Well - Oscar inspired, but that's about all. Not even really against the OPscars - every year, there seems to be another Awards-Are-Bad-for-Art thumbsucker - this is not that. I don't care much about the Academy Awards, but the industry does, so who am I to complain about their enjoyment? No - it's just that the Oscars provide an excellent excuse to run through the various categories, and make my own lists. I like making lists. So here we go. With some comments on the Oscars as we go, but that is secondary.
I managed to see 5 of the nominees. I should see American Sniper, and probably will eventually; I should never have seen Imitation Game, as it annoyed me. That's life. I don't know for sure what will win - there might have been a time when Selma would have won (a big, serious historical epic) - or American Sniper (which for good or ill seems to allow everyone to see what they want in it) - but neither seem right for this year. So I don't know. Boyhood might do it - of the nominees, it should win. Now - as for snubs - thinking just about films that are on the radar of the academy (I doubt Jim Jarmusch counts) - well: I'm not sure. There were lots of films that seem as good as the ones that got nominated, even in theory - and in fact, certainly, Mr. Turner or Love is Strange or The Immigrant seem like better films than some of what got nominated. Though 4 of the films I saw this year were obvious and proper choices - Boyhood, Birdland, Selma and Grand Budapest Hotel - even in a 5 film field, those would have been strong contenders. American Sniper might be there too. The rest seem to be throwbacks to the old days of nominating Oscar Bait films instead fo real films (the other 5 are real films, whatever you think of them - all of them would exist without any reference to the Oscars; I can't say that of the Imitation Game, say.) I don;t have any single disappointments here - I have some opinions on some of the other nominations though.
So - my choices - this is basically a top 5 for the year, though I tried to stick to films that were eligible. 2 of them did get nominated, which is nice:
1. Norte, The End of History [seeing it a second time moved it up from the #2 spot I had at the end of last year - this is a very fine movie.]
3. Only Lovers Left Alive
4. Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby Her/Him
5. Grand Budapest Hotel
Last year this time, there was argument about how the expanded best picture nominations cut the number of total films nominated - with all the best director nominees coming from the same films. This year, they broke that once - Foxcatcher - which I didn't see... The others are good choices - 3 of mine got on their list. As for what will and should win - I half suspect that Boyhood and Birdman will split these.
1. Linklater - Boyhood
2. Inarritu - Birdman
3. Anderson _ Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Diaz - Norte, the End of History
5. Anderson - Inherent Vice
I only saw two of these - the others might be worthy, but I barely care. Cumberbatch was very good, but the film was not, so I have to root for Mr. Keaton. Who was outstanding in a very good film... This is a category I think the academy could have improved - lots of performances that should have been here, somewhere - Joaquin Phoenix in Inherent Vice, Spall in Mr Turner - Coltrane in Boyhood - Oyelowo in Selma! Inherent Vice should not have been shut out like this - there are a lot of places where it should have gotten something. This was a deep pool, and I'm not sure how 2 impersonations of famous Englishmen got there in place of anything else.
1. Ralph Fiennes - Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Joaquin Phoenix - Inherent Vice
3. Timothy Spall - Mr. Turner
4. Guy Pearce - The Rover
5. Benecio De Toro - Jimmy P
I only saw two of these, too. I imagine this is Julianne Moore's to lose, and that's probably justified - she is always superb. I wish they'd put in some of the performances I liked - Cotillard in The Immigrant, or real long shots like Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive or Jessica Chastain in The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (a film in general I wish had gotten more attention - I know it's 4 hours long; and maybe it wasn't actually eligible this year - but it was still something to see. Chastain was wonderful, as she usually is.) Overall, this is category with some very good work, that didn't get much acknowledgement. (And if the performances that were nominated that I didn't see are worthy, that just shows the depth.)
1. Swinton - Only Lovers Left Alive
2. Chastain - Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (even just for Her!)
3. Scarlett Johanson - Under the Skin
4. Hilary Swank - The Homesman
5. Cotillard - The Immigrant [being perverse - nothing wrong with her performance for the Dardennes; that's worthy]
Everyone seems to think this will be JK Simmons - who is so good in everything he does that he probably will, and probably should. (I haven't seen it, but I'll take the academy's word for it.) Though I'd go with Norton, out of this bunch. Missing? yeah - lots of stuff missing, though the ones that are there might be fine.
1. Edward Norton Jr. - Birdman
2. Josh Brolin - Inherent Vice
3. Chris O'Dowd - Calvary
4. Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
5. Benecio Del Toro - Inherent Vice
I would assume, and hope, this goes to Patricia Arquette - the rest? who knows.
1. Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
2. Carmen Ajogo - Selma
3. Emma Stone - Birdman
4. Tilda Swinton - Snowpiercer
5. Viola Davis - Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
This was a strong category, I think - I saw three of the nominations, and they were all deserving; the others maybe. I hope Wes Anderson wins - but no complaints for Birdman or Boyhood.
1. Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Only Lovers Left Alive
4. Listen Up, Philip
5. Force Majeure
This one is harder - I didn't see most of them; not sure which scripts I did like were adapted. I am grateful that Inherent Vice got at least one nomination. No idea what will win, though.
1. Inherent Vice
2. Norte (if you consider it an adaptation of Dostoevsky, which might be a stretch)
3. Jimmy P
4. A Most Wanted Man
5. Love is Strange (probably cheating again - it might be a remake, but I don't know if it's adapted.)
Another category where I approve of the nominations - not always the case in cinematography, where sometimes dull beauty wins over innovation and service to the story. Birdman will probably win, but all are good choices.
3. Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Under the Skin
5. Mr. Turner
How Birdman didn't get a nomination here is beyond me; editing is about deciding when and how to cut - not cutting is as much an editing decision as cutting, and pretending not to cut is even more so. Still - the way Boyhood was made makes me think it had to be created on the editing table, and what came out is a masterpiece, so - I hope it wins.
5. Grand Budapest Hotel
Saw three of the nominated films - they make my top 5 too...
3. 20,000 Years on Earth
4. Last Days in Vietnam
5. Finding Vivian Maier
This is Ida's to lose,right? A local theater had both Timbuktu and Leviathan playing this week, but were closed today, so they could clean off the roof - great.. Anyway. The nomination process for these is too strange for me to say much about...
3. The Dance of Reality
5. Like Father, Like Son
And I guess that will do it!