Academy Awards winners, 2015

Here are my thoughts on this year’s Oscar winners! Last year’s post is here.
Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory Of Everything
Whiplash

Birdman takes flight and wins the top prize. One side of me is glad that the Academy is recognising a weird, arthouse, fiercely original film; the other side is a bit put off by the rampant narcissism and arrogance that this choice means –Birdman is a film about filmmakers and actors, and to me is nothing more than a glorified play with an obscure screenplay that I wasn’t able to grasp fully. I was a bit sad Boyhood didn’t win this one, as for the most of the awards race it seemed like it would, but then all the guilds started announcing their winners and that was that. Still, a shame that a film like Boyhood, which couldn’t have been further from Hollywood if it tried, didn’t end up winning, as I think it would have sent a strong message for independent cinema. Let’s face it, Birdman is an indie film, but it’s still made by Fox with an A-list cast. And of course it was lovely to have Whiplash & Selma as part of the nominees, even if they were never going to win. But I actually think that, with American Sniper and the Theory of Everything in there, this list of nominees is one of the weakest I’ve seen in years? It’s harsh to say so, but I think it is.

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

It would have been nice if Picture & Director could have split like last year, but here the Academy proves as predictable as ever, with Iñárritu taking the coveted prize. Again, after the DGA this race was pretty much set, even if for a long time it seemed that Linklater might finally be recognised for what’s an entire career of really strong films, but in the end the Academy went fully behind Birdman, and Iñárritu. Well I  actually think the film was incredibly well-directed, visually stunning, and I’m glad he won this, that way he and his good friend Alfonso Cuaron can compare their stauettes, heh. Should I mentioned my utter disappointment of not seeing Chris Nolan getting any awards attention again… Probably not…

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

This one is such a BORE. Such a BORE. Sorry to say so, and I did love Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Stephen Hawking, but if the Oscars tried to be even more cliché, they really couldn’t do, it’s such an obvious, awards-baiting performance. All of them are a bit to be quite honest, even Benedict Cumberbatch who I absolutely adored in The Imitation Game. And that makes me really disillusioned of the Oscars, that they aren’t able to think outside of the box, that they ALWAYS go with the actor who’s playing a disabled genius, or the actress playing a Nazi. Also, Bradley Cooper’s presence here is an absolute joke –as in, his acting was inexistent in American Sniper? Head-scratching stuff for me.

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

Again: NEXT! Even if it’s fully deserved for an actress as graceful and intense as Julianne Moore… I still need to see Still Alice, but Hollywood still has real trouble writing strong, uncompromising female roles. The only that fits into this category is Rosamund Pike’s Gone Girl, and she’s… well, she’s a bit of a psychopath. Felicity Jones was sweet and touching in The Theory of Everything, but again it feels like the long-suffering wife who’s holding it together for the couple. And former winners Marion Cotillard & Reese Witherspoon ‘filling’ out the category, because let’s face it, this has been one of the weakest year for female characters.

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

Finally a category I am happy with, although this was fully expected and very much welcome indeed –J.K. Simmons winning for his role as the terrifying Terrence Fletcher in the absolutely fantastic and heart-pounding experience that Whiplash is. His speech was so sweet and was actually one of the most decent ones –in a ceremony littered with 5-minute social causes and awkward jokes, his speech was most welcome. I must say, I was impressed with Ed Norton in Birdman; even if I didn’t enjoy the film his presence and his character was by far the most interesting part of the film. As for Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, ditto, while I wouldn’t say it’s a role of a lifetime, he was perfect as Mason’s dad, hitting all the right notes. Mark Ruffalo, who is an actor I absolutely adore, seems like a bit of a filler here; in Foxcatcher sure his part is important, but in terms of actual acting I was much more impressed by Channing Tatum and his creepy demeanor. So kind of an odd choice here.

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

Yay, well done Patricia Arquette! That’s what I mean by strong female characters, complex and well-written, and she was the clear frontrunner here, there’s no way she wouldn’t have won. Her speech was interesting –wage equality, sure, I’m all for it, but at the same time it felt a bit like an afterthought and very much rehearsed, which is always something that makes me cringe.

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

If there was one fatal flaw to Birdman in my opinion, it truly was its undecipherable, pretentious screenplay –this one I just can’t understand it. In what way is Birdman a superior screenplay to the incredibly touching childhood of Mason in Boyhood, or the morally ambiguous and slightly subversive story of Foxcatcher, or the numerous yet all brilliant characters of Wes Anderson’s the Grand Budapest Hotel, or even more importantly, the ruthlessness and relevancy of Nightcrawler? That’s just beyond me. All the nominees here, except for Birdman, had a very, very strong screenplay, and I’m disappointed they didn’t go for a different winner.

