I’ve seen more of the films this year than in any previous year. I’m still smarting from a film like The Artist winning a few years ago; I think it’s ridiculous that a retread remake like True Grit even gets nominated. But this year, there are some big movies with some clever direction and some big stories and issues to wrestle with – and none of that has anything to do with summer blockbusters!
So here goes: it’s a list that includes my who will win and who should win for the main awards. Sometimes, those aren’t the same thing. If you want to pop-off and follow a link to a review of one of them, I’ll wait!
Best Actress: Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike (over Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, Marion Cotillard) I imagine there’s some growing steam for Moore after the Golden Globe’s win, and it’s highly possible she should win, but I haven’t seen it. Instead, I’ll go with the so-normal-she’s-scary/here-comes-crazy turn by Rosamund Pike in Gillian Flynn’s adapted Gone Girl. Seriously, Doogie Howser doesn’t stand a chance [will that get riffed given that NPH is the host on Sunday?], and Ben Affleck didn’t know what hit him. I’ll never watch it again, but Pike gets my nod- and Flynn should win for Best Adapted Screenplay.
Best Actor: Birdman’s Michael Keaton (over Eddie Redmayne, Bradley Cooper, Steve Carrell, Bradley Cooper, Benedict Cumberbatch) I imagine Keaton will walk off with this one but I imagine Redmayne should. He’s been impressive since Starz’s Pillars of the Earth, and his turn at Stephen Hawking has been amazing in the clips I’ve seen. In fact, this is the one most likely to flipflop if I get to watch Theory this weekend. I’m still not sure how J.K. Simmons gets put in the Best Supporting Actor conversation; he clearly seemed to be the lead to me, over hapless (but solid) Miles Teller. For now, I’ll go with Keaton, who plays Riggan Thomson like his hair is on fire. As the director/producer/lead actor in his own screenplay, he’s so nuanced that he allows others to shine, like Ed Norton and Emma Stone (who may win in the supporting roles because of his performance). Funny, tortured, amorous, neurotic, Keaton’s Thomson does it all.
Best Animated Film: Big Hero 6 (over The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, The Tale of Princess Kaguya) I know this isn’t a major, but I’m still shaking my head that The LEGO Movie wasn’t nominated. It was easily the best animated flick of 2014 – and it would’ve been a hoot to see Will Ferrell at the Oscars. [It’s sad that he may have had his best pre-old guy role shot…] But Walt Disney’s story of grief, pain, community, and heroism is the best of the rest; even if Boxtrolls has strong animated characteristics, it’s story is TERRIBLE. (And as a throw in, I’ll say that Best Animated Short nominee, “Feast,” is even better than Big Hero 6!)
Best Director: Birdman’s Alejandro G. Inarritu (over Richard Linklater, Bennett Miller, Morten Tyldum, Wes Anderson) I imagine that Inarritu/Birdman and Linklater/Boyhood will split: one will get Best Director and one will get Best Picture. I’m just not buying Birdman; in fact, I found it so mind-numblingly unwatchable the first time that I didn’t finish. But I wasn’t all that interested in Birdman until Inarritu’s innovative one-shot techniques made me feel like I was actually backstage of Thomson’s play and found it wildly entertaining. [I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t win Best Cinematography.]
Best Picture: Birdman (over Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Imitation Game, American Sniper). I thought Cooper was solid and that American Sniper was powerful. But I’m a fan of Michael Keaton’s and my respect for Inarritu has already been stated; the story of a former action hero-great who is now trying to make his way in the world of theater, to get back in touch with his purpose in life? This is a midlife crisis story that uses Inarritu’s one-shot cinematography and also delivers a story. [For the record, my biggest beef with Boyhood is that it settles for its “shot over twelve years” gimmick but it lacks mightily in the story department.] So, Birdman wins, but if I had my way, it’s the politically-charged, socially-proactive Selma that would be walking away with Best Picture. But would the snobbish Academy really allow back-to-back civil rights films (following 12 Years a Slave last year) to make it? Nope. They took that tension right out of the conversation by denying Selma a nomination. There’s always Best Song…
What I’ve seen (alphabetical order): American Sniper, Big Hero 6, Birdman, Boyhood, Gone Girl, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Judge, The LEGO Movie, Selma, Whiplash
Notable ones I haven’t: Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, Still Alice, The Theory of Everything*, Wild*
Argue, debate, agree. What do you think should win? What will?
*= hopefully by Sunday! Check back for updates.