counted 18.

That’s not saying that there are certainly films that are more likely to receive a nod than others. So let’s start out with our first tier films that are locks to receive a nomination.

First Tier:

best-pic-firsttier

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Imitation Game

These are the cream of the crop during this year’s awards season. They all have the support from the SAG, the Golden Globes and plenty of critic circles. Simply put, there is no doubt that these films will be nominated for Best Picture, but at the same time there isn’t a clear front-runner from these three.

Second Tier:

best-pic-secondtier

– The Grand Budapest Hotel
– The Theory of Everything

These two films in the second tier are practically locked to receive a nomination for Best Picture. The Theory of Everything always felt like a Best Picture nomination with its moving story and its incredible Oscar-worthy performances from the two leads, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The Grand Budapest Hotel always had the quality to be a Best Picture nominee, but I was always skeptical because it was by the quirky Wes Anderson and because it was released so early on in the year that I thought it would be quickly forgotten. Thankfully it hasn’t and has been receiving a ton of support through awards season. Look for these films to be nominated, but don’t expect either to win unless it upsets during the Guild awards.

Third Tier:

– Whiplash
– Foxcatcher
– Selma
– Into the Woods

This is when the movies get tricky. In this third tier, I find that these films have a good chance at rounding out the Best Picture nominees, but I’m not overly confident about my picks. I loved Whiplash, but aside from JK Simmons receiving attention the film isn’t quite doing enough to lock down a nomination (I blame Sony Pictures Classics for backing Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner over Whiplash). As for Foxcatcher, it’s getting attention for its actors but not really for the movie as a whole. Selma has been receiving great reviews, but it’s the epitome of the difference of opinion between the critics and the Academy. And Into the Woods is close, but missing out on that SAG Ensemble nod really is hurting its chances.

Fourth Tier:

– Gone Girl
– Nightcrawler
– Unbroken
– American Sniper

All of the films here in the fourth tier have a chance to be nominated for Best Picture, but it’s an uphill battle. Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, and American Sniper all got boosts from the PGA nominees, but still don’t have enough momentum yet to be considered Best Picture material. As for Unbroken, it’s on very thin ice at this point but I’m not willing to completely give up on it yet.

Fifth Tier:

– Interstellar
– Wild
– Mr. Turner
– A Most Violent Year
– Inherent Vice

Interstellar was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Will that be enough? There usually is one sci-fi film that gets nominated, including Nolan’s Inception in 2010. Wild has been great for Reese Witherspoon and even for Adapted Screenplay, but remember when Into the Wild didn’t receive an expected Best Picture/Best Director nod? Wild could have the same fate. As for Mr. Turner, A Most Violent Year, and Inherent Vice, all are films from very talented directors but haven’t been as well-received from the Academy as they expected.


Oscar Talk 2014: Predicting Before Viewing

October 16, 2014

movie-theater

As someone who loves to keep up with the Oscar race every year, there is something that I have to deal with not being someone who receives advance screeners and someone who cannot attend the major film festivals throughout the year. That’s making predictions before actually seeing some films. While I usually end up seeing every film before The Academy Awards, the road leading up to the telecast is always full of holes and assumptions since it’s nearly impossible for me to see everything.

That being said, I still feel that there’s a way to make educated guesses without seeing certain films come awards season. Knowing the game, the people involved, and certain statistics can definitely give you an edge (or sometimes a better chance) when you haven’t seen the films yet. Why did I say it might give you a better chance? Because it’s not uncommon for your emotions to get in the way of making accurate predictions. Last year, I absolutely loved Life of Pi and was tempted to predict the upset to pair up with Ang Lee’s Best Director victory, but everyone knew that Argo was going to take Best Picture. The main thing to remember is “Who do you think The Academy will pick” not “Who do you think deserves the award.”

boyhood-pic2

So as we prepare to enter this year’s awards season, I’ve only seen one contender thus far: Boyhood. It was a phenomenal film and easily the best film I’ve seen this year, but how is it going to rank against other serious contenders? More importantly, should I rank it as my #1 since it’s the only film I’ve seen, or can I legitimately rank films I’ve yet to see above it? Now I’m not saying I’m an expert with these predictions, but I do have a method to my madness. First and foremost, do I think Boyhood can win Best Picture? My short answer is: Yes, but not likely. Why? By all means it’s a fantastic film and Linklater’s passion project that spans over years to make. But it’s a lengthy, heavy film that some people could interpret as a string of Hollywood home videos instead of an Oscar-winning movie.

Is Boyhood at the top of my predictions so far? No, it’s not. But I do believe it’ll definitely receive a nomination for Best Picture. The film that I currently have as the best chance to win Best Picture is The Imitation Game. It received great praise when it was screened at the TIFF, plus it’s backed by Harvey Weinstein himself (which always gives a movie an edge). It has just enough power and drama for a film to win plenty of Oscars. I think, at least right now, it has a great chance to win, but then again, I haven’t seen it yet.

I know I’m not the only one who does the same, predicting films without seeing them, but the scary thing is that this is something Academy members do too. I don’t know how many, but there are certainly plenty of members who will vote for Best Picture films without seeing a handful of the nominees. To me, that defeats the whole purpose to voting for the most prestigious award in the film industry, but then again there really isn’t any way of confirming members have seen the films. So then the question of “Who do you think The Academy will vote for” becomes a lot more challenging when a percentage of them haven’t even seen the nominees. But this is all a guessing game and for what it’s worth, it’s a lot of fun.


%d bloggers like this: