First-Pass Oscar Predictions, 2015

In a past life I was a full-time film critic and still keep up with the field. So every year when the Oscar nominations come out, I predict what will win in the six major categories, first fresh out of the gate, then again just before the ceremony, to factor in changing circumstances. The awards were just announced, so let’s dive in, shall we?

Best Picture

“American Sniper” Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers
“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers
“Boyhood” Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers
“The Imitation Game” Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers
“Selma” Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
“The Theory of Everything” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers
“Whiplash” Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers

The Academy can nominate up to ten films a year in this category; eight made the cut this year. At this point I usually throw out the films that don’t also have a director nominated as well, because it’s very rare for a film to win Best Picture when the director is not at least nominated. This year, that would leave out Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, Selma and American Sniper. I do think we can chuck out Whiplash and Theory, so out they go. However, I think it would be foolish to entirely discount Sniper this year; it has several other high-profile nominations, and I think people know who Clint Eastwood is as a director (he’s already got two director Oscars). Selma I would have ranked higher but a quick scan tells me it has two nominations total (the other being in Best Original Song), and I think that means it’s done.

I would toss out Budapest next, for the simple fact it’s a comedy and comedy statistically has a rough road to victory in the category. Birdman is also nominally a comedy, but I think its chances are better. For lack of a better way of putting it, it’s fresher than Budapest, which is, essentially, Wes Anderson doing what we all know Wes Anderson does (note: this is not a complaint. I loved Budapest).

At the moment I think four nominees have a decent chance at the Oscar: Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood and Imitation. If I had to rank their chances at the moment, I would do it thusly: 4. Birdman; 3. Boyhood; 2. Sniper; 1. Imitation. I rank Imitation highest not for any special fondness for the film, but because it’s a Weinstein Company film, and if the Weinsteins know anything, it’s Oscar campaign trench warfare. But I don’t think any of these films is out of the running.

If the Oscar were mine to give, I’d probably go with Boyhood, because it’s a marvelous stunt of a film (it was filmed over a dozen years with the same cast) that will likely never be done again, and it was also better than its stunt. That’s worth an Oscar to me.

But yeah, this category I’ll definitely be revisiting later.

Will win: The Imitation Game

Should win: Boyhood

 

Best Director

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

Miller out first, on account that Foxcatcher isn’t nominated for Best Picture, and a director’s odds are not good at all when that happens (in fact I can’t recall off the top of my head a director winning when their film was not nominated for Best Picture; if it happened it was long long ago).

After that it gets tricky. Tyldum has a chance, and historically the Academy likes to tie in the director and picture awards, and I am nominally giving Imitation the lead in that race at the moment. However, particularly in the last several years the Academy hasn’t been shy in splitting director and picture, and the rest of Tyldum’s resume consists of little-seen (in Hollywood) films in other languages, and there are other people in the category I suspect the Academy might want to award. So I’m hedging my bets on Tyldum.

I think Anderson’s out next, although I suspect there’s a very good chance he’ll be walking away with a different Oscar, which I will detail in a bit. I think, then, it’s going to come down to Iñárritu and Linklater, and of the two, I would put my money on Linklater. As noted before, he’s done something as a director no one else has done; also he’s been nominated for Oscars previously, and it might just be his time. I think he’s got it this year.

Will win: Linklater

Should win: Linklater

 

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”

Let me just make this one short and say I will be very surprised if Moore doesn’t take it. She’s been nominated for Oscars four times before (twice in both acting categories), she’s great, it’s her time, and the competition is between two women who have won Oscars already (Cotillard and Witherspoon) and two first-timers (Jones and Pike). This, to me, is an easy call. If Moore doesn’t get it, I’d put money on Jones, followed by, in order, Witherspoon, Cotillard and Pike.

Will win: Moore

Should win: Moore

 

Best Actor

Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”

With the exception of Redmayne, who I think should probably be happy just to be here, I have no idea how this category will go. Carell has a very good chance by playing against type in a dramatic (and creepy) role and doing a universally acclaimed job of it; Cooper has been previously nominated and this could be Sniper’s big Oscar pickup; Keaton is giving the performance of his career and is the legitimate comeback kid of this crowd; Cumberbatch is as hot as an actor can be at the moment and may benefit from an Imitation Oscar snowball effect. It could go any of these ways. I just don’t know. Someone who tells you they know, or that there’s an easy choice here, is lying.

