It’s finally here: the biggest night of the year (narrowly beating Martin Luther King Day). If you’re anything like us, you’ll be having a stellar bash to celebrate the ultimate rewarding of your favourite celebrities: Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou; Erik Winquist; Aneta Kopacz; and who could forget dear old Orlando von Einsiedel?
Anyway, with such fantastic work to applaud, we’ve decided you just can’t have an Oscars Party with any old playlist. No sir, instead we’ve compiled some of the best music from across this year’s nominated films and put them in a vaguely justified order. Our final analysis and predictions are below the jump – but first, from American Sniper to Łukasz Żal, here in all its scrumptiously embedded goodness is One Room With A View’s official 2015 Oscars Party Playlist:
It’s still a face-off between bird and boy, with so many arguments in favour of each. We can discount Selma, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything and The Grand Budapest Hotel simply for not having the overwhelming love of the other four nominees. American Sniper and The Imitation Game, as well-liked and slightly complex MOR thrillers, are appearing on enough ballots to make them legitimate threats – but it still looks like a two-horse race here. Birdman has support from actors, directors and producers, as SAG, DGA and PGA proved, but not every member of these branches will definitely vote it number one. In fact, it’s a completely divisive film, more so than Boyhood. Boyhood hasn’t necessarily been a top choice for all voters, but it has at least something in it for everyone, placing it at least somewhere in most people’s ballots while Birdman is frequently shut out. Plus, the craft has more respect as a true labour of love while Iñárritu’s gimmickiness looks to be a death toll. With slight wariness, we’re plumping for Boyhood as the 87th Best Picture.
Again, a tough one – particularly as the last two years have seen a Picture/Director split. But we’re still predicting Boyhood and Richard Linklater for this one, and here’s why: despite Alejandro González Iñárritu winning the Directors’ Guild Award, the voting directors aren’t the biggest percentage of the Academy, making this usual Oscar predictor a potential red herring. While Iñárritu’s craft is unprecedented, so is Linklater’s; and Linklater has both the more appealing production narrative and final result, compared to the colder Birdman. We’ll predict a nice, happy career win for this beloved indie veteran.
Steve Carell still suffers from an unpopular film, which is a shame as his truly transformative turn was more than just prosthetics – his blend of damaged hilarity and oddball menace was utterly skilful. Benedict Cumberbatch is being overlooked, despite his film and acting having the same Academy love as Bradley Cooper – the ‘batch gives too subtle a performance and is seen as likely to get his “turn” in the future. Cooper is on his third consecutive nod, but equally this is the third consecutive time he hasn’t even been a guaranteed favourite before nominations morning. More importantly, he’s up against Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. Keaton still has a chance on a possible Birdman landslide, but Redmayne proved his mettle amongst the voting population with SAG and Bafta wins – and that, for us, is what it comes down to. Very well-deserved too.
We could bore you with analysis, but unless there’s an unprecedented surge of cineaste interest in Two Days, One Night‘s Marion Cotillard – whose film is underseen and whose performance is virtuosically subtle, but who is nevertheless adored by plenty – it’s still Julianne Moore‘s, for Still Alice. She’s already hoovered up 24 awards for it; she’s overdue (and should’ve won at least twice before); and, yes, her performance is properly acclaimed as being in a league of its own. Apologies to Rosamund Pike, Reese Witherspoon and Felicity Jones.
Best Supporting Actor
We’re just gonna rank these in order of likelihood. Tenth: Robert Duvall, The Judge. Ninth: Ethan Hawke, Boyhood. Eighth: Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher. Seventh: Edward Norton, Birdman. Sixth, fifth, fourth, third, second and first: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash. No amount of divisiveness over the character is derailing kudos for this performance.
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood. Next!
Best Original Screenplay
Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler are basically out of the running, while no amount of love for Boyhood in other categories can really net it a win for what many misconstrue as a work of improv. But even when we acknowledge that it’s actually a tightly-crafted piece written with the “Mike Leigh method”, Boyhood‘s screenplay is simply too slight, and wasn’t actually what held the film up. As with Lead Actor, there’s a vague chance for a Birdman sweep here despite a patchy script; but it’s still master craftsman Wes Anderson‘s to lose, really. Again: he’s popular; he’s overdue; this can be a consolation for when he loses Director; and The Grand Budapest Hotel genuinely is the most layered, the most tightly-knit, the most well-sharpened dialogue-wise, and overall just the best script of the year. Read it here – it actually stands on its own two feet.
