The Punk Effect’s movie critics discuss this year’s Academy Award nominations and predict the winners!
The 2015 Academy Awards
The statues are built with Walter Huston’s gold and the carpet is stained with the blood of Black Swan’s unpaid interns. It’s Oscars season again! – which means it’s time for The Punk Effect’s team of movie critics to argue over which artists will take home awards (and which ones deserve it more). Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
But first, let’s meet our panelists (click their names to see more of their work)….
A 1980s pop culture enthusiast and the author of Video Quest. He’s still waiting for Sylvester Stallone to return his email so he can join the Expendables. Brian Re! (@MoronUnited)
Hailing all the way from New Zealand, he’s the creator of the web series Extra Life. A new recruit to our band of brothers. FERALxPANDA! (@FERALxPANDA)
From the home of the Grand Canyon, he’s the author of Overthinking It and The Bottom Lane. Another new addition to the Oscar panel. “Overthinking” Geron! (@Geron0004)
The team Captain. Ian Montgomery! (@IanMontgomery86)
He’s The Punk Effect’s resident Youtube film critic and our returning champion. Kristopher Pistole! (@krispistole)
And he’s our expert on Asian culture (among many other things). A regular news contributor and the author of Foxhounder Films. Our young stallion: Oliver Jia! (@FOXHOUNDER1014)
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)
– Inherent Vice (Mark Bridges)
– Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)
– Maleficent (Anna B. Sheppard)
– Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)
Brian: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Those were some nice costumes. Some nice costumes, indeed. Oh yes.
Geron: Everyone is saying that Disney’s “Into the Woods” is a likely winner for Best Costume Design at this year’s Oscars. I tend to disagree. While Meryl Streep and the others did perform well, the costume design seemed like every other Disney-oriented live action movie that is from or remotely from Grimm’s Fairy tales. You know… illustrious attire with a Disney twist. I’ve seen one too many times, even in non-Disney films that have a plot/setting that is from or remotely from Grimm’s Fairy tales. Anyway, in my opinion the costume design award should go to Milena Canonero and her work in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Here’s why: she managed to capture a very hard setting via costume alone. I mean, when you’re given the task of “costume design” for hotel service staff, wealthy clientele, police force, and civilians in 1930s Alpine Europe, that’s a tall order of a task but for Milena (whose had several nominations and awards in the same category). She nailed it perfectly, especially for the focused members of the cast Zero and Gustave. Because back then being in hotel service wasn’t a 9AM to 7PM job so you can afford to pay rent and put food on the table, it was a duty of service where you had to show lots of dignity…even if you were possibly scheming rich old ladies via “exceptional service”. Anyway, speaking from a standpoint of someone who’s been in theater and worked in costume design and cosplay for a large portion of his life, what captured me the most was color. The staff’s color at the Grand Budapest was purple, which clashed with the bright-yet drab scenery, making them stand out in comparison to the lavish hotel guests and others. Diving deeper into thought, I wonder “why purple?” No one (to my recollection) has asked Milena, so I must go by assumption. Purple is a usually a sign of nobility, you’d likely see that more often from the guests but not really. Anyway in an effort to not spoil anything, the ending does reflect Gustave and Zero’s own notabilities, which could possibly be the meaning. Anyway bright clashing colors and meaning made me think that Grand Budapest Hotel deserves the Oscar for Best Costume Design.
Ian: Wes Anderson’s characters are better remembered for how they appear than how they behave. I pick The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Oliver: It’s going to The Grand Budapest Hotel. Style is definitely the film’s strongest point, and the characters all look classy with their excellent costumes
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock)
– The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald)
– Interstellar (Nathan Crowley and Gary Fettis)
– Into the Woods (Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock)
– Mr. Turner (Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts)
Brian: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Because look at it.
FERALxPanda: The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was colourful and stylized. Suited the comical tone completely.
