So it’s already been a year and now, tonight, it’s the Oscars. With websites putting some of the Oscar voters ‘brutally honest’ votes and opinions online (here), I thought I would do the same. I haven’t been reviewing films in a while (since September) but I have certainly seen most of the films that are nominated and I thought I would give my opinion. When critiquing below, if I haven’t seen a film or a performance I will let you know. I am writing who I think deserves to win and next to it putting who I predict will actually win it (who the Academy has voted for – as I can imagine mine may be different to their choices).
Before I start, I’m going with my response to the film or performance and not my opinions of the actor or director. Try to focus my views on the film alone and not outside of it: someone should not be voted because in real life they are a complete jerk or a horrible person. An actor has been nominated for their performance in a film, not because they are a likeable person in real life or ‘it’s about time they had one’ [an Oscar that is], and the last comment really annoys me. If you read some of the ‘brutally honest Oscar ballots’ some of voters say I am voting for so and so because they have been acting for so long and they may not get another chance to win one. NO NO NO! You vote for their performance, the film and the overall statement of it. I mean I think Leonardo DiCaprio it a great actor and a great guy and deserves an Oscar – I mean he’s been nominated five times already, FIVE and not won [though only four of them were for acting] – but that doesn’t the I [if I was an actually Oscar voter] should vote for him unless his performance is genuinely the best. So anyway, let’s get on with the show, in 5…4…3…2…1…0
There’s been talk about whether American Sniper should be applauded and win Best Picture – with some saying, how can people celebrate a film about a man killing so many people and being haled as the best sniper in the world at the time? – but the film isn’t about that, you don’t see the characters cheering and mocking the enemy after they’ve killed one of them, do you? No. The film tries to realisitically look at what it was like for a man who did not go to war because he wanted to shoot or kill but because he honestly felt it was the right thing to do to protect his country and more importantly his family. It was a well-made film [forgetting the extremely bad plastic baby dolls] that exploited my emotions in some of the crucial scenes. It made me remember that war is a horrible thing, whether it is needed or not, and it showcased how Chris Kyle genuinely believed he was doing what was necessary. He finished the war too late, it became an obsession almost, and due to this it later brought sadness to his family and friends.
Birdman has to be a favourite of mine this year. It was comical, emotional, genius and highly ambitious. [I’ll admit, knowing beforehand that the film had long scenes and was edited to overall look like it was done in one shot, I was sometimes sidetracked into trying to work out when the scenes actually started and finished.] Nevertheless, the cast were all great in their own way [crazy, outrageous but still normal people we can connect with]. I understood the theme and I loved the long scenes [pushing the actors to truly act] and that the camera would follow the characters, in particularly, I adored that the actors are playing characters who were playing another character for a play at a theatre. I liked the whole concept that the characters would chat or argue backstage and then suddenly had to go and perform on the theatre stage [playing another character], and then when they came back off stage they were carrying on as their original character and still had another five minutes of dialogue. The scenes and action, and performances were brilliant, timed perfectly and incredibly crafted. Birdman is a wonderfully crafted original and unusual film. Hats off to the director, Alejandro González Iñárritu.
To have a cast and crew make scenes for a film over a 12 year span is incredible within itself. The perseverance and devotion for Boyhood should be applauded. As it’s a film that looks at various points of a family’s life, I think everyone at some point whilst watching it you can relate to it. It’s touching yet having said that, at times can be plain. I watched the film and liked it and it hasn’t stayed with me. To win Best Picture I believe the movie should be a film that sticks in your head, and I don’t mean just after you’ve come out of the cinema from seeing it, I mean the film should be in your head for a long while. You should be wanting to watch it again because you enjoyed it or something from it overwhelmed you. A film that wins Best Picture stood make an impact on you…and Boyhood didn’t, despite that it can connect with people because it’s about family and growing up. I think Boyhood will be appreciated for its production side and honest look at family, and although Patricia Arquette looks well to win Best Supporting Actress, Boyhood will be simply remembered as ‘that film which was done over 12 years.’
