Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oscars 2015 (Or the Totally Expected Virtue of Ignorance) Part One

Oh, hello, Eegah  here! I didn’t see you there. Just now, you see, I had this year’s nominees list open in front of me, and was suddenly knocked forward into a slick, glinting (but now slowly friscalating) whiteness singularity. I’m whiter than I was even a second ago. My Dave Matthews Band CDs have suddenly appeared in front of me, from a tipped over box labeled 1998. And I have a strong urge to watch Sliding Doors. I’m sure this will pass. I'll be joined today in pics-giving by the great Livia, who is currently sporting those dark tinted eye exam glasses just so she can manage to see the blank page she's typing on, for it is currently taking whiteness lessons from the nominees....

Who are all white.

Let’s get this started:


It’s entirely possible you’ve had a chance to see the movies in this category by now (unlike with the Best Actress category), but I still have not seen Wild. I would give it to Laura Dern, solely to honor Laura Paleobotanist Dern, but alas.

 Keira Knightley in Imitation Game does nothing particularly strenuous as the smart Woman supporting. A. Smarter. Genius. Guy.

 No one deserves an Oscar simply for Meryl-stomping into a role for which she doesn’t have the vocal range. Better luck next time, Silkwood. 

Emma Stone makes an impression in Birdman, as Millennial who TEXTS (and SEXTS and sulks, damn kids these days). 

The real winner here, in a walk, is Patricia Arquette, for playing a truly three-dimensional character, anchoring the increasingly powerful arc of a 12 year project as much and maybe more than anyone else does in Boyhood.

 Should Win: Patricia Arquette
 Will Win: Patricia Arquette


Patricia Arquette deserves to win, but not just for letting them film what happens to a normal human woman’s face over 12 years. She deserves to win because she wiped the floor with these other bitches (no shade to Emma Stone, who was great), and because she was married to Thomas Jane and she deserves something good to balance that out. 

Keira, I have developed an odd tolerance for you, despite your many terrible choices in the past, and despite Jay making me watch your UNCONSCIONABLE adaptation of Dr. Zhivago, but this is not your year. 

Meryl, for you, I go directly to the tape of our post Into the Woods analysis: “Meryl Streep should have two of her Oscars rescinded for her performance here. She liberally changes tempo, sometimes within the same LYRIC, and whines through most of her high notes. And then she belts, and she sounds like a different person. Because that is a different person. Y'all, I saw Mama Mia, and I saw the rest of this movie. That is not her belting those mezzo notes. It's just not. Meryl has a belt double, and it's obvious. Her performance of the Witch Veggie Rap is the third most embarrassing thing I have ever seen an actor do onscreen. The other two were also in this movie. The other two were Johnny Depp.”

Winner: Patricia Arquette



Were there any 18th century dramas this year? Could that attest to why this category is actually interesting and competitive?

 This excludes Into The Woods, which is as misbegotten and tonally drained an experience as you could get from such rich source material, be it in costuming, singing, or in the act of generally looking at it.

Maleficent, at least insofar as the main character is concerned, has perfect costume design, and I also truly dig the 70s threads in Inherent Vice, man.

But I have a feeling Grand Budapest Hotel will walk away with more than a few of these technical awards.  Every costume looks great in it anyways.

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Are we honestly going to stand here and pretend that it’s hard to make Angelina Jolie look like a seductive dragon-monster? Are we just going to act like slapping horns and some cheek contour on a bitch deserves a statuette? 

However, BETTER THAT THAN INTO THE WOODS, which looked like third rate trash rented from the Haleakala Community College Theatre and Bait Shop, with a generous grant from Party City. Meryl's sexy witch dress looked like Cruella de Vil developed a pipe cleaner fetish, and Rapunzel looked like she was wearing a faded American Girl doll nightgown (and not even a good doll, but like Samantha's poor neighbor who worked in the factory all day).  Even the stepsisters looked like garbage. It was like Les Mis of the Forest. I mean, COME ON, they couldn't even make the stepsisters look garish, because apparently they were going for a patina of gritty realism IN A MOVIE WHERE A COW EATS A SHOE AND EMITS A POTION THAT RESTORES YOUTH. 

