Thursday, February 19, 2015

'Boyhood' or 'Birdman'? Your surefire Oscar winners are here

Way back on Nov. 17, yours truly had the downright gall to write (on a different web site) that three of the four 2014 Academy Award acting winners already had been decided.

And you know what? Things have not changed much, since the predicted choices
in those races for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor and Actress remain the
same as the names listed in those categories below. Now, however, we've added a
few more picks to the mix in anticipation of Sunday's 87th annual Oscar show,
which brings up the curtain at 8:30 p.m. on ABC-TV (WEWS Channel 5 in northeast Ohio).

Though we've sprinkled in a few possible surprises, don't expect any real shockers this
year since the only really battle looms between Best Picture favorites "Birdman"
and "Boyhood." It's the technical complexities of show biz versus the profoundly
simple story of growing up in America. And the winners are:

Richard Linklater (right) and Patricia Arquette lead the "Boyhood" charge. 
Best Supporting Actor -- Robert Duvall, “The Judge”; Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”; Edward Norton, “Birdman”; Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”; J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Will Win: This one has belonged to longtime character actor J.K. Simmons practically since "Whiplash" walked off with a handful of awards from the Sundance Film Festival way back in January 2014. No one else stands a chance, even in this very strong field.
Should Win: Simmons, whose performance as a semi-psychotic professor of music is simply mesmerizing.

Best Supporting Actress -- Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Laura Dern, “Wild”; Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”; Emma Stone, “Birdman”; Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
Will Win: Once again an easy choice, with Patricia Arquette, ever maternal and equally real and troubled in "Boyhood," dominating a category featuring much bigger names than hers.
Should Win: Arquette deserves all the praise she's getting for being the character engine that could in a film that delivers after more than a decade in the making.

Best Actress -- Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”; Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”; Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”; Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”; Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Julianne Moore in "Still Alice."
Will Win: Like Simmons and Arquette, Julianne Moore has won every other award she's been eligible for up till now, and Mr. Oscar certainly won't elude her, either.
Should Win: Moore, movingly elegant as a career wife and mom diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. The rest are also-rans, including Pike whose riveting lead role will be left in the dust, too.

Best Actor -- Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”; Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”;
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”; Michael Keaton, “Birdman”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, a fine actor and well-received young Brit, has delighted
everyone he meets during the months-long awards season. His late stretch run for
this prize should be enough to defeat early frontrunner Michael Keaton, who basically
plays himself in "Birdman."   
Should Win: Oh yeah, Redmayne actually soars as acclaimed and stricken scientist Stephen Hanwking in a role reminiscent of  Daniel Day Lewis' Oscar-winning tasks in "My Left Foot."
Upset Alert: If there is a surprise in any of the four acting categories, it could come here from the popular Bradley Cooper. He's easily the best thing in "American Sniper," whose surprisingly strong box office has heightened its profile immensely in the last month or so. 

Best Director -- “Birdman, ” Alejandro G. Iñárritu; “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater; “Foxcatcher,” Bennett Miller; “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson; “The Imitation Game,” Morten Tyldum
Will Win: Flip a coin here, but my pick is Richard Linklater to edge the favored Iñárritu, who already has won this year's coveted Directors Guild award. I just think Academy voters will reward the "Boyhood" auteur for actually masterminding a life project along the way of an already long and creative career.  
Should Win: Linklater, whose grand concept for a movie 12 years in the making might have been a disaster instead of the masterpiece it truly became.

Best Picture -- “American Sniper,” “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Whiplash”
Will Win: "Boyhood," by a mere whisker over "Birdman," an equally grand film which, it says here, remains just a little too weird for Academy voters to give it their top prize.
Should Win: I'd vote for "Whiplash," which I still believe to be 2014's most purely entertaining movie. Alas, besides Simmons' supporting actor honors and possibly the film's precise sound, its best chances for an Oscar could come in adapted screenplay and/or film editing categories, where it likely will have to upset "The Imitation Game" and "Boyhood," respectively. 

Best Original Song -- “Everything Is Awesome” ("The Lego Movie”); “Glory” (“Selma”); “Grateful” (“Beyond the Lights”); “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” ("Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”); “Lost Stars” (“Begin Again”)
Will Win: "Glory," the stirring anthem from Common and John Legend that closes the powerful "Selma."
Should Win: "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," the Glen Campbell Alzheimer's ballad with the most meaningful words in any movie song this year.

Best Foreign Language Film -- "Ida,” “Leviathan,” “Tangerines,” “Timbuktu,” “Wild Tales”
Will Win: This one's a two-horse race between Poland's "Ida" and Russia's bureaucratically daunting "Leviathan." Look for politically savvy voters to go with Poland.
Should Win: I'd go with Argentina's aptly named "Wild Tales," a funny and fascinating film focusing on the absurd.

Best Documentary Feature -- “CitizenFour,” “Finding Vivian Maier,” “Last Days in Vietnam,” “The Salt of the Earth,” “Virunga”
Will Win: In this sketchy field, which doesn't include the brilliance of the Roger
Ebert doc, "Life Itself," "CitizenFour" looks like the clearcut choice.
Should Win: "CitizenFour" follows the trail of infamous whistle-blower Edward Snowden, with paranoia running very decisively deep.

Best Animated Feature -- “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”
Will Win: It's another head-scratching year in an ever-mediocre category with "The Lego Movie," the year's most universally praised animated film, not even nominated. That leaves a battle between huge money-makers "Big Hero 6" and How to Train Your Dragon 2,” I'll go with the latter. Just because.
Should Win: "The Boxtrolls" is the only one that kept me smiling from beginning to end, but it doesn't have a prayer.
 Upset Alert: Maybe "Princess Kaguya" stands a chance. After all, it did win here in voting by the Los Angeles Film Critics. Then again, there really hasn't been a truly deserving animated feature Oscar winner since "Toy Story 3," and that's already five years ago.

The rest of your winners:

Adapted Screenplay: "Whiplash"; Original Screenplay: "The Grand Budapest Hotel";
Original Score: "The Theory of Everything"; Costume Design" "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; Production Design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Cinematography: "Birdman"; Visual Effects: "Interstellar"; Film Editing: "Boyhood";
Makeup and Hairstyling: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"; Animated Short: "Feast";
Live-Action Short: "The Phone Call"; Documentary Short: "Crisis Hotline, Veterans Press 1

Sound Mixing: "Whiplash"; Sound Editing: "American Sniper"

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