Thursday, February 19, 2015

Riske Business: The 2015 Best Picture Nominees

by Adam Riske
They’re gonna fuck up the winner for this one, aren’t they?

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
The Imitation Game – The Academy wants to pick the movie that looks the most like Oscar bait and was manipulated (once again) by Harvey “I live for this shit” Weinstein. I liked The Imitation Game very much. The performances were great and the overall production was very well put together. However, the movie is 20 minutes too short and breezes past the most important part of its main subject’s story. It also ends on a text crawl, which I fucking hate. Dramatize that shit! It so seldom works to end on a text crawl (although the next movie on this list, Selma, somehow makes a “this is what happened to these people” crawl emotionally affecting). The Imitation Game shouldn’t win, because of the eight nominees in this category this is one of the more forgettable ones and hardly represents the film conversation of 2014. This was no one’s favorite movie of last year.

Award I think this movie will win: Best Adapted Screenplay
Selma – The Academy feels guilty for not nominating Selma in several other categories and wants to make-good or the Academy recognizes that it is a phenomenal movie that is just as smart as it is well-made and moving. I really hope 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
The Theory of Everything – The Academy liked A Beautiful Mind so much that they want it to win Best Picture twice. First off, I like A Beautiful Mind, so I’m not bagging on that movie and I like The Theory of Everything. It’s a strong romance just as much as a biopic and it has great acting. I just think this is The Imitation Game Part Two. Who honestly thinks The Theory of Everything is the best movie of last year? No one. This movie winning would make absolutely no sense.

Awards I think this movie will win: Best Actor, Best Score
Whiplash – The Academy is trying to show it’s hip and it’s a whole new ballgame at the Oscars. I love, love, love Whiplash. It was my 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?


  1. I just don't see a world where Boyhood doesn't win the Best Picture/Best Director combo. I mean, MAYBE the academy will consider the latter award enough for Boyhood and give the former to Birdman, but I don't think so.

    That being said...Whiplash for Best Picture anyway!

    And Jake Gyl- er, nevermind...

  2. If Boyhood wins (which I wouldn't mind) everyone will say its overrated and gimmicky. I like Birdman although im not really sure why. I need to give it a rewatch. I really enjoyed Whiplash but I think it has a smaller chance than Selma at winning.

  3. I feel super bad that I just don't seem to be as enamored with Selma. I mean, I liked it, but I didn't love it. Maybe because I was already aware of how the events in Selma went down, it lost it's impact. I also feel that is was about 20 minutes too long. I do think David Oyelowo should have gotten a nomination though. He was amazing.

  4. I'd love to see Whiplash win. Of the 5 that I saw it was by far the best (missed Birdman, Imitation, and Selma), but I really don't think that's going to happen. I do agree with you though. It's great that it was nominated, so more people will go out and see it.

  5. I really didn't like Selma or The Imitation Game, and I thought that The Theory of Everything was much better than either of them. Also, I really hope that Whiplash deserves the win for editing. As great as Boyhood is, I think that the editing was only impressive because of the time span, otherwise it seems like it would be a relatively normal editing job. Technically impressive, but in my opinion not as good as Whiplash's. And I SO hope Whiplash gets Adapted Screenplay, and I'll be really disappointed when The Imitation Game gets it.

    1. Agreed on Whiplash winning Adapted Screenplay. It needs to win that one.

  6. After reading this I think I've decided that I want The Grand Budapest Hotel to win Best Picture. Out the films I loved (Boyhood, Birdman, Whiplash, Selma, and Grand Budapest) I think GBH would receive the least damage by receiving the award.

  7. I really liked some of these. Boyhood, Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma and Whiplash. I don't have faith in the Academy for nominating them for the reasons they should be nominated for. It seems like a particularly Fuck the Academy year this one! I want to watch it still because I can normally have fun if watching it with others. But I can't be excited about the awards, I am more excited about hanging out with my buddies talking about movies

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