If I Had a 2015 Oscar Ballot

selma-movie-oscars


I’m pretty far along when it comes to catching up with every 2015 Oscar nominee. (The foreign-language films are mostly blind spots, but what else is new.) So now is as good a time as any to share my choices for the best in show. It’s been a weird year for me watching the Oscars because I don’t like as many films as I like among the main players. But maybe that’s a good thing—fewer visceral reactions when the votes inevitably go the wrong way.

Anyway, if I was voting, things would look a lot different than they likely will in a few weeks. Behold, my Oscar ballot:

*****

2015 Best Animated Feature Film Nominees
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Song of the Sea

Big Hero 6 is a blind spot, but the other four are all quality films. I probably would have chosen The LEGO Movie here if it wasn’t ignored here. In its stead, I’ll go with The Tale of Princess Kaguya by a nose over Song of the Sea.

*****

2015 Best Documentary Feature Nominees
CITIZENFOUR
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga

Here, I’m also 4/5 with The Salt of the Earth being the one film I wasn’t able to catch up with in time to vote. Unlike Best Animated Feature, this choice is easy. The best Oscar-nominated documentary is Virunga, and it isn’t even close.

*****

2015 Best Foreign Language Film Nominees
Ida
Leviathan
Tangerines
Timbuktu
Wild Tales

I don’t have much to say here because I’ve only seen one film. Because of that, it feels weird to say it’s the best of the category, but Ida is damn good, so screw it.

*****

2015 Best Cinematography Nominees
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken

There are prettier films, but Birdman is storytelling through cinematography. As the camera moves, it speaks to you. There isn’t another choice.

*****

2015 Best Costume Design Nominees
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner
Maleficent

I was just giddy to see Mark Bridges nominated for his work on Inherent Vice. That film’s costumes are so unique and indicative of an underserved-in-this-category era. It’s my pick by a nose over the likely winner, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

*****

whiplash-review


2015 Best Film Editing Nominees
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

Whiplash lives in its editing. The way that final scene is cut together screams that this is the most important thing in the entire world, and amazingly, it makes you believe it.

*****

2015 Best Makeup and Hairstyling Nominees
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Just look at Tilda Swinton in the film and tell me The Grand Budapest Hotel shouldn’t win this award.

*****

2015 Best Original Score Nominees
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

There are four nice scores here and one that’s transcendent. I don’t worship at the altar of Hans Zimmer the way some do, but his Interstellar score is nothing short of brilliant.

*****

2015 Best Original Song Nominees
Begin Again
Beyond the Lights
Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
The LEGO Movie
Selma

I’m not a music critic, and frankly, I think this category is dumb. But “Everything Is Awesome” is the opposite of dumb, so The LEGO Movie gets my vote.

*****

2015 Best Production Design Nominees
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the best of a pretty strong field. That’s all I’ve got here.

*****

2015 Best Sound Editing Nominees
American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

I’m not of the belief that the sound mix on Interstellar is problematic, but even if I was, the sound editing might still stand out as the best in a relatively weak category…

*****

2015 Best Sound Mixing Nominees
American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash

…but despite not objecting to Interstellar’s mix, I’m not voting for it here, as I did above. No, this category ought to belong to Whiplash.

*****

2015 Best Visual Effects Nominees
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Choosing between Interstellar and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is difficult. Honestly, I’ll go with the latter, only because I think its predecessor was truly robbed in this category three years ago.

*****

inherent-vice-roger-elswit


2015 Best Adapted Screenplay Nominees
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

It’s hilarious that something other than Inherent Vice will win here. Hilarious.

*****

2015 Best Original Screenplay Nominees
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

Arguably the toughest category for me to choose, as my second- and third-favorite films of 2014 both reside here. In the end, I’m giving the award to Nightcrawler over The Grand Budapest Hotel because it’s going home empty-handed otherwise.

*****

2015 Best Supporting Actor Nominees
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

A solid category from top (J.K. Simmons) to bottom (Robert Duvall).

*****

2015 Best Supporting Actress Nominees
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

A lot of shoulder shrugs in this category for me, but Patricia Arquette—despite my heavy reservations about Boyhood as a whole—is simply spectacular. Give her the statue.

*****

birdman-riggan


2015 Best Actor Nominees
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Boy, for a strong year in leading male performances, the Academy blew a big stinkie here. No Oyelowo. No Gyllehaal. No Fiennes. But Michael Keaton is a saving grace. I hope he takes home the trophy over Eddie “Look at me I’m ACTING” Redmayne.

*****

2015 Best Actress Nominees
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Now here’s a good category. Three very worthy performances, and that’s not counting the likely winner (Moore) whose performance I haven’t seen. The best of the best, though, is Marion Cotillard, who gave 2014’s best performance, male or female, lead or supporting.

*****

2015 Best Director Nominees
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

A lot of admirable but unsuccessful experiments in this year’s Best Director lineup—a one-take film, a film shot over 12 years, a colder than cold true story film. But the best (nominated) direction was done by Wes Anderson in The Grand Budapest Hotel—a wildly funny and impossibly romantic story about the end of an era and the way we define legacy.

*****

2015 Best Picture Nominees
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

It’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. If it couldn’t be Inherent Vice or Nightcrawler, it has to be The Grand Budapest Hotel. Selma was close. Whiplash, too. But I’ll be eating Mendl’s macaroons if Wes Anderson’s film wins Best Picture on Sunday.

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One Response to If I Had a 2015 Oscar Ballot

  1. Wendell February 8, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    I’m so far behind on my nominees this year, it’s pitiful. I’ll be watching, though. Haven’t seen Cotillard’s movie yet, but I think Pike is just beyond amazing in Gone Girl. Her work here is likely to be the most memorable and iconic. Just my 2¢.

    Reply

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