The Grammy Awards are done.
So are the Golden Globes, the BAFTAS and all the other award shows nobody cares about. Yet the Internet is still abuzz with speculation about what contrived awards celebrities might win and that can only mean one thing: the entertainment industry’s latest onanistic session of self-congratulation is just around the corner – it’s Oscar season!
This year has been a fairly strong one for movies. It’s been an especially good year for dual-syllabic movies starting with the letter “b”- both Boyhood and Birdman were met with nearly unanimous acclaim, and both lead the pack in Oscar nominations, along with Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and American Sniper.
It will probably be a tight race in a few categories, but this humble reporter, who has seen a good number of these movies and read about the other ones, will now valiantly try to break this all down for you, my generous college reader. Let me tell you which movies will win and which ones are worth your time.
There are eight nominations for the big prize this year. A few years ago, the Academy upped the maximum nominations to 10 in this category, meaning they could have squeezed two more in this year but decided the rest of the stock was unworthy. There are other good movies (Gone Girl, Inherent Vice, Interstellar etc.) but they probably wouldn’t have won anyway.
This is really a race between Boyhood and Birdman. Richard Linklater’s movie about growing up beat out Alejandro Iñárritu’s story of a guy who used to wear a bird costume (guess which one is which) at the Globes, but Birdman has gotten some more lift since then. It’s still going to go to Boyhood, I’d say, but Birdman is my personal favorite of the year.
What to see
American Sniper – see this if you like Bradley Cooper and being told to not feel complicated about the War on Terror. Director Clint Eastwood can be on point sometimes, but this sniper flick could be a miss if you don’t like glorifying people who shoot a lot of innocent people. It’s still in most theaters.
Birdman – see this. You’ll like it if you like big-budget movies with a tinge of artiness/weirdness, but even if you don’t like it you should see it so you don’t keep confusing it with the rapper and record producer of the same name. It’s showing at the Silver Theater, Bethesda Row, Georgetown and E Street.
Boyhood – see this so when it wins you can say, “Oh, Boyhood, yeah I saw that. I mean, it was good but I didn’t get all the hype.” Get it online (Amazon has it for $3.99) or catch it on Redbox.
Selma – see this movie if you’re into things that are great and culturally significant. Give it some love; the Oscar went to 12 Years a Slave last year so the Academy probably feels like it can ignore black movies again for a while. It’s still in a lot of theaters.
The Grand Budapest Hotel – see this if you’re a quirky and interesting person who likes/wants to like quirky and interesting movies. Director Wes Anderson rarely fails to deliver. Get it online, Redbox, Blockbuster Video, etc.
The Imitation Game – see if you’re into period-piece biopics about a smart dead British person, who in this case is actually a really cool scientific guy! Showing at the artsier theaters around here (see Birdman).
The Theory of Everything – see if you’re into period-piece biopics about a smart living British person, who in this case is actually a really cool scientific guy! Also showing at the artsier theaters around here (see Birdman).
Since Ava DuVernay was egregiously snubbed in spite of her top-form directing in Selma, this will either go to the King of Indies or the Maestro of Mexico. Wes Anderson is great, but he doesn’t need an Oscar. Sometimes this is consolation prize for who didn’t win Picture, but I think this will go to Linklater as well.
Michael Keaton deserves a win here after his role in Birdman, and he could get it with the Academy being as into comeback oldsters as they are. Eddie Redmayne from Theory of Everything is the biggest contender for playing a young Stephen Hawking. I wish Steve Carrell could win for playing an unfunny psychopath with a big nose in Foxcatcher, though it looks like Bradley Cooper has a chance of taking it for his work idolizing a possibly crazy person in American Sniper. I say Keaton takes it with an upset.
Julianne Moore is the clear favorite here for her work in Still Alice. Moore is a great actress, and it also helps that this is the kind of dramatic role – she plays a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s – the Academy eats up. Rosamund Pike is top-notch creepy cool in Gone Girl and Reese Witherspoon is apparently good in Wild, but I doubt they can compete.
Best Supporting Actor
Edward Norton and Ethan Hawke have gotten praise for Birdman and Boyhood, respectively, but this one’s a cinch for J.K. Simmons (a.k.a. guy who was J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man, a.k.a. guy in State Farm commercials) and his role as a manic music teacher in Whiplash.
Best Supporting Actress
Looks like Meryl Streep won’t have to be clearing space on her Oscar shelf this year. She’s nominated all right (for Into the Woods), but Patricia Arquette of Boyhood seems to have this one nailed down. Laura Dern is also getting a lot of talk from her role in Wild.
Birdman was filmed like it was all one continuous long take. I’ll leave it at that.
Best Original Screenplay
Wes Anderson definitely has a good chance here and he’d be more than worthy, but I hope it goes to Birdman and the crazy wonder-work that it was. If Iñárritu (he co-wrote it too) doesn’t get director, he should at least get this.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Maybe one day we can live in a world where P.T. Anderson could have a chance at this Oscar for adapting a Thomas Pynchon book – Inherent Vice – and doing a hell of a job with it too. But this world ain’t it. This will probably go to The Imitation Game or maybe Whiplash.
Animated Feature Film
I’m sorry, but The LEGO Movie was the best animated feature film of all time. I can’t diminish art by making another pick for this category.
Joe Zimmermann is a junior English and journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.