Anything Obscure & Eclectic

The Year of Smart Guys and Guises: Oscar Predictions 2015

I’ve got many rivers to cross but I can’t seem to find my way over…

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Actor

Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game” – should win
Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything” – will win

Much less of a no-brainer than in years past, Actor could go in several directions: the comedian going dramatic in Carell, the cultural phenom with undeniable panache in Cumberbatch, the return in Keaton. Cooper, because he is there, I suppose, like Everest. In a toss-up, look to Oscar history and note that the Academy loves to honor uncanny performances of real-life figures, good-looking actors playing ugly, and fully functioning individuals attempting a disability. That’s not the most PC way to put it, but honestly, the Academy started it; seriously, where is David Oyelowo? Consider the tendencies, add a Golden Globe win, and Eddie Redmayne walks away with this one.

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Actor in a Supporting Role

Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash” – should win, will win

Prior to the Golden Globes, this race seemed like a dead heat between Hawke and Norton. The former—the longtime friend and inspiration for director Richard Linklater—deserves credit for taking on the challenge of a twelve-year shoot and developing his character through the process. Norton, in turn, takes on a tough role in a New York actor so legendary he can single-handedly revive the fate of a struggling Broadway play. He more than lives up to the role, nevermind that his Mike Shiner more or less disappears through the last twenty minutes of the film.

Yet, when Simmons beat out both for the Golden Globe, it became his Oscar to lose. “Whiplash” pulled off the unlikely double early last year, winning both the Jury Prize and Audience Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. It has been a critical darling ever since, slowly growing the kind of buzz every Festival circuit film dreams of. Simmons is at core of that success, gifting the film an explosive, raw emotion all too familiar to anyone who’s had a demanding teacher. He turned his gratuitous, foul-mouthed, hard-charging, unrepentant jazz instructor, Terence Fletcher, into the character of the year, in a love-to-hate-him sort of way. More than a few times, he (and the close-up heavy cinematography) puts you right on the drum stool, under the gun, bile rising to your throat, unable to get away. A brilliant effort, and a more deserving sleeper pick you cannot find anywhere on this year’s Oscar list.

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Actress

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

Feminist rant, part 1. Best Actress in 2015 has drawn considerable attention for localization: three of the five nominated films in the category only appear on the ballot here. A fourth is only here and Supporting Actress. And though “The Theory of Everything” garnered notice and recognition beyond the work of its women, it looks more like the exception that proves a rule. Among these five performers, Jones is the least like to win the award. “The Theory of Everything” is not a woman’s story, after all. Evidently, that means it can survive outside of the women’s categories.

The Academy has rightfully taken heat this year for delivering the whitest set of nominations in more than a decade; the diminishing glow of “12 Years a Slave”s Oscars from last year is apparently good enough for now. It deserves just as much criticism for undervaluing the contributions of women both on-screen and off. Here, Cotillard, Moore, and Witherspoon appear in some 90% of their films’ run time, and “Gone Girl” was a rare wide-release Hollywood film that provided women with any agency at all. Yet the Academy could find no other achievements worth recognizing within highly regarded filmmaking, suggesting that four of these films at least are niche, categorized, not for all markets. Evidently the only thing worth honoring in a woman-first story is the woman herself, an implication made more pronounced when you note that the Best Actor category is packed with Best Picture nominees. Does it really take that much more art and mastery to tell Riggan Thompson’s story compared to Alice Howland’s, or Chris Kyle’s compared to Cheryl Strayed’s? Granting the Academy enough credit to say that their short-changing of women-focused films is not intentional only makes more damning their obvious bias.

Giving this undervalued group its due, the clear frontrunner is Julianne Moore, for her stark and suffering portrayal of a debilitating disease come too early. It is the kind of role the Academy often honors, outstripping the comparatively underwhelming log lines around the next closest contenders: “Wild”s soul searching daughter and “Two Days, One Nights”s desperate mother who has a weekend to win back her job. If anyone can take the award from Moore, searching for her first Oscar after four prior nominations, it is Witherspoon, but really, this honor will be more about the implication than the art. Why must strong women always suffer?

