By: Ari Schwartz
If you, like me, wait all year to watch Hollywood stars who are way more attractive, make far more money, and are fantastically more important than you (whom they also couldn't care less about), pat themselves on the back for four hours on live television, then do I have some good news for you! Oscar season is upon us, and with it, a flood of predictions as to who is going to take home the idol in the major categories, because this is Hollywood, and it's the internet, and people are lazy, so yeah. I am not one to be caught being less lazy than the next person, so I too will dive into the extremely shallow waters that are the Oscars, and offer up my own predictions for Hollywood's most self-involved, self-obsessed, self-serving, [insert synonym here], night of the year. And while I know that award shows don't actually matter, and art is subjective, and blah blah blah, the Oscars are significant the same way presidential elections are—they provide us petty plebeians with months of entertaining speculation, culminating in one big night wherein the winner gives a speech that no one wants to hear, and ultimately makes no practical difference
because the Illuminati are running the world.
Fair warning: these predictions are extremely subjective, follow no consistent grading system, and are significantly affected by whatever mood I was in when I made my choice for any particular category. Also, I have seen maybe a third of the movies nominated for the major categories, and so any movie I didn't see is pretty much automatically eliminated from contention. Sure, I could have been responsible and actually seen the majority of nominated movies, but who has time for that? What I'm trying to say is, I'm going to be making my picks the only way I know how: the way the Academy does.
Animated Feature Film
- Big Hero 6
- The Boxtrolls
- How To Train Your Dragon 2
- Song of the Sea
- The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Unfortunately, Frozen cannot win this category, because apparently the Academy has some dumb rule that a movie can't win the same award in consecutive years. Obviously, this rule should be reevaluated, but for now that is what we're stuck with. So, what else do we have? I'm not entirely sure The Boxtrolls or Song of the Sea are actual movies, since this is the first time I'm hearing of both of them. I don't particularly care for Big Hero 6's chances, as my natural assumption is that this is the sixth installment in the Big Hero franchise, which has yet to leave any significant cultural footprint to the best of my knowledge. Next up is The Tale of Princess Kaguya. This movie sounds amazing. Who is this Princess Kaguya? Can I meet her? Are we sure it's really a she? Kaguya doesn't sound like a particularly feminine name. Is there something far more dangerous at play here? If movies won for sheer name alone, this wouldn't even be a question. Unfortunately, the Academy has a long and illustrious history of handing this award to more poorly conservatively named films such as Toy Story, Brave, and Up. No dice. That leaves the only movie in this category that I've actually seen: How To Train Your Dragon 2. It was good. Heck, it was very good. But you know what it wasn't? Awesome. Instead, The Lego Movie will take Hollywood by surprise by becoming the first film to ever win in a category it wasn’t nominated for, because that’s what I want, and EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!
Winner: The Lego Movie (trust me)
Writing Adapted Screenplay
- Inherent Vice
- American Sniper
- The Imitation Game
- The Theory of Everything
I consider myself to be a relatively smart person. So, when I say that Inherent Vice makes absolutely zero sense, you should take it very, very seriously. (I have heard that it is an entirely different experience if you live in either Washington or Colorado. I am not recommending anything. I am just saying what I've heard.) I saw the preview for The Imitation Game, wherein Keira Knightley had a clever line where she changed the words around in a sentence, but unfortunately Keira wasn't quite able to defeat the brilliance that is Whiplash. Whiplash is the greatest movie you will see this year. Whiplash will make you feel them feels. Whiplash will make you thank the high heavens you did not have an abusive jazz instructor. Whiplash will make you feel inferior, as it is written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who is only 29 years old. What have you done lately?
Incidentally, I generally give this award to the script with the most f-bombs, and Whiplash wins in this category. And it wins handily.
