Archive for the ‘87th oscars’ Tag

87th Academy Awards: Best Picture Rankings   2 comments

 

bp 2015

Before the Oscars bestow their list of winners on Monday, it’s time to rank the Oscar Best Picture nominees for film year 2014. Unlike in 2012 and 2013 though though, it’s the first time that the Academy nominated only eight films for the top award. It’s a pretty good batch as a whole, though I have lots of reservations with the films in it, and how I wish Gone Girl made it over some of these clunkers in this batch. Anyway, here are my rankings:

IMITATION

08. THE IMITATION GAME
Director: Morten Tyldum

In first of the two British Oscar-contending films this year, this one is about one of Britain’s uncelebrated heroes of his time. Alan Turing has a very interesting story to tell; his team was able to crack the “unbreakable” Enigma leading to a World War II victory. The achievement would be of no value though as he was prosecuted for his homosexuality. What could have been a narration of such story was put to waste with the film’s very pedestrian treatment to it. Hackneyed dialogue, cliched treatment, and uneven focus on the story made the whole film totally disengaging. As if that’s not offensive yet, Benedict Cumberbatch’s campy portrayal is equally eye-roll worthy. With subtlety not existing in his dictionary, Cumberbatch spits every syllable of every word in every line as if it’s his last. Leave it to the sublime Keira Knightley to save the film, together with Alexander Desplat’s score. What might be the biggest missed opportunity here was the film just glossing over a part of Turing’s life that deserved the most attention. Oh well.

2.5/5

theory of everything

07. THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Director: James Marsh

The second of the two British-Oscar contending films this year, this one is about celebrated science figure Stephen Hawking. His name, probably more known because of The Big Bang Theory above many other reasons, has an equally compelling story to tell, and director James Marsh milked it for all its worth. Theory completed the handbook of how to do an Oscar-baity movie 101 highlighting the romance and the disease and the drama in succession. I have to say that I was initially hooked but easily worn out by the film’s cinematography using endless filters that really doesn’t offer much except to inform us that hey they really do have lots of filters. The film does a successful job of reminding us that it’s the British cousin of A Beautiful Mind, and if you digged that one, chances are you’d really enjoy this as well. Unlike Cumberbatch in Imitation Game, the only thing I appreciated about the film is Eddie Redmayne’s completely dedicated performance as Hawking. There is more than just the physicality of the role that he embraced which made it work. He might not be my pick for Best Actor at the Oscars, but one can’t deny that he did justice with his character.

2.5/5

american sniper

06. AMERICAN SNIPER
Director: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood, except for that Best Director nomination, is back to Oscar’s good graces with his latest effort. American Sniper is based on the life story of Chris Kyle — known as the deadliest marksman in the US military with 255 bodies credited under his name. Aided by Bradley Cooper’s intense performance of Kyle, he manages to carry the whole film in his shoulders in spite of the noticeable flaws in the writing. While Eastwood delivered on the technical aspects further escalating the tension and making us feel the nitty gritty of it all (the whole sandstorm part in particular), the film weakens every time it shifts to Kyle’s own personal dilemma of dealing with his PTSD. I wasn’t even bothered by its by the numbers approach nor Eastwood’s political (or apolitical, depending on how you view it) favoring of his own take on militarism in the film. American Sniper could have been a more affecting film had it managed to strike the balance of both, but where one aspect Eastwood delivered, the other lacked. For what its worth, it’s still a solid, if not a bit pedestrian, and decent tribute to someone others consider as a figure of their American hero.

3/5

birdman

05. BIRDMAN
Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

There’s a lot of things I loved about Inarritu’s Birdman. As for starters, there’s Michael Keaton’s comeback performance. And Edward Norton’s larger than life character. Then there’s the dark absurdity of the whole film which easily grabs your attention. Plus, the one long take approach of it. Lubezki’s cinematography and Antoio Sanchez’ underrated scoring are also top notch. While all of these seem to mesh out well to create a masterpiece, it still feels a bit underwhelming and not that exhilarating cinematic treat for me. The film has been too self-absorbed to the point that its ‘mocking’ of portraying Hollywood is as foolish as its portrayal of such. Birdman for me is a case of the individual parts being better than its sum where the gimmick hasn’t really stayed that much for me.

3.5/5

selma

04. SELMA
Director: Ava Duvernay

What makes the experience of cinema fascinating is when you witness a story, that in no way, shape, or form involves you, but touches your heart with what it presented to you. That is what Ava Duvernay did with Selma. On the outside, one might consider it as another general biopic advocating the human triumph, but what makes Selma much more sophisticated is that there is a raw sincerity with the lines, and the portrayals, and the technical peaks that it is definitely on a higher pedestal. What Duvernay accomplished here is to flaunt her cinematic potential while retelling a story whose effect aligned with the personal journey of the people during its time. Also, David Oyelowo’s snub will easily go down as one of the worst ever in Academy history. Selma is sensible and sincere that you can’t help but be affected by it.

4/5

the grand budapest hotel

03. THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Director: Wes Anderson

It’s really difficult to pin down Wes Anderson films since there’s a lot that we can discuss about his efforts, but I guess let’s start with the obvious. In true Anderson fashion, this one is probably his most deliciously looking film ever. One thing I’ve always appreciated about him is how he builds his own world and that it elevates the whole movie watching experience. In here, the Budapest hotel isn’t merely a background because it’s a star of its own with its use of wide space and set. And can we talk about Milena Canonero’s costume design here? ASTONISHING. With that said, the real deal here is Anderson’s storytelling. I’ve felt that it was his own homage to arts in general. His take on loyalty, passionate love, death, first love, and friendship among others was written with both poignancy and silly humor. Plus, of course that ever reliable ensemble with Ralph Fiennes front and center. Budapest is funny yet tragic, charming and whimsical, and a very delightful movie experience. 

4.5/5

WHIPLASH

02. WHIPLASH
Director: Damian Chazelle

A year after his short film of the same title won the Short Film Jury Prize award at last year’s Sundance, Damien Chazelle translated “Whiplash” into a full length feature film and has made the festival rounds from Sundance to Cannes and Toronto the past few months. The film tells the story of aspiring jazz drummer Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) who undergoes training under notorious jazz conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who has an atypical way of mentoring his students. The film did not waste any opportunity to build the intensity as we’ve seen from the interaction of Andrew and Terence in the opening scene. And there’s no stopping from there. Well crafted for the most part, particularly its creative, albeit really showy, editing and the musical score which heightens the tension further. Chazelle directs this with such precision making his audience feel the same discomfort that his characters feel, and his screenplay did not box the people as simply black and white; instead he composed them as larger than life ones — probably juxtaposed with the characters’ ambitions. J.K Simmons was every inch scary as the foul mouthed, no holds barred perfectionist maestro and there’s a level of brutality that his presence exudes. Rhythmically in sync though was Miles Teller, who should be given equal credit as he plays to Simmons’ level letting his Andrew be intimidated yet inspired with his verbal abuse. Whiplash is a painful reminder that greatness is no easy feat and that it literally takes blood, sweat, and tears to be achieved.

4.5/5

boyhood

01. BOYHOOD
Director: Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s 12 year in the making masterpiece is as ambitious as one can get, but the simple and organic approach in its depiction of a slice (is it even just a slice?) of life is certainly one of the most emotionally affecting movie watching experience I’ve ever had. This film follows the life of a kid, Mason, for 12 years as he experiences the highs and lows of his life. It wasn’t really alienating per se since Linklater is very much self-aware that Mason and everyone around him are as ordinary as us or the people around us. Its depiction of “life just going by” is probably one of the least pretentious yet most effective I have ever seen not because of the statement that it leaves, but by refusing to dictate such. There’s a line in the film mentioned by Patricia Arquette where she said “I just thought there would be more…”, and that perfectly sums up the film for me – that the experiences and the time that already passed by can either be a memory of what we were before and a reminder of what have become. Despite running for 165 minutes, I would have been more than fine to see two to three more hours of it. Its use of pop culture references (Pokemon! Harry Potter! Lady Gaga!) and music (Coldplay! Aaliyah! Family of the Year!) is a highlight to this experience as well. In the end, more than the achievement of such a “stunt” project (if one can even call it that), what makes Linklater’s Boyhood every inch effective and memorable is that it was able to capture the accuracy of one’s growing up beyond its literal meaning. The feelings you invested in these characters are too much and too deep that you just don’t want it to end. Well in my case, I really don’t.

