Generation Film’s Official 2015 Oscar Ballot for the 87th Academy Awards (Final Update)

Come this Sunday the long, drawn out Award season shall come to a nail-biting close as we finally learn the choices the Academy has chosen for their prestigious and usually predictable handing out of self-congratulatory trophies. Even though the honor of what is deemed Best Picture or who is considered Best Actor or Director of a particular year doesn’t really matter it’s always a bit of fun to theorize, guess, or even compete with each other on our tactical choices, personal biases, and particular favorites relating to the films released in the last year. Below will be my official ballot with the choices I’m officially selecting for ballot competition that will be accompanied by some analysis of my choice, some comments on snubs, and a separation of “Who Will Win” the award versus my personal biases of “Who Should Win” the award. Also this means if you want to compete with my choices feel free to provide your own ballot choices in the comments section. I’ll offer again this year that those who submit their ballots and end up beating me in the competition shall receive a free Gold Ticket to an AMC that can be used on any film of your choosing whenever you’d like to use it. Alright, shall we begin?

birdman_a (1)Best Picture

And the 8 out of potentially 10 nominees are…

American Sniper

Birdman, Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Who Will Win: Birdman; Who Should Win: Birdman or The Grand Budapest Hotel or Whiplash

Now while this category is usually easy to predict based on previous Award accolades this year it’s still an incredibly close and still up in the air race between Alejandro González Iñárritu’s critique of Hollywood and the cult of celebrity in Birdman, Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance and Richard Linklater’s twelve year coming-of-age epic Boyhood. Historically speaking the real momentum is in Birdman‘s favor having acquired the trifecta of Guild prizes with the Screen Actor’s Guild Ensemble Award (SAG), the Best Picture recognition from the Producer’s Guild (PGA), and the coveted Best Director prize for Alejandro González Iñárritu at the Director’s Guild (DGA). However, Boyhood has its own momentum with winning both Best Picture and Director at the Golden Globes as well as the same two prizes from the British Academy at the BAFTAs. It’s hard to say which voters will have the most sway on this decision, but since everyone votes on the Best Picture prize from all guilds it seems the towering influence is in Birdman‘s corner and rightly so. Even though I’m an avid defender of Boyhood as being something far more poignant than being labeled a gimmick I still feel the prize should be given to any film that showcases a finer mastery of all the arts that go into a film, which for me would include a short list of Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Whiplash. These films have showcased a mastery of cinematography, editing, set design, and invoking a palpable message guided by artistry while Boyhood meanders in its experience never striking as strong an emotional or artistically resonating chord with audiences. It’s a grand piece of time focused cinema that has nostalgia and essence to enhance its literal coming-of-age plot, but it doesn’t approach the potent allegory or the all encompassing artistry of Birdman. It’s really a 50/50 decision though when it comes to selecting the right film so feel free to choose either Birdman or Boyhood and we’ll all feel less stressed once they finally announce the ultimate winner this Sunday.

richard.linklater.insideBest Director (Updated)

And the nominees are…

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Who Will Win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood); Who Should Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) or Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Again this decision is way up in the air this year mostly because the momentum is going in varying directions whether you’re looking at the Director’s Guild prize that went to Alejandro González Iñárritu or the Golden Globe/BAFTA winnings for Richard Linklater. Ultimately your choice will probably coincide with your Best Picture guess since they seem to be linked together in every separate Awards ceremony though it’s always possible that Director could go for one movie and Picture go to another. There’s also the rare possibility that there could be a split vote and an unsuspecting third party, aka Wes Anderson, sneaks into the winners circle though it’s incredibly unlikely. DGA is usually the strongest indicator for a Best Director win and that’s what I’m basing my decision off of rather than Richard Linklater’s strong BAFTA prize that could very well translate into a Best Director win. This is another nail-biter finish category which means this is actually a rather exciting year to watch the Awards unfold since it’s been rather predictable the last couple of years. To finish this thought process I’d like to deviate a bit to discuss how ridiculous it was that Bennett Miller grabbed a nomination for his laborious, overly ponderous, and self-indulgent direction for Foxcatcher, a film that didn’t even grab a Best Picture nomination. That spot could have been open for a couple far more deserving up and coming directors including the great direction executed in the captured civil rights moment piece Selma by Ava DuVernay or in the hold your breath kinetic energy of Whiplash accomplished by the young Damien Chazelle. It’s a shame neither of these two got the recognition they actually deserved rather than the overly melancholic style of Miller or the standard British biopic feel from Morten Tyldum in The Imitation Game (a fine film but nothing extraordinary or boundary pushing).

