birdman

OSCARS 2015: THE RESULTS…

How about a post from 30,000 feet?

OSCARS 2015: SURPRISES AND RELIEFS!

SURPRISES:

 SURPRISE: Birdman as Best Picture.
OK, yes, we picked it. Birdman had gained incredibly momentum over the last few weeks and seemed the likely winner. Having said this and predicted it ourselves, it was still surprising that Boyhood would not take the Oscar home. Between the high emotional stakes of the film and the time dedicated to it (not just from he Director, but from all involved), we had perhaps hoped that this would be enough to win big. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. This leads us to…

SURPRISE: Alejandro Innaritu as Best Director.
Now, this isn’t really a surprise, and the award is not undeserving. His creative lead ensured that Birdman was one of the most original pieces from the last five years. Much like the ‘Best Picture’ award, though, it is disappointing that this wouldn’t go to Richard Linklater. It really seemed like his time after beautiful films like Before Sunset, and a 12 year investment isn’t easy. We were sorry to see him walk away without one of the ‘big two’. 

SURPRISE: Grand Budapest Hotel winning in both Costume Design and Makeup/Hairstyling.
The production design for this movie was brilliant: the entire film was an array of colour and sound (somewhat of an assault on the senses: very ‘Wes’) However, when faced with tough competition from the likes of Guardians Of The Galaxy (Zoe Saldana being painted green anyone?!) it came as quite a surprise that Grand Budapest would reign supreme. 

SURPRISE: ‘Best Picture’ winner falls short in acting categories.
This seems strange. Generally when we have a film win both ‘Best Picture’ and ‘Best Director’, there are additional victories within the acting categories, either for lead or supporting performances. Yes, Birdman backed up their win with many technical accolades, but to not see any performances recognized is interest
ing. Perhaps this simply proves that Birdman was not reliant on it’s actors, and thing could be a good thing?

RELIEFS:

THANK GOD: Eddie Redmayne as Best Actor.
Yes the competition was tight, with an absolutely stellar performance from Michael Keaton hot on his heels, but Redmayne was the standout winner this year. And what a cherry on top that Stephen Hawking reached out to Eddie to congratulate him on doing such a fantastic job. When you make your subject proud, you know you have done a good job!

THANK GOD: Birdman wins Best Cinematography.
This shouldn’t really need explaining. When is the last time we had ‘single take’ cinematography running through an entire film?! This not only made Birdman a joy to watch, but really got in behind the theatrical undertones of the film and drove them home.

THANK GOD: JK Simmons for Whiplash.
Definitely our tempo.

THANK GOD: Patricia Arquette wins for Boyhood.
As with our surprises above, we are super relieved that there was recognition for Boyhood, and Arquette was an incredibly worthy recipient. Arquette also made the second actress over 40 who took home an Oscar last night, truly silencing those who say there are no roles for older women in Hollywood.

What were your surprises and reliefs? Is there anyone you wish hadn’t won? Or had?! Let us know!

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OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST DIRECTOR & BEST PICTURE

Best Director:

download (2)Nominees:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)


The Films:
The difficult thing about the Academy is that they do not split genres into Comedy/Musical and Drama. This means that we have to take and analyze many films from different genres and different styles of  directorial effort.It is difficult to put a film like The Grand Budapest Hotel right next to Boyhood or Foxcatcher, and ask which Director did their job to better effect. The reality is, though, that Richard Linklater embarked on a 12 year journey to create one of the most authentic films we have seen, and that gives him a standout advantage. Having said this, Birdman has been gradually gaining steam, with nothing but praise being heaped upon Alejandro G Iñárritu. It seems that the other three nominees will unfortunately be left behind which seems a shame. Foxcatcher was a labor of love for Bennett Miller, and one he has been trying to pull together for almost as long as Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’. Wes Anderson finally gained critical reception with Grand Budapest, although this caused him to lose many of his loyal followers. 

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Who Should Win?
Richard Linklater. It’s close to call between him and Iñárritu, but Linklater’s long term dedication should see him snatch it. Perhaps them most impressive part of Birdman is the cinematography which should still be recognized. 


Who Will Win:
 
Richard Linklater. And it is about time, too!

