Thoughts on the Oscars.
I love going to the movie and do so almost every week. I have seen nearly all of the Academy’s Oscar Offerings…..for our consideration. Here are my thoughts. What are yours.
Number of Nominations (by movie):
“The Imitation Game” – 8
“Birdman” – 9
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” – 9
“Boyhood” – 6
“Interstellar” – 5
“American Sniper” – 6
Yet to be viewed: “Whiplash” – 5 and “Foxcatcher” – 5
I have seen all but Whiplash and Foxcatcher, both of which are on my list to be seen. The top four films, Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, Imitation Game, and Boyhood are ALL Extraordinary experiences. Each is very different. Each is memorable. I did not care for Sniper, or Interstallar. They are list from my most to least favorite for overall movie going experience.
“The Theory of Everything”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Yet to be viewed: “Whiplash”
Most of the list is what I expected. I would have liked to have seen “Into the Woods” make it. Making a musical work on the big screen is a huge challenge. “Woods” meets the challenge. Still, it was a very good year in film. The list is arranged in my order of preference for Best Picture.The academy can nominate up to 10 movies, but stopped short with eight this year. “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which won a best picture award at the Golden Globes, is starting to look like an unstoppable force as the buzz grows.
Actor in a Leading Role
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Where is David Oyelowo, who turned in a stunning performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma.”? Both Keaton and Redmayne won acting awards at the Golden Globes — one for comedy, one for drama. I know that “Birdman” is in the comedy category in some of the awards but the film is gut wrenching in many ways- dashed dreams, literally. Redmayne IS Hawkins. Reminded my of Lewis in “My Left Foot.”
Actress in a Leading Role
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice’
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Yet to be Viewed:Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”, , Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
I hated “Gone Girl”. Really Hated It. Contrived and Overacted. Ridiculous plot.
Julianne Moore is the favorite here, playing a linguistics professor grappling with an early onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Felicity Jones is so compelling as the one who gives Hawkins the spark that lights the bonfire of his driving will and intellect.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
Yet to be Viewed: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
I went to The judge expecting to be disappointed and Duvall managed to surprise me at every turn. I wish there were co-Oscars as Ethan “Captain, My Captain” Hawke has certainly grown into his acting chops.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Yet to be viewed: Laura Dern, “Wild”
Patricia Arquette is the clear favorite and she deserves to be but my favorite remains the woman behind the man (as in “The Theory of Everything” Keiraa Knightley as the inspiration for the WWII codebreaking Ultra Team and its lead genius.
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”
Where are the women? There was talk of not one, but two women securing nominations in this category: Ava DuVernay for “Selma” and Angelina Jolie for “Unbroken.” Jolie’s movie didn’t get the praise that seemed assured prior to release, but DuVernay certainly deserved to be on this list. I award the top prize to the director who creates a tapestry of carefully interwoven elements from the screenplay to casting to coaching the actors to staging to music selection. The Director is both the composer and conductor of the symphony and in “Birdman” Inarrtu creates a world that surprises me when I presumed I knew what the film was going to say and do. Linklater actually does not do much creating- he envisions a project to last 12 years and then manages to hold it together in such a way that it feels seamless.
Animated Feature Film
“Big Hero 6”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
Did not and likely will not see: “The Boxtrolls”, “Song of the Sea” “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”
The big surprise here is that “The LEGO Movie” wasn’t nominated as it had the fourth-highest domestic box office returns in 2014 and was widely praised….but not by me. Cute and boring. Big Hero? I was dragged there by kids and I left there as happy, as moved and as impressed as they were. The film had heart, a big heart, shared by its two leads, one human, and one not (well maybe not).
THAT’S MY REACTION. DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS?
I can’t really weigh in here, because I haven’t seen any of these films yet. I will be seeing Grand Budapest Hotel soon. I’m always about a year late in seeing AA nominated films.
Great summary though, Murph!
KT, I’m always 3-4 years behind. I don’t go to the theaters wait to see on the TV. Can’t speak to any of these new shows.
But Murph, I looked at what you wrote. Look forward to seeing some of them in a few years.
Hey my friend! I very rarely go to theaters these days. I almost always wait for films to come to Netflix or Amazon. It’s a lot cheaper and I enjoy watching films in the comfort of my own space.
Of course, I usually miss out participating in some interesting discussions of the year’s AA nominees and winners, but I do enjoy seeing the opinions and interpretations of others.
Murph has provided a great piece to start enjoying some of these things.
Murph, thank you, and thank you AdLib for your insights. Of all the picks I’ve seen only Wild (mostly liked it) and Big Hero – did not dislike it but thought it moved away from the human dimension too much. Otherwise, I’ve seen NONE of these or much of anything else. So I’m reading this as a guide from you two, not to chime in. Thanks, movie critics of mine own. Much appreciated!
I WILL be going to Selma. That’s a sure thing.
We shall see what comes of the nominations. Maybe those wins will also convince me to go. I hate sitting in theaters…
Murph, thanks for this post, it’s a nice counterpoint to the issue driven posts here to have more arts-related posts.
