Next Sunday is the Oscar awards ceremony. After delving into my small cache of San Miguel beer from the Philippines which I keep for special purposes, I consulted with my Ouija board between sips to arrive at these visions of who will win in the “big five” categories.
For “Best Supporting Actress” I think it’s a no brainer that Patricia Arquette’s time has come for her role in “Boyhood.” Best known for her television roles, she has not won an Oscar before or even been nominated, unlike all the others she is competing with. And, she has already won numerous awards for this role, including a Golden Globe and from over a dozen smaller organizations. How can they all be wrong? A blow out for Patricia…
For “Best Supporting Actor” J. K. Simmons’ story is somewhat similar to Patricia’s. Here’s an actor who has appeared in many films but has never previously been a “big star” household name. When I watched him win the Golden Globe for his role in Whiplash, even I said “who?”…until I saw his face and recognized him from previous films. And like Patricia, this role has won him numerous awards from other organizations. So I think the force is with J.K.
But, there is a long shot out there. Robert Duvall turned in a strong performance in “The Judge.” He’s only won one Oscar – in 1984 for “Best Actor” in “Tender Mercies.” He might not have another opportunity for an Oscar and so he might get the nod by a sentimental Academy. If someone other than J.K. or Duvall wins, it’ll be an upset.
The win for “Best Actress” is another no brainer. Julianne Moore won the Golden Globe for her role in “Still Alice” and none of her competitors are going to have much chance. Julianne Moore by acclaim.
“Best Actor” however is going to be a real brawl. A lot of strong performances here. Michael Keaton won the Golden Globe and many other awards for his role in “Birdman” so he is the front runner. But there’s a “problem”, or more precisely “two problems” facing the Academy.
The first problem is the box office success of “American Sniper” which is up for “Best Picture.” This film may become the highest grossing film of the year. As of mid-February, American Sniper’s US gross was $291.5 million compared to Birdman’s $35.6 million. Now, theoretically, the Oscars are for artistic merit but box office revenue is the name of the game in Hollywood and you can‘t overlook a film which is so popular.
So now we add into the mix the fact that Bradley Cooper was nominated for Best Actor in 2013 for “Silver Linings Playbook. ‘ And did not win. And also nominated for Best Actor in 2014 for “American Hustle.” And did not win.
There is another issue in the mix as well. But I have to leave that to the “Best Picture” discussion.
If the Academy does not recognize Cooper on this third attempt in a hugely popular film, there will be riots in the street. The Academy could go sentimental and award the Oscar to Michael Keaton for a film that is about their own industry. But I think not. So I’m going with Bradley Cooper.
So now we are down to “Best Picture.” Some strong contenders here, but I think the top three are Birdman, American Sniper, and Boyhood (which won the Golden Globe).
I’m going to immediately toss “American Sniper” despite it’s box office success. Because…
First, American Sniper has become a very controversial film. The Academy does not like controversy. If the film wins, a lot of folks will be unhappy.
Second, controversy aside, remember that “Hurt Locker” won “Best Picture” in 2010. Awarding Best Picture to yet another Mideast war film so soon is “been there, done that.”
Third, the Academy can go with another film for Best Picture because it will recognize “American Sniper” by awarding Best Actor to Bradley Cooper. So those who support American Sniper get something and those who oppose it for Best Picture are also happy.
So now it is down to “Boyhood” and “Birdman.” Now this is going to be interesting since both films won a Golden Globe. “Boyhood” won “Best Picture” and “Birdman” won “Best Comedy or Musical.”
Unfortunately, the Academy does not split that hair the way the Golden Globe does. So here’s my thinking of the Academy’s thinking.
“Boyhood” has already been recognized as “Best Picture” by the Golden Globe group. How many times is there a film about our own industry, much less one that is nominated for “Best Picture.” Since “Boyhood” has been recognized with a Golden Globe, we can pat ourselves on the back by awarding Best Picture to “Birdman”.
Of course, reverse psychology says that they might think: “damn, if we award to “Birdman” everyone’s going to think we’re just narcissists. And since Bradley Cooper has a long career ahead of him, we’ll give him the Oscar next time because Michael Keaton has never won an Oscar and so this is how we recognize Birdman and Keaton for a “twofer.”
I think the “tell” is what happens with “Best Actor.” If Cooper wins, “Birdman” will win Best Picture. If Keaton wins, then “Boyhood” wins.
Until next year!