Sunday, February 22, 2015

OSCAR 2015 - Pre-Show Thoughts & Predictions & Rants

OSCARS 2015 Thoughts and Predictions:

Oscar time, once again. The Oscars have gotten a lot of flack this year, but hey, I give 'em flack every year. The fact is, the Academy Awards rarely seem to really reflect the year's best films. And this year is no exception. From the complete lack of major awards love for the masterpiece that is Nightcrawler, to the stunning omission of deserving directors like Selma's Ava DuVernay, this year's Oscars seem to have dropped the proverbial ball in multiple ways. That said, what's often worse than the Oscar omissions is the unfounded backlash against deserving films that actually do get nominations. This year, there is tons of hate being thrown in the direction of movies like Boyhood. Wake-up call, people. Maybe it's not to everyone's tastes, but Boyhood is a landmark movie from a director who is both one of our best and one of our most historically under-appreciated. I have to shake my head at the same people who long griped about Richard Linklater not getting his due who now claim that perhaps his greatest work is overrated Oscar-bait (as if ... to work on a quirky side project for twelve years with the intention of it being Oscar-bait would be flat-out insane). In any case, while there are some clear omissions this year from the Oscar race, and some nominated films that to me are mere B+ players, there are also some fantastic movies in the mix that, should they win, would be more than deserving of Oscar gold.

To kick things off though, here are my Top 10 OSCAR SNUBS of 2015:

1.) Best Actor - Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler

- WTF. This was a performance for the ages, a De Niro in Taxi Driver-esque turn that was both mesmerizing and nightmare-inducing. This omission is flat-out embarrassing for the Oscars, because this is one that will be talked about for a long, long time.

2.) Best Picture - Nightcrawler

- Again, WTF. A clear top-tier film of 2015, it's shocking to me that this one was omitted at the expense of the good-but-not-even-Wes-Anderson's-best Grand Budapest Hotel and the overrated Birdman.

3.) Best Animated Feature - The LEGO Movie

- Once again - are you freaking kidding me? The LEGO Movie was one of the best animated films in YEARS, not even just of 2015. It was hilarious, poignant, and smartly self-aware. Crazy that it wasn't nominated.

4.) Best Director - Ava DuVernay - Selma

- It got a Best Picture nom, and yet the director of the masterfully-directed Selma got no nomination? But the director of Foxcatcher did? Say it ain't so.

5.) Best Actor - David Oyelowo - Selma

- Similarly ... are you serious, bro?! David Oyelowo kills it as MLK Jr., and brings humanity and dimensionality to an impossibly tricky role - and yet no nom? Completely crazy.

6.) Best Supporting Actress - Rene Russo - Nightcrawler

- Meryl Streep is nominated for Into. The. Woods?! But Rene Russo's incendiary turn in Nightcrawler is snubbed? Oscar, what hath thou become?

7.) Interstellar ... for anything.

- I suppose some of the backlash to this film kept it out of the Oscar race. But to me it was on par with Inception and other top-tier Nolan films. Nolan should have been nominated. McConaughey should have been nominated. And Jessica Chastain.

8.) Best Actor - Philip Seymour Hoffman - A Most Wanted Man

- One of the best ever gives you one final performance for the ages ... and no Oscar love? Guess it's fitting, as Hoffman was the kind of actor so good that he was sort of too good for the Oscars, anyways.

9.) Best Actor - Tom Hardy - Locke

- Tom Hardy destroys in Locke. He's the only actor on-camera the entire movie. And the whole thing takes place in the dude's car! And it's totally riveting. If that doesn't spell Oscar-worthy, then the Academy is on crack.

10.) Funny Women

- 2014 was a landmark year for women in comedy. Jenny Slate in Obvious Child. Kristin Wiig in Skeleton Twins. Amy Poehler in They Came Together. But as per usual, comedy is completely ignored by the Oscars unless it contains Wes Anderson quirk or whatever it is that Birdman has. Lame. Oscars, get a sense of humor.



Should Win: Boyhood or Whiplash

- Boyhood was, to me, a masterpiece. A flat-out modern classic in a year that produced few of them. Hate on it if you will, but I think this is the ultimate Richard Linklater film. Meanwhile, Whiplash for me was a very close second. A movie so intense that it's practically a horror movie. JK Simmons was *the man* in this film and his is a performance for the ages.

Will Win: Boyhood

- Despite some eleventh-hour backlash, I think there is some degree of consensus that Boyhood is the film to beat this year. Linklater's moment is now, and it's time that the rebel-slacker indie darling gets his moment in the sun.


Should Win: Eh ...

