Friday, February 20, 2015

The 2015 Oscars offer one upset -- maybe

In recent years, guessing who’ll win an Academy Award is about as tough as predicting who’ll become king at a coronation. Oddsmakers lay sophisticated betting lines, front-runners garner other awards in advance, the media begins to trumpet one candidate -- which feeds the frenzy of voters – and the tension on the big night is reserved for best sound effects editing and documentary feature.

Luckily, 2015 is different. Kinda. Three of the races, all dominated by veterans, seem to be over. The others? Still up in the air.

The three that hardly anyone has doubts about are best actress, supporting actor and actress. Fayetteville-born Julianne Moore (whose father was in the U.S Army Judge Advocate General's Corps at Fort Bragg) seems a lock as best actress; she’s not only playing the kind of role that wins awards (a woman suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease) but has been nominated five times.

J.K. Simmons is even more secure for best supporting actor. His appropriately showy performance as a sadistic teacher in “Whiplash” caught all eyes. Patricia Arquette will be best supporting actress, because she provided even more of the emotional core of “Boyhood” than the young actor at the center of the film.

The likeliest surprise of the night comes in the best actor category. Conventional wisdom leans toward Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything,” where he gives a body-contorting performance as Stephen Hawking, or Michael Keaton for “Birdman,” mainly because he has never been nominated before. (Both are good, of course.) I think Bradley Cooper may win on his third try: He’s tremendous in “American Sniper, which has become a massive hit ($300 million in North America alone), and he has the momentum at the moment – unless political controversy around the film drives voters away.

Best director and best picture have divided more often recently, but they won’t in 2015. Voters will reward Alejandro González Iñárritu for audacity in “Birdman” or Richard Linklater for tenacity in “Boyhood,” which he filmed over 12 years. I think they’ll want Richard Linklater and “Boyhood” – which happened to be my favorite film last year.


Ed Jones said...

Larry, this is Ed Jones - I hope you remember me and how you tried to help me with my...not-great... screenplay! Your analysis of this year's Oscar's race is spot-on - as is everything you write. Keep up the great work, my friend!

Anonymous said...

You don't think Reese Witherspoon is a serious contender? I was blown away by "Wild."

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