Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Snooch to the Nooch!

The Awards Season “Officially” comes to an end this Sunday as the Academy hands out the Oscars, with Neil Patrick Harris hosting. Even more so than last year, I am frustrated by my inability to get to a number of the nominees, including a few Best Picture contenders. Hopefully, though, as I begin to get some things in order, my moviewatching will become more regular again, and I can find time for one of the loves of my life while not neglecting the other ones. You’ll see a lot of “Haven’t Seens” this year, but they won’t all stay that way.

(Because of the disparity of what I’ve seen this year, what is typically “Brian’s Pick” from the nominees is going to be my overall, personal pick from what I’ve seen this year. Too many nominees missed this year to do it otherwise.)

Before we start, here is what my 10 Best and Favorite lists of 2014 look like as we go into the big night. I hope you enjoy!

Brian’s 10 Best Films of 2014
1. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)
2. “Selma” (Ava DuVernay)
3. “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
4. “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
5. “Berenice” (Jeremiah Kipp)
6. “Snowpiercer” (Bong Joon-ho)
7. “Life Itself” (Steve James)
8. “The LEGO Movie” (Phil Lord & Chris Miller)
9. “X-Men: Days of Future Past” (Bryan Singer)
10. “Showing Sydney” (Edgar Muniz)

Brian’s 10 Favorite Films of 2014
1. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)
2. “Life Itself” (Steve James)
3. “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
4. “Noah” (Darren Aronofsky)
5. “Eroticide” (Matthew Saliba)
6. “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
7. “Showing Sydney” (Edgar Muniz)
8. “Interstellar” (Christopher Nolan)
9. “Draft Day” (Ivan Reitman)
10. “Berenice” (Jeremiah Kipp)

Viva la Resistance!

Brian Skutle
www.sonic-cinema.com
www.myspace.com/brianskutle
www.myspace.com/cinemanouveau

Best Picture
“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“Whiplash”
“The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Eight: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Selma”; “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Boyhood”; “Snowpiercer”; “Life Itself”; “The LEGO Movie”; “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Oscar’s Pick: “Boyhood”. Like last year, Best Picture is going to be a nail-biter to the end, but I think Richard Linklater’s 12-year odyssey will edge past the guild fave “Birdman” and box-office might of “Sniper” for the big one at the end of the night.

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”; Ava DuVernay, “Selma”; Bong Joon-ho, “Snowpiercer”; Christopher Nolan, “Interstellar”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu. Picture and Director could reverse, and Linklater takes this while “Birdman” wins the big one, but I think that, like countryman Alfonso Cauron did last year, the vision on display in “Birdman” will be too much for voters to ignore when picking one of the distinct auteurs to honor this year. For the second year in a row, a Mexican master wins Best Director.

Best Actor
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”; Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”; David Oyelowo, “Selma”; Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Michael Keaton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: Michael Keaton. This is going to be a close one. I think, for both Carell and Cumberbatch, the win is in the nomination in a brutally competitive year. Cooper could ride the stunning success of “Sniper” at the box-office to his first statue after his third straight nomination, but I think it comes down to Golden Globe winners Redmayne and Keaton, both of whom are equally worthy. In all honesty, I think Redmayne will ride the SAG and BAFTA wave to victory, but this being Hollywood, I can’t imagine his peers letting Keaton, a beloved vet, go away empty-handed for what is the role of a lifetime, simply because Redmayne will have more chances in the future.

Best Actress
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night” (Haven’t Seen)
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” (Haven’t Seen)
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin”; Kiera Knightley, “Begin Again”; Suley Rivera, “Showing Sydney”; Agata Trzebuchowska, “Ida”; Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Belle”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin”

Oscar’s Pick: Julianne Moore. The veteran, who’s deserved an Oscar for at least 20 years, finally goes home with it. There isn’t really a plausible alternative here.

