Sunday, February 22, 2015

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

AAAAND We're Back

WRITING (Adapted Screenplay)


Adapted is right, if we’re talking about adapting selectively, as with Jason Hall’s American Sniper script. He produced a script that was just perfect for Clint Eastwood: Unquestioning as far as good wars or bad, but primarily concerned with how men survive being men, during and after manly battlefields of man-ness. (Also good at pretending to be evenhanded while not missing a step in portraying most Iraqis we meet as “savages”)

Not sure the academy wants all that much more trouble than it’s already courted this year, so they’ll probably go with either Theory of Everything or Imitation Game, take your pick.  Both are very safe, boring screenplays.

One Academy member is already (anonymously) on record as having turned off Inherent Vice after 15 minutes, so challenging is perhaps out
(IV is possibly my favorite PTA screenplay, and captures the feeling of reading a Pynchon novel almost eerily, which is a feeling of being terribly lost, but laughing insatiably for paragraphs on end)

Whiplash is a tight screenplay, and honestly should be the one to win tonight, but it won’t.

Should Win: Whiplash

Will Win: The Theory of Everything


Winner: Probably Theory of Everything, because everyone likes Stephen Hawking and he never talked about wishing he could have killed Katrina victims.

WRITING (Original Screenplay)


Oh Birdman. You are the living impression of what “regular folks” think Hollywood folks think of themselves. Maybe it’s accurate, in that sense? But this is an incredibly leaden screenplay, borne down by its obsession with GREATNESS. (That only. ACTORS. Are Capable of.)
This is probably why you will win best picture, but come on, the actors and Lubezki’s sweet glide are what give Birdman any life, not this bitter, contempt filled screed against the young, “selling out”, and COMMERCE.

Boyhood is a pretty neat screenplay, and it doesn’t matter if it was fleshed out in improvisation or not (speaking of Mike Leigh), but I don’t think it deserves to win for that.

Foxcatcher is a fine script, but that’s just not what you may immediately think of when walking out of that movie.

I would expect Grand Budapest to win, and it’s a magnificently funny, sweetly elegiac script, one of Wes Anderson’s best.

Shout out to Dan Gilroy’s awesome Nightcrawler script though, a brilliant piece of work, but about incredibly nasty people. Th script feels like a true heir to Chayevsky, but that was a different time, and the level of ugliness it reaches almost guarantees it’s lucky to be nominated.

Should Win: Nightcrawler

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel


Winner: Should be Nightcrawler; will be Birdman.

ACTOR In a Lead Role


There’s just no place for David Oyelowo’s MLK here.

I mean, we simply HAD to nominate Steve Carell for playing a weirdo (in a Drama. It’s harder.).  Besides, as we (academy voters) all know, Selma’s just not that good of a movie!

Benedict Cumberbatch got to play Asbergers AND Gay, but what we really LOVE is play-acting disability, so Eddie Redmayne, this one’s yours to lose! Either way, white guy geniuses with issues = Hard Tough Honest Acting #HTHA

Unless of course Michael Keaton takes the gold for playing the guy who JUST WANTS TO ART. Hmm. We love that too, conceptually. No icky non-white centered social justice there, either.

Bradley Cooper is honestly quite effective as Chris Kyle, or there’d be no B.O. gross to aid in the controversy. He plays a perfect cipher for all your good or bad Real America feelings, rather than the real Chris Kyle. We can separate our politics from art, which is why American Sniper is good and Selma is not good.

Should Win: Eh.

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne


What a race—a thirsty lizardmonster, Beetlejuice, Michael Scott, the least funny cast member of Wet Hot American Summer, and England’s answer to what I imagine embryonic foxes look like. 

Let’s start with the lizardmonster, who doesn’t seem to understand that having legions of inexplicably devoted Anglophiles doesn’t always translate to Oscar gold. 

Next time, don’t hustle so hard. Beetlejuice, 
I love you, but after seeing Birdman, I actually thought your performance was the weakest of the three leads. 

I expected so much more based on the hype. Michael Scott, 
Jay liked you in Foxcatcher, and that’s good enough for me. 