I really enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel, the creative and quirkiness of the film really stands out. I thought the cast and dialogue was brilliant, I especially thought that Ralph Fiennes was tremendous in it, and there some very memorable scenes and quotes. I liked the plot though, despite saying this, I didn’t think it was something special. It’s a film that I can watch again and again and enjoy it every time with its fast-paced speaking and wonderful design and idea.
The Imitation Game will be a film that in time more people will remember and still want to watch. Benedict Cumberbatch is great as Alan Turing and the film has a solid truthful story and has the whole ‘will they crack the code to end the war’ side to keep the film tense and lively. However, apart from the breaking-the-code plot, one of the main elements/stories to the true story is that Alan Turing, despite doing an incredible thing, was prosecuted because of a relationship with another man and was horribly punished, and I don’t think the film contains enough about Turning’s sexuality. Don’t get me wrong, I think the film shows us the overall status of what happened to Turning and highlights something which many people did not know happened in Britain but I think there could have been more scenes. In order to truly be an ultimate film, the plot should have focused more on that as well as cracking the code. [On a side note and not affecting my views, it’s interesting that for The Imitation Game’s Oscar campaigning, they are promoting more about Turning’s sexuality despite it not being so central to the film – look here].
I can’t really comment on Selma as I have not seen the film. I will say though I really wanted to see Selma when it came out as I think the story of the film about Martin Luther King, Jr. is rather fascinating and important to know about.
The Theory of Everything has incredible performances from its cast. I liked the film but I didn’t love it. I wouldn’t be bothered if I didn’t see it again. I think it was directed well yet I felt the film needed to have more about Hawking trying to deal with his motor neurone disease. It needed to delve deeper into the characters and them trying to overcome the struggle. It’s pleasing to watch, but doesn’t leave a long lasting impression.
It isn’t a complicated or original plot, but Whiplash definitely has a plot which many can relate to – having that strict teacher and wanting to badly to become great. All of the elements worked, the acting, the sound, the directing, the script having the music be Jazz, the story it worked. The characters were truly believable and incredible and the ending is great. It’s thrilling, captivating, inspiring, well-acted and had on my seat in the cinema the whole time and is still stuck in my mind.
My Choice: (1) Birdman, (2) Whiplash, (3) The Grand Budapest Hotel, (4) Boyhood (5) American Sniper Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Birdman, Boyhood or The Imitation Game
Alejandro González Iñárritu [Birdman], Richard Linklater [Boyhood], Bennett Miller [Foxcatcher], Wes Anderson [The Grand Budapest Hotel], Morten Tyldum [The Imitation Game]
The best director doesn’t have to be the director of the best picture. Wes Anderson did a great job with The Grand Budapest Hotel but the directing does not exactly stand out further than his other well-crafted films. There needed to be more dialogue and more tension in Foxcatcher [Director, Bennett Miller] and the film was slow. Morten Tyldum did good, though not outstanding mind, yet for me its tough between two directors as they both deserve an Oscar for their ambition, perseverance and incredible vision. Boyhood may not have the most overwhelming and greatest plot to be best picture but if you think about how much it took for Richard Linklater to keep on pushing and create a film over 12 years, you can see why he should get the Oscar. Linklater needed to have a lot of patience, effort and vision to make this film doable. Nevertheless, another director who had a great vision and ambition is Alejandro González Iñárritu. Birdman is absolutely ambitious and the film is beautifully directed. Not to mention very challenging not just for the Director to make sure the film can work and flow perfectly well together but to also maintain that the cast and crew can work on time.
