It’s noon on Oscar Sunday, and on to the three toughest categories of the night. No, really…they really are! With one reluctant adjustment from my broadcast picks. Damn…but I’m still holding on to a slight sliver of hope!
Best Original Screenplay: the winner is Wes Anderson for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. But what about “Boyhood” and “Birdman”? Here’s the thing…”Birdman” is probably the closest contender, but it has a total of FOUR screenwriters on its team. You have to shave some points for that. But you can’t ignore Linklater’s chances for “Boyhood”, especially if this is the only way they choose to honor him. But Wes is seen as overdue, “Budapest” is his biggest hit, by far, and he juggled a myriad of interesting characters with his complex screenplay. Plus, he kept it funny! He edges the “B” boys here. Dan Gilroy is a first timer with his “Nightcrawler” script, the sole nom for that film…not gonna happen. And “Foxcatcher”, while excellent, is off everyone’s radar. I think Wes edges this one.
Best Adapted Screenplay: the victor will be Damien Chazelle for “Whiplash”…in an upset. There has been a groundswell of support for this script, and I’m leaning towards it pulling out the win. This is supposed to be the big award for The Weinstein Company’s “The Imitation Game”, which is starting to smell like one of those films that goes home completely empty-handed. That’s what happens when you don’t take a risk, Harvey. “The Theory of Everything” is tepid, and I believe even the Academy realizes that, and barely anyone understood “Inherent Vice”. Is “American Sniper” poised to take it? Doesn’t seem likely that this would be its award. “AS” is popular with filmgoers, but the industry folks are split…only Bradley Cooper comes out unscathed by the controversy. “Whiplash” by a drumstick.
Best Picture: much to my shock, and a little bit of dismay…the winner will be “Birdman”. This is a departure from my national broadcast pick…made before calculating the announcement of the Independent Spirit Awards victory for “Birdman” last night. That swung my already wavering opinion away from “Boyhood”, which I would still like to emerge victorious. But “Birdman” has a juggernauting trajectory of late, while Richard Linklater’s astonishing achievement has been losing steam. That being said, Linklater DID take Best Director from the Indie Spirits…so go figure! These are tight races folks, but actors LOVE “Birdman”, and that’s the largest voting body of the Academy. “Selma” is honorable…and dead-in-the-water. “Budapest” has its champions, but not enough. “American Sniper” has as many detractors as supporters. “The Imitation Game” is middle brow and empty. “The Theory of Everything” is shameless in its Oscar-baiting, plus highly forgettable. And “Whiplash” is dynamic, but over-the-top. I’ve been touting the strength of “Boyhood” for months, but I’ve finally been convinced that it’s not going to prevail. “Birdman” will be voted Best Picture of the year. And I fervently hope that this is the one I call wrong.
So, there it is readers, in all its glory. You can search this site for my pretty damn accurate track record…but I’ve never sweated it out as much as this year. These last three races are tiiiight. Enjoy the Oscars, congrats to all the winners and nominees. And, of course…see you next year!