Cooper, get better or get bent. I’m tired of seeing you half-ass your way through movies where you are the weakest link (where is my ten dollar refund for American Hustle, BITCH…I was NOT JOKING about that last year). 

Eddie Redmayne, I owe you an apology, because right up until the start of The Theory of Everything, I was coming up with vicious fox-based personal attacks to lobby at you. I was wrong. You were great in that movie, and you deserve to beat Keaton…BUT YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BEAT RALPH FIENNES OR JAKE GYLLENHAAL, both of whom blew everyone else in this category out of the water. Seriously, I’ve never been that impressed by Gyllenhaal, but he is amazing in Nightcrawler.

Winner: Jake Gyllenhaal. OH, WAIT. Eddie Redmayne.

ACTRESS in a Lead Role


Only one nominee in this category is in a Best pic nom, and that’s Felicity Jones, and she’s the best part of a mediocre adversity-based biopic. Without her, Redmayne’s got nothin’.

Wild sounds more tolerable than Into The Wild, but I still have a hard time summoning the will to see a movie about hiking (or rock climbing. Or Naturing at all, really, sans WAR. Either you’re getting eaten by a bear IRL, or pass). Sorry, Reese Witherspoon.

I loved Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, and nice stab at the zeitgeist, there, Oscars, but does her role in this need to be heralded over Carmen Ejogo’s in Selma? Haha of course it does.

Marion Cotillard is probably deservedly nominated, but it’s been kind of hard to see Two Days, One Night for most people yet, myself included.

Julianne Moore will probably win for Still Alice, which I haven’t seen yet, because it sure sounds fun (and by all accounts doesn’t live up to her work in it).
Still, Julianne Moore winning is great, because Julianne Moore is fucking awesome.

Should Win: Felicity Jones

Will Win: Julianne Moore


Fun fact: there are very few actors that my mom despises, but when she does find fault with one, she will carry her hatred for them until the end of time. It’s one of many things I love about her. Daryl Hannah is one of these women. Julianne Moore is another. Don’t worry, I’ve already prepared her for what will inevitably happen tomorrow night. 

Pity poor Rosamund Pike, who had to act like she enjoyed kissing both Ben Affleck AND Neil Patrick Harris, but only got to bathe in ONE of their gushing blood pools during Gone Girl. 

Reese Witherspoon, Tilda Swinton would like to have a word with you about how you managed to steal her nomination for Snowpiercer. 

Meet her out back by the loading dock. You definitely won’t be turned into a living ice sculpture, it’s fine, YOU’RE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN.

Winner: Julianne Moore



Morten Tyldum has apparently made good films before Imitation Game (Headhunters, starring Jamie Lannister). He is apparently a real person, and not in fact a pseudonym Tom Hooper uses when he wants to be somehow less expressive. I mean, Imitation Game is fine, it’s not bad, it’s just very dull as far as the direction goes.

How in the hell do you watch TIG, and then watch Selma, and decide Ava DuVernay has made a film with “no art to it” as one academy voter anonymously derided it? Just baffling. Selma is not a perfect film, but it is a great film, and is by any fair rubric an example of a fine directorial achievement. But she’s not as good as Morten Tyldum, apparently, who made a perfectly adequate BBC original picture.

Bennett Miller has a great eye for making movies that stand still, and I mean that as a compliment. Capote and Foxcatcher (moreso than Moneyball) are very specifically, glacially paced. Not for everyone, but I appreciated the Miller-gaze.

I am not quite in agreement with a certain critic (who wrote a great review) that Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu is a total hack.  I kind of enjoyed the experience of Birdman, but I’m squarely on the side of it being an empty, narcissistic, myopic little movie. If it’s satirizing its characters’ self-obsession, if it refutes or doesn’t refute the silly little drama critic that tortures poor Birdman, I would not know after a viewing of the movie. That feels less like a rich ambiguity here and more like a lot of cleverly orchestrated punting. That makes this a movie somewhat saved by its presentation, so perhaps that is an achievement in directing after all.