For the moment, I’m gonna give the edge to Cooper, for no other reason that of this whole crowd, he’s the one closest to the standard idea of a leading man, and yes, that’s an utterly shitty reason, but look, I told you this is a tough category. If the award was mine to give, I’d give it to Keaton, who takes a role that could have been mere parody — Keaton playing an actor who played a superhero, trying to escape that legacy! It’s so meta! — and made something better out of it.

Will win: Cooper

Should win: Keaton

 

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
Laura Dern in “Wild”
Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”

Oh, look, here’s Streep’s annual nomination. They just gave her an Oscar in the lead category; she’s not gonna get this one. I’m not quite feeling it for Stone or Dern, either, although I approve of the nominations in both cases, and if either wins, I think it will say positive things about their filmmate’s chances in the lead categories. I think this will come down to Arquette and Knightley, and of the two I would give edge to Knightley, because of her previous nominations and because of the Weinstein ability to craft Oscar juggernauts. But if Arquette takes it, it could be an early signal of good things for Boyhood generally.

Will win: Knightley

Should win: Arquette

 

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

Oh, I don’t know. I’m historically bad at guessing this category and this year is no different. My gut tells me that Duvall’s on the slate because Robert Downey Jr., did some campaigning for him, Simmons is in the Richard Jenkins “Guy you know from TV gets a shot” slot, Hawke’s gonna get slighted again, and then Ruffalo and Norton are gonna basically slap fight for it from there, and Norton taking it because it’ll be Birdman’s nod for the year. But I have to tell you, my gut could be really high.

I want them to give it to Hawke, I know that much; for a dude who currently makes most of his income from Screen Gems horror/sci-fi films that show up in the off-brand months of the cinematic year, he sure shows up at the Oscars at lot (two screenwriting nominations and now two supporting nods), and if anyone deserves it this year, it’s him, unless you think doing the same role for a dozen years and making it work is easy.

Yeah, if you haven’t figured it out by now, I think Boyhood should pretty much win all the Oscars this year. Anyway.

Will win: Norton

Should win: Hawke

 

Other notes:

Screenwriting Oscars are the unofficial “compensatory Oscars” for directors — just ask Orson Welles or Quentin Tarantino — so I think there’s an excellent chance this year that Original Screenplay will go to Wes Anderson, for Budapest (and also as a bit of a career award). If it doesn’t go to Anderson, I expect it to go to Linklater, also nominated in the category. Adapted Screenplay? Maybe the other director named Anderson (Paul Thomas, for Inherent Vice), and it wouldn’t be a bad pick, although Inherent only has one other Oscar nod this year (Costume Design). I suspect Imitation will vacuum up Adapted, via its juggernaut powers. In Animated Feature I expect How to Train Your Dragon 2 will prevail, although Big Hero Six might correct me on my math.

On the science fiction front, Interstellar was nominated in no major categories (unless you count Original Score as a major category), but still racked up five nominations; I would be surprised if it doesn’t at least win Sound Design.

And finally, as a dark horse in the Original Song category, I’m gonna push my chips onto Glen Campbell’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” because if you think a musician’s final song, about how Alzheimer’s is slowly robbing him of the memories of the woman he loves, isn’t going to push every single button the Academy has, well, you think differently about the Academy than I do.

Your thoughts on the Oscar nominees this year? Share them in the comments.

67 thoughts on “First-Pass Oscar Predictions, 2015

  1. I was hoping for a Best Supporting Actor for a particular guy in SELMA (Colman Domingo), but based wholly on selfish reasons – I haven’t seen the film yet, I just wanted the bragging rights of being able to say “dudes, I totally worked with an Oscar Nominee!”

  2. (Oh, duh, forgot to mention that my bragging rights come from having worked on a play with Colman Domingo in 2003 in some theater’s weird basement performance space.)

