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Uncle SwordLord's Oscar Predictions, Thoughts & Reviews

Discussion in 'ProgPower USA Lounge' started by SwordLord, Feb 22, 2015.

  1. SwordLord

    SwordLord Attack!

    Sep 20, 2004
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    St. Paul, Minnesota
    For the first time ever, I am posting my annual blog on the Oscars here on PPUSA lounge. I hope you enjoy it - it contains my predictions, picks, thoughts and reviews on the upcoming ceremony tomorrow night.

    On the Eve of the Oscars

    Truly it was a great year for movies!

    In fact, out of the 56 films I viewed on my annual Oscar run, I can count on one hand the number that weren’t any good. The vast majority were so good that this year has some of the toughest choices since 1995 when Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction and Shawshank Redemption were all nominated.

    I will do my best to give a complete and concise analysis of what I think will win and what I think should win – the latter being my own personal opinion based on actually seeing all of the movies as opposed to just playing politics (ahem, Academy). To avoid redundancy, it might be best if you had an Oscar ballot with you to follow along.

    Will Win – Birdman
    Should Win – Birdman

    This is by far the most difficult category to choose because in any other year, all of these nominees would have been Best Picture in their own right. Yes, even American Sniper. Boyhood is a stunning achievement but it lacks the real magic that would make it deserve the win. The Grand Budapest Hotel is without a doubt Anderson’s masterpiece and this is hands down my second place choice for the year. The Imitation Game is just marvelous from the first frame to the last and had it been about Americans in WW2 versus Brits, I think this film would have been a much bigger contender for Best Picture than it currently is. There is nothing wrong with Imitation Game at all, I just preferred Birdman and GBH more. Selma is a spectacular period piece and comes very close to duplicating the emotional impact of 12 Years a Slave. The Theory of Everything is an extraordinary film that will be a visual textbook of character acting for years to come. And Whiplash is just a damn fine film, easily one of the best of the year. To say that I think Birdman should win is, really, quibbling over trifles. Birdman is just a magical film, plain and simple. The struggle for identity and relevance as we age is portrayed with such earnestness bare-naked honesty (literally – there is a scene where Keaton runs through the streets of New York City sporting only his tidy-whities) that it transcends traditional narrative stories and reaches deep, deep into the human soul. Adding to its many layers is the fact that the story centers around a washed up actor who used to play a superhero played by … Michael Keaton – a washed up actor who used to play a superhero. How this film managed to overcome its own cliché is a testament to its writer and director. Birdman should win, but it is only by a hair’s breadth that it surpasses its very impressive fellow nominees.

    Will Win – Michael Keaton for Birdman
    Should Win – Benedict Cumberbatch for Imitation Game

    This is another devastatingly hard category to choose. Once again, in any other year, any of these actors would have won for their performances. It is almost unfortunate that they are all up against each other.

    Even though Steve Carell sunk one of the greatest TV shows in human history with his departure, at least he has been doing something worthwhile. Carell has given us breathtaking performances in such films as Little Miss Sunshine, Dan in Real Life, The Way Way Back and now Foxcatcher. Carell is stunning in the role, particularly because it is so diametric to his usual casting choices. If he continues to make smart choices like these, he’ll have an Oscar on his mantel in no time at all.

    Bradley Cooper has continued to impress with a varied career that has occasionally appeared on Oscar’s radar (2012’s Silver Linings Playbook). Even though his role in American Sniper doesn’t give him an awful lot of room to work, he does a fantastic job. He definitely deserves the nomination but he’ll win for something more three-dimensional.

    Keaton is unbelievable in Birdman and it is by millimeters that he loses to Cumberbatch. He’s so good in fact that at times you begin to feel like Birdman is an autobiography rather than a fictitious piece. I hope that someone gives him another role like this soon.

    Eddie Redmayne is the life-blood that held Theory of Everything together. This film would have utterly and conclusively failed if it had not been for his earth-shattering performance. I would say that if Redmayne were to win, it would be the equivalent of Theory of Everything itself winning Best Picture – that is how good Redmayne is. Again, this comes down to quibbling over trifles. There is only so much room that Redmayne was able to go while sitting in a wheelchair – it is for this mere technicality that a couple of his fellow nominees surpass him.

