Oscar Preview and Predictions

The Oscars are this weekend and I can’t wait.  I’ve always loved movies and award shows, so the Oscars are a perfect match for me.  I always make it a goal to see as many of the Oscar nominated movies before the show each year.  This year I was able to see all the films nominated for Best Picture plus a few of the others nominated in other categories.  The Oscars are a show that most people enjoy watching, but not necessarily for the same reasons as me.  Many of the movies nominated are not the big, high-budget movies that we have becomes so accustomed to.  Of the 8 films nominated for Best Picture, only American Sniper has grossed over $100 million.  Fifty Shades of Grey grossed more in its first weekend than all the Best Picture nominees, other than American Sniper, have grossed during their entire time in theaters.

The bottom line is that the majority of the Oscar nominated films aren’t made for the masses.  They aren’t made to make hundreds of millions of dollars.  They are made for the diehard movie fanatics who enjoy films for things like cinematography, music, dialog, acting and scenery.  I really enjoy these things and that’s why I love most of the Oscar films.  Many of my friends call me a movie snob.  While I think that’s a bit harsh, I can understand where they are coming from.  To me, a movie snob is someone who only likes these type of movies and says a movie like Hunger Games or Avengers is dumb.  Truthfully, I enjoy just about any movie.  It’s very seldom that I watch a movie and can’t find anything I like about it.  That’s the beautiful thing about movies to me.  Maybe the story had holes in it, but the acting was great.  I recently saw Jupiter Ascending and I bet a lot of people would say it was a lousy movie.  However, if you go see it in 3D and appreciate the movie visually, I find it hard to believe you would hate it.  Was it cheesy?  Absolutely.  Was the story a little strange and confusing?  No doubt about it.  But the visuals were awesome and worth every penny.

Without further ado I’d like to get to my preview and predictions.  I’ll start with some of the lesser awards and move up to Best Picture.  While I have seen most of the films with nominations, I haven’t seen them all.  For that reason, I will be picking some of the winners based on what I’ve heard and read.  Also, I will pick a My Winner and an Actual Winner for each award.  The difference is My Winner is the one I want to win and the Actual Winner is who I think will win.  Also, I’m going to skip the following categories because I’ve seen none of the nominated films: Short Film- Live Action and Animated, Foreign Language Film and Documentary- Short Subject and Feature.

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

This used to be a category where one or two films really stood out.  Now, all of these films are great visually.  With computer graphics and all the visual effects they can utilize, these films all turn make believe into reality.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy had amazing effects.  The Apes swinging from trees and invading the city was awesome.  And all the space scenes and different characters in Guardians of the Galaxy were a site to see.  With that being said, Interstellar was a notch above the rest.  I saw this movie in the theater twice.  Once in 3D and once in IMAX 3D.  Truly a remarkable movie and one of the best visual movies I’ve ever seen.  My Winner- Interstellar.  Actual Winner- Interstellar.

Writing- Adapted Screenplay:

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

I’ve seen all of these films and enjoyed them all.  I feel like the writing in American Sniper might get overlooked because most people focused on the acting and all the shooting and not what the people were saying (not that writing is only dialog).  Inherent Vice has some fantastic lines, but might be a bit too strange to win anything.  The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game were both great dialog movies.  However, this has to go to Whiplash.  The lines and conversations in this movie are fantastic.  Plus, the Academy will want to reward a movie this good and it’s not going to win anything else except Supporting Actor.  My Winner- Whiplash.  Actual Winner- Whiplash.

Writing- Original Screenplay:

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

I have not seen Foxcatcher, but I highly doubt it should or will win this based on what I’ve heard.  This is a tough category though.  Birdman was a truly original movie.  Boyhood was the same.  Their scripts were certainly different in that Birdman is pretty out there and Boyhood often feels like you’re watching a home video.  I did not enjoy Nightcrawler and would be disappointed to see it win.  My pick would be The Grand Budapest Hotel.  I absolutely love Wes Anderson and this is one of his classics.  So many great lines and so much fun.  I would be shocked to see it actually win though.  My Winner- The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Actual Winner- Birdman.

Sound Editing:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken

I haven’t seen Unbroken yet.  I had every intention of seeing it, but then it received poor reviews and almost no Oscar buzz.  This category is so tough for me.  American Sniper, The Hobbit and Interstellar all had amazing sound.  I saw all 3 in IMAX with better sound quality whereas I saw Birdman in a regular theater, so that could have some impact on my judgement.  I thought American Sniper was just a bit better than the rest, but I think the Academy is going to reward Interstellar with a lot of the technical awards since it was snubbed in the major categories.  My Winner- American Sniper.  Actual Winner- Interstellar.

