I was never really a fan of the AMPAS’ decision to expand the Best Picture category from 5 to 10. The idea was to help include more populist films (after outcry over the snubbing of The Dark Knight), but at the end of the day, each year, these campaigns still come down to a two-picture race, same as always. And there’s still the awkward issue of Best Director still being limited, keeping some helmers out of contention, despite getting BP noms. So what’s the point of the expansion? Voting has lead up to 8 contenders in 2015, but I’d like to make a guess that if the Oscars were still doing their traditional 5, these would be your true nominees:
- American Sniper
- Grand Budapest Hotel
This is based purely on the movies I think people are talking about the most. The Theory of Everything has sort of been an afterthought, so I eliminated it and Whiplash, which also have the fewest nominations besides Selma (more on Selma in a sec). The Imitation Game was tough to cut, too since it has the second most noms, and is practically designed for Oscar bait. It’s a fantastic film, but it just hasn’t gained the needed traction this awards season.
As for Selma, I would like to think that with a trimmer Best Picture category, it gets director recognition after all, instead of the one-note Foxcatcher. But I’d keep The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum over Clint Eastwood, because his work is the tighter of the two. Similar to the 2014 TV edition of “If I Ran…,” I think a special Academy Awards edition is in order. Except the foreign films, docs and shorts, I saw all nominated movies this year! (This includes Mr. Turner, which was almost the death of me.)
But I sort of already went down this road with my What if Comic Book Movies got Oscars article before, so I’ll keep this relatively shorter, with just a handful of additions. I’ve got the other 5 best actors of the year, I’ll note the best movie villains, invent a Best Stunt and Choreography category, announce my favorite screenplays and make predictions for the show. Believe it or not, but I actually think The Oscars was more or less pretty good with most of its nominations.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Let’s get it right out of the way now, that Gone Girl is a savvy realization of Gillian Flynn’s novel, and this is a film that totally got shafted by the academy for its writing. Well, not only do I think it deserved the nomination, it straight up wins in my view. This is an excellent narrative that kept me guessing the whole way.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
For all intents and purposes, The Babadook is my favorite movie of 2014. So naturally, I think Jennifer Kent’s work is the best original effort of the year. No love from the Oscars, probably due to eligibility issues, but for a horror film, a genre that gets no respect, this is one of the finest I’ve seen in ages.
THE OTHER BEST ACTORS
David Oyelowo might be the snub of the year. It is an impossible task to ask someone to play the great Dr.Martin Luther King Jr, but he is astounding. We tend to take Robert Downey Jr. for granted because he’s so natural at what he does, but his performance in The Judge is easily his best post-Iron Man showing. Matthew McConaughey is officially one of the best actors working, but I fear his genius was lost under the weight of Interstellar. You can feel every punch and grunt from Channing Tatum in such a way that feels like he was digging for awards gold. But perhaps nobody pushed themselves harder than Miles Teller. The ferocity with which he plays is overlooked because of JK Simmons.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN STUNTS AND CHOREOGRAPHY
I think this is a category that legitimately needs to be added. Such recognition would certainly make filmmakers step up their game in terms of creativity and technique. This very thing basically happened with these 5 movies, which had the most thrilling fights, escapes and battles of the year.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN VILLAINY
This is a gag category for sure, but I just love the way it sounds! What if we could reward the best villains of the year? Funnyman Steve Carrell’s transformation in Foxcatcher is not unlike Funnyman Robin William’s dark turn for One Hour Photo. Rosamund Pike’s twisted Amy may have done for marraige what Jaws did for sharks! Jake Gyllenhaal never got that Best Actor nod but I see him here, taking the concept of “self-made man” to new lows. A big reason why Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was my 2nd favorite movie of 2014 had to do with human-hating Ape antagonist Koba. And J.K. Simmons is so good I’d be happy to see him win for the same role twice in one night.
