Birdman

Oscars 2015 – My Picks

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Last year was the first year I actually watched all of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars aired, and I really enjoyed having an opinion on who I thought would take home awards. Not only that, but I was right about most of the awards. This year is much harder though. I think the categories are much tighter, and it’s definitely going to be harder to pick the winners for the major categories. Adding to that, this year the Actress categories are much more spread out, and I haven’t had enough time to see all of those performances. But I will do my best based on what I do know, and then we’ll see who actually wins Sunday night!

Patricia ArquetteBest Actress in a Supporting Role

Patricia Arquette
Laura Dern
Keira Knightley
Meryl Streep
Emma Stone

I have not seen Wild, so I can’t speak for Laura Dern’s performance, though I do know she’s a great actress.  While I love Emma Stone, I don’t really feel that her performance stands out as deserving of this award over the other women in this category. However, I really think this award belongs to Patricia Arquette. I thought she was one of the best performances in Boyhood and one of my favorite parts of the film. I will be really disappointed if this award goes to anyone else.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Robert Duvall
Ethan Hawke
Edward Norton
Mark Ruffalo
J.K. Simmons

This category is a really hard one to choose from, as all are terrific actors who gave great performances. In my opinion Duvall is probably the only one I’m sure won’t win – not because his performance was lacking in any way, but because I just think the other four have a really high chance of winning and it’s hard to pick a best between them. However, my favorite by far is J.K. Simmons. He was absolutely fantastic in Whiplash. He’s my pick to win, though I think you could also make a really strong argument for any of the others.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Marion Cotillard
Felicity Jones
Julianne Moore
Rosamund Pike
Reese Witherspoon

This is another hard category, but this time because I haven’t yet seen three of the five performances being nominated (I hadn’t even heard of Two Days, One Night before the nominations came out). However, I think we can cross Rosamund Pike off the list of likely winners; like with Duvall above, she gave an excellent performance but I think the others are probably more likely candidates. While I loved Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything and think she’s very deserving of an award, I suspect this one may go to Julianne Moore.

Michael KeatonBest Actor in a Leading Role

Steve Carrell
Bradley Cooper
Benedict Cumberbatch
Michael Keaton 
Eddie Redmayne

I might as well just start every category off with “This is a really hard one…” because they all are. Again, all the performances in this category were excellent. I’m slightly biased towards Benedict Cumberbatch because I love him, as well as Bradley Cooper (who did give his best performance to date) but I suspect neither will win this one. Steve Carrell gave a fine performance in Foxcatcher, but I just don’t think it’s one that stands up against some of the others in the category. While Birdman wasn’t my favorite of the nominees, Michael Keaton gave a fantastic performance and I think this is his year.

Best Directing

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

I honestly don’t know who is going to win this category and I hesitate to pick one name. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be either Alejandro G. Iñárritu or Richard Linklater because their films felt the most original and innovative of this year’s nominees. I loved the concept and execution of filming over twelve years, to show the actors actually aging and I loved the way Birdman felt like one fluid shot through the whole film – though I suppose that speaks more to the cinematography than directing. If I had to pick one I would go with Linklater here, but I definitely could be wrong.

Still7.JPGBest Picture

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

Last year when I walked out of the theater after seeing 12 Years a Slave I was certain that film deserved to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. I never once doubted that it deserved it, or that it would win. There is no clear front-runner in my mind this year. I know who will likely win based on reviews and other evidence, but I’m not sure any film is a clear winner for me. Whiplash is by far my favorite, and I think it’s one of the best in the category even though I don’t think it will win. And American Sniper stuck in my head longer than any of the other films, but part of that is due to the controversy it raised.

Judging from the evidence I’ve seen so far, I suspect this category will come down to either Boyhood or Birdman. Both were original stories told in unique ways, and even though neither one was a film I particularly loved, I see why they made it into the category. While I easily could be wrong, I am going to pick Boyhood as the winner this year because I think the story and the film itself resonates with a wider audience than Birdman. 

So there you have it, my picks for this years Academy Awards. I’ll be tuning in Sunday night to see how many (if any) I chose correctly.