5/5

How many have you seen from this year’s batch? Which are your favorites? And who would you be rooting for come Oscar night? Talk to me about it by tweeting me: @nikowl

 

 

87th Academy Awards Nominations Predictions   Leave a comment

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After almost a year of doing monthly predictions, all prayer circles come to this. Tonight, Academy president Cheryl Isaac Boones together with actor Chris Pine, current Best Director winner Alfonso Cuaron, and J.J. Abrams will finally reveal the 2014 class of Oscar nominees. And as per tradition, I’ll be offering my short thoughts in all 21 races.

Ready? Here we go!

BEST PICTURE
• American Sniper
• Birdman
• Boyhood
• The Grand Budapest Hotel
• Gone Girl
• The Imitation Game
• Selma
• The Theory of Everything
• Whiplash

10th (but not predicted): Nightcrawler

With 10 slots up for grabs, it’s easy to identify those that would make it in a field of five. As for starters, there’s clear frontrunner Boyhood ahead of the pack. Along with it is the meta comedy Birdman, Harvey Weinstein’s biggest push The Imitation Game, the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything,  and this season’s biggest surprise The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Selma is a clear victim of campaign mishandling and bad timing which led to its bad guild and precursor performance, but if they’re such on a limited time, it’s indeed wise to focus their eyes to Oscar which I think will pay off with a nomination. Whiplash has indeed been an overperformer this season managing to overcome obstacles one after the other, and a nod is assured at this point. American Sniper fits the bill of that late game-changing contender who’ll usually do well on the big day despite being under the radar for the most part. It’s eliciting real passion which would be enough in a tricky category such as this one. The last two slots clear go to Gone Girl and Nightcrawler — the former being that box office hit representative from an auteur that commands respect among his peers while the latter is a debut feature that hits all the right notes in terms of campaigning. If they decide to nominate ten films, then count on both making it, but since the 6-10 rule change in 2011, the median number of nominees here is 9. I’d give the advantage to Gone Girl making it in then.

BEST DIRECTOR
• Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper”
• Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman”
• Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
• Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
• Ava Duvernay, “Selma”

SPOILER: Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”

The consensus three is composed of Linklater, Anderson, and Inarritu, and they all seem safe and guaranteed for slots already. Despite the Academy being cold to his more recent works, Clint Eastwood never gives up finally hitting the right notes again for the first time in 8 years; thus, I see an Oscar nod accompanying his DGA mention. Like her movie, I’m expecting Globe nominee Ava Duvernay to hit it right at the Osccars despite underwhelming at the precursors. She has the narrative and the passion to make a case in getting nominated. Don’t count out Damien Chazelle though who managed to get a BAFTA nod for Whiplash, or Morten Tyldum who showed up at DGA despite literally missing everywhere.

BEST ACTOR
• Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
• Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
• Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
• David Oyelowo, “Selma”
• Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

SPOILER:  Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

What a category. You have nine names battling out for five slots it’s not even funny thinking the possibilities here. Well whatever happens though, two names are assured already. The two Golden Globe Best Actor winners, Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne for comedy and drama respectively, are likely to happen no matter what. Benedict Cumberbatch is in a safe albeit lower position than the two frontrunners for his turn as Alan Turing. The rest, to put it easily, is a clusterfuck. Despite missing some big precursors, David Oyelowo playing MLK seems too odd to miss especially since the Academy, unlike other guilds, has ample time to see Selma, so I’m sticking with him here. The last spot I go back and forth between two men whose names isn’t Jake Gyllenhaal sadly. While Jake seems logical after hitting all precursors, I think he somehow is affected that the two names are from far stronger films overall. First, there’s Ralph Fiennes who picked up Globe and BAFTA nods as part of a Top 5 finisher. Then there’s Bradley Cooper who’s hot on the heels of AMPAS with two consecutive nods under his belt, and with a really baity role this time around and lots of people campaigning for him. I guess one of those two makes it, and I won’t even be surprised if both Cooper and Fiennes make it in with Oyelowo missing.

