Academy Awards nominees, 2015

Here are my thoughts on this year’s nominees. Apologies if a lot will sound like rambling/venting.

Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

I’ll start by saying that I really don’t understand why this category was expanded –after the dismal and outrageous absence of the Dark Knight in 2008, the Academy decided to change the rules and expand the category –up to ten films can now make it in there, but WHAT’S THE POINT IF IT’S TO IGNORE CHRISTOPHER NOLAN’S FILM AGAIN? Ugh. In twenty years’ time, will people remember Interstellar or American Sniper? Sorry, I haven’t seen American Sniper, so maybe I’m being a bit unfair but I’m fed up with these choices. Birdman has artistic merit, but as a film? Very hard to make sense of. The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything seem like such obvious Oscar choices, and don’t get me wrong because I loved them both (one more than the other) but as entities, as films, it’s hard to think they will leave their mark on cinema… I’m glad Boyhood, Whiplash, the Grand Budapest Hotel and potentially Selma, which I haven’t seen, are here to fly the flag for independent, visionary film-making. And I’m relieved it does, I will be very relieved to see Boyhood triumph over all the other nominees as the Best Pic winner; there’s a small comfort in that. Because Boyhood is such an astounding piece of storytelling, and most of all, because it has such emotional strength in the way it connects with the audience –I’ll be really glad if the Academy are able to recognise that, just to prove that they’re not completely out of touch with the outside world and modern audiences. So happy Whiplash made it in also, it is hands down my second pick amongst all of the nominees.

Best Director
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Well done, Richard Linklater, for finally, finally being acknowledged and thrown into the limelight! Boyhood is his crowning achievement; if he wins the Oscar for it, it will be fully deserved and most welcome. A bit of a surprising list of nominees here, with Bennett Miller making it in without a Director’s Guild Award nomination. I can’t think for the life of me why a film would be nominated for Best Director but not for Best Picture. That literally doesn’t make any sense. I’m happy for Wes Anderson, although I have yet to see why Grand Budapest Hotel is a better directed film than all his previous ones –and Iñárritu, who, despite my complete and utter confusion at Birdman, I recognise as a grand director with an incredibly ambitious vision for his film. Morten Tyldum, I’m afraid to report, is yet again the Weinstein Company pulling all the stops for their films –I have a difficult time understanding why he was nominated, the Imitation Game was well-written but the directing was utterly conventional. A bit of a mystery, when I think that we have directors such as Christopher Nolan and Damien Chazelle pouring their hearts out on the screen. But then again, so does Richard Linklater, so I really hope he will win.

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Odd choices again for the Academy there: Bradley Cooper and Steve Carell. I love them both as actors, and as people, but their performances each have ‘awards bait’ written all over it. Michael Keaton is the strongest contender here –it is a comeback, McConnaissance-style, but Eddie Redmayne, unrecognisable and incredibly touching as Stephen Hawking, is tailing right behind him. It’s the kind of powerhouse performance the Academy just loves too much, and the same goes for Benedict Cumberbatch’s fantastic interpretation of Alan Turing. If it goes to Michael Keaton, well, hat’s off sir, for baring everything on the screen; if it goes to Redmayne, it’ll be nice to see a younger actor take the statuette as well. I think they’re both equally deserving.

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

So this race’s been a bit unpredictable this year –so many strong acting performances for the guys, almost none for the girls. That’s Hollywood for you. Julianne Moore is the frontrunner here, seems incredible that an actress of her caliber doesn’t have an Oscar yet, but there you go. Rosamund Pike has a once-in-a-lifetime part in Gone Girl, which she pulled off with incredible brio, and Felicity Jones is the other Brit nominee in a very, very strong showing for the role of Jane Hawking in the Theory of Everything. She’s definitely an actress I’m looking forward to see more of. Finally we have our two former Oscar winners, Reese Witherspoon in a film that seems very much driven by her performance; and Marion Cotillard, who’s definitely the unexpected nominee for the ‘fifth slot’. I haven’t seen both these films so can’t really comment, but it’s hard to see anyone else but Julianne Moore win this one.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance )
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

So happy for J.K. Simmons here, his Terrence Fletcher was truly a memorable and unique character. He’s the favourite in this category and I genuinely hope he wins! All the other actors in there are also favourites of mine, and I must say I was blown away by Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, as I despised his character in the beginning but it was really interesting to see his evolution alongside Mason’s, some truly touching scenes there. But ultimately this Oscar’s J.K. Simmons’ to lose, I really hope he won’t.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Laura Dern – Wild
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