Best Picture Nominee: Birdman

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BirdmanCast:
Michael Keaton
Emma Stone
Edward Norton
Zach Galifianakis

Birdman is the story of a man who was once famous for playing a Superhero trying to reclaim some respect and fame 20 years later, while also trying to reconnect with his daughter. I went into the theater with pretty low expectations for this film, because I had a feeling it probably wasn’t going to be my kind of movie, and I was right.

This was a strange movie, with a lot of dark humor. To be honest, while Emma Stone and Edward Norton were great (and I love both of them) I’m not entirely sure what about their performances made them Oscar-worthy. The only scene where Stone showed some range was when she was lashing out at her father, telling him exactly why he was no longer relevant in a modern, social media world.

Michael Keaton, on the other hand, was fantastic. While I may not have been a huge fan of this film on the whole, his performance was terrific. He wonderfully depicted that measured calm that hides the slow descent into insanity. His performance was the one that made this movie worth watching. I also really enjoyed Zach Galifianakis’s character as well. I always like seeing Galifianakis when he’s not playing a completely off-the-wall goofy character. It reminds me of his days on Tru Calling, before I even knew how funny he could be.

The other thing I really loved about this film was the flow. With the exception of the very beginning and the very end, there were no cuts between scenes. It was a constant flow and transition, following characters around the theatre where most of the action was taking place, or some other clever transition that didn’t actually involve a cut to the next scene or location (for example, zooming in on a news broadcast in one location then zooming out on the same broadcast somewhere else). This method really helps set it apart from almost any other film you watch, and it really helped set the atmosphere of the movie. The camera angles and movement made it feel like the viewer was actually there with the cast watching all this taking place – at times you were even in the place of the actors, as the camera became their point of view.

Between this technique and Keaton’s performance I can see why the film was nominated for Best Picture, even if it’s not a film I would normally enjoy.

Rating: 7.5/10

Favorite Moment: I honestly don’t know if I had a favorite moment, which I feel like I’m saying with a lot of the films this year. The scene where Stone’s character finally lets go and yells at her father was a good scene and well done by both actors.

Ranking:

1. Whiplash
2. The Theory of Everything
3. The Imitation Game
4. American Sniper
5. Boyhood
6. Birdman
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Oscar Season is here!

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 24 hours, you probably heard that the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards were announced yesterday.

Last year I watched all nine Best Picture nominees and had so much fun doing so, I decided to do it again. This year I’m also going to try to watch as many films from the other categories (particularly animated and documentary features) as I can as well.

from bbc.co.uk
bbc.co.uk

This year I’ve also been trying to pay more attention to the film industry in the months leading up to the nominations being announced, and I have to say I wasn’t surprised by any of the Best Picture nominees, with the possible exception of Whiplash, which I only heard of for the first time when J.K. Simmons won the Golden Globe Sunday night. I even managed to see The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel  already, though I’m going to have to watch the latter again, as I was only half awake while I was watching it (it was during the middle of the night on a transatlantic flight).

There were a few I was surprised didn’t make the cut, particularly Foxcatcher, which managed to receive nominations for Supporting Actor, Lead Actor and Director, but didn’t get an actual Best Picture nomination. Part of me suspects that the Academy just couldn’t live with nominating a Channing Tatum film for an Oscar (and if so, I can’t say I blame them). Despite my general lack of interest in anything Tatum stars in, I do plan to see Foxcatcher, since it is up for the other three major awards.

I know there was a lot of outcry yesterday about the Academy not nominating The Lego Movie for Best Animated Feature. I have to be honest and say I don’t have a lot of opinion either way about that one in particular. I actually fell asleep in the middle of the movie. It was cute and fun, but I just didn’t love it as much as the rest of the world seems to. Maybe I missed something?

I would love to give you my early predictions, but I don’t feel qualified to speak on which will win since I’ve only seen two films so far. From what I’ve heard – and it’s success so far this award season – I think Boyhood stands a fairly good chance at taking home the Oscar, but I’ll be able to give a more definite opinion once I’ve seen everything else.

So watch this space over the coming months as I review all the Best Picture nominees and as many other nominated films as I can.