Oscar Picks 2017

Just for the hell of it, here are my picks for who/what should win at the Oscars tonight. La La Land leads all nominations with 14. Is it naive of me to hope that Oscars will share the love between a handful of films, as opposed to awarding everything to just one movie? Maybe, but a girl can dream.

BEST PICTURE

  • Arrival
  • Fences
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • Hidden Figures
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Manchester By the Sea
  • Moonlight

LA LA LAND! I know some people who didn’t like it and thought it was cheesy. That doesn’t change the fact that *I* love it and I love how it makes me feel. It’s the presumed frontrunner and I completely agree. That’s not to say that I didn’t love any of the other films nominated. In fact, I think this is one of the stronger years, with each film making a solid case for itself. [Sidenote: I watched all but one, Hacksaw Ridge, because I really did not care to watch it] I loved Arrival and Moonlight, both of which I saw at TIFF last September, and still stuck with me. Lion, which I didn’t get a chance to see at TIFF, hit me in a way that I totally didn’t expect (in a good way). Hidden Figures was so enjoyable and inspiring. Fences was a great all-around film. Manchester By the Sea was a little slow for me, but I can still see why people liked it because it was a real character study. I’m not normally one for Western-type films, but Hell or High Water surprised me.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Isabelle Huppert, Elle
  • Natalie Portman, Jackie
  • Ruth Negga, Loving
  • Emma Stone, La La Land
  • Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

I’m still shocked that Amy Adams didn’t get nominated for Arrival. She was spectacular in that movie (not that she isn’t always awesome) and gave such a nuanced performance, I honestly would’ve put her as my pick to win. But since she’s not nominated, naturally my second choice is Emma Stone. Emma brought a lot of facets to her character Mia, and La La Land is really Emma’s movie. I have to be honest though and say that the only other performance I saw was Natalie Portman in Jackie. I thought Natalie did great work as Jackie Kennedy, but something about the movie just didn’t work for me. You know who else I wish got nominated here? Taraji P. Henson for Hidden Figures.

BEST ACTOR

  • Casey Affleck, Manchester By the Sea
  • Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Ryan Gosling, La La Land
  • Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
  • Denzel Washington, Fences

I love me some Ryan Gosling, but surprisingly enough, he’s not my pick to win. For a while, it looked like Casey Affleck was running away with the award, but Denzel is coming in strong and making a play for his third Oscar. I think Denzel is going to eke out the win, but I personally would love to see Viggo Mortensen win. I feel like he doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves, and his Captain Fantastic character feels so different for him.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Viola Davis, Fences
  • Naomie Harris, Moonlight
  • Nicole Kidman, Lion
  • Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
  • Michelle Williams, Manchester By the Sea

In a case of category fraud that surpasses Alicia Vikander’s own nom and win last year, Viola Davis is somehow nominated as Supporting. Nope, she’s just as much a lead as Denzel in Fences. Granted, both the Actress categories are so stacked, it’s ridiculously awesome and frustrating at the same time. Because if it wasn’t for Viola being nominated here, my pick would most certainly be Naomie Harris. So amazing for what she did in THREE days filming Moonlight.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
  • Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
  • Lucas Hedges, Manchester By the Sea
  • Dev Patel, Lion
  • Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Mahershala Ali was my pick to win from the moment I saw Moonlight and I still stand by it. He gave such a subtle but strong performance, and even though he’s only in the first third of the film, he left an impression. Before I even saw Lion, it puzzled me to no end why Dev Patel was being categorized as Supporting, seeing as how ads for the film use his face, but after watching it, I finally got it. I just hope this leads to more opportunities for Dev to really show off his skills as an actor.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Damien Chazelle, La La Land
  • Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
  • Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
  • Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester By the Sea
  • Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

I think Chazelle will win, making him the youngest winner in the category. As a fan of Villeneuve, I’d love to see him win. But ultimately, my pick is for Jenkins, who did such incredible work on such an incredible film.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” Trolls
  • “City of Stars,” La La Land
  • “How Far I’ll Go,” Moana
  • “The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story

It almost happened. At the start of the awards season, I thought to myself: “What if all the songs nominated were not only songs I knew, but also loved?” The Critics Choice Awards was my first glimmer of hope, with 5 out of 6 nominees being songs I indeed loved (including one from my preciously overlooked Sing Street), and I dreamed and hoped those five would make it to Oscars. Alas, it didn’t happen, though I’m still left with FOUR songs I love and adore being nominated. So who do I pick to win? Are you kidding me? I CAN’T CHOOSE!! We have songs from La La Land! Lin-Manuel Miranda is nominated!! JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE IS NOMINATED!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!! Am I, JT superfan, seriously not picking JT to win? But, LA LA LAND!! But, EGOT for Lin-Manuel! COME ON!!!

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Jackie – Mica Levi
  • La La Land – Justin Hurwitz
  • Lion – Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka
  • Moonlight – Nicholas Britell
  • Passengers – Thomas Newman

Despite my love of music, I’m not typically a score person. I know the importance of a great score, but I don’t usually pay attention to it. And honestly, this is the first year since Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’ nomination and win for The Social Network score, that I’ve cared. That’s because like the movie it belongs to, I fell in love with Justin Hurwitz’s score for La La Land. I have to say though that I’m surprised Pharrell didn’t get nominated for the Hidden Figures score because I think he did a great job overall with all the music in that film as well.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Arrival – Eric Heisserer
  • Fences – August Wilson
  • Hidden Figures – Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi
  • Lion – Luke Davies
  • Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney

In an attempt to share the love, my ideal choice to win is Eric Heisserer’s screenplay for Arrival, though I think Barry Jenkins will win, and that’s not a bad thing at all! Actually, any of the nominees here could win and it would be okay.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
  • La La Land – Damien Chazelle
  • The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
  • Manchester By the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan
  • 20th Century Women – Mike Mills

For all the La La Land love, I’m not sure I’d want it to win here. Not to say it’s not deserving because Chazelle did such a spectacular job creating a new and original musical, which is such a hard sell these days. My pick to win is Kenneth Lonergan’s screenplay for Manchester By the Sea, and I have a feeling voters may go this route as well.

BEST ANIMATED MOVIE

  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Moana
  • My Life as a Zucchini
  • The Red Turtle
  • Zootopia

Keeping in mind that it’s not all about mainstream hits here, I never heard of My Life as a Zucchini. I’m surprised Finding Dory didn’t get nominated. A little less surprised that Trolls wasn’t nominated, even though I love that movie and am clearly biased about it. Want me to pick between my two other Disney favourites, Moana or Zootopia? It’s difficult, but I think I may have to pick Zootopia.

I’m not great with some of these technical categories, but I’m going to give it a shot anyways (picks in BOLD).

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Arrival
  • La La Land
  • Lion
  • Moonlight
  • Silence

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  • Allied
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Florence Foster Jenkins
  • Jackie
  • La La Land

BEST FILM EDITING

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • Hell or High Water
  • La La Land
  • Moonlight

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

  • A Man Called Ove
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Suicide Squad

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  • Arrival
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Hail, Caesar!
  • La La Land
  • Passengers

BEST SOUND EDITING

  • Arrival
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Sully

BEST SOUND MIXING

  • Arrival
  • Hacksaw Ridge
  • La La Land
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Doctor Strange
  • The Jungle Book
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

As for the Documentary (Feature and Short), Foreign Language, and Short Film (Animated and Live Action) nominees – unfortunately, I haven’t watched any of them, so I can’t really comment.

 

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2016 Oscars Nominations and Predictions

The long movie awards season is finally coming to an end with the Oscars tonight. It’s been an interesting awards season to say the least. Usually by now, after all the critics and guild awards, you pretty much know who’s going to win at the Oscars. But this year, there’s a lot that is up in the air (except for two, that are 95% sure things) and that’s pretty exciting…or as exciting as an Oscar show can be.

BEST PICTURE

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

Before the nominations were announced, I had already seen 6 of the 8 films nominated, so I was so happy to be ahead of the game this year. It’s been a really strong year for movies, but I can’t even begin to express how disappointed I am that even with the possibility of 10 nominated films, there were a number of REALLY GREAT movies (and actors) that got snubbed. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy is so disheartening and really deserves its own post, so I’m not going to dwell on it here.

Focusing on the nominees at hand, it really is the most exciting Best Picture race in years. We’ve had years where one movie leads the pack throughout the entire awards season making things rather anti-climactic come Oscar night. Most years we have two movies (maayyybe three) that go back and forth in the standings. This year, we’ve got four solid front-runners, with a couple underdogs. My personal pick to win is Spotlight and its got a SAG Award win for Best Ensemble behind it, among other accolades. Like the journalists at the center of the story, Spotlight was about the facts, it was to the point, no frills, effective and emotional. I had an innate feeling that this movie was going to be special before I saw it; I only wish I had gotten to see it sooner when it premiered at TIFF. Now I understand the appeal of the three other front-runners with big guild and critics wins. The Big Short, which won the Producers’ Guild, is without a doubt a really good movie, that makes a boring topic entertaining. The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road, even with all their technical accomplishments, are just movies I can’t get behind and they just weren’t movies I was into. On the other hand, Brooklyn, The Martian and Room were all movies I loved, all for different reasons; but of those three, I believe Room has the better chance of rising beyond its underdog status in the category. Bridge of Spies, though a very solid movie in the very classic sense, may be a little too old school in its way to make much impact.

BEST ACTOR

  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
  • Matt Damon, The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

One of the surest bets of this awards season is that Leonardo DiCaprio will undoubtedly win his first Oscar. Though I admire his performance in the movie, I don’t think it’s anywhere close to being his best, but he’s overdue for a win, so all the signs lead to Leo. I unfortunately haven’t seen Trumbo, so I can’t comment on Bryan Cranston’s performance. Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender were really wonderful in their films. Eddie Redmayne, once again got a transformative role, that is pure Oscar-bait, but back-to-back wins seems unlikely (even though there is precedent, but come on…)

BEST ACTRESS

  • Cate Blanchett, Carol
  • Brie Larson, Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

For a while, the race seemed to be between Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, and in my mind, it still is, namely because I can’t decide who I want to see win. Both actresses gave incredible performances that made me cry, and I’m not usually one who cries watching movies and shows. But as the season went on, it’s looking more and more like this is Larson’s to lose. That’s not to say Cate Blanchett wasn’t fabulous as usual in Carol. Same goes with Jennifer Lawrence in Joy, even though it really bothered me that she was supposed to be playing someone way older than she actually is (though that’s more of a movie issue than a J.Law issue). And then there’s Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years, which I didn’t see.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Christian Bale, The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed

A case can be made for any of the actors nominated here, though in such a competitive category, there could’ve been an entirely different list of nominees and it still would’ve been amazing. Early on in the season, Mark Rylance was looking like the frontrunner, but that was before Creed came into play and Sylvester Stallone is now looking like the sentimental favourite. I would love to see Mark Ruffalo win, not just because of my love for Spotlight, but because I think Ruffalo doesn’t get enough recognition for all his work and he really deserves it here.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara, Carol
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

“Category fraud” aside, I want Alicia Vikander to win. She was just incredibly fantastic in The Danish Girl (not to mention Ex Machina) and she’s just going to be such a huge star going forward. Jennifer Jason Leigh is surprisingly a first-time Oscar nominee, but again, I haven’t watched Hateful Eight so I can’t comment. Kate Winslet is great as usual in Steve Jobs, but she’s already a winner. I hate to count out my Canadian girl Rachel McAdams, whom I love in just about every movie she’s done, but I think she’ll win only if there’s an overwhelming love for Spotlight; her day will come eventually. Rooney Mara did some incredible work herself in Carol, working alongside Cate Blanchett, and she’s the one that’ll give Vikander a run for the Oscar win.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Lenny Abrahamson, Room
  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
  • Adam McKay, The Big Short
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