Okay Academy, we get it, Meryl will always be nominated, like, forever and always, no matter what she does. I think she pushed beautiful Jessica Chastain out of this category, I’m still mad she’s not being considered for the amazing body of work she’s done this year. I’m actually really rooting for the frontrunner here, who’s of course Patricia Arquette in Boyhood. Just like Ethan Hawke’s, Boyhood was made twice as deep/interesting/complex/beautiful thanks to Mrs Arquette’s character –the strength she shows as a mother, the beauty she shows as a woman. I really hope she’ll take the award home. Keira Knightley was also really quite good in the Imitation Game, and that’s saying something considering she’s holding her own against Cumberbatch’s genius performance. Finally, Emma Stone was always going to be nominated, but I actually felt her performance was really underwhelming, there’s a scene where she goes off on a rant and that’s about it? Don’t ask me about Birdman because I clearly didn’t get it.

Best Original Screenplay
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler

I say this every year, but Original Screenplay is just one of my fav categories, the nominees are always so strong. I’m kind of glad Nightcrawler shows up here –it’s the film’s only nomination and a very deserved one as the screenplay was really quite something. I think Boyhood is the frontrunner here, certainly my favourite, but because Richard Linklater will probably win Best Director, I suspect they might hand out this one to Birdman or Grand Budapest Hotel as a consolation prize? They always do that, which is a bit annoying.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Hall – American Sniper
Graham Moore – The Imitation Game
Paul Thomas Anderson – Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten – The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

Whee, Whiplash!! I still don’t understand how that’s an adapted screenplay, it was a bit of a weird one, but I guess the Academy are being morons, erm, I mean very strictly following their rules. I think American Sniper’s pushed Gone Girl out here, a big omission, which is a bit of a shame. Both The Imitation Game and the Theory of Everything were locked contenders here, and the other ‘surprise’ is PTA’s Inherent Vice. I’m putting quotes here because it is the film’s only nomination so indicates that there’s not a lot of love for it. Regardless this race is really interesting as I want to say that Theory of Everything is the frontrunner but I’m actually not sure? I still have a teensy hope of seeing Whiplash winning here, that would be so completely amazing.

Best Foreign-Language Film
Ida – Poland
Leviathan – Russia
Tangerines – Estonia
Timbuktu – Mauritania
Wild Tales – Argentina

I think Ida is the clear favourite here, although I think Russia’s Leviathan won the Golden Globe? Not really sure, it’s either one of the two who’s going to win.

Best Animated Film of the Year
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

The category that launched a thousand complaints! Kind of outraged (along with the whole of Internet) to see the Lego Movie being so obviously snubbed, I know it seems like defending Goliath because of big-budgted animation versus smaller/indie animation, but COME ON. Don’t be such d***heads ignoring what a tremendous piece of FUN the Lego Movie is. I’m glad to see Boxtrolls and more artistic, smaller animated films here, don’t get me wrong, but really it makes the animation branch of the Academy sound like a bunch of twats.

Best Documentary Feature
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Have just seen a trailer for Virunga and it looks incredibly interesting, to say the least. I think CitizenFour will probably be the contender here as it has higher awareness / potentially a bigger budget than all the others, but will the voters want to make such a controversial choice? They’ve never shied away from political choices so it’ll be interesting to see which way this one goes.

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game
Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Into the Woods
Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner
Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Well done double nominee Anna Pinnock in this category! I am VERY glad Interstellar made it into this category, I mean the amount of work that this film must have represented in terms of art design must be nuts. Also Dennis Gassner’s is Sam Mendes’ usual production designer, it’s good to see him nominated for Into the Woods. Not sure which film took the guild award for this one, but I think the Academy tends to go for historical biopics, so maybe Imitation Game and / or Mr Turner are the favourites? Although it’s hard not to consider the Grand Budapest Hotel as a big contender here considering how wildly amazing it looks. I think they might win this one. As a side note, missing the Weta team here who always managed to get this category, I think unfortunately the last Hobbit film was a bit overlooked.

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Robert Yeoman –  The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski – Ida
Dick Pope – Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins – Unbroken

Okay people, focusing on the wrong thing about this category!! Haha. Welcome back Chivo in this category which he won last year. Still so happy about that. Also I think… anything shot in black and white will get you an Oscar nom? Okay, that’s mean of me but I think Ida’s DoP’s might have pushed out Hoyte van Hoytema which I though was a surefire one for Interstellar. So I’m still pretty mad he wasn’t included here. Also I think Roger Deakins’ nom here is a bit of a surprise, if compared to the ASC list. I haven’t seen Mr Turner either, so can’t really comment, but I think the favourite here is either The Grand Budapest Hotel or Unbroken, it’s a bit of a tricky one to call really.

