The Oscar Outlook: The Last Stand – by R.A. Bartlett

This year’s Oscar race is finally coming to an end, and let me tell you, “Oscar” no longer looks like a word. (Which I suppose, isn’t helped that it’s not a word as such, but rather a proper noun.) It’s been quite a ride–English people have been elated, minorities have been angered, indie filmmaker have hit the next level, and my contempt for The Judge is on record, in case Robert Duvall ever wants to punch me in the nose. These are my Oscar preidictions for who’s going to win what. I should probably put out a disclaimer to not copy my answers for your Oscar pool. I’m actually trying to go with answers that at least sound interesting. There’s also a backup winner, and I will let you let your heart decide which of these choices makes more sense.

(via bgr.com)

(via bgr.com)

 

Cinematography

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken

I believe this is Birdman’s strongest category, since the visual trickery was a big part about why the movie was so hyped up, but on the other hand, Roger Deakins for Unbroken is a long, overlooked veteran. Think of the Susan Lucci or Dan Marino of the field. He thought he was finally gonna get his with an inspiring story of heroic triumph. El oh el, Roger Deakins, World War II is officially over. Next time try shooting a movie about a war that’s actually happening.

 

Costume Design

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

Definitely going with Grand Budapest. An array of outfits, sometimes spanning decades, and who knew Ralph Fiennes can pull off that purple?

Va va voom! (via www.salon.com)

Va va voom! (via www.salon.com)

But while it’s a solid pick, there’s also a possibility that Mr. Turner could snatch it up. Way back before Y2K times, another Mike Leigh movie managed to pull off a movie in this category, Topsy Turvy. What’s that, you ask? Exactly. When you’re a kooky British period film, you don’t need to be in the zeitgeist if you don’t want to be.

 

Film Editing

American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

Boyhood is going to get it easy. First, because of the hard work and discipline it must take to edit a decade’s story of footage in real time, and because it fulfills an inner fantasy we all have of going back and editing the last ten years of our lives. Nope, sorry, that time I dinged the French guy’s car in the parking lot did NOT happen.

 

Makeup and Hairstyling
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

 

A lot of people are predicting Grand Budapest Hotel for this, but I’m actually leaving it out here. Otherwise it’s going to start racking up so many awards, people will start asking why the movie that had the most stuff people liked didn’t win Best Picture. I think this is one of it more vulnerable spots, as Tilda Swinton’s old person make up is brief, and possibly redundant since I think Swinton is a real-life shape-shifter. If you see her turn into a bird onscreen, any visual effects supervisor is just trying to take the credit/protect her secret. Foxcatcher is more prestigious, but Guardians of the Galaxy is more…more. So I think I’ll go with that.

 

Original Score

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

This is really a two-man show between Grand Budapest Hotel and Theory of Everything, which have been divvying up the precursors. Budapest has a respected veteran who can finally get in, and is one of the flashier movies nominated this year, and that kind of thing leads to a cavalcade of nominations in the tech categories. On the other hand, Theory of Everything is a more sentimental score, especially if you tear up at the thought of brainy, incontinent men getting their dicks wet with multiple mistresses, which for some reason, I think the older gents will. Budapest is my pick, with Theory as my alternate.

 

Original Song

“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

Apparently, being nominated for an Oscar doesn't make Lego any less uptight about letting childless adults into Legoland. Hypocrites! (via spinoff.comicbookresources.com)

Apparently, being nominated for an Oscar doesn’t make Lego any less uptight about letting childless adults into Legoland. Hypocrites! (via spinoff.comicbookresources.com)

Who even cares, this is the most useless category. “Hey, maybe we can get Beyonce of Paul McCartney to show up if we put some throwaway pop song in the credits.” Glory is the most likely winner, because after Ava Duverny, Oprah going on every awards show saying they ain’t even mad, Academy members are going to try and make sure Selma doesn’t go home with nothing. Even though, as a movie that wasn’t really about music, this award is nothing. However, should they go with a more plot-relevant ditty, Everything is Awesome, due to it being the most well-known song, and sympathy for the Lego Movie snub.

 

Production Design

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

I think Grand Budapest Hotel is a lock. It’s an undeniably visual movie, and while the stagey, gaudy look may not be for everyone, we’re in “too late to go back now” territory. It’s the award Budapest is most likely to win, and Budapest has to win something. I know I’m using circular correlation logic, but I’m sticking to it.

