The Oscars, while fun to speculate about, mean very little other than a few movies that would normally not make money, get to make a little more. Films like "Boyhood" get to pull in over $25 million due to awareness and hype surrounding the awards season bump. Personally, my favorite thing about the Oscars, is that when you talk to average movie goers who end up seeing all of the nominees so they can be part of the conversation, they almost always hate them all. Unless, that film is "Forrest Gump." This year it's, "'Boyhood' is too slow and about nothing," "'Birdman' is stupid and what was with the ending," "Theory of Everything" and "Imitation Game" "are fine." There does seem to be a "Forrest Gump"-like exception this year and that's "American Sniper." Now, I have my own complex feelings about that film but audiences are crazy over it. Absolutely batshit, bananas over the thing. On that note, lets check out the rest of my guesses. I'm most likely wrong on all of them and "American Sniper" will win everything, which will lead to a wonderful month of left and right-wing think pieces about the state of Americas interest, feelings and ideas about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Onward and upward creative class! For now, here's a bunch of guesses to coincide with embedded videos of myself interviewing the stars!
What Will Win: Apparently, it's "Birdman." All the Oscar prognosticators have claimed it. The film has won too many of the awards leading up to the Oscars for it to not win Best Pic and hey, it's also a movie about showbiz narcissism playing for a lot of people who are narcissistic and work in showbiz. I love "Birdman" and will watch it whenever you put it on. But, it's not my pick for best picture. Below is my interview with two of the films writers.
My Pick: "Boyhood." Linklater has long been admired by people who cared about movies whether he was making a good one or, not. Now we have what feels like the culmination of two decades of his work. A film and an experiment that perfectly encapsulates his career long obsessions; time, youth, philosophy and politics, all of which were done with a humility rarely shown by artists who work at his caliber. Below is the interview I conducted with Linklater and Ellar just as the film was about to be released. I pressed them on the awards circuits but they couldn't believe it would actually happen for their little film.
What Will Win and My Pick
We basically have a similar race as we had last year with "12 Years A Slave" and "Gravity." One movie feels like it has to win based on cultural achievement and artistic importance and the other for technical prowess. While there's still a bit of a split between best picture winners, I think, and I hope, that we're going to see an Innaritu win in the director category and Linklater still takes home Best Picture for "Boyhood." That's it. Congrats Alejandro. I hope Leo gives you a big hug.
What Will Win: I guess, Julianne Moore and I love Julianne Moore but I've never more been more uninterested in one of her performances than I am with "Still Alice." She's great, don't get me wrong, but I prefer Moore when she's a bit more unchained. There is a slew of Julianne Moore performances that outrank "Still Alice's" with their daring, go for broke emotionality, which "Alice" forces safety and reasoning on. Give me Julianne Moore's wild, completely unhinged and over-the-top monologues in "Magnolia" over the sentimentality of a film like, "Still Alice" any day.
My Pick: Marion Cotillard. Not just because I interviewed her, but because she gives subtle, heartbreaking performances -- not just in the film she's nominated this year, but also in James Grey's "The Immigrant." Both Cotillard performances are emotional, devastating and at the same time, like so many of her performances, elegant in way that makes sure her characters exude some kind of dignity even at their worst. Where as "Still Alice" felt the need to write in moments of dignity for its lead, Cotillard is able to show it. Show, don't tell, right? Big rule for films, right?
What Will Win: Eddie Redmayne. I've really got nothing on this one. No commentary at all. It's a good performance in a fine movie. Good job!
My Pick: Michael Keaton. Like, the race for Best Picture, the Best Actor field has gone from Redmayne in "Theory Of Everything" to Keaton in "Birdman" and according to some people, it's now swung in favor of Bradley Cooper for "American Sniper" which, to me, is way off. He gained some weight, gave a solid performance but there's so much more show to what Keaton, Redmayne, Carrell and even Cumberbatch are doing. I, personally, want Keaton. Whether he's going to win or, not, I want him to win. He's been around for ages and seemingly not taken shit from the star system or the industry as well, and I love the combative actor on the rebound story. Below, is my interview with Keaton where he, like in every other interview, refused to cop to any similarities between himself and the Riggan character. I tried hard to push it but it's just not there, according to the man himself.
Best Supporting Actress
What Will Win: This will most likely go to Patricia Arquette and she deserves it. Her performance in Boyhood is challenging, daring and she's beautiful in it. Congrats. "You're so cool. You're so cool. You're so cool."
My Pick: Laura Dern. "Wild" is not an incredible film but there was something about it I found moving and in retrospect, I think that was the power of Laura Dern. It's established early in the film that her character, the mother of Cheryl, is going to die in a series of expertly woven flashbacks through out the film. Every time Dern appears on screen after that, I was moved to tears. She's an angelic presence and one that has grown more and more sacred over the years through her incredible parts and effortless charm on and off camera. Below is an interview I conducted with her and Sheryl Strayed.
Best Supporting Actor
What Will Win and My Pick: JK Simmons. And guess what? He's as much the man in person as he seems on screen. He never expected any of this, is totally happy it's coming but is also just pumped he got to make the film and keep working. His performance is terrifyingly sadistic and hilarious for it at times. My favorite part of interviewing him was getting him to cop to sadism being a lot of fun to play and also quite funny to particular personalities.
Best Adapted Screenplay
What Will Win: "Whiplash". I love Whiplash as much as the next guy but everyone knows this is a ridiculous nomination and the screenplay should be in the Original Screenplay category. Damien Chazelle made a short to raise money for the feature and the Academy is calling the film an adaptation of the short. It's a silly, stupid rule but the film is beloved and will still win this award.
My Pick: "Inherent Vice." Rarely does a film grow on you like a Paul Thomas Anderson film and "Inherent Vice" is no exception other than that it actually HAS to grow on you to work. Meaning, you should see it at least twice. I've seen it three times and it gets better every time. The film is an intricately woven cast of melancholy goofies in Gordito Beach, California. Off-beat humor is scattered all over the movie forcing the viewer to handle the story with multiple emotions at once. Is the beautifully acted long take with Owen Wilson a scene of absurd comedy where two men just can't seem to understand each other or is it two men coming to realize what a post free love America is as it falls into the shark teeth of late capitalism? It's both and it makes every time you watch it more entertaining.
Best Original Screenplay
What Will Win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel." There's a lot of love for this film and finally for Wes Anderson and I get the feeling that if a number of voters felt they wouldn't be shunned for voting for it, Budapest would be a best picture winner. But, alas, all they feel comfortable awarding it is a screenplay oscar.
My Pick: "Birdman." I love the screenplay for "Birdman." It's rushed, crazy and go for broke. There's problems with it but I love the challenges it sets for itself, the melodrama it instills and even some of the problems it faces. Nothing can be perfect especially when you're shooting this high.