To say The 87th Academy Awards were a shock is a huge understatement, for the big awards - some of the winners were undeserving. Others simply shocked us that they beat the obvious frontrunners to claim the prized statuette.
As usual, it was the job of host with the most for this year; Neil Patrick Harris to be the biggest arsehole on the planet for a period of just under four hours. Just in case over 20 endorsements of ABC, the Academy broadcaster for the event, wasn't enough - he had to sing at the beginning, turning the show into the biggest musical embarrassment since... Ummm.
No no, I'm being too cynical, the show was lovely - it was its usual glitzy self and all the better because it was available live on Sky Movies Oscars - delightful! Though the Red Carpet proved disappointing, with a lack of A-List celebrities strutting their stuff, we saw some of our favourite faces in cinema over the past year. Meryl Streep was the only real A-lister there - i suppose in today's climate, what defines the term celebrity?
The Academy Awards this year were a shocker for two reasons;
On top of an already shocking nominations list prior to the ceremony taking place, with a lack of Teller, Revolori or Oyelowo or Coltrane being at all recognised for their electrifying performances in their respective films, we've got all this to take in now.
For me, the most deserving winners of the night (without question) were;
The above were, without question, the obvious winners in their categories and its great to see that they were recognised for it. J.K. Simmons was, at his age, talent and evocative work with Whiplash, the obvious contender for Best Supporting Actor. The same goes to Patricia for Boyhood who gives us her lifetime best performance as the mother of Mason Jr. in the real-time coming-of-age epic Boyhood.
I was also pleased to see Best Foreign Language Film go to Ida, in recent weeks, its had the edge against long-running contender - Leviathan and Achievement in Sound Mixing went to Whiplash - for the crispest jazz and for the general classiness. It's a great film.
The most shocking, and thus disappointing, winners on the night in my opinion were;
...and the reasons for them.
Perhaps for The Academy, it was too obvious for Boyhood to get Best Picture. I think in recent weeks Boyhood gained momentum to a point where it was clear to everyone just how much of a monumental production Boyhood really was. The film was actually my favourite to win, but I think the style of Birdman clouded the views of the jury. There is an element of confusion here - its a profound film which focusses on dsyfunctional American family, its a real American film - maybe it was too real? There was hardly any typical 'blockbuster' element about it and perhaps it was too clever for an American audience - this s quite a derogoratory stereotype to make but with every stereotype; there is an element of truth. Boyhood had more of an impact in European Cinema, but this year the Academy has gone too far and they've strayed from honoring the true winners; like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Selma and some would say (I know I would); Nightcrawler.
I'm not saying Birdman didn't deserve to win, it had a good chance of winning right from the start and considering the Academy jury was consisted of older people which would make us think Boyhood would resonate with them more, against the odds Birdman with its stylish cinematography and 'one-take' effect - broke a few technical norms.
Should have won: Boyhood
Best Director is another huge disappointment, and blow to Boyhood, I even think there could have been the small chance of a sympathy Oscar to Boyhood for either Best Picture or Best Director, I would have been okay with Best Picture going to Birdman (it's still annoying) and Best Director going to Inarritu but the fact that both awards went to the film, something's not quite right. Richard Linklater, director of Boyhood, was the obvious winner from the start, he had spent nearly a third of his life producing the film which required such dedication and integrity to the production that any other nomination is unparalleled. It would only make sense to commemorate arguably the most humanist director of all time with an Oscar, but sadly that was not the case.
Did Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
Should have won: Richard Linklater
Original Screenplay should've gone to The Grand Budapest Hotel, the outcome of this award is yet another massive shocker. It was witty, funny and exceptionally well crafted as typical in a sarcastic black comedy from Wes Anderson. Birdman had no story, no aim and it might as well have been an observational documentary with some fancy camera work and lighting, with a unpredictable migraine-inducing drum beat. The Academy's reputation may have taken a turn for the worse, I sure think less of it anyway - but I was kind of expecting it too, the reputation part not the award winners!
I don't have much to say about the next award, other than the fact it should been How To Drain Your Dragon 2 (heartwarming, better than the original AND well animated - slightly better than Big Hero 6 in its realism).
Did Win: Big Hero 6
Should have won: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Achievement in Cinematography was a shocker too, though it wasn't as well. It was a shocker because last year Emmanuel Lubeszki won the same award for Gravity - so were were expecting the Oscars not to go all consecutive on this one but it seems that wasn't the case - it should have gone to a more deserving winner; notably Robert Yeoman, Wes' right hand man on every production since, on The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Oscars totally played against their usual tactic of 'getting rid of people without a statue yet' with the exception of Julianne Moore who won Best Actress for her portrayal.
In My Opinion... Best To Worst (Completely subjective - in other words... not tactical whatsoever, though i'd like it to be of course!)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
This year - it feels like audiences, critics and academy boards alike have all been clouded with the belief that Style is more important than Substance and have forgotten what film is really all about. We're all automatically more attracted to eye-candy than a story which pulls at our heartstrings. And, we've learnt you can't impress everyone with a biographical film, it is unfortunate that something has to give. Plus, just because they're not actor actors doesn't mean they shouldn't have equal awards opportunities - Oyelowo, Teller, Revolori and Coltrane you're fantastic! It's poignant films like Boyhood and Selma that remind us that we're all still human in this fabricated reality.
Here's all the nominees, a dedicated Sky channel will broadcast the entire Oscars 2015 live as it happens. 'The Oscars 2015: Red Carpet Live' will air from 11:30pm to 1:30am on Sky Movies Oscars and Sky Living, before the 87th Academy Awards ceremony itself will air live on Sky Movies Oscars from 1:30am-4:30am.
And the Oscar goes to... Well we're just not sure. As a filmmaker and filmgoer I've had a very difficult time ordering this year's 8 nominees from best to worst, let alone name my best one. Though I have come to one conclusion - this year has been an extremely tough year for film, as many deciding factors in film have changed - technologies, emerging markets (closing markets even) and competition. Being in the industry and being a regular has to make choosing Best Picture as hard as possible - because you're trying not to influenced by others or by yourself. When making a selection, be tactical - it helps if you have insider knowledge of awards season or are in touch with social media and regularly analyse films write down the very meaning of their existence. What is it that the film sets out to do, or be or give? Forgive me for sounding all Morgan Freeman here but let's be honest - who isn't these days?
In my short-ish post today I'll be writing with my hot summer holiday mindset; laid-back - it's how I prefer to write, when its something as casual as being a film critic. Though on days I would consider myself to be a more serious writer, today's just one of those days... So, sit back and unwind - let me share with you just a few thoughts on my predictions for Best Picture 2015.
2015 has been the hardest year to predict, even more so as of late. Recently, Two groups you can usually count on; The British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the DGAs seemed to disagree with each other - at the BAFTAs, Best Film went to Richard Linklater's Boyhood and it's creator won the award for Best Director. The Director's Guild Award went to Alejandro Inarritu for Birdman. Last year it was clear the two frontrunners in the spotlight were indeed Steve McQueen for 12 Years A Slave and Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity but this year its more unpredictable than ever before - that's thanks to increased competition in film elements - for Style and Substance. What is sad in my opinion is that it seems Style is becoming more important than Substance - people are forgetting that its the story and emotion that a film evokes, to warrant a great film and people are too obsessed with the eye candy of those chocolate box shots in too many a recent film. Fundamentally, This is why Boyhood is my film to win.
The Nominee's for Best Picture, in particular order, are;
This is so difficult because I loved each and every one of those films - so they're all winners, but we have to crack the whip and whittle it down to just one. So in brief, here's why I think each is a deserving winner.
American Sniper was a true story about a Navy SEAL sniper, Chris Kyles, whose skills saved countless lives out on the frontline. He was the deadliest marksman in U.S. military history and an instant legend, though this came at a price. For a time he risked losing his family, the war had gotten to him and he was left a changed man - evidently, for worse - and its a Clint Eastwood film. I liked this film, though I kick myself for not feeling moved by it or loving it. A.S was a gripping film, very tense at times though it didn't do the war justice - it was more just about him.
I can understand very clearly how the film has gone on to become very controversial - it is a symbol of America. There is no difference between the impact and controversy of this film than with The Interview, except with this - the film is actually semi-decent. I don't want to get into a rant of "Why is America doing this... Yes we know there is Freedom of Speech, Information blah blah, but don't show it off - well you could, but you'd be risking millions of lives and a possible repeat of the cold war if you do". This is no casual statement on my behalf, this is a real possibility.
The film doesn't dig into The Iraq War, at all. It's not interested in the causes of the war itself, just Kyle within it and as with many autobiographical films, it fails to cover a wide range of issues and content. Filmmakers tend to be one-sided, when attacking this genre, and focus extensively on one particular thing rather than touching a bit of everything - but perhaps its the fear that if they do that instead - they might not be faithful to their mission. Credits to the director of course, this is very clearly an Eastwoodian film, cinematically and narratively. War & Westerns are something Clint does very well at, in front and behind the camera. Once again its a lone gunman tackling a large frontier really which is a shame because I was really looking forward to seeing this film, maybe most if not all films are being hyped up too much. Well that can be answered another time.
It's not all bad though, Sienna Miller plays Chris Kyle's wife ever so well and is probably the best thing about this movie - its about time she's taking on extraordinary roles like her subtle supporting role in Foxcatcher, she's not getting any younger and neither is the film industry by the looks of it.
Good gosh that was a long review, perhaps I was being one-sided there - well I have reason to be. Boyhood
It's Not Finished :D