Final Predictions – Oscars 2015

We’re only a week out from the big day. All the precursors are in, so it’s time to go on the record. These are my picks for who’s going to win at the Oscars next Sunday night (Feb. 22), along with some bet-hedging and griping about what should’ve been nominated in the first place. Agree? Disagree? Let’s find out.

Best Animated Short: “Feast”

Best Live Action Short: “The Phone Call”

Best Documentary Short: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”

Predicting the short categories isn’t quite the blind stab that it used to be, thanks to improved distribution that has gotten the nominees out into theaters and various streaming services ahead of the ceremony. But, since most of the Academy members are now watching these at home on screeners rather than at official in-theater screenings, in some ways it’s become even more difficult to gauge how they’re leaning. So it’s still a bit of a crapshoot, but I’m betting on the following: 1) without a standout opponent, the lavish production value and style of Disney’s “Feast” will rule the day in the animated field; 2) familiar face Sally Hawkins (a Supporting Actress nominee just last year) will lean voters towards “The Phone Call” in live action; and 3) the heart-breaking but ultimately optimistic subject matter of “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” (exactly what it sounds like) makes voting for it in documentary feel both good and important, which is exactly the spot where the Academy loves to be.

Best Documentary Feature

Laura Poitras’ first-hand account of Edward Snowden’s leak of classified NSA documents and his flight to Russia has been stream-rolling through the documentary prizes this season, and there’s pretty much no reason to think it won’t win here. “Finding Vivian Maier” was an unexpected art-house hit, but “Citizenfour” has immediate political resonance, and the Academy tends to favor right here-right now docs.

Will win: “Citizenfour”

Could win: “Finding Vivian Maier”

Should’ve been here: (abstain – I’ve been really behind on the documentaries this year)

Best Original Song

One of the first seriously difficult calls of the night. The favorite among the audiences at home will obviously be “Everything Is AWESOME,” Tegan + Sara’s outrageously infective tune from “The LEGO Movie,” but there are some big subplots going on underneath two of the other nominees. There was of course much talk of the general lack of “Selma” in the Oscar nominations, but this is one of the only places where DuVernay’s movie slipped through, and voters upset by the film’s absence elsewhere may very well automatically tick it off here (the fact that it’s a great, fierce song, is actually an appropriate cap to the film, and had a much-discussed performance as the Grammys last week helps too). But then there’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell, country superstar and occasional actor who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. The nominated song is effectively the last one that Campbell will ever write, and that narrative will likely play gangbusters with the Academy’s older generation. This category won’t tell us who will win Best Picture, but pay close attention anyway – it may tell us a lot about how Academy demographics are (or are not) shifting.

Will win:“Glory,” from “Selma”

Could win: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”

Should’ve Been Here: “I Love You All,” from “Frank”

Best Sound Mixing

See here for a good run-down of the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing – but the upshot is that musicals tend to fare well in Mixing, where all the disparate dialogue, score and effects tracks are combined into one comprehensible soundtrack (the inclusion of “Interstellar” here is a mystery in that regard). That’s good news for “Whiplash” and “Birdman,” both of which rely heavily on their jazz-infused scores. “Birdman” is the technical marvel of the year, but I’m thinking that the outlier status of “Whiplash” here means something special.

Will win: “Whiplash”

Could win: “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin,” “God Help the Girl”

Best Sound Editing

With “Whiplash” out of the way here, the general voters will gravitate more towards their favorite film.

Will win: “Birdman”

Could win: “American Sniper”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin,” “The Babadook”

Best Visual Effects

Another tough call. More ground-breaking motion-capture work from Andy Serkis and the “Planet of the Apes” team? Universally beloved “Guardians of the Galaxy?” Ballyhooed, practical space effects from “Interstellar?” There’s a lot of options here and you could make a good case for any. Going with my gut here.

Will win: “Interstellar”

Could win: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin”

Best Film Editing

All five nominees are in the Best Picture hunt, so there are no particular clues there. “American Sniper” has the traditional scenes of war suspense/thrills that can do well here, while Sandra Adair had the unenviable task of paring down footage shot over 12 years to put together “Boyhood.” But since it’s a film that’s all about rhythm, the editing in “Whiplash” is the most obvious – and obviously great, even for non-editors.