UPDATE: My initial prediction above was for Alejandro González Iñárritu to win based on his DGA win. However, I’m thinking more and more that this will be another split year with Birdman winning Best Picture based on those merits and Boyhood winning on its directorial merits of being the conceptual achievement that it is from the mind, dedication, and resilience of Richard Linklater himself. Splitting Best Picture and Best Director might be ill advised at this point, but go for broke is the motto of any ballot competition/prediction. Plus, it seems the Independent Spirit Awards did just this today.

theoryofeverything2Best Actor

And the nominees are…

Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

Who Will Win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything); Who Should Win: Michael Keaton (Birdman) or Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner) or Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

All of the acting categories are pretty set this year since every single favorite has gone to win all of the expected awards and it’s no different for Best Actor favorite Eddie Redmayne who has collected the Golden Globe, the SAG, and the BAFTA for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. It’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll take home the prize for his laudable yet somewhat standard performance in what could be deemed an incredibly lackluster film which actually heightens everyone’s perception of his quality performance because everything around him is substandard and doesn’t take away from his work. There’s a slim chance that Michael Keaton could end up surprising for the Best Actor prize, but as the Award season has unfolded it just has seemed that the odds are increasingly in Eddie Redmayne’s favor. And don’t get me wrong because it’s a well deserved nomination since he had to be able to portray different stages of his physical degradation multiple times a day for varying scenes and his authentic capturing of Hawking’s charm as a student before his ailment resonates throughout the film even when speaking and movement are absent. However, it just seems this credible performance on equal footing of Daniel Day-Lewis in My Left Foot was able to capture the acting prize based on being the sole feature of an otherwise lackluster film that showcased standard dialogue, amateurish direction, and obvious manipulation techniques most notably through score. Keaton is the only other nominee on the list that definitely deserves the Award and his amazingly layered performance clearly got lost in the onslaught of technical achievement that was around him in Birdman. What’s so astonishing about his performance is that it’s comedic, dramatic, emotional, and riveting without taking away from the whole experience that is Birdman as he compliments every shot and sequence that is being masterfully executed around him. Keaton’s part of the piece that is Birdman and unfortunately for him he’s being equated in that analysis for the Best Actor award. That’s how a decent amount of these contenders made it into the field, most notably Bradley Cooper for being quite stunning in a hollow, repetitively episodic, and stilted character study of a film while Steve Carell surprised us with his ability to creep us out in an equally lackluster film. Had the true talents of acting been considered then Cannes winner Timothy Spall would be up for his completely involving performance as JMW Turner and Jake Gyllenhaal would be granted recognition for his unsettling departure into pure sociopathy.

stillalice2Best Actress

And the nominees are…

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Who Will Win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice); Who Should Win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice) or Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) or Anne Dorval (Mommy)

Let’s first applaud the Academy for not stepping into the Jennifer Aniston trap that clearly conned most of the Awards branches from the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards. Once you’ve seen the uninspired Hallmark drama known as Cake you’d soon realize that Aniston’s adequate performance was merely a great publicity campaign that got out of hand since she clearly didn’t deserve a nomination even over others who didn’t make it from Hilary Swank in The Homesman, Amy Adams in Big Eyes, or Anne Dorval in Mommy. Every woman who is up in this category rightly deserves the recognition for their powerful performances even though it’s another set category with Julianne Moore undoubtedly taking home the prize and it’s a well deserved one at that. Her portrayal of early set Alzheimer’s was an emotionally captivating depiction of memory loss and captures every devastating setback with grace. While I have some biased preferences for Essie Davis in the artistic horror film The Badabook and Anne Dorval in Xavier Dolan’s futuristic societal contemplation on child rearing it’s futile to argue their absence since Moore is the clear winner in both career recognition and a truly authentic performance that trumps all others this Award season.