Sound Mixing:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

Many people, including myself in the past, get the two sound categories confused.  I’ll make it sound as basic as possible.  Sound Editing is the art of finding and recording the sounds and Sound Mixing is the art of integrating those sounds into the movie at the right times.  Typically the same same film will win both of these awards, but it’s not impossible to see two different winners.  I actually think this will be a year with two different winners.  I just don’t see how American Sniper doesn’t win this.  Finding the sounds of gun shots and explosions is one thing, but mixing them into the movie while there is dialog, other explosions and so many other sounds is quite a feat in this film.  My Winner- American Sniper.  Actual Winner- American Sniper.

Music:

  • “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
  • “Glory” from Selma
  • “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
  • I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell… I’ll be Me
  • “Lost Stars” from Begin Again

I’ve only seen The Lego Movie and Selma, so this is a bit of speculation on my part.  Just from all the buzz and popularity, I’m going to say “Glory” wins this one.  It’s the biggest movie of the group and definitely the most recognizable song of the group.  I enjoyed “Everything is Awesome” for the first couple of times, but everything is definitely not awesome after you listen to that song more than a handful of times.  My Winner- “Glory”.  Actual Winner- “Glory”.

Production Design:

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Mr. Turner

I have not see Into the Woods or Mr. Turner.  The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game were both very well done in terms of Production Design, but there can only be one winner here.  Interstellar has to win this.  If you’ve read about Interstellar you know that a lot of the space scenes were filmed using sets and not done with computers.  That’s an amazing feat and something that needs to be rewarded.  My Winner- Interstellar.  Actual Winner- Interstellar.

Makeup and Hairstyling:

  • Foxcather
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

I have not seen Foxcatcher, but I’ve certainly seen the clips of Steve Carrell and how crazy he looks.  As great as he looks, Guardians of the Galaxy sticks out to me.  There were so many cool creatures in this movie.  I just can’t see how anything beats it out.  My Winner- Guardians of the Galaxy.  Actual Winner- Guardians of the Galaxy.

Music:

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Mr. Turner
  • The Theory of Everything

Again, I haven’t seen Mr. Turner.  The Theory of Everything won the Golden Globe and I suspect it’ll win here too.  However, I feel in love with the music in Interstellar.  Hans Zimmer truly brought his A-game for this one.  I actually downloaded the soundtrack and love listening to it when I’m driving around town.  The music in The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel didn’t really hit home with me.  I was shocked to see Gone Girl not get nominated here.  Loved the music in that one and Trent Reznor has already won an Oscar for his score from The Social Network.  Anyway, I hope Mr. Zimmer pulls this one out.  My Winner- Interstellar.  Actual Winner- The Theory of Everything.

Film Editing:

  • American Sniper
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Whiplash

I’ve seen them all and they are all great movies.  I wouldn’t be upset to see any of them win.  But how can you not give this to Boyhood?  This was filmed over 12 years!  Yes, 12 years.  Imagine trying to edit a scene 11 years after it was filmed.  Or trying to edit the scenes each year, and then puting them all together to make sense at the end.  We’ve never seen anything like this.  My Winner- Boyhood.  Actual Winner- Boyhood.

Cinematography:

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ida
  • Mr. Turner
  • Unbroken

To be fair I’ve only seen Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel from this category.  Yet, I have no doubt who should and will win this award.  It absolutely has to be Birdman.  Emmanuel Lubezki won last year for Gravity and should have no problem repeating this year.  If you are into cinematography and you haven’t seen Birdman, run to the theater tonight to watch it.  For the first 20-30 minutes I don’t remember seeing a single cut.  Clearly there were some in there, but good luck finding them.  Lubezki has quickly become my favorite cinematographer.  Yes, I have a favorite.  Not only did he do Birdman and Gravity, but he also did Children of Men.  Children of Men is one of my all time favorites and if you don’t think it’s filmed in a cool way, I don’t know what to tell you.  The way Lubezki follows things around with the camera is truly remarkable.  Okay, enough gushing.  Sorry, can’t help it.  My Winner- Birdman.  Actual Winner- Birdman.

Costume Design:

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Inherent Vice
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • Mr. Turner

I haven’t seen Into the Woods, Maleficent or Mr. Turner.  But I’m going to guess that Into the Woods wins this one.  This is a guess based on what I’ve briefly read and seen.  Truthfully I probably shouldn’t even be picking this category.  My Winner- Into the Woods.  Actual Winner- Into the Woods.

Directing:

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcather
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game

While all these directors are deserving of being nominated, I can’t see how Boyhood doesn’t win this.  Not to beat a dead horse, but this movie was filmed over 12 years.  How the heck can a director take a year off 11 times and still be on their game?  That’s crazy talk.  My Winner- Boyhood.  Actual Winner- Boyhood.

Animated Feature Film:

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

This is another category I probably shouldn’t even be picking.  I actually haven’t see any of these films.  The only reason I’m picking it is because a friend of mine saw Big Hero 6 and absolutely loved it.  So I’m going with him and saying that it should win.  My Winner- Big Hero 6.  Actual Winner- Big Hero 6.