Will win: “Whiplash”

Could win: “Boyhood”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

And now we enter Wes Anderson territory. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was perhaps the most unexpected awards season success of the year, running away with tons of love from both the critics and the guilds. Anderson’s aesthetic is always about meticulous design, and this seems to be the year we’re rewarding him for his whole back catalog of great craft. Expect a GBH runaway in the middle of the show.

Will win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: “Foxcatcher”

Should’ve been here: “The Babadook”

Best Costume Design

See above.

Will win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: “Mr. Turner”

Should’ve been here: “A Most Violent Year”

Best Production Design

See above, again; though the practical, non-green-screened spaceship sets of “Interstellar” has its advocates.

Will win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: “Interstellar”

Should’ve been here: “Snowpiercer”

Best Cinematography

After a decade of futility, the man they call Chivo is now an unstoppable Oscar machine. More or less no question now that he’ll triumph over Roger Deakins (again) – the big one is, can he be back next year for Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” and make it three in a row?

Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”

Could win: Robert Yeoman, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Should’ve been here: Daniel Landin, “Under the Skin,” Bradford Young, “Selma”

Best Animated Feature

A category that seemed locked up a year ago was suddenly, but briefly thrown into chaos by the inexplicable exclusion of “The LEGO Movie.” But when the dust settled after that kerfuffle it seems fairly obvious what the second-most-beloved animated film of the year was.

Will win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Could win: “Big Hero 6”

Should’ve been here: “The LEGO Movie,” of course

Best Foreign Language Film

Wow. I’ve seen three of the nominees and already this category is so much better than the Best Picture lineup, you guys. “Leviathan,” “Ida” and “Timbuktu” are all off-the-charts good: gorgeously crafted, devastating social-political dramas that leave you feeling worn down but enlightened about some piece of human nature. But when it comes to this category, that’s exactly what will probably work against them: they’re all so good, in similar ways, so how do you choose between them? That’s why I’m leaning towards “Wild Tales,” Damian Szifron’s reportedly insanely entertaining anthology film, to triumph. It just stands out the most, the same way Argentina’s “The Secret In Their Eyes” pulled ahead of “The White Ribbon” and “A Prophet” a few years back.

Will win: “Wild Tales” (Argentina)

Could win: “Leviathan” (Russia)

Should’ve been here: “Force Majeure” (Sweden)

Best Original Score:

Tricky. Alexandre Desplat’s greatest competition might be himself; will fans of “The Imitation Game” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” split between the two or rally behind one to make sure Desplat is rewarded? (“Grand Budapest” could and should be that option if so) But, don’t count out Jóhann Jóhannson; there are some serious fans of that film in the Academy, and Jóhannson’s score is undoubtedly one of the best and brightest things about it.

Will win: Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: Jóhann Jóhannson, “The Theory of Everything”

Should’ve been here: Mica Levi, “Under the Skin”

Best Original Screenplay:

Ugh, the category that is my perpetual downfall in this competition. Too often I lean towards a Best Picture frontrunner, trying to take in the overall picture rather than just going for the option with the strongest personality behind it (e.g. Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained,” Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris”). So I’m going to try to self-correct this year and say instead of the flashy, but by-committee “Birdman” screenplay, they continue to dole out a career reward to Wes Anderson, who has certainly been one of the most unique voices in film this past decade or two.

Will win: Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: Alejandro Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: John Michael McDonagh, “Calvary,” J.C. Chandor, “A Most Violent Year”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Man. Who the f— knows. Again, the go-with-the-best-picture-leader theory would lean us towards the prestige drama of “The Imitation Game” or “The Theory of Everything,” but both of those films are so strongly oriented toward their performances rather than the screenplay. “Inherent Vice” is flashier, but way too out there for general Academy taste. That’s why I think I have to go again with crowd-pleaser “Whiplash,” the script that’s the most in-your-face with how sharp it is. I’m just now realizing that this little Sundance drama may very well end up with four Oscars on five nominations. That’s an impressive haul.

Will win: Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”

Could win: Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”

Should’ve been here: Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”

Best Supporting Actress

Three of the four acting categories are signed, sealed and delivered. Let’s power through.