Whiplash-7559.cr2Best Supporting Actor

And the nominees are…

Robert Duvall (The Judge)

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

Edward Norton (Birdman)

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

J.K. Simmons  (Whiplash)

Who Will Win: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash); Who Should Win: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) or Edward Norton (Birdman)

Another set category is the Best Supporting Actor race with longtime character actor J.K. Simmons finally obtaining some well deserved recognition not only for his career as a stunning and consistent actor but also for an uninhibited embodiment of a corporal punishment professor in Damien Chazelle’s enthralling Whiplash. It’s almost unfair when witnessing Simmons ability to mix in Machiavellian control techniques with occasional outbursts of pointed vulgarity in his all encompassing role as Professor Fletcher because no other actor this year came close to capturing his unleashed fortitude. The only contender that comes mildly close to even being in competition with the mighty Simmons is Edward Norton’s semi-meta embodiment of a fictional version of himself in Birdman. This won’t be a make or break category this year because everyone should be putting down J.K. Simmons name. Just a side note on the rest of the nominees: all of them are greatly deserving of their recognitions except for Robert Duvall who was fine in his performance in The Judge but was probably the only good thing about the entire hackneyed experience. Really Josh Brolin got robbed of a nomination in Inherent Vice because of the Academy voting worlds preference for the old timers who still do quality work. Not that it matters in the long run since this is Simmons award to take home.

boyhood_hires_3Best Supporting Actress

And the nominees are…

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Laura Dern (Wild)

Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

Emma Stone (Birdman)

Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Who Will Win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood); Who Should Win: Emma Stone (Birdman) or Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) or Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer) or anyone else really

This is the one set category that I have an infinite amount of complaints about relating to the assumed win of Patricia Arquette for a good performance in Boyhood that while consistent and appropriate for the film was by far nowhere close to being the Best Supporting actress role this year. Even against the four main contenders in the listed category she doesn’t even deserve the award with even momentary consideration because all of them showcased emotive talent and lasting performance memory far more than Arquette approached in Boyhood. That isn’t even to mention the absence of other talents who also deserve recognition over her on the nomination front, including the Lady Macbeth mob performance of Jessica Chastain in J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year (a film that got snubbed in numerous categories), Tilda Swinton in Bong Joo-ho’s science-fiction as class warfare film Snowpiercer, or even the wonderful Carrie Coon in David Fincher’s now underappreciated Gone Girl. Arquette was one of the least inspiring performances though in the experience of what Boyhood is I understand her placement in the running, but her win is merely a recognition of her career and dedication to the project and nothing more. If she wins this award for that reason than it’s completely unfair that Ethan Hawke was overlooked for his equal dedication, resilience, and complimentary performance for the Best Supporting Actor category. Put her down as a sure win but she definitely isn’t the for sure winner by any means.

grandbudapestBest Original Screenplay

And the nominees are…

Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

Birdman, Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)

Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness)

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness); Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness)

This is practically another for sure win in this category for Wes Anderson’s whimsical reflection on generational storytelling known as The Grand Budapest Hotel with some minor threat coming from the camp of Birdman considering its momentum in other numerous categories in the Awards season. However, the Writer’s Guild of America (WGA) just awarded The Grand Budapest Hotel with Best Original Screenplay and that most likely translates into a for sure Academy Award win, especially with other awards such as the BAFTA in its corner. It’s a category of deserved nominations, minus E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman’s completely fictitious and shallow character study contained in Foxcatcher. That spot could have gone to far more deserving scripts from Mike Leigh’s improvised character study Mr. Turner to J.C. Chandor’s thoughtful period piece A Most Violent Year. Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler was a huge surprise for nabbing a spot in this category but it’s a well deserved nomination. All in all there are some fine Original Screenplays up for the Award but really only Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness’ The Grand Budapest Hotel should be the one taking home the prize.