Actor in a Leading Role
- Eddie Redmayne—The Theory of Everything
- Benedict Cumberbatch—The Imitation Game
- Michael Keaton—Birdman
- Steve Carell—Foxcatcher
- Bradley Cooper—American Sniper
Steve Carell is nominated for Best Actor. This is a thing that is happening. I'm not sure how, but this is the world we now occupy, and we must come to terms with this strange and beautiful fact. Unfortunately, award shows hate Michael Scott. He didn't win a single Emmy for his performance on The Office. In an unrelated note, I think Modern Family recently won its ten millionth Emmy. Whatever. I didn't see The Theory of Everything, and I kind of hate Bradley Cooper, so those two are out. We're down to Michael Keaton and B-Cumb (it's a thing, trust me). Keaton was really good in Birdman. But he got his own movie stolen from him by supporting actor Edward Norton. While I appreciated Keaton's performance, every time he was on screen without Norton, I was clamoring for some more Eddie action. Never a good sign if people want to see the other guy when you're on screen. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch is the greatest human being alive. There's that.
Winner: Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch
Actress in a Leading Role
- Rosamund Pike—Gone Girl
- Reese Witherspoon—Wild
- Felicity Jones—The Theory of Everything
- Julianne Moore—Still Alice
- Marion Cotillard—Two Days, One Night
Is this even a question? Only one woman's performance made me involuntarily curse extremely loudly in a movie theater. You don't know who that is? That honor belongs to Rosamund Pike, when she, (major spoiler alert) Oh I don’t know, CASUALLY SLIT NEIL PATRICK HARRIS' THROAT LIKE IT AIN’T NO THANG. Yeah, it's easy.
Winner: Rosamund Pike
Actor in A Supporting Role
- Robert Duvall—The Judge
- Mark Ruffalo—Foxcatcher
- Edward Norton—Birdman
- J.K. Simmons—Whiplash
- Ethan Hawke—Boyhood
This one is actually extremely difficult. I've seen three of the performances in this category, and they all made me feel inadequate for not being able to express half the emotion that these actors did. I've already discussed how Edward Norton stole the show in Birdman. He delivered a phenomenal performance, and always left me wanting more. But Ed has stiff competition in Ethan Hawke, who probably performed the most difficult bit of acting out of all those nominated, as Boyhood was shot over a span of twelve years. People change over the course of a decade, but Hawke was able to deliver a performance that was both powerful and believable, providing his character with a consistent, growing, emotional arc. And while I want to give this award to Hawke for the sheer enormity of this project, I simply can't. J.K. Simmons was dynamite in Whiplash. His performance was magnetic—I literally could not blink while he was yelling at Miles Teller for not drumming at the proper tempo.
My aforementioned affinity for the f-bomb comes into play here as well. It makes up about half of his lines.
Winner: J.K. Simmons
Actress in A Supporting Role
- Patricia Arquette—Boyhood
- Emma Stone—Birdman
- Meryl Streep—Into The Woods
- Laura Dern—Wild
- Keira Knightley—The Imitation Game
This is tough for me, because two of my celebrity crushes are nominated in this category, and unfortunately neither of them are going to take home the gold. Keira Knightley (childhood crush) was really good in the preview for The Imitation Game, but that is simply not enough in this category! Emma Stone (if you are reading this, Emma, obviously you win, I'm only voting against you here to appear objective) was phenomenal in Birdman, but haters gonna hate and that's just the world we live in, so whatever.
Meryl Streep is like your friend who is always talking about their 4.0 GPA. It's like, we get it Meryl—you can act.
Patricia Arquette takes this one hands down. She owned Boyhood. She did the impossible: portrayed a female character whose life does not revolve solely around her children, and yet is nevertheless still entirely relatable and, dare I say, likable. When her character loses it as her son is leaving for college, finally culminating in her saying, “I just thought there'd be more,” I, as the youth say, couldn't even. I may or may not have cried (I definitely cried).
