Well that did not go as planned! Heading into the 87th Academy Awards I was very confident in my picks. (After all it was just one year ago I was a costume design Oscar away from a perfect ballot!)
Sure I had sided with some underdogs—Foxcatcher for makeup; How to Train Your Dragon 2 against the Disney behemoth and its latest entrant Big Hero Six; Boogaloo and Graham in Best Live Action short; and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes over the otherworldly Interstellar for visual effects—but I was sure I’d be right in about half of them. Instead, I missed on all four. And when Boyhood lost achievement in film editing to Whiplash, I knew it was going to be a long night.
There were some sage victories, however, before the unfortunate end. Nailing both sound categories—Whiplash over American Sniper in mixing was a major coup—as well as best foreign film (Ida from Poland), documentary short (Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1) and long (Citizenfour), cinematography (Birdman), and original song (the incomparable ‘Glory’ from Selma) were all very satisfying. I think I’m most proud, though, of having The Imitation Game winning Best Adapted Screenplay. And though I was rooting for Richard Linklater and Boyhood, correctly choosing Birdman auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu as best director felt good.
I also fared well on the big awards, correctly predicting four of the six acting, directing, and picture categories.
The devil, however, is always in the details. Undeterred by Eddie Redmayne’s long pre-Oscar winning streak, I was sure Michael Keaton would finally get his Academy Award. Yet despite Birdman winning in seemingly every other category, he could not top Redmayne’s performance as ALS-stricken astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.
And then there was Best Picture. Twenty-four times (roughly 28 percent) the Academy has split director and picture awards. It even happened last year when Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón took home the top individual prize and 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture. And I was convinced that would happen again, with Birdman’s Iñárritu winning for premier auteur and the unlike-anything-I’ve-ever-seen Boyhood deservingly taken home Best Picture of 2015. Alas: Once it caught flight, Birdman could not be caught.
(Following the night’s theme of choosing underdogs, according to Entertainment Weekly if Boyhood had won it would have been the biggest upset since Braveheart—winner of only one guild prize—topped Apollo 13 in 1995.)
Ultimately I correctly predicted 15 of the 24 awards, a far cry from last year’s near-perfection. In order the awards were announced, here is a breakdown of my selections:
|Category||Predicted Winner||Actual Winner|
|Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role||J.K. Simmons, Whiplash||J.K. Simmons, Whiplash|
|Achievement in Costume Design||The Grand Budapest Hotel||The Grand Budapest Hotel|
|Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling||Foxcatcher||The Grand Budapest Hotel|
|Best Foreign-Language Film||Ida (Poland)||Ida (Poland)|
|Best Live-Action Short Film||Boogaloo and Graham||The Phone Call|
|Best Documentary Short Subject||Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1||Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1|
|Achievement in Sound Mixing||Whiplash||Whiplash|
|Achievement in Sound Editing||American Sniper||American Sniper|
|Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role||Patricia Arquette, Boyhood||Patricia Arquette, Boyhood|
|Achievement in Visual Effects||Dawn of the Planet of the Apes||Interstellar|
|Best Animated Short Film||Feast||Feast|
|Best Animated Feature Film||How to Train Your Dragon 2||Big Hero Six|
|Achievement in Production Design||The Grand Budapest Hotel||The Grand Budapest Hotel|
|Achievement in Cinematography||Birdman||Birdman|
|Achievement in Film Editing||Boyhood||Whiplash|
|Best Documentary Feature||Citizenfour||Citizenfour|
|Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song)||‘Glory’, Selma||‘Glory’, Selma|
|Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)||The Theory of Everything||The Grand Budapest Hotel|
|Best Original Screenplay||The Grand Budapest Hotel||Birdman|
|Best Adapted Screenplay||The Imitation Game||The Imitation Game|
|Achievement in Directing||Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman||Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman|
|Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role||Michael Keaton, Birdman||Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything|
|Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role||Julianne Moore, Still Alice||Julianne Moore, Still Alice|
|Best Motion Picture of the Year||Boyhood||Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)|
Some other highlights from an interesting evening:
Best Speech (tie): Common for ‘Glory’ and Graham Moore, winner of best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game. Also loved the genuine excitement of Redmayne.
Worst Speech: Nothing sticks out this year. More time for the lesser-knowns would be nice; generally they have something interesting to say (and less names to recite).
Best Moment: The live performance of ‘Glory’ by John Legend and Common. Not a dry eye in the house. Phenomenal.
Worst (most awkward) Moment: John Travolta touching Idina Menzel’s face. Repeatedly. I’m shocked he didn’t pull an Adrian Brody and smooch her right there.
Biggest Upset: Whiplash for editing.
Biggest Disappointment: Boyhood not winning Best Picture.
Loved all the social activist speeches—the common (no pun intended) theme was civil rights for everyone; including minorities, gays, and women and more awareness for suicide prevention—and I thought Neil Patrick Harris did well in his first time on the biggest stage. I’d rate him just below Billy Crystal in his prime and a big step up from Ellen last year.
Here’s hoping he continues to sing the same tune as Mr. Crystal and hosts consistently, starting next year for the 88th Academy Awards.