Best Supporting Actor
Edward Norton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Robert Duvall, “The Judge” (Haven’t Seen)
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”; Tony Revolori, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; Edward Norton, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; Rohan Chand, “Bad Words”; Gary Poulter, “Joe”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Tony Revolori, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Oscar’s Pick: J.K. Simmons. It’s a mortal lock at this point for the popular character actor.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Emma Stone, “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Rene Russo, “Nightcrawler”; Carmen Ejogo, “Selma”; Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” & “The Zero Theorem”; Agata Kulesza, “Ida”

Brian’s Personal Pick: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Oscar’s Pick: Patricia Arquette. Another mortal lock, and anyone who tries to say otherwise is diluting themselves.

Best Original Screenplay
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)
“Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guiness)
“Nightcrawler” (Dan Gilroy)
“Foxcatcher” (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, and Alexander Dinelaris); “Boyhood” (Richard Linklater); “Selma” (Paul Webb); “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guiness); “Showing Sydney” (Edgar Muniz & Suley Rivera)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, and Alexander Dinelaris)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. With “Boyhood” and “Birdman” basically locking horns in the Best Picture and Director categories, that leaves the third big Best Picture contender in need of compensation. A long-overdue screenplay Oscar for idiosyncratic visionary Anderson seems like a worthwhile consolation prize.

Best Adapted Screenplay
“American Sniper” (Jason Hall)
“The Theory of Everything” (Anthony McCarten)
“Whiplash” (Damien Chazelle)
“The Imitation Game” (Graham Moore) (Haven’t Seen)
“Inherent Vice” (Paul Thomas Anderson) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois); “Rosewater” (Jon Stewart); “Guardians of the Galaxy” (James Gunn & Nicole Perlman); “The LEGO Movie” (Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman, Phil Lord & Christopher Miller); “Noah” (Darren Aronofsky & Ari Handel)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)

Oscar’s Pick: “Whiplash”. Part of me wants to go with 8-time nominee “Imitation Game,” which has limited chances for a victory, but the last-minute category switch for “Whiplash” makes me think it’s in a good position to win here.

Best Original Score
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Alexandre Desplat)
“Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer)
“The Theory of Everything” (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
“The Imitation Game” (Alexandre Desplat) (Haven’t Seen)
“Mr. Turner” (Gary Yershon) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer); “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Antonio Sanchez); “Noah” (Clint Mansell); “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (John Powell); “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Alexandre Desplat)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer)

Oscar’s Pick: “The Theory of Everything”. I’m still waiting for a second Oscar for Hans Zimmer, and Desplat is long overdue at this point (and could still win, for “Budapest,” I think, more than “Imitation Game”), but I think the lovely, delirious orchestral strings by Johannsson for “Theory of Everything” will be too much for the Academy to ignore.

Best Original Song
“Glory” from “Selma” (Common, John Legend)
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” (Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois)
“Everything is Awesome!” from “The LEGO Movie” (Jo Li, Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer)
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights” (Diane Warren) (Haven’t Seen)
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” (Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Glory” from “Selma” (Common, John Legend); “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” (Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley & Nick Southwood); “Everything is Awesome!” from “The LEGO Movie” (Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg & Jorma Taccone); “I Never Wanted to Go” from “If I Stay” (Heitor Pereira); “Mercy Is” from “Noah” (Patti Smith & Lenny Kaye)

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Glory” from “Selma” (Common, John Legend)

Oscar’s Pick: “Glory”. Theoretically, “Everything is Awesome!” could still win in the battle between surprising Oscar snubs, but that song from Best Picture nominee “Selma” is a powerhouse, and will win, deservedly so.

Best Animated Feature
“Big Hero 6”
“How to Train Your Dragon 2”
“The Boxtrolls” (Haven’t Seen)
“Song of the Sea” (Haven’t Seen)
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Four: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “The LEGO Movie”; “Big Hero 6”; “Mr. Peabody & Sherman”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Oscar’s Pick: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”. Without “The LEGO Movie” in the mix, this actually became an easier call. Look for Dreamworks Animation to win their first Oscar for an in-house production since the original “Shrek” with their best film to date.

