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2015 Oscars

That time of year again. As per usual, I have lots of thoughts and I'm not shy about sharing them. These are more about how I'd vote than what I predict (but that'll be in here a bit too). I'm going in the order the official Oscar website lists the nominees possibly skipping some of the lesser categories. Letsa go!

Best Picture
Ranked roughly in the order I would vote for them.

Birdman - No big secret this was my favorite movie last year. Yet for a little while, I was conflicted between this and Boyhood as best picture. But then I saw Edward Norton comment about how in fifteen years, film students will be picking apart this movie and studying it intensely. I don't see that same fate for Boyhood. Birdman is simply a perfect film. Every element (screenplay, cast, direction, cinemtography, score) is spot on and a technical achievement in itself. That level of excellence deserves reward.

Boyhood - While it is not the most entertaining of the films, I find it to be the most beautiful as a work of art. The gimmick used is not likely to be replicated again, or at least not to the same effect. Once the fake trailers for things like Boy Meets World and Harry Potter done in the style of Boyhood came along, I did realize that the idea isn't as rare as it's made out to be, just the thought of combining it all into one film. I wouldn't begrudge the film if it wins, because it is worthy of acclaim. I just think Birdman is worthier.

Theory of Everything - As far as traditional Oscar bait films go, this is the one that I would back. This film was beautifully done, expertly acted, and truly inspirational.

Whiplash - As far as personal enjoyment, I would have ranked this one higher. As far as Academy worth, I think the nomination is it's big win. While the film is incredible and provoked an incredibly visceral response from me, it feels a bit narrow for the big prize.

American Sniper - I've never been moved by a film quite like the way this one did. It's incredibly worthy subject matter, and was treated with the utmost respect. In a weaker year, this could have taken it all.

The Imitation Game - This also fits the traditional Oscar bait decription to a t, and it's another important film about someone who should be celebrated. For me, it doesn't stand out as much as the aforementioned films, but that doesn't make it any less of one.

Selma - Simply put, I just liked the others way better. Yes this is an important film, and yes it's very well done. It's just a very strong year with tough competition.

The Grand Budapest Hotel - I enjoyed the first half of this one, and then it fell flat. I love the world that Wes Anderson was able to create, and how picturesque it all is. I just wish the story stood up to its ambitions

Best Actor
Such a tough race this year. All of them deserve very much to be on this list, edging out several other worthy opponents. The battle seems to be mainly between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. Going off the performance alone, I'd side with Redmayne. But I like to take in career and Oscar history as well, and Keaton gives the performance of a lifetime and has a long legacy behind him. Also, Redmayne loses points for the role being such obvious Oscar bait, and Keaton gains points for it being my favorite film this year. Next on the list I'd probably place Bradley Cooper. Besides the fact that he's due soon, this role was completely transformative and unlike anything we've seen from him before. He conveyed so much by doing so little. Speaking of transformative, next we've got Steve Carrell. At the beginning of the race a few months ago, I was in his corner. I love when actors go way against type and succeed with such flying colors. But by now, I didn't care for his film as much as I thought I would, and I just thought the others were a little bit stronger. That leaves us at Bennedict Cumberbatch. Yes, he was truly incredible, but I feel he's eclipsed by his competition. Missing from the list, first I'd say David Oyelowo. I'll admit I was kind of upset Cooper stole his spot, simply due to the fact that otherwise we'd have a pool full of first timers. Trivia aside, he did give a powerful performance. I'd also like to throw Bill Murray's name into the ring for St Vincent. If you've just seen the trailer, then you have no idea of the depth and range that he gave in that film. Such a treat to watch.

Best Actress
Julianne Moore no question. No only is she overdue (as she's on nod number 5), her performance was powerful and important. She gave such heart and dignity to her character, it's truly a must see. Next, I think I'd go with Felicity Jones. Her understated and restrained performance really anchored Theory. Next to such a flashy costar's performance, she could have faded into the background, but instead she stood her ground and showed the strength of her real life character. From there, I'd say Rosamund Pike. She has the unfair advantage of being in my second most favorite movie of the year (Gone Girl), and I just love the thought that this role was deemed awards worthy. She is such a conniving chameleon and is incredible to watch. Reese Witherspoon is being viewed as the possible upset, but her previous win knocks her down in my ranks. Wild was incredible and unexpected, but I'd choose the other ladies first. Marion Cotillard should just be happy to have made the cut. She gave a masterful performance, as always, but she had her time already. As for who's missing, some would argue Jennifer Aniston, but something wasn't quite there for me. Others would say Amy Adams, but Big Eyes was not her strongest, and the next time she is nominated, I'd really like to see it be the one she finally wins. Who I will say I would have liked to see here, longshot as it may have been, is Emily Blunt for Into the Woods. She should start earning some accolades soon, especially after this strong year she had (she OWNED Edge of Tomorrow), and she ruled the Woods kingdom.

