by Adam Riske
The Academy Award nominations this year were rather poor. That’s been said over and over, but I think one category that the Academy didn’t screw up too badly (in terms of what was nominated) was Best Picture. Seven out of the 8 movies were ones I appreciated or enjoyed. Here’s what I believe it says if each of these movies won Best Picture.
American Sniper – The Academy has lost sight of what it means to make a good biopic that's curious and even-handed about its subject. Whatever success this movie has it owes to a strong performance from Bradley Cooper, who elevates what is otherwise a flatly directed and thinly written movie. I don’t think the Academy will be swayed enough by the staggering box office and audience enthusiasm (which I do not understand) to award American Sniper with Best Picture.
Awards I think this movie will win: Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing
Birdman – The Academy wants to award a movie that reflects their day-to-day lives the most, meaning something about “the industry.” I’ve seen Birdman twice and enjoyed it at both times but I do not think it’s a “great” movie. It’s an actor’s movie directed in a very flashy way that begs for your attention. I find it odd that this movie is currently the favorite to overtake Boyhood and win Best Picture when none of the actual actors in it are favorites anymore to win Oscars themselves. Birdman winning would be a mistake for two reasons: 1) it’s not a movie with a universal theme, i.e. it’s too industry-centric and 2) people will begin to call it overrated, which it’s not -- it’s just not the best movie of the year.
Awards I think this movie will win: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography
Boyhood – The Academy wants to give a lifetime achievement award to Richard Linklater and this seems like their best opportunity to do so. I love Boyhood on the whole; however, I think it has a tin-ear for dialogue in certain scenes and wastes time on one too many drunk stepfathers. I would be happy if this movie won Best Picture. It was a gamble that paid off and Linklater is overdue for some recognition, which is fine in this case because I think it’s one of his three or four best movies (after Before Sunrise, Dazed and Confused and Before Sunset). Winning Best Picture would have a positive effect on Boyhood because it’s still under-seen by the general public and the award would raise its exposure to people who ordinarily wouldn’t watch it.
Awards I think this movie will win: Best Supporting Actress, Best Editing
The Grand Budapest Hotel – The Academy wants to give a lifetime achievement award to Wes Anderson (whose work, in my opinion, keeps getting better and better) and this seems like their best opportunity to do so. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a terrific movie but it’s sneakily important while playful on the surface. I think most people remember its look more than its themes, which is unfortunate. Of the eight nominees, this is one of three that I have absolutely no objections over. I think it’s a wonderful movie and I would be thrilled if it won Best Picture. I just don’t think it will happen.
Awards I think this movie will win: Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Costume Design
Award I think this movie will win: Best Adapted Screenplay
Selma wins because of two reasons: 1) it’s deserving and speaks to our time just as much as the 1960s and 2) it would show again what a crock the Academy Awards are because a movie with two Oscar nominations (representing muted support from the Academy) won Best Picture. I don’t think this will happen because despite passionate supporters, there are safer picks voters can make and if history has proven anything that’s what the voters for the Oscars tend to do. I know they’ll give this Best Song, feel like that’s recognition enough and call it a day.
Award I think this movie will win: Best Song
Awards I think this movie will win: Best Actor, Best Score
favorite movie of last year (until I saw Selma, so now it’s probably a tie) but it’s a small movie that tells a small (yet universal) story about mentors and protégés. I don’t think it has the needed gravitas to be considered Best Picture. Plus, like Birdman, I don’t want Whiplash to win because it will be less cool then. People will call it overrated and denigrate it because it won the big award. This great movie deserves better than that. It’s not cool to win Best Picture. I am thrilled it was nominated, though, because that means more people will see this great movie.
Awards I think this movie will win: Best Supporting Actor
What do you think will win Best Picture? What do you want to win?