My 2014 Oscar Predictions

Many tiny, tiny men were forced to give up their lives after being randomly selected for being made to stand in an uncomfortable upright position and having liquid gold poured on them. Their sacrifice will not go forgotten.

Ah, the Oscars! The award show where the old, rich, out-of-touch white men of Hollywood engage in the biggest circle jerk of the year and hand out golden, vaguely phallic trophies in order to congratulate each other for making pretentious, artsy films that the average moviegoer didn’t even think about before the eve of the ceremony!

God, do I love the Oscars. It’s right up there with my birthday, Christmas, Blue Jays Opening Day, Game 7 of the World Series and Edmonton Comic Expo Weekend in my rankings of my favourite days of the year. For somebody who loves movies as much as I do, it’s so great to see these movies that I’ve grown so attached to in the last few months that I’ve been scrambling to watch them. It’s nice to see them all gathered together where all of them can be celebrated for the joy they’ve brought to people.

And by “all of them”, I, of course mean “Boyhood“.

So, without further ado, let’s get my official predictions out of the way!!!

(Keep in mind that I haven’t seen 100% of the movies. Merely a lot of them. Don’t blame me, blame school.”

That, and the fact that I’m not allowed out of my house anymore after the unfortunate incident at a nearby Dairy Queen.

Visual Effects

Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees! And people say we monkey around…”

Winner: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

If I were in charge: Interstellar

Interstellar didn’t impress me as much as it did others in terms of story or plot coherence, but I can’t deny the visual majesty that Nolan’s space epic had. That said, when Dawn wins, I will not complain at all, because Apes On Horses.

Film Editing

TWELVE YEARS!!!! THIS TOOK TWELVE YEARS!!!! ITSOAMAAAAAAAAZZIIIINGGG!!!!!!!”

Will win: Boyhood

If I was in charge: Boyhood

Yeah, as burnt out as I am on hearing people call Boyhood the Citizen Kane of our era or some bullshit, I can’t deny the wonderful editing job done in the film.

Costume Design

Dear lord.

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

If I was in charge: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Makeup and Hairstyling

And this is what happens when you party with Benecio del Toro.

Will win: Guardians of the Galaxy

If I was in charge: Guardians of the Galaxy

Cinematography

Gravity‘s got nothing on this.

Will win: Birdman

If I was in charge: Birdman

Emmanuel Lubezki. That is all.

Production Design

The symmetry alone, Jesus Christ.

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

If I was in charge: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Sound Mixing

Theeeeenn, he swore profusely at me, Pa rum pa pum pum….

Will win: Whiplash

If I was in charge: Whiplash

Man, I’m not exactly being much of a contrarian, am I?

Sound Editing

Oh, there we go.

Will win: American Sniper

If I was in charge: Birdman

Original Song

Will win: “Glory” (Selma)

If I was in charge: “Glory”

Original Score

Just for the record, I would have given the prize to either John Powell or Joe Hisaishi for How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, respectively.

Will win: Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory of Everything

If I was in charge: Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game

Animated Short Film, Live Action Short Film, Documentary- Short Subject, Documentary- Feature

I didn’t watch any of these. Why? I’m really, really lazy, in case you guys haven’t noticed.

Foreign Language Film

Are her eyes following anybody else? Just me? Okay then…

Will win: Ida

If I was in charge: Leviathan

Animated Feature Film

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

If I was in charge: How to Train Your Dragon 2

While I still think that Dragon is the best animated movie of the year (Yes, even better than The LEGO Movie), I highly suggest any fan of animation to check out The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. You’ll thank me later, trust me.

Adapted Screenplay

Will win: The Imitation Game

If I was in charge: The Imitation Game

Original Screenplay

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Should win: Birdman

Supporting Actress

Yeesh, now that kids’ eyes are following me.

Will win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

If I was in charge: Patricia Arquette

Again, I’m not a huge Boyhood fan. That said, I think I would’ve liked it more if it focused more on Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke.

Supporting Actor

Will win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

If I was in charge: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Actress

“What the fuck am I watching?!?!”                    -Julianne Moore, seen here puzzling over Inherent Vice.

Will win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

If I was in charge: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Admittedly, I haven’t seen Still Alice yet, but with all do respect to Julianne Moore, I don’t see how her performance could be better than Rosamund Pike in the movie that is the biggest Best Picture snub of the year.

Actor

Yeah, no way I’m joking about this photo. I’m not a total asshole.

Will win: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

If I was in charge: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

The sentimental part of my brain wants Michael Keaton to win, as Redmayne’s still young, and we don’t know if Keaton will ever be nominated again, but I know in my heart of hearts that Redmayne was probably better.

Director

Meh.

Will win: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

If I was in charge: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

I LIKED BOYHOOD, ALRIGHT!?!? I JUST THINK IT’S KIND OF OVERRATED!!! AM I REALLY SO WRONG IN THINKING THAT?!?!

Picture

You know you want it.

Will win: Birdman

If I was in charge: Birdman

My gut actually says that Boyhood is gonna take it, but winning all the Guild Awards is pretty promising, so maybe Birdman has a realistic shot at winning the big prize?

American Sniper is going to sweep the awards now, just because I said that.

American Sniper (Movie Review)

Well, this is gonna be an absolute joy to watch!

I love Clint Eastwood, but I can admit that he hasn’t exactly been on top of his game lately. After the greatness that was Gran Torino, the legendary actor/director hasn’t had that much success, at least critically (I’ll give you Invictus, that was actually pretty great, but Hereafter, J. Edgar and Jersey Boys all kinda sucked).

His big political statement hasn’t exactly helped matters, truth be told.

His latest movie is American Sniper, the story of the late, much-celebrated sniper Chris Kyle, someone who has been quoted as saying that “[he] would like to shoot people with Korans”. In terms of avoiding political controversy, this was probably not the way to go.

American Sniper

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

Produced by: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz,  Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper, Peter Morgan

Written by: Jason Hall

Based on: American Sniper by Chris Kyle with Scott McEwan and Jim DeFelice

Genre: Biographical war drama

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Fake Baby

Plot: Searching for a higher calling outside of his lucrative career as a rodeo cowboy, Texan Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper), seemingly finds his divine purpose when he is horrified by the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya. Enlisting in the army and eventually becoming a Navy SEAL, he shows a considerable amount of ability as a sniper. He is shipped off to Iraq after 9/11 (Because…Reasons…) and becomes the deadliest sniper in American military history, killing upwards of 160 enemy combatants. However, killing that enormous amount of people doesn’t normally result in a sound mental state, and sure enough, Kyle’s military career, and the resulting PTSD symptoms start affecting his relationships with his wife (Sienna Miller).

Look, this is a super controversial movie, and there is absolutely no getting around that. I’d be remiss to not go into at least some of the controversy surrounding this movie. That said, even considering the divisive nature of the film, it’s fairly easy to forget that, in a lot of respects, this is a super well made movie.

I fully admit that I went into this movie not expecting to like it and yeah, I kind of didn’t, but even I’ll admit that this movie shows a lot of potential. The cinematography looks like that of your standard Iraq War movie, which is appropriate considering, y’know, that the movie’s about the damn Iraq War. It also sounds terrific, as is par for the course with a lot of war movies, and is most likely going to win some sort of Oscar for sound editing or sound mixing, or whatever (I still don’t understand the difference between those two, frankly).

The sound and atmosphere really help contribute to this super intense atmosphere that Eastwood has always done a very good job of creating. You don’t exactly expect a lax atmosphere from a movie in which a small child is being aimed at through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle, at one point. Eastwood’s technically skilled direction takes the inherent intensity that comes with a movie like this and multiplies it twentyfold. It’s a flawed movie, but it was never boring, and in the end, that may do it for some people.

Something else that I would have be a complete idiot to skip over without praising is Bradley Cooper. Now, I am a Bradley Cooper fan, let’s get that straight. The first movie I ever saw him in was The Hangover, and if you would have told me way back in 2009 that he would go on to be nominated for three consecutive Academy Awards (As well as voice Rocket Racoon) after that (Brilliantly hilarious) movie, I probably would have laughed in your face. And then shot you in the kneecap. I was a pretty hardcore 12-year old.

I was basically Hit-Girl. Except, you know, a guy.

If he does win the Oscar, I’ll still be pissed off, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that his performance is pretty outstanding. From the 100% authentic sounding accent that one would swear had been lifted off of a bona-fide god-fearing Texan without having warped it into something stereotypical and cartoonish.

Like so.

All around, Cooper sells Chris Kyle as a likable, humble human being. You know, when he isn’t referring to the Iraqis as “savages”, but more on that later.

The action in American Sniper is also very good, as one would expect from a Clint Eastwood movie. It kind of ties into that “intensity” crap I was rambling about earlier. However, this is where some of the flaws in the movie start rearing their ugly heads. See, while the action scenes are very well done, it kinda looks like somebody drew the line for the budget at realistic-looking blood. Instead of that, they used the shitty, cartoony looking CGI blood that one would expect from Kick-Ass, or something.

Boy, I’ve been referencing that movie a lot lately. Weird.

Yeah, it worked in Kick-Ass, but in a movie that’s supposed to be gritty and ultra-realistic, CGI blood is super distracting. In fact, it kind of fucking sucks. What the hell, Clint!?

Also, while the actors do genuinely good jobs, with the obvious highlight being Cooper, the characters that weren’t Chris Kyle are either insultingly given the shaft in terms of character insight (*Cough* Sienna Miller *cough) or are really underdeveloped. Kyle’s fellow soldiers definitely fall into the latter category.  At no point did I really feel any genuine camaraderie between them and the main character. I mean, I get that they were supposed to be friends, but it doesn’t spend enough time showing them just hanging out with each other and forming genuine connections. For all its flaws, the movie feels very brisk, I wouldn’t have minded a couple more scenes of Kyle socializing with his comrades.

I guess we get some semblance of a connection when we see Chris’s reaction to them getting shot in the face. Not the worst, I suppose, but it could have been handled a lot better.

Also, there’s supposed to be a rivalry of sorts between Chris and some Iraqi sniper. It’s really dumb.

If only my complaints would end there. If fucking only.

So, American Sniper is not really an anti-war film, but it, for all the accusations of jingoistic nationalism thrown at it, is not really a pro-war film either, or al least tries not to be. That’s a pretty sound creative decision, considering the film is supposed to be a character study of Chris Kyle. So, how does it stack up as a character piece?

In that respect, it is a complete and utter fucking failure.

I’m pretty sure you’re getting sick and tired of hearing this, as his criticism has been bandied about plenty since the film’s release, but Chris Kyle was an objectively bad person, as the quote I mentioned in the intro would suggest. How exactly does one hear one of his many quotes mentioning his liking for killing Iraqis (Just look it up, it’s not exactly tough to find) and try to give off the illusion that this is essentially a good guy we’re dealing with? I would expect this from somebody who has maybe only heard about him in passing as a war hero, but not from a motherfucking biography of the man!!!

Yeah, he does call the Iraqis “savages” at a couple points, but he’s portrayed as a good guy so often that to hear him casually dehumanize an entire country is rather disturbing and out of place (It wouldn’t have been if they’d have decided to, I dunno, show Chris Kyle for the person he was instead of the flawed anti-hero bullshit they came up with. You could make the argument that he saved a lot of lives, but a) So did the enemy sniper, but that doesn’t make him any less of a hateful character, and b) that still doesn’t excuse such a cleaned-up version of what could’ve been a very interesting character. It doesn’t totally ruin the movie, but it does deal some pretty serious blows to its credibility.

Overall: There are worse war movies out there, but that doesn’t make this ultimately wasted attempt any more of a letdown.

Rating: 5.5/10

Oh, Jesus, I didn’t even get into the Fake Baby.

If you guys want to read a shorter, less profane review of American Sniper, head over to fellow WordPresser Polar Bears Watch TV where he (She?) delivers a pretty great review in about 1000 less words.