Ian: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Love or hate Wes Anderson’s work, his production design is out of our world
Oliver: The Grand Budapest Hotel. No questions asked. Its production is exquisite from start to finish, having an atmosphere that’s almost Tim Burton-like.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Laura Dern (Wild)
Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Emma Stone (Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
Brian: Despite Meryl Streep being nominated for the 538th time, all signs point to Patricia Arquette taking the award for both her performance and dedication to Boyhood.
FERALxPANDA: Emma Stone in Birdman. She played well off of other characters and wasn’t weak at all. She had one scene in particular which hands down became one of the most resonating parts of the film.
Ian: Oscar winning actress formula: Crying = Trophy. Patricia Arquette, the stage is yours.
Actor in a Supporting Role
– Robert Duvall (The Judge)
– Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
– Edward Norton (Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
– Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
– J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Brian: J.K. Simmons. No contest.
FERALxPanda: I don’t think Edward Norton has ever played a weak role. His performance in Birdman was so vibrant. He had such a strong presence on screen.
Ian: At this point, the Oscar is a gimme putt for J.K. Simmons.
Kris: If Edward Norton gets it, I won’t be too upset, but J.K. Simmons made me pee my pants in Whiplash.
Oliver: J.K. Simmons has this one locked on with his best performance ever and with one of the best ever on the silver screen in the past few years, period. ‘Nuff said. I’d be very surprised if he didn’t get the award.
Writing – Original Screenplay
– Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo)
– Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
– Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman)
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness)
– Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
Brian: Birdman If Boyhood wins,…there will be blood.
Ian: Birdman deserves it. Boyhood will win it. Not happy with this one.
Kris: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson seems to be too quirky to ever get a “Best Picture” award, so let’s give him this one for writing the funniest script of 2014.
Oliver: The Grand Budapest Hotel. With its sharp dialogue and witty characters, it’s one of the most enthralling stories of the year.
Writing – Adapted Screenplay
– American Sniper (Jason Hall)
– The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)
– Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)
– The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten)
– Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
Brian: Yay! We found an award for The Imitation Game!
Ian: American Sniper transformed Chris Kyle’s story into arguably the best depiction of modern warfare. The Imitation Game is an important slice of world history. Whiplash was an ultimate passion project. Tough call. I pick Whiplash.
Oliver: I think Whiplash has a pretty good chance at this one. Its writing is so agonizingly close to perfection that it’s amazing.
Makeup and Hairstyling
– Foxcatcher (Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard)
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier)
– Guardians of the Galaxy (Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White)
FERALxPANDA: Guardians of the Galaxy. Super over the top, perfectly suiting the comic book.
Ian: No obvious choice here. Hmm. Guardians of the Galaxy?
Oliver: Guardians of the Galaxy looks impressive, but let’s be honest here. There’s only three nominees in this category, and the award is obviously going to The Grand Budapest Hotel.
– American Sniper (Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach)
– Boyhood (Sandra Adair)
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)
– The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)
– Whiplash (Tom Cross)
Brian: Not entirely sure on this one. American Sniper being nominated is rather absurd, but its ridiculous box office performance is giving it some award buzz. The Grand Budapest Hotel is certainly deserving, but The Imitation Game, which would have been a shoe-in for multiple Oscars in a different year, doesn’t appear to have any wins in sight. And then there’s Whiplash, which could certainly come out of nowhere and take the award. But whatever, it’s Boyhood.
FERALxPANDA: Boyhood – purely because of the experimental nature of the film taking so many years to make and still seeming consistent is admirable to say the least.
Ian: This one’s tough. Boyhood seems like the frontrunner, but I really don’t think the story’s transitions from year to year were done all that well. American Sniper could get it, but I’m going with Whiplash.
Oliver: Another tough category because all the entries are really great. But for my money, I’d say that Boyhood or Budapest is going to get this one. The former because of how seamlessly it transitions between the different stages of the characters’ lives, and the latter because of its changes in aspect ratio between the past and present segments. I’m mostly leaning towards Boyhood on this one though.
– Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick)
– Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist)
– Guardians of the Galaxy (Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould)
– Interstellar (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher)
– X-Men: Days of Future Past (Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer)
Brian: Guardians of the Galaxy. It appears to be a mostly a toss-up. So…..I’m tossing up my hands as well.
FERALxPANDA: As someone who did professional visual effects for a small time, I tend to not be as impressed from explosions or CGI. Interstellar used displacement maps really well without it being comical. The robots being CGI actually worked as well, because if something were not human, and was animated to seem unnatural, it actually makes sense.
Ian: I’m going with Interstellar because the other nominations are too “popcorn” for The Academy’s taste.
Kris: Interstellar. If Nolan can’t make a goon enough movie to get a “best picture”, at least, by God, he’s gonna make some fantastic effects.
Oliver: Interstellar, hands down. Comic book films rarely get any of their nominations, even in the effects category, so we can safely discount Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, and X-Men from winning. Either way, Interstellar definitely had the best effects of this year, allowing a realistic portrayal of outer space to shine through. It has this one in the bag.
– Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Emmanuel Lubezki)
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)
– Ida (Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski)
– Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
– Unbroken (Roger Deakins)
Brian: Birdman is not only a storytelling triumph, but an absolute stunning achievement on all technical levels. The shots are long, flowing, and perfectly seamless. And considering its musical score was not even eligible for nomination (utterly ridiculous), Birdman better be taking home some other technical awards.
FERALxPANDA: Birdman. The entire film is tricked to seem like one continuous shot. If that isn’t good camerawork, get out of my damn face.
Ian: Every moment of Birdman was a work of visual genius. There’s no way it won’t win.
Kris: Birdman deserves it for the technical innovations alone.
Oliver: It’s a toss-up between Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Birdman is notable for having the same shot (with some cuts) throughout the entire film, but whether or not the Academy will like this approach remains to be seen. On the other hand, the Grand Budapest Hotel is beautifully shot and looks amazing throughout. To me, it’s going to go to either one of these films.
– American Sniper (Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman)
– Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock)
– The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Brent Burge and Jason Canovas)
– Interstellar (Richard King)
– Unbroken (Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro)
Brian: Because American Sniper needs to win something, right?
FERALxPANDA: Interstellar. It felt powerful yet grounded. It would have been so easy for this film to have a basic science fiction sound with strange dub-step sounds. Luckily that wasn’t the case. The use of silence made the parts with sound hold more weight.
Ian: AKA The Christopher Nolan award. “We’re big fans, but we’re not ready to give you highest honors yet. Take this in the meantime?” Interstellar wins.
Oliver: Interstellar. One of the best parts of this film was realistically capturing the far reaches of space with its spectacular sound design.
– American Sniper (John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin)
– Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga)
– Interstellar (Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten)
– Unbroken (Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee)
– Whiplash (Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley)
Brian: American Sniper. Sure! Whatever!
Ian: Interstellar was the worst reviewed sound mix of the year, but it will win an award because we’re a weird culture.
Oliver: Whiplash. Music is a big part of this film, and the sound mixing was consistently top-notch. It may not win Best Score due to having too much licensed music, but it’s my hope that it’ll win this one. The nominees between Editing and Mixing are quite similar though, so perhaps Interstellar will take both.
Music – Original Song
– “Everything Is Awesome” from THE LEGO MOVIE (Shawn Patterson)
– “Glory” from SELMA (John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn)
– “Grateful” from BEYOND THE LIGHTS (Diane Warren)
– “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from GLEN CAMPBELL…I’LL BE ME (Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond)
– “Lost Stars” from BEGIN AGAIN (Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois)
Brian: “Glory” from Selma. Selma hasn’t won any awards yet. Let’s throw one its way…although redemption for The Lego Movie, which was not even nominated for Best Animated Feature, would certainly be neat. And a nod for “Lost Stars” from Begin Again? Super spiffy – it is a very underrated film.
FERALxPANDA: Everything is Awesome – The Lego Movie. The song constructed having a narrative context suited the dystopian sociological commentary, plus it was catchy enough for the kids to sing along to.
Ian: The hands down winner is “Glory” from Selma. Meaningful lyrics and a chorus that stays with you.
Music – Original Score
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)
– The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)
– Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)
– Mr. Turner (Gary Yershon)
– The Theory of Everything (Jóhann Jóhannsson)
Brian: The Theory of Everything. Original score should boil down to a battle between Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game) and Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything). Judging from buzz, Johannsson seems most likely to take home the prize, which is most certainly well-deserved.
FERALxPANDA: Interstellar – Hans Zimmer. It was suspenseful, although some said it was repetitious, I personally found the score to benefit from it, using audio cues to help drive home the emotional context of all of the built up situations.
Ian: This is the category I care about the most but hate the most, because my least favorite always wins. The Theory of Everything‘s score is being championed, but I can’t help but wonder how many supporters were fooled into believing Johann Johannson wrote the end credits cue, which was actually borrowed from a nature documentary called The Crimson Wing. Either way, Johannson is bound to win.
Oliver: Interstellar by Hans Zimmer. His soundtrack for Christopher Nolan’s epic science fiction epic had everything I could possibly want. Grand scale, unprecedented technical achievement, haunting melodies, and effective atmosphere. Those organ bars have been playing in my head ever since I walked out of the theater. Let’s hope the Oscars shares my sentiment.
Short Film – Animated
– The Bigger Picture (Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees)
– The Dam Keeper (Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi)
– Feast (Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed)
– Me and My Moulton (Torill Kove)
– A Single Life (Joris Oprins)
FERALxPANDA: Feast. It had a lot of unique animation techniques, plus I like anything 200% more if it is cute.
Geron: While everyone else wants to be a hipster and smear Disney (because it’s popular) and go for the lesser known-to-the-public shorts like “The Dam Keeper” and “The Bigger Picture”, I do feel like Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed and Disney do deserve the award for Best Animated Short Film. While every other short used words to tell a story, “Feast” used very few words to tell a very straight forward but not-too-cheesy love story. Disney did the same thing with “Paperman” back in 2012. Same formula, different story, feel-goodness and entertainment was achieved. Anyway, if you can tell the story of a dog owner going through emotional stages in his life via the way he feeds his Boston Terrier and do it through a 3rd person perspective of the dog, and tug at everyone’s heartstrings in the audience, you must be doing something right. Combine that with the cel-shading art style and an uplifting musical score, you have a winner. (Also I have a thing for toy breed dogs. And my pug tends to eat as much as Winston. So I can relate. I just don’t have that love life in my life, sadly.)
Animated Feature Film
– Big Hero 6 (Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli)
– The Boxtrolls (Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight)
– How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold)
– Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore and Paul Young_
– The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura)
Brian: Doesn’t appear to be a clear frontrunner in the animated category this year, but judging from its win at the Annie Awards, How To Train Your Dragon 2 will probably take home the Academy prize.
FERALxPANDA: The Boxtrolls I love animation and picking a favorite was very difficult. The Tale of Kaguya probably had the most pure form of animation. Big Hero 6 was extremely stylized and well made. HTTYD2 had a lot of strong designs and was an epic spectacle of an animated film. The Boxtrolls had a strong foundation of all disciplines of film making and animation. Each hand-crafted model was unique and there wasn’t anything made purely to fill space. Everything had a purpose and was meticulously crafted. The sequence at the end highlighted the effort put in by showing the process of creating the film, which I always appreciate.
Ian: The Lego Movie’s snub is this year’s biggest Oscar tragedy. The good thing is it opened up room for some always-overlooked Japanese cinema. But as they’re always overlooked, Disney’s Big Hero 6 will claim the prize.
Kris: I don’t care. The Lego Movie was the best animated film of the year. Possibly of the decade so far. The fact that it’s not here, is just stupid.