BEST ACTRESS
• Amy Adams, “Big Eyes“
• Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
• Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
• Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
• Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

SPOILER: Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”

In probably the most boring race for Lead Actress in a long time, we have four names likely making it in already: Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Rosamund Pike, and Felicity Jones. The last spot is between two ladies with equally both pros and cons. First up, you have perennial nominee Amy Adams in Harvey Weinstein backed-up film Big Eyes.  She just won the Golden Globe last Sunday eve increasing her chances of a nom. While it seemed like her snub is impending, the Today Show controversy made her such a headline again. And she got in at the BAFTAs which sealed her last two nominations despite both times missing at SAG. Then there’s Jennifer Aniston in that film that no one probably knew about: Cake. While pundits are rallying about it, plus her getting in at Globe + SAG, would that be enough for her to have that elusive Oscar nod? Me thinks that it’s better to be safe and stick with a name the Academy has nominated five times in nine years.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
• Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
• Edward Norton, “Birdman”
• Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
• J.k. Simmons, “Whiplash”

SPOILER: Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”

This is as barren as one can possibly get, so it’s either we retain that same line up, or we have a totally out of the field surprise. Steve Carell’s BAFTA nod here threw many of us in the loop so let’s see if SPC can pull this trick off. I’d say they get close, but not totally good enough.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
• Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
• Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
• Emma Stone, “Birdman”
• Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

SPOILER: Renee Russo, “Nightcrawler”

Patricia, Keira, and Emma have garnered precursors one after the other that they’re names are expected to show up already. Meryl missed the BAFTA (like last year for August: Osage County) but who cares? It’s the Oscars we’re talking about here so hello nod #19. The last spot is between Globe nominee Jessica Chastain who’s hot on the heels of Oscar getting nominated twice in the last three years, and BAFTA nominee Renee Russo. It does seem logical that Nightcrawler is the stronger performer between that and A Most Violent Year, but Chastain is the more known of the two, and I don’t expect Nightcrawler to really hit it big with the Oscars despite great precursor run. I keep going back and forth, but I think I give Chastain a hair-like edge in this race.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
• Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Armando Bo,
Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., “Birdman“
• Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
• Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
• Mike Leigh, “Mr. Turner”
• Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”

SPOILER: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, “Foxcatcher”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
• Jason Hall, “American Sniper”
• Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”
• Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”
• Anthony McCarten, “The Theory of Everything”
• Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”

SPOILER: Nick Hornby, “Wild”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
• Force Majeure (Sweden)
• Ida (Poland)
• Leviathan (Russia)
• Tangerines (Estonia)
• Wild Tales (Argentina)

SPOILER: Timbuktu (Mauritania)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
• Big Hero 6
• The Boxtrolls
• How to Train Your Dragon 2
• The LEGO Movie
• The Tale of Princess Kaguya

SPOLER: Song of the Sea

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
• Citizenfour
• Finding Vivien Maier
• Life Itself
• The Overnighters
• Virunga

SPOILER: Last Days in Vietnam

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
• Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)
• Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal)
• Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
• Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

SPOILER: Interstellar (Hoyte van Hoytema)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)
• The Imitation Game (Sammy Sheldon Differ)
• Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)
• Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)
• Selma (Ruth E. Carter)

SPOILER: Belle (Anushia Nieradzik)

BEST EDITING
• Birdman (Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione)
• Boyhood (Sandra Adair)
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)
• The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)
• Whiplash (Tom Cross)

SPOILER: American Sniper (Joel Cox and Gary Roach)

BEST HAIRSTYLING & MAKE UP
• The Grand Budapest Hotel
• Guardians of the Galaxy
• The Theory of Everything

SPOILER: Foxcatcher

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
• Gone Girl (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)
• The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)
• Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)
• The Theory of Everything (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

SPOILER: Nightcrawler (James Newton Howard)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
• Everything Is Awesome (The LEGO Movie)
• Glory (Selma)
• I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me)
• Lost Stars (Begin Again)
• Opportunity (Annie)

SPOILER: Split the Difference (Boyhood)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen)
• The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic)
• Interstellar (Nathan Crowley)
• Into the Woods (Dennis Gasner)
• Mr. Turner (Suzie Davis)

SPOILER: Unbroken (Jon Hutman)

BEST SOUND EDITING
• American Sniper
• Guardians of the Galaxy
• The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
• Interstellar
• Unbroken

SPOILER: Fury

BEST SOUND MIXING
• American Sniper
• Birdman
• Into the Woods
• Unbroken
• Whiplash

SPOILER: Gone Girl

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
• Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
• Godzilla
• Guardians of the Galaxy
• The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies
• Interstellar

SPOILER: X-Men: Days of Future Past

NOMINATION TALLY (only of ym predicted Best Picture nominees)

The Grand Budapest Hotel – 10
Birdman
– 9
The Imitation Game – 8
Boyhood, The Theory of Everything –  6
Selma, American Sniper, Whiplash – 5
Gone Girl – 4

Personally I’m rooting for Jennifer Aniston just to make this season go crazier and more fun. Launching my prayer circle in a few!