Inherent Vice may technically be the best bit of adaptation, but… we don’t need to tell you why it’s out of the running here. American Sniper is a genuinely intimidating candidate for its tautness, its structure and its multiplicity of ambiguous themes and messages, but doesn’t have the literary flourishes of fellow biopics The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything, both of which scripts have been more garlanded this season. Theory is now probably less likely to win, simply by comparison with Imitation, which favours clockwork tightness over Theory‘s more meandering, emotionally-motivated structure (similar to Argo‘s eventual writing victory over the heavily-favoured Lincoln). But despite such general love for the safe Imitation Game, the firecracker intensity of 30-year-old Damien Chazelle is gonna pip it with Whiplash. The structure, the dialogue, the creative swearing, the determined passionate indie-ness of it all – this should be another place for vocal supporters of this already well-decorated script to spread the love.
Best Animated Feature
Relatively few have bothered with The Song of the Sea or The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and The Boxtrolls‘ issues with storytelling have hampered it in a category that isn’t just about the technical craft, but the whole product. Big Hero 6 is popular, fun and sweet, but has the same pacing problems that mean the storytelling giants behind How to Train Your Dragon 2 still pip it – as they did at the Globes. Add to this the bad luck its beloved predecessor suffered going up against Toy Story 3 in 2010, and you’ve actually got this category’s equivalent of a Scorsese-esque “career win”, the Academy’s way of saying well done to a respected institution. Expect some happy DreamWorks people tonight.
Best Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales is a real dark horse here, mostly for its satirical yet easily-swallowable humour. But it still isn’t a headline-maker like Ida and Leviathan, which seem to face a Birdman/Boyhood style battle at the top (Tangerines and César-sweeper Timbuktu are too little-seen). Leviathan has anti-Putin sermonising on its side, but most of its supporters are actually voting for its status as a genuine austere masterpiece. But it’s still Ida that’ll probably win: that nominated cinematography is a huge draw, and the central actresses themselves actually had real Oscar talk briefly in a way that Leviathan‘s cast never mustered. Plus, it’s a well-liked director doing the Holocaust. Say no more.
Best Documentary Feature
Citizenfour is a favourite here – a hot-topic American political issue directed by a journalist, Laura Poitras, who recently won a Pulitzer for this exact subject. However, if it’s anti-Putin sentiments that make Leviathan a big candidate, the same voters – who are also making American Sniper a strong contender – are unlikely, as a whole, to vote in favour of the divisive and Russia-dwelling Edward Snowden. This has strong support, and could still peg it, but the gorillas of Netflix‘s Virunga are a cuter prospect in the vein of last year’s Twenty Feet from Stardom (which beat the streaming service’s touted revolution doc The Square). Last Days in Vietnam is a little been-there-done-that; The Salt of the Earth a typical niche artist-bio (think last year’s Cutie and the Boxer); Finding Vivian Maier is wonderful and has support, but seems almost too light. Virunga, on the other hand, has a current issue, a million-dollar campaign – and those cute gorillas.
Ida and Mr. Turner are both stonkingly beautiful, but not enough of the general voting population have seen them. The Grand Budapest Hotel is equally lovely, but the nuances of its craft are less obvious and may be lost on many – a win here is vaguely possible, but only if it really sweeps the technicals. Unbroken also stands a chance, but purely as an overdue gong for Roger Deakins. The safest bet, for ticking all the boxes – obvious technical mastery, often beautiful results, original imagery, and popularity – remains Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman – his second consecutive win after Gravity.
Best Film Editing
The Grand Budapest Hotel is certainly tight and perfectly paced (and owes much success in both hilarity and poignancy to the choices of its editor), but as the previous eight winners prove, this category favours flashier work more aligned with thrillers. So American Sniper and The Imitation Game – both well-liked among voters and edited by previous winners – stand vastly better chances. Whiplash actually proves the most likely upset here, having that same taut “thriller” factor plus the clear attention-grabbing virtuosity of its final fifteen minutes. Still the favourite, however, is Sandra Adair‘s work on Boyhood; the sheer daunting challenge of its assembly appeals strongly to voters looking for something deserving to reward.
Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat received his seventh and eighth nominations for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game – the latter won’t win, having simply been eclipsed by the more noticeable and unique Budapest. Budapest‘s biggest rival is neither Interstellar‘s Hans Zimmer – too bombastic and divisive – or Mr. Turner‘s Gary Yershon – too underseen – but first-time nominee Jóhann Jóhannsson, whose work on The Theory of Everything is understated, affecting, and won the Golden Globe. While Jóhannsson’s score, and his film, have some real love though, Desplat will probably win for Budapest on a cocktail of quality, originality, craft, love for the film and love for the man himself – another perpetual Oscars bridesmaid.
