Friday, February 20, 2015

Lead Actress

I just realized I missed my last chance to see Song of the Sea before Sunday, which is really disappointing, though I don't expect it to change my mind on the animated feature category. Oh well, I suppose that's why they invented next week.

    Lead Actress
  • Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore in Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Lead Actor

I'm really a bit bummed that it is as I get to the bigger awards that I have the least amount of time. This crunch just got worse as I found screenings of Relatos Salvajes, Last Days in Vietnam, and Beyond the Lights. I'll probably not watch the latter as it's just up for original song, but the other two are up for foreign language film and documentary feature respectively. Those are two of my favorite categories, so let's hope I can find time in the next 48 hours.

    Lead Actor
  • Steve Carell in Foxcatcher 
  • Bradley Cooper in American Sniper 
  • Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game 
  • Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 
  • Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

Short Film: Animated

I got to catch the animated and live action shorts on Wednesday at the Detroit Film Theater. Unfortunately, they had the audacity to start before I showed up 23 minutes late. The nerve! I've mentioned the DFT in passing before, but it's a magnificent extension of the Detroit Institute of Arts. It's simply gorgeous, and they always have interesting selections. Timbuktu, which is up for foreign language film this year, opens today.

    Short Film: Animated
  • The Bigger Picture
  • The Dam Keeper
  • Feast
  • Me and My Moulton
  • A Single Life

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Short Film: Live Action

I'm officially doing my taxes to avoid writing about the Academy Awards. I'm getting weary, and I'm really wishing I had more time to give better write-ups. You're still reading anyway, though. Weirdos.

    Short Film: Live Action
  • Aya
  • Boogaloo and Graham
  • Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
  • Parvaneh
  • The Phone Call

Supporting Actress

Only five more films to go (the rest I haven't been able to get access to). I'm so close! I can do that in three days *easily*. Oh, and nine articles to write. That won't be so easy. Fortunately for me, some of these categories are phenomenally straightforward.
    Supporting Actress
  • Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
  • Laura Dern for Wild
  • Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Merle Streep for Into the Woods

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Supporting Actor

Another episode of speed updates! Let's get to it.

    Supporting Actor
  • Robert Duvall for The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
  • Edward Norton for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Documentary: Short Subject

I had a chance to catch the short docs a few days ago at the Detroit Film Theater, and it was BRUTAL. Last year there were some downright chipper and inspiring films. Not this year.

    Documentary: Short Subject
  • Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
  • Joanna Aneta Kopacz
  • Nasza klątwa (Our Curse) Tomasz Śliwiński and Maciej Ślesicki
  • La Parka (The Reaper) Gabriel Serra Arguello
  • White Earth J. Christian Jensen

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 covers exactly what you might think, a veteran-focused crisis line. It's a gripping look at the people working the hotline and how they handle their calls. It does get a little stale as there's little narrative arc or exposition and instead a string of calls loosely tied together. While informative and worthwhile, it runs long at 41 minutes, and I wish it had a bit more vision.

Well, veterans thinking of killing themselves is pretty tough, so it's got to get better from there, right? Kind of. Joanna is a poetic recording of a dying woman cherishing what time she has with her son. It's peppered throughout with the advice she is trying to leave him ahead of time which is as beautiful as it is tragic. It stays away from confessionals and wallowing, instead focusing on the life she has left. It's hard, but I hope that sounds happy, because it's the best you're going to get.

That's about how I feel at this point. Nasza klątwa is a story of director Tomasz Śliwiński's family just before and after their first child comes home. Their child, by the way is unable to breathe if he falls asleep due to Ondine’s Curse. Where Joanna avoids the confessional format, Nasza klątwa makes the absolute, brutal most of it. It's a hard and heartfelt tale of the rigors of parenting a disabled child. There is joy here as the family adapts, but don't mistake this for an easy watch.

Phew, we're done with the really tough stuff. JUST KIDDING. Do you know what La Parka is about? I'll tell you: a Mexican slaughterhouse worker who shoots five hundred bovine a day, and he's been doing it for twenty-five years. Oh, and he's not a total sadist. at one point he recounts a dream in which he's surrounded by animals who all just look at him before saying "It's your turn." It's a sharp, incisive look at the mental anguish of the guy who turns your kid's favorite animal* into your favorite meal.

White Earth is almost a joyful story of childhood by contrast. Our gaze is centered on children whose families have brought them to North Dakota chasing oil work. Their caretakers never have enough money, and they never have enough time. It's a calm, even take on what growing up in the social disruption of a boom town is like. 

