Oscar Nominations 2015

Normally, this post is when I'd be doing backflips over awards season chatter, which is now my second-favorite part of the entertainment calendar, right after the best-of/worst-of lists that come at the end of the year. Not this year, though. This year has been pretty disappointing. I mean, the things that brought me the most joy were well-made superhero movies, which shouldn't be the cream of the crop. Still, the Oscar nominations are always interesting, so let's break out our fine-toothed combs, and take a look!


American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Generally, I'd want to go out and see as many of the Best Picture nominees as possible before the ceremony. That is emphatically not the case this year. Of these eight movies, I'm really only interested in five of them, four of which I've already seen. I'd still like to see Whiplash, but have absolutely zero interest in ever being in the same room as the jingoistic masturbation of patriotism in American Sniper or the schmoopy hagiographies of the tortured geniuses in The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.

Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel won the Golden Globes, which was nice to see, as they're both great movies. And wave hello to Selma up there, because you won't be seeing much of it on this list. There's a lot of chatter over whether the lack of nominations for Selma is more the fault of how it was publicized, how it treated LBJ, the casual racism of the Academy, or the whole-scale lack of opportunities for black actors and directors in the field of entertainment. Even if it got more recognition, though, I don't think it could overcome Boyhood, which is the likely (and deserving) winner.


Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
Michael Keaton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

So get used to a lot of pale faces, as every nominee in every acting category is white. There's a lot of internet chatter about which of these guys should have been jettisoned for David Oyelowo to get a nomination, but as I haven't seen four of these five movies, I'm not the one to ask. I'm hoping to catch Foxcatcher at some point, but although Carell is getting a lot of praise for his performance, I think this one's going to come down to Keaton or Redmayne. Though I found Birdman somewhat problematic, Keaton gave a great performance in it, so I'll toss my vote to him.


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

And for some nice symmetry, here we have five movies, of which I've seen one, and I'm hoping to catch one of the others (Two Days, One Night) at some point in the future. This one feels harder to call than Best Actor. Reese Witherspoon and Marion Cotillard have both won Oscars before, and if history is any judge, to win an additional Oscar, you either have to be a far-and-away frontrunner or just be Meryl Streep. Rosamund Pike had some early momentum, but that seems to be waning now. If I had to guess, I'd say that even though I haven't seen Still Alice, fourth time will be the charm for Julianne Moore.


Robert Duvall (The Judge)
Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
Edward Norton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Eesh. Well... Um... I could make an equally good case for Hawke, Norton, OR Simmons. I really liked Norton's performance in Birdman, but J.K. Simmons seems to be the man of the hour in this period leading up to the ceremony. It's a squeaker, but unless Boyhood rolls through and picks up a bag of awards for every category it's nominated in, I think Simmons is going to take it.


Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Laura Dern (Wild)
Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Emma Stone (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

OK, listen. I love Meryl Streep. Everyone loves Meryl Streep. But just last year's undeserved nomination for August: Osage County, she in no way belongs on the list this year. Into the Woods was...fine. And she was fine in it. But "fine" does not belong on a list of the five best performances of the year. Similarly, I like Emma Stone a lot, but she didn't contribute anything that interesting to Birdman. If there's any justice, Patricia Arquette will take this one in a walk, because she was absolutely incredible in Boyhood; I found myself more compelled by her character's arc than the protagonist's.


Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Linklater, please. Boyhood doesn't shine in every category (look down to the next category for a good example), but the directorial work that went into creating this movie is probably among the best in a decade. I can't make a cogent argument for anyone else taking this win.


Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Part of the reason Boyhood is such a great movie is that it successfully dramatizes an ordinary life. And ordinary lives are made up of uninteresting conversations and situations, so while it's a great movie overall, I don't believe it deserves an award for its script. That doesn't mean it won't win (I feel like a lot of voters will just check the Boyhood box on their ballots whenever they see one), but it's worth mentioning. Still, if people put some thought into this one, it's likely to come down to a fight between Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, both of which depend a lot more on fast-paced dialogue. Given my choice, I'd give it to Anderson and Guinness, but my guess is that this one is going to Birdman.


Jason Hall (American Sniper)
Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Normally, I have at least an inkling of what should win or what is going to win. I'm at sea on this one, though. I don't even know what to blindly guess, so let's go with...Whiplash.


Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

First of all, let's get this out of the way: It is possibly the greatest injustice of the year that The Lego Movie is not nominated here, and yes, I'm including the whole Selma debacle in that assessment. Not only should it have been nominated, it should have won. The idea that it doesn't stack up to The Boxtrolls is ludicrous. OK, now that that's out of the way, who's going to win? I haven't seen Song of the Sea yet, though I'm looking forward to it. How to Train Your Dragon 2 won a thoroughly-undeserved Golden Globe, so will it take the Oscar as well, or will it go to something more artistic (The Tale of Princess Kaguya) or something more commercially popular (Big Hero 6)? It's tough to say, but I'll take a stab and say that Big Hero 6 will win.


Wild Tales

This one's a head-scratcher as well. The foreign feature I've heard the most effusive praise about this year isn't on the nomination list. I'm not sure if it's an eligibility thing or what, but I was expecting to see Force Majeure here. I haven't seen the movie yet, but it's definitely on the list. Of the ones that actually appear here, Ida and Leviathan are the ones I've heard the most about, so it'll probably be one of those. Leviathan took the Golden Globe, so let's go with that.


Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski (Ida)
Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
Roger Deakins (Unbroken)

Oh, man. I know Deakins is due, but I really hope that The Grand Budapest Hotel wins this one. A lot of its many charms can be directly tied to how gorgeously it was shot. Though I enjoyed the method employed in Birdman to make things look like one continuous take, it just can't compete against the visual treat that Robert Yeoman delivered. Still, they may throw Production Design to that one and give Cinematography to Lubezki.


Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice)
Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods)
Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive (Maleficent)
Jacqueline Durran (Mr. Turner)

Hmm. I don't think the costumes in Mr. Turner or Inherent Vice are flashy enough to win this one. Colleen Atwood is usually a dependable bet, but this may be a good year to branch away from her, since the Witch was the only costume that really called for much creative design. If I got a vote, I'd give it to The Grand Budapest Hotel, so I'll hope my goodwill is enough to push it to a win.


The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

I imagine this may be where outer space gets a chance to shine, so I wouldn't count out Interstellar. But if we're talking deserving, The Grand Budapest Hotel is the clear frontrunner here.


Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Why isn't Life Itself on this list? This year is full of strange and sad omissions. Of the ones remaining, people seem to be talking about CitizenFour the most, so I'll give it my half-hearted support.


Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth

I have no earthly idea. Close your eyes and jab a finger at the screen.


American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Boyhood or get the fuck out.


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

I thought the effects in X-Men: Days of Future Past were fantastic, but my gut tells me this will either go to Guardians of the Galaxy or Interstellar. Guardians of the Galaxy was a huge blockbuster, and box office success often portends a win, so that gets my pick for now.


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

I guess Steve Carell's nose might be so impressive that Foxcatcher wins, but come on. Guardians of the Galaxy should easily score this win.


Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner)
Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything)

Desplat is competing against himself, so I suppose he's the one to bet on. I don't really have any other guess as to who the odds-on favorite is for this category.


“Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)
“Glory” (Selma)
“Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me)
“Lost Stars” (Begin Again)

This one will probably come down to sentiment (Selma) versus unabashed glee (The Lego Movie). I'd be thrilled if "Everything Is Awesome" wins, but the Academy are more of a staid crowd, notwithstanding an "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" here and there. Let's go with "Glory".


The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

I've only seen Feast, which was pretty adorable. I'm hoping to be able to catch a marathon of all the nominees at a local theater before the ceremony.


Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)
The Phone Call

Ditto here. I haven't seen any of these, so we'll see what the entertainment media puts their collective spotlight on.


American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Have you got your copy of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony ready to go? Great! Go ahead and hit play! No-bo-dy caaaaaaaaaares. No-bo-dy caaaaaaaaaares....


American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Nobody caaaaaaaaaares-Nobody caaaaaaaaaares-Nobody caaaaaaaaaares.... Nobody caaaaaaaaaares-Nobody caaaaaaaaaares-Nobody caaaaaaaaaares.... Nobody cares! Nobody cares! Nobody fuuuuuckk-iiiiiiing caaaaaaaaares!


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