15 February 2015

Speaks' Predictions: The 87th Academy Awards

With the 87th Academy Awards telecast just one week away, I thought I'd go ahead and get out my rundown of most of the categories.

This year marks my twentieth go round with the Oscars. The first one I remember aired in 1995, for the year in movies, 1994. "Pulp Fiction" and "Forrest Gump," two movies that I still cherish to this day. Of course, I never saw "Pulp Fiction" until years later. At ten, my Mom wasn't ready to let me watch something quite that violent. But, man, do I remember that show. David Letterman hosted. The famous "Uma"/"Oprah" bit and whatnot. Tom Hanks won the Best Actor Oscar for the second time in two years.

I became obsessed with movie montages. In fact, when I think about the Academy Awards telecast, that's what I see. A movie montage of movie montages, laughs, nice dresses and tuxes, good times. This year's ceremony is poised to be a winner with Neil Patrick Harris at the helm.

I feel like, really there's not a lot missing here. I think Ava DuVernay could easily have been nominated for Best Director in the place of Bennett Miller, and, having recently re-watched "The Grand Budapest Hotel," which leads (tied with "Birdman") the pack with 9 nominations, I have just one question: Where is Ralph Fiennes? Anyway, I'm excited to see who ends up winning big.

Best Picture

“American Sniper” Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers

“Boyhood” Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers

“The Imitation Game” Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers

“Selma” Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers

“The Theory of Everything” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers

“Whiplash” Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers

I think, by now, it's pretty certain that Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" is destined to win here. It's a fine movie that I enjoyed, for the most part. I'm not quite certain about all the massive praise this movie has received critically. It's at the bottom of this list for me. "Birdman" is most likely in second and may very well sneak in and grab this thing up. But with the DGA win, it's looking like "Birdman" will get its director and cinematographer. I love that "Whiplash" is here, but it doesn't have a chance. I'm just glad it made the nominees. It is a fierce piece of filmmaking. "The Imitation Game", "Selma", and "The Theory of Everything"  are pretty much in the same boat. Powerful movies, but they just don't have the steam. "American Sniper" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" are the dark horses here. Both landed an abundance of nominations with "Budapest" on nearly every Top Ten List and Awards Ballot all year.

Speaks' Prediction: "Boyhood"
If Speaks Picked: For fun, here's how I would rank the nominees -

8. "The Theory of Everything"
7. "Boyhood"
6. "Selma"
5. "The Imitation Game"
4. "American Sniper"
3. "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
2. "Whiplash"
1. "Birdman" or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)"

Best Director

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
“Boyhood” Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Bennett Miller
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson
“The Imitation Game” Morten Tyldum

Let's get one thing straight: the "best director" on this list is Iñárritu. My favorite director on this list is Wes Anderson. Both of those gentleman truly deserve to be on this list. I can't say that for the rest. Here'e the deal, though: this one's between Linklater and Iñárritu. There is no other possibility than one of these two. Linklater really didn't do much directing. His movie is straightforward and even dull as far as visuals are concerned. It's just not about that. His idea is a winner, though, and I think that's what people like. Bennett Miller shouldn't be here because he bored me to tears with his "beautiful" movie. Blah! Morton Tyldum's work was classically and technically perfect, but it's not an Oscar Winner.

Speaks' Prediction: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
If Speaks Picked: Wes Anderson

Best Actor

Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”

I have seen all of these performances. This is such an intensely close race, and the guy I think should win (Ralph Fiennes from "The Grand Budapest Hotel") isn't even on the list. If the other awards' ceremonies are any indication, then it's Redmayne vs. Keaton. I give the slight edge right now to Redmayne, whose performance as Stephen Hawking is miraculous, despite the overt sweetness of the movie itself. Keaton's work is the stuff of legend. It's a comeback within a comeback and played to perfection. Bradley Cooper is perfect as American sniper Chris Kyle, and I would love to see him win his Oscar after three straight nominations. Cumberbatch was a revalation as Alan Turing. Steve Carell played John E. DuPont to a level of intense creepiness I've never seen. How to pick!? Who will win? This one is gonna be crazy!

