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. 

OSCARS 2015: PRESENTERS AND PERFORMERS

Before Oscar Night, take a look at all those presenting and performing at the Dolby Theater…

Photos courtesy; AMPAS


PERFORMERS
As per tradition, the songs nominated for best original song are performed during the show, spread out between presentations. The performances are often enhanced with elaborate sets and lighting, costumes and choreography. And this year, the nominated songs to be performed will be: 
  • Pop duo Tegan and Sara will perform “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
  • Common and John Legend will perform “Glory” from Selma
  • Adam Levine will perform “Lost Stars” from Begin Again
  • Tim McGraw will perform “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
  • Rita Ora will will perform “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
 In addition to the above, other presenters will include:
  • Jack Black, who will make a special appearance. I suspect he’ll be a part of one of the sketches that our host Neil Patrick Harris will be carrying out.
  • Oscar nominee and Into The Woods star Anna Kendrick will also make an appearance.
  • Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson will also be putting up a performance.
  • Lady Gaga’s will be a special tribute performance on Oscar Night.


PRESENTERS
Another long-standing tradition followed at the Oscars is to have the previous year’s Oscar-winning actors—lead and supporting—to present the Oscars for lead and supporting actress, respectively, and vice-versa. This year, with last year’s winners, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey and Lupita Nyong’o returning to present, it seems like tradition will continue. The other presenters on Oscar Night will be:



Oscars 2015 host, Neil Patrick Harris answers a question from the press 
during rehearsals Thursday, February 19 
  • Marion Cotillard, Oscar winner
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, Oscar nominee
  • Meryl Streep, Oscar winner
  • Oprah Winfrey, Oscar nominee
  • Reese Witherspoon, Oscar winner
  • Josh Hutcherson
  • Scarlett Johansson, Oscar nominee
  • Zoe Saldana
  • Octavia Spencer, Oscar winner
  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Sienna Miller
  • David Oyelowo
  • Chris Pratt
  • John Travolta, Oscar nominee
  • Kerry Washington
  • Ben Affleck, Oscar winner
  • Jessica Chastain, Oscar nominee
  • Viola Davis, Oscar nominee
  • Kevin Hart
  • Shirley Maclaine, Oscar winner
  • Chris Pine
  • Miles Teller
  • Naomi Watts, Oscar nominee
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, Oscar nominee
  • Chris Evans
  • Dakota Johnson
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Chloë Grace Moretz
  • Eddie Murphy, Oscar nominee
  • Margot Robbie
  • Jason Bateman
  • Idris Elba
  • Ansel Elgort
  • Nicole Kidman, Oscar winner
  • Liam Neeson, Oscar winner
  • Gwyneth Paltrow, Oscar winner
  • Channing Tatum
  • Terrence Howard, Oscar nominee
  • Felicity Jones, Oscar nominee

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

OSCARS 2015: WHO SHOULD WIN – PICTURE AND PERFORMANCES

Before I try to predict the results that will unfold on Oscar Night, I wanted to count-down the nominees from least deserving to most deserving. So here goes…

BEST PICTURE
8. Boyhood: Yes, the film that’s been 12 years in the making should be applauded for having been completed, and offering us slices of life. But aside from accomplishing the feat of making a film over 12 years, I don’t think it’s exceptional as a piece of filmmaking or writing. The glimpses of human interaction and relationships are endearing, yes, but the development of the characters leaves a lot to be desired. The parents’ characters revealed more personality, more dimension, and saw more of a journey than Mason’s. The ‘boy’ in Boyhood is not an interesting person at all from what the film gave us. It didn’t tell us anything about him as a person, apart from throwing us scraps of him being interested in art, and him not wanting to have short hair, maybe. He just drifted along his growing years, with little or no reaction to the life that was happening to him. Fine, maybe he was supposed to be a boring person, but that’s the thing—being boring as a person and being boring as a character are not the same thing. Boring people can turn out to be deeply intriguing and engaging characters. Mason was not that.


