Things You Should Know About the 2015 Oscars
It’s Oscar Season, people! The nominations were just announced last week, and the ceremony itself will be taking place on February 22, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Since that’s only a few weeks away, we thought we’d have some fun with the whole thing by utterly disrespecting the art of film sharing what we think of all the movies up for Best Picture.
This was a relatively late entry into the Oscar field, having been released in the U.S. on Christmas Day 2014. As such, it’s a little bit of a dark horse to win, but nothing’s impossible. Except Toy Story 3 in 2010. That one didn’t have a chance.
Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper, Sniper is a biographical drama based on the memoir by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle – the marksman with the most confirmed kills in the history of the United States military.
As a look into the balance and dichotomy between a soldier’s personal life and life in the field, the film has been highly praised for its performances as well as the emotion and tension it creates on the screen. Unfortunately, it’s been equally highly mocked for Eastwood’s decision to cast a plastic baby doll in a particularly dramatic scene.
The original baby was sick, and the backup baby was unavailable, so we guess they had to just make do. But… come on. Halloween is 10 months away and we can already guarantee that Nerf sniper rifles and Cabbage Patch Kids are going to be big DIY costume props.
Technically, this is a superhero movie nominated for Best Picture.
We are so in.
In all seriousness, though, Birdman is probably the most-expected film to win that award, and was a heavy hitter on lots of prediction lists before the nominations were even announced. And, on the subject of nominations, Birdman is up for eight other Oscars aside from Best Picture, which is the most of any film this year (tied with The Grand Budapest Hotel).
The premise of the movie is that Riggan Thoman, played by Michael Keaton, is a washed-up actor known for his old superhero character, Birdman, trying to make a comeback (a motif shared with BoJack Horseman, as long as we have human-like animals and animal-like humans on the brain). So, it’s not really a superhero movie at all – more of a meta superhero movie – but we’re still counting it as one.
Also interesting is the tidbit that the film is said to have created 1200 jobs during production, according to the credits. In other words, Birdman not winning Best Picture would basically be the same thing as punching a thousand jobless people in the face.
Lots of Oscar movies get nominated for the technical aspects that go into them, i.e. the writing, the direction, or other aspects of production. Boyhood doesn’t skimp on any of those by any means, but even the concept and ideation behind it is Oscar-level.
What makes Boyhood so interesting and deserving of attention is that, unlike every other film that deals with flashbacks or time skips, it was shot in “real time” with the same actors. In other words, as the audience watches the character Mason Evans grow up on-screen, Ellar Coltrane is growing up right along with him.
The sheer fact that Richard Linklater had to keep continuity errors at bay over a twelve year-long sporadic shooting schedule makes him more than worthy of the nod for Best Director, too. We can’t even keep a website looking the same for two years in a row.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Basically, Voldemort owns a hotel and is accused of murder; shenanigans follow.
The best possible way to describe this movie is that it’s a little bit off, but in a lot of great ways. Comedies just tend to be funnier when every joke isn’t a topical pop culture reference. We’re not saying every comedy should be set in a semi-fictionalized version of 1930s Eastern Europe, but that certainly didn’t hurt. Just watch the trailer:
It’s weird, and we love it.
The Imitation Game
This is the one that we’re secretly hoping wins Best Picture. After all, as costume experts, you can definitely say that we’re in the imitation game.
Well, maybe not. Imitation really is an amazing film, though, and it’s shown up in a ton of Oscar predictions lists as a strong contender for the prize, if not as the outright favorite.
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch in a Best Actor-nominated role as Alan Turing, one of the most central pioneers in the field computer science, the film is based on Turing’s life. Turing was instrumental in the creation of the bombe machine, a device used by the Allies in World War II to decipher the Germans’ then-thought-to-be-unbreakable Enigma Code. The story of Imitation focuses on his unhappy early life, transitioning to his heroic work during the war, transitioning to later public scandal stemming from his homosexuality.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Enigma Code, Brady Haran and Numberphile made a short series on the mechanics and mathematics behind it, as well as the inherent flaw in the code that made it possible to crack. You can watch the first part of the video on YouTube right here, and it’s fascinating.
Selma revolves around the struggles for racial equality and civil rights in the 1960s, particularly the marches that took place from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. It’s also the first theatrical biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr. ever, who is played by English actor David Oyelowo.
As with any film centered on serious historical issues, controversy related to the script or production is bound to arise. One historical inaccuracy that’s been criticized is that the film portrays President Lyndon Johnson as somewhat of an obstacle to King and the civil rights movement as a whole, whereas the vast majority of accounts suggest otherwise.
Of course, issues like this shouldn’t detract from the real controversies surrounding the film, such as the usage of period-inaccurate Pepsi logos. Product placement is important too, you know.
The Theory of Everything
2014 sure was a great year for dramatized biographies of scientists!
The Theory of Everything follows the life of Stephen Hawking, the physicist and cosmologist generally regarded as the smartest person in the world, occasional Simpsons character, and rapper (not really).
Hawking’s work (read: figuring out how the freaking universe works) is extremely interesting, even for casual science fans such as ourselves, but the movie is really about his life; his relationship with his first wife, Jane; and his struggle with ALS. Before you ask, yes – he did weigh in on the ice bucket challenge when that was a thing last year.
On another note, the soundtrack for the movie, scored by fantastically named composer Johann Johannsson, was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, the legendary site in the U.K. at which the Beatles’ final album was recorded and where edgy and creative tourists continue to annoy people to this day.
Whiplash is last in alphabetical order, but it’s right at the top of lots of lists. Aside from Best Picture, it’s also up for Best Adapted Screenplay, and the journey to get there wasn’t an easy one.
In 2012, it was actually included in the Black List, which is a list and review of the best yet-to-be-produced screenplays. From there, it was turned into an 18-minute short that was shown at Sundance in 2013, and it was finally adapted into a full feature last year.
The film tells the story of an up-and-coming jazz drummer as he works his way through the most prestigious music school in the country, under the supervision of a mentor that resembles the Greg House of jazz. So, it’s definitely one of the most musical non-musicals of the year. Our favorite Metallica song isn’t in it, though. Bummer.
UPDATE: Congrats to Birdman for taking home the Best Picture Award! We knew the only superhero-related movie nominated would take it.