Surprised, delighted and disappointed. That pretty much sums up my general response to this year’s Oscars, in which I got my predictions spectacularly wrong in almost every one of the main categories (in stark contrast to last year, which I predicted almost 100 per cent correctly).
Anyway, why surprised, delighted and disappointed? Surprised, for the afore-mentioned reason, delighted, because for once I agree with the Best Picture, and disappointed, because… well, you’ll see. There weren’t any Gandhi-beats-ET type outrages to get my blood boiling, but certainly a few winners raised my irritation levels. Here are my thoughts on most of them.
Best Picture: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – For the first time since 2008, I agree with a Best Picture choice. That said, I wish to protest – again – at the continued snobbery the Academy demonstrates at the nomination stage. Genre fiction movies, however brilliant, continue to be disregarded because of an idiotic notion that they are somehow inconsequential. Yes, they can be, but so can serious Oscar-bait drama. Interstellar (science fiction), Gone Girl (noir thriller), The Babadook (horror) and Nightcrawler (thriller/satire), were among the very best films of 2014, but they were all shamefully overlooked in this category. All that said, I will put my axe down and admit a deserving win for Birdman. I will also acknowledge that Boyhood, which I expected to win, is a very fine piece of work too.
Best Director: Alejandro G Inarritu (Birdman) – I think I predicted Inarritu would have the edge in this category, and I’m pleased he did. The faux-single shot direction for the majority of Birdman’s running time is stunning.
Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) – Very surprised and disappointed in this decision. Of all my Oscar predictions, I was fully convinced Michael Keaton would get this, and thought he deserved it. Yes, Redmayne’s performance is very good, but as a whole I found The Theory of Everything to be typical Oscar-bait and comparatively ordinary.
Best Actress: Julianne Moore (Still Alice) – I haven’t seen Still Alice yet (it’s not out in the UK presently), but Julianne Moore is a terrific actress, so I look forward to it. That said, I really, really wanted Rosamund Pike to win this.
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) – I wanted Emma Stone to win this, but Patricia Arquette did steal Boyhood’s most powerful scene.
Best Supporting Actor: JK Simmons (Whiplash) – At the time I made my predictions I hadn’t seen Whiplash, and favoured Ed Norton’s terrific performance in Birdman. But in the end, I’m glad Simmons got it.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Graham Moore (The Imitation Game) – Moore did a terrific job on The Imitation Game, but I really wanted Gillian Flynn to win for adapting her own novel, Gone Girl. Alas, genre snobbery strikes again. She wasn’t even nominated.
Best Original Screenplay: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman) – I can hardly argue with this one. A well-deserved win.
Best Animated Feature: Big Hero 6 – I enjoyed Big Hero 6, but why on earth wasn’t The Lego Movie nominated? Also, I have yet to see The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Given my penchant for all things Studio Ghibli, that could well end up being a favourite so at this point I’m reserving judgement on whether Big Hero 6 was a deserving win amongst the nominees.
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida – I thought Ida was a stark, melancholy, beautiful masterpiece, so no argument from me there.
Best Cinematography : Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman) – A very strong list of nominees, and perhaps a deserving win. But I would probably have gone with Robert Yeoman and his phenomenal, aspect ratio switching work on The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Best Visual Effects: Interstellar – I feel a bit torn on this. On the one hand, I wanted Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to win because of the sheer scale of motion capture involved, and the fact that at no point did I think “what a great special effect”. However, Interstellar’s old-school, real sets, real spaceships, real back projection approach really paid off in a visual effects world dominated by CGI. Effects wise, Interstellar is the yin to last year’s winner Gravity’s yang.
Best Film Editing: Whiplash – I’d have gone for Boyhood, purely for the seamless way the passing of time was depicted without drawing attention to itself.
Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel – A well-deserved winner.
Best Score: Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – A good score, certainly, but I preferred Hans Zimmer’s work on Interstellar.
Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Another well-deserved win.
Best Documentary: CitizenFour – I have yet to see CitizenFour, but by all accounts it is essential viewing.
Best Sound Editing: American Sniper – This really should have been Interstellar. Those spacecraft rumbles were wonderful.
Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash – Again, see above really. Interstellar fully deserved both sound awards.
So there we have it for another year. The usual disappointments but some delightful surprises too this time. I wonder how long it will be before I agree with another Best Picture winner? Who knows? Perhaps next year I’ll score two in a row.