The Oscars just don’t seem as hyped up this year, do they? The Academy Awards are always significant because they’re the creme de la creme when it comes to movie award ceremonies, but this year just doesn’t seem as important. Perhaps its because the nominations really seem to be lacking any big commercial features. Previous years have included films such as The Wolf of Wall Street or Django Unchained in their number, and while those are entertaining and artistic in their own right they also have a broader appeal than many of the films that we’re seeing on the 87th Academy Award nomination lists.
An argument could possibly be made for American Sniper or The Imitation Game to fall under that category of stylistic films with wide appeal. However, both of those are still biopics. That’s not to say biographical films can’t appeal to a large audience but, generally speaking, someone isn’t going to pay to sit in a cinema and watch a film about a real life figure that they don’t know. Interest in the figure usually precedes their interest in the film. The Academy doesn’t have to garner to the average viewer but it does seem a bit out of touch when all of the nominations are given to artistic, specialist subject films.
Enough of what’s wrong with the nominations, let’s get started with who deserves to win what out of the big four. First up, as always, is Best Picture.
- American Sniper
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The Imitation Game
- The Theory of Everything
The above problem makes it a little difficult to really decide which film the academy will go for. There are a number of choices here that could feasibly win. For my part, I’d like to see either Birdman or The Theory of Everything take the prize. American Sniper and The Imitation Game can be eliminated because they are the films with the widest appeal and those kinds of films generally don’t win. They just there to round out the nominations. It would be funny to see Selma win after the white-wash controversy, but I can’t see that actually happening. Boyhood will probably win some direction or cinematography awards, but the pieces aren’t all quite there to warrant a Best Picture win. So that brings it down to Birdman, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Birdman is probably a little too weird and Whiplash might be too youthful and involved with modern culture (like The Social Network) to appeal to the Academy. They’re dark horses though and I could see one pulling out the win if they can’t come to a consensus on the top film.
I’d give the nod to The Theory of Everything. Birdman is a better film, but it and other films might divide the academy, which will benefit a decent film with good acting like The Theory of Everything. On to Best Director;
- Wes Anderson
- Alejandro González Iñárritu
- Richard Linklater
- Bennett Miller
- Morten Tyldum
I could forgive the Academy for not giving the Oscar for Best Picture to Birdman but Alejandro González Iñárritu deserves the award for Best Director bar none. Richard Linklater is probably his biggest competition as both films are very creative and stylistic in their use of filming and editing. But for me, it was the direction and the cinematography that really made Birdman. The acting and script were strong but it might have fallen flat if it weren’t for the stylistic choice of shots that Iñárritu uses. It’s Alejandro González Iñárritu or nothing.
And the Oscar for Best Actor goes to…
- Steve Carell as John Eleuthère du Pont
- Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle
- Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing
- Michael Keaton as Riggan Thomson / Birdman
- Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking
Michael Keaton has already won a number of awards for his role in Birdman so he could be poised to do the same here. Special mention certainly has to go to both Steve Carell and Eddie Redmayne for their performances and just how indistinguishable from their characters that they became. I’ve also heard praise for both Bradley Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch. Any one of these nominations would be a good choice. Michael Keaton is probably my pick here. Birdman might not have worked the way it did with a lesser actor in the title role.
Last of the Big Four, but by no means least, is the award for Best Actress;
- Marion Cotillard as Sandra Bya
- Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde Hawking
- Julianne Moore as Dr. Alice Howland
- Rosamund Pike as Amy Elliott-Dunne
- Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed
Julianne Moore has been winning this award at other shows but I would much rather see Felicity Jones or Rosamond Pike take the award here. Jones certainly helped sell the emotion of the Stephen Hawking biopic as much as Eddie Redmayne. Pike too did a great job, excelling in a dark thriller that really sank or swam based on her performance. Pike possibly deserves it more given how both Gone Girl and David Fincher have been overlooked in this year’s award nominations. It’s really a long shot, but I’ll stick my neck out and go with Rosamond Pike.
So, those are my choices for the main four awards. For Supporting actor and actress, J.K. Simmons will take home the award for his role in Whiplash and…I genuinely have no idea for supporting actress. None of them really strike me as having made the films that much better for being in the role they were in, bar possibly Meryl Streep. She’s already got more nominations than anyone else in the history of the Academy Awards and she’s won a few times, so why not share the wealth. So I’ll pick Emma Stone because I like Emma Stone.
Find out if I’m right or wrong by tuning into the 87th Academy Awards on ABC tonight. Or, if you really disagree with my choices and want to let me know, fire off a message with your thoughts or predictions in the comments below.