Winner predictions for the 87th Academy awards
Here at The California Aggie Arts Desk, we are all about the movies, and with the 87th Academy Awards coming up on Sunday, we are here to offer you lovely readers a 2014 year-of-films review, along with our Oscar-winner predictions. Four veteran Aggie Arts writers, as well as our Arts editor, have offered their opinions on the best and most overrated films of the year and have collectively decided which movies they believe will take home the coveted gold statue. Note that these predictions are not based on what the Arts Desk wants to win, but rather, what they believe will win based on historical Oscar-win patterns throughout the last several decades.
*Winner-predictions are bolded
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything
Best Leading Actress:
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Best Supporting Actress:
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Rene Russo, Nightcrawler
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Best Supporting Actor:
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Tom Wilkinson, Selma
Best Animated Feature Film:
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mortem Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazell, Whiplash
Best Original Screenplay:
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhoo
Max Frye and Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Chloe “Coen” Catajan, Arts writer
Favorite Movie: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ever since third grade I have loved to watch The Royal Tenenbaums. I have pined for a world like one of a Wes Anderson film. Anderson has a knack for tactfully capturing any world imagined, which was further solidified in The Grand Budapest Hotel. On the surface, everything is presented handsomely. The pastel palette perfectly colors inside the lines of each symmetrical frame. But The Grand Budapest Hotel proves more than just a pretty face, as it features myriad characters, all complexed by their pasts, yet empowered by personal quirks and wit. Though his signature style permeates his every film, Anderson consistently executes it with a grace and charm that makes me smitten all over again.
Overrated Movie: Birdman
First, I must establish that I certainly do have appreciation for this film and I do not doubt any of its acclaim. I admire the continuous shooting and believe that the storyline was solid. However, the movie left me with no feelings of personal involvement or attachment; I was not at all as moved as others seemed to have been. I also felt that Emma Stone’s portrayal of a misunderstood 20-something seemed a tad bit forced. And in all honesty, I felt like Birdman was just another Black Swan in the way that both are premised on psychological motifs and… birds…
Rashad “Hitchcock” Hurst, Arts writer
Favorite Movie: Nightcrawler
It was tough for me not to give director Gareth Evan’s Indonesian crime-drama The Raid 2: Berandal the best of 2014 (at least watch it once to see the best action choreography since its predecessor, which is in my opinion, Kill Bill), but Nightcrawler has the best performance of the year. Jake Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom, a sociopathic siren-chasing news-vulture, is played to the brink of its twitchy, creep-lordian limits (in a reversal of the blinky detective in Prisoners, he may not blink the entirety of Nightcrawler). Working in tandem with Gyllenhaal’s performance is the script of screenwriter/first-time director Dan Gilroy. Their script drags the audience with Bloom to these psychological limits, while mercifully (maybe too mercifully) not holding them culpable. While the satire on local news as a collection of psychos is heavy-handed, the calculated recklessness of Gyllenhaal’s performance makes the atmosphere an extension of Lou’s force of will to achieve, and makes Nightcrawler the most captivating character-study and film of 2014.
Overrated Movie: Under the Skin
Getting rid of nearly all conventional storytelling, using amazing actors and manipulating some of the best special effects of 2014 couldn’t stop Under the Skin from feeling forced. While I was initially thrilled to see an original film that shed all exposition except for bare essentials – a.k.a. Scarlett Johansson is an alien wearing a Scarlett Johansson skin costume and seduces men for their life force – it affected the pacing in a way that other exposition-less movies (like No Country for Old Men) don’t. If not for Johannson’s convincing performance, albeit, one that is an even more detached version of the same detached role she’s played before, and the soundtrack by Mica Levi, it would have been a complete dud. The best takeaway was that it felt like a densely-layered enough story that I could trick myself into liking it if I rewatched it multiple times.
Amanda “Spielberg” Ong, Arts writer
Favorite Movie: Boyhood
I’ve been a fan of director Richard Linklater since watching Before Sunrise so I definitely had high expectations for this movie and it did not disappoint. It was fascinating watching the main character, Mason, literally mature and grow right before my eyes. I love stories about childhood and adolescence, and to me, this movie beautifully captured all the angst and joy that comes from growing up. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me dig Richard Linklater even more than I already did.
Overrated Movie: Interstellar
Don’t get me wrong: I definitely enjoyed this movie and thought the special effects were gorgeous. But apart from solid performances from Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, I wasn’t really blown away by the acting or the story as much as I was expecting to be. The movie seemed to rely on its special effects to dazzle and entertain, which is totally fine. However, the movies that stick with me long after I’ve left the theater are movies that have interesting and developed characters, and to me, Interstellar lacked characters that I really connected with.
Jason “Scorsese” Pham, Arts writer
Favorite Movie: Boyhood
Cue for groans. Yes, yes, my favorite movie of 2014 is this year’s Oscar race frontrunner Boyhood. While I could’ve picked other favorites such the socially relevant Selma or refreshingly indie Obvious Child, Boyhood has everything to make it as one of my favorite films. It’s coming of age, raw, and incredibly entitled — essentially everything that relates to me on a deeper level. Shot over the course of 12 years (yes, I still think that’s cool), director Richard Linklater paints an incredible cinematic portrait that imitates one’s transition from blissful childhood, to confusing adolescence, to even more confusing young adulthood. From its Sheryl Crow-infused soundtrack to lead actor Ellar Coltrane’s pimply rebellious stage, Boyhood takes me back farther than any throwback Thursday ever could.
Overrated Movie: American Sniper
After coming out of the theater where seas of white people dabbed their teary eyes at Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle, I knew American Sniper was going to be my pick for 2014’s most overrated film. Following Kyle’s four tours in the Iraq War where he served as a U.S. sniper and murdered over 150 people, director Clint Eastwood concocts the largest piece of pro-war propaganda since the invention of G.I. Joe action figures. Not only is the film racist, misogynistic and overwhelmingly Islamophobic, it also spends way too much depicting a buffed-out Bradley Cooper as a tortured American hero instead of the insane murderer Kyle actually was. But hey, at least we know Sienna Miller can do a decent American accent, right? I have a theory that that plastic baby circling the interwebs was used because they couldn’t get any real babies to stop crying on the set of this horribly uncomfortable Eastwood film.
Akira Olivia “Coppola” Kumamoto, Arts Editor
Favorite Movie(s): Birdman, Selma and Belle
I reserve the right to not be able to pick a favorite film, simply because I think all three of these movies were stellar and will likely be snubbed by the Academy. Alejandro G. Iñárritu is one of my favorite directors, and Birdman literally (yes, I mean literally) kept me on the edge of my seat for the whole length of the movie. If you’ve seen Selma, the film speaks for itself, which is important since I couldn’t see through my tears. Not to mention that it offers a socially relevant message in alignment with current national racial civil rights movement happening. Finally, Belle was a summer film that you probably didn’t see or hear about, but you probably should have because 1) it passes the Bechdel test, 2) because it features a complex woman of color (WHAT?! yeah man, we exist) and 3) because it has beautiful cinematography.
Overrated Movie: The Interview
If you would like to argue with any of these writers about movies and stuff and/or take a photo in Akira Olivia’s glasses because you probably look way cooler in them than she does, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Jennifer Wu.