Final 2016 Academy Awards Predictions

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The time has come. The Academy Award nominations will be announced tomorrow morning, January 14th. It is still a wide open year, and even though the guilds have allowed the audience to see where the industry is leaning, nothing is set in stone. Well, maybe Leo for Best Actor, but you never know. I do know one thing, there will be a surprise or two tomorrow that no one really expected to happen and it is truly hard to predict where that might occur. Could this be the year we finally get ten Best Picture nominees or do we only get five or six? Like I said earlier, it is wide open and phase one will come to a close with nominations in the morning. Below is a rundown of all the major categories (I have not see any of the short films so I will not presume to predict them) and my final predictions. Enjoy!!!

BEST PICTURE

  1. Spotlight
  2. The Big Short
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Martian
  5. Mad Max: Fury Road
  6. Carol
  7. Bridge of Spies
  8. Brooklyn
  9. Straight Outta Compton
  10. Sicario
  • Alt:  Room; Inside Out; Ex Machina; Beasts of No Nation; Star Wars: The Force Awakens

These are the ten I am going with, but I honestly have no idea how many films will eventually become Oscar nominated. Spotlight is still number one, but watch out for surging films The Big Short and The RevenantThe Martian and Mad Max are safe bets and you can always count on Spielberg. Carol I think is going to have good a showing tomorrow, even if it has not been widely nominated from the guilds. Those last three spots are tricky. Brooklyn and Straight Outta Compton are looking really strong and if there are ten films in, I am going with Sicario which has looked really impressive with the guilds. Room has not looked good so far and you never know about The Force Awakens.

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant)
  2. Ridley Scott (The Martian)
  3. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
  4. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)
  5. Todd Haynes (Carol)
  • Alt:   Adam McKay (The Big Short); Steven Spielberg (Bridge of Spies); Denis Villeneuve (Sicario); F. Gary Gray (Straight Outta Compton); J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Iñárritu and Scott are sure-fire locks. Miller and McCarthy I am pretty certain are in, but just because the critics love you does not mean the Academy will vote you in. The DGA had those four, plus McKay, but in the usual one director discrepancy between the DGA and Academy, I am going all in for Haynes. He deserves it for his masterful work in Carol, but I would not be surprised if it matches up with DGA and McKay gets in either. I also hope Miller receives a nomination, but could all the critical adulation he has received backfire and leave him out? It could happen in the wide open year.

BEST ACTOR

  1. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
  2. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
  3. Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)
  4. Bryan Cranston (Trumbo)
  5. Johnny Depp (Black Mass)
  • Alt:  Matt Damon (The Martian); Will Smith (Concussion);Ian McKellen (Mr. Holmes); Steve Carell (The Big Short)

DiCaprio, Fassbender, Redmayne, and Cranston are set. It is that last spot that is up for grabs. Depp received a SAG nomination, so I feel comfortable sticking with him, especially since it is Depp doing great work in a somewhat quality film. If not him, it will be Damon, who won at the Globes. I have stuck with Depp all year and I am not backing out now, even if the buzz is quiet.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Brie Larson (Room)
  2. Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn)
  3. Cate Blanchett (Carol)
  4. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy)
  5. Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
  • Alt:  Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl); Lily Tomlin (Grandma); Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van); Carey Mulligan (Suffragette); Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road)

These will be the five nominees unless Vikander (The Danish Girl) gets nominated here instead of supporting for that film. If she is nominated in the lead category, I feel that Rampling will be left out, once again missing out on a nomination.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
  2. Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation)
  3. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
  4. Christian Bale (The Big Short)
  5. Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
  • Alt:  Benicio del Toro (Sicario); Paul Dano (Love & Mercy); Jacob Tremblay (Room); Michael Keaton (Spotlight); Michael Shannon (99 Homes); Tom Hardy (The Revenant)

The hardest category to predict and one that I know I will be wrong about in the morning. The toughest one to pick is whether or not Dano receives a nod, even though if he was running in the lead category he might have a better shot, and that goes for  Keaton as well. I am giving up on Dano…and going with Ruffalo, who does have the more showy role in Spotlight. Tough, tough decisions, and I will regret one of these picks tomorrow morning.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
  2. Rooney Mara (Carol)
  3. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
  4. Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
  5. Jane Fonda (Youth)
  • Alt:  Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina); Helen Mirren (Trumbo); Elizabeth Banks (Love & Mercy); Joan Allen (Room); Kristen Stewart (Clouds of Sils Maria)