7. Selma: The film that’s being called one of the most snubbed by the Academy this year is not all that great. It’s an interesting retelling of events of the Civil Rights Movement and the march from Selma to Montgomery, lead by Dr Martin Luther King Jr. It even tugged at our heartstrings, and gave us gut-wrenching moments depicting the racial atrocities against the African Americans. However, it didn’t tell a very compelling story, it didn’t bring about the depth of Dr King’s struggle, it didn’t reflect the intensity of the internal conflicts he was probably dealing with, and it didn’t feature extraordinary performances. Sometimes, a movie is just not as great as what it represents.



6. American Sniper: This film is exceptionally made, with excellent editing and cinematography, telling the story of an American hero getting sucked into the war on terror and out of a normal, family life, and out of emotions associated with being mentally sound. The film depicted how Chris Kyle was deeply affected by 9/11, and through Bradley Cooper’s excellent performance, we believe that the guy turned cold inside, and could kill even a kid without batting an eyelid. It was disturbing to see how he couldn’t seem to conduct himself at a children’s party back home. Yet, at the end of the film, he seems more at peace, willing to embrace normalcy, he seemed happy to be with his wife, being affectionate, etc. Till then I was waiting to see the transition towards that, so I felt like we just skipped to the part where he was getting better, and then just died. The revelation of the death through text on the screen also made me feel like we were being deprived of an appropriate climax.



5. The Grand Budapest Hotel: This was definitely one of my favorite movies of the year. I thought it was engaging, entertaining, but wasn’t stupid even in its slapstick humor bits. It showed us developed characters, excellent performances, and brilliantly written and directed situational comedy. The fantastic production design was the icing on the cake. The journey through the film was fulfilling in every sense. I would definitely put it in the top-five.





4. Whiplash: This year’s gem, Whiplash is simple in narrative, and scope, but tells the story of two very interesting characters. Andrew’s resolve to succeed as a musician and Fletcher’s unreasonable high standards and ruthless methods combined to bring about a wealth of emotions from the characters which enriched every moment of the film. The characters were realized with perfection by JK Simmons and Miles Teller (who’s one to look out for, might I add). The screenplay was well-paced, steadily moving forward, and the editing was what brought every moment together in the most effective way possible. The climax especially had some of the best editing I’ve ever seen, and had me at the edge of my seat through that mindset-changing performance.




3. The Theory Of Everything: It’s one thing to make a biopic and have an extraordinary actor or actress play the protagonist, telling a compelling story of a significant personality in history. It’s quite another to tell the story of two individuals and the roles they had in each other’s lives as friends, lovers, spouses, co-parents, and then divorcees. The years of Jane and Stephen Hawking together are beautifully woven together in this film based on the book, My Life With Stephen by Jane Hawking. With a screenplay that brings together the many years they lived together and apart, through different stages of his ALS and her desperation to want more from life. The relationship between the two is flawlessly depicted, as it transitions from love to friendship and mutual admiration and respect. The Theory Of Everything is a movie that could not have been excluded from this list. I only wish it were getting a fair share of the due it deserves.



2. The Imitation Game: AlanTuring’s story had to be told, there’s no doubt about that. The story of an unsung hero, who helped save countless lives and the world from additional years of despair, who was unfairly persecuted, because of the ignorant world he lived in, had to be told. But to bring that out in a picture, depicting every part of that man with finesse, and every moment of his journey and his desperation with beauty and grace, is extremely commendable. From developing in depth some of the supporting characters even, to infusing the tense moments of World War II and the looming deadline, with bits of humor and endearing qualities is what makes this film so complete in every way. It almost made it to number one for me.




