So I never did get a chance to see all the nominated movies for this year's Academy Awards but I gave it a good college try and carved out a decent chunk of Oscar gold. Although I missed three, I think I saw all I needed to make a pretty good educated run at my predictions for tonight's festivities. Here's a quick look at what I was able to see...
American Sniper - Clint Eastwood can't really do wrong with his movies and he's no stranger to awards and honors, although we took a snubbing this year for his directing efforts. A true patriot, Clint does military well and this movie has to be one of his best. Bradley Cooped gave a subtle and commanding performance as US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. Not knowing how this movie ended before-hand, I was left speechless and sniffling along with everyone else in the the sold out matinee I was at as the final credits rolled. Not a word was spoken by anyone as we exited into the parking lot. To me, that kind of emotion is what makes the movie going experience still so special to me.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - A simple story about a complex character. It was hard not to think that this movie was written for Michael Keaton himself as it resembles what could be his life story. Specifically an aging actor who is desperately trying to prove his relevance after playing a superhero called Birdman many years ago. Keaton has talked in interviews about how unclose this story actually follows his real life. The performances were amazing and the single camera shot throughout the film was an amazing illusion.
Boyhood - As a fan of Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, School of Rock), it didn't take much for me to rent this one right away. After about 3 hours I realized that there was no real story for this movie. It was more of an experiment. The movie was made over a 12 year period using the same actors. A single mom and her two children. Even while writing this I am having trouble thinking of the right words to explain this movie. I liked it, I think. I love the story about how it was made. It was amazing to watch all these characters as they aged in real time. Especially the son and daughter, who was played by Linklater's own daughter. Not something I would see again but happy I did.
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson made a movie awhile back with two unknown actors at the time. His two friends Owen and Luke Wilson. The movie is called Bottle Rocket and I was sure that this would be the start of a wonderful relationship between me and Wes. It ended terribly after Rushmore. I don't get him, I don't understand him and I can't follow his "art".
The Theory of Everything - Wow! This is the big winner for me at least. This is the story of Stephen and Jane Hawking. How they met, how they fell in love, how they dealt with his debilitating affliction. It's heartwarming, heart wrenching and inspiring. And the performance by Eddie Redmayne as Hawking was incredible. I truly believe without him in that role the movie never would have come as far as it did.
So there's the best picture nominees I saw. The only one I'm bummed about missing out on was Whiplash. I hear Selma and The Imitation Game were excellent as well but those three are not big contenders.
Two other films worth mentioning were The Judge and Gone Girl. Robert Duvall shined in The Judge and picked up a nomination for Supporting Actor. Gone Girl was one I haven't figured out if I liked yet. It started as Mystic River and turned into Sleeping With The Enemy. A great crime drama that turned a bit schlocky but still entertaining. Rosamund Pike earned her nomination for Best Actress. For me it was because of one line that she sold like she wrote it herself. I won't repeat it.
So... with all that said and with missing a few important movies (Whiplash, Selma) and performances (Steve Carell, J.K. Simmons), I am going to attempt to make my picks for tonight's top awards. Here we go...
Best Motion Picture of the Year - The Theory of Everything
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role - Eddie Redmayne
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role - J.K Simmons
Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role - Julianne Moore
Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role - Emma Stone
Best Animated Feature of the Year - LEGO Movie got snubbed... I'm boycotting this category
Achievement in Directing - Birdman
Adapted Screenplay - American Sniper
Original Screenplay - Birdman
That all being said... what the hell do I really know anyway. Good luck to all the nominees and enjoy the Oscars!