(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Men on Film: If We Picked the Oscars 2014

Artwork by Olly Gibbs


Borrowing a page from Siskel and Ebert back in the good ol' days, Movie Dearest's very own Men on Film — Chris Carpenter and Kirby Holt — are presenting our own version of "If We Picked the Oscars". These aren't predictions, but what movies, actors, directors, et al that we would vote for if we were members of the Academy. We're also chiming in with our picks for the "egregiously overlooked" non-nominees as well as the "Worst Nominations of the Year"; plus: Oscar Trivia! So without further ado, the envelope please...

The nominees for Best Picture are: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash
And our winners would be:
CC: I must go with Boyhood, Richard Linklater's groundbreaking, 12-year exploration of family life that also serves as a stunning testament to its cast's and crew's dedication.
KH: It's about time a straight-up comedy took the top Oscar, and The Grand Budapest Hotel was a mirthful delight worthy of the gold.
Egregiously Overlooked: Edge of Tomorrow and Interstellar, two of the smartest and best-made science fiction films in several years. - CC
Oscar Trivia: You have to go all the way back to 1951's Decision Before Dawn to find another Best Picture nominee that, like Selma this year, received only one other nomination outside of the major categories.

The Grand Budapest Hotel by Malika Favre

The nominees for Best Actor are: Steve Carell in Foxcatcher, Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, Michael Keaton in Birdman and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
And our winners would be:
CC: I don't consider myself a "Cumberbitch," as his fans are known, but Benedict Cumberbatch's subtly heartbreaking performance as the persecuted gay genius Alan Turing stands out for me here.
KH: Up against a quartet of biopics, Michael Keaton gave a truly original, totally raw performance in Birdman as a washed-up movie star best known for a superhero franchise (how meta) desperately trying for a comeback while barely holding onto his sanity.
Egregiously Overlooked: Channing Tatum, going full out dramatically as Foxcatcher's neglected central character, deserved a nod, especially since both his co-stars were nominated. - CC
Oscar Trivia: This is Bradley Cooper's third nomination in a row. Other actors to achieve this feat include William Hurt, Russell Crowe and Marlon Brando, who was actually nominated four times in a row, from 1951 to 1954 (ending with his first win, for On the Waterfront).

The nominees for Best Actress are: Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night, Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore in Still Alice, Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl and Reese Witherspoon in Wild
And our winners would be:
CC: I love Julianne Moore but consider her sure-to-win turn in Still Alice overrated. I would go with first time nominee Rosamund Pike, deliciously twisted as the allegedly abused and murdered wife in Gone Girl.
KH: She really should have one (Far from Heaven) or two (Boogie Nights) of these already, so I say give it to Julianne Moore already!
Egregiously Overlooked: Jennifer Aniston gives a truly transformative performance in Cake that every other major awards group recognized. - CC

The nominees for Best Supporting Actor are: Robert Duvall in The Judge, Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, Edward Norton in Birdman, Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher and J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
And our winners would be:
CC: Ethan Hawke's performance as the emotionally-maturing father is for me the glue that holds Boyhood's 12-year storytelling arc together.
KH: Oz's evil Nazi. Juno's befuddled dad. J. Jonah Jameson. The yellow M&M. J.K. Simmons is one of the most popular and talented character actors around, and it's his turn in the spotlight for his blistering turn in Whiplash.
Egregiously Overlooked: No matter how historically accurate the then-president's political stance may be in Selma, Tom Wilkinson's Lyndon B. Johnson offers a strong, believably conflicted portrayal. - CC
Oscar Trivia: At age 84, Robert Duvall is the oldest supporting actor nominee ever. He is also the most nominated male actor of this year's nominees, with seven career nominations.