Once again, if Vikander (TDG) goes lead, she will get into this category for her role in Ex Machina. If not, the top four are set. I have stuck with Fonda since she wowed everyone at Cannes. I know the film has not been received as well here in the states, but I am not turning my back on her. If not Fonda, it will be Mirren.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Spotlight
  2. Inside Out
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. The Hateful Eight
  5. Straight Outta  Compton
  • Alt:   Trainwreck; Sicario; Ex Machina; Joy; Son of Saul

I would not be surprised if Ex Machina or Trainwreck sneak in over anyone of these other than Spotlight. 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. Carol
  2. The Big Short
  3. Brooklyn
  4. Steve Jobs
  5. Room
  • Alt:  The Martian; Anomalisa; The Revenant; Trumbo; Beasts of No Nation

It is a tough one for that last spot. It could easily go to Room, The Martian or The Revenant. Sticking with the little indie where the Writer’s usually always support and promote.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. Carol
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. The Revenant
  4. Sicario
  5. Bridge of Spies
  • Alt: The Hateful Eight; The Martian; Brooklyn; Steve Jobs

These are the five that should get in, but I worry about the wavering support for Carol in the industry. It still should have enough to get in and it should be in!

BEST FILM EDITING

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Big Short
  3. Spotlight
  4. The Revenant
  5. The Martian
  • Alt:  Sicario; Carol; Bridge of Spies; Room; The Hateful Eight;  Brooklyn

Sicario could easily get in. It received an ACE Eddie and Spotlight did not. Wide open year.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

  1. Inside Out
  2. Anomalisa
  3. The Good Dinosaur
  4. The Peanuts Movie
  5. Shaun the Sheep Movie
  • Alt: Minions

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  1. Son of Saul
  2. Mustang
  3. Theeb
  4. The Brand New Testament
  5. Labyrinth of Lies
  • Alt:  Viva; A War; Embrace of the Serpent; The Fencer

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  1. The Look of Silence
  2. Amy
  3. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  4. Listen to Me Marlon
  5. Cartel Land
  • Alt: Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom; He Named Me Malala; Heart of a Dog;  The Hunting Ground; What Happened, Miss Simone?

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  1. Carol
  2. Mad Max: Fury Road
  3. Bridge of Spies
  4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  5. The Martian
  • Alt: The Revenant; The Danish Girl; Brooklyn; Crimson Peak; Cinderella;

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  1. Carol
  2. The Danish Girl
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Cinderella
  • Alt: Crimson Peak; The Revenant; Bridge of Spies; Macbeth; The Hateful Eight

BEST MAKEUP/HAIRSTYLING

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Revenant
  3. Black Mass
  • Alt: Mr. Holmes

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

  1. The Hateful Eight
  2. Carol
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. The Danish Girl
  5. Spotlight
  • Alt: Mad Max: Fury Road; Sicario; Inside Out; Bridge of Spies; Steve Jobs; The Martian

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

  1. “Till It Happens to You,”  The Hunting Ground
  2. “See You Again,”  Furious 7
  3. “Writings on the Wall,”  Spectre
  4. “Simple Song 3,”  Youth
  5. “Earned It,”  Fifty Shades of Grey
  • Alt: “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” I’ll See You in My Dreams; “The Light That Never Fails,”  Meru

BEST SOUND EDITING

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Martian
  5. Sicario
  • Alt: Bridge of Spies; The Hateful Eight; Inside Out; Jurassic World

BEST SOUND MIXING

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  3. The Revenant
  4. The Martian
  5. Bridge of Spies
  • Alt: Sicario; The Hateful Eight; Straight Outta Compton; Jurassic World

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  1. Mad Max: Fury Road
  2. The Martian
  3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  4. The Walk
  5. The Revenant
  • Alt: Ex Machina; Jurassic World; Tomorrowland; Ant-Man; In the Heart of the Sea
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Final Oscar Predictions: Who Will & Should Win

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Oscar voting ending yesterday. The votes are in, being tallied and this Sunday night we will find who wins at the 87th Academy Awards. Last year ended with fairly exciting results, with a race to the finish between eventual Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave and its main competition Gravity. This year, we have many races that will be even more heated going into the big night. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing, Best Foreign Language Film and maybe, just maybe, Best Actor and Best Cinematography, but Best Actor is probably all wrapped up. In the guilds and critics eyes, it is a three picture race between Birdman, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, with the late surge and box office success of American Sniper also adding some heat.