Best Foreign Language Film
“Ida” (Poland)
“Wild Tales” (Argentina) (Haven’t Seen)
“Tangerines” (Estonia) (Haven’t Seen)
“Timbuktu” (Mauritania) (Haven’t Seen)
“Leviathan” (Russia) (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top One: “Ida”

Oscar’s Pick: “Ida”. That Cinematography nomination shows wide support.

Best Documentary Feature
“Finding Vivian Mayer”
“Virunga”
“CITIZENFOUR” (Haven’t Seen)
“Last Days in Vietnam” (Haven’t Seen)
“The Salt of the Earth” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Life Itself”; “Virunga”; “Finding Vivian Mayer”; “Jodorowsky’s Dune”; “The Comic Book Palace”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Life Itself”

Oscar’s Pick: “CITIZENFOUR”. Without the sentiment for the Ebert doc “Life Itself” to contend with, look for this expose on Edward Snowden to win.

Best Visual Effects
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Interstellar”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Brian’s Top Five: “Interstellar”; “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Noah”; “Godzilla”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Interstellar”

Oscar’s Pick: “Interstellar”. Christopher Nolan’s visionary epic takes down “Dawn’s” damn, dirty apes.

Best Sound Mixing
“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”
“Whiplash”

Brian’s Top Five: “Whiplash”; “Interstellar”; “Noah”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Interstellar

Oscar’s Pick: “American Sniper”. “Whiplash” could win this one, but I think the smash hit “Sniper” wins easily.

Best Sound Editing
“American Sniper”
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”

Brian’s Top Five: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Interstellar”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Noah”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Oscar’s Pick: “American Sniper”. “Interstellar” could surprise, but “Sniper” is the likely winner with it’s Best Picture status.

Best Cinematography
“Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Ida”
“Unbroken”
“Mr. Turner” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Interstellar”; “Noah”; “Snowpiercer”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance”. Back-to-back wins for master cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, who won for “Gravity” last year.

Best Film Editing
“American Sniper”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Whiplash”
“The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”; “Boyhood”; “Whiplash”; “Snowpiercer”; “Nightcrawler”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

Oscar’s Pick: “Boyhood”. Any of these Best Picture nominees could win here, but I think the fluid 12-year narrative of “Boyhood” beats the comedic grace notes of “Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Interstellar”
“The Imitation Game” (Haven’t Seen)
“Into the Woods” (Haven’t Seen)
“Mr. Turner” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Snowpiercer”; “Noah”; “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “Maleficent”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Nomination co-leader “Budapest” wins for it’s singular look.

Best Makeup & Hair Styling
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Foxcatcher” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Three: “Guardians of the Galaxy”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Snowpiercer”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Oscar’s Pick: “Guardians of the Galaxy”. I think it could very easily be “Grand Budapest Hotel” here, but I feel like they’ll be wanting to honor “Guardians of the Galaxy” somewhere, and this feels like the place to do it.

Best Costume Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Maleficent”
“Inherent Vice” (Haven’t Seen)
“Into the Woods” (Haven’t Seen)
“Mr. Turner” (Haven’t Seen)

Brian’s Top Five: “Snowpiercer”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Maleficent”; “Belle”; “Noah”

Brian’s Personal Pick: “Snowpiercer”

Oscar’s Pick: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Unless “Into the Woods” surprises, the Best Picture nominee has it.

Here are the three awards those most devoted to movies care about. I haven’t seen many of these, so all these are just guesses.

Best Short Film- Live Action
“Aya”
“Boogaloo and Graham”
“Butter Lamp”
“Parvaneh”
“The Phone Call”

Oscar’s Pick: “Aya”

Best Short Film- Animated
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”
“Feast”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

Oscar’s Pick: “Feast”

Best Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Joanna”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth”

Oscar’s Pick: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”

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