Posted Oct 28 2015
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Lastword Calls The Oscars 2015

OK, truth be told – we’d be quite happy to see Grand Budapest Hotel just ran away with everything. Not gong to happen though, so once again we’re down to sorting the Birds from the Boys. Voting closed earlier this week on the 87th Academy Awards (uncle Oscar to me and you) and, in the interests of brevity and foresight, we’ve decided to let you know NOW what’s going to happen THEN. (And by THEN, we mean this coming Sunday, February 22nd.)

So this is how we see it playing out. We’re calling it – you can bet on it if you want (there’ still time.) In the time-honoured tradition, we’re leaving some of the biggies to last. But, as Oscar himself tends to do we’re kicking off with -

Best Supporting Actress – There are certain things on the night that are going to be tight and could even, as they say, go “either way.” But not the supporting ones. Patricia Arquette has this. It’s going to set up an early lead for Boyhood that it might not be able to sustain. We’re fond of all the others in the category – even if Streep is just a habit in this case. Emma Stone will win one day, Knightley – definitely. But this is really a case of 12 Years An Actress. And rightly so.

Best Supporting Actor – Loved Ed Norton playing the media view of himself in Birdman. Love Ethan Hawke all the time (and for making The Beatles’ Black Album – we must have this!) Duvall shat himself in a really moving way – but if anyone thinks J K Simmons isn’t taking this baby home – they’re going to have to re-learn the meaning of the word “wrong.” The man shoots. The man scores.

We’re going technical next – whilst also pointing out some of the more obvious –

Best Cinematography – A couple of weeks back when calling the BAFTAs, we said if Emmanuel Lubezki didn’t win for Birdman we’d burn our BAFTA card, dance naked outside their Piccadilly HQ and so on. Well, none of us here at lastword are card carrying members of the American Academy but that aside, if Emmanuel Lubezki doesn’t win this (for the second year in a row) we’ll go all Bryan Mills and exact our unique set of skills and find someone else’s Academy card to burn and dance naked – well, somewhere! Look in the dictionary and under “No Brainer” you will find a picture of this man holding this award. (With apologies to Roger Deakins who seems to have a bridesmaid thing going on perennially…)

Best Production Design –This is where the Academy – aging bunch of old bastards that they are – are finally beginning to feel at least slightly comfortable in the world that is Wes Anderson’s. Not enough yet to give him the big gongs, but on those grounds we see Grand Budapest doing something of a BAFTA repeat here – so add Best Costume Design and Best Hair and Make Up to that – as it is with all things Wes – very particular haul.

Best Animated Film - Really? You missed The Lego Movie? Everyone else in the world saw it, except a few thousands voters in Beverly Hills. And you lot had a free copy! Its inclusion would have at least made this a fair fight. But we see Baymax beating the competition and Big Hero 6 landing a very deserving win, in a Pixar (and Lego) free year.

But on the subject of all things Lego - Best Original Song – Is Everything Is Awesome awesome enough to redress the slight of the above? Well, we think yes – in principle. But the issue of Selma (sadly, an average film) needs to be addressed in a minor key, so this goes to Glory (sadly, an average song) and John Legend and Common walk away with gold. We would have been happy for Gregg Alexander to win for Begin Again’s Lost Stars but ‘twas not to be. (Although Keira Knightley might make up for it by going into labour live during the broadcast. Surely that would lead to a recount?)

Back in the world of the (semi) majors - Best Documentary Feature – and as ever in this category “worthy” is the key word. Really depends on how liberal the Academy is and how they think about American “traitor” Edward Snowden…No, hang on – that won’t work. So we call that they’re going back to a war that had clearer sides (!!!) and this goes to Last Days In Vietnam. It’s comforting. In a way.

And sticking with the categories that many of the voters don’t have even bother to put into the DVD loading tray, we arrive at -

Best Foreign Language Film – playing jingoistic, the academy may well go for Russia-bashing Leviathan (although it is really rather dull), Ida plays into the hands of a great deal of religious guilt, - good for voters of all denominations! But we’re hoping they lighten up in this traditionally “heavy” category and go for Wild Tales. Which is just an Argentinian hoot. And impossible not to enjoy.