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Actress in a Supporting Role

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood” – should win, will win
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Feminist rant, part 2. The Actor Oscar in 2015 that seems most like a given, Supporting Actress goes to Arquette for her strong and committed work over twelve years of service to “Boyhood.” A deserving winner, no doubt about it. But take a moment consider whom she faces.

Streep is always a justifiable nominee, though she appears here as a fairy tale villain doing what fairy tales villains always do: deliver their message through a flashy entrance and intimidating but brief visit, spurring others to act mostly from an ethereal distance. The other three actresses only pass through their films, Dern in flashback memories during her daughter’s hike, Knightley and Stone as peripheral agents in male protagonists’ lives. They have the requisite big and emotional speeches about where the lead character’s perceptions have gone astray. Knightley’s Joan Clarke makes a strong defense of a woman’s place in the male-centric worlds of maths and codebreaking. Yet none of these roles have the depth to serve as developed, changing characters unto themselves, the way all of the Supporting Actor options could. Arquette wins, but you wonder why the competition cannot be fiercer. Where is the Terence Fletcher or Mike Shiner for a woman?

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Animated Feature Film

“Big Hero 6”
“The Boxtrolls”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” – will win
“Song of the Sea” – should win
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya”

Still relatively new to the Oscars, Animated Feature has mostly been an American game. The historical influence and importance of international animation goes largely overlooked in these, America’s awards, so that only “Spirited Away” in 2002 and “Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” in 2005 have managed to wrench the trophy away from U.S. animators and studios. Is a decade enough of a buffer to let the award go overseas, this time to an extraordinary, inspirational, heart-warming, well-pedigreed, and, let’s face it, screamingly cute film out of Ireland in “Song of the Sea”? Or does it go to “Princess Kaguya,” the sentimental choice since, by many accounts, it is the only feature legendary animation house Studio Ghibli can literally afford following Miyazaki’s retirement?

Smart money says absolutely not. Even looking past the fact that the two most worthy candidates here are not American, you can look to the Best Actress Oscar conversation and note that “Song” and “Princess Kaguya” take on the additional burden of women/girl-focused stories. No, expect the award to go to “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” the best among the American offerings, and say thanks that you have just read an analysis of Best Animated Feature that managed not to dismiss all five nominees to discuss the “The LEGO Movie”s snub.

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Cinematography

Roger Deakins, “Unbroken”
Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” – will win
Dick Pope, “Mr. Turner”
Robert Yeoman, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – should win
Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski, “Ida”

Sorry, Deakins, once again it ain’t your year.

A now twelve-time Oscar nominee, still without a statue to his name, one of the great all-time cinematographers, Deakins cannot catch a break. Again he earns an accolade for exceptional work in a year when other outright standouts block his path. Do you think he has a game room where “There Will Be Blood” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” posters stand in for dart boards?

Cinematography is a two-horse race, between first-time nominee and long-time Wes Anderson collaborator Yeoman and last year’s Cinematography winner for “Gravity,” Lubezki. Both are deserving. Yeoman’s work in “Grand Budapest” stands out, in part for his ability to not only work within Wes Anderson’s meticulous and oft-remarked-upon visual structure, but to excel. “Grand Budapest” is a much broader film that Anderson’s recent efforts, with the cinematography an irreplaceable tool in capturing the story’s epic themes of love in war-time and the decline of empires, their civilities and customs in particular.

Yet the edge goes Lubezki’s way for his genius in manufacturing a film that seemed to flow without break from one location and moment in time to the next. The camerawork in “Birdman” is breathtaking, the technique a perfect parallel to the film’s meditation on the ripple effects of pure creative expression. It is no easy feat to put the audience straight into the shoes of theater techs putting on a live theater piece directed by a suicidal egoist; I’m sure that more than a few Hollywood cameramen can sympathize.

