Well, it's almost upon us. Tomorrow the Academy Awards will be airing for it's 87th consecutive year. There some big decisions to make. We've got Birdman, Boyhood, Whiplash, and countless more to choose from. But only one is going to end up taking the award home. To get everyone ready for next Sunday, here's my list of who I think should win. Mind you, this is who I want to win, not who I think will win. Also, I won't be going over all the titles. Just the 8 Basics (Best Picture, Actor, Screenplay, etc.). But without further ado, here's the list.
Animated Feature Film
Bear in mind that I'm one of the many fans disappointed that the Lego Movie was snubbed for all awards except for Best Original Song. But putting that aside, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is one of those few memorable sequels that ended up meeting, if not exceeding, the expectations of its predecessor. Rather than keeping the audience in the same Berk as the last movie, they jumped five years ahead and gave us a whole new exciting frontier. The art design of this movie was beautiful, with no dragon or setting the same. This movie really took advantage of it's animation medium.
Birdman has received countless nominations including Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Director, and so many others. But the award that I feel it's earned the most is Cinematography. Cinematography is probably one of the hardest things for a movie to get right, because it's a key tool in showing the film the way they want you to see it, capturing each shot uniquely. And boy did Emmanuel Lubezki deliver for Birdman. It's just amazing that this movie was filmed in what feels like one take. It made the movie stand out from the others, never changing focus from a character by cutting to a different camera, using the surrounding environment to embellish the story. If anyone deserves this Oscar, it's Lubezki
Writing - Adapted Screenplay
Part of the reason that I picked this screenplay over those written for the Imitation Game and American Sniper is that it was so shocking that this had actually happened to someone. The director, Damien Chazelle, wrote the screenplay based on his own memories of a music teacher in college. But he got past that pain, and discovered what that experience really meant to him. It's an amazing story as it challenges people to think about how much we're willing to sacrifice to be great, and if the teacher really justified his means. It's a message that doesn't just resonate through music students, but students of all disciplines who aspire to greatness.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Everyone who worked on Boyhood earns a round of applause for their sheer perseverance and loyalty to this project, as they stuck to it for 12 years. But Patricia Arquette sold it in her performance as the mother in Boyhood. She used her real life experiences to show what it was really like to be in her character's situation. And it was also the fact that she literally grew up with the kids that brought an on-screen chemistry that couldn't be replicated. Her performance was one of the many aspects that brought this movie the attention and appreciation I feel it has earned.
Actor in a Supporting Role
No offense to the other actors on the list, but there is no one that I think earns this award more than J.K. Simmons. He destroyed the competition with his outstanding performance as Terrence Fletcher, a teacher who will stop at nothing to make sure his students achieve their ultimate potential. Simmons really conveyed the fury that Fletcher unleashed at his students every time they made the tiniest of mistakes. But he found a way to justify what he was doing so that the audience wondered whether he really was doing the right thing. Even though Fletcher could be conceived as a horrible human being, J.K. Simmons was able to show both the bad and good of this character.
Actor in a Leading Role
There is a lot to say about Michael Keaton in Birdman, in which he plays a washed-up actor trying to further his career beyond his reputation as an iconic superhero. It was really interesting to see Keaton's character battle his own ego, as this story is quite semi-autobiographical for the actor. Nonetheless, this must have been one of the most difficult roles he's ever done. He really captured my attention whenever he got into a heated argument with his Birdman counterpart, and he did a fantastic job of getting to the core of his character. Because essentially, this was a man not trying to get comic book fame; this was a man who wanted to matter.
Say what you will about Boyhood. Some people loved it, some people didn't. But everyone had something they could take away from that movie. It may have reminded them of a fond childhood memory, or it could've been something they'd hoped they would forget someday. Either way, Boyhood touched all of us. Richard Linklater knew exactly how to do that, by combining some of his own childhood experiences, and letting the actors bring their stories into the plot. And most of all, he made one of the best, and riskiest moves of his career by choosing to make this movie a 12 year project. A lot of bad things could've happened because of it. The producers could have pulled the money out, one of the actors could have quit, and the child actors might not have worked out the way he expected. But he had just enough faith to keep on going with the project, and boy was that faith rewarded. If this isn't a tribute to remarkable directing, I don't know what is.
Okay. I know that everyone has been talking about Boyhood vs. Birdman for the last few weeks, but I honestly believe that Whiplash deserves to take the Oscar. Like I said before, it is just insane that this movie was based on the director's own experiences. Whiplash was terrifying, gut-wrenching, thought-provoking, head-spinning, and down right shocking at every turn. But above all else, it was a lesson all students could take home. It showed how it's better to earn gratitude instead of crave it. It suggested that sometimes the ends do justify the means, which is an ongoing argument in our society that we're no closer to resolving. The question of the movie wasn't "What does it take to be great?". It was "How much are we willing to sacrifice to be great?". And this movie knew exactly how to answer that question. The actors did beyond what was expected of them, the director exposed some old wounds to make this movie, and the music sequences conveyed the character's struggle to reach his potential. Literally everybody who worked on this movie channeled the spirit of this movie by giving it all they had to do the job right. And even if they don't take the Oscar home, I know they'll walk back with pride. Because they've already done exactly what Fletcher wanted his students to do. They became one of the greats.
Find out who really takes the gold home when the Oscars air, February 22nd 7pm EST on ABC!
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