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

Sad to not see Whiplash win this one but happy for the Imitation Game which had a really good screenplay and well-written characters. So a deserving winner, and you can tell the Weinstein’s usual brand of intense lobbying worked. The screenwriter’s speech was… well-intentioned and sweet, I thought, but also made me feel slightly uncomfortable! Anyway, I’m mostly outraged by the presence of American Sniper in this category -to me that screenplay was atrocious, but apart from that glad that they went for the Imitation Game over the Theory of Everything.

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

This one was fully-excepted, well done for winning the prize and can I just say, after seeing the director at the Baftas and the Oscars, I just really love this guy?! Directors aren’t always that funny, and he was just the best, well done him for fighting the Academy’s stupid music.

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

Well done Disney I guess? So tired of seeing them win this, I mean I haven’t seen Big Hero 6 but I would have been glad had they gone with any of these other nominees… But you don’t hear me complaining when it’s a Pixar film, so hehehe.

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

This one was also quite predictable because: controversial? Tick. American? Tick. But I’m actually being quite harsh because I myself am dying to see this documentary by the way, it looks incredibly interesting.

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock

The Imitation Game
Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar
Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Into the Woods
Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner
Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

A rather predictable and entirely well-deserved win for Grand Budapest Hotel! I kinda wish Interstellar could have won this one, but in this category, period films always tend to do well. Not that GBH is a period film per se, but I think in this case its aesthetics were just too strong to be ignored.

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

OMG Chivo winning two years in a row!! Well-done, well-done!! I absolutely thought the Academy wouldn’t recognise him two years in a row, bur Birdman’s cinematography was indeed the film’s strongest point, and I am really glad for him as he is definitely my fav director of photography… and Jessica Chastain was so adorable, the way she announced his win. I am well-happy for him.

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

Another tech Oscar for GBH, gotta say, the Academy does love to be consistent… Of course it’s a well-deserved win, GBH had the strongest costumers here, I think Into the Woods was a close second.

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

SQUEE OF HAPPINESS FOR WHIPLASH here! So many people said that the fact that Birdman wasn’t nominated here would be its downfall and obstacle for winning Best Picture; well clearly not! I am very glad the actual technical achievement that Whiplash is, is being recognised here, well-done indeed. I think I would have liked to see Boyhood take this one also, but it really wasn’t its year… But I think it’s the most deserving winner that got it here, so no complaining!

Best Makeup
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

And another one for GBH! Lots of love from the Academy branches on this one. I must say, the make-up was outstanding, maybe not as catchy as Gamora’s green skin or Steve Carell’s prosthetic nose…

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

FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY. Recognition for the genius of Alexandre Desplat. Was very happy to see him win and I thought his speech was just so sweet. And also it’s interesting that he won for GBH, not for the Imitation Game which is a slightly superior film score in my opinion. Of course I would have been over the moon to see Hans Zimmer win here but absolutely am very happy to be able to say: Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat.

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

Very happy to see Selma win the Oscar here, I mean HOW EMOTIONAL was that performance really. Incredibly strong stuff. I wasn’t too impressed by all the musical numbers this ceremony –felt like there were too many, and Selma’s blew everyone else’s out of the water.

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
Interstellar
Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
Unbroken
Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
Whiplash
Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

EXCELLENT news again, and excellent pick from the Academy, Whiplash’s sound mixing is just outstanding –I mean it was very much part of the fabric of the film, and again, goes to show how strong the film technically. Well-done guys.

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

Hmmm, not sure what to think about that one, I would have much preferred it to go to Interstellar. Wasn’t impressed in the slightest by American Sniper, and I didn’t think the sound was that noticeable –sure there’s lots of bullets flying by and then him getting lost in his own head, but that’s about it.

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
Interstellar
Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

X-Men: Days of Future Past
Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

YEEEEEEEEEES TEAM INTERSTELLAR ALL THE WAY. Fantastic to see them win here, and it gives me hope re the visual effects artists voting in this category. I mean they made an actual scientific breakthrough while making the vfx for this film for Christ’s sake. So well done indeed to the team at Double Negative; I’ve never seen special effects serve a story in such a spectacular way.

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

And that’s it for this year! Basically a lot of love for Birdman (meh), for Grand Budapest Hotel (yay!) as well as Whiplash (triple yay!), so all in all not a bad year, even if in my head it sticks as one of the weakest personally in terms of the winners. Let’s see what this year has in store for us… The 2016 Oscar race has already begun by the time I type these words, that’s pretty insane! See you soon folks.

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