My Choice: Alejandro González Iñárritu [Birdman] Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: It’s a tough one. Alejandro González Iñárritu [Birdman] or Richard Linklater [Boyhood]
Steve Carell [Foxcatcher], Bradley Cooper [American Sniper], Benedict Cumberbatch [The Imitation Game], Michael Keaton [Birdman], Eddie Redmayne [The Theory of Everything]
The role in Foxcatcher was certainly something different for Steve Carell and it was definitely one of Bradley Cooper’s most finest acting roles for a serious film in American Sniper. Cumberbatch was intriguing and great in The Imitation Game but really it comes down to Eddie Redmayne or Michael Keaton. There’s no doubt about it, Eddie Redmayne was stunningly incredible in The Theory of Everything as Stephen Hawking. Playing a normal, slightly nerdy, student to transforming into a person who can’t use their muscles or body. It’s a tough job to convince everyone at the cinema but Redmayne’s acting did it. However, for me, it’s Michael Keaton. He played a character was felt sane at points and crazy at others. He had the whole emotion package and was entertaining and thrilling to watch. In addition, all of the other nominated actors’ characters are based on real people, they had the benefit of playing and studying the real person they portrayed and yet what Keaton had to do was harder. He had to work from scratch and create a character that audiences could connect to and I think that deserves the award.
My Choice: Michael Keaton [Birdman] Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Michael Keaton [Birdman] or Eddie Redmayne [The Theory of Everything] Definitely one of them.
Marion Cotillard [Two Days, One Night], Felicity Jones [The Theory of Everything], Julianne Moore [Still Alice], Rosamund Pike [Gone Girl], Reese Witherspoon [Wild]
Before we start, I haven’t seen Still Alice [seeing as I live in the UK and it comes out in March] so let’s forget Julianne Moore for now. Felicity Jones was good in The Theory of Everything but was it out-of-this-world? I think Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl was great. Playing the innocent wife in the flashbacks and [SPOILER] then the fierce, mad woman who plotted revenge on her husband and left in style, which is probably what most women want to do when they leave the husbands they hate. She ranged a lot in that film and was amazing.
My Choice: Rosamund Pike [Gone Girl] Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Julianne Moore [Still Alice] – what with the amount of awards she’s already won.
Best Supporting Actor:
Robert Duvall [The Judge], Ethan Hawke [Boyhood], Edward Norton [Birdman], Mark Ruffalo [Foxcatcher], J.K. Simmons [Whiplash]
Ruffalo was good in Foxcatcher yet there needed to be more dialogue for him to get it. Ethan Hawke in Boyhood was also good yet it was something special. I haven’t seen The Judge to judge Robert Duvall. I thought Edward Norton in Birdman was hilarious and a great character. You could see how annoying he was to Michael Keaton and Naomi Watts’ characters yet how sweet he was with Emma Stone’s and how entertaining he was too. However, J.K. Simmons in Whiplash has it for me. He brilliantly acted as a mean brutal teacher who was incredible rude and strict to his students yet deep down was being harsh to the students would keep pushing themselves and wouldn’t think they have already reached their best.
My Choice: J.K. Simmons [Whiplash] Although if Edward Norton [Birdman] won it I would be happy Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: J.K. Simmons
Best Supporting Actress:
Partrica Arquette [Boyhood], Laura Dern [Wild], Keira Knightley [The Imitation Game], Emma Stone [Birdman], Meryl Streep [Into The Woods]
Keira Knightley was good in The Imitation Game but like I’ve said with some of the other nominations, was it a performance that will be remembered for ages? Was there something unique about this performance than the others in the category? Pushing aside how many she’s won already, Meryl Streep was great at being an evil witch yet also a caring mother in Into The Woods. Birdman’s Emma Stone was great being that rude but troubled daughter who doesn’t give a flying ?!%@ what others think and Patricia Arquette in Boyhood brought the emotion in showing how a mother tries to do her best for her children and bring them up on her own. I can understand how many people can connect and relate to her character in the film.