I think one of the most surprising things about this list of nominees is that Ridley Scott was left off of it, for his great work on The Martian. I was among the many who thought he was a lock for a nomination and even possibly a win. With the omission of Scott, the odds on favourite to win is George Miller, which would be a well-deserved win for the Hollywood vet but first-time nominee. Like I said before, I wasn’t really into Mad Max, but you can’t argue with the creativity involved in creating that universe on screen. If Miller doesn’t win, some are saying that overwhelming support for The Revenant could get Inarritu a back-to-back win in the category.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
  • Ex Machina – Alex Garland
  • Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Ronnie del Carmen
  • Spotlight – Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
  • Straight Outta Compton – Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus

Well, two of these five screenplays are nominated for the big prize, so odds are it’s going to come down to Spotlight or Bridge of Spies, with Spotlight ultimately taking it. It should be noted however, that the three other screenplays in contention should also have been nominated for Best Picture because they were all amazing and inventive in their own ways. Ex Machina is such a simple thriller in concept, but a whole new take on the genre in execution. Pixar continues with its tradition of making grown adults cry with Inside Out, and honestly how can you fault them for that? Then there’s Straight Outta Compton, a biopic done right that shines a light on one of the defining rap groups of all-time.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • The Big Short – Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
  • Brooklyn – Nick Hornby
  • Carol – Phyllis Nagy
  • The Martian – Drew Goddard
  • Room – Emma Donoghue

I used to make an effort to read the books that a lot of movies are based on, but in recent years, I just haven’t had the time. Because of its seeming front-runner status, The Big Short is the favourite to win here, for turning a dull (but relevant) topic such as the financial crisis, and making an entertaining film. I do think there’s something to be said about an author adapting her own novel into a movie screenplay and succeeding, as Emma Donoghue has done with Room.

2016 Grammy Nominations & Predictions

For some, the Grammy Awards are just another awards show. However, it’s the biggest music award in the business. Say what you will, but the Grammys still hold more weight than say an MTV award. Now for all that the Grammy Awards get right in the nominations, there’s still a lot that I have issues with. I probably should’ve done this analysis when the nominations were announced, but hey, now I get to make my predictions (or alternatively, what I WANT to happen).

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color
  • Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  • Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Taylor Swift, 1989
  • The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness

The only album I’ve actually listened to of the bunch is Beauty Behind the Madness, and as much as I like it, I don’t think it’s AOTY. I feel like it’s probably going to end up being 1989, which honestly Taylor Swift annoys me so I’d rather not have it win.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Really Love
  • Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk
  • Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud
  • Taylor Swift, Blank Space
  • The Weeknd, Can’t Feel My Face

“Uptown Funk” deserves the win, hands down. One year later and I’m still not tired of hearing it. That’s saying something.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • “Alright” (Kendrick Lamar)
  • “Blank Space” (Taylor Swift)
  • “Girl Crush” (Little Big Town)
  • “See You Again” (Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth)
  • “Thinking Out Loud” (Ed Sheeran)

Remember, this category awards the songwriters. I’d like to see Little Big Town win it here because “Girl Crush” is just such a musically bare but well-written track. Although “Thinking Out Loud” sort of falls in the same category, the fact that it became so overplayed is causing me bias. So ideally, “Girl Crush” wins for me. If not, I’d say “See You Again” should win; you can’t help but get a little emotional when you hear it because you know what it stands for.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Courtney Barnett
  • James Bay
  • Sam Hunt
  • Tori Kelly
  • Meghan Trainor

I’m happy to say there’s no “WHO ARE YOU?” in the category. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to Courtney Barnett’s music, but I had heard her name prior to her nomination, so there’s that. Now there’s something about this category this year that makes me feel like it is drastically different from recent years. You look at last year’s nominees  and really, you just knew Sam Smith was going to win. In 2014, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis won, but it could have been Ed Sheeran, Kendrick Lamar, or Kacey Musgraves; however, it didn’t really matter to me who won. Same goes with 2013 when Fun won. This year, maybe it’s because I have two artists I absolutely love nominated, which means I will be super happy if either James Bay or Tori Kelly win. I’ve been going back and forth about this, but ideally I think I want Tori to win, with James winning for his other categories – that way it spreads the love and recognition!

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • Kelly Clarkson, Heartbeat Song
  • Ellie Goulding, Love Me Like You Do
  • Ed Sheeran, Thinking Out Loud
  • Taylor Swift, Blank Space
  • The Weeknd, Can’t Feel My Face

Do you even have to ask? I want Kelly Clarkson to win, duh! Second choice would be The Weeknd.

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Florence + The Machine, Ship to Wreck
  • Maroon 5, Sugar
  • Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars, Uptown Funk
  • Taylor Swift ft. Kendrick Lamar, Bad Blood
  • Wiz Khalifa ft. Charlie Puth, See You Again

This is the one category where I’m really conflicted. First choice is Maroon 5, obviously, because I’m forever a M5 fan. I love “Sugar” so frickin’ much and it just always instantly puts a smile on my face when I hear it. “Uptown Funk” is second, because like I said before, it’s still a great song to listen to. “See You Again” is my third because again, still a great song but miscategorized – should’ve been in Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. “Ship to Wreck” really has no faults, I just haven’t listened to it enough. And then “Bad Blood” is just whatever.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Kelly Clarkson, Piece by Piece
  • Florence + The Machine, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
  • James Taylor, Before This World
  • Mark Ronson, Uptown Special
  • Taylor Swift, 1989

Odds are 1989 takes it (*groan*). Ideally, Piece by Piece wins. I however, wouldn’t be surprised if James Taylor ends up winning because the Grammys can still surprise sometimes.

BEST ROCK SONG

  • “Don’t Wanna Fight” (Alabama Shakes)
  • “Ex’s & Oh’s” (Elle King)
  • “Hold Back the River” (James Bay)
  • “Lydia” (Highly Suspect)
  • “What Kind of Man” (Florence + The Machine)

Like SOTY, this awards the songwriters (now that I think of it, I’m surprised there isn’t a Pop category equivalent). I don’t know who Highly Suspect are and I don’t listen to Alabama Shakes, which leaves Elle King, James Bay, and Florence. And as stated above, I want James to win, not that there’s anything wrong with the other two, just preference.

BEST MUSICAL THEATER ALBUM

  • An American in Paris
  • Fun Home
  • Hamilton
  • The King and I
  • Something Rotten!

All well-deserved nominations, but let’s be real, Hamilton is TOTALLY winning this one. Not to mention, they get to perform during the telecast? Just give it to them already.

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • Empire: Season 1
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • Pitch Perfect 2
  • Selma

As much as I love Pitch Perfect 2, I don’t think the soundtrack stacks up as well as the first movie. I say Empire takes it.

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “Glory” from Selma
  • “Love Me Like You Do” from Fifty Shades of Grey
  • “See You Again” from Furious 7
  • “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground

For the category to say Visual Media, I’ve noticed that there aren’t many nominations from TV. To consider, we have two songs from Fifty Shades of Grey nominated, but nothing from Empire. Not even “You’re So Beautiful”? Really? Lame. All for naught though, because I’m pretty sure “Glory” is going to win, with “See You Again” coming in as a close second.

Other Notable Nominations (or the other nominations that I care about):

  • James Bay’s Chaos and the Calm for Best Rock Album!
  • Amy Poehler is nominated in Best Spoken Word Album for the audiobook of Yes Please. In other words, I think Amy’s winning a Grammy before she wins an Emmy
  • Pentatonix is nominated again in the Best Arrangement category. This time, it’s for “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from their That’s Christmas to Me album.

To summarize this post, I want all my faves to win (duh) and I’d rather not see Taylor Swift win, even though she probably will. Also, so excited to see James Bay and Tori Kelly perform together during the show! AND, it’s too early to call but Adele is just going to win all the awards next year right? Like no question? 🙂

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!

57th Grammy Award Nominations

Last Friday (Dec. 5th), the nominations for the 57th Grammy Awards were announced. In an attempt to change things up, the Grammys announced nominations for a handful of categories on the CBS Morning Show, which was then followed by random announcements throughout the day by various artists on Twitter, a more-or-less complete nomination list by mid-afternoon, and topped off by the Album of the Year announcement on their A Very Grammy Christmas special. Yeah, it was really weird. I appreciate the effort but I would rather them have stuck to one way of announcing nominees; the nomination concert followed by the posting of the entire list seemed to have worked well in recent years.

Anyways, here are my thoughts on the big category nominees, as well as a select number of other categories.

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

  • Beck, Morning Phase
  • Beyonce, Beyonce
  • Ed Sheeran, X
  • Pharrell Williams, GIRL
  • Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve been able to say that I’ve actually listened to the majority of the albums nominated in this category. Last year, the only album nominated that I had heard in full was Sara Bareilles’ The Blessed Unrest, which was a surprise nominee. This year, the only album I haven’t heard is Beck. To be honest, I was a little surprised to see Pharrell nominated in this category, not to say that GIRL was a bad album (it’s really solid, actually) but when I think “Album of the Year” I think an album that made a huge impact in the past year. By that logic, I think Beyonce might be the frontrunner, though don’t count out the ongoing momentum Sam Smith is enjoying right now. It’s possible that Sam Smith might sweep up all the wins.

RECORD OF THE YEAR

  • Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, Fancy
  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass

Like AOTY, I feel that this category encompasses the biggest songs of the year, that made the biggest impact. So it was no surprise to see Fancy, Chandelier, and Stay With Me nominated in the category. (Though it is curious to see that Stay With Me is nominated here and elsewhere with the Darkchild version.) I suppose I expected Shake It Off to get nominated because Taylor Swift is a popular choice these days, even if I personally find her and the song annoying. I absolutely don’t understand the appeal of All About That Bass; such an overrated and overplayed song. As far as snubs go, I’m quite surprised that Beyonce & Jay-Z’s Drunk in Love wasn’t nominated or even Ed Sheeran’s Sing.

SONG OF THE YEAR

  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Meghan Trainor, All About That Bass
  • Hozier, Take Me to Church

It should be noted/remembered that this category is awarded to the songwriters, to differentiate from ROTY, and I’ve listed the track’s artist just to make things easier (some songs can have a handful or more songwriters who all worked on it, meaning it can get pretty lengthy). Despite the differences, we have an almost identical nominee list to ROTY, with Hozier taking over Iggy Azalea’s spot. While ROTY typically takes the more popular route, I like to think that SOTY is where the Grammys can really make some offbeat choices in their nominations. Yeah, it can sometimes take a lot of people to craft the perfect pop song, but how about recognizing songs with substance and stands for something? As much as I love Sam Smith and Stay With Me, I want Chandelier to win here. Not only is it a fantastic song, but it would be such a big win for Sia who has written so many great songs for other artists over the years, that this would almost be like an all-encompassing win for her.

BEST NEW ARTIST

  • Bastille
  • Brandy Clark
  • HAIM
  • Iggy Azalea
  • Sam Smith

I’ve heard of all these people! There’s not a single “Who?!” in the bunch (though Brandy Clark is almost that nominee). I’m honestly trying to think of what other “new” artists (as defined by the weird Grammy rules) came out in the past year who could’ve been recognized and I’m kind of drawing a blank. Regardless, I’m fairly certain it’s going to be Sam Smith for the win.

BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE

  • John Legend, All of Me (Live)
  • Sia, Chandelier
  • Sam Smith, Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)
  • Taylor Swift, Shake It Off
  • Pharrell Williams, Happy (Live)

Honestly, I kind of don’t like the idea of a live version of a song being nominated. By all accounts, All of Me and Happy could’ve been nominated last year, but the Grammys probably pulled the “it’s eligible this year because it became popular within this eligibility period” despite the fact that the songs got released LAST summer. To that end, there could’ve been so many other performances to consider. Where’s Ed Sheeran’s Sing? Colbie Caillat’s Try? Jason Mraz’s Love Someone? Lorde’s Team? Justin Timberlake’s Not a Bad Thing? And don’t even get me started on songs/performances that aren’t big enough to be recognized by the Grammys (of which there are MANY).

BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE

  • Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX, Fancy
  • Coldplay, A Sky Full of Stars
  • A Great Big World ft. Christina Aguilera, Say Something
  • Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, Bang Bang
  • Katy Perry ft. Juicy J, Dark Horse

As always, what qualifies as pop in this category confuses me, though this year is a little bit more cohesive than most. You can argue that this is pop in the most general of terms, in that it means “popular.” I mean I would’ve put Fancy in the Rap/Sung Collaboration category, and I’m not sure how A Sky Full of Stars is more or less pop than Paramore’s Ain’t It Fun (which was nominated in the Best Rock Song category). Considering Maroon 5 performed in the Grammy Christmas special, I was expecting them to at least get a nod here for Maps, but I guess not. And I was thinking about this the other day, but The Script still aren’t big enough to get any Grammy recognition? Because I would’ve liked to see them nominated here for Superheroes. Actually, you know what song I’m surprised didn’t get a nod? Michael Jackson featuring Justin Timberlake, Love Never Felt So Good.

BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM

  • Coldplay, Ghost Stories
  • Miley Cyrus, Bangerz
  • Ariana Grande, My Everything
  • Katy Perry, Prism
  • Ed Sheeran, X
  • Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour

Really? Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Katy Perry all got nods? And again, even though I’m happy they did get nominated, I wouldn’t have pegged Ghost Stories as a pop album. I definitely think Colbie Caillat and Jason Mraz deserved nods for their albums Gypsy Heart and Yes!, respectively. I’ve made it known how I feel about Maroon 5’s venture into mainstream pop, but I’m surprised that V didn’t get nominated. I mean, Overexposed got nominated and that was a weaker album in my opinion (though Hands All Over didn’t get nominated either, which again, was a completely underrated album and deserved more love than it got)

BEST COMPILATION SOUNDTRACK

  • American Hustle
  • Frozen
  • Get On Up: The James Brown Story
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Awesome Mix Vol. 1
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

I have but one complaint: WHERE IS THE NOMINATION FOR MY BEGIN AGAIN?! That soundtrack is perfection!

BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA

  • Tegan and Sara ft. The Lonely Island, Everything Is Awesome!!! (The Lego Movie)
  • Ed Sheeran, I See Fire (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug)
  • Glen Campbell, I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell, I’ll Be Me)
  • Idina Menzel, Let It Go (Frozen)
  • Scarlett Johansson & Joaquin Phoenix, The Moon Song (Her)

One egregious snub: WHERE IS MY LOST STARS?! Come on now! How am I supposed to have faith that it’ll get nominated for the Oscar, if it doesn’t get nominated for a Grammy?!

Other Notables:

  • With her nominations this year, Beyonce became the most nominated female singer in Grammy history, beating previous record holder Dolly Parton.
  • Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) nominated for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album.
  • James Franco is now a Grammy nominee. He’s nominated in the Best Spoken Word Album category.
  • Pentatonix have officially hit the big time! The group is nominated for Best Arrangement, Instrumental or Acapella for their Daft Punk Medley found on PTX, Vol. 2.
  • Sia’s ‘Chandelier’ and Pharrell Williams’ ‘Happy’ will duke it out in the Best Music Video category.

At the end of it all, Beyonce and Sam Smith lead all nominations with 6 each. The Grammy Awards will air on CBS, February 8th, 2015.