I’m probably in the minority on two films, Grand Budapest and Whiplash, I wasn’t crazy about either of them.
I liked Imitation Game and think Cumberbatch is a very talented actor but I think Boyhood, The Theory of Everything and Birdman are the front runners for Best Picture. Hard to pick one of the three as the winner, each has a big hook for winning. A comedy like Grand Budapest would be hard pressed to beat one of these more powerful dramas and sci-fi films like Interstellar (which I haven’t seen) don’t have the best track record for Best Picture winners.
As you point out, it may be neck and neck for Keaton and Redmayne, Keaton winning would be a huge comeback story and Hollywood loves that. Redmayne had the most difficult acting portrayal though and did a phenomenal job. Of the two, I’d prefer Redmayne won but it would be fine if Keaton did instead.
Agree with you on Gone Girl, not a very good film, ridiculous and implausible in so many parts and though it’s the same as the book, what a let down of an ending. That said, Rosamund Pike is a very good actress and plays this Sharon-Stone-like role well…but it is a Sharon-Stone-like role so it’s not as fresh. Felicity Jones is touching in her role in Theory of Everything. Sometimes there are sweeps and mini-sweeps in the awards, Redmayne and Jones could win in that case.
Best supporting actor, I’d give a tiny edge to Mark Ruffalo (though Channing Tatum should have been nominated). Hawke and Norton were fine but I don’t know that either of their roles were that challenging.
Best Supporting Actress, Laura Dern is so charismatically uplifting in her role, Patricia Arquette is impressive as she ages through Boyhood, Emma Stone has a strong turn. Keira Knightley didn’t have a lot of interesting work to do in a familiar kind of role and please, no more Meryl Streep nominations for undemanding roles.
Who’ll win for director is tough. Though I didn’t like Budapest Hotel, it is very well directed. Linklater shot Boyhood over 12 years so that kind of commitment and vision is hard to beat. Birdman used long shots with few edits, another feat of direction by Gonzalez. Foxcatcher and Imitation Game are very good films with excellent direction but don’t know that Miller and Tyldum can overcome the feats of the other directors to win.
I’d just be guessing on the animated films, I guess Big Hero 6.
The big losers though are the voters in the Academy because the heat they’re taking for nominating so few people of color is intense. I haven’t seen Selma yet but from clips and trailers, Oyelowo looks to have given a solid performance so giving Robert Duvall another nomination for another similar role he’s played before sure looks like favoritism at work. I don’t think it’s a race thing, I think it’s more the Meryl Streep thing, Duvall seems to get nominations in most films he’s in and that slights younger performers.
Bets will be taken at the window!
Ad…welcome…we will see if we get some traffic.
I have not seen Whiplash so I cannot compare.I was mildly amused with Budapest when I first saw it. Two weeks later I went again with a group that wanted to see it. We were going to my favorite restaurant afterwards so I joined in AND saw the film for the first time this second time. It is very fresh….monty pythonish…..veddy british…and yet a bit madcap…
As a historian the appeal of the Imitation Game was clear. But for emotional intensity and creation of an entirely unexpected character both Theory and Birdman surpass Imitation. For me it is Theory, which I have seen twice and will see again in the next two days.
I expect Keaton as an Academy favorite son to win Best Actor.
Gone Girl SO angered me at the end, with that awful ending that as soon as the credits rolled, I walked out. We went to dinner afterwards and I would not even talk about it. We have the custom of doing an instant double rating on films. 5 to 1 in two categories. Overall film experience. Within the Genre. I gave Gone Girl a 1 and a 2.
I agree that directorial work this year was quite impressive and varied.
I went to Hero 6 with a bunch of grandparents, parent and kids and we ALL like it. I was a total curmudgeon when the topic of seeing it came up. We all go to a movie on December 26 and then to a Chinese Buffet….TRADITION!
So I went for the Chinese food but was so glad to have seen the film. We had this very interesting multi-generational conversation about love, friendship, attachment, humanity, and courage. The films Budget was $165 million and the Box office as of this week is $409.3 million. That is amazing given the diminishing returns that appears to be the trend for animation…….but I think I know why….the film appeals to a very wide audience. Films make their money in the return viewers, those who see it more than once….if my family and friends are a standard then that is why Hero is doing so well. Hero just closed this past weekend here. It opened November 7….10 weeks in the theaters….Big Hero 6 has earned $214,517,894 in North America, and an estimated $194,500,000 in other countries. It is must opening in Europe.
I just learned this. The Academy’s membership process is by sponsorship, not application. Candidates must be sponsored by two Academy members from the branch to which the candidate seeks admission.
Additionally, Academy Award nominees are automatically considered for membership and do not require sponsors.Nominees and sponsored candidates are reviewed by branch committees and recommendations for membership are considered by the Academy’s Board of Governors. The Board decides which individuals will receive invitations.
Pretty much guarantees a pretty closed circle. Membership review takes place once a year, in the spring.
Selma is the bio pic of MLK we have been looking for. Using a slice from his crusade we get a very complete picture of the man and his mission, warts and all.