A friend asked me for my Oscar predictions this year. The following is what I told him. I started by telling him this: “This is also the first year I’m considering NOT watching the Oscars but I can’t stand the idea of the atrocious ‘Birdman’ being nominated. I don’t know a normal person who likes it.”
BEST PICTURE: “Boyhood.” It’s the obvious winner because it’s so obviously the best picture of the year. Funny thing is, there was a time when a Best Picture Oscar urged people to go “Ooh, I gotta see that now — I had no idea.” The Best Picture Oscar, the whole awards, are so arbitrary that I don’t think business will boom after it wins. It will be met with a shrug. Why trust the Oscars? “Dark Knight” and “Social Network” didn’t win. Middlebrow pics “King’s Speech” and “The Artist” won, is there a person on this planet that has watched either lately? Why trust the Oscars. This year people should trust and see this Oscar winner, but I don’t think people care. I’m not surprised that people would care.
BEST DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater for “Boyhood.” He spent 12 years on the film. He directed “Dazed and Confused,” “Before Sunrise,” “School of Rock” and “Bernie” and has never been nominated for director. Not once. He finally gets appreciated this year.
BEST ACTOR: Michael Keaton for the very despicable “Birdman.” I like Michael Keaton, I still like him, but I hate this film so much it makes my insides rumble (If I were voting, I’d choose Steve Carell for “Foxcatcher” or Bradley Cooper for “American Sniper” although the latter has no chance).
BEST ACTRESS: This category is exasperating. It’s an open game. So I’m going to select who I’d choose, Rosamund Pike for “Gone Girl,” a film that was one of the year’s best and yet wasn’t represented in a single other category. I’m in love with Reese Witherspoon for life but I don’t think her performance is outstanding; Felicity Jones is not enough the focus of “The Theory of Everything,”I’ve actually seen the French film “Two Days One Night” that Marion Cotillard is up for and my reaction to that is you gotta be kidding me; Julianne Moore is supposed to be great in “Still Alice” yet I don’t know a single person that would want to see that film if it weren’t Oscar-bait to begin with. Pike or Moore.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash.” End of story, he wins. He should win. He’s fantastic.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Wow. It’s between Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood” or Laura Dern for “Wild.” I’m going to go with Arquette because I’d just barely vote her over Dern.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: 98% sure it’ s “Boyhood.” 2% doubt goes to “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” my favorite Wes Anderson film to date.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Jesus ****. “American Sniper” is my favorite of the list of nominees, but as much as I love the film even I admit the screenplay is slightly flawed. I go with the “Imitation Game” because of the subject matter.
BEST FOREIGN FILM: “Ida” (Poland), even though I saw it and think it sucks. Don’t get me into why voters go for the slabs of artsy-fartsy when it comes to this category.
BEST ANIMATED FILM: “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Most Academy voters probably own a copy already.
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” I have to keep pinching myself so I’m reminded “Gone Girl” isn’t nominated.
BEST FILM EDITING: Tough one. Honest to God, I doubt you’ve seen it but “Whiplash” is the best of these nominees. As long as voters have seen it, it gets the votes. “Grand Budapest Hotel” could sneak in. “Edge of Tomorrow” was not nominated for Film Editing.
BEST SOUND EDITING: “Interstellar” they had make up those sounds of the black hole.
BEST SOUND MIXING: “American Sniper” wins something, it’s here. Maybe.
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN: Even I think “The Grand Budapest Hotel” isn’t just amazing, it’s always amazing.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” again. But wait, I’m always hasty on this category. I’m changing my prediction to “Maleficent.”
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE: “Imitation Game” surprise win.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG: A guess. Lost Stars for the film “Begin Again.”
BEST MAKEUP: “Guardians of the Galaxy.”
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: “Interstellar.” The visions of the Black Hole are wholly original, never before conceived.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: I guess ” White Earth.
“BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Since the Roger Ebert doc isn’t up, I’m going almost certain for “Citizenfour.”
BEST SHORT FILMS: I don’t know the slightest about. After Whitfield Scheidegger’s “Blank: A Vinylmation Love Story” wasn’t nominated, I stopped caring.
I have had my pretentious phases in my life — I once convinced myself “Alexander Nevsky” (1937) and “Diva” (1982) were good movies — but never at any point could I see myself falling for “Birdman: or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.” Ticket buyers will now go check it out to see what it’s all about. It’s obnoxious within sixty seconds, but it has to get better, right? No, that pompous tone never ceases.
The Academy and the movie industry itself will cause interminable financial damage with their selection. After normal America slogs through “Birdman,” they will never trust an awards winner ever again. Why should they? Actually, after critics gave slavish praise for “Birdman” this past season, an ugly film for know-nothing critics that have never had anything beautiful ever happen to them in their real lives, I don’t imagine ordinary America ever trusting critics again. And why should they.
The Academy demonstrated good taste early in the ceremony by showering “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Whiplash” with awards. When “Whiplash” won for Best Film Editing, I didn’t think they were that smart. “Edge of Tomorrow” wasn’t nominated in that category, but “Whiplash” winning made up for that.
As for “Boyhood,” it was so obviously the best picture of the year. I wonder if the favortism pointed towards it too early in awards season backfired, thus, bringing it backlash as the too predictible soon to be winner. That’s the problem with prognosticator articles two months before the Oscars. Voters don’t want to look predictable. But I also doubt the majority of Hollywood industry voters saw the film itself. Politics sway in awards season, and the hype, and post-screening cocktail parties got them buzzing for “Birdman.” Get enough Hollywood phonies drunk at a formal campaign party post movie screening and they will all bend their asses over in love for it.
It won’t take five years before we get a stream of editorials, television spotlights on awards, internet rants that “Boyhood” not winning was one of the biggest mistakes of all-time, right up there with the disgrace of “Raging Bull” not winning back in 1980. Or “Citizen Kane” in 1941. Or “Pulp Fiction” in 1994.
Writer-director Richard Linklater had never been nominated for directing until “Boyhood.” He is one of our great treasures, he has the most distinctive yet natural voice in American cinema. We’ve learned from him, and been emboldened by him through his films. He made his ultimate masterpiece, and now, we have something to be pissed off about years from now when we go, “Can you believe the time ‘Boyhood’ didn’t win?!”
Oscar’s lost of credibility began showing its face in 2008 when “The Dark Knight” didn’t get nominated for Best Picture. That wasn’t just a comic book blockbuster, it was a cinematic symphony with film noir in its veins. “The Social Network” not winning in 2010? Everything that’s mind-elevating storytelling art is embodied in that one picture. Then there’s the faulty, hasty votes. “The Artist” winning in 2011 was absurd, as nice a movie as that once, I doubt anybody has seen it twice. “Argo” is a better picture, quite a nifty directing job by Ben Affleck, but it’s like Academy voters saw four movies the entire year and voted for the most talked about item cranked out from the publicity machine.
People confuse camera wizardry (lots of movement) with beauty. “Birdman” is one long vain rant, along with the vitriol it’s as aesthetically ugly as anything I know. Hollywood believes they were being sophisticated by voting for something edgy, but it’s choice reveals them decidedly unsophisticated. “Birdman” is for people who have never had anything beautiful happen in their lives; it’s for brats who wear beatnik beanies, players who eat power lunched, and brooding artists who sip scotch on the rocks in dark clubs. Middle America will watch “Birdman” this weekend and say what the hell is this? Some of them might even throw up. Salt of the Earth people will say, this is why I hate Hollywood actors. Lastly, I want to add, any of those Hollywood elite who voted “Birdman” over “Boyhood” is a nitwit.
As a result, future Oscar shows will start to be accompanied with an ambivalent shrug.