    Which brings us to Cumberbatch – his performance in Imitation Game is heart-breakingly triumphant. Cumberbatch grabs you by the throat and drags you through the whole emotional storm of the tortured genius right up to his tragic and unjustified end. The journey is at once uplifting, infuriating and hopelessly sad. The Imitation Game is one of those films that goes far beyond excellent and Cumberbatch deserves the lion’s share of the credit for this – please just give him the Oscar.

    Will Win – J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
    Should Win – J.K. Friggin Simmons

    There is not a bad nomination in this bunch either. Duvall was wonderful in The Judge, as he always is. Ethan Hawke is fantastic in Boyhood, even though he’s essentially playing the same character he has played in every Linklater film he’s been in. Norton is unreal in Birdman. Ruffalo is spectacular in Foxcatcher. What’s the one thing these four have in common? They just happen to be up against J.K. Simmons who gave the best performance of his entire career in Whiplash. If you do not see Whiplash, you are missing out on one of the best films of the decade. SEE IT!

    Will Win – Julianne Moore in Still Alice
    Should Win – Julianne Moore

    This category is similar to the Best Actor category in that a couple of these performances are among the best you’ll ever see. Rosamund Pike is absolutely chilling in Gone Girl and up until very recently, she had my vote. Marion Cotillard gives a simple, subtle, vulnerable and just downright beautiful performance in 2 Days 1 Night. The oddballs here are Felicity Jones who is adequate but not extraordinary in Theory of Everything and Reese Witherspoon in Wild who was nominated merely to cater the feminist vote despite the film being furiously uneven.

    Again, what’s the one thing these 4 have in common? They are up against Julianne Moore who gave the performance of her career in Still Alice. Julianne Moore is a juggernaut who has literally steamrolled the competition, winning every single award leading up to the Oscars. It should be no contest … but then again ask Lauren Bacall how that worked out in 1996 …

    Will Win – Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
    Should Win – Patricia Arquette

    This was a strange category. All of these nominations were for roles that were really utilitarian. There are exactly two stand-outs – Patricia Arquette in Boyhood and Emma Stone in Birdman. Of the two, Arquette is the one who shines just a little bit brighter.

    Will Win – Richard Linklater for Boyhood
    Should Win – Wes Anderson for Grand Budapest Hotel

    This is another category in which the winner is taking home the statue by mere millimeters. Alejandro Inarritu directed one of the finest films of the decade and this should not be overlooked. Bennett Miller did an amazing job with Foxcatcher and it is a shame this is being overlooked. The Imitation Game is an undisputed masterpiece and Morten Tyldum should be an A-list director after Sunday night. Richard Linklater has proven he can direct a poignant drama but I found Boyhood to be just a redressing of his previous work – the only differing feature being the length of time over which it was shot. The Academy however, will almost unanimously give him the award since right now, he has all of the momentum. If it was me handing out the award however, I’d give it to Wes. GBH is his finest achievement and with the impressive body of work he has amassed previously, he is long, long overdue for a golden statue. Looks like he has to wait a little bit longer …

    Will Win – How to Train Your Dragon 2
    Should Win – Song of the Sea

    This category is such a disgrace. Where was The Lego Movie? Why does How to Train Your Dragon 2 have such momentum? Why are amazing animated films from other countries nominated every year only to be passed up for the American film with the biggest box office gross?

    If you disagree with me, I challenge you – sit down with both films – How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Song of the Sea – watch them back to back. If you can honestly say that you enjoyed HTTyD2 more than SotS, then your first therapy session is on me.

    Will Win – Ida
    Should Win – Tangerines

    I admit that I am not really qualified to judge this category. Try as I might, I was unable to see two of the films nominated (Timbuktu and Wild Tales). I wish theaters in Minnesota played more foreign films. Of the three I did see, I liked Tangerines the best. Ida is decent but fails to transcend. Leviathan is just painful to watch, I’m not sure why everyone is so caught up with this movie. It really needed a good editor. Tangerines on the other hand is just beautiful and if you have a chance to see this movie, PLEASE DO.

    Will Win – The Imitation Game
    Should Win – The Imitation Game

    Actually I’m not really fit to judge this category either. Why? I haven’t read any of the source material! If you are judging what is the “best adapted screenplay” – you need to see both the movie and read the material (or see the other film) on which it is based. I was able to do this one year but I always seem to run out of time. One of these years, I will do it.

