Monday, February 23, 2015

THE OSCARS 2015: THE BEST MOMENTS

Now we all know that Birdman raced ahead of Boyhood and took home Best Picture, and The Grand Budapest Hotel made quite the sweep, let’s take a look back at Oscar night and at what made everything awesome about it...



Photos courtesy: AMPAS

THE HOST
Neil Patrick Harris finds the best and funniest way to round up the evening even before it ended, after he stripped down to his underwear on stage and made clever references…
The whole protected Oscar predictions routine that began with Neil Patrick Harris claiming how good he is at predicting the winners kept us chuckling throughout, every time he checked with Octavia Spencer who was to guard the locked box on one corner of the stage. It seemed like just a continuing shtick, but just before the end of the evening, he opened the box and revealed what was in it. The predictions were not of the results but of the show itself. Highlighting the moments that made us raise our eyebrows, like John Travolta touching Idina Menzel’s face, and other funny bits, he kind of summed up the evening in the most original and entertaining way possible.

But it wasn’t just that. He was awesome in every way. The little spoof on Birdman and Whiplash, getting his robe caught in a door and then walking on towards the stage, but not before criticizing Miles Teller’s tempo on the drums, was hilarious, and bold in a way that few could probably pull off. Harris also had some very cleverly thrown in lines, such as, “Edward Snowden couldn’t be here for some treason,” when the documentary Citizenfour—about Snowden, the fugitive, and the NSA scandal—won the Oscar for documentary feature. Also, the insight into the name of the How To Train Your Dragon sequel, about how it implies that the first film did not adequately teach us how to train our dragons, was one of the funniest things I’ve heard lately.

Most people did have a good feeling about Neil Patrick Harris hosting this year, and the promos for the Oscars showed a lot of promise. But he actually exceeded expectations, setting the tone and quality with his outstanding opening number, with the shadow magic tricks, which he had given hints about. Harris was a good choice, and I suspect they’ll bring him on to host again in a few years.




ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES
Eddie Redmayne, JK Simmons, Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Graham Moore gave the best ones
Eddie Redmayne winning best actor was one outcome of Oscar Night that everyone saw coming. Yet, when the moment arrived, the bounce in his step and the excitement on his face was unparalleled. The Oscar winner dedicated his win to “all of those people around the world battling ALS,” and to the “one exceptional family: Stephen, Jane, Jonathan and the Hawking children.” He went on to say that he would be the statuette’s custodian, promising that he would “look after [it]. I will polish him. I will answer his beck and call. I will wait on him hand and foot,” he said, perhaps referring to the film itself.



JK Simmons, on the other hand, chose to dedicate his Oscar acceptance to his family—his children, their mother and his own parents, driving home a message to stay in touch with our parents and express our feelings. “Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ’em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ’em you love ’em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. Thank you. Thank you, Mom and Dad.”

Alejandro G Iñárritu made an interesting point while accepting the Oscar for Best Picture for Birdman, talking about immigrants in the US, reminding everyone that America is in fact a country built by immigrants. He said, “I want to dedicate this award for my fellow Mexicans. The ones who live in Mexico, I pray that we can find and build the government that we deserve,” and added, “And the ones that live in this country who are part of the latest generation of immigrants in this country, I just pray that they can be treated with the same dignity and respect of the ones who came before and build this incredible immigrant nation.”


Alejandro G Iñárritu and the cast and crew of Birdman accept the Oscar for Best Picture 

However, the best acceptance speech of the night was given by Graham Moore (winner for adapted screenplay, for The Imitation Game). The young screenwriter opened up about his attempted suicide at the age of 16, saying that he felt weird and different and like he didn’t belong. He spoke of how Alan Turing didn’t get to stand on a stage like this, saying, “I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. You do. Stay weird. Stay different. And then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along. Thank you so much.”



Lady Gaga pays tribute to Julie Andrews and The Sound Of Music

THE TRIBUTES
Lady Gaga goes sober and pays tribute to Julie Andrews, and Jennifer Hudson belts out a beautiful number for the 'in memoriam' section
We’ve seen Lady Gaga dressed in the most ridiculous things, including meat. Even on the red carpet on Oscar Night, she was wearing what looked like red cleaning gloves. But with Gaga, such outrageous accessories are not out of the ordinary and now only make us smile. What was shocking was the simplicity of her on-stage avatar when performing a tribute to the beloved musical The Sound Of Music, which released 50 years ago, and went on to win the Oscar for Best Picture. Singing some of the best-known songs from the timeless film, she proved yet again that she’s as much about the talent as she is about her theatrics. But the highlight of it all was when the legend, Julie Andrews, herself came on stage at the end of the performance and thanked Gaga for the wonderful tribute, as she reminisced about making the film. The other exceptional tribute was Jennifer Hudson’s following the ‘in memoriam’ slideshow. The talented Oscar winner performed a song from the TV show SMASH.

