19 January 2015

2015 Oscar Predictions 100% Right

Wait, I went 20/24 last year? What the fuck?! How am I supposed to compete with that? That's really a tall order but I'll give these predictions my best shot. Holy crap. To be honest, I don't know why I even care about the Oscars. This entire blog is predicated on the notion that you can't really grade films against each other and that all art has the ability to stand on its own and be judged through a mix of cultural impact, personal preferences based on lived experiences, and technical merit. The Oscars kind of flies in the face of all that because it suggests to many people that these are good movies they would enjoy seeing, but that's not really true. It's more just what a consensus of a bunch of industry professionals think are the best of the year.

And "best" is rather lightly used - it's more about stumping, timing, and likability in a culture that seeks to destroy rather than maintain personal relationships. So why cover this garbage at all? It gets clicks. And it IS interesting, if only to examine how films, filmmakers, and studios position themselves against each other. It is also one of the major reasons why studios bother making good films at all instead of just shoving all of their cheddar into a handful of mindless tentpole releases each year. There's a reason why this is Hollywood's biggest night, and it's something adult, cultured, and refined in an industry that otherwise caters to 14-year old nerds.

Right now I'll just run through things quick, and my predictions will probably change over the next couple weeks, especially as this falls out. Seriously, there are a ton of surprises and snubs here. The LEGO Movie (2014) was going to be my default Animated Picture pick, what the fuck do I do now?! I'll get deeper into the categories that actually matter over the next few weeks. For now, here's my gut:

Best Picture

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

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

I didn't really like Boyhood at all, although it's still an impressive cinematic achievement that I'm surprised hasn't been done in a similar fashion before. I actually only rated two of these in my personal Top Ten for the year, but those two films - Grand Budapest and Birdman actually have the strongest chance of actually upsetting Boyhood. While Birdman seemed like a virtual lock a few months ago, Wes Anderson's latest may actually be tending towards the one that actually nabs him the big prize. Linklater is also deserving in the sense that he's had a great career that the Academy hasn't really recognized yet.

Best Director

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

Predicted Winner: Linklater

I could have saved that Linklater talk for this category as well. Iñárritu is the obvious upset with Anderson a close third. The production coordination of both Boyhood and Birdman is astounding achievement, but Linklater made by far the picture that the Academy is typically more comfortable with. He pulls off the twelve-year gimmick well, delivering a family drama with just enough of a curve to be notable while Birdman lambastes most of the current Hollywood business model. There will still be folk who dig the industry story, especially the actor's section, though that won't help it here.

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

Predicted Winner: Julianne Moore

This is kind of a weird one that Julianne is sort of running away with now. Jones is the highest profile movie here in terms of Award Nominations, but the competition here is intense. Reese and Cotillard are former winners and Pike turned in the best performance of anyone this year. Moore though, is a five-time nominee who has never won, which is ridiculous to think about. No one at all has seen Still Alice, which could hurt its chances, but as it trends now, this seems like a no brainer reward for an excellent career.

Best Actor

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

Predicted Winner: Michael Keaton

There were a crazy amount of great acting performances this year, and Redmayne is sort of a weird rival to Keaton suddenly, especially because of how popular The Theory of Everything seems to be with the Academy. It is a pretty safe biopic of an interesting handicapped modern historical figure. That's Oscar gold, baby! But Keaton very much deserves this and like so many others, this is a lifetime achievement award for creating a crazy amount of iconic characters and Birdman is in innumerable ways a film made for him and he just destroys it.

Best Supporting Actress

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

Predicted Winner: Patricia Arquette

Remember all that stuff I've been saying about how these awards are all basically going to be career achievement awards? That'll keep going on. The same could be said for Laura Dern here, but Wild doesn't have the profile of Boyhood right now. The younger nominees are interesting and in years past this may have been Emma's to lose, but this is all Patricia. Now, if only David Arquette can be awarded...

Best Supporting Actor

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

Predicted Winner: Just Kidding Simmons

Copy and paste all that other text I wrote about the other acting nominations. JK Simmons is the favorite character actor of everyone in the world, and this category is tailor-made for performances like his in Whiplash. It's loud, showy, and most of all, a perfect conduit for his schtick. This award notoriously goes to people playing notorious characters, and this will fit right in line with where it has gone in the past.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Predicted Winner: Whiplash

This is my bold prediction. Reading more about how P.T. Anderson adapted Inherent Vice, I'm actually impressed with it, but it really doesn't have any momentum. The other three movies are totally safe choices that no one would blink an eye about. Whiplash, though, is a chance to award a young writer-director who turned in an extremely talented and unique screenplay. That's totally like past winners such as Argo (2012), The Descendents (2011), and Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (2009).

Best Original Screenplay

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

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Academy has sort of finally realized that they've never awarded Wes Anderson anything, and even though this isn't his year to gain Best Picture, he'll be happy walking away with Best Original Screenplay. It's got the most buzz out of any of these flicks, although if Boyhood or Birdman feels like sweeping, one of them will take this. Grand Budapest is actually riding pretty high right now, though, and there are other locks for those films to take. Oscar ceremonies have been more split lately than dominated by one or two films, and there's so many great, widely beloved films this year, Anderson takes him his first trophy.

Best Foreign Language Film

Leviathan
Ida
Tangerines
Timbuktu
Wild Tales

Predicted Winner: Ida

I really couldn't believe that Force Majeure wasn't nominated, but Ida is the next best thing we've got (No Babadook, either!). Ida is actually the safer pick than Leviathan, which won the Best Foreign pic award at the Golden Globes. It's tempting to go with that pick, but with a surprising nomination in Cinematography as well, it's clear that Ida gained ground among more than just the typical voters. It's also a way more normal movie that the Academy likes rather than Leviathan.

Best Documentary Feature

CITIZENFOUR
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt in the Earth
Virunga

Predicted Winner: CITIZENFOUR

CITIZENFOUR is assuredly the most high profile doc on this list, but in the past that hasn't always been a guarantee for success. It does more for the genre than any other film here, though, as it's really about making the story along with documenting it. That could be derided by some purists. It's a hugely relevant tale, though, and most people have at least a vague familiarity with the Eddie Snowden story. The Academy could chicken out and not award it for its controversy, but Hollywood is nice and liberal, right?

Best Animated Feature

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

Predicted Winner: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Give the Academy some credit for throwing an absolute monkey wrench into what is typically one of the larger no brainer, automatic categories of the Ceremony. The LEGO Movie losing out on the Globe was one thing, but to not even receive a nomination here is crazy. Any one of these becomes a deserving and very possible winner, but How to Train Your Dragon 2 ought to follow in the vein of Happy Feet - a not that great animated film that made a lot of money and appealed to a lot of people. There are some flaws with that logic, but it's easily the film that unsure voters will default to.

Film Editing

American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

Predicted Winner: Boyhood

Everything else is crap, but this will come down to Grand Budapest and Boyhood. The sharp, competent editing style that demonstrates a wit to match the film favors Budapest, but the majestic technical feat of splicing together twelve years of footage (okay - twelve weeks shot over twelve years) and keeping that straight in the editor's head is damned impressive. Again, gimmicky, but impressive.

Best Song

"Everything is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie (written by Shawn Patterson)
"Glory" from Selma (written by Common and John Legend)
"Grateful" from Beyond the Lights
"I’m Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
"Lost Stars" from Begin Again (written by Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley and Nick Southwood)

Predicted Winner: "Glory"

"Everything is Awesome" may  have seemed like a lock, and it would be awesome to say Academy Award Winner Andy Samberg (he would get in on that, right?), but it's more and more apparent that no one in the Academy gives a shit about The LEGO Movie, even with a song that's was indelibly tied into its film. "Glory" makes the bridge from Selma to today, though, and we'll have to settle on Academy Award Winner Common. It's the only controversial speech the Oscars are going to get, but hopefully they'll go for it, and we'll get someone to give White America a good Richard Sherman-like scare.

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar

Predicted Winner: Johann Johannsson

I just picked the best name, and it turns out he's favored! Hooray! I can't really pick out any of these scores and we're not going to be jamming to The Theory of Everything ten years from now, but with no Antonio Sanchez Birdman or Mica Levi Under the Skin noms, it's the best we've got.

Best Cinematography

Roger Deakins, Unbroken
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida

Predicted Winner: Lubezki

There shouldn't really be a question here. Lubezki won last year for Gravity (2013), and normally I'd rather have the wealth spread out a bit more, but he's just so damn deserving. He's become the master of the single-take tracking shot and Birdman obviously goes nuts with this idea. Like the editing for Boyhood, from a technical planning standpoint alone this is an incredible feat. This should be a no brainer.

Best Costume Design

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

Predicted Winner: Into the Woods

Grand Budapest is the obvious pick but obvious picks never win this category. In the face of huge prestige competition films like Marie Antoinette (2006), The Duchess (2008), The Young Victoria (2009), Anna Karenina (2012), and The Great Gatsby (2013) have pulled off wins. Grand Budapest fits into this model pretty well, being a period piece and all, and heavily favored films like The Artist (2011) have won this in sweeps, but I can just imagine sitting there and hating watching Into the Woods win this thing.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

All three of these are totally worthy and the fact that I care about this race is amazing. Foxcatcher's prosthetics on Steve Carrell are certainly notable, but that's really a small bit of the film. Guardians really did have some of the best Makeup effects in recent memory, but I struggle to see it winning over Grand Budapest - it's just that kind of plausible Best Picture nominee that makes it a good outlet for voters to choose to sweep things like this.

Best Production Design

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

Predicted Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

See what I'm talking about? Grand Budapest just seems like the obvious default for all these kinds of awards. Interstellar could also be really deserving, but the Academy is more into giving love when it can to solidly loved pics like Wes Anderson's gorgeous baby here.

Best Sound Editing

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

Predicted Winner: Interstellar

These are all pretty deserving, maybe the coordination of gritty squeals and grunts in Birdman more than some others, but the deafening glory of Interstellar that extorts itself even over its dialogue and score ought to give it some ground here.

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash

Predicted Winner: Interstellar

Here are five films that are very dependent on sound to establish their message, either through music, war, or space travel. Interstellar is the most high profile and probably the best here as well. It's a good candidate to lavish these kinds of awards on, as Gravity snatched up last year.

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

Predicted Winner: Interstellar

I don't think it's really a contest. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes does deserve some recognition for the huge leap forward in realistic furry apes, even from Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), but Interstellar helped us understand how black holes work. Seriously, the effects pioneered in the film to explore more accurate black hole depictions gave us a better understanding of our universe. You've got to award that. I don't even remember anything great from any other blockbuster this year.

Best Short Film, Live Action

"Aya"
"Boogaloo and Graham"
"Butter Lamp"
"Parvaneh"
"The Phone Call"

Predicted Winner: "The Phone Call"

Welcome to the game that we call, "The Dartboard." Gold Derby says "The Phone Call." So I'm going with that. I may do some more research on this crap later, but chances are, I will just do anything else with my life instead. Listen, the shorts are all actually pretty interesting, and it'd be cool if there was some kind of mainstream distribution outlet for them, even though you can snag most on YouTube or something, but they're so hard to get around to seeing. Hopefully I look smart.

Best Short Film, Animated

"The Bigger Picture"
"The Dam Keeper"
"Feast"
"Me and My Moulton"
"A Single Life"

Predicted Winner: "Feast"

Wheeee!!! I have no pretension of backing this up with accurate judgment.

Best Documentary, Short Subject

"Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1"
"Joanna"
"Our Curse"
"The Reaper"
"White Earth"

Predicted Winner: "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1"

Boop boop. Most interesting title.

Okay, folks - those are all my predictions for the 2015 Academy Awards. Some are gutsy, some are obvious, and some are complete shots in the dark, but we'll see how awesome I am on February 22nd! In between now and then I'll be taking some time as usual to go over the more important categories that everyone cares about (like Live Action Short!) before live blogging my stupid reactions to the night itself. Stay tuned, America!

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