The Imitation Game Movie New Pic (2)Best Adapted Screenplay

And the nominees are…

American Sniper (Jason Hall)

The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)

Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)

The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten)

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

Who Will Win: The Imitation Game (Graham Moore); Who Should Win: Whiplash (Damien Chazelle) or Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Since Graham Moore’s script adaptation for Andrew Hodges’ book “Alan Turing: The Enigma” just received the WGA for Best Adapted Screenplay it’s quite likely that it’s the film to take home the Best Adapted Screenplay award. All of the other films have certain weaknesses in either writing, perception, or just basic comprehension to allow them to surpass the efficiently written even if mildly standard screenplay for The Imitation Game. Actor Jason Hall’s American Sniper is too controversial, Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash is too confusing on whether it’s Original or Adapted, while Paul Thomas Anderson’s dogmatic adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice is just too strange, elusive, and ambiguous for most Academy members to understand let alone seek out to actually watch it. The Imitation Game is the safe and obvious choice for Adapted Screenplay mostly because it’s a film that plays to audience’s comfort levels in a clearly made for Academy Awards film. If it were up to me though I would have gone with the Award to Damien Chazelle’s brilliantly layered and wonderfully thought out screenplay for Whiplash or even Paul Thomas Anderson’s authentic and accurate adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s gloriously enigmatic work in Inherent Vice. Sometimes the safest choice is the obvious choice and that’s the reality for Best Adapted Screenplay this year.

How-to-Train-Your-Dragon-2-post-2Best Animated Feature

And the nominees are…

Big Hero 6 (Chris Williams, Don Hall, Roy Conli)

The Boxtrolls (Travis Knight, Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois, Bonnie Arnold)

Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, Paul Young)

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata, Yoshiaki Nishimura)

Who Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois, Bonnie Arnold); Who Should Win: Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, Paul Young)

With what would have been the favorite The LEGO Movie now out of the  running it’s an almost free for all for the Best Animated Feature Award. It seems likely that the Golden Globe winner How to Train Your Dragon 2 will move into the assumed victory circle now though it’s entirely likely that Disney’s Big Hero 6 could make a potential upset as the winner. Really it’s either one of the big Animated giants victory in this category as DreamWorks and Disney battle for the spot that should actually go to some of the more deserving contenders in animated artistry, namely Ireland’s beautiful Song of the Sea with the exquisite stop motion animation of The Boxtrolls close behind. Neither of these two worthy winners will actually get the prize because it’s quite likely that most Academy members avoided seeing them and stuck with the prominent choices of basic animation entertainment (this is more common than you’d hope for voting members of art). Most of the previous awards have gone to Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s The LEGO Movie which in my opinion didn’t really deserve the Award either but a nomination would definitely have been warranted. All those The LEGO Movie fans will be grinding their teeth as they’re filling out their ballots.

ida1Best Foreign Language Film

And the nominees are…

Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski-Poland)

Leviathan (Andrey Zvyagintsev-Russia)

Tangerines (Zaza Urushadze-Georgia)

Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissaako-France)

Wild Tales (Damián Szifrón-Argentina)

Who Will Win: Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski-Poland); Who Should Win: Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski-Poland)

The Best Foreign Film category is always difficult to guess mostly because split votes happen often and an unassuming victor finds themselves in the winners circle blowing every prediction out of the water. However, the immensely beautiful and heartwarming film from Poland entitled Ida seems as though it’s the for sure candidate to walk away with the prize. There are assumptions that Ida and Timbuktu might split a good amount of votes and allow Argentina’s Wild Tales to slip through the cracks but it’s an unlikely scenario. Ida with it’s gorgeous black & white cinematography (also up for an Academy Award) plus its challenging themes relating to identity, religion, and sexuality are all Academy Award darling subject matter which makes it a suitable and deserving pick for Best Foreign Feature. If you aren’t comfortable picking what is the safe and obvious choice in this category you better put down Wild Tales because that’s the only other option that could run away with this Award against all sensible predictions.

2_citizenfourBest Documentary Feature

And the nominees are…

Citizenfour (Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutsky)

Finding Vivian Maier (John Maloof, Charlie Siskel)

Last Days in Vietnam (Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester)

The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders, Lelia Wanick Salgado, David Rosier)

Virunga (Orlando von Einseidel, Joanna Natasegara)

Who Will Win: Citizenfour (Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutsky); Who Should Win: Finding Vivian Maier (John Maloof, Charlie Siskel)

It will be interesting to see how the Best Documentary Feature category unfolds because as of right now the favorite to win is the Snowden documentary Citizenfour with only a minor potential upset coming from the high advertising camp of Virunga. The name of the game is politics and social issues within this category so either of those two would be likely candidates to take home the award. However, my bias for photography and personal stories has me wishing that the beautifully told Finding Vivian Maier might pull off a deserving upset in this category since it’s an intimate and well constructed documentary that’s well deserving of the Academy Award. Most of my favorite documentaries throughout this past year from Jodorowsky’s Dune to Tales of the Grim Sleeper all got passed up for even a nomination so there isn’t much for me to root for here (though I did also really enjoy Wim Wenders documentary The Salt of the Earth). This is most likely Citizenfour‘s victory and one of the so-called safe bet categories at this year’s Academy Awards.