Best Supporting Actor
This is the category that most truly breaks my heart. I am beyond torn between Edward Norton and JK Simmons. Norton is my favorite actor, Birdman gave him his best role in years, and he absolutely should have won for American History X some time back. Simmons is a hardworking actor worthy of recognition, playing against type in HIS best role possibly ever. One of these guys will win, and no matter which it is, I'll be sad for the other. Although it's looking more like Simmons, but my heart leans more towards Norton. After them Mark Ruffalo would get my vote for Foxcatcher. He's such a versatile and emotional actor, showing off those skillz yet again. Ethan Hawke would probably come next for me. I lived for his scenes in Boyhood, and like all the other characters, he too grew thru such a great arc over the course of the film. And we all know that Robert Duvall is mostly nominated out of respect for him and his career.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette has been cleaning up here, and she deserves it. She could have even given lead actress a solid run, as Boyhood is as much about her as it is her child. Being able to connect so strongly to the same role intermittently over such a long time takes incredible talent and dedication. I never really cared too much for her as an actress until this film. I adore Emma Stone and was elated she got the nod. And we already know I loved everything about Birdman. Keira Knightly is also deserving of being on this list, but it's not her year. That day will come. I loved Laura Dern in Wild, and am happy to see her here, but the role feels less substantial than her competition. And then similarly to Mr Duvall, Meryl Streep is mostly just here out of respect. No less deserved, but she's the last I'd expect to see walk up to that podium.

Animated Feature
How on Earth is Lego movie not on here???!!!!?!!! UGGGGHHHH
I don't even know what I'm rooting for otherwise. Probably Big Hero 6 but I wouldn't mind seeing How to Train Your Dragon 2 take it. If we're just talking animation technique and forget the sleepy plot The Boxtrolls excels. I haven't seen the other two, less mainstream nominees.

Cinematography
I know this dude just won last year, but hands down it's gotta go to Birdman.

Costume design
I think Maleficent would be a fun win. Colleen Atwood proved why she's the master with Into the Woods but I'm kinda over her winning so much. Grand Budapest has some fun and quirky designs, or you could go with Mr Turner for your obligatory old time-y period piece. Inherent Vice should just be honored to be here, especially since it's a tricky time period

Best Director
I think you've figured out the pattern by now, so I don't need to continue gushing over Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman. Richard Linklater also had a difficult job of maintaining coherence over such a long stretch of time. Then there's Wes Anderson. Actually I may even rank him one higher. Even if I don't always enjoy his films (the writing has a strange tone to it) he has a very consistent and quirky style. You'd recognize one of his films from a mile away.

Original Score
I have to go with Theory of Everything. It's the only score I noticed while watching that I did feel enhance the mood. While I can't remember it now, I could remember upon leaving, and I'm sure I'll instantly recognize it when I hear it later. I noticed the score for Mr Turner but I _really_ didn't like it.

Original Song
I'm torn. Last year, as soon as I saw The Lego Movie, I asked if "Everything is Awesome" could please win best song. I freaking love that song and still want it to win, but I also absolutely adore "Lost Stars". I think Stars is the better stand alone song, and the better linked to it's film. But Awesome is so much fun and different. Frontrunner seems to be "Glory" which is pretty strong too. The other two songs I haven't heard. Indiewire's predictions have Glory as Will Win, Awesome as Could Win, and Stars as Should Win. Out of all their predictions, I think that's the one I most align with.

Production Design
Grand Budapest Hotel looks like a living dollhouse. So bright and toy-like.

Writing
I'd like Whiplash for adapted and Birdman for original. I also wouldn't mind American Sniper or Nightcrawler for those respective categories.

And that's all I have to say about that.
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