  3. I am already hearing complaints about the field being too white, male and mainstream. Care to comment?

  4. That Selma received only two nominations is a huge disappointment. I think it was the strongest film I’ve seen all year and the direction was perfection. Cumberbatch is terrific in The Imitation Game, but I don’t think the film as a whole is all that strong. Theory of Everything is on our agenda for this weekend. While I love the two How to Train Your Dragon Films, I think Big Hero Six is better. We saw Grand Budapest Hotel last weekend–I’m can understand why it got the Golden Globe, don’t see it winning the Oscar.

  5. I’d hope Simmons would be ranked higher, given the Supporting Actor category is tailor-made for people like Simmons, who won’t ever play the lead but make anything they’re in better.

  6. Wow, a whole slate I just didn’t care about enough to watch, this was a first. Nothing caught my interest this year except Godzilla, particularly the films listed above..
    I feel like I should be out on the porch yelling about my lawn.
    I am glad you found more in them than I did, but this year I’m not doing the oscars.

  7. Chris Brown:

    I did see that this was not one of the Academy’s best years, diversity-wise. This is related, I expect, to Hollywood’s general continuing struggle with diversity. It also runs the risk of making Selma’s appearance on the Best Picture slate look more like a sop to diversity than anything else, especially as it has only one other nomination.

    I don’t know to what extent that “sop” thinking reflects the reality of things, because Best Picture nominees (as I understand it) are decided by the whole of the Academy, while the other category nominees are generally provided by the individual branches, so it’s kind of a complicated thing as a practical matter. Regardless, not a great year, nomination-wise, for folks not white, and yeah, that’s a problem.

  8. I’m strongly biased in favor of “The Imitation Game” [Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers] as two of my professors were close friends of Turing, and both me and my son have Computer Science degrees.
    .
    I’m also strongly biased in favor of “The Theory of Everything” [Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers], as I spent many lovely hours in Stephen and Jane Hawking’s room when they resided at Caltech, and have become a professional astrophysicist.
    .
    Of the remaining slots: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” [Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers] was the only one that I saw. Twiuce. It is wonderful.
    .
    So why was “Interstellar” snubbed? Director: Christopher Nolan
    Writers: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan;
    Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain?
    .
    That’s as conspicuous an omission as Golden Globes snubbing Game of Thrones.

  9. On Animated Feature, Big Hero Six rocked. It’s got all the heartstrings stuff you wouldn’t expect in a superhero movie… which is what Dragon lost between the first and second movies, becoming a strict ‘stop the bad guy’ plot.

    I wouldn’t count Birdman out in the sound categories: the drummer set the tone of the entire film, and was a big part of Riggan Thompson’s mental state.

  10. I really liked Big Hero 6 and think it’s deserving of recognition. Besides being a fun film, it does what many animated “kids” films seem to be attempting (with varying success) by mixing in more complex themes and sophisticated humor.

    However, I am shocked that The Lego Movie didn’t at least get nominated. It currently has a 96% Tomatometer rating and I seem to recall multiple critics suggesting that it might even be a candidate for the mainstream Best Picture category when it came out. Personally I found it to be fun, hilarious, touching, and even a little groundbreaking. This is a big head-scratcher to me. So much so that I wonder if there has been any behind-the-scenes politics involved.

  11. HTTYD 2 was a triumph of animation and art, and is the clear choice for Best Animated Film. It’s ridiculously unfair that the LEGO movie was snubbed but that movie with the trolls was nominated.

    American Sniper is a complete misrepresentation of its subject, who by all reports was a hateful, borderline psychopathic bigot. It shouldn’t win anything, despite its lead.

    My vote’s for Imitation Game, or maybe Boyhood. Both were excellent.

  12. LEGO movie with no nom when HTTYD2 got one is pretty crazy. (I did think that there were some powerful scenes in HTTYD2, but the LEGO movie was fun all the way through.)
    I have so far only seen Boyhood of the Best Picture nominees so I can’t call it (but if any of those were better than Boyhood, then wow.) I am also not too interested in watching American Sniper but the rest of them look good.

  13. “I am already hearing complaints about the field being too white, male and mainstream. Care to comment?”

    Only a cynical, eye-rolling grumble wondering why people are suddenly complaining about that NOW when it’s kind of ALWAYS been that way. Some of us just kind of gave up on Hollywood on the diversity front after banging our head against a wall.

