Lights, camera, Oscars!
Everything you need to know before the big show
I hope you have money for overpriced movie theatre popcorn ready, because the 2015 Academy Awards are happening! On Sunday, Feb. 22, the best actors, actresses and directors from Hollywood, and around the world, will come together to honour and reward the very best the movie industry has to offer. Now unless you’re a borderline movie addict, there’s a very small chance that you’ll actually end up seeing every movie that’s garnered a nomination this year. But have no fear, for I, your friendly neighborhood movie nerd, have come to rescue you from your movie knowledge mediocrity and have prepared a short guide to everything Oscars that’ll at least prepare you for some Oscars small talk. As former NFL Wide Receiver Terrell Owens would say, “getcha popcorn ready!”
Crème de la crème
In what is considered to be the most coveted award at the ceremony, the field for the Academy’s Best Picture award is one stacked lineup. From big blockbuster releases, like American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and Selma, to film festival gems, such as Birdman, Boyhood, Whiplash and The Theory of Everything, this year offers an extremely diverse pool of movies that all make a solid case for claiming top prize.
Speaking of diversity, this year’s nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role feature a wide variety of women with a wide variety of experience. First time nominee, Rosamund Pike, received a ton of hooplah after her riveting performance in Drama/mind fuck Gone Girl, while Reese Witherspoon hopes to win her first Oscar since 2005, for her role in Wild. Another actress receiving high credit is Julianne Moore, who plays a linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in Still Alice. Other actresses receiving nominations include Marion Cotillard for her role in Two Days, One Night and Felicity Jones for her role in The Theory of Everything.
Elementary, my dear Watson
It’s been a big year for Benedict Cumberbatch. In addition to his engagement to British Opera director Sophie Hunter, the world’s favourite detective somehow found time to re-sign for another four episodes of the BBC’s Sherlock, sign on to play the main character in Marvel’s Doctor Strange and contribute his world-class voice acting talents to both The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and Penguins of Madagascar. On top of that, Cumberbatch delivered an outstanding performance in The Imitation Game, where he reenacted the story of British mathematician, Alan Turing, during World War II, serving as a codebreaker for interpreting the messages of Nazi Germany. While many are in favour of awarding Cumberbatch for his efforts, his competition for Best Leading Actor in a Leading Role is of strong stature. Known more for his roles in The Hangover franchise, heartthrob Bradley Cooper also put on a fantastic performance in American Sniper, where he also reenacted the story of a war hero. Joining them are Steve Carrell for his role in Foxcatcher, Michael Keaton in Birdman and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything.
Why you gotta be so rude?
Because there are too many good movies in any given year, there are always those that get left out of the Academy’s good books. Although there are only so many spots for nominations and so many noteworthy films, lots of the discussion around Oscar season focuses around the movies that didn’t make the cut rather than the ones that did.
Earlier in 2014, audiences were wowed by the visual effects and hilarious screenplay of The Lego Movie. I don’t care how old you are, if you’ve seen The Lego Movie, it resonated with you on some level. If you have yet to see it, I can guarantee that the feels will be touched. Despite the high praise and reviews from critics, the movie was snubbed from the Best Animated Feature Film category in favour of other movies such as How to Train your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls and Big Hero 6. Now don’t get me wrong, all of the aforementioned movies are excellent in their own right, but many were confused by the Academy’s decision to exclude The Lego Movie from their list. It’s worth noting that The Lego Movie did receive one nomination for Best Original Song, with “Everything is Awesome” performed by Tegan And Sara featuring the Lonely Island.
As if one snub wasn’t harsh enough, it can be said that Jake Gyllenhaal got an even colder shoulder from the Academy. The Donnie Darko and Brokeback Mountain actor received many nominations for his role in Nightcrawler. Both the movie and his performance were nominated by the Golden Globes, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, the Screen Writers Guild and the Australian Film Institute, but for some reason they weren’t good enough to make the cut for the Academy Awards. Although it did receive one nomination for Best Writing, many believe that both Gyllenhaal and Nightcrawler deserved more recognition.
Fresh off my correct Superbowl prediction from a week ago, I’ve concluded that I’m on a hot streak of sorts and in full position to make somewhat reliable predictions for some of the major awards for this year’s show. So, here goes nothing:
Best Actor in a Leading Role
If anything, the Academy loves seeing men in roles where they overcome some form of adversity in a role that they wouldn’t normally play. That being said, I feel that a British mathematician is too close to what Benedict Cumberbatch normally does in his Sherlock role. Bradley Cooper is a close second here because he strays so far from what he normally does in movies and Eddie Redmayne deserves a shout out for his role in The Theory of Everything, but the winner here plays a washed up actor who tries to revive his career as a world-famous superhero actor. Plus, he spends a large part of the movie in his underwear, which is deserving of an award in its own right.
Winner: Michael Keaton in Birdman
Best Actress In a Leading Role
I’m not going to lie, I was scared of Rosamund Pike’s character in Gone Girl. While I don’t want to go into too much detail for the sake of spoilers, I will say that I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what the crazy, derived woman was going to do next. While I also fell in love with Julianne Moore’s character in Still Alice, I didn’t want Gone Girl to end because I could watch Pike scare the living crap out of me for another two hours. For this reason, she gets the nod from me.
Winner: Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Best Animated Feature Film
While I’m still salty about The Lego Movie not being here, I have to give recognition to the movies that the Academy did give a thumbs up to. The unique art style of Song of the Sea is something to marvel at, while The Tale of Princess Kaguya got me more interested in Japanese animated film. The Boxtrolls mastered the art of stop-motion animation, while Disney once again captured the hearts of audiences with Big Hero 6. Despite all of this, I believe that there’s one movie that brings animation and screenplay to a beautiful harmony. Plus, the score for this movie is world class. You’ve come a long way since the Shrek sequels, DreamWorks.
Winner: How to Train your Dragon 2
Every year, I pick my favourite movie from the list of Best Picture nominees and slot it in as my pick to win the award. A solid display of logic, no? Well, I can say confidently that I enjoyed Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel the most out of all these films (the witty humour is what gets me). While I may find this movie enjoyable, it doesn’t feel like a best picture winner. The Academy regularly choose movies with a more serious undertone addressing something important, like 12 Years a Slave and The King’s Speech in more recent years. While I want The Grand Budapest Hotel to win best picture, I can’t confidently say that it will. So (regrettably) for the sake of being correct, I have to pick the movie that I think the Academy will like best and not what I like best. Sorry Wes Anderson, but the Academy doesn’t love dark humour as much as you and I.
The awards take place on Feb. 22 and are sure to be a hot topic. Be sure to check them out and see if any of these predictions come true.