Best Picture

87th Academy Awards Nominations AnnouncementThis year, one of eight nominated films will be inducted into an exclusive society of movies when it receives the Academy’s greatest honor: the Oscar for Best Picture.  Some of the films that this year’s winner will be joining include Lawrence of ArabiaKramer vs. KramerPlatoonForrest GumpCrash12 Years a Slave, and many more; needless to say, this year’s Best Picture winner will be joining an elite collection of the world’s greatest films of all time.  The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Picture:

WINNERWhiplash

2. The Theory of Everything

3. Boyhood

4. American Sniper

5. Birdman

6. The Imitation Game

7. Selma

8. The Grand Budapest Hotel

 

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Best Director

Best Director NomineesIn this year’s Best Director category, only one nominee is receiving his inaugural Oscar nomination (Morten Tyldum). The other four directors have combined for ten previous Academy Award nominations; however, only two of those ten nominations were in the Best Director category (Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Babel and Bennett Miller for Capote). The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Director:

WINNER: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Boyhood8Richard Linklater is an American filmmaker with credits that include Dazed and Confused (1993) and the Before Trilogy (Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight). Linklater has already garnered 31 Best Director awards at various film festivals and award shows for his work in Boyhood. Linklater was previously nominated twice at the Oscars in the Best Adapted Screenplay category (Before Sunset and Before Midnight).

  1. Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)

Birdman2Alejandro G. Iñárritu is a renowned Mexican filmmaker—he is the visionary behind the celebrated “Death Trilogy” (Amores perros, 21 Grams, Babel). Iñárritu has been previously nominated for four Oscars: twice for Best Foreign Language Film (Amores perros and Biutiful) once for Best Director (Babel), and once for Best Picture (Babel).

  1. Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Bennett MillerBennett Miller is an American film director—he previously directed Capote (2005) and Moneyball (2011). At the 67th Cannes Film Festival in May 2014, Miller won the Best Director award for his work on Foxcatcher. Miller was previously nominated in the Best Director category at the Oscars for 2005’s Capote.

  1. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Morten TyldumMorten Tyldum is a Norwegian film director, renowned internationally for his critically acclaimed, BAFTA-nominated thriller Headhunters (2011). Tyldum has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award.

  1. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Wes AndersonWes Anderson is an American filmmaker—he is the creative genius behind movies like Rushmore (1998), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), and Moonrise Kingdom (2012). Wes Anderson has been previously nominated for three Oscars: Best Original Screenplay for The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and Best Animated Feature for Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009).

Best Original Screenplay

Best Original Screenplay Nominees

This year, similar to the Best Adapted Screenplay category, nearly every singe nominee will be attending the Academy Awards for the first time in a screenwriting capacity. Only two writers out of the nine nominated writers have received Oscar nominations previously: Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson. The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Original Screenplay:

Dan GilroyWINNER: Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Dan Gilroy has never previously been nominated in any screenwriting categories at the Academy Awards.

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Richard Linklater 2Richard Linklater was previously nominated twice at the Oscars in the Best Adapted Screenplay category (Before Sunset and Before Midnight).

 

  1. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo (Birdman)

72nd Annual Golden Globe Awards - Press RoomAlejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo have never previously been nominated for an Academy Award in a writing category.

 

  1. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)

Foxcatcher writersE. Max Frye has never previously been nominated for an Academy Award. However, Dan Futterman has been previously nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for Capote (2005).

 

 

  1. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Wes AndersonWes Anderson has been previously nominated for Best Original Screenplay twice: The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012).

