Oscars 2015 – Recap + Thoughts

Last night, movie awards season came to an end with the 87th annual Academy Awards. It was a really interesting year for film, with a lot of REALLY GOOD movies, but none that really stood out and took hold of frontrunner status. Still a good year, nonetheless.

BEST PICTURE

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman – WINNER
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Before the show itself, there were a lot of people saying that any one of these movies could win. That being said though, Birdman and Boyhood were believed to be the frontrunners, with American Sniper right behind them. Personally, Whiplash was my favourite, but my favourite movie never wins (hello, The Social Network!). I was actually quite proud of myself for actually being able to watch all of this year’s nominees, though they all truly interested me. Well, exception being The Grand Budapest Hotel – I wanted to watch to see what all the fuss was about, but I’ve never been a fan of Wes Anderson’s work. This is what my rankings would’ve looked like: Whiplash, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Birdman, Boyhood, Selma, American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel. In the end, Birdman came out victorious, which isn’t all that surprising. Hollywood likes a good movie about itself (makes the entire award just seem kind of on the selfish side, huh?)

BEST ACTOR

  • Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of EverythingWINNER

Much had been said about the Best Actor race, in what was a very competitive year. When the actors who didn’t make the cut could add up to another ballot in and of itself (like Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler, David Oyelowo for Selma), you know it was a hard year. In the end, most bets were placed between Keaton and Redmayne. I think the favourite going in was Keaton, because of his long career, this being his first nomination, and the idea that he probably won’t get another role like this. But Redmayne was absolutely incredible in his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, that when it came down to it, you had to reward his performance.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice – WINNER
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

While the Actor race was a tough race to call from top to bottom, the Actress race was pretty much done. As far as the nominations went, the only “surprise” was Cotillard’s inclusion, as some had pegged Jennifer Aniston for her role in Cake to take the fifth slot. But the overall predictability of the nominations highlighted the fact that there really aren’t a lot of GOOD roles for women right now in the industry. The real meaty roles seem to fall on these wonderfully talented women’s male counterparts. That being said, it was without a doubt Julianne Moore’s year to win, after four previous nominations. I was so bummed I didn’t get to see Still Alice premiere at TIFF (scheduling issue, so friends got the tickets), but thankfully managed to squeeze in a screening of it right before the Awards. Moore was incredible, portraying a character diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s, and brought out a scary truth about the disease and how it affects the person and everyone around them.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash – WINNER

The hype surrounding Simmons and Whiplash was definitely warranted; he was terrifyingly good. I’ve got nothing else.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood – WINNER
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

To me, it seemed like this category could’ve been filled in many different ways, which is a good and bad thing. The good is that there are roles for women in Hollywood, but on the flip side, most of the time it is in Supporting a male lead. An argument could have been made to put Arquette in Best Actress, but then she wouldn’t have been guaranteed the win. Meryl Streep, as much as a legend that she is, is getting nominated simply for being Meryl Streep. Because if you look at it, we could’ve had Jessica Chastain in the mix for A Most Violent Year, Carmen Ejogo for Selma or longshots like Rene Russo for Nightcrawler and Tilda Swinton for Snowpiercer. Back to Arquette though, I really do think she should’ve been put in lead actress because Boyhood was just as much about her character as a single mom, trying to do right by her kids, as it was about the title boy. Arquette really gave a layered performance that was bolstered by the fact that we get to see her age naturally.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman–WINNER
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

At the beginning of Awards season, there was the possibility of two female directors being nominated: Angelina Jolie for Unbroken and Ava DuVernay for Selma. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. When looking at the nominees, it was clear that it was going to come down the same way as Best Picture – Birdman or Boyhood. Many, including myself, thought we were once again going to see Director and Picture go to different films (How I wish that happened in 2011. Fincher was robbed that year! I digress). Iñárritu gave the movie a very distinct look, with its seamless transitions that made it seem as though it was one take. But Linklater had such a creative mind to do this film that took 12 years to make, and not just a movie taking place in a 12 year time span. I thought for sure Linklater was going to take it here, with Birdman winning (as it did) Best Picture. I was wrong.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo – WINNER
  • Boyhood, Richard Linklater
  • Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
  • Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy

It’s Original Screenplay, anything could’ve happened. Birdman vs. Boyhood. The Grand Budapest Hotel with Anderson’s off-beat vision. I was hoping for Nightcrawler, but alas, Birdman won.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • American Sniper, Jason Hall
  • The Imitation Game, Graham Moore – WINNER
  • Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Theory of Everything, Anthony McCarten
  • Whiplash, Damien Chazelle

First of all, Whiplash really should’ve been in Original, instead of here, but the Academy has such weird rules. In this case, they made the claim that Chazelle adapted it from his short film, when in fact the short film (essentially a scene from the original screenplay) was made simply as a tool to get the film made. Weird, I tell ya. Anyways, I also can’t believe Gillian Flynn did not get nominated for adapting Gone Girl, her own novel! There were so many ways in which the movie couldn’t have worked, because of how the book was set-up, but Flynn managed to do it brilliantly. As for Moore, who won for The Imitation Game, I certainly feel like he did a great job in bringing the story to life. Because honestly, if you just look at the basic story, the movie could’ve ended up being really boring and pretentious. The outcome was far more thrilling and obviously a little bit Hollywood-ized to get there, but enthralling and intriguing nonetheless. In a lesser year, it probably could’ve made a proper claim for Best Picture.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • Big Hero 6 – WINNER
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of Princess Kayuga

The Lego Movie was robbed! Everyone knows that (except the Academy, apparently). I’ll admit though, I hadn’t seen any of the actual nominated movies, soooo I can’t really say much about it.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
  • “Glory” from Selma – WINNER
  • “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
  • “Lost Stars” from Begin Again

I’ve made my love for Begin Again and “Lost Stars” known over the past year, so of course I was over the moon that it got nominated here! But as much as I love it, there was no way it was winning, since it was up against the emotional powerhouse song that is “Glory.” Plus, considering “Glory” was the last song performed before the award was handed out, and the reaction it received after the performance, it was a done deal.

Ending Thoughts:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I feel like there’s no winning with the telecast itself. No matter how hard they try, something always seem off. This year’s show was no exception. We’ve seen Neil Patrick Harris host a multitude of other award shows, so we figured he’d be dependable, but some of the bits fell a little flat.

I love me some musical numbers to liven up the show a little, but I say just stick to the Best Original Song nominees. I mean, I only got 2 minutes of “Lost Stars” (which should’ve included a bit of Keira Knightley singing) and Adam was kinda not on his game, though still nice to see the rest of Maroon 5! And I think everyone could’ve used a little bit more “Everything Is Awesome” (Love the Lego Oscars!) But, as has been the case in recent years, extra time has been allotted to a musical performance that adds nothing to the show. The purpose of watching these award shows is to celebrate the past year in film, not honour classic films of years/decades past. So despite Lady Gaga sounding perfectly good singing The Sound of Music, it was a completely unnecessary time filler.

This year’s telecast featured a lot of statements being made within the acceptance speeches, acknowledging that the world we live in is nowhere near perfect. Some people had issue with these “political statements” being made at an award show, but I was happy to hear it. It’s inherent that actors would thank their families and team of people, but to use the opportunity of being up on that stage as a platform for awareness is a really good thing for them to do.

“Comic book movies” are rarely ever recognized at these award shows, but watching the telecast you (meaning me) had to wonder: what’s the ratio of actors who are/have been/will be in comic book movies vs. those who aren’t? Because we had (nominees and presenters): Keaton & Affleck (Batman); Ruffalo & Norton (Hulk); Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson); Cooper (Rocket Raccoon); Stone (Gwen Stacy); Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange); Cotillard (Talia al Ghul); Jones (Felicia in Amazing Spider-Man 2); Chris Evans (Captain America/Human Torch); Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow); Chris Pratt (Star Lord); Zoe Saldana (Gamora); Paltrow (Pepper Potts); Miles Teller (new Mr. Fantastic); Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn in BvS); Jared Leto (Joker in BvS); Kerry Washington (Alicia Masters in Fantastic 4); Idris Elba (Heimdall in Thor); Nicole Kidman (Dr. Meridian in Batman Forever). Phew!

So another Oscars on the books! Any surprises? Still reeling from any snubs? Favourite part of the telecast? Sound off!

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