    And to cheer up the room, I offer a happy and unrelated tangential suggestion: if you can, try to watch the awards ceremony with someone who is either in the business or is a serious film fan. One of the MOST fun evenings I’ve spent watching the Oscars was when I was in college, and was watching it with a team of film majors and acting majors – the trash-talk was COMPLETELY DELICIOUS.

  14. Not really Oscar related, but since you like Ethan Hawke in Boyhood, I wonder if you have some thoughts on the Heinlein adaptation, Predestination?

  15. As usual, the nominations remind me that I haven’t watched nearly enough current films this year.

    It’s a small category, but I’m pleased with nominations for Zimmer and Desplat in original score. According to the descriptions I’ve read of the recording process, Interstellar’s soundtrack design and composition was inextricably linked to the entire filming process and Zimmer actually performed every instrument himself using a synthesizer (then printed out a computer generated score for the musicians to follow when the producers decided to still hire an orchestra).

  16. American Sniper is a complete misrepresentation of its subject, who by all reports was a hateful, borderline psychopathic bigot. It shouldn’t win anything, despite its lead.

    So another Hollywood biopic that makes stuff up?

    I don’t know anything about American Sniper, but The Imitation Game is full of made-up drama, made-up plot points, and stuff that is just wrong, and it appears to significantly exaggerate Turing’s personality quirks.

    There is a 2006 film called Flyboys about the Lafayette Escadrille, (which I think may have been called something else). It has the virtue of being a historical film with no real people in it. The characters were fictional, but were composites of writer imagination and some of the traits of real historical figure.

    The Imitation Game is presented not as Flyboys, but as actual history. I find this frustrating.

  17. I didn’t see Interstellar but I heard that it’s sound design was actually pretty bad (though I’m not sure if its flaws are technically in the “design” vs. the “editing” or whatever else). From what I understand, Nolan mixes his films so that they are only intelligible through perfectly calibrated state-of-the-art sound systems.

  18. No best animated nom for Lego was a freaking crime. One of the worst in years.

    Also, Scalzi, you mentioned few win best picture and not get director? Didn’t ARGO do that and Ben wasn’t nominated?

  19. Only a cynical, eye-rolling grumble wondering why people are suddenly complaining about that NOW when it’s kind of ALWAYS been that way.

    Well, some of us don’t have the option to give up….

    (Though it does occur to me that perhaps some of this has finally sunk in after several odd decades…)

  20. I keep hearing everyone freak out about the Lego Movie not getting nominated and I’m not sure why everyone feels SO strongly about it. Especially as I don’t see a consensus on the film that it should have bumped to get a spot. I enjoyed it a great deal and think it would not be out of place there.

    Having said that, all of the other films there are pretty deserving of their spot. The animated category was an embarrassment of riches. The Lego Movie may have been snubbed for several reasons: some Academy members may have felt it was a prolonged toy commercial and not wanted to reward that aspect of it; some members may have felt it didn’t have as good a pedigree (all the others have either a comic book, book or legend for source material); some of the members may have just snubbed it for being too popular/successful/blockbustery.

  21. I think the problem with best animated feature is that, since a lot of these guys are old and therefore maybe hard of hearing – not trying to be ageist, it’s just the way things are – when someone said The Lego Movie they heard “the ‘let-it-go’ movie” and were pretty sure they give it the Oscar last year.

  22. I think you are actually underestimating Boyhood’s chances this year. It has all kinds of momentum, and has already won most of the major critic’s awards. You are also underselling Keaton a bit. I think he’s got Best Actor on lockdown. My guesses:

    Best Picture: Boyhood
    Best Director: Linklater
    Best Actor: Keaton
    Best Actress: Moore
    Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons
    Best Supporting Actress: Arquette

  23. Chris:

    The sound design was excellent; it just revealed flaws in how most theaters did their sound (this will be the excuse in any event). Also, I don’t know. I saw the movie here in rural Ohio, not the vanguard of theater sound by any stretch, and came away impressed with the sound design.