Best Costume Design
Colleen Atwood – Into the Woods
Mark Bridges – Inherent Vice
Milena Canonero – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive – Maleficent
Jacqueline Durran – Mr. Turner

Colleen Atwood might be onto her fifth Oscar if she wins this one! There’s something with Disney and this category… Mark Bridges won a couple of years ago for the Artist, surprising to see a ‘contemporary’ film included here! And again the Grand Budapest Hotel was just too unique and beautiful to be overlooked, but I actually think Mr. Turner or Into the Woods stand better chances of winning.

Best Editing
Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach – American Sniper
Sandra Adair – Boyhood
Barney Pilling – The Grand Budapest Hotel
William Goldenberg – The Imitation Game
Tom Cross – Whiplash

Whiplash’s editing was just so, so strong, I am really glad to see it up here. A bit disappointed that Interstellar & Lee Smith didn’t make it to this category but then again Best Editing is very closely linked with Best Picture. I think and I hope the clear winner is Sandra Adair for so skillfully editing Boyhood, I mean how amazingly natural the editing is in this film. Also she’s the only female editor up there, so I will always find that very encouraging. But if Whiplash could walk away with that one I’ll be very glad too…

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard – Foxcatcher
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White – Guardians of the Galaxy

Of course Foxcatcher would have been nominated here… I actually wouldn’t mind seeing either of the two other win, how cool would it be that Guardians got an Oscar! But I think it’s either going to be GBH (yes, that stands for the Grand Budapest Hotel) or Foxcatcher.

Best Music (Score)
Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game
Alexandre Desplat – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Hans Zimmer – Interstellar
Gary Yershon – Mr. Turner
Jóhann Jóhannsson – The Theory of Everything

OH MY GOD will this be Alexandre Desplat’s year FINALLY?? Surely with a double nomination…? If Theory of Everything wins this one (like it did at the Globes), I will be seriously unhappy. Doesn’t matter which film Alexandre Desplat wins for, JUST GIVE THE MAN AN OSCAR ALREADY! And of course I wish, truly wish Hans Zimmer would win this one as well, as I genuinely think Interstellar’s score is just completely out there in terms of film scores… But I still think Alexandre Desplat should win, I mean come on, both scores are absolutely brilliant.

Best Music (Song)
“Everything Is Awesome ” – The Lego Movie
Shawn Patterson
“Glory ” – Selma
John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
Grateful ” – Beyond the Lights
Diane Warren
” I’m Not Gonna Miss You” – Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
” Lost Stars ” – Begin Again
Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Not sure what half these nominees are?! This category’s getting increasingly weird every year. The Lego Movie nomination in here and not in Best Animated Film seems like such a nag. Looking forward to discovering all the other songs during the telecast, I guess!

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper
John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Again, outstanding work from the Whiplash team here –in a film about music, can’t underestimate the importance of the sound mix, so it’s really nice to see them get a nod here. And of course I am also thrilled for Interstellar’s sound team, although again there was a bit of controversy about the sound mix, this is what it means to be innovators and leaders in your field! I really hope they win this one.

Best Sound Editing
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman – American Sniper
Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Brent Burge and Jason Canovas – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Richard King – Interstellar
Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro – Unbroken

Team Interstellar all the way of course, but I feel that both sound nominations for Unbroken and Amercian Sniper also mean there’s lots of love for both films. Not sure how I feel about it since I haven’t seen them. Also I think this is the Hobbit’s only nomination, which… seems a bit harsh? Birdman, who’s also up for best sound mixing, is also getting a lot of love. Didn’t think the sound was outstanding but then again those fantasy scenes were pretty convincing, so you never know.

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy
Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

IT’S SHOWTIME! That category is really the showdown of Hollywood blockbusters. While I personally think Interstellar is the most deserving / original / outstanding of all these (of course I think that), there’s no denying that the work pulled off by the Dawn team is just completely mad and just completely excellent. Lots of Marvel love of course, for the three other films, but I think overall Dawn and Interstellar were much superior in their actual use of visual effects. Will be looking forward to see who wins this one, as I reckon it’s a bit old fashioned visual effects vs. cutting-edge VFX.
And finally…

Best Documentary Short
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
Joanna – Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse – Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper (La Parka) – Gabriel Serra Arguello
White Earth – J. Christian Jensen

Best Animated Short Film
The Bigger Picture – Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
The Dam Keeper – Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
Feast – Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Me and My Moulton – Torill Kove
A Single Life – Joris Oprins

Best Live Action Short Film
Aya – Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham – Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak) – Hu Wei and Julien Féret
Parvaneh – Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
The Phone Call – Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

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