87th Academy Awards post mortem

Best Supporting Actor

J. K. Simmons deserved to win and if he’d been nominated for Best Actor (he’s really a co-lead), he might have still won. Terrence Fletcher was the best performance of the year and will be one of the most talked about and analyzed performances for some time.

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel cleaned up in the craft awards as The Academy finally acknowledged Anderson’s unique visual flair.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

I thought Guardians of the Galaxy would sneak in, but I underestimated the respect Anderson has from the craft community. One thing was clear from the acceptance speeches for Budapest, production designers, costumers, make up artists, etc., LOVE working for Anderson because he engages them creatively in a way few other directors do.

Best Foreign Language film

If a foreign language film is nominated in any other character, it’s the clear front-runner to win Best Foreign Language Picture. Most people don’t watch these movies. If they see its name listed somewhere else, the increased visibility is often enough to secure victory.

Live Action short

The Phone Call won because A) it’s in English and B) it stars people we know (Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent). While effective, it’s basically twenty minutes of an emotionally distraught Sally Hawkins.

Weak overall field, but I preferred the moody Aya.

Best Documentary Short

A film which indicts the way the United States treats its veterans was an easy sell.

I  preferred either Joanna, about a terminally ill woman leaving a legacy for her infant son or Our Curse, about a young couple whose newborn child has a debilitating illness, but I new Crisis Hotline had already won.

Sound Mixing

Music was so integral to Whiplash‘s success, you knew it had to be rewarded.

Sound Editing

If Whiplash was nominated, it would have been my choice, but this category belongs to loud movies with lots of explosive action. It was tailor-made for American Sniper, and the Academy got to pat itself on the back for being in touch with the common man.  Because people flocked to see this film because of the incredible sound editing job.

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette had this sown up by mid October. She was good and it gave the Academy a way to give Boyhood an award, but none of the nominees were outstanding, although my preference would have been for Emma Stone in Birdman

Best Visual Effects

I was happy to see Christopher Nolan recognized for what may be hist best film. Interstellar isn’t as showy as the superhero movies, but A) a scientific genius helped create the effects and B) they’re grounded in reality.

Best Animated short

To me, Feast is Paperman 2.0. Apparently, the Academy loves short, sweet love stories attached to popular Disney movies their kids forced them to go see.

I preferred Me and My Moulton, but I’m sure a lot fewer people saw it.

Best Animated Feature

Pleasantly surprised it wasn’t How to Train Your Dragon 2. Of course, the best animated film wasn’t nominated. I think voters heard the outcry against the snub and the travesty of the Dragon coronation. This was their way of acknowledging their mistake. I like Big Hero 6, but it’s inferior to The Lego Movie.

Best Production Design

No surprise as The Grand Budapest Hotel continued its march towards most well-crafted movie of the year.

Best Cinematography

I would like Roger Deakins to win an Academy Award, but Unbroken was not the film to do it. No one saw Mr. Turner. The illusory single take aesthetic of Birdman was crucial to its success and It’s the only film this year where you leave thinking and talking about the cinematography.

Best Film Editing

Whiplash had to be edited to match the incredible music and the editing makes the music come to life. Well deserved.

Best Document Feature

The Academy gave the award to Edward Snowden in a show of solidarity. Fortunately, it’s also a very good movie.

Best Original Song

In any other year, “Everything is Awesome” and “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” would have been frontrunners, but “Glory” is a great song and a chance for the Academy make a statement and appease Oprah.

Best Original Score

Most people didn’t see Mr. Turner, Interstellar got its award, and the Academy gave it to the better of the two films by Alexandre Desplat

Best Original Screenplay

I was really surprised Birdman won, and once it did I knew it would win Best Picture. I thought they would award Anderson, much like they did with Spike Jonze last year. I think this may speak to the depth of Anderson’s appeal to the Academy as a whole.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Whiplash was a feature-length screenplay that became a short film as a sort of proof of concept, which then became a feature film. It was a weird nomination. I had hoped it would win, but I’m guessing they wanted to continue to share the love and reward The Imitation Game to appease Harvey Weinstein. I thought Paul Thomas Anderson might get some momentum for his faithful adaptation of Pynchon’s difficult novel, but it wasn’t to be.