Winner: Patricia Arquette
Writing Original Screenplay
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
Budapest and Foxcatcher (that sounds like the name of a TNT drama—Budapest is the stickler, while Foxcatcher doesn't play by the rules, and has a mysterious past: How will these two detectives be partners?!) are out of contention as per the rules. Birdman strikes me as one of those movies that gets nine nominations, but only ends up winning for, like sound editing or something. Just a feeling I have. Boyhood wasn't spectacular so much for its script, as it was for just the concept of it all—a remarkable concept, sure, but that doesn't help in the Original Screenplay category.
The preceding has basically all been an attempt to convince myself that Nightcrawler will get some much deserved recognition. I have no idea how this was not nominated for Best Picture, or how Jake Gyllenhaal was not nominated for Best Actor. This movie was brilliant. The Academy will rue the day it ever decided to snub good ole' Jakey. Word on the street is, he's soliciting the services of his former flame Taylor Swift to write a song about it. And anyone Taylor hates on in a song, the entire thinking and feeling human race hates on in real life. Taylor, knowing this, will proceed to blackmail the Academy into giving Nightcrawler the award for Best Original Screenplay in exchange for not publishing said song, which makes up for Gyllenhaal being snubbed in ways that I hadn't fully thought out before beginning this theory. It makes sense somehow. I guess.
- Richard Linklater—Boyhood
- Bennett Miller—Foxcatcher
- Wes Anderson—The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Alejandro González Iñárritu—Birdman
- Morten Tyldum—The Imitation Game
This is clearly a two-horse race between Linklater and Iñárritu, for Boyhood and Birdman respectively. This is largely because I have not seen the other three movies nominated in this category, but also because... no, actually, that's the only reason. With Birdman, the direction is flawless. The choice to shoot the whole movie in one shot causes the days to melt into one another, as well as melding Keaton's fantasies with reality, creating a composite yet consistent portrait of magical realism. And if I was going off of only what is contained within the movie (or off of names—I mean just say that name aloud to yourself: Iñárritu. Go ahead, say it a few more times. It's like listening to Beethoven while looking out over the Grand Canyon after winning the lottery, in word form.), I would probably say that Iñárritu deserves this award. But I'm not, because Birdman's ending is so frustrating, and also I just watched Boyhood for a second time last night, and this is my article, so there.
What Richard Linklater has accomplished with Boyhood is really remarkable. It is so much more than just what you see on screen. To be able to maintain a steady vision, and voice, over the course of twelve years of shooting, to not have the film devolve into disparate character developments and pretentious philosophical musings, but rather become a steady, coherent story with serious emotional depth, still has me reeling.
Incidentally, the legend of Richard Linklater is, in fact, way hardcore.
Winner: Richard Linklater—Boyhood
- The Theory of Everything
- The Imitation Game
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- American Sniper
This is it. What we've all been waiting for. The big prize. The award that determines what
studio bribed the Academy the most movie touched us most this year. The Imitation of Theory and The Everything Game seem like pretty much the same movie, and as a result cancel each other out. The Grand Budapest Hotel doesn't stand a chance, because this ain't Hungary, this is 'Murica, and goddammit if we're not gonna give this award to a movie about 'Murica (I really haven't seen this movie at all, so there's a really good chance that that's just the name of the hotel, and it actually takes place in America. Either way, Hollywood hates Wes Anderson, so this movie never had a chance anyway). American Sniper is a comedy, or at least that is what I assumed after seeing Bradley Cooper and his hilarious Texas drawl in the preview, and the Oscars hate comedies, because they also hate happiness and joy, and feed off of our emotions like real-world dementors. Selma won't win because this award went to 12 Years A Slave last year, and black people should just be content with that, because clearly there is no more racism in the world. Also, wasn't the Civil Rights movement like 300 years ago? Jeez, get over it already.
This leaves us with Boyhood, Birdman, and Whiplash. Actually, it just leaves us with Whiplash, because WHIPLASH IS THE GREATEST MOVIE YOU WILL SEE THIS YEAR OH MY GOD ITS SO GOOD I CAN'T EVEN.
Whiplash for the win.