This has been an exciting and exhausting year during the awards season. A year where the Academy has shown their old, white ways, and with today’s release of an elderly Oscar voter’s ignorant, asinine reasons for voting, which you can read here, lessens the importance of Hollywood’s big end all show. That is not to say it is not fun to watch the actual program and focus on the films being nominated, but to think that you can narrow hundreds and hundreds of films down to “8” pictures or “5” nominees in multiple categories is ridiculous. The Oscars are highly subjective and will never truly place significant high or low value or be considered a determining factor when it comes to film history. The show and awards are great for filmmakers, actors and producers careers, but when it comes to the quality of the films, history claims that. Look at the horrible choice in having Crash win over Brokeback Mountain, or Rocky over Taxi Driver, or Kramer vs. Kramer over Apocalypse Now, or, and do not get me started, Dances with Wolves over GoodFellas.

I love covering the awards season, but it should be about the quality of the films, acting, writing, cinematography, and not about box office results, politics, campaigning and status in the business. I know, that is wishful thinking, but that is how it should be. Oh well, on with the show.

I have listed all of the categories below, with my picks of “who will win” and “who should win.” I believe that all eight nominated films will at least take home one award throughout the night and there will be one glaring, exciting and/or disappointing surprise Sunday night. I can feel it. I just hope the surprise is Michael Keaton taking home Best Actor… Let it fly!!!

BEST PICTURE

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

WILL WIN:  Birdman

SHOULD WIN:  Birdman

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  • Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

WILL WIN:  Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)

SHOULD WIN:  Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)

BEST ACTOR

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

WILL WIN:  Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

SHOULD WIN:  Michael Keaton (Birdman)

BEST ACTRESS

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

WILL WIN:  Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

SHOULD WIN:  Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Robert Duvall (The Judge)
  • Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  • Edward Norton (Birdman)
  • Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  • J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

WILL WIN:  J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

SHOULD WIN:  J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  • Laura Dern (Wild)
  • Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
  • Emma Stone (Birdman)
  • Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

WILL WIN:  Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

SHOULD WIN:  Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

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

WILL WIN:  Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)

SHOULD WIN:  Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo (Birdman)
  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
  • Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

WILL WIN:  Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

SHOULD WIN:  Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Tangerines
  • Ida
  • Leviathan
  • Timbuktu
  • Wild Tales

WILL WIN:  Ida

SHOULD WIN:  Leviathan

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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

WILL WIN:  How to Train Your Dragon 2

SHOULD WIN:  The Tale of Princess Kaguya

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

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

WILL WIN:  CitizenFour

SHOULD WIN:  CitizenFour

FILM EDITING

  • Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach (American Sniper)
  • Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
  • Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game)
  • Tom Cross (Whiplash)

WILL WIN:  Sandra Adair (Boyhood)

SHOULD WIN:  Sandra Adair (Boyhood)

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
  • Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal (Ida)
  • Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
  • Roger Deakins (Unbroken)

WILL WIN:  Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)

SHOULD WIN:  Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)

ORIGINAL SCORE

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

WILL WIN:  Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

SHOULD WIN:  Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

ORIGINAL SONG

  • “Lost Stars” from Begin Again
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
  • “Glory” from Selma
  • “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights

WILL WIN:  “Glory” from Selma

SHOULD WIN:  “Glory” from Selma

SOUND MIXING

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

WILL WIN:  Whiplash

SHOULD WIN:  Whiplash

SOUND EDITING

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken

WILL WIN:  American Sniper

SHOULD WIN:  Birdman

VISUAL EFFECTS

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

WILL WIN:  Interstellar

SHOULD WIN:  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

COSTUME DESIGN

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

WILL WIN:  Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

SHOULD WIN:  Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

PRODUCTION DESIGN

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

WILL WIN:  The Grand Budapest Hotel

SHOULD WIN:  The Grand Budapest Hotel

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

WILL WIN:  The Grand Budapest Hotel

SHOULD WIN:  The Grand Budapest Hotel

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

  • The Bigger Picture
  • The Dam Keper
  • Feast
  • Me and My Moulton
  • A Single Life

WILL WIN:  Feast

SHOULD WIN:  The Bigger Picture

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

  • Aya
  • Boogaloo and Graham
  • Butterfly Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
  • Parvaneh
  • The Phone Call

