Not a Bad Night After All – Oscar 2015 Recap

For a night that was supposed to have few surprises, Oscar 2015 had more than its share and more than most in recent history.

Personally, I went 20 fro 24 on my pics. I managed to pic all three short film categories yet miss best picture. I have been Oscar picking since 1990 and that’s a first. This is one of my better years, my best still being 2006 (when Crash was best picture) and I was 23 for 24, missing only Best Original Song.

Neal Patrick Harris started the show with an opening number for the ages, comparable to any of the Billy Crystal routines, but with better vocals. He kinda fell flat after that, save for when he said that Edward Snowden could not be there “for some treason”. Brilliant.

The four major acting categories all went as planned, but outside that, there were plenty of upsets.

Whiplash, the small film starring JK Simmons, took home three awards, two (Sound and Editing) to the shock of everyone, including the recipients. Disney’s Big Hero 6 upset How to Train your Dragon 2.

The strongest category of the night was Adapted Screenplay, which included Grand Bupadest Hotel, front runner Boyhood and critically acclaimed Birdman. When Birdman won, I was scrambling to adjust my ballot when no one was looking. When this night is analyzed by the prognosticators, there will be long discussions on how the universal favourite, Boyhood, went home with one statue.

The night belonged to Birdman, winning for Picture, Director, Screenplay and Emanuel Lubezki’s genius cinematography. Lubezki has now taken his place as the man to have behind the camera. Grand Budapest Hotel was honoured in four technical categories and Whiplash made its mark with three wins.

The night had his highs a lows. Sean Penn, who is a pretentious d-bag on a good day, paused before reading the best picture winner and said of Alejandro Innaritu “who gave this son of a bitch his green card.” That classless moment was the worst in Oscar history since Julia Roberts said “I love my life” before reading Denzel Washington for best actor. Yes, I know he and Penn have worked together. Still, that moment, Sean is not about you.

The peak of the night was clearly Lady Gaga. Looking shockingly normal, she did a four song medley from Sound of Music and nailed it. Even Julie Andrews, who joined her on stage after, seemed speechless. LAdy Gaga performed those songs like she owned them. She commanded the stage like a seasoned pro and proved she is not ordinary pop start. Common and John Legend brought the house down with Glory from Selma, then went on to win Best Original Song. Common gave a heartfelt, powerful acceptance speech.

Count me among those who felt Patricia Arquette’s “giving birth to taxpayers” speech was off key. While I have no quarrel with her content and agree with her, I have trouble with and highly paid actor preaching wage equality to a room full of privileged white millionaires. That moment for me was soon washed out by Graham Moore’s (original screenplay for Imitation Game) heartfelt, slightly sad but oh so joyous speech, encouraging youth to “stay weird and stay different”.

While Alejandro Innaritu will now go down in film history as a three time winner for Birdman, I encourage you to look at #86 on my blog, his brilliant “21 Grams”. Like Birdman, its challenging, different, demands a lot of its viewer. It was my first exposure to his work and it is a film that continues to mesmerize me to this day.

This year also confirmed my long-standing, undying crush on Cate Blanchett, my respect for Meryl Streep and the fact that Jack Black just makes me laugh.

For a year with no Clooney, no Pitt, no blockbusters, it turned into an exciting event. By the time the last two awards arrived, Best Actor and Best Picture were truly up for grabs.

I don’t expect to see Neal Patrick Harris back. He is uber talented and funny, but did not seem comfortable on stage and his ongoing gag with his picks on stage fell flat.

Lady Gaga, Common, JK Simmons and Mr. Moore all provided moments that will long be remembered. Birdman, a truly great but genuinely unusual film, will take its place amongst lesser Best Picture winners.

Dan’s Oscar Picks for 2015

Dan’s Oscar Picks 2015

 

This is the first year I am able to blog about the Oscars. Sadly, it is not an exciting year. There is no blockbuster, few real races and the front running movies are almost exclusively smaller pictures with little exposure.

Easily the most anticipated part of this show is Neil Patrick Harris. He has the ability to rival Billy Crystal and Johnny Carson as host.