Whiplash by Mike Lemanski

The nominees for Best Supporting Actress are: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood, Laura Dern in Wild, Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game, Emma Stone in Birdman and Meryl Streep in Into the Woods
And our winners would be:
CC: I haven't been a big fan of Kiera Knightley but I was blown away by her in The Imitation Game. It is a great part for any actress but Knightley invests in it fully and makes it her own. A revelation.
KH: Since her Emmy-winning days on Medium, I've been a big fan of Patricia Arquette, easily the best thing (for this non-fan) about Boyhood.
Egregiously Overlooked: Anna Kendrick is splendid as Sondheim's decidedly insecure but still singing Cinderella in Into the Woods. - CC
Oscar Trivia: Meryl Streep breaks her own record with this, her 19th career nomination. She is also the first actress nominated for playing a witch.

The nominees for Best Director are: Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher and Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game
And our winners would be:
CC: Richard Linklater is the standout for me and hopefully for the majority of Academy voters for his masterful cinematic odyssey.
KH: For crafting an incredibly unique world, Wes Anderson gets my vote.
Egregiously Overlooked: Ava DuVernay, who proves herself a talented and assured director with Selma, only her third narrative feature film. - CC
Oscar Trivia: Bennett Miller's nomination is unusual due to the fact that since the change in the Best Picture category in 2009 from five to up to ten nominees, it was expected that all the nominated Best Directors would be of Best Picture nominees.

The nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay are: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash
And our winners would be:
CC: Damien Chazelle's Whiplash is a terrific screenplay (expanded from his earlier short), but I give a slight edge to Graham Moore's The Imitation Game for shining a light on its long neglected, real-life gay hero.
KH: The liberties taken regarding historical accuracy have somewhat tainted The Imitation Game for me, so I'll go with Whiplash.
Egregiously Overlooked: Edge of Tomorrow's clever, intricately-plotted and exciting screenplay, adapted from a Japanese graphic novel. - CC

The Theory of Everything by Malika Favre

The nominees for Best Original Screenplay are: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Nightcrawler
And our winners would be:
CC: Wes Anderson's fanciful and funny script for The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of his best to date.
KH: I second that with another vote for The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Egregiously Overlooked: I am partial to Patrick Tobin's Cake, not only because the screenwriter is a member of my church but because his script manages simultaneously to be unapologetically acerbic and wholeheartedly compassionate. - CC

The nominees for Best Cinematography are: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ida, Mr. Turner and Unbroken
And our winners would be:
CC: This might be the toughest category to decide since all these films feature breathtaking camera work, but Unbroken remains for me the most hauntingly memorable.
KH: Ida features breathtakingly beautiful black and white images that are hard to forget as well.
Egregiously Overlooked: Into the Woods, another gorgeous movie. - CC
Oscar Trivia: Unbroken is Roger Deakins' twelfth nomination in this category, which he has yet to win.

The nominees for Best Production Design are: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into the Woods and Mr. Turner
And our winners would be:
CC: I love The Grand Budapest Hotel's overall visual tone and campy design flourishes, like its Pepto Bismol-colored lobby.
KH: Everyone who has seen it wants to check into this Grand Budapest Hotel.
Egregiously Overlooked: True, it is chiefly animated but no film last year impressed me for its artistic design as much as The Lego Movie did. - CC

The Imitation Game by Malika Favre

The nominees for Best Costume Design are: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, Maleficent and Mr. Turner
And our winners would be:
CC: The Grand Budapest Hotel, natch.
KH: Although I love the fantasy drag of Maleficent, once again it is The Grand Budapest Hotel for me.
Egregiously Overlooked: I admired the futuristic "military chic" attire, especially on Effie, in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. - CC
Oscar Trivia: Into the Woods is Colleen Atwood's fourth collaboration with director Rob Marshall and the fourth to garner her a nomination here, following wins for Chicago and Memoirs of a Geisha and a nomination for Nine.