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Costume Design

Colleen Atwood, “Into the Woods”
Mark Bridges, “Inherent Vice”
Milena Canonero, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Jacqueline Durran, “Mr. Turner” – should win, will win
Anna B. Sheppard, “Maleficent”

Always remember that Costume, more than any other category, operates outside of the buzz. Four of the five nominees have no part in the Best Picture conversation. The outlier should be quickly dismissed here: while visually enjoyable, “Grand Budapest” does not turn on its tailoring.

That leaves a four-way battle between designers already sharing five Oscars between them. Either of the revisionist fairy tales could take the award, yet recent history says that costumers will pick a period film over any sweep into a fanci-fied world whose dress is invariably based on period attire to begin with. 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland” is the exception proving the rule, having earned an award that has also gone to “The Great Gatsby,” “The Young Victoria,” “The Duchess,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “Marie Antoinette,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” and “The Aviator” over, say, “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events,” “Mirror Mirror,” and “Snow White and the Huntsman.”

Limiting the prize to a period film makes the pick even more obvious. You must go with the older age. Durran’s costuming in Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner” has none of the flash and grandeur of her work in “Anna Karenina,” for which she won her first Oscar. Instead, it showcases how detail and sensitivity contribute to a masterpiece.

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Directing

Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” – should win, will win
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

Sure, twelve years is a long time to work on any project, especially one that relies on the commitment and veracity of a young boy growing into teenagerhood. Taking his career trajectory and craftsmanship in the broad view, as the Academy is sometimes wont to do, Linklater will get his Oscar. Some day. Just not this Oscar Sunday.

His technique in “Boyhood” is nothing documentary filmmakers have not been doing for years—”Hoop Dreams” comes to mind, while Michael Apted has been filming the same subjects for 50 years for his “Up” series—and the overall angst-riddled story does not distinguish him enough against tough competition. Iñárritu is the unquestioned, and to some extent, unchallenged favorite here, and not just because his film is the frontrunner for Best Picture. “Birdman” is the kind of work that gets an -esque after your name.

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Documentary Feature

“Citizenfour” – should win, will win
“Finding Vivian Maier”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“The Salt of the Earth”
“Virunga”

As good of a no-brainer as you can find in this year’s Oscars, Laura Poitras’s Snowden doc has seemingly won every award to date and has all of the usual documentary tropes going its way: timely, newsworthy subject matter and a lauded director who has more than paid her dues in the documentary world, to say nothing of its provocative journalism and outstanding composition. No need to overthink this one.

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Documentary Short Subject

“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press I”
“Joanna” – should win
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth” – will win

No dearth of divisive filmmaking here, as Documentary Short covers, in turn, the crisis of untreated veterans home from war, an abstracted divination on an industrial butcher’s natural analogue in “The Reaper,” and two Polish shorts championing perseverance and future-building in the face of unconquerable odds. “Joanna” is the most provocative in its subtle, poetic, unsentimental focus on a terminally ill mother writing out the final lessons she has for her son. Though a universal and accessible story, it may suffer from its bleak formalization and general sense of otherness. Favor instead a story tied to current events.

The effects of the Great Plains oil boom on small town America were vividly covered in the documentary feature “The Overnighters,” one of the less-commented-upon snubs of the Oscar season. “White Plains,” covering the same ground with an even lighter touch, earns the award on behalf of the topic.

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Film Editing

Sandra Adair, “Boyhood” – will win
Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach, “American Sniper”
Tom Cross, “Whiplash” – should win
William Goldenberg, “The Imitation Game”
Barney Pilling, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Seriously, twelve years of material. Adair may have cut over the years, but that is only part of what makes her work remarkable. Her only competition here is Cross, who added clever, dynamic cutaways to aid “Whiplash”s tension and generate one of the great, isolated film scenes in recent memory, the climactic performance of “Caravan.” But Editing is the one place where the process of making “Boyhood” reinforces the patience and craft of Linklater’s team rather than diminishes their ultimate message.