    I have one example to submit on why this is so important. I’m sure that most people who have seen The Shawshank Redemption agree that in 1995 it got completely robbed – being nominated for 7 Oscars and not winning a single one. But the one nomination that Shawshank absolutely positively deserved to win was Best Adapted Screenplay. Why? THE BOOK SUCKED! If you’ve read the short story by Steven King, you’ll doubtlessly be as irritated as I was that the “ending” of the book is given away literally in the first paragraph. So all of the suspense in the film (does Andy escape? Did he kill himself?) was added by Frank Darabont (director/screenwriter) as part of the adapting process. Darabont took a lame short story and made it better – THAT’S adapting a screenplay!

    Will Win – Grand Budapest Hotel
    Should Win – Grand Budapest Hotel

    This category breaks my heart. Why? Because I have to give Wes Anderson the win over one of my favorite films of the year – NIGHTCRAWLER.

    Nightcrawler and Grand Budapest Hotel are my two favorites but that doesn’t diminish the other 3. Boyhood, Foxcatcher and Birdman are all amazing films and of course this is due largely in part to their stories. But Grand Budapest Hotel is just the best one and it even beats out Nightcrawler … by a nose-hair. Nightcrawler is a very misunderstood film – easily the Natural Born Killers for this decade – being that it’s been over 20 years since NBK came out, it also shows you how society has continued to DEgress instead of improve. You need to see Nightcrawler, it is an unbelievable film.

    Will Win – Birdman
    Should Win – Birdman

    Initially it would appear that Birdman is practically a shoe-in, especially since it has won everything possible leading up to the Oscars. But Oscar has a tendency to favor the Brits in this category so Mr. Turner (lensed brilliantly by Dick Pope) could pull an upset. Again, there isn’t a bad one in the bunch here, so this is a very tight race.

    Will Win – The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Should Win – Into the Woods

    The odd man out here is Inherent Vice – costumes? Really? It seems GBH has all the momentum here. If it were up to me, I’d give it to INTO THE WOODS – as much as I hated the film, the costumes were quite spectacular.

    Will Win – CitizenFour
    Should Win – CitizenFour

    I did not see one of these films – The Salt of the Earth by Wim Wenders alluded me, even on the Torrent sites (oh stop!).

    Honestly though, the winner is clear. CitizenFour is about true patriotism – not just posting radical thoughts on Facebook. Snowden lost everything standing up for what he believed in and that is what true Patriotism is all about.

    Will Win – Joanna
    Should Win – Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

    The shorts categories are always difficult to predict being that there is virtually no data available. Having seen all the shorts, I will predict that Joanna will be the one to capture Oscar’s attention as cancer is typically a tearjerker that attracts awards. My choice would be to give it to Crisis Hotline which is an unbelievable look at a crisis call center for veterans – something most people wouldn’t give a second thought about.

    Will Win – Boyhood
    Should Win – American Sniper

    Boyhood has all of the momentum here and I’m not sure why. The editing is very utilitarian. American Sniper hands down deserves this award.

    Will Win – Grand Budapest Hotel
    Should Win – Guardians of the Galaxy

    Don’t get me wrong – GBH is an amazing film. But best makeup?? Guardians of the Galaxy is the obvious choice here.

    Will Win – Glory from Selma
    Should Win – Everything is Awesome from the Lego Movie

    Anyone who knows me knows that my musical tastes are far from the norm so yes, I’m picking the cheesy, feel-good song that helped propel the Lego Movie to be one of the top films of 2014.

    Will Win – Grand Budapest Hotel
    Should Win – Mr. Turner

    There is very little here to be disappointed in nomination-wise. I actually feel that Interstellar does NOT deserve to be nominated here but I know I’ll be in a minority on that. Even though I think GBH is a masterpiece, I would give overall production values to Mr. Turner. Mr. Turner is a beautiful film – costumes, sets, mise en scene, it is all incredible. This film deserves to win that category.

    Will Win – Feast
    Should Win – A Single Life

    These were all fantastic again and Feast is going to benefit from having the most exposure (it was released with Big Hero 6) but A Single Life is absolutely amazing – a two minute short film that is ingenious, poignant and funny in black comedy sort of way. Don’t miss it!

    Will Win – Boogaloo and Graham
    Should Win – The Phone Call

    I think Boogaloo and Graham will win and I won’t be disappointed if it does. It’s very light and funny and you NEED these with the live action shorts. Anyone who has seen these over multiple years will get the joke there. But if it were me, I would give it to The Phone Call – a devastatingly beautiful and heartbreaking story about a crisis center operator who gets a phone call that she is unable to forget.