Give the award to the only nominee that actually deserves it: Grand Budapest Hotel.

Winner: Grand Budapest Hotel



No strong feelings in either category (do you know very many folks who have strong feelings in these categories? Or can distinguish the two in their heads?)

Look, I love Interstellar, it’s amazing, but surely we’re not awarding it in either category where it suffers the most? Caught more of the dialogue second go-round, but still.

For Sound Mixing, Whiplash should win, definitely. It’s sonically perfect and precise in ways it has to be to accomplish its mission.  But it’ll probably lose to American Sniper.

Sound Editing:

Should Win: The Hobbit BOT5A or something

Will Win: American Sniper

Sound Mixing

Should Win: Whiplash

Will Win: American Sniper


Sound Mixing
Winner: Whiplash

Sound Editing
Winner: Interstellar



Another strong and competitive technical category here (we don’t really get to random, unsynchronised territory until later category), it really comes down to a knockout fight between two tough contenders that present very different strategies through their editing.
(I’ll go ahead and mark off American Sniper, GBH, and seriously, The Imitation Game. Imitation Game, what, you want credit for scenes following sequentially with the narrative? Congratulations on that victory!)

In one corner, you have Whiplash, the most exciting movie of 2014 in many, many, ways, the effect of which would not exist without the absolute precision of its technical and musical elements. I’ve never seen anything like this movie, and that’s really hammered home in its excellent, jaw-dropping final sequence.

Then over here you have Boyhood, which subtly accomplishes so much with its editing we can barely notice the seems. The markers for time’s passage are unobtrusive yet clear, and I have a strong feeling the editor made it look way easier than that could possibly be.  This is a hard one for me, but I’m going to have to root for Whiplash, at least in this Indie Battle Royale category.

Should Win: Whiplash

Will Win: Boyhood


Winner: This seems like the kind of place they might throw The Imitation Game a bone.



All but one of the nominees here are actually for movies that also got a Best Picture nod? How novel!

To get to that one first, I am not watching The Judge.  That is not going to happen.  The Judge looks like a slightly edgier version of the movie within a movie they’re shooting in State and Maine. Small town life, right?
Who doesn’t love Robert Duvall? It’s nice to nominate someone’s legacy, but sorry, not with this movie.

Ethan Hawke is sympathetic and consistent throughout Boyhood, which is obviously an accomplishment (a huge accomplishment for the kids there as well!), but I think the trophy for this one will go to Arquette.

Mark Ruffalo is very good in Foxcatcher, a movie a few dozen people have seen, probably not all of them academy voters. It’d be pretty funny if new Hulk just kept beating Old NortonHulk in everything he ever does, but I don’t think we’re gonna see those fireworks this time around.

This one’s J.K. Simmons’ to lose, and quite deservedly, since he’s the scariest horror movie monster in recent memory. Voters may have completely missed that Whiplash is a full-on horror genre picture.

Simmons’ big challenger here is of course, the one, the only, Edward “Odets” Norton.
Actor. Writer. Director. Producer. Dramaturg. Gaffer. Hard Dick Haver. On-set philatelist.
Here he plays all of that and then some, and it’s a very believable performance, within a premise that’s about a million miles from any actual lived experience. Perhaps he deserves credit for riffing somewhat on his reputation. It’s certainly more straightforward than the rest of the movie.

But I think it’ll be Simmons for the win.

Should Win: J.K. Simmons

Will Win J.K. Simmons


Supporting Actor
Special shoutout to my mother, who shot me a look of unadulterated disappointment when I said Robert Duvall was “an okay actor”, and then wouldn’t look at me for another twenty minutes. 