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Foreign Language Film

“Ida” (Poland) –should win, will win
“Leviathan” (Russia)
“Tangerines” (Estonia)
“Timbuktu” (Mauritania)
“Wild Tales” (Argentina)

Foreign Language is a wide open race this year. “Timbuktu” has a righteous fight against fundamentalists. “Wild Tales” cleverly shapes several parables on South American class divides. “Tangerines”takes on border crises in Soviet bloc states, then there is the Golden Globe-winner, “Leviathan,” with its legal allegory and small-town nostalgic sensibility. All contain the timeliness and momentum to take the award. “Ida” is the standout, combining all the craft and allegorical storytelling of its fellows with that ever-Oscar-worthy subject, the Holocaust.

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Makeup and Hairstyling

Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard, “Foxcatcher”
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White, “Guardians of the Galaxy” – should win, will win

Do not get sucked into the popular Makeup choice by thinking “Grand Budapest” will win for meticulous male grooming and its transformation of  Tilda Swinton into a rapidly decaying octogenarian.

Karen Gillan is blue. Zoe Saldana, green. Lee Pace, you’ve got a little something on your chin. Makeup historically has gone to the monster movie or the beautiful person playing ugly. “Guardians” has both.

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Original Score

Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – should win
Alexandre Desplat, “The Imitation Game”
Jóhann Jóhannsson, “The Theory of Everything” – will win
Gary Yershon, “Mr. Turner”
Hans Zimmer, “Interstellar”

Oh no, I’ve fallen for this one before. Desplat has now been nominated for eight Oscars, having earned none to date. “Grand Budapest” has the most inspired score of the year, with various European guitars serving to counterpoint the dark comic progress of the film. “Imitation Game,” too, had qualities of reserve that underscored a dramatic power expertly serving Turin’s personal struggles. Yet the award goes to the acclaimed Icelandic minimalist and electronicist Jóhannsson, for a heady and varied score that mixes instruments to relay “The Theory of Everything”s themes of romance, love, and, of course, that most precise conjunction of music and science, time. The pick represents a small flyer with a large safety net: Jóhannsson won the Golden Globe over Desplat, Zimmer, and an impossible-to-believe-he-wasn’t-nominated-for-an-Oscar Antonio Sanchez for “Birdman.” These days, you pick Desplat at your peril.

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Original Song

“Everything is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
“Glory” from “Selma” – should win, will win
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”

Definitely don’t work too hard on this one. Sure, this year’s category includes several options from music-based films, but “Selma”s “Glory,” with John Legend and Common behind it, is both the sentimental and justifiable choice.

Cynics will say a win here is giving an obvious, one-off honor to pacify critics who see “Selma” as gratuitously snubbed in all of the major categories. The optimists will see the song as anthemic. Pick your viewpoint, and “Selma” wins in a walk.

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Picture

“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” – should win, will win
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”

Best Picture showcases a curious preoccupation in contemporary Hollywood: the celebration of the male outlier. Biopics are nothing new, and this year had its heady retellings of an extraordinary sniper in Chris Kyle and unqualified geniuses in Alan Turing and Stephen Hawking. Yet exceptionalism was not just subject matter in 2014, it was substructure. All of this year’s Best Picture nominees save “Boyhood” focused on the pursuit of greatness, or at least the emulation of male trailblazers: Martin Luther King, Jr., Raymond Carver in “Birdman,” Buddy Rich and Charlie Parker in “Whiplash,” the impeccable precision of Monsieur Gustave in “Grand Budapest.” Hollywood’s obsession with superhero blockbusters has some agreeable byproducts, it seems.

We must exclude “Selma” from serious consideration, of course, what with its shocking lack of recognition in every other category save Original Song. The implication that “Selma” is worthy of Best Picture despite having no standout artistic or technical performances is the most obvious example of tokenism by the Academy since it watered down the Best Picture category five years ago. Ava DuVernay, Paul Webb, and her cast and crew deserve far more than an implied nod of approval late on Oscar night.

That leaves “Birdman” and “Grand Budapest” as the clear competition for “Boyhood,” keeping Linklater and company from a prize that for a while, early in the awards cycle, seemed like a given. “Grand Budapest” may be too composed, quirky, and, in terms of its aesthetic, old world to win that race, ushering “Birdman” to a rightful Best Picture. No film this year or in recent memory takes greater advantage of all elements of filmmaking. An achievement on every level, “Birdman” uses cinematography, script, costume, set, sound, and acting to generate a powerful whole, an examination on artistic experimentation in the modern cultural context and achieving in the face of daunting odds. What could be more fitting for a Best Picture?

Yet some credit is due to another entry in this year’s Best Picture field, “Whiplash.” A true out-of-nowhere—provided that you think of Park City, Utah, as a nowhere—it too works on multiple levels, with exemplary sound, score, editing, and acting. It just suffers from being too small, too un-Hollywood. It cannot compete with “Birdman” in grandeur. It is less ripe for analysis, less rigorous, less of a record of the historical and artistic moment, the less likely of the two to find its way into cinema studies textbooks. Which film would I watch again, first? “Whiplash,” without hesitation.

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Production Design

Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis, “Interstellar”
Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts, “Mr. Turner”
Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald, “The Imitation Game”
Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock, “Into the Woods”
Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – should win, will win

No discussion required. “Grand Budapest” is a veritable spotlight on the standout design of the year, complete with the film’s vivid use of color, models, and animation. Take “Grand Budapest” and run.

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Short Film Animated

“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper” – should win, will win
“Feast”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

It may seem counterintuitive to think that Animated Short would swing on the spire of subtlety. So many recent winners have been pronounced technical wonders (“Paperman,” “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore”) or sharp visual commentaries (“Logorama”). That “The Dam Keeper,” an expressive story of breaking out of one’s shell, is widely considered a lock offers an even greater honor, showing just how powerful quiet storytelling can be. Add that it is directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kondo and Daisuke Tsutsumi, and you can feel surprisingly confident for a shorts category..

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Short Film Live Action

“Aya”
“Boogaloo and Graham” – will win
“Butter Lamp”
“Parvaneh”
“The Phone Call” – should win

Tongue-in-cheek, bittersweet hipster stories have distinguished themselves lately in Live Action Short, making this year a potential trendbreaker. Most of the conversation has centered on “Butter Lamp,” a stark, formal, near-abstraction on the perils of industrialization in Tibet. Yet it seems like long odds to think the broad Academy base that votes for shorts would take the least accessible choice.

More likely, the Award is a toss-up between a comic Irish crowdpleaser on juvenility and childhood insubordination in “Boogaloo” and the emotionally resonant “Phone Call,” featuring the biggest names in the grouping in Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent. Unlike recent Live Action winners, “The Phone Call” houses real emotional depth and takes the courageous approach of just being a heartbreaker, start to finish. The resonant power of this capsule story on helplessness and abandonment at the end stage of life certainly has the weight to keep the race close. “Boogaloo”s relentless charm ultimately gives it the edge.

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Sound Editing

“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” – should win
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Interstellar” – will win
“Unbroken”

Sound Mixing

“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”
“Whiplash” – should win, will win

Visual Effects

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Interstellar” – should win, will win
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”

This year’s action movie categories do not disappoint. Look at those visual selections: mutants, monsters, superheroes, talking apes! Yet the story across the sound and visual offerings in 2015 is the emphasis if not the core interest some of the year’s highest-rated films places in those areas. “Interstellar” is the prime example, an expansive think piece with exceptional, well-realized design and no small nod to science epics of past years, “2001: A Space Odyssey” in particular. Visual Effects is unquestionably its Oscar to lose.

The sound categories are less easy to predict. Both often go to war films, and more than a few commentators think “American Sniper” will get two statuettes here to waylay any talk of liberal Hollywood bias in the Best Actor and Best Picture portions of the evening. Even without that commentary, “American Sniper” is best effort in the normal way of doing things. Despite the controversy surrounding the film’s storytelling, here it is the safe choice.