The nominees for Best Original Score are: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Mr. Turner and The Theory of Everything
And our winners would be:
CC: Relative newcomer (at least to English-language films) Johann Johannsson's music for The Theory of Everything is lovely.
KH: I agree, The Theory of Everything score really caught my ear.
Egregiously Overlooked: Perhaps it wasn't all original music and therefore excluded from consideration, but Whiplash's jazz- and drum-infused score adds that much more tension and excitement to the plot. - CC
Oscar Trivia: All the nominated composers this year are not American, a first for this category.

The nominees for Best Original Song are: "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 and "Lost Stars" from Begin Again
And our winners would be:
CC: Its hard to resist the delightfully catchy "Everything is Awesome," especially since my year-old nephew loves it, but the soaring "Glory" is obviously more significant.
KH: Like Once's "Falling Slowly" before it, "Lost Stars" is an excellent example of modern movie songwriting, perfectly capturing the theme of its film while still being able to stand alone as one damn good song.
Egregiously Overlooked: Chris picks Lorde's trance hit "Yellow Flicker Beat" from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, whereas if I had my way, this category would be nothing but songs from the underrated gem Begin Again. But if I had to choose one, it would be "A Step You Can't Take Back", the simple tune that opens the film and sets the tone for all that follows. - KH
Oscar Trivia: "Lost Stars" co-composer Danielle Brisebois is a former child actress best known for playing Stephanie on All in the Family and its spin-off Archie Bunker's Place. She also originated the role of Molly in the original Broadway production of Annie.

Selma by Eve Lloyd Knight

The nominees for Best Film Editing are: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and Whiplash
And our winners would be:
CC: Whiplash, hands down.
KH: Make that two for Whiplash.
Egregiously Overlooked: Chris says Edge of Tomorrow, while I have to say it was a big shock not to see Birdman, with its celebrated "one single shot" effect, not among the final five. - KH

The nominees for Best Sound Mixing are: American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar, Unbroken and Whiplash
And our winners would be:
CC: Whiplash again.
KH: The entire soundscape of Birdman was a peek inside the fractured mind of its protagonist.
Egregiously Overlooked: The roaring, raging and aurally stunning Godzilla. - CC

The nominees for Best Sound Editing are: American Sniper, Birdman, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Interstellar and Unbroken
And our winners would be:
CC: For a sci-fi epic, I appreciated the more understated use of sound in Interstellar.
KH: Birdman again.
Egregiously Overlooked: The completely, underservedly shut out Snowpiercer or the nightmare-inducing "bumps in the dark" that filled The Babadook. - KH

Birdman by Malika Favre

The nominees for Best Visual Effects are: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar and X-Men: Days of Future Past
And our winners would be:
CC: Interstellar's effects looked the most organic and least video gamey to me.
KH: With two of the five main characters convincingly visualized via digital effects, I gotta hand it to the super-fun Guardians of the Galaxy.
Egregiously Overlooked: Godzilla's massive monsters were amazing. They should go stomp on the Academy's Visual Effects branch for the snub. - CC
Oscar Trivia: Three of the five nominees — Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy and X-Men: Days of Future Past — are based on Marvel Comics' characters.

The nominees for Best Makeup & Hairstyling are: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Guardians of the Galaxy
And our winners would be:
CC: The Grand Budapest Hotel, and not only for aging Tilda Swinton so decrepitly.
KH: Two of the other three main characters of Guardians of the Galaxy owe their far out looks to the film's expert makeup designers.
Egregiously Overlooked: Snowpiercer, says Chris, for another radical transformation of Swinton. I say Maleficent, for making the always stunning Angelina Jolie even more stunning. Those cheekbones! - KH

The nominees for Best Animated Feature are: Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya
And our winners would be:
CC: The Boxtrolls kinda grossed me out and I've only seen Big Hero 6 out of the other nominees, so Baymax, Hiro & friends are my pick.
KH: Time for Hiccup, Toothless and the makers of How to Train Your Dragon 2 to finally soar home with an Oscar.
Egregiously Overlooked: Chris wonders if  the infamous snub of The Lego Movie is because it wasn't 100% animated; like the also not-nominated The Simpsons Movie, I think it was too commercial for the more "art"-minded animation branch. - KH
Oscar Trivia: If How to Train Your Dragon 2 wins, it would be the first sequel to win without its nominated predecessor winning.