    Will Win – American Sniper
    Should Win – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

    Definitely a fun category every year and all of the nominees are well deserving – even Interstellar. American Sniper is probably the favorite to win here, but I’d rather it went to The Hobbit – 3 hours of battle scenes deserve the Oscar!

    Will Win – Whiplash
    Should Win – Whiplash

    Whiplash is an amazing movie and it is amazing in part due to its sound. It is a mesmerizing achievement. Although the other nominees are worthy of being in the running, Whiplash deserves the win hands-down.

    Will Win – Interstellar
    Should Win – Guardians of the Galaxy

    I am going to be so pissed off if Interstellar wins. The award it should win would be Most Lackluster Special Effects in a Space Movie. Everything in Interstellar is shot so by the numbers and without any feeling or bravado that I’m amazed it was nominated. I’ve seen this in 70mm IMAX so whatever amazing visuals were there, should have been readily apparent – and they weren’t. Guardians of the Galaxy deserves this Oscar – and it won’t get it.

    So here you go – here are my thoughts after seeing 56 movies this year and reading countless reviews, blogs and predictions. I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

  2. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Member

    Feb 11, 2002
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    I missed this before the Oscars. I actually wasn't planning on watching but I ended up doing it anyways.

    Interesting hearing opinions about Birdman. People seem to think it is either a great film or highly overrated. I'm interested in finding out. The only BP nominee I've seen this year is Grand Budapest Hotel, which was a damn good film.

    Watching the broadcast, I think it was a no brainer that Eddie Redmayne should win Best Actor. Going all in playing probably the best known sufferer of ALS is worthy of an award.

    For Best Animated Film, I think it was a travesty that Big Hero 6 won. Not that it was a bad film, but that it wasn't a great one. While I can't speak for HtTYD 2, my wife thought it was a great movie. Personally, I wanted Princess Kaguya to win, because Takahata deserves and Oscar to go with Miyazaki's, and a lot of people thought it was the best animated movie of last year.

    Whiplash is high on the movies I want to see.
  3. SwordLord

    SwordLord Attack!

    Sep 20, 2004
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    St. Paul, Minnesota
    Thanks for breaking my movie monologue with some fantastic input! :Spin:

    BIRDMAN is amazing. But it helps if you have a background in theater which I do. If someone comes from an arts background, I would be very surprised if they thought the film was "overrated."

    The Best Actor category was so full of talent that no matter who won the award, it was a great choice. Redmayne was a surprise simply because Keaton had steamrolled the competition leading up to the Oscars. He won the Golden Globe and the Screen Actor's Guild Award (many consider this to be a foreshadowing of Oscar glory) and a host of others. Redmayne had good buzz but this had not translated into many wins. So that is why I consider it a surprise.

    I completely agree! BIG HERO SIX was a joke. I posted on it in a previous thread. BH6 was on my top 10 worst of the year. As far as Princess Kaguya, I did like this film quite a bit and it was head and shoulders above BH6. My personal pick was SONG OF THE SEA and if you have an opportunity to see this, I would highly recommend it.

    You have to see it -- it is utterly amazing!
  4. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Member

    Feb 11, 2002
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    No problem. Unfortunately, now that I have a kid, I don't see as many films as I used to. Hard to carve out two straight hours to watch something my son either isn't interested in or isn't old enough to handle.

    I have a little bit (in that I worked stage crew for a show one semester in college.), but not as much as some of my friends who are involved in local theater. Personally, I haven't seen one of Inarritu's films since Amores Perros.

    Got it. To be honest, I don't pay much attention to award season. It just seemed obvious during the broadcast.

    I'm not quite as negative as you, but it was the film that didn't belong on the list. I would have rather have seen The LEGO Movie there, but I think someone would have been upset if Disney wasn't represented in some way.

    I've been looking forward to Song Of The Sea since I saw the trailer. I saw The Secret Of Kells back when it was nominated and I'm glad they got around to making another film. BTW, I hadn't known until they were listing the nominees that Graham Annable was involved with making The Boxtrolls. I hadn't known he was with Laika now. Makes me want to see even more.

    I've been a fan of JK Simmons since the first Spider-Man movie and I'm glad he got an award. I hadn't heard of the film until the trailer came out and I knew I had to see it. Won't get the wife to see it tho. It hits too many hot buttons for her.

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