Speaks' Prediction: Eddie Redmayne
If Speaks Picked: Bradley Cooper

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”

I have yet to see "Still Alice" and "Two Days, One Night," so I can't speak on those. Although from what I've been hearing, it looks like Julianne Moore is gonna take this one. I can't wait to see Cotillard's performance. Felicity Jones is adequate as Jane Hawking with a few impressive moments. Rosamund Pike is the most perfect piece of casting all year as "Amazing Amy." Her performance was awe-inducing. Finally, Reese Witherspoon carries the weight of her character's past, her pain, her problems, the whole world on her shoulders for two hours of movie and never misses once.

Speaks' Prediction: Julianne Moore
If Speaks Picked: Reese Witherspoon (ALL DAY!)

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

Didn't see "The Judge" and probably won't. Mark Ruffalo was great in "Foxcatcher," but not great enough to make me like that movie. Ethan Hawke was hands down the absolute best thing about "Boyhood." I identified with his character more than any other all year. Edward Norton rocked it as method-acting Mike Shiner, like top-of-his-game good. J.K. Simmons might as well already have the gold on his mantle. His work is head and shoulders above any actor this year...period.

Speaks' Prediction: J.K. Simmons
If Speaks Picked: J.K. Simmons

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”

Patty Arquette seems to be the frontrunner here. She won the Globe and is really pretty much all I've heard about in this category. I'm not a huge fan of her performance. Laura Dern was incredible in "Wild." It's a super small part that she just owned. Likewise, Keira Knightley sort of came out of nowhere and just blew me away with her work opposite Benedict Cumberbatch. Emma Stone had some great moments riffing with Keaton and Norton, and I love her. And then there's the token nomination for Streep just for showing up in a movie this year. Yay!

Speaks' Prediction: Patricia Arquette
If Speaks Picked: Laura Dern

Best Adapted Screenplay

“American Sniper” Written by Jason Hall
“The Imitation Game” Written by Graham Moore
“Inherent Vice” Written for the Screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Theory of Everything” Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
“Whiplash” Written by Damien Chazelle

I don't understand how "The Theory of Everything" seems to be nominated for the wrong things. Screenplay is not its strong suit. "The Imitation Game" and "American Sniper" are perfectly structured screenplays and very deserving. "Whiplash" is a movie unlike anything I've seen, and the surprises in this script along with the brutal dialogue are just genius. But only one man adapted a Thomas Pynchon
novel and made it work. Tough call on this one.

Speaks' Prediction: "The Imitation Game" (I'm fine with this!)
If Speaks Picked: "Inherent Vice"

Best Original Screenplay

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
“Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
“Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy

So, this is where "Nightcrawler" gets its well-deserved love, but it won't win. "Boyhood" is not known for its writing, thankfully. "Foxcatcher" is a sham. That leaves "Birdman," which won the Golden Globe but lost the BAFTA to "The Grand Budapest Hotel." I think the scale is leaning towards Wes. Finally!

Speaks' Prediction: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
If Speaks Picked: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Cinematography

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
“Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
“Unbroken” Roger Deakins

All of these are beautiful, I'm sure. I've only seen "Birdman" and "Grand Budapest." Both great. No contest though. Chivo Lubezki's work on "Birdman" is unparalleled in modern cinema, and he's been building to this for years.

Speaks' Prediction: "Birdman"
If Speaks Picked:  "Birdman"

Best Film Editing

"American Sniper" Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" Barney Pilling
“The Imitation Game" William Goldenberg
“Whiplash" Tom Cross

Where is "Birdman" here? So strange. I'd say "The Imitation Game" has to be in last place here, though it's incredibly well put together as are the rest of these. "Whiplash" is a contender here, I think. It's pacing totally depends on perfect editing. The flow of shots in some of the scenes in "Grand Budapest" is just spectacular, but I think the filmed-over-12-years gimmick is gonna win here. Why didn't she edit out the last 15 minutes?

Speaks' Prediction: "Boyhood"
If Speaks Picked: "American Sniper"

Best Original Score

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
“The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson

I haven't seen Mr. Turner, but I'm sure the score is lovely. Zimmer pounded and banged on some stuff pretty good, but the sound design is what I remember, not the score, except for the docking scene. That was boss. "The Theory of Everything" has a beautiful score, and I think takes it because Desplat is canceling himself out.

