Saturday, February 21, 2015

2014 Oscar Predictions, Preferences, and Updated Reflections

One of Mason's formative experiences in Boyhood came in Winter 2003, when he was five, surfing the iMac, trying to figure out if Daniel Day-Lewis or Jack Nicholson was going to win Best Actor.  He found Nick's Flick Picks and saw that Adrien Brody had a real shot.  Why Sandra Adair couldn't include a one-second insert on my website, I can't quite say; it was the last time I was right about a high-profile, difficult-to-call Oscar race, which surely deserves commemorating.  This year's competitions are so inscrutable at so many high altitudes that I'm worried about Mason and me being able to share another moment like that.  But kid, I'm going to try.

Best Documentary Short, Best Animated Short, and Best Live Action Short
Reader, I haven't seen them. If you knew what February is like for college faculty... I want to believe Crisis Hotline, The Bigger Picture, and The Phone Call have the best shots, based on what friends are telling me, but I'm in no position to predict, much less to prefer.
Winners: Crisis Hotline, Feast, and The Phone Call. Two out of three good calls, without even seeing them! Feast's win for Animated Short augured good things to come for the feature it accompanied in theaters. Meanwhile, Neil Patrick Harris made a pretty crass joke at the seeming expense of the Crisis Hotline co-director... who, making matters worse, had just mentioned her son's suicide, moments before the band played her off and he dinged her for her dress.  This unfortunate beat was somewhat emblematic of a weirdly off-key and disappointing performance from our host.

Best Documentary Feature
Will Win: Virunga
Should Win: Citizenfour (of the two I've seen)
Also Nominated: Finding Vivian Maier, Last Days in Vietnam, The Salt of the Earth
Here I feel more shame, since I usually make a point of seeing these even before they get nominated. Last Days of Vietnam is sitting, rented but unwatched, in my Amazon Video Library. Virunga is sitting on Netflix, to which I admittedly don't belong, but I know friends could've hooked me up.  I realize Citizenfour looks like a prohibitive favorite, but Edward Snowden is at least as divisive a figure as Chris Kyle; even his admirers sometimes gripe, fairly or not, that Citizenfour is too close to raw footage, or that its historical importance outstrips its aesthetic achievement.  I wouldn't be surprised to see any of these win, but I think the braided emotional appeals of Virunga (pro-animal, anti-war) might give it an edge.
Winner: Citizenfour. Okay, it's possible I over-thought this. Of all the races, this is the one whose vote totals I would be most curious to see.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Also Nominated: Foxcatcher, Guardians of the Galaxy
Another race where I wouldn't be surprised if every nominee had healthy support, but this still looks like an easy get for Budapest.  Every character has a memorable look, from the most ostentatious (Swinton, Ronan) to the relatively subtle (Abraham, Law), and in this crowd it has BPA (Best Picture Advantage).  The Grand Budapest Hotel could easily win more races than any other movie this year.
Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel. All of Wes Anderson's colleagues seemed genuinely thrilled to thank him. Wonderfully palpable affection.

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