I'm going to learn from my mistake last year and side against the culturally important films. La Parka is phenomenal and should be required viewing for anyone who eats meat. With an industry so divorced from its product in the mind of most consumers, this is a fantastic insight (see also: Leviathan). I'm not going to pick La Parka, though. Fortunately, siding with Joanna's poetry is the right thing to do. It is as beautiful and poignant as it is important to see death set aside until one is done living

Will win: Joanna
Should win: Joanna

*wait, were cows only my favorite animal?


Major problems at the A Critical Life offices as my computer is down for the count and my tablet (extra fritzy now that I've upgraded to Lollipop) is incredibly painful to use for long form without the keyboard I seem to have lost. So, here I am on my limited library time trying to squeeze in some quick words. On the "bright" side, there are no less than seven films I haven't been able to get my grubby hands on, so that will save me a lot of time. I'm going to keep this mostly short because I have fifteen minutes to do two hours of work, and because these are all up for best picture where I'll talk about them more. Bear with me, I don't have time to proofread.

  • 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

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Writing - Original Screenplay

    Writing - Original Screenplay
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
  • Boyhood written by Richard Linklater
  • Foxcatcher written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel screenplay by Wes Anderson; story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
  • Nightcrawler written by Dan Gilroy

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Writing - Adapted Screenplay

Happy Valentine's Day. The most important part of a relationship is to hate the same things.
    Writing - Adapted Screenplay
  • American Sniper written by Jason Hall
  • The Imitation Game written by Graham Moore
  • Inherent Vice written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • The Theory of Everything screenplay by Anthony McCarten
  • Whiplash written by Damien Chazelle

Friday, February 13, 2015


At the outset I said it was going to take a lot to usurp Birdman for cinematography, so let's see how the rest of the films fared.
  • Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Robert Yeoman for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski for Ida
  • Dick Pope for Mr. Turner
  • Roger Deakins for Unbroken

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Music: Original Score

It pained me to be so hard on Alexandre Desplat for last year's lackluster Philomena, so I'm truly happy to see him with two very nice soundtracks this year. Mica Levi, however, with Under the Skin had my favorite soundtrack from last year. I'm guessing the film's early appearance at the Telluride Film Festival would have precluded it from this awards season even if anyone else would have voted for it. If I can't just spend all day talking about how good it is to "eat men like air," then let's take a listen to this year's nominees.
    Music: Original Score
  • Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alexandre Desplat for The Imitation Game
  • Hans Zimmer for Interstellar
  • Gary Yershon for Mr. Turner
  • Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything

Music: Original Song

If you're hoping to see the short films, don't forget that there many theaters show them on very short runs. The Detroit Film Theater, for example, only has two showings of the documentary shorts, and the second of them is tonight.

Because films with an Original Song nomination aren't strictly the most well received films, they can be harder to get access to. As such, I wasn't able to see Beyond the Lights or Glen Campbell...I'll Be Me.
    Original Song
  • "Everything Is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie
    Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
  • "Glory" from Selma
    Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
  • "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights
    Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell...I'll Be Me
    Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
  • "Lost Stars" from Begin Again
    Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Production Design

    Production Design*
  • Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald for The Imitation Game
  • Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis for Interstellar
  • Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock for Into the Woods
  • Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts for Mr. Turner

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Costume Design

    Costume Design
  • Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Mark Bridges for Inherent Vice
  • Colleen Atwood for Into the Woods
  • Anna B. Sheppard for Maleficent
  • Jacqueline Durran for Mr. Turner

Monday, February 9, 2015

Film Editing

There was a technical issue at the A Critical Life offices that severely inhibited film watching, which is to say: I'm way, way behind. Behind watching, and behind writing. If you see me in the next two weeks, you will have accomplished something pretty special.

    Film Editing
  • Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach for American Sniper
  • Sandra Adair for Boyhood
  • Barney Pilling for The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • William Goldenberg for The Imitation Game
  • Tom Cross for Whiplash

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sound Editing and Sound Mixing

Last night and today I caught The Hobbit and Whiplash, the last two films for the sound engineering categories, which are both up for only one of the categories - editing and mixing respectively. Otherwise, four movies occupy eight nominations between the two awards categories. How will The Hobbit fare against a space epic? Will a song about a musician be better than the war film? Maybe I'll just copy past last years post on The HobbitGravityInside Llewyn Davis, and Lone Survivor. I suppose I won't copy the post wholesale, but, much like last year, I am going to write these two categories as one post due to the overlap.

    Sound Editing:
  • Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for American Sniper
  • Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Brent Burge and Jason Canovas for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Richard King for Interstellar
  • Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro for Unbroken

    Sound Mixing:
  • John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin for American Sniper
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten for Interstellar
  • Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee for Unbroken
  • Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley for Whiplash