Friday, February 20, 2015

Who Will Win Oscar?

What a season it has been.

While last year's annual kudos fest for the best achievements in film were overly predictable, this year is way more uncertain. It looks likes the 2010 race when "The Social Network" was winning over all of the critics and the Golden Globes, but when industry professionals got their say the race drastically shifted in the eventual best picture-winner's "The King's Speech" favor.

Four years later and its looking to be the same story with "Boyhood" being the early favorite and "Birdman" surging near the end.

Will the epic achievement of "Boyhood" reign supreme, or will "Birdman" fly away with the top prize in the end?
This year's slate of eight best picture nominees has, in my opinion, about half of them with true shots at winning. In addition to the aforementioned, "American Sniper" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" also have pretty good shots. The bio-centric films of "Selma", "The Imitation Game" and "The Theory of Everything" are least likely to upset, but watch out for "Whiplash" which received its fair share of awards at the BAFTAs on Feb. 8.

Other races that aren't a sealed deal include director and actor.

Here are my predictions on who will win that golden boy Oscar.

Best Picture!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/article_970/536674368.jpg
"Boyhood" cast with Richard Linklater (center) NY Daily News
Leading the pack in nominations with nine each are "Birdman" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel". One a dark laffer about an aging actor's angst, and the other a period comedy caper set in the beautifully scenic European mountains. History says the film with the most nominations usually wins, but what about "Boyhood"? It only has six nominations but they're in key categories (directing, acting x2, screenplay and editing). "Birdman" lacks an editing nod and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" lacks any acting nods.

Critics have flooded "Boyhood" with their best picture prizes, with "Budapest" getting plenty of recognition too, and here comes "Birdman" flying in the best few weeks ruffling award season feathers. It has picked up the top prizes from DGA, PGA and SAG. Pretty much the trifecta that catapulted "The King's Speech" to victory.

Then there's the question of "Will 'Boyhood' return to the top?" Well, probably. Look back at 1995 when "Apollo 13" won all of the same guild prizes as "Birdman" has this year, but come Oscar Sunday "Braveheart" took the top prize. I think this is what will happen to "Boyhood".

Critics have given it a perfect 100 score on Metacritic, lauding the monumental task of shooting a film over 12 years with the same cast. Most important, it's a film with heart and those old saps in the academy like some emotion.

"Birdman" is being lauded by the professional guilds because it's about show business and how chaotic, messy and unrewarding it can be sometimes. It appeals to struggling actors, stressed out directors and money-hungry producers. It's about the entertainment industry, for the entertainment industry.

In the end, love will prevail.

Will win: "Boyhood"
Should win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Director
Iñárritu with his DGA award.

Alejandro Gonzaléz Iñárritu, "Birdman"
Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"
Bennett Miller, "Foxcatcher"
Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Morten Tyldum "The Imitation Game"

Yes, Iñárritu's directing peers gave him the DGA award for best achievement in directing motion pictures, but I think it's Richard Linklater's commitment to his film that will be rewarded by the academy. Yes, best picture/director have split in the past two years, and I don't believe the theory that it will split again to give equal attention to "Birdman" and "Boyhood".

Will win: Richard Linklater
Should win: Richard Linklater

Best Actor
Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"
Bradley Cooper, "American Sniper"
Benedict Cumberbatch," The Imitation Game"
Michael Keaton, "Birdman"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"

It's a fight between Redmayne and Keaton. I think Keaton's getting attention because it's a comeback role for him, and the fact that he plays a struggling actor could speak to voters (one-fifth of voters are actors). However, his peers didn't give him the lead actor win and opted for Redmayne, who also won the same prize at the BAFTAs (being British didn't hurt I'm sure).

At face value, Redmayne's role is the more Oscar-worthy role: playing a real person and one with a physical disability. It's an actor's dream role! It's more physically demanding and packs an emotional whallop - personally, I thought his performance was incredibly overrated, he sat in a chair saying nothing for 90 minutes!

Don't be surprised if Cooper spoils on his third consecutive acting nomination.

Will win: Eddie Redmayne
Should win: None.... (?)
Julianne Moore is a lock to win her first Oscar for "Still Alice"
Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, "Two Days, One Night"
Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything"
Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"
Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"
Reese Witherspoon, "Wild"

Julianne Moore without a doubt. I think about 70 percent of her win is attributed to her being "overdue" - she has four previous nominations since 1997 - and the rest for her sympathetic portrait of a professor dealing with memory loss.

Will win: Julianne Moore
Should win: Julianne Moore or Marion Cotillard

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, "The Judge"
Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"
Edward Norton, "Birdman"
Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"
J. K. Simmons, "Whiplash"

Just like actress is a done deal, so is supporting actor. J.K. Simmons will finish his clean sweep of awards with an Oscar.

Will win: J.K. Simmons
Should win: Edward Norton

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"
Laura Dern, "Wild"
Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"
Emma Stone, "Birdman"
Meryl Streep, "Into the Woods"

And the third acting category with a bonafide winner. Patricia Arquette's lackluster performance in "Boyhood" will be rewarded. That's unfortunate, it was such a basic performance.

Will win: Patricia Arquette
Should win: Emma Stone (or even none of them, nothing award-worthy in this category)

Best Original Screenplay: "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
Best Adapted Screenplay: "The Imitation Game" 
Best Foreign Language Film: "Ida" 
Best Animated Feature Film: "How to Train Your Dragon 2" 
Best Documentary Feature: "Citizenfour" 

Best Cinematography: "Birdman" 
Best Costume Design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
Best Editing: "Whiplash" 
Best Makeup: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Best Original Score: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Best Original Song: "Glory" from "Selma" 
Best Production Design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Sound Mixing: "Whiplash" 
Best Sound Editing: "American Sniper" 
Best Visual Effects: "Interstellar" 
Best Animated Short: "Feast" 
Best Documentary Short: "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1" 
Best Live-Action Short: "The Phone Call"

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