2015 Oscars: Best Picture

It’s Oscar season, and over the weeks leading up to the awards, I’ll be rolling out nine blog pieces breaking down (what I consider) the eight major races – Picture, Director, both writing and all four acting categories.

Like with most things on this blog, this will be a mix of fact, popular opinion and my opinion – the three of which don’t often intersect. Then I’ll post a full list of my Oscar picks right before the show as best I can.

On to today’s posting: Picture

 

The Nominees
“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

Who Will Win: Boyhood
Who Could Win: The Imitation Game
Who Should Win: Whiplash
Who Should Be Here: Interstellar

If you’ve been reading my Oscar blogs to this point, you pretty much have me figured out by now (and if you haven’t, then what’s wrong with you?). You know that I think Whiplash and The Imitation Game are the two best films on this list. Boyhood is just behind, which you also know saddens me to say because I loved the film and it’s creator, Richard Linklater, and would love to see him take home the top prize. American Sniper comes in just behind, and Interstellar was the most ignored film of the year. These are my five four-star films of 2014.

Not feeling a need to re-hash this entire Oscar process again, I’ll speak specifically to this Oscar category first. Boyhood is most likely to win; it’s been cruising as a favorite since its release in June. The Imitation Game and Birdman are its real challengers, and a last minute push by either could knock Boyhood off the top spot – it’s all pretty close. American Sniper is good enough to be in the game, but for some reason some folks can’t distinguish between pro-war/warmongering/jingoism and the story of a soldier. Therefore, unfortunately, the controversy is likely to keep Sniper out of the running.

The criticism regarding the supposed snubbing of Selma is loud, but isn’t loud enough to push it up to the top prize at the Oscars, the way it was for Argo when its director Ben Affleck got snubbed for Best Director two years ago. The Theory of Everything, Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel are the ones that really round out the Oscar category, and none of the three are considered strong contenders for the top prize.

To me, the biggest Oscar snub across the board is Interstellar, a film I feel that a lot of people didn’t really understand…and, in the true nature of 21st century America, when we don’t understand something, we call it stupid or, if we’re being more honest, just boring. The performances, the story, the message, the effects and YES even the sound mixing (you really have to follow films to understand the backlash against the sound mixing) all make this a near-perfect film, and it deserves to be on this list as much as most.

What does this all mean to any of you? Not much, if we’re being honest. Just because something wins an Oscar doesn’t mean you’ll think it’s good, or that even you should need or want to see it. So instead of me giving much more of my opinion, we’re going to shake it up a bit this year. I’ll give you my Twitter review (140 characters or less!), the Rotten Tomatoes overall score, and the trailer so you can decide for yourself.

American Sniper
My Original Twitter Review: Deeply moving and affecting film. Cooper should win #Oscar. Do not get those who say it is pro war. It’s pro solider. 4/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 73%

Birdman
My Original Twitter Review: Visually thrilling #film w/(re)defining performance from Keaton. Deep, layered story yet hollow: couldn’t connect with Riggan 3/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Boyhood
My Original Twitter Review: Linklater pulls off a miracle here. 12 years appear seamless, untrained actors are Oscar-worthy. Filmmaking at its best 4/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

The Grand Budapest Hotel
My Original Twitter Review: Either you like Wes Anderson or not. This one was almost a bit too cutesy, the quirk overwhelming, but enjoyable. 3/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

The Imitation Game
My Original Twitter Review: Cumberbatch turns in a stunning performance in an otherwise taut, terrific and (ultimately) sad story. Knightly shines. 4/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 89%

Selma
My Original Twitter Review: Powerful, inspirational and chock-full of terrific performances. A bit of a slow start & needed a little contextual push. 3.5/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 98%

The Theory of Everything
My Original Twitter Review: Runs on near perfect performances from Redmayne & Jones. A better story lies beneath the good “feel-good” script. 3/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 80%

Whiplash
My Original Twitter Review: Without question the best #film I’ve seen in 2014. Intense, riveting, inspiring, thrilling. Teller & Simmons are revelations 4/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%

Interstellar
My Original Twitter Review: The kind of pensive, thoughtful, “Where are we going” sci-fi which has gone by the wayside for action-in-space flicks. 4/4*
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 72%

Trailer 1

Trailer 2