Best Directing

The perceived talent required to film Birdman trumped the perceived patience required to film Boyhood. I think the Academy dismissed Boyhood as a stroke of luck.

Best Actor 

Since 1998, at least one of the four Oscar-winning actors have played fictionalized versions of real people. The Academy loves impressions because it’s easy to judge the performance against what we know to be true. Without a standard, it’s harder to judge a wholly fictional creation..

Hence Redmayne beats Keaton.

1998 – Queen Elizabeth I

1999  – Brandon Teena

2000 – Erin Brockovich and Lee Krasner

2001 – John Bayley and Alicia Larde-Nash

2002 – Władysław Szpilman and Virginia Woolf

2003 – Aileen Wuornos

2004 – Ray Charles and Katharine Hepburn

2005 – Truman Capote and June Carter Cash

2006 – Idi Amin and Queen Elizabeth II

2007 – Edith Piaf

2008 – Harvey Milk

2009 – Leigh Anne Tuohy

2010 – King George VI, Dicky Ecklund, and Alice Ward

2011- Margaret Thatcher

2012 – Abraham Lincoln

2013 – Ron Woodroof

2014 – Stephen Hawking

Best Actress

Julianne Moore was rewarded for her years of excellent work and for a heartbreaking performance as a victim of early onset Alzheimer’s. Well deserved win.

Best Picture

I thought it would be a third straight split between Best Director and Best Picture. A way to honor both films without having to commit. I was wrong. I wonder if Linklater’s outsider, anti-Hollywood status sealed his fate.

I’m happy Birdman won, and thought it was the best film of the year, but I’m surprised it came out victorious.

Grading the Ceremony

Maybe it was the people writing the jokes, maybe it was nerves, maybe it was just a bloated show, but NPH was a major disappointment and the show fell flat.

The opening number with Jack Black and Anna Kendrick was fun, (I like the idea of calling her “Magic Meryl F’ing Streep” from now on), and I liked the underwear homage scene, especially the Miles Teller cameo.

However, the predictions locked in a box bit was horrendously bad.

It’s not the worst hosting job in recent memory, but it makes me fondly remember Ellen.

Why did they lump the Best Picture nominees together for their moment in the sun? The pairings made no sense at all and led to weird juxtapositions like the Alps of Budapest and killing Iraqis in Sniper, leaving Terrence Howard to awkwardly transitioning from championing Alan Turing to praising Dr. King. I guess Shirley Maclaine is friends with Richard Linklater from Bernie, but she was a poor choice to talk about Boyhood.

Why did Marion Cotillard introduce “Everything is Awesome?” It’s almost like they randomly drew names out of hat.

“Everything is Awesome” was a great performance. I would love to see a Lonely Island Super Bowl halftime show. While I love Arnett as Lego Batman, how freaking awesome would it have been for Keaton to don the cowl one last time?

I don’t really like how the Governors Awards have been reduced to a few clips. Let’s ditch the Team Oscar segment and bring Maureen O’Hara, Hayao Miyakazi, and Harry Belafonte out to thunderous applause. Start the show an hour earlier, or we reduce the number of honorary awards but make it a part of the actual show.

In a normal year, Glenn Campbell writing a song to say goodbye to his family after his Alzheimer’s diagnosis would be a huge storyline, but this year it got lost in the shuffle. Tim McGraw did a great job, but Faith needs to grow her hair back.

Was Jared Leto auditioning for Pee Wee’s Playhouse?

Why do we have to hear from the president of the Academy? You don’t know either.

The In Memoriam was excellent. Kudos for muting the audience reaction, although it was a little disconcerting to hear it bleed through a couple of times. I’m a little upset Joan Rivers wasn’t included, but not outraged.

John Legend and Common crushed it. “Glory” was going to win, but their performance sealed it as an Oscar highlight for years to come.

John Travolta managed to simultaneously turn last year’s embarrassment into a positive and then crash back to irrelevancy. He’s a bigger joke than ever before and poor Idina Menzel will always be associated with this ass clown.

Scarlett Johansson looks better with hair.

I was skeptical of Lady Gaga + Sound of Music, but it was incredible. She sounded great and looked classy, changing the trajectory of her career over night, and to have Julie Andrews come out to congratulate her was beyond awesome.

If Eddie Murphy’s not gonna be funny, then let someone else take his spot at these things.

Why the hell did Sean Penn take so long to read the damn card? And did he really make a joke about green cards?

Winners: Lady Gaga, Birdman, Wes Anderson, Whiplash, John Legend, Common, The Lonely Island

Losers: Richard Linklater, John Travolta, Neil Patrick Harris, and Boyhood,

 

Don’t forget your mementos

215px-Memento_posterMemento (2000)

Leonard was viciously attacked and now suffers from anterograde amnesia.   Deprived of the ability to make new memories, every day he has to start over while the world around him changes.   He can’t develop new relationships, he can’t get a job; the only thing he can do is obsess and despair over his unfortunate predicament.

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Gleaning Miracles from the Edges of the Future

The Gleaners and I (2000)

The Gleaners and I (2000)

Agnes Varda’s beautiful film follows gleaners at work, from people who depend on the practice for survival to people who do it as a hobby.

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Kubrick’s Order

Killer's Kiss (1955)13) Killer’s Kiss (1955)

One night, unlucky boxer Davey hears screams coming from the home of his attractive neighbor Gloria.

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Best of the 1930s

175px-BloodofapoetThe Blood of a Poet (1930)

The first part of Jean Cocteau’s Orphic trilogy is a surrealist fever dream.

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A Royal Resume

Despite her retirement from Hollywood at age 26 to become the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly was ranked the 13th greatest female film star by the American Film Institute.

Because she retired so young, her public image was frozen as a young, beautiful woman and her marriage into royalty created a unique mystique among American celebrities. Add a tragic and unexpected death, and you have a recipe for a legendary career.

This is my ranked list of her films.

High Society (1956)7) High Society (1956)

Successful jazz musician C.K. Dexter Haven (Bing Crosby) remains enamored with his ex-wife, socialite Tracy Lord (Grace Kelly), but she is about to marry George Kittredge. To complicate things even further, she develops feelings for Mike Connor (Frank Sinatra) a tabloid newspaper reporter covering her wedding.

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Best of the 1940s

His Girl Friday (1940)His Girl Friday (1940)

Walter Burns (Cary Grant) is an editor for The Morning Post.  His ex-wife, Hildy Johnson (Rosalind Russell), was a star reporter for his paper, but quit when she got engaged to Bruce Baldwin (Ralph Bellamy).

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Welcome to the really Big Show

The Truman ShowThe Truman Show (1998)

As he turns 30, a series of events leads Truman Burbank to suspect everything is not as it seems and begin an investigation which leads to an unsettling discovery: he’s the unwitting star of a reality television show. His entire life has been filmed by hidden cameras and broadcast on a dedicated network.

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Dean’s List

Despite only appearing in three major films before his death at age 24, James Dean was ranked the 18th greatest male film star by the American Film Institute.

This is my ranked list of his films.

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

3) Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Teenager Jim Stark (James Dean) moves to Los Angeles with his parents and befriends outcasts Plato (Sal Mineo) and Judy (Natalie Wood). When bullies goad Jim into a game of chicken, it ends in a tragic accident, which, in turn, leads to a confrontation with police at the Griffith Observatory.

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