Will win: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Could win: Emma Stone, “Birdman” (but not really)

Should’ve been here: Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Could win: Edward Norton, “Birdman” (but not really)

Should’ve been here: Ben Mendehlson, “Starred Up”

Best Actress

Will win: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Could win: Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl” (but not really)

Should’ve been here: Scarlett Johannson, “Under the Skin”

Best Actor

Man oh man. This is the one that’s going to do me in this year. I can feel it. Eddie Redmayne’s hit the traditional markers of success (Golden Globe, SAG award, BAFTA), but Michael Keaton’s still hanging around there with the Golden Globe (comedy) and the “comeback” narrative. And then there’s Bradley Cooper hanging around with high praise in an unexpected box office smash, just waiting to slip up the middle and be the shock winner a la Adrien Brody. I don’t know. Literally nothing I choose feels right. I’ll be gritting my teeth all night waiting for this category.

Will win: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Could win: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: there were so many options, they should’ve just expanded the category to ten this year – Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler,” David Oyelowo, “Selma,” Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner,” Brendan Gleeson, “Calvary,” Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice”

Best Director

The directors guild went for Iñárritu, but I can’t help but think that from the outside looking in, more Academy members will be impressed by Linklater’s obvious achievement. Does that mean we’re headed for the second Director/Picture split year in a row…?

Will win: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Could win: Alejandro Iñárritu, “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: Jonathan Glazer, “Under the Skin,” Pawel Pawlikowski, “Ida,” Andrei Zvyagintsev, “Leviathan”

Best Picture

Seemingly down big to “Boyhood,” “Birdman” swung back in the season with huge wins from the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild. Only “Apollo 13” has hit that trifecta and failed to take Best Picture as well. Clearly people in the industry love it (should it triumph, we need to have a discussion about Hollywood’s recent self-obsession; believe it or not, only two films that are really explicitly about filmmaking have won Best Picture, and they’ve both come within the past five years: “The Artist” and “Argo”). The “Birdman” vs. “Boyhood” showdown smacks of last year’s “Gravity” vs. “12 Years a Slave:” two very, very different films, both great in their own way. I think another Picture/Director split leaves everyone feeling rewarded.

(Do I feel good about picking “Birdman” for Best Picture and not Michael Keaton for Best Actor? You bet I don’t. That doesn’t make any sense. But throw logic out the door this year. It’s been a bumpy ride, and I expect that to continue.)

Will win: “Birdman”

Could win: “Boyhood”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin,” “Ida,” “Leviathan,” “Calvary,” “Timbuktu”

The 8th Annual EMOs

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34 films. 17 different theaters, from New York to Bucksport, Maine, and Culpeper, Virginia. 3976 minutes (that’s over 67 hours). And way, way too much $$$$.

That, in a nutshell, was my year in film, 2014. But this is more than a nutshell. This is Ethan’s Makeshift Oscars. So let’s get into it. As always, to get nominated for an EMO, a film must have been released in 2014 and I had to see it in 2014. No limits on the number of nominations per category, though I try to keep it to 10; in the competitive categories, nominees are listed in ranked order from the cut-off line to the winner. And of course, be sure to stay tuned for the second half of the EMOs, where every film is a winner in its own way.

Check back in a while for a more detailed (and, once I’ve caught up with a few more late-year limited releases, accurate) top 10 of the year. Enjoy!

Best Action Film:

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Godzilla

Funniest Film:

  • Chef
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Land Ho!
  • Obvious Child
  • Frank
  • Dear White People
  • Inherent Vice
  • Birdman
  • The LEGO Movie

Most Fucked-Up Protagonist:

  • Curtis, “Snowpiercer”
  • Andrew Neyman, “Whiplash”
  • Riggan Thomson, “Birdman”
  • Eric Lomax, “The Railway Man”
  • Mark Schultz, “Foxcatcher”
  • Amelia, “The Babadook”
  • Amy and Nick Dunne, “Gone Girl”
  • Lou Bloom, “Nightcrawler”

Most Deserving to Have Everyone Involved in Production Die a Horribly Painful Death Just For Making Me Watch the Trailer:

  • Tammy
  • A Long Way Down
  • Left Behind
  • The Other Woman
  • The Legend of Hercules
  • I, Frankenstein

Worst Science:

  • Interstellar
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Godzilla
  • Transcendence

Rising Above It Award (for acting performance significantly above the overall quality of the film it’s in):

  • Brendan Gleeson, “The Grand Seduction”
  • James McAvoy, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”
  • Jeremy Irvine, “The Railway Man”
  • Emily Blunt, “Edge of Tomorrow”

Scene-Stealer Award:

  • Emily Watson, “The Theory of Everything”
  • Ed Harris, “Snowpiercer”
  • Robert Downey, Jr., “Chef”
  • Domhnall Gleeson, “Calvary”
  • Toby Jones, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

Breakthrough Actor/Actress of the Year:

  • Evan Peters, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”
  • Chris Pratt, “The LEGO Movie” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • Dave Bautista, “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child”
  • Carrie Coon, “Gone Girl”
  • the collective cast of “Dear White People”

Best Poster:

  • Under the Skin

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  • Whiplash

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  • Inherent Vice

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  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

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  • Foxcatcher

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  • Nightcrawler

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  • Rosewater

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  • Men, Women and Children

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  • A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

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  • Birdman

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Best Trailer:

  • Mommy
  • Godzilla
  • Boyhood
  • Knight of Cups
  • Gone Girl
  • Force Majeure
  • Selma
  • Nightcrawler
  • Birdman
  • Inherent Vice

Best Scene:

  • Eating a piece of cake, “Under the Skin”
  • Skydiving into San Francisco, “Godzilla”
  • Business over dinner, “Nightcrawler”
  • Brothers warming up, “Foxcatcher”
  • Docking, “Interstellar”
  • On the beach, “Calvary”
  • A syndicate of dentists, “Inherent Vice”
  • Despair, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”
  • “Not quite my tempo”, “Whiplash”

Best Use of An Existing Song:

  • “The Obvious Child,” Paul Simon, “Obvious Child”
  • “In a Big Country,” Big Country, “Land Ho!”
  • “Come and Get Your Love,” Redbone, “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • “Hero,” Family of the Year, “Boyhood”
  • “Vitamin C,” Can, “Inherent Vice”

Best Original Song:

  • “Where No One Goes,” by Jónsi, “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
  • “For the Dancing and the Dreaming,” by Jónsi and John Powell, “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
  • “Song of the Heavenly Maiden,” by Joe Hisaishi, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”
  • “I Love You All,” by the Soronprfbs, “Frank”
  • “Everything is AWESOME!!!” by Tegan and Sara with The Lonely Island, “The LEGO Movie”

Best Original Score:

  • Alexandre Desplat, “Godzilla”
  • Herbert Grönemeyer, “A Most Wanted Man”
  • James Newton Howard, “Nightcrawler”
  • Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, “Gone Girl”
  • Jóhann Jóhannson, “The Theory of Everything”
  • Hans Zimmer, “Interstellar”
  • Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
  • Antonio Sanchez, “Birdman”
  • Jonny Greenwood, “Inherent Vice”
  • Mica Levi, “Under the Skin”
  • Joe Hisaishi, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”

Prettiest Pictures:

  • Benoît Delhomme, “A Most Wanted Man”
  • Hoyte van Hoytema, “Interstellar”
  • Benoît Delhomme, “The Theory of Everything”
  • Jeff Cronenweth, “Gone Girl”
  • Larry Smith, “Calvary”
  • Robert Elswit, “Inherent Vice”
  • Robert Elswit, “Nightcrawler”
  • Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski, “Ida”
  • Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”
  • Daniel Landin, “Under the Skin”

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • Andrew Bovell, “A Most Wanted Man”
  • Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”
  • Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan, “Frank”
  • Gillian Robespierre, “Obvious Child”
  • Isao Takahata, Riko Sakaguchi, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Chris Miller, Phil Lord, “The LEGO Movie”
  • Jennifer Kent, “The Babadook”
  • Justin Simien, “Dear White People”
  • E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, “Foxcatcher”
  • Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
  • Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”
  • Pawel Pawlikowski, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, “Ida”
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Armando Bo, Alexander Dinelaris, “Birdman”
  • John Michael McDonagh, “Calvary”

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Robin Wright, “A Most Wanted Man”
  • Andrea Riseborough, “Birdman”
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal, “Frank”
  • Carrie Coon, “Gone Girl”
  • Joanna Newsom, “Inherent Vice”
  • Rene Russo, “Nightcrawler”
  • Kelly Reilly, “Calvary”
  • Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
  • Emma Stone, “Birdman”
  • Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Will Arnett, “The LEGO Movie”
  • Tyler Perry, “Gone Girl”
  • Dave Bautista, “Guardians of the Galaxy”
  • Josh Brolin, “Inherent Vice”
  • Riz Ahmed, “Nightcrawler”
  • Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
  • Chris O’Dowd, “Calvary”
  • Edward Norton, “Birdman”
  • J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
  • Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”

Best Actress:

  • Aki Asakura, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”
  • Tessa Thompson, “Dear White People”
  • Jenny Slate, “Obvious Child”
  • Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
  • Agata Trzebuchowska, “Ida”
  • Agata Kulesza, “Ida”
  • Essie Davis, “The Babadook”
  • Scarlett Johannson, “Under the Skin”

Best Actor:

  • Domhnall Gleeson, “Frank”
  • Tyler James Williams, “Dear White People”
  • Earl Lynn Nelson, “Land Ho!”
  • Paul Eenhorn, “Land Ho!”
  • Michael Fassbender, “Frank”
  • Channing Tatum, “Foxcatcher”
  • Miles Teller, “Whiplash”
  • Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
  • Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, “A Most Wanted Man”
  • Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
  • Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice”
  • Brendan Gleeson, “Calvary”

Best Acting Ensemble:

  • Frank
  • The LEGO Movie
  • Snowpiercer
  • Dear White People
  • Boyhood
  • Calvary
  • Inherent Vice
  • Birdman

Best Director:

  • Jennifer Kent, “The Babadook”
  • Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
  • Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”
  • Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”
  • John Michael McDonagh, “Calvary”
  • Pawel Pawlikowski, “Ida”
  • Jonathan Glazer, “Under the Skin”
  • Isao Takahata, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman”
  • Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Best Film:

  • Frank
  • Nightcrawler
  • Dear White People
  • Foxcatcher
  • Whiplash
  • Boyhood
  • Inherent Vice
  • Ida
  • Under the Skin
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya
  • Birdman
  • Calvary

Best “Drunk History” Impression: “The Legend of Hercules”

I mean I guess I might get Hercules, the Bible and “300” confused after ten shots of tequila too.

Most Ineffectual World-Conquering AI

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Least Sexy PG-13 Robot/Human Sexytimes

Biggest Waste of Morgan Freeman’s Talent…the Week of April 18

Most Tech-Savvy Neo-Luddite Terrorist Group

Least Invested Johnny Depp

and

Most Misguidedly Aspirational Title: “Transcendence”

I just couldn’t stop.

Most Plot Twists Telegraphed Through Casting: “Non-Stop”

Liam Neeson is stuck on a plane with a murderer who could be ANYONE…of the five name actors involved with this film. And gee, I wonder if Julianne Moore is going to be important maybe.

Most Fraught Ethical Issues Raised and Then Immediately Dismissed By a Feel-Good Comedy: “The Grand Seduction”

I mean I guess we’re all OK with blackmailing a doctor in order to bring an environmental-unfriendly petrochemical factory to a tiny picturesque island with a population that couldn’t possibly sustain responsible business models…because…Brendan Gleeson said so?

Most Inexplicable Absence of a Piece of Pop Culture Inside Another Piece of Pop Culture:  “Groundhog Day” and “Edge of Tomorrow”

Time-manipulating alien invaders, exoskeleton-equipped super-soldiers, Tom Cruise/Emily Blunt romance; I’ll buy it all, but fuck off if you ask me to believe the future forgets about Bill Murray.

The Closest Thing We’ll Ever Get to Colin Firth in “Taken”: “The Railway Man”

I’m just saying, Hollywood is leaving a considerable amount of money on the table here.

Most Depressing Captain America Movie: “Snowpiercer”

Maybe that whole time when he was trapped under the ice Steve Rogers was eating babies to survive.

Best Archival Villain: Nazi videotape, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

I don’t think my NYU graduate education in moving image preservation has properly prepared me for the eventuality of discovering Toby Jones’ consciousness downloaded onto 1000 quad machines. I want my money back.

Most Concerned I’ve Ever Been That an Actor’s Veins Might Literally Explode on Screen: Hugh Jackman, “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Can someone please tell Mr. Jackman that he can stop being so polite and everyone will be OK if he stops taking steroids now please?

Biggest Genetic Gamble: the child of Sofia Vergara and Jon Favreau, “Chef”

May the odds be ever in your favor, kid.

Most Blatant and Ill-Conceived Attempt to Be Disney But Not Disney: “How To Train Your Dragon 2”

“Everyone knows that the mom always dies in Disney movies…so…what can we do differently….”

Most Actors Acting in Completely Different Movies: “Gone Girl”

I’m not even entirely convinced Tyler Perry knew he was in a movie at all, or if they just filmed him laughing at David Fincher.

Most Han Solos: “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Everyone loves s cocky space pirate. Or fifteen.

Most Anatomical Questions Raised: “The Theory of Everything”

Look, Stephen, I know you’re British and don’t discuss these things. But a throwaway joke is not enough detail here. Forget the black hole stuff. I need charts.

Dumbest Film-Related Complaint of the Year: not enough Godzilla in “Godzilla”

^ Honestly, I don’t know what fucking “more Godzilla” you need.

Cheekiest Punctuation: “Land Ho!”

This could’ve gone to “I, Frankenstein,” but the one thing I would like to reward about THAT film is that they got their grammar right.

Most Likely To Drive You Insane Trying to Figure Out Who’s Voicing That Robot: “Interstellar”

For the record, I love Bill Irwin – he’s freaking phenomenal in “Rachel Getting Married” and does a great job with TARS. But goddamn if he doesn’t sound like every single other famous male actor in Hollywood. Ever. Seriously, I considered that he was the recycled voice of Marlon Brando for a little while.

Most Fucking Instances of Fucking Ralph Fiennes Saying “Fuck” A Fucking Lot: “The Grand Budapest Hotel

Clearly this is so stunning that we must give Wes Anderson all the screenplay awards.

Best Evidence That Everything About the Abortion Sequence in “Juno” Can Go Fuck Itself: “Obvious Child”

To be clear, “Juno” is still a solid-to-good movie overall. But just everything about those scenes. Every. Thing.

Best Cinematic Birth Control Since “Eraserhead”: “The Babadook”

Nope nope nope no children nope nope never nope.

Greatest Disparity Between the Quality of a Movie and the Quality It Has Any Business Being: “The LEGO Movie”

I don’t remember the last time an hour-and-a-half long toy commercial made me cry. Don Draper would be so proud.

Saddest. : “A Most Wanted Man”

RIP, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Chiara Mastroianni Award: “Nightcrawler”

So this one requires a bit of explanation. Maybe you know Chiara Mastroianni, European actress and model:

A perfectly attractive and striking woman; but, and with no insult meant here, just not the stunning ethereal being that you would expect from the union of Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve, two of the most beautiful humans ever to walk this planet:

                          

So how is this relevant to “Nightcrawler?” Well, imagine Marcello Mastroianni is “Taxi Driver” and Catherine Deneuve is “Network.” Now combine the two, if you get my drift. Stunning on paper, very good in practice – and yet…

God Damn It He Sings Too: Michael Fassbender, “Frank”

Life just isn’t fair.

Yo, Is This Racist? : “Dear White People”

Nope!

Most Fascinating Beard/Hair Combo Ever Known to Man: Dave Schultz/Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”

I just can’t….stop….staring at it….

Bloodiest Depiction of Music Since the Lost Director’s Cut of “Mr. Holland’s Opus”: “Whiplash”

I never even considered it before, but I feel really bad for the janitors at Juilliard now.

Best Candidates for the Next-Next Season of “True Detective”: Joaquin Phoenix and Josh Brolin, “Inherent Vice”

With Doc Sportello in the mix we could easily fill Matthew McConaughey’s stoned rants.

Best CGI: “Boyhood”

It’s really amazing what they can do with computers today, man.

Most Ridiculously Art-House Movie of the Year: “Ida”

I mean, it’s a Polish film about a nun discovering the emotionally devastating truth of her family’s death in the Holocaust, filmed in black-and-white Academy ratio. Are we sure this is an actual movie that exists or just a super dedicated Funny or Die sketch?

Highest Combined Total of Physical, Emotional and Social Distress: “Under the Skin”

Ugggggghhhhhhh I’m so uncomfortable but I kind of like it? It’s really weird to be a film snob sometimes.

Most Unexpected Anti-Buddhist Propaganda: “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”

FUCK YOU, MOON BUDDHA.

Most Likely to Confuse Insecure Film Critics: “Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”

“But…but…they make fun of critics…….must…activate…humorless douchebag mode….”

