People who enjoy Mike and Jean’s morning show (Good Day GTA) must get a kick out of hearing their film critic (yes, me) transform from a confident arbiter of tasteful judgment to a rather restless, somewhat whiny prognosticator every February as the Academy Awards draw near. That’s because my results are laughably low, probably because I vote for the work I like the best—not the obvious choices. But just like Elliott Gould’s character in Robert Altman’s great study of gambling California Split, I do hunger to play the game. I hope that one year my favourites echo that of the Academy’s voters. Hey, this could be the year!
Just to keep all of you in suspense, this list is a part one—the lucky 13 categories. Don’t worry, the complete list will appear in time for Oscar night. My selections appear in bold.
Some of the smart money is going for Selma, a choice that may indeed appeal to the liberal guilt tradition of Academy voters. Most are old enough to remember Martin Luther King’s famous civil rights march in Alabama in the ‘60s.
Others are going for Birdman, an over-the-top look at actors prepping for the premiere of a drama on Broadway. It won Best Picture at the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) celebration last week.
But I’m going for Boyhood, Richard Linklater’s brilliant study of a boy’s life over a 12-year period. We’ll never see another film like this—shot over that length of time. And, miraculously, Boyhood works; you do experience a lad’s growth from youth through adolescence to adulthood. It’s definitely wins the Oscar in my book.
It was Linklater who decided to take the unprecedented gamble of casting and directing Boyhood. Every year for more than a decade, he assembled the cast and crew and came up with an appropriate new chapter in one family’s life. Surely he deserves the Oscar.
Duking it out behind the scenes are Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. No one really thinks anyone else will win this Oscar. So who gets it: old pro Keaton essentially playing himself in Birdman or rising young star Redmayne giving us the life of physicist Stephen Hawking from geeky and fully ambulatory college student to the aging ALS survivor, who now makes pronouncements from a wheelchair? I say “Redmayne.”
Although this may be the toughest category in terms of the quality of choice, it seems the easiest to me. The Academy voters will agree with me that Julianne Moore’s brilliant take on a woman suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice deserves the Oscar. She does, you know…
Some wonderful performances here but the Golden Globes and SAG agree with me: J.K. Simmons will win the Oscar in the role of a lifetime, as an obsessive, driven, charismatic jazz instructor in Whiplash.
Whoo, whoo: that’s the sound of the Patricia Arquette Express train rumbling down the track towards the mic at the Oscar. Get your speech ready, Patricia. Your close-up is about to arrive.
This will come down to American Sniper vs. Inherent Vice: the soldier boys against the hippies. Only this time the hippies will win. Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice won’t win anything else—heck, Katherine Waterston wasn’t even nominated—but he should garner this one.
This is a two horse race between Birdman and Boyhood. I’m going for a mini-sweep for Boyhood.
This category is always tough to call—all the cinematographers did a fine job. I’m hoping that enough Academy voters will agree with me that Dick Pope’s stunning evocation of the great British painter J.M.W. Turner’s colour palette is the most deserving candidate.
It’s another two-horse race, this time between Into the Woods and The Grand Budapest Hotel. I give it to multiple Oscar winner Colleen Atwood for her lovely evocation of Grimm’s fairy tale characters’ apparel in Into The Woods.
Once again, Into the Woods and The Grand Budapest Hotel are the likely winners and, in this case, I’m inclined to go with Adam Stockhausen’s truly imaginative “look” in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Ok—everyone is picking Laura Poitras’ insider look into the notorious Edward Snowden Citizenfour so don’t trust my vote for The Salt of the Earth, a truly amazing bio of the life of radical photographer Sebastiao Salgado, co-directed by Wim Wenders and Salgado’s son Juliano. Trust me, it’s a far better film. So, vote for it, Academy!
Once again, I’m going for the best film, the Russian drama Leviathan. Don’t get me wrong: Ida, the likely winner, is a fine candidate. And it’s a Holocaust film, which often sways voters. But it just isn’t as good as the superb Russian film Leviathan. Hope the Academy agrees with me.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical 96.3 FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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