[Updated] And now, on to my 2015 OSCAR REPORT CARD. I’ve striked through the ones I missed
Prediction: JK Simmons. Want: JK Simmons. Winner: JK Simmons
Duvall’s poop scene, Norton’s method character, great crop of nominees. But Simmons was magnetic
Prediction: Grand Budapest Hotel. Want: Grand Budapest Hotel. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice also has awesome threads. I’m good either way, but the default prediction goes to the BP nominee
Prediction: Foxcatcher. Want Foxcatcher. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
The nose is really the star of the movie. But I think the Academy made the right call on GBH’s efforts.
Prediction: Grand Budapest hotel. Want: Grand Budapest Hotel. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
The look of this movie is the most charming thing about it.
Prediction: Big Hero 6. Want: Big Hero 6. Winner: Big Hero 6
Even if The LEGO Movie made it on the ballot, I still think Big Hero 6 would beat it. Breathtaking visuals and tons of heart.
Prediction: Selma. Want: Selma. Winner: Selma
It’s not just a sympathy vote. “Glory” really is pretty great.
Prediction: The Theory of Everything. Want: The Intimidation Game. Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel
I don’t even remember the soundtrack of Theory but everyone insists the votes will split, so…[this was a surprise]
Prediction: Whiplash. Want:Whiplash. Winner: Whiplash
Music is a go to, imo, and the jazz in this film sounds AMAZING on theater speakers.
Prediction: Interstellar. Want: American Sniper. Winner: American Sniper
Any movie set in space is all about invention so ‘stellar has got it, but most Sniper’s effectiveness is due to its sound.
Prediction: Interstellar. Want: Dawn of the Apes. Winner: Interstellar
This is probably the best category of the show. Will be happy with any winner. [Interstellar’s scientifically accurate science fiction surely put them over.] Here’s a great piece about the “invisible” visual effects of Gone Girl.
Prediction:Birdman. Want: Birdman. Winner: Birdman
Birdman’s long-shot “fake-take” is the most technically impressive thing I took away from it.
Prediction: Boyhood. Want: American Sniper. Winner: Whiplash
The magic of Boyhood is in the editing, but the jumps forward were kinda jarring, tbh. Sniper’s tension is too good. [biggest surprise of the night for Whiplash. But a pleasant surprise. the tension racked up here is excellent too]
Prediction: The Imitation Game. Want: The Imitation Game. Winner: The Intimidation Game
I think this Imitation is one of the best movies of the year. Sadly this is the highest award they can hope to win.
Prediction: Birdman. Want: Nightcrawler. Winner: Birdman
Another loaded category with great noms top to bottom.
Prediction: Patricia Arquette. Want: Patricia Arquette. Winner: Patricia Arquette
It was strong, and brave. I’d like a shout out for Keira Knightley’s work too. And one more supporting actress should have come from Gone Girl (Kate Dickens, Carrie Coon). Laura Dern for Wild wasn’t needed.
Prediction: Michael Keaton. Want: Michael Keaton. Winner: Eddie Redmayne
Why are people trying to pretend Michael Keaton isn’t the front-runner? Redmayne’s Hawking is better. Way better. But that’s not who everyone’s talking about, is it? [Sure enough, Redmayne takes it! My reverse psychology worked!]
Prediction: Julianne Moore. Want: Julianne More. Winner: Julianne Moore
She deserves all the praise she’s getting. It’s a stunning show. But we could have bumped Felicity Jones’ plain wife for The Babadook‘s Essie Davis.
Prediction: Boyhood. Want: Boyhood. Winner: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Linklater stole my idea! There, I said it! [I’d call this a huge upset]
Prediction: Boyhood. Want: Selma or Whiplash. Or The Imitation Game. Winner: Birdman
They’re flat out better movies. Hell, I’ll take American Sniper too if nothing else, because its zeitgeist-y and will piss people off. But the “Boyhood or Birdman?” debate is not ideal for what I think the best of 2014 was.
[So Birdman takes it, which as I said, was not ideal. I don’t think this movie is representative of the best of the year, nor do I even think it will be remembered in 5 years as anything more than a comeback vehicle for an actor who didn’t even get the award he was supposed to. Strange win for a strange movie.]