Should Win...
1. Birdman: The brilliance of the fast-moving Birdman lies in the rapid, yet seamless shift in perspectives, realized through outstanding direction and cinematography. The story of a washed-up star, holding onto any and every shred of his stardom or what he can salvage of it is fascinatingly told with moments of craziness and dark humor. The protagonist’s life story unfolds with limited glimpses into the personal and professional choices he made, bringing in his ex-wife and daughter to contribute to the exposition. The supporting characters are woven into the primary plot with perfection, telling us who they are in just the right proportion. The performances are exemplary, with the theatric moments drifting into reality and delusional bits. The fantastic elements of the film add to the unique quality of protagonist’s state of mind, through the ingenious condensation of time in a flawless screenplay. This is definitely the best picture of the year, in my opinion.




ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
The performances by leading as well as supporting actresses nominated this year, are all about economy and restraint in delivery, and about conveying more with less, as realistically as possible. That made it a difficult choice to make, but from Marion Cotillard’s raw desperation to save her job in Two Days, One Night, and Felicity Jones being able to hold back on the histrionics playing a woman caring for her wheel-chair-ridden husband; from Reese Witherspoon’s channeling her inner search for meaning and pouring it into her Cheryl Strayed, and Rosamund Pike depicting craziness in the most chillingly calm manner possible, it was all terrific. This year, however, it had to be Julianne Moore for me. Her ability to convince us, with every element of her being, of the protagonist drifting in and out of lucidity, while suffering from Alzheimer’s, with just the right bursts of frustration, made it nothing short of extraordinary.

5. Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
4. Felicity Jones, The Theory Of Everything
3. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
2. Reese Witherspoon, Wild
1. Julianne Moore, Still Alice Should Win


ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Benedict Cumberbatch delivers a very strong performance in The Imitation Game, one that would easily put him above the rest, maybe even above the exceptional work by Michael Keaton in Birdman. However, despite the depth behind Cumberbatch’s expressions and words, and the crazy behind Keaton’s everything, there’s nothing to beat Eddie Redmayne’s very strong, very physical, very expressive, and vocal portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything. The coldness in Bradley Cooper’s Chris Kyle, and the calmness in Steve Carell’s delivery in Foxcatcher are also rather commendable.

5. Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
4. Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
3. Michael Keaton, Birdman
2. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
1. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory Of Everything Should Win


ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE & ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The idea of ‘quality over quantity’ is particularly reflected in the Academy’s nominations for supporting performances every year, and it’s something I respect and admire. However, this year, I don’t quite see why certain performances made the cut in these categories. For instance, Laura Dern’s nomination seems to have come out of nowhere. Mark Ruffalo even. He’s good in Foxcatcher, yes, but there was nothing in that performance that would make me put him in the top five of the year. Likewise with Ethan Hawke; he just had to act like a guy talking to the next guy in the most ordinary, everyday fashion, throughout Boyhood.  
On the other hand, Patricia Arquette, who had to do a bit of that too, also had to show us depth through tough times, fear, anxiety, sadness, and emptiness in her performance as the mother in Boyhood, which she executes extremely well. Keira Knightley’s performance was perfectly restrained even through bursts of euphoria or bouts of anger, and that’s really amazing. Emma Stone did similar justice to her role in Birdman. Robert Duvall tackles the role of a sick, old man, holding onto his pride and legacy with just the right kind of arrogance, carrying out physical performance as naturally as possible. 
While JK Simmons takes arrogance to another level altogether, in his turn as the asshole music conductor in Whiplash. His would be the performance to beat this year, as it is indeed the best in the supporting bunch. Even Edward Norton’s amazingly effective freestyle delivery of arrogance doesn’t quite get there. Meryl Streep is, of course, outstanding with whatever she does, even as the witch in a terrible fairytale mash-up musical adaptation.
 
5. Laura Dern, Wild
4. Meryl Streep, Into The Woods
3. Emma Stone, Birdman
2. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
1. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game Should Win






5. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
4. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
3. Robert Duvall, The Judge
2. Edward Norton, Birdman

1. JK Simmons, Whiplash Should Win