 

SNUBS: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar), Ava DuVernay (Selma), Jean-Marc Vallee (Wild)

Best Picture:

The Nominees:

BoyhoodGHB_9907 20130130.CR2

Birdman

The Grand Budapest Hotel

American Sniper

Whiplash

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

The Films: Possibly the most underwhelming batch of ‘Best Picture’ nominees we have seen in a while. The Academy really didn’t feel like taking any risks this year. All of the films have been received well both by the public and critics, and have received awards consistently throughout 2014-2015. Having said this, it really is a two movie race this year. Despite previous wins, Grand Budapest Hotel likely won’t win any of the big five awards this year, nor will Selma or The Imitation Game. Theory of Everything will succeed in the Acting category but nothing else. Whiplash is probably one of the most deserving films, but is also historically one of the lowest grossing to ever be nominated for Best Picture, which slims down it’s chances of success. Really, the only films that are going to be successful enough in majority of categories to justify a ‘Best Picture’ win are Birdman and Boyhood. And between these two it is a super tight race.

Who Should Win? The ‘Best Picture’ winner is not always the film that is universallyAMERICAN-SNIPER-4-1940x812 enjoyed. Think back to last year’s winner ’12 Years A Slave’ – how many of you actually enjoyed the experience of watching it?! Many have felt the same about Birdman, which put it as a bit of a frontrunner, particularly because of it’s spread of nominations in other categories. Having said this, Boyhood still carries a lot of weight and is a true feat of cinema. We’re going with Boyhood on this one as the more deserving recipient.

Who Will Win: Birdman. Yep, we’re calling this one. Birdman has been gaining so much momentum lately it seems unstoppable. We wouldn’t be surprised if Boyhood can hold on, but at the moment it seems it is being edged out. 


SNUBS: Interstellar, Wild, Nightcrawler, Foxcatcher.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR & BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Best Supporting Actor:

ethan_hawke_horizNominees:

Robert Duvall (The Judge)

JK Simmons (Whiplash)

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

Edward Norton (Birdman)

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

The Performances: This is difficult because so many (well, all) of these performances were spectacular. A seventh Oscar Nomination for Robert Duvall indicates that it could be his turn, but with a lack of nominations for The Judge in other categories makes it seem unlikely. JK Simmons seems like a hot contender but could be deemed irrelevant to the Academy (much like Bruce Dern’s snub last year for Nebraska). The sad reality is, one of the strongest performances here is Mark Ruffalo, but much like The Judge, ‘Foxcatcher’ hasn’t garnered enough attention to warrant an Oscar. Which leaves us with two…

2015_golden_globes_68614Who Should Win? We can’t decide. Edward Norton is reliable as ever, but really actually struggles to stand out in such a talented cast. Hawke has a much better opportunity to shine in Boyhood and make a lasting impression…

Who Will Win: Ethan Hawke. Especially if Patricia Arquette takes Best Supporting Actress. It seems a shame for Norton and Birdman, but Boyhood is going to reign supreme this year.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

patricia-arquette-3d6f32076e34b922The Nominees:

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Emma Stone (Birdman)

Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)

Laura Dern (Wild)

Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

The Performances: It feels like a few of these nominees were padding for the category. Don’t take that the wrong way: all of the performances were good, but some are clearly more Oscar worthy than others. Critically all performances have been praised, however Dern’s total lack of screen time doesn’t instil great hope that the Academy will bestow this on her. What we have to look for are performances that are not overshadowed by their fellow cast members which points to three notable contenders: Streep (because it’s the Oscars), Stone, and Arquette. What is interesting is that in any other year, Emma Stone would probably be a shoe in especially with Birdman doing so well in other categories. Her real competition (Sorry, Meryl) comes from Patricia Arquette: with Ethan Hawke being hot tipped to take away Best Supporting, it almost seems fated: two award winning supporting performances driving a film is what it should be!Emma-Stone-Golden-Globes-thumbnail

Who Should Win? Patricia Arquette. Just little enough screen time to be billed as a support, but put it enough of herself to be the leading lady of Boyhood.

Who Will Win: Patricia Arquette. It could be snatched from her by Stone, but she is a dark horse. Also, Stone is young: The Academy are more likely to go for Arquette as (much like with Julianne Moore) it is more her ‘turn’.

SNUBS: None worth noting.

OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST ACTOR & BEST ACTRESS

Best Actor:
72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press Room

Nominees:

Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher)

Bradley Cooper (American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

Eddie Redmayne (Theory Of Everything)

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

The Performances: Strangely enough this year we had a few of these performances surrounded in controversy. Steve Carrell’s role in Foxcatcher was protested by Mark Schultz, the film’s subject, for being too homosexually oriented. Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle was also objected by those claiming that the character was not true to life, and the film glorified war. Another really interesting thing is that 4/5 nominees are playing “based on true life” characters and we know that these are always shoe in for any major awards. We also deal with a few major topics: Mental illness in show business and sports (Carrell and Keaton;, Homosexuality (Cumberbatch); War (Cooper); and terminal illness (Redmayne). All of this makes it really hard to call. Both Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne have been snatching up awards left and right, but despite strong performances many of the others are yet to get lucky.  Eddie-Redmayne

Who Should Win? Eddie Redmayne: the intensity and emotion in his performance is closely rivalled but ultimately unmatched this year.

