The biggest 2015 Oscar surprises

“Birdman”, the biggest winner of the night 

So – The 87th Annual Academy Awards happened last night and, overall, I believe this has been the most exciting Oscar outcome in many years. As we’ve discussed before, the Oscars are arguably the most predictable award there is and it’s usually a very feasible task to correctly predict the outcome of most categories. The Academy is mostly formed of very old, very white industry men and the results are usually in accordance with that fact. If you checked Hollywood Reporter’s “Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot” series this year you probably had a very upsetting insight into how most members act towards their duty. If not, don’t miss it – it’s highly entertaining and brings some understanding of how things are played under Oscar’s skirt.

What about this year’s biggest surprises? Even though I ended up losing bets on some categories I couldn’t be happier to see some of my favorites, who mostly aren’t the usual Oscar fare, snatch awards from bigger contenders.

First, the good:

“Birdman” took the Oscars by an avalanche this year. It won Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Cinematography. This isn’t my favorite movie of the year but there’s no denying it’s a masterpiece. Everything about it is ingenious and so, so original I believe we’ll be teaching around it for years to come. Michael Keaton lost Best Actor to Eddie Redmayne, who gave an amazing performance, and this was a very tough call. We can only hope Keaton gets another chance in the future because he’s a very deserving guy.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” took home the awards to Costume Design, Makeup and Hair, Original Music and Production Design. Wes Anderson is my favorite director and I’m always in awe of how consistent and faithful to his vision he is. This movie is candy for the soul, as usual, and it absolutely deserved all of these awards. I’ll remain hopeful for the day Wes snatches a much deserved Best Director award.

It’s worth noting that this was also the first win for Alexandre Desplat, arguably the busiest composer in Hollywood – he’s worked on many Oscar winners from “Argo” to “King’s Speech”. He was nominated for two movies this year, “Grand Hotel” and “Imitation Game” and has been nominated 8 times since 2007 so I’m really glad he finally took a much deserved award home.

It was an amazing outcome for “Whiplash” as well – no movie has resonated with me more than this one in many years and most people thought it didn’t stand a chance in any category other than Best Supporting Actor – which J.K. Simmons deservedly won – but it ended up winning Editing, Sound Mixing and the afore-mentioned Best Support Actor. It’s a win for everyone when quirky, niche movies like this manage to stand up to the big guns.

Now the “I don’t know what to think of this” section:

“Boyhood” was a big favorite in many categories and ended up just taking an award for Best Supporting Actress. I’m personally not a big fan of this movie. The idea behind it is great but is it so impressing and disrupting to take Best Picture and Best Director? Will we be talking about it in ten years? I don’t think so. There was only one other category I really believe it deserved and that was Editing because what challenge can be bigger than coherently editing 12 years of material? Editing is a character in “Whiplash”, as is its music, but this was a tough one to swallow since I don’t think we’ll ever again see another movie shot during 12 years.  But again – will we be talking about this movie’s editing in ten years? I don’t think so.

And finally, the not so great:

“American Sniper” was a huge success this year. A movie about a war hero (?) directed by an 84 year-old Clint Eastwood that has grossed over $400 million worldwide so far. It was a likely upset in many categories and only took Sound Editing home. I personally dislike this movie very much so as far as I’m concerned all is cool.

(Also – what did everyone think of NPH’ hosting? I had huge hopes he’d trail Billy Crystal’s path but IMO it fell way short. On that same note, the Oscars had a 16% audience drop from last year’s show.)

What did you think of this year’s outcome?


4 thoughts on “The biggest 2015 Oscar surprises

  1. Chandra Clady says:

    This is a post-post Oscar comment, but at least I get a chance to reflect on the event. I saw the Birdman movie for the screenwriting rather than the acting. It was a movie whereby you had to remained totally engaged with the character. I enjoyed Michael Keaton, Ed Norton and Emma Stone’s characters. I was pleased this film receiving Best Picture and Bes Director. My issue with the Academy was the omission on nominations for Best Actor and Best Director for Selma.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalia H.V. Justino says:

      Hi Chandra, thanks for commenting. I agree with you that David Oyelowo deserved a nomination but I disliked the movie’s directing very much. I think it’s a very powerful story and that by itself already makes it a great movie but I don’t think the writing or the directing did anything to take that great story to a level of cinematic brilliance, quite the contrary actually.


  2. Gregory Strompolos (@STROMPOLOS) says:

    I agree with everything you said about Boyhood except that it won’t be talked about in 10 years from now. This is probably difficult for most filmmakers to see because films are greatly measured on their ability to tell a story, and Boyhood, to be fair, had no real story. Nor did much “happen.” Yet it was still amusing as hell to watch. All 166 minutes of it. The reason for that is because most movies serve as an abstraction from everyday life, and Boyhood was anything but that. Most movies take us along a journey into elsewhere, leaving us inspired, motivated, or moved. But Boyhood shows that life, in the macro perspective, is quite capable of never turning out like we had hoped it would. That it wasn’t the way we thought it would be. We didn’t end up rich and successful. We didn’t have that breakthrough moment. The family we thought we would have didn’t turn out like we thought it would. But the silver lining to it all, is simply that we keep trying, and we kept living. Because that is what we are supposed and is the only thing we can do. Boyhood was a depiction of modern family life in this sense, and told a message in a way that did not involved the typical elements of Oscar-worthy storytelling. Lastly, this was a “story” that could have only really be told well through film. Could you imagine reading this as a book? There is something to be said about how it utilized the visual component of filmmaking to get the message through.

    NPH was awful, as was the writing that supported him. What was with his Oscar prediction thing? That was confusing, and a waste of time. And it wasn’t just me who thought that. When they panned over the audience, everyone had the look on their face that people give after being told a joke that they don’t actually “get it” but don’t want to show it: fake smiling, jaw half open and head cocked. Even the jokes told that involved taking a risk due to their crass had no real flavor or substance to them, unlike when McFarlane who did it in style.

    You have a nice point of view on entertainment. Excited to see future posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Natalia H.V. Justino says:

      Hey Gregory, thanks for commenting! Look, I agree with you on the merits of “Boyhood” (I even wrote a post about it earlier this week with high praises for the movie). But this is the Oscar’s, the biggest award show for film there is and, in my opinion, to make it here, and make it right, a movie has to be truly outstanding, mind-blowing, earth-shattering. Boyhood is a beautiful, sensible movie and my absolute favorite thing about it is that it tells such an ordinary story. The recognition for it’s beauty came in the form of the multiple nominations it got – the meaning of even getting nominated being something which a lot of times we tend to overlook. But did it deserve to outshine “Birdman”? I don’t think so. We will be showing it at film classes? I also don’t think so. The concept itself is great, but the movie itself is a very usual fare, albeit beautiful.


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