Friday, February 20, 2015

Oscar Predictions: The rest for 2015

Last time on Sir Critic's Oscar predictions, I forecasted the techs. Today, on a very special Sir Critic, I move up the latter to ... well, to all the others.

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


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

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Julianne Moore

Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”

WILL WIN: Arquette

I've bunched three of the four acting categories together because three of the four are all but slam dunks. If Arquette, Moore and Simmons don't win their categories, the stock of oxygen tank manufacturers will rise sharply.

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

WILL WIN: This is a very, very, very close race between Keaton and Redmaye. Redmayne won the SAG, Keaton is a respected veteran making a hell of a comeback. But I tip to Redmayne, because his is the sort of showy, transformative performance that often wins. 

Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6” Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
“The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
“Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
“The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Like the Toy Story sequels, Dragon 2 doesn't just repeat a successful formula but expands and enriches the story. Big Hero 6 could win here too, but Dragon has a stronger emotional core. 

Adapted Screenplay
“American Sniper” Written by Jason Hall
“The Imitation Game” Written by Graham Moore
“Inherent Vice” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Theory of Everything” Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
“Whiplash” Written by Damien Chazelle

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Whiplash - partly because goofy Academy rules cheated it and called it adapted when it was really original. And partly because it plays mind games that dance inside your head for days. 

Could win: Imitation Game is the only real threat, and I don't sense enough passion behind it. As well done as it is, it's almost too traditional. Whiplash is much more daring. 

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

WILL WIN: This is a tight three-way race, but I believe Grand Budapest comes out ahead here because this category has a history of awarding the auteur who probably won't win the Best Director Prize.
COULD WIN: Birdman or Boyhood could easily take it. This one's a tough call.  
SHOULD WIN: Boyhood. If you believe it's only real trick is in how it was assembled, you aren't paying attention. 

Documentary Feature
“CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
“Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
“Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
“The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
“Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

WILL WIN: CitzenFour's footage of Edward Snowden, just after he opened Pandora's box of secrets,  is just too startling to be ignored. 

Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
“Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
“Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
“The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
“White Earth” J. Christian Jensen

WILL WIN: I'm handicapped on the shorts this year, having only seen the Animated block. So when in doubt, go with HBO. That's Crisis Hotline. 

Foreign Language Film
“Ida” Poland
“Leviathan” Russia
“Tangerines” Estonia
“Timbuktu” Mauritania
“Wild Tales” Argentina

WILL WIN: The film with other nominations tends to win. Ida.  

Animated Short Film
“The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
“The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
“Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
“Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
“A Single Life” Joris Oprins

WILL WIN: "The Bigger Picture" seems to be getting most of the attention, though it was actually my least favorite of the batch. 
SHOULD WIN: The charming, poignant, "Dam Keeper," about an unlikely friendship between a pig and a fox. 

Live Action Short Film
“Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
“Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
“Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
“Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
“The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

SHOULD WIN: Toss-up. The Phone Call, if only because it has recognizable faces in former winner/nominee Jim Broadbent and Sally Hawkins.  

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

“The Imitation Game” Morten Tyldum

WILL WIN: This is a race between the auteur who pulled off a hell of a visual stunt (Inarritu) and the auteur who pulled off a one-of-a-kind filmmaking feat. The directing category tends toward the strongly visual, e.g. Gravity and Life of Pi. So it shall be with Birdman. 

SHOULD WIN: Linklater

Best Picture
“American Sniper” 
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” 
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Jeremy Dawson, Producers
“The Imitation Game” Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers
“Selma” Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
“The Theory of Everything” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers
“Whiplash” Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers

WILL/SHOULD WIN: This is a race between the auteur who pulled off a hell of a visual stunt (Inarritu) and the auteur who pulled off a one-of-a-kind filmmaking feat. But when it comes to the battle between the head and the heart, the heart tends to win. (See The King's Speech vs. The Social Network). Boyhood is all heart. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Oscar Predictions 2015: The Techs (Sound and Vision)

We'll kick off the predictions this year by doing the limbo and going below the line with the craft categories. And this year, I'll list the dark horse if I think there is one. That way, I look a lot more savvy than I actually am.

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


This is a frighteningly easy call. Birdman's "One-take" camerawork dominated ever since it was first seen. Perennial beloved nominee Deakins will just have to keep waiting.

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

Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
“Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Grand Budapest Hotel
DARK HORSE: Into the Woods (costumes)

There's a reason I lumped Costume and Production Design together. Grand Budapest Hotel is easily going to win both. Wes Anderson's movies are always designed to the Nth degre, and Budapest boasts some of the most intricate designs of all.

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


This one is a fairly close race between Whiplash and Boyhood. Boyhood's elegant weaving of a 12-year story filmed piecemeal is truly impressive for the way it shows the passage of time without any obvious signposts. But when in doubt, go the Best Picture nominee with the most visible editing: That's Whiplash, which so expertly builds tension that watching the movie jangles the nerves, even without J.K. Simmons' formidable presence. 

Makeup and Hairstyling
“Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

WILL WIN: Grand Budpest
SHOULD WIN/DARK HORSE: Guardians of the Galaxy.

This award often goes to the Most Makeup, which would be Guardians of the Galaxy. On the other hand, that didn't exactly help the Hobbit and Harry Potter films when they made this race. So I'm betting Budapest gets this win to go along with its Set and Costume Awards. Again, designed to the Nth degree.

Original Score
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson

WILL WIN: Theory of Everything
SHOULD WIN: Grand Budapest Hotel

Conventional wisdom may have it that the prolific Desplat will finally get his due, but lush and melodramatic often tends to win the day here. That's Theory of Everything.

Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from “Selma”
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

SHOULD WIN/DARK HORSE:   Everything is Awesome

It's not inconceivable that Everything is Awesome could win here, since many people were aghast that The LEGO Movie didn't score an animated film nomination. And it IS the best use of a song within the actual movie. (I grow weary of slapping a song on the end credits and having that be the nominee, as is the case with Selma's admittedly stirring song.) But since Selma missed out on a lot of big nominations, and because Glory has picked up some precursor awards, that wins.

Sound Editing
“American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
“Interstellar” Richard King
“Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

Sound Mixing
“American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
“Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
“Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
“Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

WILL WIN: American Sniper takes both of these, as war films often do. Helps that the film is a tremendous hit. I imagine most voters will look at their ballots and say, "Sound? American Sniper for both."
SHOULD WIN: Interstellar. I don't buy into the line of a muddled mix drowning out the dialogue. I thought it was an artful mix that amplified the emotions of the scene, and sometimes that entails disorientation and not being quite sure of what you heard.

Visual Effects
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
“Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

WILL/SHOULD WIN: Interstellar is a movie that has gone severely underappreciated in its time - but not when it comes to its effects.