Danny Bowes

Filmmaker, critic.

Filtering by Tag: oscars


(EDIT: 2/29--These picks were wrong and bad.)

The Oscar ballots are in, and all that remains is putting the dresses and tuxes on, popping some SSRIs, and tuning in for the show! (Yeah, I guess the people actually attending will have fancy clothes and drugs, too, but I'm talking about us.) (Oh, and this is also assuming that the racist fustiness of the nomination process and the industry in general hasn't thoroughly alienated you.) (Or that you don't have other plans Sunday.) (Okay fuck it I'm just moving on.)


It's kind of the same shit as always: almost none of the best movies of the year were even nominated, and the ones that were have slim to no chance of winning, but unlike a lot of past years, the frontrunners are relatively inoffensive. Though, it should be noted, I deliberately avoided seeing The Revenant to preserve this state. AGI's on a successful run. I say let him cook, but under the condition that I get to sit out his movies. If he gets back together with Guillermo Arriaga, then we can talk. But despite not wanting to see his movies, I'm okay with AGI winning Oscars. Who gives a shit, really? He gets to be happy, the fact that Carol was the best movie this year doesn't change, everyone wins. Sort of.


I'm personally curious to see what effect not giving a single fuck at all has on the accuracy of my predictions. To which end:



Best Visual Effects


A surprisingly loaded category this year, and given personal preference I'd have liked to see Ex Machina take this, for pretty much flawless work on a comparatively tiny ($15 million, which is a lot of money, but watching Ex Machina and then finding out what it cost inevitably yields “They made that for $15 million? Damn.”) budget. But there's nothing wrong with Star Wars: The Force Awakens winning. It's Star Wars. The little soccer ball robot was adorable. I would propose that “cute > sexy” in this case isn't puritanism, either, it's that it's harder to make a robot cute than it is to make a robot sexy.



Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing


The differences between these two categories are real, and sometimes they go to different movies but not because of the actual differences between the two. Those jerkoff “Brutally Honest Oscar Voter” things in the Hollywood Reporter are always full of random tanning salon sausages openly bragging about not knowing anything about sound. There are bigger things in the world to get mad about, but pride in ignorance is always irritating. The good news is, a great movie is going to take both of these by accident: Mad Max: Fury Road.



Best Production Design


Another Mad Max: Fury Road win. Man, that movie was great. Wasn't that movie great?



Best Original Song


This will almost certainly be “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground, Kirby Dick's documentary about campus sexual assault, which is an important subject that things need to be done about. I still, purely artistically, wish the Wiz Khalifa Paul Walker eulogy song from Furious 7 was nominated and the overwhelming favorite.



Best Original Screenplay


Speaking of important subjects, Spotlight has that all covered. It's a very well written and acted movie that venerates not so much journalism as the pursuit of truth and justice, which should be the American way. My quibbles with Spotlight are strictly arcane cinematographic and mise en scene issues that don't mean shit to non-movie people, so I'm actually rooting for this to win as well as thinking it will. Here's to giving the Catholic Church another kick in the shins for their monstrous behavior over the years.



Best Original Score


This one I'm not so sure about. It's possible Star Wars will win, but I think Ennio Morricone's taking this for The Hateful Eight. The Oscars get to have one of their “we're all about history” moments, Morricone gets a big-ass standing ovation. He's Ennio Morricone. Give it up.



Best Makeup


Mad Max: Fury Road. Ride eternal, shiny and chrome.



Best Live Action Short


Ave Maria.



Best Foreign Language Film


It's going to be Son of Saul but I really wish it was Mustang. It's grown on me quite a bit since first viewing, and the last twenty minutes or so are incredible.



Best Film Editing


This might be the biggest layup of all the evening's wins for Mad Max: Fury Road.



Best Documentary Short


Who the fuck knows, really, but I say Body Team 12.



Best Documentary Feature


“Should” be The Look of Silence, probably will be Amy.


Best Costume Design


This is a little bittersweet, because this the one Oscar Carol, the year's best movie, has any chance of winning. On the other hand, the good news is that it's another Mad Max: Fury Road win. Unless Cinderella takes it.



Best Cinematography


Law of threes: since this'll be Emannuel Lubezki's third win in a row (for The Revenant, following Gravity and Birdman), he has to change his nickname from Chivo to “Triunfador de Oscar” which has the added benefit of also being a pun in English.



Best Animated Short


The truly wise will stay off Twitter for the whole ceremony but even those brave/foolish souls still on will want to log off when World of Tomorrow loses to Sanjay's Super Team. There will be blood.


 Best Animated Feature


Inside Out.



Best Adapted Screenplay


This'll be The Big Short. If it couldn't be Carol here, it might as well be this, since aesthetic/critical quibbles aside it is about important shit. It's pitched pretty well at people who care about but aren't up on all the details of the shenanigans that caused the not yet fully resolved '08 crisis.



Best Supporting Actress


Despite her being a co-lead, this is most likely going to be Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. She edges out lead Rooney Mara, supporting player Kate Winslet, ensemble player Rachel McAdams, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, who in a Vaclav Havel kind of way is the lead in The Hateful Eight. Whatever, we're all crystallized stardust careening through space.



Best Supporting Actor


Not sugar-coating this at all: if you attempt some dude-behind-Woody-in-Annie Hall posed superiority about Sylvester Stallone winning an Oscar for acting, fuck you where you breathe. You do not have the wherewithal to evaluate acting as an art or as a craft. Talking about how lame it is that Sly got a nom but Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler got screwed is a whole other matter. Creed is a great movie, and it's a perfect Hollywood movie, because of all three of them.



Best Actress


There are, for the most part, two kinds of acting Oscar wins. One is the kind Brie Larson has been a shoo-in for for months: the “You Are Here” win where the Academy anoints what they perceive to be an up-and-coming star. In her case, it fits: she's a good actor, people like her, she's a “type” Hollywood finds space for (not that they have a problem with institutional racism or anything), and she's got good publicists. The last two points aren't meant to denigrate her work as an actor—she's very, very good—but reality is reality.



Best Actor

Here's the other kind of acting Oscar win, the “It's Your Turn” win. It's easy to go sarcastic and do the “Oh, how Leonardo DiCaprio has suffered” aria bemoaning how difficult it is to fuck your way through multiple generations of supermodels while making millions of dollars, but here's why I'm not going to do that:



1) He gets laid a lot because people want to fuck him.

2) He makes shitloads of money because it's worth shitloads of money to people to have him in movies.

3) He should have won his first Oscar in '97.


3a) He should have won his second Oscar in '02

3b) He should have won his third Oscar in '04

    3c) He should have won his fourth Oscar in '13.




      (In order: Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, The Aviator, and The Wolf of Wall Street.)


      We can parse “should” until the cows come home, or we can just be like, look, he's a rock-solid actor and has been one of the biggest stars in Hollywood for twenty years. Sure the category's trash this year. Sure the whole bison liver and hyopthermia shit got old six months ago. Leonardo DiCaprio should have an Oscar. If for nothing else, he's over forty, maybe it'll help him get laid.



      Best Director


      In only the third BD repeat in Oscar history (joining John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz), Alejandro González Iñárritu. I haven't see The Revenant yet, and like I said before that's deliberate. Just predicting, not talking about what I want to see win, otherwise I'd be spilling whiskey all over the place sobbing about Todd Haynes not getting nominated. It's fine. I'm fine. Everything will be fine.



      Best Picture


      It's The Revenant, almost surely. People I know liked and compared it to everything from Tarkovsky to Malick to The Edge and there was more than one mention of Bart the Bear, which as a dutiful cinephile I cannot begrudge. I also don't have any particular interest at all in seeing it. IF this means I miss a great movie, so be it, no one sees every movie. There are about eight or nine Best Pictures I've never seen and that number's probably going to stay that way, or increase by the occasional one like this year.



      Final tally:

      Mad Max: Fury Road: 6

      The Revenant: 4

      Everything else tied at 1



      Rather than leave on that sigh, revisit the best movies of 2015 here. And enjoy your Sunday, whether it's watching the Oscars or any other fun you have planned.


      The moment of truth is nigh. And so we must turn every last atom of our focus, at the highest intensity we can muster, to the Oscars.


      Since I started blogging, I've dedicated a couple posts a year to the yearly paegantry, but for some reason last year—fatigue, mostly, of the profound sort immediately preceding major life changes like, say, moving to Utah—I just couldn't do it. I did predictions, and they were almost all wrong, and I was too depressed to even watch the Oscars on TV, so I didn't do my followup, and shortly thereafter basically discontinued my old blog. But this year, I'm fucking back.


      Don't mistake that for these Oscar picks being rigorously researched or the product of careful analysis. Hell no. I might go 0 for 24 this year. No, “I'm fucking back” just means I don't give a fuck. I'll skip my customary remarks about the ultimate meaninglessness of this enterprise and blah blah wah wah because they're redundant at this point. On, instead, to what promises to be the most inaccurate picks in the history of picking things (though I am trying to get these right):





      Best Original Screenplay: This, I submit, is Wes Anderson's year. Not to win Best Director or Best Picture, because they still only hold Christmas in December, but I think he takes one home for writing The Grand Budapest Hotel in the time-honored tradition of the best nominated movie getting shafted in the major categories. I think the champions of Birdman and Boyhood are more passionate about the way those pictures are directed than written, so they would only take this in an across-the-board sweep, and the only thing I'm certain of is that one of those is not in the cards this year. Nightcrawler had some fun bits and Foxcatcher is certainly a thing that exists, but both of them are also-rans this year.