I’d be tempted to give this to Wes Anderson, were I in the position to choose. I’m not a Wes Anderson apologist. I’m a Wes Anderson enthusiast, and GBH is my second favorite of all of his movies. It’s everything he does well, magnified and celebrated, a richly satisfying example of someone running on all his cylinders.  I’m sympathetic with people who say they hate his movies, since his movies have melodies that are instantaneously recognizable as his and his alone. We know if we like the sounds of certain bands or not. But I can’t help but be on his side for the same reason.

But Richard Linklater should be recognized here, not just for the singular and unprecedented artistic achievement of Boyhood (yes very good, you’ve heard of the Up series, but that doesn’t change anything). He should be honored for an amazing, unique, brilliant body of work as well. I was moved by Boyhood in an unexpected, cumulative way. If it isn’t universal in its experiences, it is still immersive in a way I’m not sure any movie has ever pulled off.

Should Win: Richard Linklater

Will Win: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu


Linklater had to deal with Ethan Hawke for twelve years. That trumps a bunch of frankly self-indulgent and jarring long takes. It also trumps making a human dollhouse, no matter how beautiful that dollhouse is.

Winner: Richard Linklater



Whiplash: Awesome movie, deservedly nominated, not going to win.

The Theory of Everything/The Imitation Game: One of these may well win, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s Theory Of Everything.

American Sniper:  Yeah, they’re not going there. I’m pretty conflicted on this one. It is everything politically you think it is. It’s also every inch a Clint Eastwood movie, and my knee-jerk response is to read it that way first. It’s a relic of a picture, presented to us in a very different political climate than Eastwood films of yore, but its values are no different than any Clint Eastwood films from back in the day. Either he buried them with Unforgiven or he didn’t. In Sniper, There’s no time to think about the causes of war. Just time to think about what it does to Men. It may actually be the most effective and purely compelling film he’s made in years. And it may well be a useful window for liberals into how conservative America views a whole host of things. But Iraq is not Cowboys and Indians, Clint. Sorry.  

Birdman:  This one’s going to win, I can just feel it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel:  My twitter feed is going to be a pretty bitter TL on Monday morning, if this takes the trophy, since I love funny twitter/politics twitter enough that it kind of overshadows film critic twitter sometimes. I love Wes Anderson and am never going to be any sorrier about that than those of you that hate him are about the hatin’.

Boyhood:  Something has changed in the air, and it probably won’t be Boyhood that takes the whole night, but it’s a sweet, wonderful film, and it’s coming from the guy who made Slacker and Bernie. Wouldn’t that be a great win?

Selma: It’s almost as if, instead of making a white-savior centered narrative, POC got together and made a movie about the hard work of building a successful activist movement to fight back against White Supremacy.
And then the same academy that anointed Crash a best picture winner, declaring racism “something everybody is a little, regardless of race”, was unmoved. None of this has been at all surprising. 

When the producers of Birdman or Theory of Everything take the stage tomorrow night, you will have seen everything you already know about the Academy Awards manifest itself unsurprisingly, and it’s beneath us all at this point to even bother going to bed angry.


The Academy should be disgusted with itself for throwing a Best Picture nomination at Selma while ignoring it in all other major categories. I’m not sure how it’s possible to insult a movie by nominating it for Best Picture, but they found a way. Selma deserved so much more than this. 

If I wanted to watch a jingoistic, logically flawed mess with infuriating characters, The Newsroom is available on demand, so get lost, American Sniper. 

I went in to Birdman prepared to despise it, but I actually enjoyed watching it because of the quality of the performances. That being said, it is NOT Best Picture material, and if it wins, it’s because they want to make themselves feel better about taking Michael Keaton’s Oscar away from him. Also, it has one of the five worst endings I’ve ever seen. 

Boyhood will probably win, and it’s a good movie, although I don’t think people are still going to be talking about it in ten years. 

The Theory of Everything is a movie about two things: Eddie Redmayne and varying shades of mint for the costume design. Great performance, but not Best Picture. 

If I had a vote—and one day, after they finally accept my Harry Potter/Land Before Time crossover screenplay, I will—I would cast it for Grand Budapest Hotel, which is the best thing Anderson has ever done.

Winner: Boyhood

AND that's a wrap, thanks, Livia, and thanks to all who've read this far.  Happy Awards Event Show Everyone!

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.