Final Oscar Predictions

boyhood-birdman-grandbudapest

It’s been an awards season rife with surprises, disappointments and perplexing decisions. For every delightful nomination for The Grand Budapest Hotel, my favorite movie of 2014, there were two corresponding bummers. No Gone Girl, no A Most Violent Year, no Nightcrawler, no etc… Long story short, the Oscars will never get everything right. Not with 6,000 members with mostly middlebrow tastes. And certainly not when many of them don’t even bother watching looking outside the tiny pool of movies they receive screeners of at the end of the year. But you’re here for the predictions not the soap box so let’s get this out of the way, shall we? I promise to make it a brisk and fun read.

I’ll start with the aural categories…

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BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Nominees:

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Mr. Turner
Interstellar

 

With his two nominations for The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel this year, French composer Alexandre Desplat is up to eight nods in nine years! That’s just… unbelievable. It’s too bad that the Academy ballot will look exactly how I’ve listed the nominees in this category above—sans names. Had all voters made privy to his extraordinary year, they’d have undoubtedly put their weight behind The Grand Budapest Hotel, the year’s crafts giant. Instead, I think he’ll be sitting this one out for the seventh and eighth time. The lucky man this year will most likely be first-time nominee Johann Johannsson for his score of the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything. They say that if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything so that’s what I’m going to do. Hey, at least Desplat has a BAFTA and Grammy to curb his eventual disappointment, but I have my fingers crossed.

WILL WIN: The Theory of Everything (Johann Johannsson)
COULD WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)
SHOULD WIN: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Gone Girl (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)

 

selma-2

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Nominees:

“Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie
“Glory” from Selma
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

 

Ah, Best Original Song, my least favorite category of the night. Some years, like last year, we’ll get lucky and have four equally deserving nominees. Other years, we’re lucky if there’s one that deserves the title of “Oscar winner.” This year, I decided to listen to all five nominees back-to-back in the way they’re listed here, just to put myself in the mindset of the typical Academy voter who even bothers to listen to all five.  The weakest of this group is “Grateful,” a generic end credits pop song, which is disappointing considering the top-notch movie it comes at the tail-end of. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” is a touching Grammy-winning track from country legend Glen Campbell about his losing battle against Alzheimer’s. The track would have been the sentimental favorite for the Oscar had people actually seen the movie.  “Everything is Awesome” is the most popular song of the bunch and catchy as hell but it’s also trash. That brings me to the best two songs of the bunch, the wonderfully-written “Lost Stars” from Begin Again which should win this award as it’s clearly, in this writer’s opinion, the best song of the group, and the powerful “Glory” from Selma by superstars John Legend and Common, which has the benefit of being from a movie nominated for Best Picture. The fat that Selma was treated so roughly by the Academy will give the song added weight with voters. The two Grammy-winning musicians have also been campaigning hard for the prize so this should be the film’s consolation prize. The fact that it has rap in it won’t hurt its chances. It didn’t for Three Six Mafia and Eminem.

WILL WIN: “Glory” from Selma
COULD WIN: “I’m Not Going to Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
SHOULD WIN: “Lost Stars” from Begin Again
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: I don’t care.

 

american-sniper-2

BEST SOUND MIXING

Nominees:
American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

 

BEST SOUND EDITING

Nominees:
American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash
Year in and year out, I try and explain the difference between these two awards. Sound editing is the creation and recording of specialized sounds—foley work falls under this category. Sound Mixing is the art of taking these created sounds and mixing them with the film’s score, the actor’s voices and background sounds among other elements, in order to create the perfect soundtrack. That’s why genres with heavily dependent on sound elements—action movies, musicals, science fiction, fantasy and war movies—do so well here. All five genres are represented in this year’s crop of six films, four that appear on both shortlists: American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar and Unbroken.

Over the last decade, the Sound Mixing Oscar has gone to a Best Picture nominee seven times. And there was no Best Picture nominee nominated in the category in two of the three outlying years. That means, scratch off Unbroken, Interstellar and The Hobbit Battle of the blah blah blah from contention. Birdman has done surprisingly well with industry guilds this season, even winning the top prize at the Cinema Audio Society last weekend. But the Academy isn’t comprised entirely of sound professionals so I don’t see it winning. My heart is telling me to go with BAFTA winner Whiplash i.e. the loud music-driven movie that uses its musical cues to aid its suspense. But my brain is telling me go with the traditional loud war movie American Sniper, and the year’s biggest hit. Not coincidently, that’s also what I’m picking in the Sound Editing category. A final disclaimer: Whenever there’s been a tough year predicting this category, I have always picked the wrong film so keep that in mind.

Sound Mixing:
WILL WIN: American Sniper
COULD WIN: Whiplash
SHOULD WIN: Interstellar
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Fury

Sound Editing:
WILL WIN: American Sniper
COULD WIN: Interstellar
SHOULD WIN: Interstellar
SHOULD HAVE BEEN HERE: Fury

 

PART 2: THE VISUAL CRAFT CATEGORIES

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