Yet those awards would be at the expense of “Birdman,” the most ingenious film of the year and one that masterfully uses sound to expand the creative implications of the overall story—a story that criticizes the explosions and monster movie violence that often dominates in this technical area. The more likely recipient is the natural middle ground.

“Interstellar” operates in the neighborhood of sci-fi so often occupied by Sound Editing winners and is a film that cleverly works within the sonic boundaries of space. It dares to have lengthy scenes where there can be no sound at all, to say nothing of inventing the sound environments for entirely new worlds. No doubt this pick is a flyer, but the Academy has to honor an effort that expands what the field is capable of, rather than relies on what was done well in the past, right? Don’t bet too much on it.

At least there is slightly firmer ground in Sound Mixing. Sure, “American Sniper” is the frontrunner, and several of the films up for Sound Editing are repeated here. But when the movie moves behind the mixing board, music has infinitely more sway. Add that element, and the winner is a no-brainer. No film did more to isolate and glorify its music on screen than “Whiplash,” and the jazz geniuses that formed the backbone of its story and are evoked in the soundtrack are no small feature in getting the festival darling into Best Picture contention. “Whiplash” is one of the best, most successfully realized films in recent years because of its Sound Mixing. How many films can say that?

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Writing, Adapted Screenplay

Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”
Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash” – should win
Jason Hall, “American Sniper”
Anthony McCarten, “The Theory of Everything”
Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game” – will win

Chazelle deserves recognition for turning his short film into one of the best developed stories this year. If you are of the mind to think that the screenplay awards are the real Best Picture on Oscar night, then “Whiplash” should win. However, a twinge of small time has weighed it down, and without the once-presumptive favorite “Gone Girl” even making it into the competition, the Adapted Screenplay becomes one of the tightest categories all night.

The other Anderson has a definite shot, adapting the always challenging Pinchon into a film that, though it split critics, is undeniably watchable. “American Sniper,” itself a controversial book, has courted too much controversy for it to win a writing award, and it would be long odds to bet on the liberal bastion of Hollywood doing the far-from-liberal Eastwood any favors. If the race comes down to the sciences, then, “Imitation Game” outpaces “Theory of Everything,” in part for its clever non-linearity, but more for not being “A Beautiful Mind 2,” for not mythologizing Turing’s genius and instead letting the roughness of both the man and the manner in which society treated him play out on screen.

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Writing, Original Screenplay

Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – should win
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, “Foxcatcher”
Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo, “Birdman, or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” – will win
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

“Birdman” will win. “Birdman”s a brilliant screenplay exquisitely rendered. Iñárritu and company deserve the credit for tackling the artistic psyche, the wedge between culture and popularity, and the courage to come back and face a jeering audience with profound good humor, wit, and vision.

But let us pause a moment before filling in our ballot to give Anderson and Guinness their due. Of the five nominees, “Grand Budapest” is the most imaginative film and, indeed, the most original. It invents a country in the Eastern European mountains, develops its history in parallel but hardly in exact time with the rise of the Third Reich and the launch of the Blitz, and layers into the scene a complex double-flashback opening and some of the most engaging and well-formed characters in Anderson’s characteristically wacky milieu. “Birdman” may be the more intellectually rigorous, but “Grand Budapest” is every bit the accomplishment, and it certainly can be catalogued among Wes Anderson’s finest achievements. Only, it came out in too good a year.

Wes Anderson will get his one day. For now, take “Birdman” and, ehem, fly.

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The 87th annual Academy Awards
Sunday, February 22, 2015
7:00 pm ET
ABC

This entry was published on 21 February 2015 at 2:23 pm. It’s filed under OLD OSCAR PICKS and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “The Year of Smart Guys and Guises: Oscar Predictions 2015

  1. Great write-up We’ve seen 4 of 8 pictures. Will see Whiplash

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