LAU­REL’S PICKS

Pasatiempo - - ACTS RANDOM -

Hello from my side of the red car­pet, ev­ery­one. Be­fore we get started, in case any­body is ask­ing, “Lau­rel, who are you wear­ing?”: This year my en­sem­ble com­bines pieces from J. Crew and Ed­die Bauer. My sparkly cos­tume bling is from Tar­get, An­thro­polo­gie, and J. Crew. And now, af­ter hours upon hours of sit­ting in the dark, on to the pre­dic­tions.

BEST PIC­TURE — Quite frankly, some of the nom­i­nees in this cat­e­gory baf­fled me. On the one hand, 2014 gave us the de­light­fully off­beat Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel , the au­da­cious and un­con­ven­tional Bird­man , and the touch­ing time ma­chine of Boy­hood . On the other hand, I con­sid­ered walk­ing out of two films on this list: The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing — which, Ed­die Red­mayne’s per­for­mance aside, felt like a high­pro­duc­tion-val­ues Life­time Movie of the Week — and Amer­i­can Sniper , a box-of­fice phe­nom that hu­man­izes an Amer­i­can sol­dier with­out be­ing po­lit­i­cal but that in the home-front scenes is dull, old-fash­ioned, and vaguely sex­ist. (It also even­tu­ally over­whelmed me with the feel­ing that war is in­her­ently point­less and tragic — though I’m not at all sure that was Clint East­wood’s in­tent.) Selma has an im­por­tant story to tell, and it’s a fine, solid, sweep­ing — al­beit con­ven­tional — his­tor­i­cal drama. The Imi­ta­tion Game is highly en­ter­tain­ing and en­gag­ing, but its ren­der­ing of Alan Tur­ing’s story suf­fers from too much Hol­ly­wood gloss. It will come down to Bird­man , the mas­ter­ful and dark show-biz com­edy, and Boy­hood , which is both dar­ing and a dar­ling of the crit­ics. But Academy mem­bers aren’t crit­ics. SHOULD WIN: Boy­hood WILL WIN: Bird­man

AC­TOR IN A LEAD­ING ROLE — How did the Academy over­look David Oyelowo’s pow­er­ful, mov­ing per­for­mance as MLK and Ti­mothy Spall for his di­aled-in grunts-and-all por­trayal of J.M.W. Turner? Even if those gen­tle­men had been right­fully in­cluded, they’d still be fac­ing an up­hill battle against the two front-run­ners, Michael Keaton ( Bird­man ) and Ed­die Red­mayne ( The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing ). Keaton is stun­ningly manic and on-point in a role that was prac­ti­cally writ­ten for him, but I give the edge to Red­mayne, who trans­formed him­self into a ge­nius suc­cumb­ing to and living with a de­bil­i­tat­ing ill­ness. He has also taken home a Golden Globe and a SAG award, so the odds are in his fa­vor. Steve Carell turns creepy up to 11 in Fox­catcher , but his char­ac­ter lacked nu­ance, and that pros­thetic nose was dis­tract­ing. For the third year in a row, Bradley Cooper has made us for­get he’s a for­mer “Sex­i­est Man Alive”

DI­RECT­ING — Much has been made of the snub­bing of direc­tor Ava Du­Ver­nay ( Selma ), which some have sug­gested is in­dica­tive of gen­der and/or racial bias (Du­Ver­nay would have been the first African-Amer­i­can woman nom­i­nated for this cat­e­gory). Or maybe it was the LBJ con­tro­versy? But now that as many as 10 films can make it to the Best Pic­ture short list (while the nom­i­nees for Best Direc­tor are limited to five), some­one be­hind a Best Pic­ture nom­i­nee is al­ways go­ing to get snubbed. What is odd, though, is the nod to Bennett Miller for Fox­catcher , which was not nom­i­nated for Best Pic­ture — the first time this has hap­pened since the Academy ex­panded the Best Pic­ture cat­e­gory to 10. All that said, I think this race is re­ally be­tween Ale­jan­dro González Iñár­ritu and Richard Lin­klater. Odds are the award will go to Iñár­ritu, who took home the Di­rec­tors Guild Award, though my heart be­longs to Lin­klater for his sheer ded­i­ca­tion and con­sis­tency of vi­sion. SHOULD WIN: Richard Lin­klater, Boy­hood WILL WIN: Ale­jan­dro González Iñár­ritu, Bird­man

by turn­ing in a solid per­for­mance, but I don’t think this is his time. Yet. WILL WIN: Ed­die Red­mayne, The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing

ACTRESS IN A LEAD­ING ROLE — This one isn’t even re­ally a con­test. Not to be­lit­tle the per­for­mances of Ju­lianne Moore’s fel­low nom­i­nees, all of which were strong, mem­o­rable, and finely tuned — I’ve got soft spots for Reese Wither­spoon, largely be­cause she is so hon­est and mov­ing, and Rosamund Pike, who is icy per­fec­tion — but Moore ( Still Alice ) is mas­ter­ful. She brought an amaz­ing, of­ten word­less, sub­tlety to the film: As her char­ac­ter’s con­di­tion wors­ens, the con­tours of her face seem to ac­tu­ally change, and her eyes grow dull. Moore also has pre-Os­car mo­men­tum (a Golden Globe and BAFTA and SAG awards, among oth­ers). She’s been nom­i­nated and de­nied five times dur­ing her ca­reer, but this year, I’m sure she’ll bring home the stat­uette. SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Ju­lianne Moore, Still Alice book pub­lished from now on. As Jonathan said in his orig­i­nal re­view, it should be re­quired view­ing, whether you think Ed­ward Snow­den is a hero or a traitor. CON­SPIC­U­OUSLY AB­SENT: Life It­self SHOULD AND WILL WIN: Ci­ti­zen­four

AN­I­MATED FEA­TURE FILM —Ev­ery­one as­sumed The Lego Movie would be a top con­tender in this cat­e­gory, and then came the nom­i­na­tion-morn­ing shock that it hadn’t even made the cut, de­spite hav­ing some of the high­est do­mes­tic box-of­fice re­turns in 2014. Song of the Sea is pretty but aims a lit­tle too young. Princess Kaguya ob­vi­ously can’t just be shrugged off — it’s typ­i­cally beau­ti­ful work from Isao Taka­hata, a founder of Stu­dio Ghi­bli. Big Hero 6 is fun and imag­i­na­tive, but it has some con­cep­tual and sto­ry­telling flaws I can’t over­look. I give Dragon the edge. SHOULDA BEEN A CON­TENDER: The Lego Movie WILL WIN: How to Train Your Dragon 2

RAN­DOM ROUNDUP — This ain’t a horse race, but my money’s on… FOR­EIGN LAN­GUAGE FILM: Grace­fully beau­ti­ful and un­for­giv­ing in its cri­tique of re­li­gious ex­trem­ism, Tim­buktu is garner­ing all sorts of in­ter­na­tional ac­claim. My fa­vorite in this race, though, is the grand, scathing so­cial satire Leviathan . COS­TUME DE­SIGN: The oth­er­wise-medi­ocre Malef­i­cent boasts some ex­trav­a­gant de­signs, and Into the Woods im­pressed with its ex­ten­sive col­lec­tion of fairy-tale out­fits. In my opin­ion, though, nei­ther holds a can­dle to Milena Canonero’s work in The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel . CIN­E­MATOG­RA­PHY: Mr. Turner is as vis­ually per­fect as a movie can be — you could freeze the film at al­most any mo­ment and have a gor­geous still wor­thy of a mu­seum wall. Bird­man and The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel are go­ing to put up some stiff com­pe­ti­tion, though. PRO­DUC­TION DE­SIGN: Mr. Turner and Into the Woods both de­serve to be in this cat­e­gory. But for me, The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel is the clear win­ner. VIS­UAL EF­FECTS: This is — rather ob­vi­ously, if you look at the list of nom­i­nees — the one cat­e­gory in which ac­tion and su­per­hero block­busters make ap­pear­ances. All of th­ese flicks are strong, but Guardians of the Galaxy raked in the bucks, along with pos­i­tive re­views from crit­ics — this one in­cluded. MAKEUP and HAIRSTYLING: Tilda Swin­ton is nearly un­rec­og­niz­able in The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel , and it was hard not to ap­pre­ci­ate the trans­for­ma­tive qual­i­ties of Steve Carell’s prom­i­nent pros­thetic in Fox­catcher . El­iz­a­beth Yianni-Ge­or­giou and David White blew the com­pe­ti­tion away, though, with their abil­ity to trans­form mere earth­lings into strik­ing space be­ings in Guardians of the Galaxy . BEST ORIG­I­NAL SCORE:

