It’s almost upon us: Hollywood’s annual Valentine to itself, the Oscars. Let’s call the awards ceremony the original selfies, one that’s been going on since the Roaring Twenties, when booze was illegal instead of pot and talkies were the hard-edged new technological achievement. Within a few years, we will have 360 degree films with each member of the audience equipped with headphones and goggles as they’re taken on virtual roller coaster rides. Wonder how the Oscars will deal with that?
Before we get to the new age of Aldous Huxley’s “feelies,” let’s whisk just a few days into the future to Sunday, Feb. 22, when Neil Patrick Harris will host the 87th Academy Awards. Harris may be doing penance for his shockingly bad performance in Gone Girl, a potential Oscar nominee that seems to have faded quickly into oblivion. Will he turn into this generation’s Bob Hope or even Billy Crystal? Or will he become renowned for presiding over a debacle, like Seth Macfarlane and David Letterman?
Millions of eyeballs will be glued to the set to find out and most will watch from the red carpet display of Hollywood beauties (female and male) parading their latest fashion crimes through to Harris’ f/x laden monologue and onto the early frequently inessential winners to the moment, hours and hours later, when the Best Picture prize is announced.
Readers of this web review column and listeners to Mike and Jean’s wonderful Good Morning GTA programme know that I’m a notoriously bad prognosticator of the Oscars. Seems I lack the popular touch—at least among the millionaires in southern California. Hey: I don’t tan, I molt. And I’ll likely be shedding skin on Sunday night as this year’s quite logical picks go down in flames.
This column, “Oscarmania,” is actually part two of my Academy Award picks. For fun, check out “Those Darned Oscars” posted three weeks ago for a number of my predictions on the major categories. I’ve stuck with all of those picks except for two.
First, my steadfast picks in which I predict a mini-sweep for Boyhood:
Picture – Boyhood
Director – Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Actor – Eddie Redmayne, Theory of Everything
Actress – Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Supporting Actor – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Adapted Screenplay – Inherent Vice (P.T. Anderson)
Original Screenplay – Boyhood (Linklater)
Cinematography – Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
Costume Design – Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)
Production Design – The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen)
Ok, I’ve decided to try to up my score this year so I’ve changed my vote in the following two:
Documentary Feature – Salt of the Earth should win but I’m changing my vote to the winner: CitizenFour (Laura Poitras)
Foreign Language Film – Leviathan should win but I’m changing my vote to the winner: Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)
Now, what about the rest of the picks? These selections are brand new:
Animated Feature Film – It’s ker-pow%$#blam***battle between Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2. The winner should be The Tale of Princess Kaguya but never mind.
And the winner is: How to Train Your Dragon 2
It’s funny and grossed more money last year than most of the countries in the United Nations
Animated Short – “Feast,” a Disney production about a dog, food and love by Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed will win—and it’s really clever. But I would love it if our nomination, “Me and My Moulton” by the NFB’s Torill Kove—a truly charming tale of growing up with artistic parents in Norway won instead. Oh, well. Maybe next year.
Live Action Short – “Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger is the likely winner. An asylum seeking Afghan girl trying to send money home to her sick father? Come on. You don’t even have to see the film!
But I must admit that I loved The Butter Lamp, about photography, families and displacement.
Documentary Short – “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry should win. It deals with the kinds of crises that work well in shorts—hot button issues dealt with on the phone. It’s well made and moving.
Music The Grand Budapest Hotel. Alexandre Desplat.
I also like Desplat’s score for The Imitation Game. Actually, this is a category where I care more about who shouldn’t get it: Hans Zimmer. I despised his score for Interstellar. He has made faux grandiosity into a style—bubble gum Wagner. Anyone but him, please!
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” the last song by Glen Campbell who has Alzheimer’s vs. “Glory” from Selma. Sorry, Glen.
Glory from Selma. Great song and it’s from an important film.
WARNING ALERT: THIS IS WHERE I ALWAYS LOSE
Quite frankly, any film can win in these categories. But my choices are tasteful and, darn it!, should win. And, um, they often don’t.
Film Editing – American Sniper, Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
Hey, the film has to win something!
Make Up and Hairstyling – Foxcatcher, Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
Gotta give it to the folks who made up Steve Carell’s nose.
Sound Editing – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock
Of course, all the nominees could deservedly win this one. But any lover of Birdman will have to hope that this piece of virtuoso filmmaking will win for its quite flashy editing.
Sound Mixing – Whiplash, Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
Simply brilliant. They should win because they were denied a place in the best music category.
Visual Effects – Interstellar, Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
Just like American Sniper: they’ve got to win something, right?
Many people have castigated American Sniper because it elevates the real (and now deceased) sniper, Chris Kyle, to near mythic status. Readers of his book, also entitled American Sniper, respond angrily to his racist depiction of the Iraqis—and he did kill hundreds as the U.S. military’s greatest sharpshooter. But it’s not Kyle we see on screen—it’s Bradley Cooper, giving a nuanced performance of someone who gradually becomes traumatized by his actions in Iraq. I say, “kudos” to Cooper and director Clint Eastwood, who has been unfairly depicted as an aging Dirty Harry, endorsing murder in the Middle East. The film I saw was a subversive critique of war and a quietly humanist film in which the sanest voice is that of Kyle’s wife, Taya, well played by Sienna Miller. To those who criticize American Sniper, I urge you to see it before you condemn it.
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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