Who Will Win: Eddie Redmayne is going to take this one home, too. Not only was his performance absolutely stellar, but between physical training and time spent with Hawkins himself, he has really put in the legwork. Additionally, the Academy loves a good biopic, especially if the subject is still living and is happy about the end result.

Best Actress:

moo-jan12The Nominess:

Felicity Jones (Theory Of Everything)

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

The Performances: This really is a mixed bag this year. All performances were well reviewed, but we are dealing with players in psychological thrillers, romantic dramas, and biopics. Felicity Jones gives a strong performance, but is overshadowed by her male counterpart in Theory Of Everything and doesn’t really give us enough ‘Oscar Moments’. The same can be said for Rosamund Pike. Marion Cotillard is a bit of a wildcard here since ‘Two Days, One Night’ didn’t even really get a wide release: many were surprised by her nomination but we have to understand that we are dealing with the Academy here and they have their favourites. Which leaves us with two…
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Who Should Win? This one is hard to call, but we are inclined to say Witherspoon. Her performance was one of the most mature she has ever delivered and almost felt documentary-style. Flashbacks littered throughout meant she had to play two entirely different characters and mould them together: when not made in chronological order this makes her performance all the more impressive.

Who Will Win? Julianne Moore. Much like Redmayne she delivers a performance of intensity and emotion dealing with a very real disease. The attention on Alzheimers and spread of the disease means she has touched many people worldwide. Moore will triumph over Witherspoon on the ‘relatability’ card. 

SNUBS: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) , Jennifer Aniston (Cake)

FILM REVIEW: ‘BIRDMAN’

‘Birdman’

Written by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Directed by: Alejandro González Iñárritu

Starring: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Zack Galifinakis. 

Story: A washed up actor once famous for playing a superhero has to battle family, colleagues and ego to get his career back on track.

Birdman_poster

When is the last time you watched a movie and thought: “this is what cinematic art really is.”? It is difficult to say this, because so called ‘art films’ have such a bad rap. ‘Birdman’, too, has divided audiences and seems to be the kind of film that you are either going to love or hate. 

There are many stunning elements to ‘Birdman’. The cinematography adopts a ‘single-take’ style which is nothing short of miraculous. It creates a beautiful sense of continuitiy and creates a time frame in which the audience can process at the same pace. We are running in real time for these people – or are we? Perspectives are skewed (see Emma Stone’s face in her now famous  monologue) and abstract angles are taken to make the whole film seem theatrical. Thats right, theatrical. And isn’t that the point?

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Along with the cinematography we are treated to  a drum beat that helps us keep pace with the characters. We are supposed to be overwhelmed with the pace of the camera, the sounds, the emotions of the characters: After all, for these characters their two day ordeal is also pretty overwhelming.

Michael Keaton is the embodiment of our Birdman. His performance is as emotional as it is bizarre and an interesting review of mental illness. Oh, to live the showbiz life with all of it’s pressures! 

Keaton is overshadowed, though, by his supports, namely Edward Norton and Emma Stone. Norton is back to his ‘Fight Club’ best with a show stopper performance. There is a hint of sarcasm to the way Norton plays this part: as if he has a sense of exactly what he is saying about the hand that feeds him. His portrayal is approachable and most of all funny.

Norton is about all there is to humour in the film though, which is bizarre given that it was billed as a “Comedy or Musical” by many award associations. 

birdman-movie-poster-4

Emma Stone is as we have never seen her, and perhaps her best performance yet. She is the epitome of the cruel, junkie world that she has come from. What is disappointing perhaps is that she doesn’t get as much screen time as her fellow leads, even though she brings what is perhaps the strongest performance. 

The really interesting thing about Birdman is the plot, which we are not going to delve too far into because we certainly don’t want to just give you a synopsis. ‘Birdman’ is a commentary on mental illness, addiction, desperation, loneliness, and fame. Birdman is not perfect: it is interesting and different and refreshing, yes, but not perfect. There are a few pacing issues and scenes that drag. If you are not prepared for what it is, also, it can take you by surprise. And, obviously, if we have preconceived notions of what a film will be and it doesn’t fulfill those then we will most likely be disappointed.

It is difficult when a film has so much hype, but try to leave your expectations at the door with Birdman, and you will be pleasantly surprised. 

Rating: 7.5/10