Best Original Score

Best Original Score Nominees Johann+Johannsson+Theory+Everything+Premiere+eocuGB4PLOPlThe Oscar for Best Original Score is awarded to a musical composer for the best body of musical work in the form of underscoring for a particular film. This is perennially one of my favorite Academy Award categories because in my opinion, music is essentially what makes or breaks a film. A movie is just a bunch of images and words, but with the addition of a musical score, the film develops feeling and emotion in a way that better connects with the viewers. This year’s nominees include two composers with deep roots at the Oscars (Hans Zimmer & Alexandre Desplat, the latter of which earned two nominations this year) and two other nominees earning their first nomination (Gary Yershon & Jóhann Jóhannsson). Between the two previously nominated composers in this year’s group, they have received a combined 15 nominations in the Best Original Score category, winning one of those (Hans Zimmer for The Lion King). The following is my Oscars ballot for this category, Best Original Score:

WINNER: Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything)

  1. Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
  1. Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner)
  1. Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
  1. Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Top Three Most Disappointing Films of 2014

INHERENT VICE

Don’t you hate when you go to see a movie that you are expecting to be awesome, and then it turns out to be absolutely dreadful? Well, that happened to me numerous times in 2014, but on three specific occasions, the difference between my expectations and the eventual outcome of viewing those films was far worse than I could have ever expected. These three movies were not the worst that I saw in 2014, but they were by far the most disappointing.

Inherent Vice

INHERENT VICEPaul Thomas Anderson’s seventh feature film Inherent Vice was a movie that I was expecting big things from. In my “Fall Preview 2014” posts, I had it listed among the top ten films that I was most looking forward to. This is because PTA is one of the five greatest living directors, and I have overwhelmingly enjoyed every single one of his movies to date. Well, that was until Inherent Vice. Despite an unbelievably talented cast, including Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Katherine Waterston, Benicio del Toro, Owen Wilson, and Martin Short, the story turned out to be far too convoluted for even those Hollywood superstars to reconcile. I never once bought into any of his characters—I felt no sympathy for, nor any connection to, them. The screenplay did not seem to flow well at all, and it did not have enough to keep me interested. I still believe PTA is more than capable of making another masterpiece like Boogie Nights or There Will Be Blood, but unfortunately Inherent Vice turned out to be a major setback in that pursuit.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

TGBHI love Wes Anderson’s movies. Some people do not buy into his films because they think his filmmaking style is simply “quirk for the sake of quirk,” and even though I agree that his eccentricity is a bit heavy-handed at times, I still personally enjoy his movies. They always have a fun, interesting storyline that is delineated through the work of seriously talented actors, and his distinct stylistic approach to the film’s visuals are truly a work of art. However, with The Grand Budapest Hotel, I was bitterly disappointed. Yes, it had all of the amazing visual effects, production design, makeup and hairstyling, and music you can always expect from the 45-year-old Texas native, but the story was atrocious in my opinion. His attempt at making the movie humorous fell dreadfully flat, and for the first time, I felt his movie was boring. I never once felt engaged with the plot, and a quarter of the way through, I wanted nothing more than for it to be OVER! How on earth this movie is tied for the most Oscar nominations this year is FAR beyond me.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

n-A-MILLION-WAYS-TO-DIE-IN-THE-WEST-TRAILER-large570The hit sitcom Family Guy suffers severely from over-repetitive jokes and gags—anything funny that creator Seth MacFarlane happens upon in his show is ruined by this misused style. However, when MacFarlane released Ted in 2012 (his first feature film), I began to believe in him as a comedian. Ted had all the best parts of Family Guy without the regrettably added horse manure that makes his TV show so extraordinarily unwatchable. Ted is one of my favorite comedies from the past few years, and thus, I was expecting more comedic genius from MacFarlane with his second film A Million Ways to Die in the West. “Expecting” is the key word—this movie was about as enjoyable as a hangover. He reverted back to his unreservedly detestable storytelling techniques of the Peter Griffin clan, and his film fails because of it. The jokes drag on way too long, and with every passing second, MacFarlane’s humor loses any luster it once had. I hate to be so childish and simplistic, but the storyline was just stupid. Charlize Theron is definitely not meant for a movie like this (what a casting error that was), and the only bright spot was Neil Patrick Harris singing about moustaches. The Ted 2 trailer just came out, and although I find it funny, I am not holding my breath for its release because of the utter failure of A Million Ways to Die in the West.