    Shayde:

    Yes, Argo won without the director being nominated (well, for Best Director anyway; he nominated as producer); the last time that had happened prior was nearly a quarter of a century earlier, with Driving Miss Daisy in 1989. It’s a very rare occurrence with regard to the Oscars.

  24. Hmmm I don’t watch the Oscars or any award ceremonies really. It’s like books that win prizes as well, I actually don’t care; as per your title ‘whatever’. I don’t know why Cumberbatch is in there though, he’s a ‘one trick’ actor; not very convincing in any role.

  25. I’m a little bummed “Jodorowsky’s ‘Dune'” didn’t get a nod for Best Documentary. It was an utterly entertaining documentary about cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s attempt to adapt Frank Herbert’s “Dune” to a feature film. Jodorowsky’s assemblage of talent (Giger! Welles! Dali!) was awe-inspiring, as were the stories of how he got some of his more eccentric talents involved. A particular favorite is the story of why paying Dali $10,000 per minute of screen time made perfect sense.

    Nick Broomfield’s “Tales of the Grim Sleeper” would have been equally relevant as a Best Doc nominee given the Black Lives Matter movement. But from what I’ve heard of it, a certain police department would have been less than enthusiastic about such recognition. Then again, the “Selma” image of an Alabama cop wrapping a baseball bat in barbed wire before finding an unfortunate Civil Rights marcher’s head to bash doesn’t exactly say “the police is your friend” either.

  26. While Boyhood was really fantastic (and I won’t be disappointed if it takes home the trophy,) one of these days some Academy voters are going to realize that Harry Potter also followed the same actors for years and years as they grew up.

    I think that The Imitation Game is less likely to be bolstered by the Weinstein machine, just because there’s two “British Geniuses overcoming odds” movies fighting it out this year, and also because although both of those movies are good, neither of them are that great, especially compared to the marvels that Budapest, Boyhood, and Birdman are.

    Does anyone else have a deep sense of irony in “Everything is Awesome” (a song specifically denounced in The Lego Movie as the worst kind of middlebrow pandering) getting nominated as Best Song?

  27. The snubs of Gillian Flynn (adapted) and LEGO (animated) are the two pieces that stood out to me.

  28. I would rank J.K. Simmons higher in this category, even setting aside the Golden Globe that Scalzi isn’t factoring in, because (a) it truly is an amazing performance, (b) so much so that I would argue it’s his performance that tips the scales to an inspired but somewhat flawed film getting enough recognition that it’s being considered for screenplay and picture.

    (I say this as someone who absolutely loves the last reel of Whiplash for its flat-out gonzo quality, but the path to that climax is not smooth.)

  29. @fancycwabs
    That song is an amazing parody of the worst kind of middlebrow pandering, from a band that is famous for parodying such things. (c.f. “I’m on a Boat”) On the other hand, it manages to execute that very, very well, while at the same time making pretty clear that it’s a parody, so I figure it’s fair to put it on simply for execution.

  30. I think it’s too early in the 5-10 Best Picture nominees era to make strong claims about the Best Picture/Best Director correlation. Since there’s now twice as many slots for Best Picture, it stands to reason the correlation would loosen a bit. And the fact that Argo won under the new regime is suggestive. (I don’t think any of the films you excluded on the heuristic are good candidates for an upset, though. Selma feels like the kind of movie the Academy loves to award, but it’s clearly not in the running.)

  31. My love for Keira Knightley is deep and broad, and I thought she was the shining light in Imitation Game (I am ANGRY about Cumberbatch’s performance and the screenplay’s bullshit), but if she wins, I will be genuinely shocked. It’s a weak field, but I think it’s Arquette’s to lose.

  32. Well, I have a problem with picking Oscars; I haven’t seen any of these films.

    Of course, I suppose that might be a problem for the film industry, too…

  33. At the risk of revealing myself as a Horrible, Horrible Person, am I the only person who finds things built with Legos to be, putting it lightly, unattractive? That’s regarding regular Legos. The Lego mini-figs are outright creepy and disturbing.

  34. On the diversity issue. I was not trying to advocate, but reflecting comments I had heard. I know some academy members and old white and mainstream describes them pretty well. I assume they nod to diversity in that white guilt sort of way, although I have never talked to them about it.