WRIT­ING (ORIG­I­NAL SCREEN­PLAY) — Boy­hood and Bird­man were locks in this cat­e­gory for al­most en­tirely dif­fer­ent rea­sons. The lat­ter won the Golden Globe, but craft­ing a screen­play by con­fab­bing with your cast once a year for more than a decade? It’s un­prece­dented, but it’s also com­pelling, real, and deeply mov­ing. Still, you can’t ig­nore the quick-wit­ted­ness, cre­ativ­ity, and pac­ing of cur­rent Academy fave Wes An­der­son (this is his third nom­i­na­tion in this cat­e­gory) in The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel . WILL WIN BY A NOSE: Wes An­der­son and Hugo Guin­ness, The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel

AC­TOR IN A SUP­PORT­ING ROLE — Here again, I’ll ad­mit to some fa­voritism — in this case, to­ward two of my all-time fa­vorite play­ers, Ed­ward Nor­ton and Mark Ruf­falo. But J.K. Sim­mons is go­ing to walk away with this one — and he de­serves it for his creep­ily in­tense and haunt­ing per­for­mance as the borderline psy­chotic in­struc­tor in Whiplash . At least, I hope he wins: Oth­er­wise, he might start throw­ing chairs at peo­ple’s heads. SHOULD AND WILL WIN: J.K. Sim­mons, Whiplash

ACTRESS IN A SUP­PORT­ING ROLE — If Meryl Streep makes even one semis­e­ri­ous film in a given year, she’s prob­a­bly go­ing to get an Os­car nod — she’s the most nom­i­nated ac­tor in the award’s his­tory. Even if mu­si­cals aren’t your thing, you still have to ad­mit it was a treat to see her sing in Into the Woods . I don’t think Hol­ly­wood takes Emma Stone se­ri­ously, but if she keeps de­liv­er­ing per­for­mances like the one she gives in Bird­man , she’ll get her turn. This year, though, Pa­tri­cia Ar­quette is go­ing to ride the wave of good­will for Boy­hood all the way up to the podium. WILL WIN: Pa­tri­cia Ar­quette, Boy­hood

DOC­U­MEN­TARY FEA­TURE — I can’t fig­ure out why the Academy ne­glected Life It­self , the much-touted doc about the late, great Roger Ebert. Find­ing Vi­vian Maier is a de­light­ful, rev­e­la­tory film about an un­til-re­cently-un­known street pho­tog­ra­pher. But Ci­ti­zen­four : Whoa. Rarely do you see a film doc­u­ment­ing events that are short on ac­tion (most of the scenes con­sist of an an­a­lyst and some jour­nal­ists hang­ing out in a ho­tel room) but will be men­tioned in ev­ery Amer­i­can his­tory

WRIT­ING (ADAPTED SCREEN­PLAY) — Selma is the only Best Pic­ture nom­i­nee left out of this group, but the odd­ball In­her­ent Vice made the cut. I en­joyed the heck out of Gra­ham Moore’s deftly paced work in The Imi­ta­tion Game — he man­aged to make a story with a fore­gone con­clu­sion sus­pense­ful. But Amer­i­can Sniper is tak­ing the box of­fice by storm, and I have a feel­ing Ja­son Hall’s adap­ta­tion of Chris Kyle’s mem­oir will emerge vic­to­ri­ous here. WILL WIN: Ja­son Hall, Amer­i­can Sniper

The Academy over­looked Trent Reznor and At­ti­cus Ross’ omi­nous, op­er­atic, and suit­ably haunt­ing work in Gone Girl , though the mu­sic is too con­spic­u­ous at times. Sim­i­larly, Hans Zim­mer may have been nom­i­nated sim­ply be­cause no one can ig­nore his score for In­ter­stel­lar . Ev­ery­thing else be­ing equal, Alexan­dre De­s­plat would still have a 40 per­cent chance of win­ning this cat­e­gory. Jóhann Jóhanns­son took home the Golden Globe for The The­ory of Ev­ery­thing , though, so he’s the safer bet. BEST ORIG­I­NAL SONG: “Ev­ery­thing Is Awe­some” ( The Lego Movie ) is one of the most in­fu­ri­at­ingly catchy songs of the year. But “Glory,” from Selma , won a Golden Globe, and this is the only other nom­i­na­tion that re­spectable film earned. It de­serves to win this and more.

Best Direc­tor nom­i­nee Richard Lin­klater, Boy­hood

Best Cin­e­matog­ra­phy nom­i­nee

Dick Pope, Mr. Turner

Best Orig­i­nal Screen­play nom­i­nee Wes An­der­son

Best Ac­tor nom­i­nee Ed­die Red­mayne

Best An­i­mated Fea­ture Film nom­i­nee

How to Train Your Dragon 2

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