 

Sound Editing

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

The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

Sound Mixing

American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash

I think American Sniper has the first locked down. We can argue about the politics of war, the morality of war, even the fiscal wisdom of war. But we can all agree that war is very, very loud, and American Sniper certainly conveys that. It can also win Mixing, but that could go to Whiplash, because the movie is about playing drums, and if they sounded like not-drums, the wheels could have come off that fast. It’s a matter of whether they find The Syrian Butcher or an angry band teacher more scary I suppose, I suppose.

 

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 is kind of a tight race. You see, for the past few years, the winner was whatever was also nominated for best picture. This year that overlap doesn’t exist at all. Interstellar feels like the closest thing to a best picture nominee, but let’s be honest, Guardians of the Galaxy was probably closer. I will give Interstellar the vote, because it has the most nominations in the techs overall, and because it’s probably the most “realistic” looking of the nominees.

 

Animated Short Film

I have no idea what Feast is about, but I like that it has a cute puppy in it. (via www.shortoftheweek.com)

I have no idea what Feast is about, but I like that it has a cute puppy in it. (via www.shortoftheweek.com)

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

Documentary Short Subject
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Joanna
Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth

Live Action Short Film
Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
Parvaneh
The Phone Call

So these are the shorts, the categories even most Oscar buffs have a hard time keeping up with. Let’s not quibble on whether the onus was on me for researching them more, or you for seeing them and being able to call me out on my ignorance. The Phone Call is the easiest to predict because it has actual movie stars in it, which damn, feels like cheating. It’s like “Funny Or Die” came to the Oscars. Every Documentary Short is some testament to human frailty and all that, but I’m going with Joanna, because it’s probably the most humanizing, because it has a human name for the title. The Bigger Picture has the most buzz for animated shorts.

 

Foreign Language Film

Ida, Poland
Leviathan, Russia
Tangerines, Estonia
Timbuktu, Mauritania
Wild Tales, Argentina

Ida is the most acclaimed and well-known of these, so I think that’s a good bet, but you never know with these guys. The Academy is a collection of people who have travelled the world and all sorts of experiences, and they may turn on a country for no good reason. “Poland. I once went to Poland, and they lost my luggage. To pits with Poland. To pits with them all!”

 

Documentary Feature

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

This one is always a bit unpredictable, but the frontrunner is CitizenFour, the documentary about Edward Snowden, the man who let the cat of the bag over the NSA spying, and to avoid prosecution from a potentially vengeful government, fled to Russia, to which Pussy Riot said “Oh, that’s cool, we guess.”

 

Animated Feature

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

While people like How to Train Your Dragon 2, sequels usually don’t pick up this award unless the words “Toy” and “Story” are in there. Likewise, they’re probably thinking “Geez, I don’t want to have to catch up on the other five Big Hero movies”. Boxtrolls seems to be the compromise between too commercial and too obscure.

 

Adapted Screenplay

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

Either Whiplash or Imitation Game. I think Whiplash is going to get it, because it’s a movie with a really passionate base, and because it appeals to all the horrible slurs Academy members wish they could say but polite society prevents them from saying them. (See two-time screenplay winner Quentin Tarantino) However, don’t count out Imitation Game, which has quietly been gaining an audience the Oscar movie your parents consider a real movie, not like that weird Birdman crap. But Imitation Game does feel like the kind of movie that will go home empty-handed, too, because it really is the cinematic version of Mario from Mario Kart. There are no disadvantages to it, but God, could you make a more boring choice?

 

Original Screenplay

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

This is between Grand Budapest Hotel, which benefits from being written by Wes Anderson, who’s films were often recognized in this branch even when nobody else liked his stuff, and Birdman, which is proving to be an award powerhouse, but did not win the WGA because it wasn’t eligible. I’m going with Birdman, as something of a consolation for Iñárritu since I don’t think he’s winning director, and because the the movie has speeches. A lot of really angry speeches.

 

 

Director

(via rollingstone.com)

Richard Linklater (via rollingstone.com)

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Boyhood, Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson
The Imitation Game, Morten Tyldum

I think even if Birdman ends up going home with the big prize, Linklater’s going to win director. While many are impressed with Iñárritu’s style and everything, what if John Travolta got asked to present Best Director, Alejandro won, and Travolta was in the difficult position of having to pronounce his name? You can’t let out the closely guarded secret that actors are kind of doofuses. Besides, Linklater has that whole decade-long passion project aspect of the movie in his favor.

 

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

Patricia Arquette is the frontrunner, proving the Arquettes’ plans to conquer the world was only set back, not quashed. Watch what David has in store. Meryl Streep already has three competitive Oscars, Laura Dern was in her movie for five minutes, and is too old to win an ingenue Ocar, and too young to be “due”. That leaves Emma Stone as her biggest competition. It’s kind of divisive performance, some saying that she was heartbreaking and powerful in the movie, and some saying she really didn’t do anything, that’s just what her eyes look like.