My Choice: Emma Stone [Birdman] Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Patricia Arquette [Boyhood] She’s basically won every award already and many will connect to her character in Boyhood.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
Before we started Whiplash is in this category and not original screen play because the Academy said, a short film derived from a scene in the feature was screened at Sundance, ergo “published,” and so it’s considered an adaptation. American Sniper is a difficult story but adapted well into film. Although, the death of Chris Kyle could have been shown. The film showed him killing people with guns so why not show his death, in an honest and respectable way of course. The Imitation Game needed to have more added time to focus on Turning’s sexuality for it to be best adapted screenplay. Though making a great film about a real person who is well-known around the world is challenging, there were some parts I felt missing in The Theory of Everything – yet not everything from a book can go into a film. Whiplash was superb and although some may consider turning a 18-minute short film into a feature film a lesser challenge than adapting a book into a film, it is still a great achievement to do. When adapting from a book, you have to make sure that the film is still true to the book’s message and concept but when adapting from a short film you have the choice and imagination to adapt the short film into a feature-length film. So do you go with the film that had the challenge of keeping it to the book or the film where it had the chance to be even more creative and explore with what it could do.
My Choice: American Sniper or Whiplash Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: The Imitation Game or Whiplash
Best Original Screenplay:
Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler
The Grand Budapest Hotel is certainly very creative. Boyhood was good but I don’t think there’s a superb plot to say it is original. Foxcatcher was interesting despite slow. Nightcrawler could be considered more about the performances than the script and plot although it is a good film. Birdman was extremely original and such a joy and journey to watch.
My Choice: Birdman. I’d be happy it The Grand Budapest Hotel won it. Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Birdman
Best Animated Feature:
I haven’t seen any of them although Big Hero 6 looks awesome.
Best Documentary Feature:
I haven’t seen any of them.
Best Foreign-Language Film:
I haven’t see any of them.
Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken
My Choice: Birdman Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Birdman
Best Costume Design:
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, Into The Woods, Maleficent, Mr. Turner
Although Into The Woods and Maleficent’s costumes were great I think The Grand Budapest Hotel’s went the extra mark.
My Choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Film Editing:
American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash
The Grand Budapest Hotel is done well but the sequences of the instruments being played and the drumming too in Whiplash made it a character itself.
My Choice: Whiplash Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Whiplash
Best Makeup & Hairstyling:
Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy
Hands down Guardians of the Galaxy. Remember all the different aliens you saw in the film, they weren’t real, they were humans with a lot of makeup on.
My Choice: Guardians of the Galaxy Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Guardians of the Galaxy
Best Original Score:
The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Mr. Turner, The Theory of Everything
It’s between The Grand Budapest Hotel and Interstellar for me.
My Choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: The Theory of Everything
Best Original Song:
Everything is Awesome [The LEGO Movie], Glory [Selma], Grateful [Beyond The Lights], I’m Not Gonna Miss You [Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me], Lost Stars [Begin Again]
My Choice: Everything is Awesome [The LEGO MOVIE] Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: It could be any of them to be honest, maybe Glory [Selma].
Best Production Design:
The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Into The Woods, Mr. Turner
My Choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: The Budapest Hotel
Best Sound Editing:
American Sniper, Birdman, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, Interstellar, Unbroken
My Choice: Interstellar Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Interstellar
Best Sound Mixing:
American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar, Unbroken, Whiplash
No question about it Whiplash. The sound on that brings the film to whole another life, a greater one than how great it already is.
My Choice: Whiplash Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Whiplash
Best Visual Effects:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past
I thought the visual effects in all of the films were great. The space scenes were incredible in Interstellar yet I thought they more beautiful and also imaginative in Guardians of the Galaxy. The visual effects on X-Men: Days of Future Past were also great for the mutants – loved the design for Blink’s purple wormholes/teleport and also that scene with Quicksilver. Then again, to make an audience care and believe the apes are real and look to realistic in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a great achievement, and the actors who played them did great. When I watched it I genially cared for Caesar.
My Choice: Really, it can be Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: Days of Future Past or Guardians of the Galaxy and I would be happy. Prediction Of Who Will Actually Win: Guardians of the Galaxy
Best Animated Short:
Haven’t seen any of them.
Best Documentary Short:
Haven’t seen any of them.
Best Live Action Short:
Haven’t seen any of them.
So there we have it! They are my opinions of the films and performances and my decisions of who I think should win tonight. Plus there were also my predictions of who I think will actually win tonight but who do you think will win tonight at the Oscars?