This article was last modified on February 20, 2015.


If I Ran the 87th Academy Awards…

In reverse order of what is typically deemed important… my picks for the Oscars. (Not who I think WILL win, but who I think SHOULD win. Big difference.)

Best Visual Effects

“Interstellar”. I’d love to say “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but I’m just overwhelmed with the CGI. Same with “Captain America”. Didn’t see “X-Men”, but assume it’s similar. Also didn’t see “Planet of the Apes”… To me, “Interstellar” just looked right. Not cheesy, based in reality, and explored some intense science questions in a visual way few would ever have thought possible. Let them have this technical award.

Best Editing

The actual winner of this category is “Birdman”, but it didn’t get the nomination. Nothing else really even comes close. So let’s just say “Whiplash” because it probably took a lot of work to blend this all together just right.

Best Costume Design

“Into the Woods” was alright in this regard. Didn’t see “Maleficent”, but I’m sure it’s wonderful. Gotta go with “Grand Budapest Hotel”. Because, why not?

Best Hair and Makeup

This is where we see if the Academy is opening its mind to the fantastic genres. Nobody in their right mind would say that any film had more extensive work done on hair and makeup than “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and that’s why this award is theirs. If the Academy votes for Steve Carell’s nose (“Foxcatcher”) or “Grand Budapest Hotel”, they have made a serious error in judgment.

Best Cinematography

Can it be any other film than “Birdman”? No. “Grand Budapest Hotel” comes in second, and would be nice, but not realistic.

Best Production Design

I like the look of “Grand Budapest Hotel”, but I’m leaning towards “The Imitation Game”. I love the construction and design on the code-breaking machine and just the general set. I’d be happy with either one, but I’ll throw some love at the Brits.

Sound Editing / Sound Mixing

I’m putting these two awards under one heading because they’re equally hard to pick. I don’t have the technical expertise to know what’s good or not. And watching these films on DVD through my inferior stereo setup means I’m not really getting optimal sound anyway. “Birdman” and “Interstellar” are nominated in both categories. I also see “Hobbit” and “Whiplash”. This is a throwaway vote, but let’s say “Interstellar” on Sound Editing and “Whiplash” on Sound Mixing.

Best Original Song

This is a two song contest, because it seems unlikely one of the three songs from the movies nobody saw will win. That’s not not very likely. I think the runner-up is “Glory” from Common and John Legend. Not that it’s a bad song, but it really took me out of the film (“Selma”). They spent two hours trying to put us in 1964, and then used a song with very modern hip-hop. Seemed out of place. So the winner is “Everything is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”. Congrats, Tegan and Sara… you’re finally relevant.

Best Original Score

Two of the five nominees are named Alexandre Desplat. And the winner is also named Alexandre Desplat. The one who did “Grand Budapest Hotel” will win. The one who did “The Imitation Game” will also win, but not for that movie. Hans Zimmer (“Interstellar”) won’t win, but also won’t give a crap, because after being nominated 62 times, he’s just happy to get free shrimp cocktails backstage.

Best Documentary

I had intended to see these, but only watched “Virunga” thus far. It would be unfair for me to just guess a winner. “Citizenfour” has the buzz, and I’m interested in “Finding Vivian Maier”. But I can’t pick what I haven’t seen. “Life Itself” (which wasn’t nominated) can be my pick.

Best Animated Feature

I was very startled that “The Lego Movie” did not get a nomination, but to be fair, it was overhyped and the ending completely ruined the film for me. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” was as good and probably better than the first. And the first one should have won but didn’t. Could this be the chance to get revenge? “Boxtrolls” was terrible. Just terrible. So, long story short, the winner is “Big Hero 6”. Great animation, humorous film, likable characters. They took a group from Marvel Comics that almost no one has heard of and made them popular. That’s incredible. (Marvel actually did it twice in one year, since only comic fans had ever heard of “Guardians of the Galaxy”). Feel free to make a sequel!

Best Adapted Screenplay

This is a hard one. It probably helps to be familiar with the original material, and in all of these, I just am not. So instead I’ll have to judge based on the final product. I think it comes down to “Whiplash” and “Inherent Vice”. And I’m giving it to “Inherent Vice”. There are some execution flaws. Maybe several. Like casting Reese Witherspoon. But that script… wow.

Best Original Screenplay

I want to give this to “Nightcrawler” just because it got snubbed in other categories. Jake Gyllenhaal easily could have gotten a Best Actor nomination. But he didn’t. I don’t think “Foxcatcher” or “Boyhood” were very strong stories. I can see “Birdman”. If nothing else, it’s pretty darn clever. But I’m going to have to go with “Grand Budapest Hotel”, which is probably Wes Anderson’s masterpiece up to this point.

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”) wins by default. Although I was not necessarily impressed by her, there was nothing at all coming from her contenders. Laura Dern? No. Emma Stone? Even more no. Keira Knightley? A good showing, but no. And then Meryl Streep is thrown in there… for some reason. Meryl, you’re amazing, but really?

Best Supporting Actor

There’s no reason to even discuss this category, other than to ask how Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”) got a nomination. I love the Ruffalo, but this is just a poor choice. Tim Roth (“Selma”) should have been in his place. Regardless, everyone knows that J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”) has this in the bag, and should.

Best Actress

This is possibly the strangest category, because only one of the five nominated actresses was in one of the big films. That would be Felicity Jones (“Theory of Everything”). I think she was great, but I’m not at all convinced she was among the year’s best. Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”) also seems out of place. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the Academy thinks of her as a better actress than she is. “Walk the Line” was great, but maybe that’s all she has. There is about 95% certainty that Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”) is getting the award, and that would be fine with me if she does. Others have (correctly) pointed out that her film was not very good, but was saved and anchored by her performance. She more or less made that movie worth watching, and had no help whatsoever from Alec Baldwin or the script. But guess what? I’m going with Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”)… just because I thought she embraced the role quite well and portrayed such a great range of character.

Best Actor

Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”) should not be in this category. Steve, you were amazing, but really your role was more supporting and less lead. Channing Tatum was the lead. So, my issue is not with your delivery and performance, which impressed me, but with where they put your nomination. There seems to be a huge push for Michael Keaton (“Birdman”). I get it, he plays a pretty good neurotic guy. And there’s the sheer brilliance of him sort of, kind of mocking his own career. But I’m just not seeing the range or the depth. This is Michael Keaton as Michael Keaton. I’m glad he’s back in a blockbuster film after hiding in the shadows for 20 years, but the Oscar seems like too much. This award belongs to Eddie Redmayne (“Theory of Everything”). Anyone who says otherwise is wrong and really doing a disservice to Redmayne. Keaton has more chances, but this may be the finest work Redmayne ever gets.

Best Director

Bennett Miller seems out of place here with “Foxcatcher”. Was the directing special? Someone thinks so. Alejandro González Iñárritu has a good shot with “Birdman”. Personally, I would love to see Wes Anderson get the award, if for no other reason than to acknowledge his growing body of work, which has been unique and consistently good. Compare him to Richard Linklater, who seems very uneven. He can make some masterpieces (the “Before” series) and then bust out something like “School of Rock”. Huh?But if we’re going to be fair, we are not critiquing a director’s entire body of work but just their contribution in 2014. And for that, I reluctantly give the award to Richard Linklater, as no one else had the patience and vision that he had…

Best Picture

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So here it is, the big one. You never know what will win, especially with the Academy’s bizarre run-off voting system. These are the people who picked “Argo”. Oh well. This year, the buzz has been behind “Boyhood” and “Birdman”, and almost everyone seems convinced that one of them is going to win. Sounds like “Birdman” might have a slight edge. But then there is the last-minute push for “American Sniper”, and even “Whiplash” has gained a following.

“Boyhood”, to me, has buzz for one of two reasons. Either it emotionally connects with the audience, or people are impressed by the gimmick of filming over 12 years. I never felt attached to any of the characters, and thought the acting by and large was pretty awful. The gimmick is clever, but if you think about it, it’s no more impressive than having the three kids from Harry Potter do eight films as the same character, starting from when they were quite young and then thrust into the limelight…

Well, personally, I’m not picking any of those. For me, it’s “The Imitation Game”. While it may not have the best actor, best actress, best screenplay, best director or best of much of anything… it seems to be the most well-rounded film, enjoyable while at the same time being “important” in its own way. I’m also a sucker for Alan Turing (thanks, Professor Null).

And that’s it! See you next year!

Also try another article under Film Industry
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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