  35. I’m wondering your thoughts about Guardians of the Galaxy. I realize it is humorous and SciFi and Comic Book so it never had better than a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting a nomination, but I thought it was a fantastic movie. It told a great story, it told it well, and it told with significantly more emotional depth than I was expecting. I realized after that an animated raccoon holding a twig had actually made me tear up a bit!

    So, do you think movies like Guardians should be nominated, or do you think Best Movie should remain the purview of serious movies only?

  36. I don’t pretend to be an expert, but I think you might be underselling poor Eddie Redmayne. Tropic Thunder says he’s a sure thing.

  37. John mentioned not films winning when their directors weren’t nominated but the other way around: directors winning when their films weren’t nominated. That has only happened twice, both in the 1920s.

  38. Guardians was super fun. It wasn’t Shakespeare or anything, but it was a fantastic looking movie. Should at least have been nominated for Special Effects and Costume design.

    Still annoyed by Interstellar not getting any major nominations. What is wrong with people? How is it that “American Sniper” gets a nod for Best Picture while Interstellar does not?

    Regarding the person of Chris Kyle, who was mentioned earlier:

    Both can be true. I’m sure he was an exemplary sniper and soldier, and that insurgents were absolutely scared beyond shitless of him. That doesn’t meant that he wasn’t a terrible person and a psycho-conservative asshole. Both can be true. I’ve know many veterans, and some of them *are* terrible people who I ended up not wanting anything to do with on a personal level. Some guys are born for war, not for peace.

    Some of the most gentle, wise, kind-hearted guys that I’ve know were also veterans, though.

  39. I guess it’s a triumph of the AMPAS marketing that people put such immense emotional investment in awards that are decided by anywhere from 500-5800 people they have never met. If I understand it correctly, only about 550 or so of the AMPAS members voted on the animation category to begin with. And those voters are, of course, just human beings. They had to vote for what they saw (and needed to see at least two of the movies or at least claim they did) and then it is STILL a popularity contest of sorts.

    There are a variety of reasons the Lego movie probably didn’t get nominated, from some voters probably snubbing it due to it’s commercial success, a perception that it is an extended toy commercial, a desire to appear ‘smart’ or simply the fact that there were a LOT OF GOOD ANIMATED MOVIES THIS YEAR. I wonder how many people complaining about the nominations saw that many of the other nominees that they are debating are there? I enjoyed the Lego movie A LOT, but in terms of how good of a film it was, that’s a difficult subjective criteria to apply. I think Big Hero 6 had a much better story and emotional resonance, for example, but that’s a personal choice.

    But then again,ultimately that’s all the Oscars really ARE.

  40. Wizardru: How to Train Your Dragon 2 had a bigger worldwide box-office than The Lego Movie and it was nominated. Big Hero 6 had a comparable box-office (both over $400 million) and it was also nominated. So it wasn’t commercial success.

    My theory is that it’s because the Lego Movie opened in February and wasn’t as fresh in the memories of those picking nominees. (Though animated feature film is one of the few categories where you can open in the summer and still get a nomination.)

  41. @MrManny It’s an interesting point regarding Chris Kyle. I also think its easier to label someone whose politics you disagree with an asshole. I haven’t read much one way or the other about him, and likely won’t read his book. I just know I gave up on Hollywood’s accuracy years ago. Sometimes its because the story takes precedence, other times its because the accuracy makes it unmarketable. I’m not sure which is more prevelant in Sniper.

  42. @dpaulangel

    It’s also easier to be an apologist for somebody’s behavior and personality if you happen to agree with their politics.

    It also happens that in this country, one side of politics has pretty fully embraced xenophobia, warmongering, and extreme religious fanaticism and dominionism. The other side has it’s assholes too, but only one side has put it’s extreme fringe in charge. That side is the Right/GOP.

    Regarding the movie’s accuracy, the guy’s record is pretty thoroughly documented. I’m sure he was every bit the battlefield god that the movie paints him to be.

    You have missed the point I was making that just because somebody has done exemplary military service for this country does not mean that, in civil life, they are a good person, or an intelligent person, or somebody you should listen to about overall public policy. We tend to treat our veterans like saints in this country, as if they can do or say no wrong and disagreeing with them is some kind of sin.

