The Oscars – Did They Get The Winners Right?

Written by Bill Bodkin & Daniel Cohen


Pop-Break’s Oscar Watch 2015 Wrap-Up Part 1: Did They Get The Winners Right – Introduction by Daniel Cohen

Wow. Where do we begin? You wanted upsets, you got them. If there’s one thing I learned from watching this year’s Academy Awards, it’s not to get swept up in the momentum train:

American Sniper = 1 Oscar (Sound Editing)

The wealth was actually spread around pretty well. All the movies that were nominated for Best Picture won at least one award. While it was a monumental night for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (the Best Picture, Director, Screenplay sweep), it was a rough one for Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson. Nothing. Yikes. Enough set-up though, because we got a crap load to cover. Let’s get into it right now!

Photo Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin
Photo Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

Franchise Movies Get the Middle Finger:

This is what really stood out to me the most. We live in a film culture right now where the twenty something film bloggers think they own Hollywood, and I guess in a way they do. We’ve seen the Academy get blasted and ripped apart for not nominating superhero movies and other mainstream films year after year. We always think “this will be the year” they get nominated. This year’s ceremony more than ever convinced me it will never happen. The Academy made a point of telling you original movies still exist. I love a lot of blockbuster movies. I love all movies that are good, whether it be Whiplash or X-Men: Days of Future Past, but it did put a smile on my face to see the Academy basically say we aren’t giving into the angry film mob of social media. Maybe I’m reading too much into what Jack Black and Liam Neeson said at the ceremony, but it’s pretty poignant that a film like Birdman won this year’s Best Picture – a movie that shreds apart the current Hollywood system of superheroes, sequels, and shared universes. At the end of the day, I just want to see good movies, whether it’s an original work, or Captain America 29. The Academy did a good thing though in reminding us all that other movies exist besides Guardians of the Galaxy.

Onto the Awards…

Best Adapted Screenplay (Graham Moore, The Imitation Game): Yes, Graham Moore gave a very powerful speech. No question about that. It still doesn’t change the fact that I strongly disagree with this win. This should have been Damien Chazelle’s award. I don’t need to rehash my love for Whiplash. Go read the review. This was probably my biggest frustration of the night. –DC

Photo Credit: Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S.(r)
Photo Credit: Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S.(r)

This was the point in the night I thought American Sniper was going to begin its run. The source material for that film is so rich that I thought it was a lock. Huge surprise that The Imitation Game, which pretty much got shut out, picked it up here. Although, hearing Graham Moore’s speech you realize this win was a lot like Milk’s win a few years back in terms of the subject’s sexual orientation and the impact he had on modern society. Henceforth, this became apparent Imitation Game was more Oscar-y than we thought. –BB

Best Original Screenplay (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu/Nicolas Giacobone/Alexander Dinelaris/Armando Bo, Birdman): Congrats to the Birdman writing team, totally deserving. While I have no problem with Birdman winning, my heart sank for Wes Anderson. This was his best chance, and his most Oscar-y film. I guess there are voters who flat out don’t like Wes Anderson’s style, but I got to think he’ll get a statue someday. I still want him to get a retroactive win for The Royal Tenenbaums. –DC

This was an expected win, but what I liked about the “drama” of the category was Grand Budapest was on such a role with wins, that it had a legitimate shot at winning the Oscar. However, one can’t deny the originality and ingenuity of Birdman, despite the charm and wit of Wes Anderson’s most “Wes Anderson” film. –BB

Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette, Boyhood): No surprise here. The only surprise is that Arquette was the lone winner for Boyhood. Emma Stone will get another crack at it – no doubt. –DC

Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons, Whiplash): Everyone in this category did a great job, but when you watch the clips, it was pretty clear. J.K. Simmons rules all. –DC

Best Actress (Julianne Moore, Still Alice): This was both a career achievement, and she legitimately deserved it. –DC

Photo Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin
Photo Credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin

Summing Up Best Actress, Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor: These were all pretty much locks from jump street. Yes, there was a rumbling that someone like a Rosamund Pike or Reese Witherspoon had a shot at winning Best Actress, but it was just that a “shot.” Moore is a fabulous actress who immersed herself in an emotionally harrowing role. And that’s all you need to know about her win. As for Simmons and Arquette – it was great to see two, longtime supporting actors (granted, Arquette did have a slew of starring vehicles  in the 90s, but since then has become a supporting player) take home Oscars. Simmons in particular has been someone who’s stolen every show he’s been in (just watch Spider-man, Juno or Burn After Reading) and he is the Farmer’s guy (my wife works for them), so to see him win was awesome. –BB

Best Actor (Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything): I mentioned The Imitation Game winning Best Adapted Screenplay was the most frustrating award of the night, but I want to change my vote to this one. Eddie Redmayne mentioned how lucky he was to be a part of this movie, and he’s absolutely right. It’s a good performance, but I’m annoyed because anyone who played that part would have won, and that bothers me. This role was such an Oscar bait performance, and for it to win over guys like Steve Carell, Michael Keaton, and Bradley Cooper is really frustrating. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – many other actors could have done what Redmayne did, but what those other three guys achieved can’t be matched. And if I had to pick either Michael Keaton or Eddie Redmayne to get back to the dance, I’m going with Keaton. –DC

Photo Credit: Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S.(r)
Photo Credit: Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S.(r)

Keaton was the emotional pick – the Jeff Bridges pick if you will. But, as I saw on Twitter yesterday, he became the Bill Murray in Rushmore/Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler pick. How could we not see Redmayne winning this one? He had racked up so many awards for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking, that had we put our emotional blinders on, we would’ve called this one a lay-up.  Redmayne will have a nice career ahead of him now. –BB

Best Director (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman): Inarritu won this award because of how original the directing style was for Birdman. And even though I like Boyhood a lot, this was the right call. How Inarritu constructed that film really is amazing, and while Richard Linklater did a great job, there’s nothing special about the direction other than pressing play on a camera for twelve years straight. –DC

This was the shocker of the night. How does Linklater, a man who labored over a decade on this film, a movie that was sold on his name alone, not win? –BB

BEST PICTURE (BIRDMAN): It’s the biggest Best Picture upset since Crash in 2005. I know it won the PGA and DGA, but it’s still a huge upset. I give the Academy a lot of credit for this one – Birdman is certainly an Oscar-y movie, but for this type of meta/heavy stylized film to actually take the award is truly outside their comfort zone. It’s a little whacky, something the Academy usually awards Best Screenplay for, but not Best Picture. What was Boyhood’s undoing? Maybe the Academy ultimately asked themselves this question: “If this wasn’t filmed over twelve years, would I still give it my vote?” I guess at the end of the day, that answer was “No.” –DC

The biggest Best Picture upset since Crash? A lot of people are saying this and I just don’t see it. The weeks leading up to the Oscars I saw countless articles on how Birdman had a great shot at winning the gold. Did I pick it to win? No, I picked American Sniper, but it seems like the Academy just didn’t care about that film, despite audiences stating the contrary. So it was really down to Boyhood and Birdman — two highly unique films. To me, people saw Boyhood as a gimmick – yes, it was an accomplishment in film making, but this was a gimmick in the minds of many. Was that an unfair thing to do? Probably, but that’s their opinion. Birdman winning was a great Oscar underdog tale and it gave Michael Keaton, despite not winning an award, not only a career boost, but the final moment at the Oscars to talk. –BB

Photo Credit: Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S.(r)
Photo Credit: Michael Yada/A.M.P.A.S.(r)
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