WILL WIN:  Parvaneh

SHOULD WIN:  The Phone Call

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

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

WILL WIN:  Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

SHOULD WIN:  Joanna

Photo credits by IMDB.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu wins the DGA

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This past Saturday, Alejandro González Iñárritu won Best Director at the Directors Guild of America Awards for his mesmerizing work on the best film of last year Birdman. The film is beginning to look like the frontrunner going into the Oscars in a couple of weeks. Ballots are out now, so it is in the hands of the Academy. Hopefully that don’t make a mess out of the awards as they did with the nominations. Birdman has now won the PGA, SAG and DGA. The biggest competition to it is Richard Linklater’s wonderful Boyhood, which has won the ACE and this Sunday, took home Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette) at the BAFTA Awards. The Writers Guild will announce their winners this weekend, and I would not be surprised if Mr. Anderson wins one for his fantastic The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

In the last five years, the winner of the PGA and BAFTA have gone on to win the Oscar. The exception here is that the PGA and BAFTA were split between Birdman and Boyhood. Then, the DGA went to Iñárritu and Best Director at the BAFTA’s went to Linklater, but remember a couple of years back, Ben Affleck won the DGA for Argo, but was not even nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. Then you have Boyhood winning the Drama category at the Golden Globes, while The Grand Budapest Hotel won the Comedy/Muscial category, beating out the predicted favorite Birdman. It is really all about these three films in the Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Cinematography categories. Formats and historical tendencies might be out the door this year. And, Birdman did not receive a Best Editing nomination at the Oscars, so there is that.

These three films — Birdman, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, have the most guild and critic support going into the Oscars, and I just have a feeling we will be in for a few surprises come Oscar night. I honestly think the awards love will be spread throughout these three films and rightly so. I am not ready to predict the winners just yet, but I expect multiple victories for all three of these fine films. Throw out the history books, it is going to be an exciting Academy Awards night.

Photo credit by hitfix.com

Film Review: WHIPLASH

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Written & Directed by Damien Chazelle

A fierce, blast of filmmaking is what Whiplash, from newcomer Damien Chazelle, is all about. A film so full of life, judgment, pressure, persistence and the strive for greatness. I came away from Whiplash delighted and energized, and a little terrified. This is one of those films that punches you in the gut and leaves you with anxiety as a musical instructor and his student go at each other with gusto, heart, determination and pure evil. The film questions what it takes to become truly great at what you want, how much you are willing to take to get there and whether or not that exhaustive, physically and mentally brutal training is worth it. This is a polarizing, kinetic Scorsese influenced film in the jazz music world and is worth checking out. Chazelle has delivered one of the best films of 2014 and one that will leave you with a feeling of excitement, and possibly fear, once the credits roll.

I missed watching Whiplash during its initial run here in Austin and I am truly thankful that Sony Pictures Classics has re-released the film after it received five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. Miles Teller plays Andrew Neiman, a 19-year old drummer that is attending one of the most prestigious music schools in not only New York City, but the world. He practices and practices and wants to be great. He finally gets noticed by the diabolical, exhilarating instructor Terence Fletcher, played with ungodly intensity and bravura by the great J.K. Simmons. What results is a battle of wills, desires and sheer insanity. They push each other to the limit and set each other up for both failure and success.

Chazelle, who directed and wrote the film, based off his short film of the same name, has delivered a wallop of a film. I mean, this film, as I mentioned before, has the energy, fight, fierce endurance and well crafted character driven story like a Scorsese film, i.e. Raging Bull. It is violent, vitriolic and dark as hell. The major piece of brilliance, beyond those fascinating performances, is the question that arises throughout: How much are you willing to take to be the best or greatest at your craft? There can be many reactions to this film and throughout the whole film I just kept asking myself if I could even take being taught like that. Fletcher verbally demolishes Neiman, throws objects at him and delivers a great line, and I am paraphrasing here, ” there are no two words in the English language that are worse than ‘good job.'” That line was brilliant and did not make me want to change my teaching or how I train and like to be taught, but to be great, you better be able to take a beating, stand up and practice your ass off. To be great it is not to be good. The best do not finish second. Whiplash is about that desire and drive to become the best and not give up because it gets hard or scary. Buck up and fight for your dreams or become mediocre or even worse, forgotten.