Best Sound Editing
The one that rewards the design of the sounds themselves. The Hobbit 3 is the first Middle Earth film to only get one nod, and with Tolkien fatigue setting in it doesn’t look good tonight – monster noises and hundreds of sword clashes may be impressive, but for most they’ve gotten a bit annoying now. Birdman has some good feather noises (and a falling lamp crash that’s both hilarious and horrifying) but doesn’t draw enough attention to itself. Interstellar is divisive anyway, but its sound in particular was, for many, criminal. Unbroken is a war film, which stands it in good stead here – but American Sniper is a better war film, one which more have seen, one which they want to reward, and which will walk away with this.
Best Sound Mixing
Or, “How the Film’s Soundscape Fits Together and Guides Your Experience”. Unbroken and Interstellar we’ve just covered – neither will win. Birdman could be the most deserving winner here, but has been eclipsed by two frontrunners. American Sniper is highly likely for the simple fact that most voters don’t know the difference between the sound categories and so it usually doubles up; but Whiplash had more unique mixing and, probably, will ultimately triumph because its sound and the way it flowed together was one of the key driving forces behind the film’s success – remember how it could upset Film Editing? This (confusingly) is basically the same category, but for audio; mighty useful for a music thriller.
Best Original Song
‘Lost Stars’ has many things going for it: it’s the best-integrated into its film of this whole category, being performed several times by different people, directing different meanings each time, and even the very production and arrangement of Adam Levine’s final version – nominated here – mirrors the emotional ups and downs of Begin Again. Plus, director John Carney already had a film win this category, with the deserving Once in 2007. BUT: it’s not gonna win. ‘Everything is Awesome’ could grab it based on support for The LEGO Movie – though it’s probably too light and, more importantly, too bloody annoying. ‘Grateful’ could win for overdue multiple-nominee Diane Warren, but the song’s somewhat underwhelming, no one saw the underpromoted Beyond the Lights, and Rita Ora is putting many off. ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ is more one-to-watch just for being written by the beloved, and ageing, Glen Campbell, although doesn’t he only have one demographic? So while it’s hard to call, it’s still ‘Glory’ that’s likely to surge – for the love of Selma, for its writers (John Legend and Common), for its message, production and lyrics; its vitality, passion and sweeping brilliance.
Best Visual Effects
If it was ‘Best Use of Visual Effects’, X-Men would have it – but “that” scene isn’t enough here. The Winter Soldier got on the ballot thanks to its meticulous practical effects, but for a win it needs more. Interstellar and Guardians of the Galaxy are potential post-Gravity bets, for making us believe so willingly in the grandeur of their space odysseys (surely Guardians is the epitome of “every frame a painting”?). But it almost goes without saying that the biggest attention-grabber here is Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which is so much more than a series of skilful digital effects; the mo-cap work here provides vital, believable characterisation and everyone has sat up to take note.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Again, Foxcatcher is basically out. The Grand Budapest Hotel stands a good chance for Tilda Swinton alone. But the winner will be Guardians of the Galaxy, which voters want to reward somewhere. An entire world is created here through surprisingly tasteful makeup – and Star Trek‘s win in the same category five years ago gives some good sci-fi precedent.
Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel, no question. It’s part parody, yet somehow all original, and everything just looks splendid. Many voters, it seems, are a little bored of the Into the Woods school of fantasy worlds, while Mr. Turner suffers from both underexposure and a similar fatigue in historical costume dramas that Budapest circumvents through sheer joyful oddness. Interstellar and The Imitation Game are similarly hampered by relative genericism – voters have seen both space and 1940s Britain before.
Best Costume Design
The same argument holds here, although while Inherent Vice is just as new and oddball as Grand Budapest, that basic divisiveness prevents it from a win here. It won’t be Turner (see above); Maleficent and Into the Woods (the latter with costumes by three-time winner Colleen Atwood) stand alright chances of spoilers, but it’s still Grand Budapest or bust.
Our Overall Predictions:
Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Adapted Screenplay: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Foreign Language: Ida
Documentary Feature: Virunga
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Editing: Sandra Adair, Boyhood
Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Sound Editing: American Sniper
Sound Mixing: Whiplash
Original Song: John Legend & Common, ‘Glory’ from Selma
Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Makeup and Hairstyling: Guardians of the Galaxy
Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel