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.
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
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.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
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.