Actress In a Supporting Role:

  • Patricia Arquette- Boyhood
  • Laura Dern- Wild
  • Keira Nightly- The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone- Birdman
  • Meryl Streep- Into the Woods

Of all the major awards, the two supporting role awards have the least amount of surprise to them.  It would be a major shock if Patricia Arquette didn’t win.  The other women were great, but she was better.  One quick thing, does Meryl Streep just get a token nomination at this point?  I’m not criticizing her in anyway, but does it even matter what her role is?  Could she have been in Dumb and Dumber 2 and still received a nomination?  I feel like Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis do (and should) get nominated no matter what they do.  My Winner- Patricia Arquette.  Actual Winner- Patricia Arquette.

Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Robert Duvall- The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke- Boyhood
  • Edward Norton- Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo- Foxcather
  • J.K. Simmons- Whiplash

This is the landslide of all landslides.  These are the kind of performances I wait all year to see.  Usually once or twice a year an actor or actress has a performance that you know is better than all the rest.  We saw it last year with Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto.  We saw it with Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln and Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men.  That is what J.K. Simmons was this year in Whiplash.  If you only watch one movie from the Oscar nominations to see one performance, this would be it.  He’s that good.  The others were great as well, but this award is all about Simmons.  My Winner- J.K. Simmons.  Actual Winner- J.K. Simmons

Actress in a Leading Role:

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

Sadly I’ve only seen two of these performances having missed Two Days, One Night, Still Alice and Wild.  Everything I’ve seen, heard and read says this is Julianne Moore’s award to lose.  She plays a woman struggling with early dementia  and is supposed to be fantastic.  Since I didn’t see that one I’m picking Rosamund Pike from Gone Girl.  I really enjoyed that movie and thought she was a perfectly cold character.  He facial expressions almost made her feel like a robot who had no emotions and simply did what she had to do.  Loved it.  My Winner- Rosamund Pike.  Actual Winner- Julianne Moore.

Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Steve Carrell- Foxcather
  • Bradley Cooper- American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch- The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton- Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne- The Theory of Everything

This one is SUPER tough for me.  I didn’t see Foxcather, but thoroughly enjoyed all the rest of the performances.  To me there isn’t a true stand out that can’t lose, but all of these performances were top notch.  I would have to go with Bradley Cooper if I were allowed to vote.  I loved American Sniper and hope it doesn’t get shut out.  Keaton and Redmayne won the Golden Globes (the Globes are split up into a Drama and a Musical/Comedy so they both won).  I could see either of them winning this.  I’ll be shocked if Carrell or Cumberbatch win.  My Winner- Bradley Cooper.  Actual Winner- Michael Keaton.

Best Picture:

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

Where do I being?  First off let me say that I have seen all of these.  I enjoyed all of them to varying degrees.  From an entertainment standpoint, I probably enjoyed American Sniper and The Grand Budapest Hotel the most.  Birdman was a little strange for me, but the music, cinematography and acting were all so great, I can’t discredit it at all.  Boyhood fascinates me because of all the work that went into it.  It’s nearly all just dialog and it’s long, but I never felt bored or wanted it to end.  The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything felt very similar to me.  Both had great acting from the main actor and actress.  Both were based on a true story.  Both were about England’s history.  Neither one totally wowed me, but they were both very well done and entertaining.  Selma was a great movie about a great man.  I’ll be honest that I didn’t know a ton about what happened.  I enjoyed learning the story and seeing a part of American history and felt like David Oyelowo did a fantastic job as MLK.  Whiplash was the last one of the eight that I saw.  I hadn’t heard too much about it going into it, but man was it fantastic.  The story was enthralling and the acting was amazing.  I really enjoyed it.  One quick note I’d like to make is that I was really disappointed that Interstellar didn’t get nominated for Best Picture.  It wouldn’t have won, but it was my favorite movie of 2014 and I wasn’t alone.  Not that IMDB.com is everything, but Interstellar is #21 on their all-time list and has an 8.8 rating.  Also, it was nominated for several Oscars, so clearly the Academy did appreciate the film.  Anyway, getting back to the films that were actually nominated, I have gone back and forth on what I think should win and what I think will win.  I can say with certainty that I would rule out The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything and Selma.  And while I’d love to see The Grand Budapest Hotel win, I don’t think it has a real chance.  I feel the same way about Whiplash, even though I might vote for it as my winner if push came to shove.  Truly, I believe it’s going to come down to American Sniper, Birdman and Boyhood.  They are all worthy and have compelling arguments.  Birdman and Boyhood both won the Golden Globe (again it’s broken up into Drama and Musical/Comedy).  American Sniper hasn’t won anything, but has really picked up steam over the last month or so.  Sniper is also the highest grossing movie of these 8 films, by a large margin, if that matters at all.  When all the dust settles, I think I’d have to pick American Sniper.  I enjoyed that film so much and it was extremely moving.  However, I feel as if they will give the award to Birdman.  My Winner- American Sniper.  Actual Winner- Birdman.

 

 

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