Best Films of 2016: Part 2 – Individual Achievement

Best Director

Robert Eggers – The Witch

Honourable Mentions: Denis Villeneuve – Arrival; David McKenzie – Hell or High Water

Best Actress

Amy Adams – Arrival

Honourable Mentions: Anya Taylor-Joy – The Witch; Hailee Steinfeld – Edge of Seventeen

Best Actor

Denzel Washington – Fences

Honourable Mentions: Chris Pine – Hell or High Water; Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences

Honourable Mentions: Helen Mirren – Eye in the Sky; Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures

Best Supporting Actor

Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water

Honourable Mentions: Woody Harrelson – Edge of Seventeen; Patrick Stewart – Green Room

Best Ensemble Cast

Everybody Wants Some!!

Honourable Mentions: Fences; Captain Fantastic

Best Original Screenplay

Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Honourable Mentions: Richard Linklater – Everybody Wants Some!!; Robert Eggers – The Witch

Best Adapted Screenplay

Eric Heisserer – Arrival

Honourable Mentions: August Wilson – Fences; Rhett Ree & Paul Wernick – Deadpool

Best Cinematography

Bradford Young – Arrival

Honourable Mentions: Jarin Blashke – The Witch; Trent Opaloch – Captain America: Civil War

Best Production Design

Ryan Warren Smith – Green Room

Honourable Mentions: Mark Tildesley – High Rise; Craig Lathrop – The Witch

Best Visual Effects

Robert Legato, Visual Effects Supervisor – The Jungle Book

Honourable Mentions: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Arrival

Best Sound

Arrival

Honourable Mentions: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Jungle Book

Best Stunts

Ben Cooke, Stunt Coordinator – Assassin’s Creed

Honourable Mentions: Robert Alonzo & Phillip J. Silva, Stunt Coordinators – Deadpool; Mickey Giacomazzi, Sam Hargrave, Florian Hotz &Spiro Ratazos, Stunt Coordinators – Captain America: Civil War

Best Score

Justin Hurwitz – La La Land

Honourable Mentions: Clint Mansell – High Rise; Jed Kurzel – Assassin’s Creed

Best Song

‘Drive it Like You Stole It’ from Sing Street

Honourable Mentions: ‘City of Stars’ from La La Land; I’m So Humble’ from Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

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Best of 2016 – Film: Part 1

10 Best Films of the Year

  1. Arrival

    Arrival was exactly the movie we needed at exactly the right time. We have been offered so many dire, apocalyptic visions of alien contact, in the form of invasion, that it was… well, truly inspiring for director Denis Villeneuve and writer Eric Heisserer to approach the concept from a place of hope. There’s a quiet, unassuming quality to Arrival that reassures the audience that even though it appears, at face value, to be frightening, there is ultimately nothing to fear. Amy Adams delivers a stellar performance that impresses without being showy.
  2. The Witch

    The Witch‘s selling point is the mood. It’s a horror film, but in the classical sense. It’s as tense as they come. And the way writer/director Robert Eggers is able to layer everything together to create such a gorgeous film is damn fine filmmaking. If one aspect of the process didn’t work, it would have thrown everything else off. If one performance was out of place, if the cinematography didn’t quite work. But everything was on point.
  3. Hell or High Water

    What’s great about Hell or High Water is that it doesn’t reinvent the Western. It sort of wanders through the first act unremarkably. But the deeper we get into Taylor Sheridan’s script, the more Ben Foster, a career-best Chris Pine, and Jeff Bridges unfold the story, the more they pull you in. They build characters you really care about.
  4. Everybody Wants Some!!

    It’s no secret Richard Linklater’s Dazed & Confused is my all time favourite film. There’s a brilliance to the film where nothing happens, and everything happens. Much like D&C, Everybody Wants Some!! is about the characters growing. There’s no hero’s arc. There’s no goal to accomplish. It’s just here are these guys in the first week of college. No one does character pieces like Linklater. And the cinematic world is better for it.
  5. The Nice Guys

    I can’t pin down exactly what worked best with Shane Black’s The Nice Guys, but it’s a whole lot of everything. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was the delicious appetizer in his meta-sans-the-wink examination of comedy noir, while The Nice Guys was a fantastic main course. Black plays like a less bleak, not quite as a dark Coen Brother. He toys with your expectations of storytelling, of comedy, of mystery thrillers, and delivers some damn fine cinema.
  6. Captain America: Civil War

    Civil War is as damn near a perfect superhero movie. We get the best aspects of the genre all rolled into one film. The modern era god myths. The political and social allegories. We get fantastic performances, a wonderful, intricatly crafted story. One thing the Marvel films struggled with early on was serving the universe, while still being a great film in their own right, but Civil War perfects that.
  7. Green Room

    Jeremy Saulnier crafts beautiful, tense thrillers. Green Room is a beautiful bottle-episode thriller. He film’s an aesthetically pleasing film that locks its characters in a box with wasps and kicks that box. Every step of the way, Saulnier ups the ante, but it doesn’t feel over the top. The film goes precisely where it needs to go each and every time, and it’s anchored by great performances from Patrick Stewart and the late Anton Yelchin.
  8. Kubo & The Two Strings

    The first thing you notice about Kubo & The Two Strings is how gods damn beautiful it looks. The major animation houses have a great technical appreciation of creating animation, but Kubo focuses on the art of it. Yet where Kubo excels is the amazing family story that’s told. A boy and his family. A son and his parents. Kubo is a glorious marriage of masterful storytelling and gorgeous animation-as-art.
  9. Fences

    Not to downplay Denzel’s directorial efforts, but this film belongs to the writer and actors (which, Denzel also is among, so he doesn’t escape praise-free). August Wilson adapted his own stage play for the film (though the screenplay was unfinished when he passed over 10 years ago, and was finished by Tony Kushner), and all of the adult cast members reprise their roles from the Tony winning Broadway revival. What we’re treated to is a powerful character study in Troy’s role as a father, a husband, an employee and a black man in 1950s Pittsburgh. Denzel delivers one of his career best performances, then Viola Davis walks on set and puts him to shame.
  10. Midnight Special

    I’ll preface this by saying that there were certainly better films this year than writer/director Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special which could occupy this 10th spot. But I loved this film on a level that it didn’t feel right not including it in the top 10. And really, any of the honourable mentions below could also occupy this spot, but this is one I didn’t feel got a lot of love over the year, getting lost in the shuffle. Which is too bad because it truly is a remarkable film. Netflix gave us a great modern take on the kid-adventure flicks of the 80s with Stranger Things. We got that in the cinemas with Midnight Special. It’s a less whimsical look at E.T. or Flight of the Navigator. Not as dark as Stranger Things. But still a great small scale sci-fi flick  with great performances from Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon and the kid, Jaeden Lieberher.

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87th Annual Academy Awards: LIVE BLOG!

Hey everybody! Thanks for joining me again for a live blog-o-thon of the Oscar ceremony! I’ll keep updating with winners, losers, upsets and performances. You can also follow me on twitter – @Brodiemann, and that will just be my general reaction to things. There’s also the feed you can see directly to your right, so you don’t really even have to leave this page. Just hit refresh every so often.

The 87th Annual Academy Awards!

The 87th Annual Academy Awards!

Time stamps are in Central Time.

23:05– Now the moment we’ve all been waiting for… the Academy Award for the Best Picture of 2014 goes to BIRDMAN! YES!

22:56– Julianne Moore finally picks up an Oscar for Best Actress for her work in Still Alice.

22:50– And the Oscar for Best Actor goes to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything!

22:42– Alejandro G. Inarritu wins the Academy Award for Best Director for Birdman!

22:34– Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar goes to The Imitation Game!

22:30- The Oscar for best Original Screenplay goes to Birdman! I thought for sure it would go to boyhood.

22:22– Alexandre Desplat picks up the Best Original Score Oscar for his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel

22:10- Yay… a tribute to The Sound of Music.

22:05- The Oscar goes to John Stephens (John Legend) & Lonnie Lynn (Common) for Glory for Best Original Song. Great song. Brilliant performance!

