Moving Pics’ Oscar Picks

Nate D. Sanders Auctions Collection Of Academy Award Oscar Statuettes Set To Be Auctioned

 

 

 

 

 

When people talk about “the holidays”, to me that means Columbus Day through the Oscars.  What can I say, I’m a festive guy.  The 87th Academy Awards ceremony this Sunday will salute another stellar year in film, and below you can find Moving Pictures’ list of who could take home statues and who really deserves them.  Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!

BEST PICTURE

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Boyhood

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • The Imitation Game

  • The Theory of Everything

  • Selma

  • Whiplash

Should Win: Boyhood

Will Win: Boyhood

Thoughts: Full disclosure – I have not yet had the chance to see Selma, American Sniper or The Theory of Everything.  I just ran out of time (and money to go to the theater), but I have to say, I’d have a hard time imagining any of these films unseating Boyhood, for me.  It was an early favorite for Best Picture and despite a serious challenge from Birdman and the late steam gathering of Sniper, I think things will hold together for Richard Linklater’s 12 year project, and it could be one of the most deserving Best Picture winners in quite a while (as would several of these nominees).  Linklater has been a prolific presence for years, churning out creations ranging mostly from solid to brilliant.  As much as I still consider the Before trilogy to be his crowning achievement, Boyhood delivers an embarrassment of riches in it’s indelible performances, epic scope and understanding of the human condition.  It’ll be a real treat to see the always down-to-earth Linklater take the stage (as producer) to receive the recognition he so thoroughly deserves.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Richard Linklater – Boyhood

  • Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

  • Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Should Win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Will Win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Thoughts: In such a close race it often comes to pass that the Academy splits the Best Picture and Best Director awards, but that doesn’t mean Iñárritu didn’t earn it.  This is an especially exciting acknowledgement because it acts as an affirmation of his move in this new direction.  Iñárritu has made some really excellent films in his career, but a jarringly successful departure like Birdman makes it clear that he’s just getting started.

BEST ACTOR

  • Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper – American Sniper

  • Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game

  • Michael Keaton – Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Should Win: Michael Keaton

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne

Thoughts: The last time somebody won the Best Actor Oscar without winning the SAG Best Actor (which Redmayne did) it was 2003.  While this is looking like it’ll be a generally on-the-money year as far as winners go, the Academy gets it wrong a lot.  The late(r) in life comeback narrative didn’t work for Mickey Rourke’s Oscar campaign for his marvelous performance in The Wrestler a handful of years back, and it may not work for Keaton either this time around.  At least Rourke lost to a deserving Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, rather than the technically savvy yet Oscar-baiting performance from up-and-comer Eddie Redmayne.  It’s a real shame too, because I don’t see Keaton getting another chance like this any time soon.  More so than any other category this year, this is the one where I really, really hope I’m wrong.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

  • Julianne Moore – Still Alice

  • Reese Witherspoon – Wild

  • Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Should Win: N/A

Will Win: Julianne Moore

Thoughts: I unfortunately only got the chance to see one of the performances in this category and it wasn’t Julianne Moore’s, but I can totally buy the consensus that this one is hers to lose.  Moore has been a personal favorite since her work with Paul Thomas Anderson in Boogie Nights and Magnolia and she’s been nominated for four previous Oscars.  Whether it’s her best or not, this is an award that will rightly give props to not only a performance, but an exemplary career.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Robert Duvall – The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke – Boyhood

  • Edward Norton – Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher

  • J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Should Win: Edward Norton

Will Win: J.K. Simmons

Thoughts: If it were up to me, I give this one to Norton over the sure-thing J.K. Simmons.  And you know what?  I’d give it to Hawke or Ruffalo over Simmons as well.  That’s not to say that Simmons isn’t great and that Whiplash isn’t an excellent film, it’s just that this category is so strong this year.  Norton, especially, delivers perhaps the best performance of his career as the cocky thespian Mike Shiner, and his introductory scene with Michael Keaton in Birdman was one of my favorites of the year.  This would be a deserving role for Norton to earn his first Oscar, but it seems, unfortunately, that he’ll have to wait another year at the very least.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
  • Laura Dern – Wild

  • Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game

  • Emma Stone – Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Should Win: Patricia Arquette

Will Win: Patricia Arquette

Thoughts: This is probably the least exciting category of the night for oddsmakers because it’s going to Patricia Arquette, hands down.  Her co-star and on-screen ex-husband Ethan Hawke may steal a few more scenes but Arquette anchors the film, as well as the bumpy life of it’s leading man…I mean, boy.  I’ve always liked Arquette (if you haven’t seen her work in True Romance or David Lynch’s Lost Highway, do yourself a favor and check these films out), and she comes from a hardworking show biz family that raised her on the principles of art over fame and passion over pretension.  She’s won every major award of the season for this role, but I’m sure Sunday’s finale will be especially sweet.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Emmanuel Lubezki
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman

  • Ida – Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski

  • Mr. Turner – Dick Pope

  • Unbroken – Roger Deakins

Should Win: Emmanuel Lubezki

Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki

Thoughts: This will mean back to back wins for Lubezki and he deserves it even more this time around than he did for last year’s Gravity.  His one-continuous-shot approach is more than a gimmick to be sure, it gives the kinetically charged Birdman the perfect vehicle for it’s free flowing style, and beyond the virtuosic camera work Lubezki realizes a fully formed vision boasting impeccable lighting, a canny sense of space and some truly arresting images.  It’s a film about theater which theater itself could not possibly recreate.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • American Sniper – Jason Hall
  • Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson

  • The Imitation Game – Graham Moore

  • The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten

  • Whiplash – Damien Chazelle

Should Win: Whiplash

Will Win: American Sniper

Thoughts: Whiplash is the little-film-that-could this year and beyond J.K. Simmons’ career best performance the reason for it’s success is writer/director Damien Chazelle’s taut yet colorful screenplay.  It works to the film’s benefit that it landed in the Adapted category (even though it’s an expanded version of a short film of the same name also written by Chazelle) since this allows it to be free from the competition of Wes Anderson, Linklater, and the team behind Birdman.  But I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the Academy will give it to American Sniper.   While Clint Eastwood’s film has been gaining some late traction, I don’t think it will be enough to put it over the top in any of the other major categories, and Adapted Screenplay could be the Academy’s way of tipping it’s collective hat to Sniper.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
  • Boyhood – Richard Linklater

  • Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson

  • Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Should Win: Nightcrawler

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Thoughts: Because it feels like it’s going to be a year where the Academy will spread things around, this will be the top prize for Grand Budapest.  It’s a playful yet methodically made film, truly a delight, but Nightcrawler is more impressive in terms of this particular award.  For one thing, it’s a first time effort from writer/director Dan Gilroy, and the only thing as exciting to this writer as the film itself is the thought of what else its helmer will come up with.  It doesn’t hurt when you’ve got a ridiculously good leading man (Jake Gyllenhaal, in the most egregiously snubbed performance of the last few years) and one of the business’s best DP’s (Robert Elswit) behind the camera, but Gilroy’s screenplay merges dark comedy, timely satire and straight up white knuckle action in a way that only comes along once in a blue moon.

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