The Academy consists of 6,000 members broken into 17 branches. The voting system, especially for best picture is so convoluted that it defies description. Over the years, they have gotten it right (The Godfather, Return of the King, Patton,  Platoon) and at times they miss the mark so bad its embarrassing (Braveheart, Gladiator, The Color Purple going 0 for 11). Right or wrong, I love the show and never miss.

Here are my pics for this year.

oscar-envelope

THE SIX MAJOR CATEGORIES

 

BEST PICTURE

This is a two-way race between Boyhood and Birdman. Both are unusual films made by artsy directors. Boyhood is critically acclaimed and seems to fit the profile of recent winners.

Dan’s Prediction: Boyhood

 

BEST ACTOR

Possibly the only real race of the six major categories. Will it be young, relative newcomer, Eddie Redmayne or well loved, never nominated veteran Michael Keaton for Birdman. Redmayne does two things the Oscar voters love, playing a handicapped character and a real life person. Keaton arguably is playing himself. And we cannot count out Bradley Cooper, who has pulled of the rare feat of three straight nominations. Benedict Cumberbatch and Steve Carrell have no real chance but this is an anything goes category.

Dan’s Prediction: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

 

BEST ACTRESS

This is a forgone conclusion. Bet the farm here. It’s a mortal lock.

Dan’s Prediction: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

If you own two farms, bet the second one here. I have long admired JK Simmons since the days of Oz. I will be estatic to see him win

Dan’s Prediction: JK Simmons, Whiplash

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Patricia Arquette has had the momentum in this category for a long long time and seems to be the universal favourite. If there is an upset it will be Emma Stone. That said, never count out Meryl. Nomination #19.

Dan’s Prediction: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

 

BEST DIRECTOR

Very much a two way race between Boyhood and Birdman. Both films employ interesting trickery and both are directed by respected men who have never won before. A true coin toss. I see a split between Picture and Directior.

Dan’s Prediction: Alejandro G Innaratu, Birdman

 

 

THE CONSOLATION PRIZES

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The toughest category, with the two main front runners for best picture and the well loved Grand Budapest Hotel. This is where I see TGBH getting honour.

Dans’ Prediction: The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

A much weaker category. I will go with the winner from the Writer’s Guild.

Dan’s Prediction: The Imitation Game

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Now here is a hard one to pick. Three time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood is a safe bet for Into the Wood as is three time Oscar Winner Milena Canonera for Grand Budapest Hotel. One of these gifted women will pick up a fourth.

Dan’s Prediction: Grand Budapest Hotel

 

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

So often goes with Costume Design.

Dan’s Prediction: Grand Budapest Hotel

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Birdman is an astonishing technical achievement and deserves to win but will his win for Gravity last year hurt Emmanual Lubeski’s chances? If you think so, go with Grand Budapest Hotel, Or could it be the year that Roger Deakins gets his long overdue Oscar after 11 nominations?? Tough call

Dan’s Prediction: Birdman

 

BEST FILM EDITING

The single best predictor of Best Picture. Often movies that only win a few awards win Editing and Picture (Argo, Crash to name two). Look for Sandra Adair to be honoured for piecing together a twelve year story.

Dan’s Prediction: Boyhood

 

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Can someone PLEASE explain to me how The Lego Movie was not even nominated???? This is a weird category this year. I am going to take a guess here and what appears to be the most popular of the five films. However, the Academy may try to show how open minded they are by choosing The Tale of Princess Kugaya.

Dan’s Prediction: How to Train Your Dragon 2

 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FIM

Total guess here.

Dan’s Prediction: Ida (Poland)

 

 

THE TECHNICAL CATEGORIES 

Sound Mixing : American Sniper

 

Sound Editing : American Sniper

 

Visual Effect:  Interstellar

 

Hair & Make-up : Grand Budapest Hotel

 

Original Song : Glory from Selma (This movies persistent whining about only receiving two nominations may hurt its chances. I will be elated it “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie pulls an upset)

 

Original Score : The Grand Budapest Hotel (This could also be Imitation Game – either one of the Alexander Desplat scores)

 

THE EDUCATED GUESS CATEGORIES

Documentary Feature: Citizenfour

 

Documentary Short: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

 

Live Action Short: The Phone Call

 

Animated Short: Feast