This is an overall fantastic film, and I have not stopped thinking about it since I saw it this past weekend, and what drives it are these mesmerizing performances from Teller and Simmons. Teller is great and this is easily his best performance in his promising, young career. To be honest, this is the first time I have really enjoyed seeing him on-screen. He is not too whiny and annoying, but more introspective, motivated and a little self-righteous. A millennial that is getting beat the hell up by Fletcher. But, it is all about the brilliance and calculated nastiness of Simmons playing Fletcher. He is diabolical, highly driven, a perfectionist, and a dirty little bastard. He is a terror of an instructor and he revels in this role. His performance might be the best overall performance of all of 2014, or at least my favorite. I still cannot get over how exhilarating it was to watch him teach, yell and go at it with Teller. They feed off each other and pushed each other to the limits. Simmons easily deserves all of the acclaim he has received and should easily take home the Best Supporting Actor award at the Academy Awards next month.

Whiplash left me feeling energized, terrified and wanting to see the film again as soon as possible. Chazelle is a bright new talent and has delivered one of the best films of the year. A film that questions and centers itself on what one is willing take and shell out to become truly great at something. And it also contains some of the best performances of the year, especially form J.K. Simmons. I can now believe all the hype that came out of last years Sundance Film Festival when Whiplash premiered, and all of the adulation is most certainly warranted. Whiplash is one hell of an experience and I cannot wait to see again.

Photo credit by IMDB.

 

FINAL 2015 Academy Awards Predictions

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Here they are. My FINAL Academy Awards predictions before the big announcement tomorrow morning. Enjoy!

BEST PICTURE

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  5. The Theory of Everything
  6. Whiplash
  7. American Sniper
  8. Selma
  9. Nightcrawler

  10. Gone Girl (*if 10)
  • Next 5: FoxcatcherUnbrokenA Most Violent Year, Interstellar, Mr. Turner

I am pretty confident these will be the nine. The only other two films that could sneak in are Gone Girl or Foxcatcher.

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  4. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  5. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
  • Next 3:  Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Ava DuVernay (Selma), James Marsh (The Theory of Everything)

Three locks with Linklater, Iñárritu and Anderson. Those last two spots are anyones guess. I am going with Tyldum, Academy love for The Imitation Game and DGA nod, and Chazelle, the BAFTA nod and for being the exciting new talent. I would not be surprised if Eastwood, the DGA nod, gets in at all, and i would be delighted if DuVernay, Fincher or Dan Gilroy get in. Fincher should be in there no matter what, but that is just my personal opinion.

BEST ACTOR

  1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  2. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  3. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitiation Game)
  4. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
  5. David Oyelowo (Selma)
  • Next 3: Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Keaton, Redmayne and Cumberbatch are locks. Like with the director category, the last two spots are up for grabs. I am sticking with Gyllenhaal, SAG nod, and Oyelowo for portraying a legendary historical figure. That means pushing poor Steve Carell out, but watch out for Cooper. It would be his third Oscar nomination in a row and since the Academy loves the film, it really might happen.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  2. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  3. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  4. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  5. Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
  • Next 3: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Hillary Swank (The Homesman)

No change here. The only mild surprise would be Adams or Cotillard getting in over Aniston, which would be fine by me, but I do not see it happening.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  2. Edward Norton (Birdman)
  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)
  • Next 3: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes), Tom Wilkinson (Selma)

The only thing that could change or be a surprise here is if Carell gets his nomination here, like at the BAFTA’s.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone (Birdman)
  3. Keira Knighley (The Imitation Game)
  4. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
  5. Rene Russo (Nightcrawler)
  • Next 3: Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Carmen Ejogo (Selma)

Arquette, Stone, Streep and Knightley are locks. Since A Most Violent Year has been vastly overlooked this year, I am going with the highly admired and much deserved Rene Russo over Jessica Chastain. The only reason is the love and lack of love for the films. Russo deserves it.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  3. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
  4. Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)
  5. E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
  • Next 3: Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), Ava DuVernay & Paul Webb (Selma), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year)

That last spot could be a toss up between Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner. Gut says Foxcatcher, although Mike Leigh has been nominated for screenplays 5 times.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  2. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  3. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
  4. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
  5. Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
  • Next 3:  Nick Hornby (Wild), Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice), Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson (Unbroken)

The only change is possibly Wild sneaking in over American Sniper, but if Sniper gets a best picture nod, it is most likely getting one here too.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
  2. Roger Deakins (Unbroken)
  3. Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  4. Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
  5. Hoyte von Hoytema (Interstellar)
  • Next 3: Lukasz Kal & Ryszard Lenczewski (Ida), Oscar Faura (The Imitation Game), Benoît Delhomme (The Theory of Everything)

Watch out for either Ida or The Imitation Game, the latter received an ASC nomination.

