22 February 2015
  Oscar predictions...
In a few hours, mildly annoying media personality Neil Patrick Harris will preside over the worst three and a half hours of television this year in which the "best" films and performers of the year are honored. Fuck that. Here's who should be honored instead.

supporting actor:
Will win... There are going to be very few if any surprises at this year's Academy Awards (with the possible exception of Best Picture). Perhaps the single most guaranteed win will be for J.K. Simmons' performance as a sadistic music teacher in Whiplash.
Should win... Logan Lerman got absolutely no accolades for his (possibly lead, but I am sticking with supporting) performance as a scared WWII tank newbie in Fury. He gets better and better in every movie he does, and I can't wait to see what he does next.
My five... Logan Lerman, Ethan Hawke, Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler) and Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes)

supporting actress:
Will win... This is one of my favorite categories this year, with a lot of worthy performances, some nominated, some not. Patricia Arquette is very deserving of this award, and it will be nice to see Boyhood take home at least one guaranteed prize.
Should win... I really go back and forth on this one between no less than four different performances. But in the end, I choose Rene Russo's unexpected portrayal of an aging news personality in Nightcrawler. She imbues the character with so much more than what was simply written for her.
My five... Rene Russo, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Patricia Arquette and Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice)

Will win... This is the least sealed up among the year's acting categories. It could be Eddie Redmayne taking home the award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything, but I expect many voters to go the more sentimental route and settle on Michael Keaton for Birdman.
Should win... I was not overly excited by Redmayne's Hawking or Keaton's Birdman. Neither did I love Benedict Cumberbatch's stoic mathematician in The Imitation Game. I would have much rather seen Jake Gyllenhaal nominated for Nightcrawler. But the best performance of the year in any category was given by Bradley Cooper in American Sniper.
My five... Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Tommy Lee Jones (The Homesman) and Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood)

Will win... Nicole Kidman, Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Cate Blanchett- the Academy Awards have a long history of presenting the award for Best Actress to a performer who has done much better work in much better films throughout her career. This year, Julianne Moore joins this cohort with a win for the embarrassingly ho-hum Still Alice.
Should win... Trust me. I love Julianne Moore. A lot. She is one of my all-time favorite performers, and I think I have seen every movie she has ever done. That's why I really don't want to see her win tonight. She will be forever associated with this bad movie. I would much rather see Reese Witherspoon take home the trophy for Wild.
My five... Reese Witherspoon, Hilary Swank (The Homesman), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Nymphomaniac), Essie Davis (The Babadook) and Julianne Moore

original screenplay:
Will win...This could go a couple of different ways. But I suspect that voters will take this opportunity to reward Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel. Alternate: Birdman
Should win... Boyhood is terrific, but the screenplay maybe isn't the reason for that brilliance as much as the directing and acting. That being said, I am in awe of Lars von Trier's exposition in Nymphomaniac
My five... Nymphomaniac, Boyhood, Nightcrawler, Selma and Snowpiercer

adapted screenplay:
Will win... Once again, it will interesting to see which way voters go with the adapted screenplay category as well. I think they will use this occasion to give an award to The Imitation Game, but it wouldn't be surprising to see Whiplash honored here as well.
Should win... Wild is a great movie and a great screenplay. But my pick for the best of the year goes to to Paul Thomas Anderson's imaginative Inherent Vice script.
My five... Inherent Vice, Wild, The Homesman, Into the Woods and Unbroken

Will win... I hope I won't be proven wrong, but I think it will be difficult not to reward Richard Linklater for a groundbreaking 12-year cinematic accomplishment, along with rewarding him for a long and distinguished career.
Should win... Nobody has accomplished this year what Linklater accomplished with Boyhood.
My five... Richard Linklater, Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Lars von Trier (Nymphomaniac), Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice) and Joon-Ho Bong (Snowpiercer)

Will win... Birdman
Should win... Birdman
My five... Birdman, Unbroken, Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler and Fury

Will win... In the end, it is looking more and more like Birdman will inexplicably take this award away from the much more deserving Boyhood.
Should win... Boyhood.
My five... Boyhood, Wild, Snowpiercer, Nightcrawler and American Sniper
  Best of 2014
Honorable mentions go to Chef, Into The Woods, Pride, Selma, The Skeleton Twins and Unbroken. My top ten of 2014 includes:

10. The Babadook... A legitimately scary movie with a superb performance by lead actress Essie Davis. And what about that book? Please someone make this children's book for real so that I can have one! The best horror movie I have seen in years.

9. Fury... It's odd that WWII movies seem to have fallen out of favor with Oscar voters in favor of prestige biopics in recent years. There were two great WWII movies this year in Fury and Unbroken, and neither one made much progress on the awards scene. Fury is the superior and more creatively constructed of the two. 

8. Nymphomaniac... Lars von Trier has done it again, constructing a darkly funny 4+ hour epic of one woman's love affair with her own vagina. There is no way this movie should have worked. It juxtaposes sex addiction with fly fishing for God's sake. But it ends up as an insightful, engaging and deeply watchable (if oftentimes uncomfortable) study of sex.

7. Inherent Vice... Did I understand everything that happened in this movie? Absolutely not. The penultimate scene with Josh Brolin's straight-laced cop eating a joint just about did my brain in. But this screenplay was without a doubt one of the most clever of the year, making me ruminate on what I had scene for days afterwards. .

6. American Sniper... Eastwood's Iraq War opus is without a doubt the best movie made to date on the ongoing Middle East quagmire. The way in which the director carefully unwraps this conflict over the course of two hours reveals not only the futility of the war itself, but how the players involved should have realized their error from the beginning. 

5. Nightcrawler... If you want to name the movie that is the best representation of the modern age in which it was made, however, American Sniper just misses out to Nightcrawler. A could-be-depressing study of news-meets-entertainment-media, this movie delves into our consumer fascination with all things sensational in a deeply amusing way. (And bonus points for the best car chase sequence in recent film memory).

4. The Homesman... Perhaps the biggest surprise of this year's awards season for me was Tommy Lee Jones' The Homesman. Maybe just a little two subtle and pensive (i.e. indie) for mainstream awards voters, this movie delves into the plight of womanhood in the Old West, illuminating a situation I had never seen depicted on screen before. And it reminded me why I love Hilary Swank. It's impossible to imagine anyone else playing this lead role.

3. Snowpiercer... This movie could have been an absolute disaster. Look at the casting alone? Who would put together action stars with indie performers with television personalities with Korean actors with old Hollywood royalty? It doesn't seem to make sense. But what this cast accomplished was something that is so rare today (at least outside the James Bond landscape): a deeply intelligent and superbly made action film. 

2. Wild... Jean-Marc Vallée has truly redeemed himself after what I felt was a deeply flawed (from a directorial standpoint) Dallas Buyers Club. Wild is just simply a terrific film. I can't really name a single thing in it that could have been improved upon. Pitch perfect in every way. I was honestly inspired by what I saw. Can't wait to own it on DVD, so I can watch it again and again.

1. Boyhood... For the second year in a row, this year's best film was made by Richard Linklater. Last year, he wowed me with Beyond Midnight, the third installment in his groundbreaking relationship trilogy. This year, out of the blue, he has stunned everyone with a 12-year study of growing up. Nobody constructs a scene like Linklater. You never for a second in this movie believe you are watching actors. You are simply watching a kid grow up. There is no artifice. This is why it is so sensational that Ellar Coltrane and Lorelai Linklater (hell- even Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke) are in fact growing up on screen, right alongside their characters. It makes it so much more real. A great accomplishment and a truly special film that nobody will ever be able to imitate.
Luke and John talk about movies

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