birdman_clip_pulls_051514-LUT.00070587.tifBest Cinematography

And the nominees are…

Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)

Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski)

Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)

Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

Who Will Win: Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki); Who Should Win: Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Though he may have won last year for his astounding visual work for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity it looks like Emmanuel Lubezki will pull off another landslide win for his astounding, single cut illusion cinematography in Birdman. Even though most of these films were astoundingly shot (minus the almost odd nomination of Unbroken simply because now twelve time nominee Roger Deakins was behind the camera) none of them match the eloquence, the planning, and the artistry of Lubezki’s work. Most of these other nominees are well deserved in their recognition though, especially the picturesque cinematography of Dick Pope for Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner and the stunning black & white imagery of Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida. Now after winning the Cinematographer’s Guild prize for Best Cinematography it’s a for sure win for Emmanuel Lubezki so make sure to not deviate from that touted line in this category.

Whiplash-Teller and Simmons-DrumsBest Film Editing

And the nominees are…

American Sniper (Gary D. Roach)

Boyhood (Sandra Adair)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)

The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)

Whiplash (Tom Cross)

Who Will Win: Whiplash (Tom Cross); Who Should Win: Whiplash (Tom Cross) or Birdman (Douglas Crise)

This is going to be an interesting category to see unfold mostly because the Editor’s Guild awarded Birdman with its yearly accolade and it isn’t even up for consideration at the Academy Awards. Really it’s going to come down to two choices, the twelve year organization and editing process that went into the coming-of-age film Boyhood or the Full Metal Jazz Band Sundance project Whiplash. My personal bias is influencing my decision that Whiplash will win the award mostly because editing was a key attribute in experiencing the story, the tension, and the energy that is Damien Chazelle’s investing drum drama. Of course the process in keeping a film that was shot over the span of twelve years organized, consistent, and paced well is a difficult task in its own right which means that Boyhood could very well win this award. Though a great deal of experts are putting Boyhood down my gut is telling me this will go in the BAFTA direction and give newcomer Tom Cross a deserved win for Whiplash. This is one of my riskier picks along with Best Original Score so if you want to deviate strongly from my list this would be a category to stay safe in.

the-grand-budapest-hotel-image-5Best Production Design

And the nominees are…

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen- Production Design; Anna Pinnock- Set Decoration)

The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic- Production Design; Tatiana Macdonald- Set Decoration)

Interstellar (Nathan Crowley- Production Design; Garry Fettis- Set Decoration)

Into the Woods (Dennis Gassner- Production Design; Anna Pinnock- Set Decoration)

Mr. Turner (Suzie Davis- Production Design; Charlotte Watts- Set Decoration)

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen- Production Design; Anna Pinnock- Set Decoration); Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen- Production Design; Anna Pinnock- Set Decoration)

Just looking at the elegant, detailed, and colorful designs and decorations of The Grand Budapest Hotel immediately invokes a reaction that this is Award worthy work. Of course the other nominees, especially the other Period Pieces from The Imitation Game and Mr. Turner all have their own elaborate detail and strengths, but nothing really matches the strong work from Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock in The Grand Budapest Hotel. They just acquired the Production Design award from their own particular guild for Period Design and so it looks as though the momentum is in their favor. This is another safe bet category.

The Grand Budapest Hotel - 64th Berlin Film FestivalBest Costume Design

And the nominees are…

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)

Inherent Vice (Mark Bridges)

Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)

Maleficent (Ann B. Sheppard)

Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero); Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)

Another definite win in the favor of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel which is sort of set to win the most amount of Awards this year in total number. It’s almost as if we’re talking about the wrong two films to go on and definitely win Best Picture when clearly Anderson’s film as a whole features far more in artistic strength in all separate categories as compared to its other Best Picture contenders. Period pieces usually win this award and that is one aspect that’s in Costume Designer Milena Canonero’s corner, but the costumes are also bright, colorful, and distinctive beyond embodying a particular time and place. This is another definite win on behalf of The Grand Budapest Hotel and certainly will be a good one for your own ballots to pick.