Boyhood deserves credit for making me tolerate—and yes, even appreciate—sentient trash bag Ethan Hawke, whose crimes against Shakespeare are as numerous as they are deplorable. You know that episode of True Blood where Eric dismissively says that New York smells like pee? Ethan Hawke looks like he smells like pee, all the time, whether he’s in a movie or not.

Setting that aside, the role in Boyhood really does make him shine, like a penny plucked from a gutter soaked in pee. EDWARD NORTON, YOU ARE A GOD, and I applaud you from the deepest recesses of my soul. Your performance in this movie is sublime, mainly because I think Jesse and I manifested this character for you through our decade of mean-spirited jokes.

Winner: Should be Norton, but WILL be Simmons, and who can begrudge him? He’s wonderful, and he doesn’t make people want to kill themselves when they work with him.



Interstellar.  I’m a little amazed, or maybe not, that for all the back and forth on this one, the silliness over scientific accuracy in a Work of Fiction (FFS, enough), we completely ignored the world building that was going on here? Sure, there’s the dying Earth, but also the other planets we visit, and the vessels that get us there.  Deserves to win, over Imitation Game’s Masterpiece Theatre look (Oh, you shot in England), and certainly over Into The Woods’ “we shot on the same set as Daniel Craig’s Defiance” greyed-out look.

But it’ll go to Grand Budapest, because this is the year Wes Anderson’s model boxes get him all those awards (and I’m partial to it anyways).

Should Win: Interstellar

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Winner: If it’s Into the Woods, I WILL KILL. Grand Budapest Hotel.



So Maleficent isn’t nominated here? Huh.

And look, as for the actual nominees, there’s nothing wrong with Steve Carell’s DuPont nose, exactly, but it’s a pretty showy thing to do (see also, The Hours, obvs.)

Grand Budapest will win. You gotta bring it for Tilda, and they did (she’s brilliant in her five or so minutes in this one. Note to Clint Eastwood, this is how you do old person makeup)

Guardians Of The Galaxy would be a greatly deserved win (somebody had to be in charge of putting blue on Michael Rooker everyday, think about that)

But of course

Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Sorry, Foxcatcher, but you just slapped a nose on Carell’s face, so don’t look to this category to slake your Oscar thirst. Occasional birthmarks and pencil-thin mustaches aren’t exactly lighting up the world, either. 

Voters, throw a bone to your boy Bradley Cooper, who you seem to inexplicably love even though he’s given only two good performances, one of which was voice capture for a passive-aggressive raccoon space warrior. 

This is to say NOTHING of the majesty of Lee Pace Blue Face, which is the name of my future production company. Guardians must be rewarded.

Winner: Guardians of the Galaxy



Captain America 2, Guardians, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and X-Men DOFP: At their best, they’re still mostly reliant on computer animation (no problem when the concept is as winning as a Groot)

Interstellar uses CGI as well, plenty, but the awesome practical effects should be rewarded! (TARS, for example).  More Mixed Approaches! Please!

The Apes are a close second for me, and will probably win for expressiveness alone.

Should win: Interstellar

Will Win: Apes


Winner: I’m sorry, were there OTHER movies that featured a screaming ape firing a machine gun while riding a horse through a wall of flame? Tough competition in this category, but COME ON. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is some next level sorcery.­

MUSIC (Original Score)

Interstellar, again, has a memorable, wondrously emotional score, one of Hans Zimmer’s best.

But this is another one where Grand Budapest’s brand of romanticism will win out.

Should Win:  Hans Zimmer

Will Win:  Alexandre Desplat. (For GBH, not Bletchley Circle: Boys Edition, for which he’s also nominated)


Winner: I thought it was Interstellar, but I bet the Academy thinks it’s Theory of Everything, so we’ll go with that. It’s melodic, repetitive, and ENDLESS.

MUSIC (Best Song)


Yes, Lego Movie was snubbed.

No, Everything Is Awesome winning won’t make that any better.