BEST FILM EDITING

  1. Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
  2. Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  3. William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game)
  4. Douglas Crise & Stephen Mirrione (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
  5. Tom Cross (Whiplash)
  • Next 3: Kirk Baxter (Gone Girl), John Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Joel Cox & Gary Roach (American Sniper)

I really want Gone Girl to get in this category or Nightcrawler. Either one might sneak in, but I am sticking with these five.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  1. Ida (Poland)
  2. Leviathan (Russia)
  3. Wild Tales (Argentina)
  4. Timbuktu (Mauritania)
  5. Force Majeure (Sweden)
  • Next 4: Tangerines (Estonia), The Liberator (Venezuela), Accused (The Netherlands), Corn Island (Georgia)

BEST DOCUMENTARY 

  1. CITIZENFOUR
  2. Life Itself
  3. The Overnighters
  4. The Last Days in Vietnam
  5. Virunga

BEST ANIMATED FILM

  1. The LEGO Movie
  2. How To Train Your Dragon 2
  3. Big Hero 6
  4. The Boxtrolls
  5. The Tales of Princess Kaguya

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. Maleficent
  4. Into the Woods
  5. Mr. Turner

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

  1. The Theory of Everything
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST MUSIC – ORIGINAL SCORE

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. The Theory of Everything
  4. Interstellar
  5. Gone Girl

BEST MUSIC – ORIGINAL SONG

  1. “Glory” Selma
  2. “Lost Stars” Begin Again
  3. “Mercy Is” Noah
  4. “Big Eyes” Big Eyes
  5. “Everything is Awesome” The LEGO Movie

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. Birdman
  4. Mr. Turner
  5. Into the Woods

BEST SOUND EDITING

  1. Fury
  2. American Sniper
  3. Godzilla
  4. Interstellar
  5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

BEST SOUND MIXING

  1. Birdman
  2. American Sniper
  3. Into the Woods
  4. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  5. Unbroken

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

  1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. Interstellar
  4. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  5. Godzilla

Photo credits by IMDB.

January 2015 Academy Award Predictions

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And it is getting closer. All of the players are out campaigning, especially at the swanky Palm Springs Film Festival. The year is wide open with a tremendous amount of solid films and great ones — Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood and Gone GirlAmerican Sniper and Unbroken have had successful runs at the box office, so they are very much in the race and Wes Anderson’s March released beauty, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is making a splash everywhere. It is a player and I am fully supporting that film. There is still no frontrunner, but things will slowly fall into place. The Golden Globes (no big deal) and the SAG awards are just around the corner, as well as the DGA, PGA and WGA nominations. The Oscar nominations will be announced on January 15th and I will be updating these predictions a few more times before that big nomination announcement, as well as completing every category. Still sticking with the big ones for now. Here are my predictions and here is a link to last months picks. Enjoy!!!

BEST PICTURE

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Imitation Game
  3. Selma
  4. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  5. The Theory of Everything
  6. Whiplash
  7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  8. Gone Girl
  9. American Sniper
  10. Unbroken
  • Next 5: NightcrawlerFoxcatcherA Most Violent Year, Interstellar, Mr. Turner

These are my top ten as of the beginning of January. I think there will eventually be nine films nominated and Unbroken will be the huge snub. I just think American Sniper has got the legs and Eastwood, well, it is Clint Eastwood. The Grand Budapest Hotel has to be in, and, even if the Academy did not flip out about Gone Girl, it is too good a film and has too many admirers to be left out. The field is wide open and once the nominations are announced on the 15th, the real fun begins.

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Ava DuVernay (Selma)
  4. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  5. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Next 3:  Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), David Fincher (Gone Girl)

Linklater, Iñárritu, DuVernay and Tyldum are locks in my book. It is that last spot that is up in the air. My love for Budapest and desire to see Anderson finally nominated for Best Director is pushing me that way, but I would not be surprised to see Chazelle for Whiplash get the nod or if they really love American Sniper, go for the legend Eastwood. I think Jolie is on the outside looking in.

BEST ACTOR

  1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitiation Game)
  3. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  4. David Oyelowo (Selma)
  5. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
  • Next 3: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

It is really that fifth spot that is up for grabs. Keaton, Cumberbatch, Redmayne and Oyelowo are locks, but is it going to be Carell or Gyllenhaal. Right now, I am sticking with Carell because he is really working the circuit and is quite great in the film, but I want it to be Gyllenhaal. He is so magnificent and smirking and dirty in that film. Before the 15th, I will probably change to him.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  2. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  3. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  4. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  5. Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
  • Next 3: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Hillary Swank (The Homesman), Amy Adams (Big Eyes)

This is pretty much set, especially with Two Days, One Night not getting into the final nine for Best Foreign Language Film, meaning Cotillard most likely want make it in the final five. Most likely…

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  2. Edward Norton (Birdman)
  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)
  • Next 3: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Tom Wilkinson (Selma), Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes)

I think this is set as well. Duvall is out there working the circuit and the only one that might take the fifth spot away is Brolin.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone (Birdman)
  3. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
  4. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
  5. Keira Knighley (The Imitation Game)
  • Next 3: Rene Russo (Nightcrawler), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Carmen Ejogo (Selma)

Set. Moving on. Although I would love to see Rene Russo get a nod. She is so damn amazing in Nightcrawler. 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
  3. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
  4. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  5. Ava DuVernay & Paul Webb (Selma)
  • Next 3: Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year)

This category is little tricky. I am sticking with these five for now, but with some of the questions about historical accuracy with Selma, although, it is a film and not a historical document, I could see Leigh or Gilroy sneaking in and taking that spot. I do not think it will happen, being that Selma has been so well received and will receive many big nominations. Sticking with Selma for now, but really love Gilroy’s script and everything about Nightcrawler.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  2. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  3. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
  4. Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
  5. Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
  • Next 3: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson (Unbroken), Nick Hornby (Wild), James Lapine (Into the Woods)

Even though Unbroken did well at the box office, the film has received middling reviews. I really feel that American Sniper is getting a huge push and is right up the Academy’s wheel house. It takes it over Unbroken and this is the main category where Paul Thomas Anderson gets some love for Inherent Vice. Appreciation for adapting a Pynchon novel too!

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

  1. Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
  2. Roger Deakins (Unbroken)
  3. Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
  4. Hoyte von Hoytema (Interstellar)
  5. Bradford Young (Selma)
  • Next 3: Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Benoît Delhomme (The Theory of Everything), Jeff Cronenwerth (Gone Girl)

I am going with these five, but the top three are the only locks. Young is the man right now, with Selma and A Most Violent Year out this winter, and Hoytema did absolute wonders with Interstellar. But, I could easily see either one of them missing out in exchange for Yeoman’s career best work on The Grand Budapest Hotel or Delhomme on The Theory of Everything. 

BEST FILM EDITING

  1. Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
  2. Douglas Crise & Stephen Mirrione (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))
  3. William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game)
  4. Tom Cross (Whiplash)
  5. Spencer Averick (Selma)
  • Next 3: Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Kirk Baxter (Gone Girl), Joel Cox & Gary Roach (American Sniper)

Usually the film that wins Best Film Editing goes on to win Best Picture, although it was split last year between Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave and Editing winner Gravity. I think the top four are close to locks, but it is that last spot that is a bit of a question mark. I would love to see The Grand Budapest Hotel, which just received an Eddie nomination, get that fifth spot and I think it just might. Sticking with Selma for this moment, although it did not get an Eddie nomination.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  1. Ida (Poland)
  2. Force Majeure (Sweden)
  3. Leviathan (Russia)
  4. Wild Tales (Argentina)
  5. Timbuktu (Mauritania)
  • Next 4: Tangerines (Estonia), The Liberator (Venezuela), Accused (The Netherlands), Corn Island (Georgia)

BEST DOCUMENTARY 

  1. CITIZENFOUR
  2. Life Itself
  3. The Overnighters
  4. The Last Days in Vietnam
  5. Virunga

BEST ANIMATED FILM

  1. The LEGO Movie
  2. How To Train Your Dragon 2
  3. Big Hero 6
  4. The Boxtrolls
  5. The Tales of Princess Kaguya

Photo credits by IMDB.