Jan 15, 2015

The Oscars SUCK

They have always sucked but this year they suck more. This year, they are not even trying with the pretense of inclusion. They are going mostly for the safe, the well trod, the boring. Except for the actress nominations and some of the technical departments, it's an all male, mostly white dudes cast. I am the last person to clamor for affirmative action in art. But this is dispiriting. Because this year deserving women like Ava DuVernay and Gillian Flynn are shut out for no good reason. Safe, well-meaning biopics like The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything replace better, more hard-hitting, but less palatable movies like Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year, or even Gone Girl.  Yes, some original, independent-spirited movies like BoyhoodWhiplash, Selma and The Grand Budapest Hotel made it, but it is not enough. A cause for concern should be that Hollywood has to rely on indies or British films to fill up ten slots. A dismal year for American movies.

Below is the list of nominations.
The ones in bold are the noms I consider well deserved. And those who unfairly did not make it. In blue, my favorites.
In red, my predictions for your Oscar pool. The categories that have no red, I have no idea about. 
If you win the pool, you give me half, if you lose, which is far more likely, I'm not responsible.

Best Picture
Birdman - Fun, fantastic movie.
Boyhood - Yes, and should win.
The contest is between the navel-gazing ego fest of Birdman, Hollywood talking about itself, which the Academy loves, or the lack of ego and sustained excellence of Boyhood. It's a tough call, but if the Academy members are not utterly depraved, they should vote for Boyhood.
Selma - Yes, however grudgingly and ungenerously it made it to the list. It's being shut out of virtually everything else except that stupid song at the end, which nearly ruined the entire movie for me. This sole nomination feels more of a consolation prize than a deserved nod. Selma should have gotten nods at least for Best Actor (David Oyelowo), Best Director (Ava Du Vernay), Best Screenplay (there's a fight about who really wrote it), Score (by Jason Moran) and Costume Design. It seems that the Selma team completely mishandled their p.r.; the greatest irony being that DuVernay used to handle p.r. in Hollywood before she became a director. It's a damn shame because this is a good and important movie, at a time when more people need to remember this story.
The Theory of Everything - Yawn. It's a good movie but not a great one.
The Imitation Game - Yaaawn. Both are classic, safe choices for the retirement community. If we go for British biopics, Mr. Turner kicks their ass.
The Grand Budapest Hotel - lovely and surprising, and I'm happy it's here.
American Sniper - Haven't seen it, but Clint Eastwood is the most overrated person in the world.
Whiplash - Yes! A damn good film. Original. Bracing. Spectacular.
Foxcatcher could have been included, as well as Gone Girl. But they are too dark for these losers.

Actress in a Leading Role
Julianne Moore,  Still Alice - She is fantastic.
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything - She rocks in this movie.
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl - she is very fine.
Reese Witherspoon, Wild -  She tries, but is totally lacking in depth.
Marion Cotillard, Two Days One Night - Freaking amazeballs. 
The contest here, I think, is between the illness du jour, as portrayed by Julianne Moore, and La Cotillard, who is a monster actress. Between Alzheimer's and the beleaguered working class of the world, I think they'll go for Alzheimer's. It hits closer to home.

Actor in a Leading Role
Michael Keaton, Birdman - He is very good, I love him dearly, but I think there are others more deserving.
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything - No doubt, he is awesome.
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game - No doubt, he is wonderful. Also, he seems to have more fun than any other celebrity, so that's why I'm rooting for him. None of my favorites are in this race.
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher - Excellent.
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper -  I'm sure he's good. 
But where is David Oyelowo who so convincingly portrays Martin Luther King? Where is Ralph Fiennes, who is miraculous in The Grand Budapest Hotel? Miles Teller was brilliant in Whiplash, but he has been thoroughly ignored because he plays an asshole. Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year? Even Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher. I'm tired of actors not being recognized for subtle work.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu,  Birdman - A tour de force.
Richard Linklater, Boyhood - A bigger, quieter tour de force.
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel - Absolutely.
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game - Pat, predictable, just decent. Instead, James Marsh of The Theory of Everything. 
Instead, Ava DuVernay for Selma. It is appalling that she is not in the running.
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher - Well done. But instead, Damien Chazelle for Whiplash.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood - If there is justice, this will happen.
Emma Stone, Birdman - She is wonderful in this film.
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game - Very good but instead, Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods - She is becoming the Queen of Good Hams. Let's just give her an award each year and call it a day.
Laura Dern, Wild - She is better than the entire movie.

Actor in a Supporting Role
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash - probably and deservedly the winner.
Edward Norton, Birdman - I LOVE him in this.
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood - Great but not as great as Arquette.
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher - Great.
Robert Duvall, The Judge - Have not seen him, but he always kills.

Foreign Language Film
Ida - A wry, fantastic film about the aftermath of the Holocaust.
Leviathan - A wry, fantastic film about living with corruption in Russia.
Tangerines - Have not seen it.
Wild Tales - Have not seen it.
Timbuktu - This is a poetic, sweet, and surprisingly funny film about Islamic fundamentalists (!) 
I doubt that the members of the Academy actually watch the films so they may want to punish Putin, they may want to extend an olive branch to Muslims, or, and this has been known to happen, vote for the movie that has something to do with the Holocaust. They are all deserving. 
I can't believe Force Majeure is not in the running. Or Two Days, One Night. Or The Wonders.

Writing – Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game -  Defanged, sentimental version of the life of Alan Turing. A travesty. 
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash. How is this an adapted screenplay?
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything. He has a scene of applause in the end which I will never forgive.
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice - Gets brownie points for trying to adapt Pynchon. 
Where is Gillian Flynn's smart adaptation of Gone Girl

Writing – Original Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Boyhood 
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo, Birdman
I think the script is the weakest link in this movie.
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel - Lovely.
Dan Gilroy,  Nightcrawler - Creepily funny, but I don't buy the contrivances of this script.
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, FoxcatcherA well written American nightmare. 
Selma should be in this category but it isn't because of an unfortunate conflict over writing credits. Too bad.

Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Roger Deakins, Unbroken
Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lynzewski, Ida
All of them utterly deserving.

Music – Original Score
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar - Tries to make it sound like something exciting is happening.
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game  - Desplat at his schmaltziest.
Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything - Nice score
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel - Why nominate him twice? This one is the keeper.
Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner
In general, I don't care. None of these scores (I have not seen Interstellar) made an impression. 
Jason Moran's score for Selma was lovely. The big band score for Whiplash too. Both should be here.

Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy


Costume Design
Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods -  I hated the drab, pedestrian costumes.
Anna B. Sheppard, Maleficent - I'm sure this rocks.
Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner
Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice
Selma should be here.

Music – Original Song 
“Glory” by Common and John Legend, Selma 
“Lost Stars” by Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley and Nick Southwood, Begin Again
“Everything Is Awesome” by Shawn Patterson, The LEGO Movie
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” by Glen Campbell, Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me
“Grateful,” by Dianne Warren, Beyond the Lights

Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: Winter Soldier
X-Men: Days of Future Past

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

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

Sound Editing
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
American Sniper

Sound Mixing
American Sniper

Production Design
Into the Woods - No imagination.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game - Meh
Mr. Turner

Short Film – Live Action
Boogaloo and Graham
The Phone Call

Short Film – Animated
The Bigger Picture
A Single Life
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton

Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Boxtrolls
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Song of the Sea
Why is The LEGO Movie not here? Everyone loved it.

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