Jennifer Hudson performing

THE WINNERS
Most deserving wins in a long time
After a long time, I felt that the most deserving candidates won in almost all categories at the Oscars. I had identified my picks earlier, and most of them were the actual results as well. Birdman was a superior movie and deserved its win for Best Picture and directing. Without a doubt Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore deserved their best actor and actress statuettes. JK Simmons had no competition in his category, and Patricia Arquette, who was the best thing about Boyhood rightfully turned out to be the one person from the film to have been awarded. 


(Left to right) Oscars winners Patricia Arquette, Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore and JK Simmons

From the music, production design, costumes and make-up and hairstyling of The Grand Budapest Hotel to the film editing and sound mixing of Whiplash; from the sound editing in American Sniper to the visual effects in Interstellar—all got their due credit. I’m glad that The Imitation Game and The Theory Of Everything won at least one Oscar each in main categories. The only real upset was that How To Train Your Dragon 2 didn’t make best animated feature.



I clearly thought it was a good show. What did you think? Would you like to see Neil Patrick Harris back to host the Oscars sometime soon?

THE OSCARS 2015: 'BIRDMAN' NAMED BEST PICTURE AND OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Photos Courtesy: AMPAS
Birdman wins Best Picture

On Oscar Night, despite everyone expecting Best Picture to go to either Boyhood or Birdman, while the Oscar for directing would go to the one that didn't win Best Picture, Birdman took both. 

(Left to right) Patricia Arquette, Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore and JK Simmons with their Oscars

On the other hand, the Oscars for acting—lead and supporting actor and actress—went to those who everyone knew they would. Eddie Redmayne for The Theory Of Everything, Julianne Moore for Still Alice, JK Simmons for Whiplash and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel won four Oscars, including costume design

The biggest winner of the evening was Birdman, with four Oscars—for best picture, directing, original screenplay and cinematography—along with The Grand Budapest Hotel, with four Oscars—for production design, costume design, make-up and hairstyling, and original score. 

The performance of Oscar-winning song "Glory" from Selma by John Legend and Common

Whiplash won three Oscars—for supporting actor, film editing and sound mixing. American Sniper (sound editing), The Imitation Game (adapted screenplay), The Theory Of Everything (lead actor), Boyhood (supporting actress), Selma (original song)—the other Best Picture nominees—took home one Oscar each. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

OSCARS 2015: WHO WILL WIN – PREDICTIONS

I’ve already identified who should win the Oscars for Best Picture and for all the acting categories; now, let’s take a stab at who’ll actually win this Sunday. Here are predictions for the 87th Oscars…


BEST PICTURE
American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) CORRECT
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory Of Everything
Whiplash

In recent years, there have been those when the Oscar winner for Best Picture was almost a done deal, when there was only a second option that could upset the most obvious winner. Avatar was the second when The Hurt Locker won. The Social Network was the second when The King’s Speech won. The Descendants was the second when The Artist won. Argo could have lost out to Lincoln, and 12 Years A Slave to Gravity. This year, however, the odds of Boyhood or Birdman winning are almost 50-50. Boyhood won the Golden Globe for Best Picture – drama, while Birdman won the SAG ensemble and the Producers Guild Of America Award (PGAs) for Best Picture. In the last 17 years, more PGA winners have gone on to win Best Picture Oscars than have the Golden Globe Best Picture winners or the SAG ensemble winners. This year, the PGA named Birdman Best Picture. Additionally, the Directors Guild Of America Awards (DGAs) for directing have been more in-sync with the Oscar Best Picture winners than even the PGAs. This year, the DGA went to Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman.
It’s not unusual for the Academy to award unconventional and novel films as their Best Picture, like 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, or 2011’s The Artist, so it wouldn’t be so far off for one to think that they’ll actually give it to Boyhood this year. However, Birdman is just as novel as Boyhood is, especially considering the kind of films that generally win Best Picture—such as No Country For Old Men, The King’s Speech, 12 Years A Slave. Therefore, this year, despite Boyhood’s novelty and experimental charm, I think it’ll be Birdman taking home the big prize, considering the track record that the Academy has vis-à-vis the big prizes of the other awards.


DIRECTING
Alejandro G Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) CORRECT
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

There’s a good chance that Boyhood might win for directing while it loses Best Picture, to Birdman. It could also be the other way around, with Alejandro González Iñárritu winning for directing while Boyhood wins Best Picture. However, majority of Best Picture winners also win the Oscar for directing, and I think Birdman will fall into that majority this year. The perfectly executed screenplay of Birdman and that he could help Keaton, Stone and Norton earn nominations are going to earn him this Oscar.



ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory Of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice CORRECT
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

The performances by these lead actresses are all good—relatively quiet, controlled, perfectly restrained—but Julianne Moore takes that restraint further back for those blank moments of hers in Still Alice, and the effective outcome of her overall performance is bound to be recognized.





ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory Of Everything CORRECT

Cumberbatch, Keaton or Redmayne—it could be any of these guys. However even though this year, the result isn’t as much of a ‘done deal’ as was the case with Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln or Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club, I think the Academy will reward what I think was the best performance of the year, across all acting categories—Eddie Redmayne’s.


ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood CORRECT
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods
Emma Stone, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Patricia Arquette will win it for the consistency she’s shown over the 12 years of playing the character. Although I personally think Knightley should win.


ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
JK Simmons, Whiplash CORRECT

There’s no competition for, and no doubt about Simmons winning this year.


WRITING – ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr & Armando Bo
Boyhood, written by Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher,  written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel, screenplay by Wes Anderson; story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler, written by Dan Gilroy

Screenplay awards are often like consolation prizes to exemplary films that everyone knows won’t win Best Picture. It could go on to win Best Picture too, but this year, with the odds not entirely in any one film’s favor, I think the consolation prize will come into play for those that won’t win the big prize. This, however, I think will go to The Grand Budapest Hotel, for its dynamic and engaging narrative and character constructs.


WRITING – ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
American Sniper, written by Jason Hall
The Imitation Game, written by Graham Moore CORRECT
Inherent Vice, written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything, screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Whiplash, written by Damien Chazelle

The Imitation Game is winning this one, since it won’t be winning Best Picture, even though it probably should.


CINEMATOGRAPHY
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) CORRECT
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr Turner
Unbroken

Birdman! Cinematography was the MO of the narrative, taking it forward, quite literally even, and executing what was so effective that it might have gone unnoticed and instead, simply absorbed subconsciously, making for viewing pleasure.


FILM EDITING
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

The snappy editing in the climax of Whiplash, and actually consistently throughout the film makes me hope that it wins this award. Boyhood’s editing does tie up pieces shot over 12 years into one 150-minute film, for that Boyhood could come close, but I don’t think it will. American Sniper is the one to beat for battle scene edits that were precisely on the mark.


SOUND EDITING
American Sniper CORRECT
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

The sound awards could both go to American Sniper or Interstellar; however, I think this year, I think they’ll be split. American Sniper will take out this one.


SOUND MIXING
American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash CORRECT

When music is key, the Academy hears the sound, and that’s why I think Whiplash will be this year’s winner for achievement in sound mixing.


VISUAL EFFECTS
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar CORRECT
X-Men: Days of Future Past

For everything Christopher Nolan’s twisted futuristic drama will lose out on, this one’s pretty much locked for Interstellar. It may not have become this year’s Gravity, by turning into a frontrunner for a Best Picture nomination, but in visual effects, there’s no doubt of its win.




PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel CORRECT
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into The Woods
Mr Turner

Interstellar could be this year’s Avatar—winning production design for mostly computer-generated imagery. However, I think the Academy will go with the vastly imaginative and resplendent art direction of The Grand Budapest Hotel.




COSTUME DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr Turner

This one’s Mr Turner’s, for the Academy’s love for everything old and European in visual appeal and historical flair.


MAKE-UP AND HAIRSTYLING
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel CORRECT
Guardians Of The Galaxy

This is where all the major character transformations have been rewarded for their excellence. Traditionally, it should go to Foxcatcher for making Steve Carell unrecognizable, but then even Tilda Swinton looks like a different human being in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and there’s a lot more of that in Budapest than in Foxcatcher


MUSIC – ORIGINAL SCORE
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat CORRECT
The Imitation Game, Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar, Hans Zimmer
Mr Turner, Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything, Jóhann Jóhannsson

Jóhann Jóhannsson won the Golden Globe, and the Academy could go traditional, but I suspect that they’ll award the quirky brilliance of The Grand Budapest Hotel’s vibrant score by Alexandre Desplat.


MUSIC – ORIGINAL SONG
“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
“Glory” from Selma CORRECT
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
 “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
 “Lost Stars” from Begin Again

The song won the Golden Globe, it’s popular, it’s the voice of a film that can’t be recognized in any other category, so “Glory” it will be.


ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

The Lego Movie was not nominated. Boo-hoo! Now let’s move on and recognize the amazing How To Train Your Dragon sequel—a very well written film, and beautifully executed in every way.