I love the Oscars, even those years when I cannot stand the Academy. Studying up on the awards race is one of my favorite pastimes, and I would like to think I’m a good predictor of how this one is going to go. Here is my take.
Will Win: “Boyhood”
The fact that it was filmed over twelve years is a remarkable effort of film making, and I can’t see the Academy passing up the chance to reward the film for this feat alone.
Should Win: “Selma”
However, there is no picture more powerful or timely than Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.” I was absolutely floored. “Selma” is going to be a film we teach and talk about years from now, and isn’t that ultimately the kind of film we should be recognizing?
Consider the Following: “A Most Violent Year”
The National Board of Review announced it as its Best Film of Year, and yet no Oscar love was given to it, which, frankly, is a damn shame. Director J.C. Chandor’s third feature length film packs the frame with tension and atmosphere, topped off with killer dual performances from Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. At the very least, it deserves a spot to battle it out with the other nominees.
Will Win: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Like I said above, Linklater managed to pull off something that hasn’t been done like this before on film. That’s more than enough to nab this prize.
Should Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Birdman should have been a gimmick, but under Iñárritu’s masterful hands it’s, to quote the film, “a big beautiful candle burning at both ends.” It’s big. It’s grandiose. It’s amazing. Iñárritu isn’t afraid to completely commit to his vision, combining it all into one big spectacular showcase.
Consider the Following: Ava DuVernay, “Selma”
DuVernay takes a big risk by choosing to focus on only one small but pivotal moment in Dr. King’s life, but she pulls it off, weaving together an amazing ensemble of memorable supporting performances and cameos, grounded by David Oyelowo’s magnificent starring role. The acting is amazing. The film is beautiful. DuVernay deserves it.
Will and Should Win: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Keaton is a revelation. It’s his first time ever being a nominee; it’s his big comeback role, and he owns every minute of it. Not to mention the fact that he gets to poke fun at his own previous film career. On Sunday night, he is going to fly away with that statuette in hand. My money is on him.
Consider the Following: Oscar Isaac, “A Most Violent Year”
Where is Oscar’s Oscar love? Isaac manages to top his equally snubbed performance from 2013’s “Inside Llewyn Davis” as a respectable immigrant business owner trying to expand his opportunities in America without becoming a gangster. He may not have the over-the-top performance that the Academy tends to go for, but his wonderfully restrained work deserves some attention too.
Will Win: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Julianne Moore has been long overdue for an Oscar. This is common knowledge amongst passionate film fans. Moore broke the hearts of every major critics association this year in “Still Alice,” and I see no reason for her to not go home empty-handed on Oscar night.
Should Win: Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
If I had my way though, it would be Rosamund Pike. She created one of the most complex, layered, and scariest characters to appear on our screens in a long time. It takes a lot of talent to play a complete psychopath, and Pike manages to do it so subtly that one has to really take a close look in order to see those gears turning in her brain. She really is Amazing Amy.
Consider the Following: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Belle” AND “Beyond the Lights”
British import Gugu Mbatha-Raw gave us not one but TWO wonderful breakout performances in this year’s period piece “Belle” and show business drama, romance “Beyond the Lights.” What more does she have to do to get some recognition? Pay attention to her. She is going places.
Best Supporting Actor
Will and Should Win: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Are there other nominees in this category? I honestly had no idea. All I can see is J.K. Simmons. He is every terrifying teacher you’ve ever met. He blows everyone else out of the water. There is no competition in this race.
Consider the Following: J.K. Simmons’ finely tuned biceps in “Whiplash.”
Seriously, just consider them.
Best Supporting Actress
Will and Should Win: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Arquette is the shining light of Boyhood as its most memorable character: the single mother to the titular boy. The job of a supporting player is not to carry the film, but help share the load, and she steals every scene she’s in. I found myself waiting for her to come back every time she wasn’t in the frame.
Consider the Following: Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”
Tilda Swinton is one of the most eccentric and interesting character actors in this business, and in “Snowpiercer” she completely commands the room. Not only that, she’s almost completely unrecognizable here. Is there really anything she can’t do? The fact that she won’t be around on Oscar night is a travesty.
Will and Should Win: “Citizenfour”
Laura Poitras’s documentary is a timely and thrilling fly-on-the-wall look at one of the most important events in recent American history. To see it all unfold in real time like you would in a thriller popcorn flick is the chance of a lifetime. “Citizenfour” is maybe the most important film you’ll see all year.
Consider the Following: Jodorowsky’s “Dune”
It’s a fact that the Academy LOVES movies about show business. Which makes its snub of this entertaining portrait of the most influential sci-fi movies never made so strange. Jodorowsky’s interviews alone are more than worth the watch and the consideration.
Best Foreign-Language Film
Will Win: “Ida,” Poland
Possible Upset: “Leviathan,” Russia
Every frame of “Ida” is a painting. It’s hauntingly beautiful and will linger in your mind long after the movie ends. Admittedly, as they haven’t come around to these parts yet, I haven’t seen the other nominees, so if I had to go with a possible upset in this category my best bet would be Russia’s “Leviathan.”
Consider the Following: “Force Majeure,” Sweden
Don’t go see it with your significant other. Or do, if that’s what you’re into. Force Majeure forces (no pun intended) us to look at the tiniest of interactions between others and ourselves. Can a split-second impulse reaction have some deeper hidden meaning? Do we really know how the person we love (or think we love) is going to react in a disaster? Force Majeure is equal parts awkward and hilarious. It also has a crying scene for the ages. Don’t miss it.
Cover photo credit: oscars.com