4Best Make Up & Hair

And the nominees are…

Foxcatcher (Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier)

Guardians of the Galaxy (Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White)

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier); Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier)

Now this category might not exactly go in the favor of Wes Anderson’s latest whimsical adventure tale. Rumors are that Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy might be able to take this one away from the assumed winner of The Grand Budapest Hotel even if the latter did walk away with previous Make Up & Hair Awards, including the BAFTA. Clearly the worst choice would be to pick Foxcatcher so avoid it at all costs and pick one of the movies that start with a G. Be advised that it’s probably going to go in The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s favor.

the-grand-budapest-hotel-edward-norton-636-380Best Original Score

And the nominees are…

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)

The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)

Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)

Mr. Turner (Gary Yershon)

The Theory of Everything (Johan Johannsson)

Who Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat); Who Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)

Alright I’ll admit this isn’t the safest of choices for this Academy Awards, especially with Johan Johannson’s score for The Theory of Everything winning the Golden Globe early on in Awards season making it prominent choice on voters minds. However, Alexandre Desplat is not only up for The Grand Budapest Hotel because he’s also up for his score for The Imitation Game. Normally this might mean that his consideration would be split and a third party would emerge victorious, but I believe that this means people will notice his name more when assessing the more deserving score which is specifically the one he crafted for The Grand Budapest Hotel. The safest bet might be to go with The Theory of Everything but my hope is that this risky choice will result in me getting one correct that most others will miss. However, the most likely result is me with egg on my face.

selmaBest Original Song

And the nominees are…

“Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie– Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson

“Glory” from Selma– Music and Lyric by John Legend and Common

“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights– Music and Lyric Diane Warren

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me– Music and Lyric Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond

“Lost Stars” from Begin Again– Music and Lyric Gregg Alexander Danielle Brisebois

Who Will Win: “Glory” from Selma– Music and Lyric by John Legend and Common; Who Should Win: “Glory” from Selma– Music and Lyric by John Legend and Common

This will be Selma‘s consolation prize for not really getting anything else, including its absence from most other categories from Director to Cinematography to Costume Design. I guess it’s a well deserved award over the unbearably annoying repetition theme from The LEGO Movie (Everything isn’t awesome when you have this song playing over and over and over and over…). I personally found the original songs and music from Begin Again to be rather charming, but understand that it isn’t socially conscious or self-aware enough to win an Academy Award because that’s clearly the root John Legend and Common took with their song “Glory.” Selma might not get the Best Picture award that they were hoping for when they rushed its release date but it definitely will walk away with Best Song.

bradley-cooper-american-sniper-600x400Best Sound Editing

And the nominees are…

American Sniper (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman)

Birdman, Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Martin Hernandez, Aaron Glascock)

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Brent Burge, Jason Canovas)

Interstellar (Richard King)

Unbroken (Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro)

Who Will Win: American Sniper (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman); Who Should Win: Interstellar (Richard King) or Birdman, Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Martin Hernandez, Aaron Glascock)

Sound Editing is the process of putting all those pieces of sound together in  Post-Production so anything that’s incredibly loud usually makes the cut for the winner’s circle. War films, fantasy films, or science-fiction epics are the usual frontrunners in this category and this year is no different with American Sniper, Interstellar, and Unbroken making up the majority of the nominees. While my preference is for the subtle sound artistry of Birdman or even the science-fiction immersion that was Interstellar (a film I did not love as a whole but could appreciate some of its highly refined technical elements) it seems more than likely that Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper will walk away with this consolation prize for being nominated in eight categories. It’s not exactly well deserved, but it’s hard not to see the reasoning behind such a pick. It’s still quite possible that Interstellar could win this award, but my gut is telling me the voters will go in the direction of what’s obvious in sound editing: explosions, gunshots, and all out warfare.

whiplashBest Sound Mixing

And the nominees are…

American Sniper (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin)

Birdman, Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga)

Interstellar (Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten)

Unbroken (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee)

Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Whomas Curley)

Who Will Win: Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Whomas Curley); Who Should Win: Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Whomas Curley)