Foxcatcher by Matt Murphy

The nominees for Best Foreign Language Film are: Ida (Poland), Leviathan (Russia), Tangerines (Estonia), Timbuktu (Mauritania) and Wild Tales (Argentina)
And our winners would be:
CC: Ida tells the most potent story and in gorgeous black & white.
KH: Hauntingly powerful, Ida it is.
Egregiously Overlooked: Xavier Dolan's emotional roller coaster ride Mommy.
Oscar Trivia: These are the first nominations for Estonia and Mauritania. Poland has the most previous nominations, with ten total.

The nominees for Best Documentary Feature are: Citizenfour, Finding Vivien Maier, Last Days in Vietnam, The Salt of the Earth and Virunga
And our winners would be:
CC: Virunga for its important and sadly necessary save-the-gorillas plea.
KH: Sometimes the subject of a documentary seems to win the award more than the actual film (An Inconvenient Truth, any one?), so I heartily agree with Virunga, which not only has a compelling story to tell but does so in an engrossingly cinematic way.
Egregiously Overlooked: It doesn't strictly qualify as a documentary, which is likely why it wasn't nominated, but The Circle is illuminating and compelling. - CC

The nominees for Best Documentary Short Subject are: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Joanna, Our Curse, The Reaper (La Parka) and White Earth
And our winner would be:
KH: Our Curse, about a baby born with a life threatening condition, is heartbreaking, inspiring and unforgettable.

Boyhood by Malika Favre

The nominees for Best Animated Short Film are: The Bigger Picture, The Dam Keeper, Feast, Me and My Moulton and A Single Life
And our winners would be:
CC: Disney's sweet Feast.
KH: Feast it is, but I also really dug The Dam Keeper and Me and My Moulton.
Egregiously Overlooked: That Glen Keane, the legendary Disney animator behind such iconic characters as Ariel, the Beast and Aladdin, wasn't nominated for the absolutely lovely Duet is (to me at least) the biggest Oscar snub of the year. - KH
Oscar Trivia: Feast was released theatrically with Best Animated Feature nominee Big Hero 6.

The nominees for Best Live Action Short Film are: Aya, Boogaloo and Graham, Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak), Parvaneh and The Phone Call
And our winners would be:
CC: Its rare for a film to be heartwarming while making a political statement, but Boogaloo and Graham is such a short.
KH: Funny and charming, I'm all for Boogaloo and Graham as well.

And now for our own special category of dishonorable mention, the Worst Nomination of the Year:
CC: I really can't single out a particular nomination or category this year, which is unusual, but I do feel there is excessive love for Birdman. From its pretentious subtitle — Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) — to its über-insider sense of humor and pretty baffling conclusion, I just don't get it. I will protest, or at least roll my eyes dramatically, if it wins Best Picture.
KH: For me, the most overrated film of the year is Boyhood. Yeah yeah yeah, it was filmed over 12 years. I get it. But you would think that Richard Linklater would have been able to craft a more compelling story during that dozen years instead of the string of coming-of-age clichés that comprise his script, an Original Screenplay nominee.

American Sniper by Orlando Arocena

And so the final march to Oscar glory begins. Tune in to the Big Show, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, on ABC this Sunday to see who wins, as well as which nominees are rocking the best (and worst) gowns, most attractive escorts and most heartfelt acceptance speeches.

By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine, and Kirby Holt, creator and editor of Movie Dearest, The QuOD: The Queer Online Database and the Out Movie Guide.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks guys. Always loved this segment on Siskel/Ebert and am so happy you do it.