Newman’s Oscars: 2015
By SAM NEWMAN
At 8:30 p.m. on February 22nd, host Neil Patrick Harris will welcome some of the world’s best actors, actresses, directors, cinematographers, production designers and sound editors to the 87th Academy Awards Ceremony in Hollywood, California. The show concludes the 2015 film awards season that began back in January with the Golden Globes. The nominees for this year’s Oscars were announced by President of the Academy Cheryl Boone Isaacs, actor Chris Pine, and directors J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron.
As always, this year’s nominations were filled with surprises and snubs, the most controversial of which were Jennifer Aniston not being nominated for Best Actress for her work in “Cake,” and civil rights movie “Selma” not being nominated for Best Director and Best Actor. The biggest surprise came in the form of the now highest-grossing war movie of all time “American Sniper,” with Bradley Cooper earning a Best Actor nomination for the third year in a row. “Boyhood” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” were nominated for the most awards this season, with nine each.
Here are my picks for “Who Will Win” and “Who Should Win,” so you know what to see before the awards ceremony (and also impress your friends!).
Will Win & Should Win: “Boyhood”
A revolutionary film that was shot with the same cast for 39 days over a 12-year period, this Richard Linklater-directed piece follows a boy from age 6 to 18 and highlights the process of growing up, forming an identity, and coping with family. “Boyhood” does an exceptional job focusing on the defining cultural moments of each year. The movie features Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette, who have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for their work in the film, as the divorced parents of protagonist Mason Evans, Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) and Samantha Evans (Lorelei Linklater – yes, the sister in the film is the director’s daughter). The film premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival and continued to gain traction throughout 2014 and has dominated in every award ceremony since.
If “Boyhood” doesn’t win, “Birdman“ is my next best guess. Also nominated in the newly expanded category are “The Theory of Everything,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “American Sniper,” and “Selma.”
Will Win & Should Win: Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”)
I love this film! Eddie Redmayne stars as the most brilliant and celebrated physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking (and, in my opinion, shares a pretty close resemblance to the actual scientist). The film tracks Stephen Hawking’s life starting with his time at Cambridge University, his marriage to Jane Wilde, and his diagnosis and struggle with an early-onset case of ALS, a motor-neuron disease, which hinders his body but not his mind. Redmayne’s performance has received critical acclaim at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. You may have seen the British actor in “Les Miserables” or “My Week with Marilyn.”
Also nominated are Benedict Cumberbatch for his role in “The Imitation Game,” Michael Keaton for “Birdman,” Bradley Cooper for “American Sniper,” and Steve Carrell for his first serious role in “Foxcatcher.”
Will Win & Should Win: Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”)
Julianne Moore has dominated this awards season for her chilling performance as a Columbia University linguistics professor who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Moore has won Best Actress for this role at both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. Many view her “no-doubt-about-it” chances of winning the Oscar as a lifetime achievement for Moore, who has appeared in over 76 films and has been nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress, twice each. If you have to bet on a winner in this category, Julianne Moore is it.
Also nominated in the category are Felicity Jones for her starring role opposite Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything,” Reese Witherspoon for her uplifting performance in “Wild,” Rosamund Pike for her critically acclaimed performance in “Gone Girl,” and Academy favorite Marion Cotillard for “Two Days, One Night.”
Best Supporting Actor
Will Win & Should Win: J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”)
J.K. Simmons has had one of the most diverse and critically acclaimed careers of all time. He has been featured in close to 150 movies and television shows and this Oscar is his, no contest. In “Whiplash,” Simmons portrays a strict and determined band instructor who will stop at nothing to bring out a student’s full potential. The film, which only received a limited release in theaters, was a big hit at many nationwide film festivals. Simmons is a renowned performer in the entertainment community, and this award, similar to Julianne Moore’s, is truly an award for his years of work in the industry.
Also nominated in the category are Ethan Hawke for “Boyhood,” Edward Norton for “Birdman” (a personal favorite), Mark Ruffalo for “Foxcatcher,” and Robert Duvall for “The Judge.”
Best Supporting Actress
Will Win & Should Win: Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”)
Honestly, Patricia Arquette is the only actress who should win in the category, not only because her work in “Boyhood” was incredible, but also because the other nominated actresses didn’t deliver as Academy-worthy performances (not to say that the other actresses aren’t fantastic because they are). Also nominated were Emma Stone for “Birdman,” Kiera Knightly for “The Imitation Game,” Laura Dern for “Wild,” and 19-time Academy Award nominee (not a typo, she has been nominated 19 times!) Meryl Streep for “Into the Woods.”
Will Win & Should Win: Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”)
Richard Linklater is a shoo-in for Best Director A movie produced by filming over the course of 12 years with an original idea, is something that the Academy eats for breakfast, along with their Meryl Streep nominations.
Also nominated are Bennett Miller for “Foxcatcher,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu for “Birdman,” the quirky Wes Anderson for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and Morten Tyldum for “The Imitation Game.”
The Academy Awards is often suspenseful, but this year’s is tamer than usual, as every acting category, directing category, and best picture category is basically decided. The 87th Academy Awards airs February 22nd at 8:30 p.m. on ABC with host Neil Patrick Harris.
The rest of my predictions:
Adapted Screenplay: “Whiplash”
Original Screenplay: “Birdman”
Animated Feature: “How to Train Your Dragon 2″
Documentary Feature: “Citizen Four”
Foreign Film: “Wild Tales”
Costume Design: “Into the Woods”
Film Editing: “Boyhood”
Make Up & Hairstyling: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Original Song: “I’ll Be Me”
Original Score: “The Theory of Everything”
Production Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Sound Editing: “American Sniper”
Sound Mixing: “American Sniper”
Visual Effects: “Interstellar”
Animated Short: “Feast”
Documentary Short: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
Best Live Action Short: “The Phone Call”