21:58- John Legend and Common perform their Oscar nominated song Glory from Selma.

21:50- The Best Documentary Feature Oscar goes to Citizenfour.

21:43- The Oscar for Best Film Editing goes to Whiplash! Surprise! I thought for sure it would go to Boyhood! Good job, Tom Cross!

21:33- Now to remember those we’ve lost over the past year. Fare thee well, Mike Nichols.

21:26– The Academy Award for Best Cinematography goes to Birdman!

21:22– Best Production Design goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel Lobby

The Grand Budapest Hotel Lobby

21:11– Big Hero 6 takes home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film!

21:07– Best Animated Short Film goes to Feast!

21:04– The Oscar for Best Visual Effects goes to Interstellar!

21:00– Rita Ora performs “Grateful” from Beyond The Lights, nominated for Best Song tonight.

20:54- And the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress goes to Patricia Arquette for Boyhood!

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

20:50- Now for Best Sound Editing, the Oscar goes to American Sniper

20:47- And the award for Best Sound Mixing goes to Whiplash!

20:34- Tim McGraw sings the Academy Award Nominated “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me”

20:30– Best Documentary Short Subject goes to Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1!

20:26- Best Live Action Short Film goes to The Phone Call!

20:16– Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island performing the Oscar Nominated “Everything Is Awesome!”

20:11– Best Foreign Language Film goes to Ida!

20:02– Best Make-up/Hair goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel. My first incorrect pick of the night. I’m 2 for 3.

Tilda Swinton Grand Budapest Hotel

Tilda Swinton Grand Budapest Hotel

19:59– Best Costume Design goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest Hotel

19:47– Introducing the first two Best Picture Nominees is the great Liam Neeson.

19:41– First award of the night, Best Supporting Actor goes to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash!

Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons

19:36– Great opening number, Neil. Loved Ana Kendrick.

19:30– CURTAIN’S UP!

19:20– The countdown is on! 10 minutes till we find out what song NPH sings for his opening number.

19:05– I feel bad for Ethan Hawke. If it wasn’t for J.K. Simmons… well, he’d still be up against Edward Norton, but he’d have slightly better odds tonight.

18:54- I am enjoying the #AskHerMore. The whole “Who are you wearing!?!” really turned me off on the red carpet, but it’s nice hearing everyone talk about their projects instead of their dresses.

18:36– It’s Red Carpet time! I remember sitting in the bleachers back in 2006. Got to chat with Joel Stein, shook George Clooney’s hand, almost got Will Smith’s autograph. It really was a lot of fun. Would love to go again someday.

 

2015 Oscar Predictions

Over the years, I’ve gone as low as 9 for 24, up to a career best last year of picking 17 of 24 (71%). The Oscars are a cruel mistress. Just when you think, “Yeah! I got this,” Crash comes along and wins Best Picture over Brokeback Mountain, Good Night and Good Luck, Munich and Capote everyone else, Sandra Bullock beats out Carey Mulligan for Best Actress, or Million Dollar Baby dominates over all contenders. So here’s my attempt to tell the Academy I know who should or will win.

Best Picture: Birdman

Best Director: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Best Actor: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Best Actress: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Best Adapted Screenplay: Damien Chazelle for Whiplash

Best Original Screenplay: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman

Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best Foreign Film: Ida

Best Documentary Feature: Citizenfour

Best Documentary Short Subject: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Best Short Film – Animated: Feast

Best Short Film – Live Action: The Phone Call

Best Production Design: Adam Stockhausen & Anna Pinnock for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Costume Design: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Make-up/Hair: Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou & David White for Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Film Editing: Sandra Adair for Boyhood

Best Visual Effects: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett & Erik Winquist for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Best Sound Editing: Richard King for Interstellar

Best Sound Mixing: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins & Thomas Curley for Whiplash
*this is the end scene, sooooo Spoiler Alert!*

Best Original Score: Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song: “Glory” from Selma; Music & Lyrics by John Legend & Common

Jupiter Ascending: Review

Jupiter Ascending

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in Jupiter Ascending.

Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in Jupiter Ascending.

3 stars

Written & Directed by Andy & Lana Wachowski; Starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne

The Wachowskis really need Warner Brothers to tell them no. Or at least rein them in. Because ever since The Matrix, they’ve been, at best, too scattered and in their own way. Speed Racer aside, of course, that’s a highly underrated film.

Jupiter Ascending, as a film, tries to be too much. There’s too much going on that the great film it should be, and could be, becomes lost amid the overly convoluted universe the Wachowskis attempt to build. The potential to be a great, THE great sci-fi film is there, it’s right within reach. But that doesn’t wholly prevent the film being enjoyable. I still had fun watching it. It certainly wasn’t the mess it was made out to be. It was just a little… muddled

The Wachowskis build a universe with its own rules and operates fully abiding by said rules. And as long as you, the viewer, accept that, not expecting it to play by another universe’s rules, then you’ll walk away mostly satisfied. The problem is that the whole thing feels rushed. They crammed way too much into the film that it everything that should have been fleshed out gets glossed over, and before you have a chance to contemplate it, the film has moved onto something else for you to get confused by.

Tatum has done well to prove himself as a not terrible actor. He flexed his comedy muscles in the 21 Jump Street films with surprisingly good results, then flirted with awards season recognition in Foxcatcher, despite not quite sticking the landing, granted that’s through no fault of his own, the film kinda sucks. He handles the unique-ness of the sci-fi world extremely well, diving into the character to really sell the story. He really tries, to his credit.

That credit can be given to everyone else. From Kunis, Bean, Redmayne and the rest of the cast, to visual effects team, the cinematographer, everyone. It’s a pure exercise in “Best with what they’re given.” Maybe not Redmayne, I don’t know what he was going for with that voice he affected. Just a loud whisper

The problem is 100% the Wachowskis. They’re afforded too much creative freedom and too much money by Warner Brothers, and it feels like they’ve let it go to their heads. They’ve still got the ideas, but they need help focusing those ideas to be more concise. This is one instance where I think studio interference would actually be a good thing.

All that said… I’d still definitely recommend this film to sci-fi fans. Worth it if you find yourself with a few hours to kill on a lazy weekend afternoon and this pops up on Netflix.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service

4.5 stars

Directed by Matthew Vaughn; Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn; Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egarton & Samuel L. Jackson.

The Vaughn/Goldman team has produced some of the more fascinating films of the past decade, including Stardust, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. And much like their previous collaboration on a Mark Millar book, Kick-Ass, Kingsman effectively lives inside the rules of the genre, but moves around inside those rules to explore them and poke a little fun at them (Kick-Ass with superheroes, Kingsman with spies). Bourne and Bauer created a new era of the spy film, but Kingsman takes those modern influences and applies them to the classic era Bond. All of which get shout-outs in the film.

Firth enters full action hero mode, which is unusual territory for him, but he excels at it like he made a wrong career turn somewhere. Granted that wrong turn led to him being one of the most celebrated dramatic actors of the past 20 years, so it’s not necessarily a “wrong” turn. But the climactic action sequence featuring Firth is such a beautifully choreographed piece of action, it should take its rightful place as among the best executed in modern film-making.

The supporting cast of Michael Caine, Jack Davenport and Mark Strong help build the world of classic hero vs. villain with a suave swagger and just a hint of cockiness. All that builds a wonderful foil for Jackson’s delightfully grandiose supervillain to play against. He has just as much fun in the role that everyone seems to have creating this world.

Egarton, a relative newcomer, perfectly handles himself against the who’s who he’s been cast against, and is ultimately the driver of the wink and nod to the genre. His Eggsy is recruited to the Kingsmen, and put through the ropes at James Bond Hogwarts (spy training school). It provides a fun answer to the question “Seriously, where do THEY get THAT training?” Egarton presents a new school approach to an old school character type, and creates a great, layered character in the process.