Talk about this with me on Twitter: @nikowl

87th Oscars Predictions: November Edition   1 comment

We might be nearing the end of the year, but it’s just the start of the coming awards season. just last week, the Hollywood Film Awards has given their best of the year and with the Governor Awards two weeks ago, Oscar campaigning has gone on full blast with contenders appearing left and right *coughHilarySwankandEddieRedmaynecough* and making their presence felt already. Among the remaining contenders of the year, it seems like Into the Woods is the only remaining mystery to the puzzle. Let’s see the state of the race at this crucial moment by far before the critics roll out with their picks come first week of December.

picture

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supp actor

supp actress

original screenplay

adapted screenplay

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Final tally:

8 – BirdmanThe Imitation Game, Selma
7 – Gone Girl
6 –  Foxcatcher, Interstellar, The Theory of Everything, Unbroken
5 –  Into the Woods
2 – American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Hobbit, Mr. Turner, Still Alice, Whiplash, Wild

87th Oscars Predictions: October Edition   2 comments

We’re getting closer to the busiest months of awards prognostication as we reach the end of the year. At this point in the race, only American Sniper, Unbroken, Selma, Interstellar, Into the Woods, A Most Violent Year and Big Eyes are left among those in play for major nominations this year. But then again, we’ve had word on majority of the contenders already and we’re just awaiting for other factors to have a complete look on the race. This month, I’ve already added my predictions for the Foreign Language Film category considering that in two weeks time, we’ll hear the official complete list from AMPAS.

I’m still a bit bullish on Unbroken while quite confident in Selma, despite both being unseen. And I’m quite ready to predict that American Sniper will be Clint’s Oscar comeback. It’s also interesting to see the crowded Lead Actor race, as we’re bound to get a snub or two the way Tom Hanks was last year and John Hawkes was the year before. My current bet is on Eddie Redmayne to come close but solidify his chances for next year’s The Danish Girl, but I might still change my mind in the months to come. Anyway, here are my complete predictions in 19 different categories

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lead actor

 

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techs 1

 

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Total tally of nominations:

10 – Interstellar, Selma
8 – Gone Girl, Birdman
– The Imitation Game, Unbroken
5 – Boyhood, Into the Woods
4 – American Sniper, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything
3 – Exodus: Gods and Kings
2 – Big Eyes, Godzilla, Mr. Turner, Whiplash, Wild

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

87th Oscars Predictions: September Edition   5 comments

After skipping last month to pave the way for the Emmys, the monthly Oscar predictions are back (and with a new look to boot!). Now that festivals are coming one after the other (Telluride and Toronto have already started) and New York and AFI will soon come ahead of us, it’s time to clear the air on a lot of these contenders! I’ve also started to predict the rest of the categories (except Song, Foreign Language Film, and Documentary because duh, we need a shortlist for those). Anyway, here we go with the September batch of predictions!

*You can click the photos to read the write-ups in full (especially in the Best Picture category)

best picture

best director

best actor

best actress

best supporting actor

best supporting actress

Screenplay

Techs 1

Techs 2

Techs 3
Current tally of nominations:

9 – Birdman, Gone Girl, Interstellar
7 – Selma
6 – Boyhood, Foxcatcher, Unbroken, The Imitation Game
5 – Into the Woods
2 – Wild, Big Eyes, Whiplash, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Mr. Turner, Godzilla, The Hobbit, Fury

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

87th Oscars Predictions: July Edition   2 comments

As we go over halfway of the month, it’s time to update those Oscar predictions with all the hoopla and surge of trailers and news of the potential films this year!

best pic

best director

best actor

best actress

best supp actor

best supporting actress

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

 

87th Oscars Predictions: June Edition   8 comments

Hi everyone! After skipping the May batch (I don’t know the ideal time to post them since I waited for Cannes first), here’s the comeback of my monthly Oscar predictions. We’re nearing halfway already, and thanks to Cannes (and some more stuff), I’ve updated my predictions now with little write up on all contenders. Here’s my June batch of Oscar predictions:

best picture director lead actor lead actress supporting actor supporting actress

 

As always, you can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl