2015 American Society of Cinematographers Nominations

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And another victory for Wes Anderson and is magical, screwball mystery of a film The Grand Budapest Hotel. Robert D. Yeoman, who has worked on all of Wes Anderson’s films except Fantastic Mr. Fox, was nominated for the ASC awards and has really upped his game with this great film and Moonrise Kingdom. The colors are so striking, the darks full of sharp beauty and wonderful contrast, Yeoman is finally getting the recognition he deserves. I am pretty much sold on him getting his first Academy Award nomination in a little over a week. Great news.

I am very happy to see Yeoman get recognized here, but this year is all about Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki and his spectacular work on Birdman. The man is going to win the ASC and the Academy Award, doing both in back-to-back years. The other nominees include Dick Pope for Mr. Turner, Roger Deakins for Unbroken and Oscar Faura for The Imitation Game. You might be looking at the five nominees for Best Cinematography at the Academy Awards, but watch out for Bradford Young (Selma A Most Violent Year) or Hoyte van Hoytema (Interstellar) or Jeff Cronenwerth (Gone Girl) or Benôit Delhomme (The Theory of Everything) or Robert Elswit (Inherent Vice Nightcrawler), just to name a few. Yeah, it has been a great year for cinematographers! List of the five nominees, last year there were seven, below.

Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert D. Yeoman)
The Imitation Game (Oscar Faura)
Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

Photo credit by Fox Searchlight.

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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.

2015 Oscar Predictions (Early Edition)

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Awards season is on. With the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals beginning in late August, early September, the awards season coverage begins. For some this is a year round career, but I like to think about and do a little research once the fall film festival season starts. For the next six months there will be predictions, over-analysis, politics, ass-kissing (the same thing), screenings, screeners and the eventual excitement and disappointment with the Academy Award nominations. It is sort of ridiculous, yet a lot of fun. It is still a matter of opinion and preference, but as absurd as it is to narrow down the best films of each year down to a possible ten or the best actor to an eventual five, it is fun to watch it, be a part of it and get really excited about seeing films during the fall and winter. Films from Iñárritu, P.T. Anderson, Fincher, Nolan, Jolie, Miller and Leigh. Performances from Keaton, Chastain, Cumberbatch, Carell, Phoenix and Pike. It is the best time of the year for true film lovers, especially after the exhaustion of the summer blockbuster season.

The Academy Awards are the big, prestige pat on the back for the film industry. There will be films and artists nominated that you will question, ones that will be nominated due to big budgeted campaigns and others that will not be nominated that probably should be. For the most part, the Academy plays it safe, loving films about the horrors of WWII, slavery, history and they usually throw in a low-budget picture or indie film,  or two. They seem to always get something wrong, for example, last year when Inside Llewyn Davis and All Is Lost got shafted big time. 12 Years a Slave won best picture and is without a doubt a quality, emotional and morally strong picture, but The Wolf of Wall Street was the best picture by a long shot. I have a feeling that if Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is solid, it will be one of the favorites and fit the elderly Academy’s tastes. I feel this year that Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice will be too obscure and goofy for the Academy, and will be the Inside Llewyn Davis or All Is Lost of 2015.

It is all speculation right now. October is when the masses get to see these high-prestige films and I am really excited for Gone GirlBirdmanInherent ViceInterstellarFoxcatcher and Nightcrawler. Will Gone Girl and Foxcatcher get nominated for Best Picture even though both are dark films with commentaries on the American Dream? Can Michael Keaton win Best Actor for Birdman? Can Julianne Moore finally win an Oscar for either of her performances in Still Alice and Maps to the Stars? Is Boyhood the frontrunner? Will The Grand Budapest Hotel get the recognition it deserves even though it was released in March? What will become of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, And DuVernay’s Selma, Tim Burton’s Big Eyes and J.C. Chand0r’s A Most Violent Year? Will Emmanuel Lubezki win back-to-back oscars in cinematography for Birdman? Is it going to be a very British Oscar? That answer is probably yes. Lots of questions to be answered and over-analyzed, but fun to boot.

I have made my early predictions for the main categories below and will update them at the beginning of each month up until the Academy Awards nominations are announced on January 15th. The big show is on February 22nd. Here we go!!!

BEST PICTURE

  1. Boyhood
  2. Unbroken
  3. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Theory of Everything
  6. Gone Girl
  7. Whiplash
  8. Mr. Turner
  9. Foxcatcher
  10. Interstellar
  • Next 5: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma,  American SniperWildA Most Violent Year
  • It is early and there are many films that have to yet to be seen, but I believe the 9 or 10 nominees will be between these 15 films listed here. I would love to put Inherent Vice on this list, but after seeing that trailer, which I loved, I believe the film will be too goofy for the Academy. Hopefully not for their sake. BoyhoodBirdmanThe Imitation GameThe Theory of Everything and Mr. Turner are close to locks. I also believe Gone Girl will be in there, but it is quite edgy. Whiplash will receive a heavy push and with the already high praise received since Sundance, I think it will be nominated. Sight unseen Unbroken has all the qualities of the classically coveted Academy’s desires, but does it work? Foxcatcher is supposedly very bleak and might be too dark to get in, regardless of its quality and Interstellar, if it is a true knockout, will be the big budget, high quality picture that might get a nomination. A lot left to see. I want The Grand Budapest Hotel to get nominated!

BEST DIRECTOR

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Christopher Nolan (Interstellar)
  4. Angelina Jolie (Unbroken)
  5. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  • Next 3: James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), David Fincher (Gone Girl), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
  • The only two locks right now are Linklater and Iñárritu. I believe one of the two British directors, Tyldum or Marsh, will get in and there should be a strong push for Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner) to get a nod. Nolan, as long as Interstellar works, will get nominated for, if nothing else, his expansive vision. Unbroken director Angelina Jolie will be nominated, like Nolan, if the film is a knockout. Fincher and Miller, if the Academy falls for the films, could sneak in and watch out for J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year) and Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) if those films are solid.

BEST ACTOR

  1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  2. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitiation Game)
  3. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  4. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
  5. Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)
  • Next 3: Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Miles Teller (Whiplash), Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
  • Even as early as it is, this category already has four locks: Keaton, Cumberbatch, Redmayne and Carell. All of these performances have received outstanding reviews with a tremendous amount of high praise for all of these actors. The field is stacked and dwindling it down to 5 is quite ridiculous. The last spot is up in the air and right now I am going with Spall. He won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and he definitely deserves a nomination. There are at least 25 actors that could be up for a nomination…maybe. So many I did not even name here.

BEST ACTRESS

  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  3. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
  4. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  5. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  • Next 3: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Hillary Swank (The Homesman), Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)
  • I believe that the five nominations will come from these 7 actresses. The field is light this year and that seems to be a serious issue that Hollywood is avoiding. This field should be just has stacked as the men, but Hollywood is still in the dark ages when it comes to a plethora of strong female written parts and roles. Julianne Moore could get nominated for two performances and she is definitely due for a win. Pike should have no problem with the strong reviews of Gone Girl already praising her. I also think Jones and Witherspoon will get in. Chastain is a guess, but with the quality from Chandor’s past two films, there is a good bet she is nominated. It could also be Adams, with the unseen Big Eyes arriving in December.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  1. Edward Norton (Birdman)
  2. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)
  • Next 3: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Tom Wilkinson (Selma), Albert Brooks (A Most Violent Year)
  • Norton and Simmons are the only two probable locks as of now, but I do think Hawke should be nominated without question. He is brilliant in Boyhood. It could be Ruffalo, with Foxcatcher getting rave reviews, but most of the attention was heralded at Carell and Tatum. There is usually a legendary actor that gets a nomination and I am picking Duvall just because they love him and he is supposedly quite good in The Judge, even if the film is mediocre. Brolin looks great, scene stealer, in the trailer for Inherent Vice and it would not surprise me if Albert Brooks, if he is great, which he will be, gets a nomination for A Most Violent Year. A make up for not getting a nomination for his work on Drive.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone (Birdman)
  3. Keira Knighley (The Imitation Game)
  4. Laura Dern (Wild)
  5. Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)
  • Next 3: Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods), Dorothy Atkinson (Mr. Turner)
  • This category is a little up in the air, with many of the possible nominees films having not been seen, but one thing is for sure, Patricia Arquette is the clear frontrunner for her powerful work in Boyhood. Right now, she is the clear favorite and Boyhood‘s best chance at an acting win. I would bet that Stone and Knightley are solid predictions with both getting positive notices for their films. Coon and Dern are a guess, with Coon being on a roll right now with this film and her role on the HBO show “The Leftovers” and Dern is supposedly really solid in Wild. I would not be surprised if Atkinson sneaks in for Mr. Turner either. 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
  3. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
  4. Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner)
  5. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Next 3: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year), Paul Webb (Selma)
  • I believe this will be a battle between Boyhood  and Birdman for the win. I am sticking by my guns that Whiplash is going to get a lot of love from the Academy and this will be a way to honor an emerging young talent in Chazelle. The last two spots could be a toss-up between these other five films. If The Grand Budapest Hotel does not get a Best Picture nomination, it should receive one here. Interstellar and A Most Violent Year are still up in the air.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  1. Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson (Unbroken)
  2. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  3. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  4. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
  5. E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
  • Next 3: Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice), Nick Hornby (Wild), Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
  • Out of all of the categories, this is the one where these are probably going to be the five nominations, or at least where I feel that comfortable in choosing. If one film does not make it, it might be Foxcatcher and that could be where Anderson gets some love for Inherent ViceGone GirlThe Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are close to locks.

Many films have already been unveiled, but the masses get to view them over the next three months. These prognostications will change and move, but this is an early guess at what could possibly be nominated in the main categories. Fun times!!! So much has yet to be seen!!!

Photo credits by IMDB.

Film Trailers: UNBROKEN

unbroken-picture-12

Here is the trailer for the World War II survival story Unbroken, directed by Angelina Jolie. The film chronicles the life of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who was a prisoner of war during World War II by Japanese forces. This is the big one. The one that has all the touches and features the Academy loves. Redemption and survival story, WWII, courage, history, not-too-arty or independent, and it appears to have that touch that will pull at your heart. This is just based off the remarkable story of Zamperini and the tone of the trailer. I hope this is a strong, important film that has a little punch and not too much sappy-ness. Give me something that tugs at the heart, but equally the mind. Strong, courageous and full of redemption. It looks good, but we will have to wait and see. i hope it turns out well and you can tell Jolie has the touch as a top-rate director — also based off her previous directorial debut In the Land of Blood and Honey (2011)That film was good, but not great and I wonder if this one will have the same feel and result. The other good thing is that the Coen brothers, along with Richard LaGravenese and William Nicholson, wrote the screenplay, Alexandre Desplat conducting the score and the great Roger Deakins lensing the film. Top notch in all areas. The cast is rounded out by Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson and Jai Courtney. Here’s to hoping this is as good as another Japanese POW film, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas, Mr. LawrenceUnbroken will open in prime Oscar release date territory on Christmas day. This is the big one and has Oscar bait written all over it.

Photo by ropeofsilicon.com and trailer by YouTube.