What I like most about Vaughn is that he closes out the film with a satisfactory ending, but definitely teases that there is more story to tell. It is exactly what we talk about “leave them wanting more.” I’m definitely hoping this can take off as a franchise.

I know it’s only February, and the competition isn’t very stiff, but Kingsman so far leads the pack as best film of the year (so far) and while I can’t speak to the quality of the rest of 2015’s releases, I’d imagine this will stick near the top of the list by the end of the year. Definitely don’t miss this film.

The Best Picture Nominees [Reviews]

The Oscar Nominations were announced a few weeks ago, and I’ve finally had a chance to catch the few I still hadn’t seen. I’ll break down each of the major contenders and my thoughts on them. I’ll just go right down the list, in alphabetical order.

American Sniper

American SniperNominated For: Best Picture, Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, Best Adapted Screenplay- Jason Hall, Best Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing.

The problem I have with this film, besides Clint Eastwood’s trappings as a very mediocre filmmaker, is that he just kind of skims over everything. Like a pebble skipping on a pond, he glides just above the surface, dropping down to hit on an important thing every so often, but never really diving into the meat of the story until it hits the end of its run, but by then it has lost too much momentum to really make a splash. You’re left with the sense that there’s more to tell, and probably in the hands of a more nuanced filmmaker would have heard a better story.

But to Bradley Cooper’s credit, and despite Eastwood’s restrictions, he’s able to pull a deep, resonant performance of a man plagued by the horrors of war. There was one scene where a fellow soldier is praising him as a hero, and doing so in front of Kyle’s (Cooper) son, and the little that Cooper does in that scene speaks volumes. Cooper’s performance really deserved a better film.

Predicted Wins: 0 wins. If it does win, it will be for Sound Mixing and Sound Editing, but it’s up against Interstellar and Birdman.

Birdman

Birdman OscarsNominated For: Best Picture, Best Actor: Michael Keaton, Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, Best Supporting Actress: Emma Stone, Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Best  Original Screenplay: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Best Cinematography, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing

There was a theme in my favourite films of the year, and in my Oscar predictions (which will go up in full on Saturday the 21st), and that’s me siding with riskier material. The ones don’t follow the well-worn path to Oscar, and still turn out great and leading the pack.

Iñárritu’s direction is fantastic as he leads us down into a self-referential world of what it is to be an actor, that knows full well what it’s doing, has complete control of what it is doing, but never slides too far into overt parody.

Keaton masterfully anchors the cast, but never runs away with it, allowing his supporting cast room to fully develop and be their own entity and find their own voices. He leans on them, without using them as a crutch to bolster his own performance, and that brings out the best in everyone involved.

That fucking jazz score, though. What the hell?

Predicted wins: 1 win for sure, and that’s Keaton. The film has stiff competition in every category, going head-to-head with Boyhood.

Boyhood

Boyhood OscarsNominated For: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor: Ethan Hawke, Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Best Director: Richard Linklater, Best Original Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Best Editing.

Linklater is filmmaker who can say a lot when he says next to nothing. There’s no profound statement to be made here. There’s no hook to grab you. It’s just the story of this kid growing up. It’s not dissimilar to his breakout film Dazed & Confused (my all time favourite film) in that respect. What he does is, at the same time, present a wide focus of a narrow scope. We’re seeing Mason grow up, and we’re given this 12 year window into his life, but we’re not seeing big dramatic contrived events. It’s just this kid, and his experiences on how he becomes who he is as an adult.

It’s a film that speaks to the things that shape who we are. Boyhood flows very smoothly, never doing a harsh cut to the next stage in Mason’s life. Linklater opts to not caption each year, rather let the events clue you in to what’s happening, which pulls you into the story.

Predicted wins: 5 of its 6 nominations. This will be the big winner this year. Only Ethan Hawke will keep it from being a clean sweep, but he’s up against J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. Hardly Hawke’s fault.

The Imitation Game

Main Quad_AW_[26611] Grand BudapestNominated For: Best Picture, Best Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch, Best Supporting Actress: Keira Knightly, Best Director: Morten Tyldum, Best Adapted Screenplay: Graham Moore, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat

There are two films that I would knock out of contention right away, and this is one of them. It’s a very well made film, don’t get me wrong, and I liked it. I really did. But it’s just so by the numbers. The stock bio-pic is just so well-worn at this point. Sure it’s a well made film with fantastic performances. But really that’s all it has going for it.

Cumberbatch and Knightly give fantastic performances as Alan Turing and Joan Clarke, respectively. Matthew Goode and Mark Strong are just as noteworthy in their supporting roles. They just can’t get me over on this one as a whole piece of cinema. There’s just a sense of laziness to it.

Predicted Wins: 1 for Best Adapted Screenplay. It’s not the best in any of its categories, but that’s its strongest category.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Imitation Game OscarsNominated For: Best Picture, Best Director: Wes Anderson, Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup & Hair Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat

Anderson’s a director who is teetering dangerously close to falling off the Tim Burton cliff into self-parody. What saves him is that he’s actually just really fucking good (unlike Burton). The beauty of this film certainly overpowers the omnipresent quirk factor. And the beauty of this film is more than just the aesthetic. Everything comes together to work so well together to make a really great film.

I have spoken out against this film, but that primarily has to do with that first statement. I worry how long Anderson can maintain. He’s already starting to wear on me. I dislike having to begrudgingly say that it’s a good film, which circles back around to fueling a bit of animosity towards it. But it is, in fact, a well oiled machine of a film where the amount of things right with it is only eclipsed by the amount of things not wrong with it. The cast is precise, to the point that I could imagine this as an expertly rehearsed stage play and not even know the difference.

Predicted wins: I don’t seeing it picking up more than 2 of its 9 nominations, and that would Production Design and Costume Design. It could be a spoiler for Cinematography.

Selma

SelmaNominated For: Best Picture, Best Original Song: “Glory” by John Legend and Common

It would be easy to dismiss this as a by-the-numbers bio-pic, which I addressed in my entry for The Imitation Game, but I’ll leave that for people who haven’t actually seen the film.

Gone from Selma are the sweeping parallels between what happens in the narrative timeframe and the flashbacks to the subjects youth. Gone is trying to dissect the person to view them in the grand scheme of things. What we are given is an examination of a pivotal moment in a pivotal era of American history, and the pivotal man behind the moment. A more intimate think piece on the civil rights movement. It doesn’t attempt to deify or demonize it’s subject. It just wants to examine that moment in time and let us, the audience, sit with it. To the film’s credit, despite the existence of true heroes and villains in the film, it refrains from condescending finger-wagging.

Should it have been nominated for more awards? Certainly. Can I go through each category it should have been nominated in and replace a less worthy nominee with Selma? Certainly. But here we are.

Predicted wins: 1 for Best Original Song. It may be a consolation win for getting screwed over, but its chances for Best Picture are weak.

The Theory of Everything

Theory of EverythingNominated For: Best Picture, Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne, Best Actress: Felicity Jones, Best Adapted Screenplay: Anthony McCarten, Best Original Score: Jóhann Jóhannsson

It speaks volumes when I could copy past a review, change a few names, and no one would notice.

That said: Everything I wrote for The Imitation Game, just change a few names.

To be fair, I would have made that joke had Theory of Everything come first and Imitation Game second. But the alphabet being what it is…

Predicted wins: 1 for Best Original Score. Redmayne is Keaton’s biggest competition, but Keaton’s slowly pulling ahead into a comfortable lead.

Whiplash

Whiplash OscarsNominated For:  Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Best Adapted Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing

Whiplash would be nothing without the powerful performances by Miles Teller and Simmons and wonderful script Chazelle provides them. Chazelle makes several sloppy directorial decisions that definitely hinder it from being an overall stronger contender, and is certainly the weaker of the 8 Best Picture nominees. But the examination of artistic passion and how that’s brought out in the two men and the stark contrast in their approaches really drive the film home. You can read my full review here.

Predicted wins: Definitely 1 for J.K. Simmons. He’s a lock. I wouldn’t be surprised if it picks up Sound Mixing, for that final scene.