And so we arrive at a swathe of the techie side of things, which quite often are a foregone conclusion – Editing goes with Picture etc. - but this year are full of more wild cards than usual. The fact that Birdman hasn’t even got a nom for Best Editing (despite its seamless “hidden” editing) is, simply put, a fucking disgrace. That said, it leaves the category wide open. We’d like to see Boyhood walk away with it, given how beautifully it walks you through the passing of time without any adherence to contemporary style.

But we feel the Academy will go flashier and reward the (admittedly) superb efforts of Whiplash’s Tom Cross, whose work never looses sight of character within the crashing hi-hats.

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing traditionally go hand in hand. And there’s an argument here for Eastwood’s below par America Sniper getting some love. Interstellar is also worth mentioning. But we feel this is where the evening turns and – despite the lack of an Editing nom – this is where Birdman starts to rise above the Boy and picks up both.

And having mentioned Interstellar – we arrive at Visual Effects. Like good old Wes, as mentioned above, the Academy are wising up to the fact that at some point they are going to have to come to terms with Chris Nolan. Not yet, of course. Most of them are waiting till they’re dead so they don’t have to face up to the shock of the new. But this one they can give him. And hey will. Despite the fact that Dawn of the Apes is doing work that is redefining the entire industry without drawing all that much attention to itself.

Original Score – Now a little bird (over at awardsdaily.com) intimated to us that the Oscar ballot for score features just the tile of the movie and not the composer. Not sure if this is true, but originally we thought the great Alexander Desplat (8 noms in without a win) would be cancelling himself out for The Imitation Game and Budapest. Now in a pinch we think his work for Imitation has the edge but, once again, we say this will end up being an indication of love for both Wes and Alex and Grand Budapest takes the genital-free golden fellah back home.

And thus (with our ignoring the various shorts – not for any fault of theirs, but for a fault of ours – we haven’t seen ‘em all!) – we find our way back to the biggies

Best Original Screenplay – The love for Wes ends here. But it’s till love nonetheless. Grand Budapest winning this announces the man as being in the club. Whether he goes Groucho and wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that invited him remains to be seen. But this is well deserved, despite the competition. (And yes, this is the one where the Bird and the Boy take a pounding.)

Best Adapted Screenplay – This is a weird one. PTA is just here for the sake of it – no one really knows the book and his whole movie is just an Emperor’s New Clothes act because of the man’s rep. Whiplash rocks but should never have been put in adapted by virtue of Damian Chazelle simply making a feature out of his own short.  So we’re going with this being The Imitation Game’s only win of the night.

Which leads us to the big four and the next lock –

Best Actress in a Leading Role – Julianne More deserves to win an Oscar for Best Actress. Because she’s great We’ve admired her ever since she was not wearing any panties (Modine’s observation, not ours) in Short Cuts. But, while this is a very good performance, Still Alice is still, by any measure, not a good film. Still, she’ll win and while we have no problem with that, they should have waited until Maps To The Stars.

Best Actor In A Leading Role – BAFTA gave it to Eddie in a wheelchair, and while the wheelchair is often a shoo-in – Voigt Coming Home, Day Lewis writing with his Left Foot – we have a feeling here that the handicapped brilliant scientist card has been played. We’re gong for Michael Keaton in Birdman. Why? Because he should. (And because we’ve got a tenner riding on it and could use the cash!)

Which brings us to the final two – Whilst the entire season seems to have been a battle between the Boy and the Bird, the last few weeks have seen the PGA, the DGA and SAG come out on the side of the Bird – which is hard to argue with. That said – we’re reading this as a really divided year, full of at least two unique achievements. So, we’re going for the split.

Best Director – They’re giving it to Linklater for something you don’t see every day. You see it every 12 years - a truly remarkable piece of work, a truly remarkable movie,  truly remarkable filmmaker. Thoroughly deserved but unfortunately not enough to capture -

Best Picture – Birdman. Spreading the wealth and increasingly bucking the trend of a sweep, Inarritu’s beautiful Bird soars to victory. After all, it’s about a bunch of actors feeling under appreciated. And who votes for this shit?!

So there you have it – place your bets now and get rich Monday morning. That’s how we’re calling it. If you really want to be pedantic you could always watch the damn thing on Sunday 22nd, as hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, just to see how right we were!

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