Rather than break down every one of the 24 Academy Award categories, we dedicated posts to Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Supporting Actor and Actress. Here, we’ll take a brief look at a few other major categories. We’ll also post our full Oscar Predictions a few hours before the Awards, so you can see how wrong we’ll be!
Best Original Screenplay
Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo Boyhood Richard Linklater Foxcatcher E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness Nightcrawler Dan Gilroy
Tyler: Here, we’re looking at writing, rather than all of the elements that makes or breaks movies (like direction or acting…small things like that). This year, we’ve seen quite a number of solidly-written films (though I feel like a more than usual number were adapted, rather than original…). With all the love that there is out there for The Grand Budapest Hotel, I suspect that it will win, though I think either Birdman or Boyhood should get it. Birdman‘s intense whackiness and exploration of darkness and psychopathy just beg for this award. Much like the Direction nominee, I’m looking at vision and construction here, and this film relies on its construction. Similarly, with Boyhood, Linklater had a 12-year vision, writing and revision over that period of time, planning in detail what would happen, yet adapting on the fly as the years stretched on. What’s really missing here is Chef by Jon Favreau.
Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper Jason Hall The Imitation Game Graham Moore Inherent Vice Paul Thomas Anderson The Theory of Everything Anthony McCarten Whiplash Damien Chazelle
Daniel: This category was significantly weakened by the surprise omission of potentially the best-written film of the year, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Without that incredible screenplay, that narrows this to a fight between The Imitation Game and Whiplash. I’ve already laid out my thoughts on Imitation. It’s a perfectly fine, very average film, but I would not be surprised to see the Academy reward it, especially with the focus on homosexuality. That said, I strongly think Whiplash is a better written film. Chazelle’s script builds tension and asks intriguing questions, making you question whether or not you agree with the villain. American Sniper could be a dark horse, and the Academy certainly loved the film and loves a war movie, and Theory of Everything made a big splash as well. Inherent Vice was the surprise nominee here, so don’t expect it to win.
Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel Alexandre Desplat The Imitation Game Alexandre Desplat Interstellar Hans Zimmer Mr. Turner Gary Yershon The Theory of Everything Jóhann Jóhannsson
Tyler: This is my favorite category, and I’d have liked to write a full post solely on the film scores of the year, but I’ll try and hold my tongue a bit. I listen to film scores while I work, grade, and write. They’ve become the soundtrack of my life, in many real ways. I’ve made assignments for my students, having them score books we read just as they would a film, because without music, films wouldn’t affects us as they do. We’ve got two Alexandre Desplat scores, so statistically we’re looking at a clinched win for him. He’s one of my favorite composers, and I can always rely on him to produce a memorable score that’s subtle and moving. If I had to choose between the two Desplat entries, The Grand Budapest Hotel (which I’ve been quite hard on throughout this Oscar Season) stands out as more memorable, though that does not diminish The Imitation Game‘s quality (another film whose score works better than the film overall). Mr. Turner had a surprisingly good score, though it doesn’t stand up against the rest. I’m torn between The Theory of Everything and Interstellar here, because they both rise above the rest. Theory boasts a lush, magical score filled with wonder and sadness, while the pipe organs of Interstellar is so memorable and impactful that, like its cousin 2001: A Space Odyssey, it works best while paired with the visuals. If you twist my arm, though, Interstellar has it because of it’s shocking originality.
Birdman Emmanuel Lubezki The Grand Budapest Hotel Robert Yeoman Ida Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski Mr. Turner Dick Pope Unbroken Roger Deakins
Daniel: There were a lot of great-looking films this year. The legendary Roger Deakins racks up another nomination, but he’ll still be left without a win for Unbroken. Rightly so. Even though it looks great, it’s far from Deakins’ best work. Ida and Mr. Turner are certainly nice to look at, if not much else. The Grand Budapest Hotel is very well shot and executes the director’s vision perfectly. But, none of them compare to the achievement of Birdman, presenting in one take. This is an incredible feat, and it looks amazing. Emmanuel Lubeski will win back to Oscars here after last year’s Gravity.
Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Guardians of the Galaxy Interstellar X-Men: Days of Future Past
Tyler: This is a fun category, because it involves the more popular films, and usually the more exciting films. Usually, the winner here is the one also nominated for Best Picture (Gravity, Life of Pi, Inception). I’m looking here for the films that are pushing boundaries in visual effects. X-Men: Days of Future Past was a blast of a film, with some great effects, but it didn’t do new things, and I’d say the same for Captain America 2 and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which I know is winning awards all over the place. It’s a great film, and visually impressive, yet it’s not too different from its predecessor. Guardians of the Galaxy, however, does. It steps forward in the Marvel Universe as a wholly visual film, an experience from the opening seconds through the final battle. For me, it’s Interstellar all the way. Hands down, done and over with. It is stunning, with over the top visuals and subtle visuals that form an atmosphere and aesthetic for the film.
Best Film Editing
American Sniper Boyhood The Grand Budapest Hotel The Imitation Game Whiplash
Daniel: Every Best Picture winner since 1981 have received a nomination for editing. That long record may change this year, as Birdman surprisingly missed out here. The Imitation Game is unimpressive. American Sniper is great, and war movies often succeed here. Budapest Hotel is benefitted by some hilarious cuts, but the frontrunners are Boyhood and Whiplash. Boyhood succeeds in keeping a consistent tone and pace over twelve years of filming, but my bet is on Whiplash for it’s intensity and power through strong editing.
Check back on 2/21/15 for our Final Oscar Predictions!