 

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

J.K. Simmons is the frontrunner, as this is the chance to to reward a long-working actor who’s often credited stealing the show. Think about how much less you like the new Spider-Man movies. Is it really Tobey Maguire you’re missing, or this guy? I bet the loss of J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson is what led to the Sony hacks. J.K. Simmons was single-handedly protecting us from North Korea, give him a damn Oscar. His closest competition is Edward Norton, who gave a pretty universally acclaimed performance in Birdman. He’s possibly his generation’s best actor, which is no easy feat. However, he’s also possibly his generation’s biggest douche, which is even less easy. When Oscar upsets happen, it’s usually not for bigger stars. They’re not going let Simmons be propped up, just to drop him.

 

Actress

(via hitfix.com)

Julianne Moore (via hitfix.com)

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

Julianne Moore is probably the lockiest lock of the entire night, and that’s saying something. More than any category, Best Actress is about “The Narrative”, and “One of film’s most underappreciated actress finally getting hers” is that narrative. Reese Witherspoon has that “Reeseurgence” thing, but she’s already won an Oscar, and she’s not a capital A Actress, she’s a capital S Star. The Academy could have shown how into Gone Girl they were, but they weren’t. Felicity Jones doesn’t get to be the one with the debilitating illness. Marion Cotillard just slipped in. The Oscars, in theory, like them younger and hotter, but sometimes talent wins and out (And Moore is still looking pretty fine by most standards) Most importantly, nobody from Birdman is breathing down her neck, so she’s safe.

 

Actor

(via multiplayer.com.tr)

Eddie Redmayne (via multiplayer.com.tr)

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

This is one of the tighter races. On one hand, Michael Keaton is a respected veteran, who’s starring in a movie that could very well win Best Picture, and Best Picture winners try and grab an acting award when they can help it. On the other, Eddie Redmayne has actually been winning it. Of course, then there’s talk of Redmayne being “Norbited”. By that, I mean audiences will hear about his campy performance in the recent bomb Jupiter Acending and decide that he should have made better choices before realizing he might be nominated for something. That would be rather patently unfair, because Christoph Waltz got two whole awards, and he ‘s played bad guys in plenty of crappy movies. So, I want to say Redmayne is going to take it, unless Birdman wins Picture, and then they’ll want to give the movie an acting award to cement it. If Birdman wins picture and Michael Keaton loses, expect giant human/bird hybrid poops to dot all the giant Oscar statues that adorn the building.

 

Best Picture

(via www.forbes.com)

(via www.forbes.com)

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

A while ago, I mentioned Boyhood was a David without a Goliath. Well, a Goliath did happen onto the scene, by the name of American Sniper. The movie crushed at the box-office the way no non-fantasy film has since the late nineties. It’s funny, a lot of articles his year have openly asked “When was the last time a movie was the number one movie of the year at the box office, AND Best Picture Winner”, as if the problem wasn’t that the Academy preferred movies that were too conventional, not that audiences now prefer movies that are dumber. Sniper would prove to be the an antidote to that CGI-fest culture, (Even the creepy baby is a practical effect!) but the one albatross has been the thing I’ve always been saying is a problem; The politic.

While all sides of the political aisle argue how pro-war or anti-war it is, it’ certainly stuck with the image of being the Fox News type of movie, and the Academy is probably reluctant to back it now. Sorry, people who hate comic book films, that your hope to break away from the millennial trend was a jingoistic, backwards baseball cap-wearing, Martin Luther King’s Day-ruining cinematic monkey’s paw.

 

Instead, Boyhood is getting it’s wig snatched by Birdman, a movie that isn’t so much a Goliath, as a David who’s more of a theater geek to Boyhood’s film school nerd. It’s been killing at the guilds, except for the writing nod I pointed out it was ineligible for. I still want to say Boyhood because Birdman just feels too abrasive for a Best Picture winner, but I’m not going to rule it out. If that does happen, that will mean “Movie about showbiz” will be seen as the most important factor for being a Best Picture winner, as that will be theme of three of the decade’s five wins. Actually, when you think about it, King’s Speech was also about how a monarch needed the help of a struggling actor to tell Nazis what’s what. Even 12 Years a Slave was about a musician who was enslaved. I bet if he was like, a contractor or something he would have deserved to be a damn slave.

 

Anyways, that does it for this year, guys. Have fun, and just remember, for every award you’re mad American Sniper or Interstellar lost, you’re agreeing with Kanye West about Beck and Beyonce.



R.A. Bartlett

R.A. is a contributor for UnSceneComedy.com