      Best Adapted Screenplay: I do so wish Inherent Vice had a snowball's chance in hell, because it actually is a literarily rich job of adaptation, where Paul Thomas Anderson streamlined Pynchon's novel into a highly personalized close read. Alas, that is not how Oscar works. Most people seem to be anointing The Imitation Game here, but I think that Whiplash will prevail, because the people who like Whiplash really, really like Whiplash. I didn't think I was one of them until a week after I saw the movie I was pitching an essay about the spiritual essence of jazz that got the thumbs down because it was a book, not an essay. And I'm not even in the top hundred most hyped about that movie, so I think passion wins out.





      A two-horse race to all appearances because of lingering, stubborn anti-Marvel sentiment among the Oscargentsia, so toss X-Men, Cap 2, and Guardians of the Galaxy. This leaves us with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which should win, and Interstellar, which most likely will, for a variety of reasons not altogether relevant to the effects being good, even though they are (the most special effect in the whole movie was the inner light of Matthew McConaughey, but I've already been over that).





      Sound Mixing: A perverse part of me wants to see Interstellar win for this because of that whole scene in the cornfield where the music is so loud you can't even hear McConaughey geeking out about the aircraft they're chasing, and he was geeking the fuck out, so you know something was wrong. But the realistic side of me figures American Sniper is a safer bet.


      Sound Editing: Pure whimsical hunch, Interstellar, but don't be surprised if American Sniper also takes this. Also, they could win these in the reverse order. If it was up to me these categories would be judged by Courtney B. Vance's character from The Hunt For Red October, because if it was up to me, life would be better.





      Live Action: We're deep into “fuck if I know” territory here but because we're shooting for 0-24 here I'm going to play pin the tail on the title and go with Parveneh.


      Animated: Same process, A Single Life. That just sounds like something that would win an Oscar, doesn't it?





      And we're back to categories I actually know something about. And we're giving Wes (well, Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock this time) another one for The Grand Budapest Hotel because in a just world every Wes movie would get this unless something fucking specdazzular also came out that year. If the J.M.W. Turner stans turn up there could be an upset because hoo boy was Mr. Turner a well-designed movie (and it looked eerily like his paintings), but barring that and a case of amnesia about the room-sized computer in The Imitation Game not being as cool as the one in Enigma, this isn't even close.





      Sorry, Lego Movie diehards, this one's a lock: Glory,” from Selma. Also, John Legend and Common winning Oscars will give Kanye the thought, “Wait, I collaborated with both those guys . . . I should have an Oscar too” and whatever plan Kanye hatches to win an Oscar will be to the great benefit of all human beings.





      If anyone other than Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel wins (even Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game) something has gone horribly, fraudulently wrong. Desplat's TGBH score was wonderful. Fuck everybody else. Except Hans. Only fuck Hans temporarily. Hans gets to get unfucked the second Desplat wins for TGBH.





      Lest you think I'm just irrationally in the tank for Wes, this one I see going to Foxcatcher because fake schnozzes go a long way in this category and Steve Carell's fake schnozz had a way of sticking in the memory.





      No theory to predict this category ever holds up for more than a couple years in a row because they stupidly never nominate the best stuff, and this year it's especially difficult because a lot of people like Ida but a lot of people also really hate Ida, and about twelve people have seen Timbuktu and loved it but wider reach than that can't be verified, and everyone remembers “oh yeah, Leviathan” after a minute or so. Which means the race is probably between Tangerines and Wild Tales. It's flat-out dumb that Force Majeure wasn't even nominated, though.





      Here we see the “Whiplash is going to have a good night” narrative pick up steam. Something weird no one saw coming happens every year, and the “people really fucking love Whiplash” stories have been really been making the rounds. One spectacularly fun moment at Oscar parties is going to be literally everyone in an Oscar pool losing here when Boyhood doesn't take it.





      Short Subject: Here is the one “category no one cares about” that I actually have some insight into, because I watched and reviewed all five of these. And thus it is with great fanfare that I (probably mistakenly) inform y'all that Joanna is taking this one. It's a beautiful, sad film with no stupid talking head bullshit and none of the “let's load this with shock cuts and jerkoff music cues like a theatrical blockbuster” mess handicapping certain other competitors. Who know who they are.


      Feature: Very tempted to second-guess conventional wisdom and be like “Behold, ye mighty: Virunga” or some such but, no, this is pretty obviously Citizenfour.





      Spoiler alert: I'm pretty sure Best Director/Best Picture is going to be split again, and based on my divination from the entrails of this Utah mountain dromedary the elder gods have decided that Richard Linklater takes this one for Boyhood. I'm personally a little torn on the movie itself, having found it crushingly underwhelming and to be lacking a compelling focal point, while also admiring the shit out of someone who would say “I'm going to make a movie over the course of twelve years” and then doggedly see it out. Also, even if I felt like being more of a dick about the movie not actually being that good, there's always the “he's had one coming for Dazed and Confused for twenty-odd years now” angle, and the IOU Oscar is a long-standing tradition.





      Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel.





      So, yeah, Lubezki, Birdman or (Wanky Subtitle No One Ever Remembers), fine, okay, but it sure would be nice if Dick Pope won this one for Mr. Turner, because what he pulled off with that was really impressive in terms of color, perspective, lighting, and all the other things than blocking and camera movement that cinematography actually is. Not to mention that he did all that while adapting a static medium (painting) to one where the subjects move around and do stuff. But, still, Lubezki winning isn't anything even approaching a tragedy. He's very good.





      Casting an almost certainly doomed protest pick for The Tale of Princess Kaguya here, because it's a joke that the other four things are even in the same category.





      Supporting Actress: Weird selection of nominees, with no Chastain for A Most Violent Year, none of the multiple worthies from Inherent Vice or Gone Girl, or (seriously) Emily Blunt for Edge of Tomorrow. So the only suspense is how big a standing ovation Patricia Arquette gets when she wins for Boyhood.


      Supporting Actor: Another virtual lock, J.K. Simmons, Whiplash, another case of his not going up against any of the best supporting performances of the year (Josh Brolin, Tyler “If This Looks Weird To You, You Didn't See Gone Girl” Perry, Albert Brooks, NPH, Bill “If This Looks Weird To You, You Didn't See Edge of Tomorrow” Paxton, etc etc). But, like the Arquette win, it still holds up.


      Lead Actress: In a properly oriented world, Julianne Moore would already have three or four Oscars (Lead for Safe, Supporting for Boogie Nights, Lead for Far From Heaven, Supporting for The Kids Are All Right, just off the top of my head) and this could be the deserved anointing of Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl because holy Christ Rosamund Pike was good in Gone Girl. But because the Academy spent the last twenty years fucking up ignoring one of the great movie stars of the era, this year they have to give Julianne Moore the IOU Oscar for Still Alice. Let there be no mistake, now, this is a good thing. But, y'know, Academy, next time an analogous situation presents itself, to quote the movie she should have won her second Oscar for, maybe think about getting some new shit, whaddaya say?


      Lead Actor: The one acting category where there's a little suspense, because irritatingly a lot of the people in a position to know have been talking about Eddie Redmayne winning hearts and minds for the Hawking thing (in which all the actual acting was done by Felicity Jones), which is one of the wispiest, most rote trailers for an Oscar campaign ever produced. It's not a real movie, and no one can convince me that it was. On the other hand, we have a definite actual movie, Birdman, whose title translates to “man the bird,” or, in so many words, wrap a hand around your cock and whack it, preferably into a mirror while soliloquizing about what a great artist you are. So, no, it's not a good movie, but it at least is a movie, and Michael Keaton is and always has been an ace. And Redmayne's always got his BSA for Jupiter Ascending to look forward to next year. What.



      You know what? Since no one ever gets fired for being wrong about Oscars and there's no actual method to analyze “correctly” that anyone can master through knowledge, I'm going to pick the thing that'll drive Oscar bloggers and racists (#NotAllOscarBloggers) insane: Selma. Now that the screener fiasco that led to the paucity of nominations is no longer an issue and voters have actually had a chance to see it, I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility that the months of Boyhood vs. Birdman partisanship wore people down and left them looking for another option. The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game cancel each other out with the prestige biopic vote, so scratch them (also they both suck). American Sniper and Whiplash might be a little “edgy.” (Note: no actual definition of “edgy” exists.) So that leaves The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is the better movie, and Selma, which is the more important movie. And is also excellent. And never forget, you can win Best Picture with as little as 12.6% of the total vote. And also never forget: you can get 12.6% of any randomly selected body in Hollywood to vote for something progressive. Thus, my argument for Selma, without even getting into the whole “I really hope it wins” thing.



      So, the final breakdown: for multiple winners, I've got four wins for The Grand Budapest Hotel, three for Whiplash, two for Selma, Interstellar, Boyhood, and Birdman. Untold zillions of thinkpieces about What It All Means (spoiler: nothing). And believe you me, if all of these picks are correct, I'll be more surprised than all of you put together.

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