Can you imagine the Academy pissing off both Selma supporters and Lego Movie fans at once by giving Selma its only Oscar for Common and John Legend’s rendition of Glory? 

Should Win:  Everything Is Awesome

Will Win:  Glory


Winner: What a garbage category this year. I guess Everything is Awesome?



Every consecutive year it seems I go in hard for Emmanuel Lubezki, but the streak is over.
Granted, Lubezki very nearly rescues Birdman from its premise and makes it seem like a movie it ultimately isn’t. That takes skill, but he’s demonstrated that skill already for directors superior (and some inferior) to Inarritu.

I’m also a big Roger Deakins fan, who this year shot Unbroken, which judging by the trailer is mostly brown and white? I can’t remember, and am not that interested in the movie, sorry.

I love Mike Leigh, and hate that Mr. Turner hasn’t played near me yet. Dick Pope also shot Leigh’s beautiful, joyous Gilbert & Sullivan biopic/Mikado origin story, Topsy Turvy, which is the best looking Blu Ray disc I own, so again, I’m actually pretty angry I still haven’t seen Mr. Turner yet.

Ida is the best looking B & W picture I’ve seen in awhile, but it will likely win in the Foreign Category.

Robert Yeoman’s serves WA’s multiple aspect ratios and time periods beautifully in Grand Budapest, and will most likely get caught up in the movie’s award sweep.

Should Win: Robert Yeoman

Will Win: Robert Yeoman


Winner: DO NOT REWARD BIRDMAN FOR ENDLESS STATIC SHOTS OF BACKSTAGE HALLWAYS. Please just give it to Anderson and be done.


EEGAH:  None for me this, year. Livvy?


Live Action Short

Animated Short
Winner: Feast

Documentary Short
Winner: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1



Wish I’d seen anything on this list but How To Train Your Dragon 2 (which has a great middle act and a very messy finale).

Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya are both fine films or so I’ve heard. I’ve heard Big Hero 6 is fine.

It’s probably going to How To Train Your Dragon? Who knows?

Should Win:  Probably Song of the Sea?

Will Win: How To Train Your Dragon 2


Winner: How to Train Your Dragon 2. And yeah, I’m sorry, it WAS better than The Lego Movie, even though it is a sequel. It has these things called emotional stakes. That’s right; I’m coming out as the only person in America who thought The Lego Movie was just meh.



This, along with Best Foreign Film are always interesting categories, because I think they serve to make us aware of movies that we might otherwise miss. Really, the best thing a silly awards show can do, right?

Except this year both categories have egregious snubs. All I’ve seen of the Doc noms is Virunga, which is on Netflix, is fine, but not a great movie.

I’m sure Citizenfour is no doubt a very good film, but it didn’t get to any theaters around me, and isn’t  on VOD yet, so I can offer no opinion.

The others are all out there for rent or are about to be, so you can see Last Days in Vietnam, Salt of the Earth, and Finding Vivian Maier soon and/or easily.

Where, oh where is Life Itself on this list? An academy that apparently loved Roger Ebert like the rest of us, still somehow has such a huge Steve James blind spot they can’t even be bothered to nominate his work when it’s about the world’s most beloved film lover? I’m still shocked about this.

Should Win: Life Itself

Will Win: Virunga


Winner: Virunga



Here it’s a little less emotionally perplexing for me, since of the nominees there’s a clear front-runner (though I’ve been wrong about that before).

Ida is a great movie, a great period piece, and consummately acted, shot and directed. It’s on Netflix, and is highly recommended.  Timbuktu has huge critical support, but it’s not available to most of us yet.

It becomes even more annoying that it’s Best Foreign Language Film and not simply Best Foreign film when one considers the exclusion of a movie like Australia’s The Babadook. It’s a full on horror film, which would have probably been mitigated somewhat with the presence of subtitles, but sure makes a compelling argument for opening up the category to English Language foreign films as well.


Winner: Poland, or Russia? Think I’ll go with Leviathan here.

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