Speaks' Prediction: "The Theory of Everything"
If Speaks Picked: "The Theory of Everything"

Best Production Design

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
“Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
“Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
“Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts

Nobody is beating "Grand Budapest" here. Nobody.

Speaks' Prediction: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
If Speaks Picked: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Best Costume Design

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" Milena Canonero
“Inherent Vice" Mark Bridges
"Into the Woods" Colleen Atwood
"Maleficent" Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
"Mr. Turner" Jacqueline Durran

I haven't seen the bottom three on this list. The obvious choice is "Grand Budapest" anyway. I just want "Inherent Vice" to win everything it's nominated for. The costumes were good.

Speaks' Prediction: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
If Speaks Picked: "Inherent Vice"

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

“Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

You can't beat that prosthetic nose on Carell, nor can you beat the ape chin worn by Channing Tatum.

Speaks' Prediction: "Foxcatcher"
If Speaks Picked: "The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Sound Editing

“American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
“Interstellar” Richard King
“Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

The feat of making "Birdman" has to rely on perfect sound editing, but the perfection in sound design created by the team on "American Sniper" is so memorable to me.

Speaks' Prediction: "American Sniper"
If Speaks Picked: "American Sniper"

Best Sound Mixing

“American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
“Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
“Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
“Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Because of the musical angle, "Whiplash" has a strong chance here. "Interstellar" honestly should've sounded better. "American Sniper" is a close second place.

Speaks' Prediction: "Whiplash"
If Speaks Picked: "Whiplash"

Best Visual Effects

“Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
“Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
“Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
“X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Who cares?

Speaks' Prediction: "Guardians of the Galaxy"
If Speaks Picked: "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

Best Original Song

“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from “Selma”
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Again, who cares? I've only seen "Selma" and "Begin Again." None of the songs in "Begin Again" are memorable, so...

Speaks' Prediction: "Glory" from "Selma
If Speaks Picked: "Glory" from "Selma"

*Note: You have noticed that several categories are not mentioned. That's because I have seen none of the nominees in Animated Feature, Documentary Feature, Live Action Short, Animated Short, Documentary Short Subject. Speaks won't speak on what he knows not.


  1. I'm pretty much right with you on almost all of these. I'm iffy on a couple, because I think Birdman could have a mini sweep of sorts. It did take PGA, DGA and SAG, and that's a powerful combo that usually results in a Best Picture win. It also just won CAS over the weekend, so it could very well take Sound Editing as well. AND, if it takes Picture, Director, Sound Editing...it could also take Screenplay AND Actor, since it's easily in second place, edging into first, in both those categories too.

    I have so many doubts!

    1. I know man. The Best Actor race is what has me in a conundrum. I feel like Redmayne may actually have the more Oscar-y performance. Really still rooting for Keaton, even though (and I know you don't care for him) I was most moved by Bradley Cooper in American Sniper. Dude did work for that role and nailed it.

  2. Great post! I am still working my way through the Epic Movies of 2014. :-) I'm hoping to see Birdman tonight. I am most excited about Whiplash.

    1. Thanks! Both great flicks! All the best on your 2014 ventures!

  3. Best Picture - Boyhood
    Best Director - Alejandro G. Iñárritu - Birdman
    Best Actor - Michael Keaton - Birdman
    Best Actress - Julianne Moore - Still Alice
    Best Supporting Actor - JK Simmons - Whiplash
    Best Supporting Actress - Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
    Best Original Screenplay - Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Best Adapted Screenplay - Graham Moore - The Imitation Game
    Best Cinematography - Emmanuel Lubezki - Birdman
    Best Film Editing - Sandra Adair - Boyhood
    Best Original Score - Jóhann Jóhannson - The Theory of Everything
    Best Production Design - The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Best Costume Design - The Grand Budapest Hotel
    Best Makeup & Hairstyling - Foxcatcher
    Best Sound Editing - American Sniper
    Best Sound Mixing - Whiplash
    Best Visual Effects - Guardians of the Galaxy
    Best Original Song - "Glory" from "Selma"

    So, I agree with you on every one except for Best Actor. I thought Michael Keaton's performance slightly edges out Eddie Redmayne's.

    1. Nice! I actually prefer Keaton as well, but it's a close race. I think Oscars going to go Redmayne. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Just read up on the competition ... I will beat you this year! 😘