Sound Mixing is an entirely different process that involves the live capturing of sound for editing purposes and so the winner of Sound Editing doesn’t necessarily match up with the winner of Sound Mixing (though it helps). My pick of Whiplash to win this category isn’t necessarily risky, but it isn’t exactly a safe bet either. It’s a sort of up in the air category with both American Sniper or Interstellar pulling off a win. My reasoning, however, is that the drumming process and editing to make it believable that Mr. Miles Teller was continuously playing the drums was an immense amount of work both in sound and visual editing. Capturing the actual drum hits and sound in order to create the illusion of continuous play was an ambitious and essential task in order to portray the events that occur in Whiplash. It’s an astounding feat of visual trickery that is aided by the process of Sound Mixing so this is why I have chosen the drum drama for this category and I hope it works out in my favor. If you’re reluctant to pick the same make sure it’s either American Sniper or Interstellar with the former having a stronger chance of winning the whole Sound category.

interstellarBest Visual Effects

And the nominees are…

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Dan Sudick)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist)

Guardians of the Galaxy (Stephane Ceretti, Nicholas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould)

Interstellar (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher)

X-Men: Days of Future Past (Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer)

Who Will Win: Interstellar (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher); Who Should Win: Interstellar (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher) or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist)

Originally I thought this would be a guaranteed win for Christopher Nolan’s convoluted science-fiction epic Interstellar and though it still has the favorable odds to winning there’s a good chance that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes could pull off an upset in this category. Even Guadians of the Galaxy is receiving some Expert consideration choices in final ballots this week so it’s quite possible that Interstellar could lose it’s one and only presumed safe category. It wouldn’t be the end of the world for me if Dawn of the Planet of the Apes won the Oscar, mostly because my preference lies heavily in that technology and visual design. Still, it’s probably going to go in Interstellar‘s favor mostly as a consolation prize for not receiving any nominations in the categories they had hoped namely Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture.

75Best Live-Action Short Film

And the nominees are…

Aya (Obed Binnum, Mihal Brezis)

Boogaloo and Graham (Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney)

Butter Lamp- La Lampe Au Beurre de Yak (Hu Wei, Julien Feret)

Parvaneh (Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger)

The Phone Call (Mat Kirby, James Lucas)

Who Will Win: The Phone Call (Mat Kirby, James Lucas); Who Should Win: Boogaloo and Graham (Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney)

The Phone Call was arguably the best of the Short Live-Action films this year and it’s the clear favorite to win. Personally I would have voted for either Booglaoo and Graham or even Parvaneh. Either of those could pull off an upset victory if you’re looking to deviate from the normal picks, but really The Phone Call is your safest choice in this incredibly important category to get correct if you want to beat everyone at your ballot party.

still_1-720x388Best Animated Short Film

And the nominees are…

The Bigger Picture (Daisy Jacobs, Christopher Hees)

The Dam Keeper (Robert Kondo, Daisuke Tsutsumi)

Feast (Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed)

Me and My Moulton (Torill Kove)

A Single Life (Joris Oprins)

Who Will Win: The Dam Keeper (Robert Kondo, Daisuke Tsutsumi); Who Should Win: The Dam Keeper (Robert Kondo, Daisuke Tsutsumi)

This is slightly a risky choice since the obvious favorite to win is Disney’s short Feast. Bottom line though is that voters now having far more access to seeing all the shorts these last couple of years they’ve tended to drift away from the overexposure monopoly that Disney has graciously had over its competitors in the past. Most people only knew about the Disney shorts because that’s the only one they ever really saw. If most of the voters have seen the actual films they’ll be more inclined to choose the far more heartwarming and actual narrative of The Dam Keeper. If you don’t trust this judgment feel free to pick the assumed safe choice of Feast.

Veterans 1Best Documentary- Short Subject

And the nominees are…

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry)

Joanna (Aneta Kopacz)

Our Curse (Tomasz Śliwiński, Maciej Ślesicki)

The Reaper- La Parka (Gabriel Serra Arguello)

White Earth (J. Christian Jensen)

Who Will Win: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry); Who Should Win: Joanna (Aneta Kopacz)

The most talked about Short Documentary Subject is Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 and though it is the assumed favorite I personally would have voted for Joanna. While Joanna could upset this category it’s looking incredibly likely that Crisis Hotline will be the likeliest of winners.

Comment with your own predictions below!

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