- I don't absolutely love any of the actual nominees this year. Eddie Redmayne was pretty amazing in The Theory of Everything, but it's also not a role that produced any super-memorable moments. Benedict Cumberbatch was fantastic in The Imitation Game as well, but again, not sure if there was truly a huge, classic, Oscar-worthy moment in the film. Gyllenhaal and Hardy should have been nominated here.

Will Win: Michael Keaton

- It seems like the momentum is in his favor. And who doesn't love Michael Keaton? But the fact is, he's great in Birdman, but the movie itself is a jumble of ideas and concepts that doesn't really amount to a fulyl cohesive statement. Plus, to me it was actually Emma Stone who stole the movie.


Should Win: Rosamund Poke

- Pike killed it in Gone Girl, giving us the perfect balance of pulpiness and legit-disturbing psycho-killer creepiness. Without her, Gone Girl would not have worked as well as it did, and she deserves the gold.

Will Win: Julianne Moore

- I have yet to see Still Alice, but the movie just seems like the sort of dour prestige pic that the Oscars love. And Moore is a great actress long overdue for a win. I'm not opposed, but I'm not all that enthused either.


Should and Will Win: J.K. Simmons

- If there's one sure thing this year, it's Simmons - no question. Bet on it. Sometimes a performance is so damn awesome that there's no choice but to give it all of the awards. And Simmons' work in Whiplash is just such a performance. Not quite your tempo? If that's the case, I seriously question your movie taste, dude.


Should and Will Win: Patricia Arquette

- I liked all of the actresses in this category (save Meryl Streep in the messy Into the Woods). But Arquette was legendarily good in Boyhood - funny, heartbreaking, and pretty much awesome. She made it as much her story as anyone's (which makes you wonder why she's not in the Lead Actress category, but whatever). But Arquette - long an underrated actress - deserves awards for killin' it in Boyhood.


Should and Will Win: Richard Linklater

- This is a tough one to call, but again, I think this is the year Linklater get his due. I could see Alejandro Inarritu with an outside chance, but I'm guessing enough people agree with me that Birdman's single-take style was more gimmicky than great to keep him from taking the top prize. I don't think you can underrate Linklater's achievement with Boyhood. To weave twelve years' worth of story into a compelling and moving narrative is no easy feat.


Should Win: Nightcrawler

- Seriously, what an innovative, dark, funny, satirical, crackling screenplay. But given its omission from every other major category, I'd be shocked if the deserving Nightcrawler and Dan Gilroy won here.

Will Win: Birdman

- Deserving? Not really? There are some great little monologues in the movie (Emma Stone's kills it), but thematically and tonally, this one is all over the map. Still, the combo of quirky and meta and commenting on Hollywood (we know how Hollywood loves that!) will give it a victory.


Should Win and Will Win: Whiplash

- I've got to think that Whiplash will take this one. I mean, it's by far the most quotable movie of this Oscar season, with J.K. Simmons' "Not my tempo!" now in the pop-culture lexicon. Maybe The Imitation Game plays spoiler, but I think Whiplash gets the edge.


Should and Will Win: Big Hero 6

- Disney's film was action-packed, stylish, smart, and had an awesome pro-science message. In LEGO Movie's absence, it's my pick. I also loved Book of Life, so wouldn't be upset to see it with an upset. I will caveat by saying that the Japanese films Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kayuga could also play spoiler. I haven't seen these, but both have received rave reviews. So it's a tough one to call, no question.


Should and Will Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

- There is room, I suppose, for an upset here. But come on, APES for the win. I mean, the movie made me care, a lot, about warring armies of intelligent apes. And Ceaser and Koba were the best hero/villain rivals of 2014 - and again, they were mo-capped monkeys! (er, apes). No monkey business, Oscar!


- Should and Will Win: Whiplash


- Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Will Win: Birdman


- Should and Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel


- Should and Will Win: Feast


- Should and Will Win: Citizenfour


- Should Win: ?
- Will Win: Joanna


- Should Win: ?
- Will Win: The Phone Call


- Should Win: ?
- Will Win: Ida


- Should and Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel


- Should and Will Win: Guardians of the Galaxy


- Should and Will Win: Whiplash


- Should and Will Win: American Sniper


- Should and Will Win: Interstellar


Should and Will Win: "Glory" from Selma

And there you have it. As I always do, I urge everyone to enjoy the Oscars but also not pay them too much attention. 2014 was an amazing year for movies - but a lot of the year's best were films that the Oscars simply doesn't and won't recognize. I'm talking about action films like The Raid 2 and Snowpiercer, blockbusters like Edge of Tomorrow and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy, horror like The Babadook, thrillers like The Guest, and comedies like Obvious Child, Top Five, and They Came Together. Remember, the Oscars are just one narrow slice of the movie universe. Be sure to explore it.

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