Where I post this has floated around, but every year, as close to the ceremony as I can, I post a list of what I think the winners will be for every category. Not just the biggies, either. Literally every category. Even the ones where I’m literally guessing, because I don’t even know what half the nominees are about. (The shorts, usually.) I don’t know why I do this; it’s an intellectual exercise. But for the first time, it’s an intellectual exercise with an audience!
I do the list in the order they appear on the Academy’s website, which is essentially alphabetical with a few exceptions. I wish, however, that the Academy would just post the list in the order in which they’ll be awarded. It’s not as though they don’t know.
We start with Best Picture. Now, for reasons–legitimate reasons–I haven’t seen most of this year’s nominees in most categories. In fact, in Best Picture, I have seen two. Which is not as good an average as it was, when I started doing these lists. I would like to hope that Selma wins, since by most accounts, it’s actually the Best Picture this year. (It does happen, though this week will include an article about a year where the Academy got it horribly, horribly wrong.) But I didn’t see it. I could actually go for Boyhood, simply because I think it is in some ways the most adventurous attempt of the year, but there are some things I didn’t really like about it.
My choice of Michael Keaton for Best Actor is purely sentimental. I admit it. I haven’t seen any of the nominees. I can’t even write the Obligatory Think Piece on American Sniper, because I didn’t see it. But I understand that Eddie Redmayne is, for entirely different sentimental reasons, the popular favourite. Because I really do think it’s about Stephen Hawking, and that will probably be the subject of another piece when I actually get around to that movie. Which starts with “T,” so it will be a while yet.
I have seen one of the Best Actress nominees, having gotten Gone Girl in the mail from Netflix right away. And I thought she was very good indeed; there were several ways she could have played the character that would have ruined the movie, and I don’t think she did. But on the subject of “movies that start with the letter ‘t,'” I understand Marion Cotillard will be winning again for Two Days, One Night.
According to family legend, we are descended from Robert E. Lee’s niece. (We don’t have paperwork on it.) This is why I refer to Robert Duvall, descended from Robert E. Lee, as “cousin Bobby.” And thankfully, Cousin Bobby already has an Oscar win and therefore is unlikely to get the sympathy vote. The only nominee whose performance I actually saw is Ethan Hawke, who just seemed to me to be playing another Ethan Hawke character, which just leads into a rant about his portrayal of Hamlet that you don’t want to hear. I understand J. K. Simmons is the favourite, and I’m always hoping a good character actor gets recognition, so let’s go there.
Look, it’s not just that I don’t like Meryl Streep very much, though I don’t. It isn’t even that there were at least two actresses in the same movie that I thought could do her part better than she did. (From a purely vocal perspective, I could have; I can hear where she screwed up the singing, and I’ve been singing the role in the privacy of my own home since something like 1990 and can do it at speed, which she didn’t.) It’s that they kind of gutted the character’s motivations. You want to see it done right, see the original Broadway cast Great Performances and see what Bernadette Peters did with it. But I don’t have a real strong positive feeling on any of these, and I haven’t heard a lot of buzz in the category. I’m going to guess Emma Stone?
I’ve seen three of the Animated Feature nominees and chose not to see another, then just wasn’t up for the last one yesterday morning, not alone. But I think Big Hero 6 is going to take it, which will be the second time Disney–excluding Pixar–has won in the category, the first time last year, for Frozen. Failing that, Princess Kaguya.
The cinematography of The Grand Budapest Hotel is not really my thing; it may well go on The Big List o’ Reasons I Don’t Care For Wes Anderson Movies. And I was personally struck by the cinematography of Ida. So my preference is Ida, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m wrong.
So here’s the thing. I, too, am swayed by the flashy on Costume Design. (Though how are we to know how flashy it is or isn’t if the only stills the Academy chooses to give us are three headshots of the same character?) I am frankly disdainful of costuming nominations for movies I could do myself out of JoAnn Fabrics and Goodwill, even if it’s beautifully adapted to its environment. I won’t dispute that this is probably wrong of me. But it means I’m actually going with Maleficent, because Mr. Turner is from a very easy era to costume, and the costumes for Into the Woods were frankly not great.
For Best Director, I honestly lean toward Linklater and Boyhood, because I think this is probably the category where the film’s success fits. He held it together for twelve years. Personally. Got decent performances out of kids, even, which can be a real challenge. And Academy history doesn’t give Alejandro G. Iñárritu much of a chance, for reasons I suspect are more obvious than they should be.
I’ve only managed two of the Documentary Features this year, and the Academy outlawed write-in campaigns long ago, so Life Itself can’t beat them both. But wasn’t Wim Wenders one of the people Roger used to champion? So let’s give it to The Salt of the Earth as a better documentary about photography.
Documentary Short Subject is one of the ones where I’m guessing. I’m going to guess “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1,” just kind of at random.
I could also go for Boyhood for editing, though I suspect most of the important stuff got decided before filming.
The only Foreign Language Film I’ve seen is Ida, which coincidentally is also the frontrunner. (This is seldom the case, but Netflix came through this year.) So we’ll go there?
Foxcatcher is another one of those movies nominated for Best Makeup and Hair Design for a fake nose, isn’t it? But I’ll see your fake nose and raise you Drax the Destroyer.
I’ve just listened to all the music nominees in fairly rapid succession, except for the two which come from movies I’ve already seen, and none of the score nominees stand out for me. If Alexandre Desplat wins for either, I think he’ll be the first person since John Williams in 1977 (Star Wars over Close Encounters) to beat himself, so that probably won’t happen. However, he’s also been nominated a bunch without ever winning, and Hans Zimmer hasn’t won since 1994 (The Lion King), so I don’t know. Possibly Zimmer for Interstellar. For song, “Everything Is Awesome” will probably ride the backlash over The LEGO Movie‘s failure to be nominated for Animated Feature and beat out Glen Campbell’s final song.
I’m biased, but I honestly didn’t think the Production Design on Into the Woods was that great, either. This, I could see going for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which at least was pretty in its artificial Wes Anderson sort of way.
“Feast” seems the frontrunner for Animated Short. And I’m going to vote for “Boogaloo and Graham” for Live Action Short because, well, Graham.
My usual preference in the sound categories is “vote the musical.” But Into the Woods isn’t nominated, and we’re left with a slate of “Yup, those were all pretty loud.” I’m guessing Interstellar for both, because this tends to be where sci-fi slips in its Oscars.
In Visual Effects, I’ve seen the three superhero movies but neither of the sci-fi ones. And I’m going to have to go with the place where superhero and sci-fi cross–with Guardians of the Galaxy. As long as the Academy keeps refusing to acknowledge voice work as acting, and I’ll jump on board with the possibility of just giving it its own category, this is where fully realized CGI characters in a live-action world are going to end up. And that racoon that is wearing people clothing? Let’s go there!
For Screenplay, I’ve seen two of the ten, both in Original. Adapted includes three biopics, and I lean toward the Hawking one as the winner. I’d be less than pleased, from what I’ve read, if the Turing one gets it. For Original, I hope for Birdman because, if what I’ve heard is right, it’s an examination of the superhero mythos from an unusual direction, and I’d like to encourage the idea of superheroes as part of our modern folklore, even if that isn’t quite what it’s doing.
We’ll see how I did in just a few hours, and I’ll be back this evening for a summary. Enjoy the show!
(On a personal note, I would like to thank the website for backing up my work as I go, because I was discussing the Visual Effects nominees with Graham, and Simon crawled under the bed and turned off my power strip. I would have rewritten the whole thing, but I definitely would not have been happy about it.)