Most Terrifying Evidence That Littlefinger from “Game of Thrones” Is Attempting to Cross Into Our World Through the Vessel of Aidan Gillen: “Calvary”

It would appeeeeeaaaaarrrr soooooooo…

NYFCC Don’t Want To Be Your Hero

Yesterday, the New York Film Critics Circle kicked off the next phase of the Oscar season (first comes festivals, then comes critics, then comes shiny statues in a shiny statue carriage). The results weren’t exactly surprising, but I would still call them refreshing: particularly in regard to the group’s choices in the leading performance races, there’s a notable effort here not to immediately narrow down the season to a handful of select names. It should be the job of the critics’ groups to look as broadly as possible around the world of film and perhaps come back with some ignored, foreign or otherwise overlooked candidates. I’d say the NYFCC generally accomplished that this year. Further thoughts along with each category’s winner below!

New York Film Critics Circle

Best Film: Boyhood

“Boyhood” hasn’t stopped playing at the IFC Center in NY since its first shows sold out for almost a week straight in August. The NYC crowd have been the main ones singing its praises the whole time, so this was no shocker. With some of the expected contenders winding up with mixed or lackluster receptions, “Boyhood” is looking better and better by the day, summer release be damned.

Best Director: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

See above. His spot in the field is as about as secure as anyone’s.

Best First Film: Jennifer Kent, “The Babadook”

I haven’t seen it yet, but Kent’s film has been a festival favorite since Sundance and has genre luminaries like Stephen King and William Friedkin stumping for it. Female directors FTW, in any case.

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night” and “The Immigrant”

Yes yes and yes – even if I’ve never been fond of the NYFCC’s tendency to reward a “career year” rather than one performance like this, I’m glad someone’s putting Cotillard (back) in the conversation, whether for James Gray’s period piece or the Dardennes’ economy-woes drama. There’s been a lot of complaints about a “thin” year for Best Actress contenders, which speaks more to Hollywood’s unwillingness to put an adult woman at the center of any of its films than anything else. But there’s a rich history in such “thin” years of the Academy reaching further for more interesting choices if they get pushed there – in fact, Cotillard’s already got an Oscar to prove it (“La Vie En Rose”). So let’s start pushing. Kudos, NYFCC.

Best Actor: Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”

Again, Spall remains on the right side of the conversation bubble for at least a little longer. Best Actor could go 15 deep and I don’t think anyone would argue this year – whether or not Spall gets a spot, a Cannes victory plus this will certainly get a few more people out to see Mike Leigh’s latest.

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

In the supporting categories the NYFCC tended more toward solidifying groupthink – but when the performances are this good, it’s tough to argue. Arquette’s wonderful in the film, plain and simple, and it helps that she’s a respected and endearing actress that everyone will be happy to see rewarded.

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Same logic goes for Simmons. His performance in “Whiplash” is the kind of instantly iconic work that often sweeps the field in this category (see Ledger, Heath; Bardem, Javier; Waltz, Christoph, the first time). Expect to see him in Oscar montages for years to come.

Best Cinematography: Darius Khondji, “The Immigrant”

Khondji’s something of an unsung hero of the field. He’s been doing fantastic work going back to Fincher’s “Se7en,” and even if “The Immigrant” didn’t light the critics aflame, it certainly looked gorgeous. Another nice keep-the-box-open pick.

Best Screenplay: Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Personally I haven’t understood the “GBH” hoopla. I think Anderson’s done far richer work and there’s a host of fresher options in this category this year (Damien Chazelle for “Whiplash?” Justin Simien for “Dear White People?” John Michael McDonagh for “Calvary?” come on, people). But he’s a writer’s branch favorite and despite the film’s very early-in-the-year release, he seems to be gathering steam for another nomination.

Best Nonfiction Film: CITIZENFOUR

Haven’t caught up with it yet, so no comment.

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

Likewise, although it’s streaming on Netflix and is one of my last big priorities for the year (and should be for you as well).

Best Animated Film: The LEGO Movie

Not a whole lot of options out there for the critics this year, but as much as I enjoyed “The LEGO Movie,” I feel like clearly not enough of the membership saw “The Tale of Princess Kaguya.” I mean really, if the critics can’t even get out of the multiplex, where are we these days with animation?

Special Award: Adrienne Mancia, curator of film exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art

More well deserved than you all can know. Hear, hear.