UPDATE: It's the big day!! We're hours away! As soon as I press update, I'm off to Karen and Jean's house to eat, eat, eat and admire/criticize the red carpet.
And, in preparation, I saw everything I hoped to see! I saw every Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actor and Actresses. I even yawned through Into the Woods. I've updated this post, in red, with my thoughts on each category. What/Who were your favorites? May
Sometimes, I do things other than cook, eat, garden, and photograph. Though you wouldn't know it from this blog.
Sometimes I watch sports. Sometimes I travel. Sometimes I play with makeup. Sometimes I observe (from a middle-aged distance) fashion. One day, I'll share all of the non-food related topics over on this developing blog right HERE. It's a hot mess of construction right now.
Today is not that day. TODAY, I'm itching to talk about my favorite winter season--not post-season football, not basketball, not hockey-- AWARDS SEASON.
And the granddaddy of all of the awards, Oscar himself, has announced his nominations for 2015 JUST THIS MORNING! I've got to get a move on. The 87th Academy Awards will be televised on February 22, 2015. I have a long list of catching up to do!
Below, find the trailers for all of this year's Best Picture nominees. The Academy chose to nominate only eight films for the ten category slot, leaving out a few that probably ought to have made the cut. But my ballot was lost in the mail, it seems.
For a complete list of nominees, see the list, following.
Below, find the full list of nominees. I've seen the ones scored through, and look forward to 4 weeks plus change of rushing through viewings of those remaining. What have you seen? What is your early favorite? Let's DISCUSS!
American Sniper, the highest-grossing war film in North America, and Eastwood's most successful film to date, was not my favorite. It was a good movie about the war experience of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, My eyes were glued to the screen, save for when I covered them, from opening to credits. Certainly earned it's action/adventure cred. Seems like there's a blockbuster war movie each award season. It's just a little fresh, and maybe a little much for me. This was the movie I most dreaded seeing. Don't get me wrong. I'm a red, white, and blue patriot, and I admire most of Eastwood's catalogue. I'm not up for sniper fire, I guess. And that fake baby. No.
Birdman, the dark comedy/drama written and directed by Alejandro G. Iñárrituon, on the other hand, appealed to me because of the story within the story. Set around a play based on my favorite modern poet, Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love. Michael Keaton, gave a thoughtful and compelling performance as a fading celluloid super hero, seeking a career renaissance, in an ironic life follows fiction twist. Strong ensemble cast performances by members including Keaton, along with Zach Galifianakis, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts,and Edward Norton all made impressive contributions. Yet the fantastical elements featuring Birdman, the alter ego of Riggan Thomson (played by Keaton) threw me off. I like my realism to stay real, and my fantasy to stay fantasy. That's how I'm wired. I tried to suspend belief, but ultimately failed. I'm almost unanimously in agreement with zero film critics. Guess that's why I'm no film critic. Film lover? Yes. Film critic? Hardly.
Boyhood. Boy was this one polarizing. Admittedly, my objectivity was near nil. I live in the city and state which was featured and portrayed so lovingly, I've followed the project for many years, I completely related to the kid-from-divorce angle as well as the divorced mother angle, the music was spot-on ( I'm a big fan of the Black Keys, among the other artists featured) and the darn it if the movie didn't end up in Big Bend. My love for Big Bend, where I spent a meaningful and memorable bit of solo time recently, borders on the spiritual. There were too many commonalities in the movie for me to remain unbiased. Those who aren't loyal Austinites were less impressed. A friend whose opinion I respect reported that he hated it so vehemently, he refused to finish viewing. I loved it. It vies for my favorite. Go figure.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, a Wes Anderson comedy, was GORGEOUS. I was captivated by the scenery and setting from the opening credits, and I'm a sucker for pretty. Ralph Fiennes, the Hotel's devoted concierge and lothario, was witty and delightfully restrained in his role, and the interplay between Fiennes character, Monsieur Gustave H, and the young Zero Moustafa, lobby boy (played by Tony Revolori), while understated, is nothing short of hilarious. The cast (THE CAST, OMG!) includes performances and cameo appearances by F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and Owen Wilson. I'm a big fan of Anderson's films, and this one is one of his best. I can't imagine why Fiennes was overlooked for Best Actor, and why this film isn't garnering the buzz and accolades it deserves. I think I'll boldy go on record as saying it's my favorite of the group.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game, a historic thriller chronicling the contributions of Alan Turing, widely considered the father of computer science, loosely based on the biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Turing, played skillfully by newlywed Benedict Cumberbatch was the British cryptanalyst who helped solve the Enigma code during the Second World War, professionally and was later prosecuted for homosexuality, personally. I found the story gripping, with edge-of-the-seat action, and you can bet I'll be watching it again when it is released in video. I'm a bit of an anglophile, and the time period is also of great interest to me, making the combination of setting and story irresistible. Actors all gave their best, and Cumberbatch, deservedly, has been mentioned frequently in award prediction discussions.
Selma, the historical drama directed by Ava DuVernay and written by Paul Webb and DuVernay, is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches led by James Bevel, Hosea Williams, and Martin Luther King, Jr. of SCLC and John Lewis of SNCC. Perhaps as a result of attending schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, the scene of a nationally-significant school desegregation battle in 1957, I developed a passion for the civil rights movement, and a hunger for knowledge that followed me to college, where I studied the movement under the tutelage of a similarly-impassioned professor. I've seen Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, I've walked the halls of Little Rock Central High School, I've visited the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham and wept for 4 innocent little girls, and I've driven over that bridge in Selma, featured so prominently in the film. I admit all bias. Selma has been criticized for it's portrayal of President Lyndon Johnson, however I found it accurate. And I join those who question it's exclusion in every other award category other than Best Picture. I was moved by the film and performances of its cast, watching with handkerchief in hand throughout. Perhaps like my discomfort with American Sniper, the painful honesty of this dark chapter in our country's history is difficult to confront yet again on the big screen. Imagine how difficult it must be, then, to live in the shadow of its legacy.
The Theory of Everything gave us a rare, if polished, peek into the life of a younger Stephen Hawking. The British biographical romantic drama directed by James Marsh , was adapted by Anthony McCarten from the memoir Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking, which chronicles her life with ex-husband, theoretical physicist Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease, and his success in physics. While the film gives us rare and brief unflinchingly honest observations about the complexity of Hawking and the effects of the disease on his personal life and relationships, it misses many opportunities to delve deeper than the surface of the story, instead falling back on a tidied-up, glossed over narrative. It started out so promisingly, but by the end of the movie, I was resentful of its unwillingness to really go there. No disparage intended for the award-worthy performances of Eddie Redmayne, as Hawking, and Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde, who admirably wrung as much from the script as they could. What talent there is between those two actors. Don't get me wrong-- it's not a dud, however of the list of nominees, moves to the bottom of my favorites.
Whiplash, written and directed by Damien Chazelle and loosely based upon his experience in Princeton High School's studio band, is likely the darkest horse in this list of nominees, and I LOVED IT! The story follows the dreams of young and promising drummer Andrew, played by Miles Teller, and the near-brutal challenge of the musical instructor who can make or break them. With brief exception, the movie truly belongs to Chazelle and Simmons, with the occasional easy relief Paul Reiser, who plays Andrew's father, Jim Neimann. I appreciate music just as much as I appreciate food (seriously!), so, here again, I'm biased. I'm not certain those who have no interest at all in music, generally, or jazz, specifically, will appreciate this movie as much, but I encourage you to give it a go. I'll bet anyone who studied theater or band under one of those famously brusque and slightly unhinged teacher/mentors would agree that the depiction of J.K. Simmons' Fletcher is right on point. Not one sour note there. (see what I did there?)
There's really not a bad movie in the bunch. I enjoyed watching every one of them. But according to Academy politics, this could go any way. They may try to avoid it all by crowning The Grand Budapest Hotel. I'd be good with that. But it's a longshot. Vegas says Birdman or Boyhood.
UPDATE: Jeeze this category was full of stellar performances. I'm sorry to see that Witherspoon won't get the nod this year, because in any other year, her performance as a flawed-but-courageous grieving daughter and determined hiker would win her another statue. Pike was compelling, Jones showed more complexity than her on-screen husband, and Cotillard was plucky and believable in the French language 2 Days, 1 Night.
This year, it's going to Moore. And it should.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Edward Norton for an upset. Ruffalo was a light touch among intense characters. Duvall played Duvall in a made-for-tv quality movie, and I cringed when Ethan Hawke entered the scene in Boyhood.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
UPDATE: WHERE THE HECK DID NIGHTCRAWLER PLAY??
The second batch of categories, for me, is not as much must-see viewing as it is like-to-see. Documentary, Foreign Film, and Animated Features often are seen at home, but keep an eye open for local theaters that run special showings. In Austin for instance, Violet Crown Cinema is advertising, coming soon, a viewing of all nominated animated shorts, and action shorts.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Agua
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
The Liberator (Venezuela)
Wild Tales (Argentina)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Last Days of Vietnam
Finding Vivien Maier
The Salt of the Earth
BEST SOUND EDITING
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
BEST SOUND MIXING
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past
BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
Guardians of the Galaxy
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Into the Woods
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
The Phone Call
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
The Reaper (La Parka)
BEST ANIMATED SHORT
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life
So tell me about your movie life. Are you a fan? Do you wait for video? Do you have a favorite movie, actor, director, this year? Did it/he/she/they get snubbed? And does this mean no PittJolies on the red carpet this year? (I'll bet not.)
I can't even imagine.....