    But they’re just flawed human beings, like us, only a little bit braver and a little bit tougher.

  43. @jack LInt: It’s release date certainly is a factor, but unlike Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2, the Lego Movie was a surprise cultural touchstone for the summer in a way they weren’t. It felt pretty ubiquitous in a way they never did. But having said that, like I mentioned, there’s a lot of reasons that the Lego movie didn’t get a nomination.

    I don’t consider it a snub per se unless a certain movie is on every other award season list and is NOT on theirs. I find it far more confusing how the BAFTAs only could find THREE movies to put on their list (Lego movie, Big Hero 6 and Boxtrolls). Should the Book of Life have been nominated? Was it snubbed, I dunno. Like many, I didn’t see it. I saw more movies last year than many, but often the films I’ve seen don’t link up with those lists. I think generally that’s often true of the AMPAS voters, as well.

  44. I’m thinking that Norton will not win because he is not well liked in Hollywood, at least from what I have read. If that has any play on determining who will win, he doesn’t have a chance.

  45. @larrysanderson: Re: Selma’s screeners: Paramount *did* send them out to the Academy members, but simply didn’t have time to prep the DVDs for the *guild* members (DGA, SAG, etc.) which hurt its momentum–the only to have time would’ve apparently been to delay the release to 2015, which would’ve screwed its awards strategy. Deeply unfortunate, but hopefully the film will continue to do well at the box office as a reward.

    @scalzi: I’m surprised by your downplaying of J.K. Simmons in the Supporting Actor category; he’s a long-time, well-liked actor who’s never been nominated delivering an amazing performance. Mark Ruffalo’s awesome, but Whiplash is more well-liked than Foxcatcher, and I don’t see much momentum for Norton.

    Supporting Actress: Keira Knightley gives a good performance, but she suffers from the “too young, too successful” problem that, in my mind, increases Arquette’s chances.

    I hope to dear God you’re wrong about Best Picture (Boyhood all the way!) but I have a horrible feeling you’re right. The Imitation Game is actually a good movie (unlike past Weinstein atrocities like The Artist), but no way does it deserve Best Pic over Boyhood, and we’ve got a two-year streak of deserving movies winning (I really liked 12 Years a Slave and Argo). But, as someone smarter than me once said, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.”

  46. @MrManny

    I actually did understand your point, my reply just completely failed to acknowledge it! I had written a far longer reply that went horribly off topic so it edited it way back. I should have done another re-read. Aw well.

    Beyond just Veterans, I think our society overall has a hero worship complex with Police and Fire as well. There is an assumption of heroism and valor based on the position without regard for the individual. I believe, statistically, that truck driving is a more dangerous profession than either Law Enforcement Officers or Firefighters, yet there is no hollywood glamour associated with driving a truck.

    I also whole heartedly agree with you point about the GOP/Right Wing putting their fringe in charge, as opposed to shunning them. It is going to take years to undo the mess that has been created.

  47. I really wish that genre films (particularly genre films that aren’t extremely successful monetarily) would get more notice, but I generally don’t take the awards to be legitimately indicative of the actual “best” anything any given year. Yes I may still be a little pissy that Essie Davis is getting almost no recognition for The Babadook. Same with Jennifer Kent as the brains behind the operation.

  48. “I believe, statistically, that truck driving is a more dangerous profession than either Law Enforcement Officers or Firefighters, yet there is no hollywood glamour associated with driving a truck.”

    Not since ‘Convoy’, or perhaps Burt Reynolds’ glory days.

    Somebody had a cite that living in a number of major cities put one at more risk of being murdered than being a police officer (over the entire USA).

  49. I’m not clear on the characterization of Chris Kyle as bigoted and psychopathic. Google isn’t helping; why is he so controversial?

  50. In his book he says he loves war, enjoys killing, thinks that Iraqis in general are “fucking savages”, and that he has no regrets about any of the people that he killed as a sniper.

    So, the controversy is directly from him, from the source material, his own words in the book he wrote.

    We discussed this a bit higher up in the comment thread.

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