Oliver: Time for Studio Ghibli to make up for Frozen’s (unjust, IMO) trump over The Wind Rises last year. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya has this one locked. It’s the highest rated out of all the other nominees (100% on Rotten Tomatoes!) and its only major competition was The Lego Movie, which got snubbed by the Academy. Now director Isao Takahata can get the recognition he deserves after playing second fiddle to Hayao Miyazaki, and Japan can take its first Oscar home in years. I’ll be a very happy man when I see this one win.
Actress in a Leading Role
– Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)
– Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
– Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
– Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
– Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Brian: This should be one of those cases of the Academy giving an award to an overdue individual, with no consideration to the actual performance being nominated. Julianne Moore has been on the table for far too long, and despite relatively nobody seeing Still Alice, Moore is the frontrunner by a longshot.
Ian: As I said before, Crying = Trophy. Julianne Moore does plenty of it and will rob Rosamund Pike of her much deserved win. If I were to ever Kanye an acceptance speech, this might be it. #NoDisrespectToJulianneMoore
Kris: Not to diminish any of these ladies’ performances, but there’s just not a lot to talk about here. Come on, Hollywood, we need more strong parts for women already. Likely the top contenders are Julianne Moore and Rosamond Pike. I have not seen Still Alice, so I’m gonna give it to Rosamond Pike.
Actor in a Leading Role
– Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
– Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
– Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
– Michael Keaton (Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance
– Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Brian: There were some absolutely incredible performances this year – from Redmayne’s breakout performance in The Theory of Everything, to Steve Carell’s stunning portrayal of John duPont in Foxcatcher. But Michael Keaton absolutely stole the show in Birdman, which was no small feat considering the terrific performances across the board in that film.
FERALxPANDA: Micheal Keaton – Birdman, There were so many layers of depth to his character. It was fantastic to see Keaton’s performance really showcase different layers of acting and all of them being convincing and captivating. A truly fantastic performance. I cannot stress that enough.
Ian: This is my favorite category because everyone deserves to win. But Michael Keaton winning is not just celebrating an outstanding performance. It’s celebrating an outstanding career. Unlike Keaton’s disgraced character, he knew when to hold and when to fold.
Kris: Will win – Michael Keaton, I’m going to be optimistic here and put him as the “should win” actor as well. Keaton’s made quite a comeback in his career this year, and I’m willing to bet that it will be acknowledged. If they’re really boring, they’ll go with Eddie Redmayne, but that would really make me roll my eyes.
Oliver: Tough call because all of ’em are truly great, but I’ll put my money on Benedict Cumberbatch from The Imitation Game with this one. Perhaps he can finally make the switch from being a well-respected and famous television actor, to well-respected and famous movie actor now with his electrifying performance as Alan Turing.
– Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro G. Iñárritu)
– Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
– Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller)
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
– The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum)
Brian: Whether or not he actually deserves the award is irrelevant, since the fact of the matter is that Richard Linklater is well-viewed by the Academy and the risk he took with Boyhood will be rewarded. (Very cool to see Bennett Miller nominated for Foxcatcher, by the way. Makes the lack of a Best Picture nod all the more bizarre, however)
FERALxPANDA: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Although I have been unfamiliar of his work before, Birdman really stuck with me.
Ian: I wasn’t entirely happy with Boyhood‘s final product, but Richard Linklater’s experiment demonstrated an incredible amount of commitment. He deserves the award.
Kris: Who will win: Richard Linklater for Boyhood. I have little doubt that the academy of director’s isn’t just dying to reward Linklater for his ambitious efforts. Who should win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. It may have only taken him 30 days to film Birdman, but for me that’s far more impressive.
Oliver: It’s going to Boyhood’s Richard Linklater. This man spent 12 years of his life in order for his vision to be completed. If that doesn’t win Best Director, I don’t know what will.
– Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole)
– Boyhood (Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland)
– The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson)
– The Imitation Game (Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman)
– Selma (Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner)
– The Theory of Everything (Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten)
– Whiplash (Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster)