The 2015 Academy Awards: A Thinkpiece for your Thinkpiece, but Not Really.

In a world torn by conflict, inequality and uncertainty, we once again reach that time of year where one perennial certainty remains: the endless parade of pageantry and self-congratulation which captures the heart of us all. The ~Academy Awards~

I will not waste your precious time with thoughts on the lack of diversity that some have targeted this year’s nominations for. It is not important or reflective of the Hollywood’s projections unto the general public. Not. At. All. Everything is awesome! Instead, here you will find a guide to the 8 prestigious and carefully marketed films nominated for this year’s Best Picture, as well as some sneaks and surprises you might need to watch out for. Watch out, Best Sound Editing! I detect an upset that will be felt around the globe. In no particular order:


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‘It’s a metaphor, get it? I’ll exhaustively explain this to you for 2 hours just to make sure.’

This might actually win. How? I don’t know. If you liked this movie I’m happy for you. Really, I am. Birdman is a movie with extraordinary ambition which aims higher than any movie last year. The entire film feels like a single shot thanks to some clever editing that even naysayers can respect. It’s beautifully filmed, and has a liveliness and tone that feels unique and fresh. The film moves to a rhythm scored by non-melodic drumming throughout the entirety of the film. It is about failure, it is about success, it is about father-daughter relationships, it is about Hollywood, it is about technology, it is about social media, it is about drug use, it is about ego, it is about ACTING. It overflows with its own ideas until it makes a huge mess that you’re too exhausted to clean up because you just watched Birdman. Birdman tries, it really does, but it comes off as pretentious, shallow, and too full of half-baked ideas to portray anything coherent or meaningful. The acting is great though. I guess.

Rating: Batman Forever: It’s not Batman Returns, but it’s not Batman and Robin.

Odds of Winning: Way Too High.


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Boyhood, man, Boyhood. This movie. There a rare moments when you’re watching a movie, and at a certain point it’s like something in your head clicks and you realize to yourself, ‘This might be one of the best movies I’ve ever seen’. This was one of them. Directed by Richard Linklater, starring Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke and Ellar Coltrane, this is as pure and honest as filmmaking gets. As clichéd as that sounds, it’s also very true. Linklater takes the most mundane and normal aspects of life and makes it feel like one of the greatest epics ever put to cinema. I will fully acknowledge I have an inherent bias being born within the generation displayed in this movie. He uses music as a cue to create a sense of time and immediate nostalgia. He touches upon all those little moments in your life as a kid that didn’t seem that important then, but now are sentimental touchstones of childhood looking back as an adult. ‘It’s a human film’ is a frequent phrase you’ll hear about this movie. There’s no McGuffin, no major plot, no major anything to describe this movie, it’s just an experience. And its so much better than Birdman.

Rating: A trip to Disneyworld as an 8 year old.

Chances of Winning: Appropriately high, though should be a lock. God Damn Birdman.

The Imitation Game

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‘I am running down this path because the Weinsteins told me too!’

Alan Turning. What a guy. This movie tries its best to portray the life of Turing, and the almost insurmountable impact his life had not only on modern technology, but on the very existence of the world’s current geopolitical landscape. It tries with less effort to portray the life of the man himself, a deeply insular and socially daft mathematical genius who was gay at a time when it was illegal. The filmmaker Morten Tyldum is not concerned with giving us a thoughtful and nuanced approach to the tragic life of one of science’s great heroes, rather he creates an action film, as much as code cracking can be action. It’s always high tension, there’s always a lot at stake, and everything is always happening at the nick of time, just in time. It’s Hollywood’s Annual Oscar Bait Biopic 101. But it works, and it works really well, though not entirely enough to overcome the shameless biopic clichés and general indifference to character development that could have made a greater film. There are scenes of an intense Ben Cumberbatch running with a very serious look on his face. Does this scene need to be there? It doesn’t, but it makes for a great clip at awards shows and movie trailers. Still, this is worth seeing, not just for getting to know the invaluable contributions of Alan Turing, but because it’s an entertaining biopic movie. But that’s about it.

Rating: A Window’s 7 platform with glitches causing missed opportunities and biopic clichés. It’s still way better Birdman.

Chances of Winning: This is here for the nomination, it doesn’t expect to win. Just kindly acknowledge it, alright?

The Grand Budapest Hotel

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‘Is this creeping you out?’

Nominated for 9 Oscars this year, it’s Wes Anderson’s whimsical tale of Wes Anderson’s Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson aside, this is a fantastic movie that deservedly received a fair share of acknowledgement. Going into this movie I was full of apprehension, what with trailers looking like the Wes Anderson Movie to end Wes Anderson movies. But instead it was one of the most contained, fully realized films he’s made in his entire career. The Grand Budapest Hotel feels like a distillation of everything people love and hate about Wes Anderson, but nothing ever feels forced or false. It’s a truly immersive experience that feels like you fell into a storybook. The colours! Ralph Fiennes! Chases! Romance! You can take the most pretentious grad student you know AND your mom to this movie and they’ll both enjoy it equally. Wes Anderson!

Rating: 9 Wes Andersons out of 10 Wes Andersons. Wayyyy better than Birdman.

Chances of Winning: Dark Horse, but probably won’t win.


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‘I’m not going to cry I’m not going to cry oh no I’m bawling my eyes out!’

Selma will singe the hairs standing on the back your neck. It will keep you in a constant state of emotional turmoil and intensity throughout and after the credits start rolling. Breathtaking, visceral, and other assorted adjectives used to describe movies like this all apply. This film will make you cry unless you’re still waiting for that soul transplant. Before I delve in let’s just briefly acknowledge how ridiculous it is the directing by Ava Duvernay and acting by David Oyelowo as MLK went unacknowledged. The oversight is enough to make one ponder if the Oscar’s are perhaps not, as I have been told, an indicator for the quality of films. There are examples of many biopics covered here, but none of them felt as real, honest, or as direct as Selma. Those movies were just that, movies. Selma is both a true film, as well as a documentation of one of the most seminal and still relevant moments in the history of the United States. Covering the story of MLK’s efforts to get President Johnson to sign the Voting Right’s act, Selma shows the brazen strategizing and intellectual jostling at the heard of the civil right’s movement. Perhaps more importantly, it humanizes Martin Luther King to a degree unseen not just in film but also in his depiction as a person in society. This part of the film is as important as the events depicted. It’s devastating, upsetting, and uplifting. It is also a reminder.

Ratings: Just about perfect. Birdman doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

Chances of Winning: Despite being snubbed in almost every category, the outrage could actually help it win. But Birdman. God. Damn. Birdman.

The Theory of Everything

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‘Oh, hello dere.’

I didn’t see this movie yet. There are only so many biopics the human body can handle before it undergoes Multiple Organ Failure. But I can make some uneducated assumptions based on absolutely nothing. There is Acting, well cued and soaring dramatic scores. Things get real sad as Hawking starts deteriorating but at the same time real good as Eddie Redmayne realllly starts shooting for that Oscar. There are love interests, hesitations, doubts. There are papers to be published and so little time! Will the scientific establishment accept Hawking’s groundbreaking theories? Not without a fight. And fight they did, and he won, but just barely, in a highly fraught and time intensive manner. A sigh of relief sweeps over the audience. All’s well that ends well.

Rating: That was great, in my head. Better than Birdman for sure.

Chances of Winning: Everyone knows Hawking has deep ties to the Clooney gang who have deep sway within the academy. Don’t count it out.


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The mandatory art-house indie nominee this year is Whiplash, one of my favorite movies of the year. Whiplash tells the story of an ambitious young drummer played by Miles Teller at a prestigious music conservatory trying to keep up with his intense music teacher played by an absolutely terrifying J.K. Simmons. For anyone who has ever truly been passionate about trying to achieve something that feels distant and impossible, Whiplash hits at a deeply personal level. It throws into question the nature of ambition, and how it should be nourished. Should talent by nurtured, or should it be provoked? J.K. Simmons is blistering in this film, going for the provocative side of mentorship. Needless to say there are consequences, which poses questions about what it means to push someone, and to be pushed too far. The film has its own answer to that, but even then its arguable. It’s phenomenal directing, editing, and gripping performances will make you feel like you’re walking a tightrope too.

Rating: The most expensive drum set you can find at Long and McQuade because you didn’t have the common sense to buy a used one. I cannot stress how much better this is than Birdman.

Chances of Winning: Zero. It’s the ‘indie film’.

American Sniper

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‘So… I was thinking about keeping this beard after we finished filming, what do you think? … Did you hear me?’

I didn’t see this one but the internet has done a fantastic job at describing so much to me in so many words that all contradict each other for the sake of political jostling and those sexy page views. This is what I have learned. American Sniper is a biopic film about ex-Navy seal Chris Kyle, the most effective sniper in US history. The film shows his dedication to his job, but it also shows the consequences it has on his life both on the field and at home. It is directed by Clint Eastwood, who has had a rough couple of years, and Bradley Cooper, who has had the opposite past couple of years. American Sniper is a well-balanced tribute to a true American hero, or a right wing tool of propaganda that ignores the deeply damaged psyche of Chris Kyle. It is a truthful telling of Chris Kyle’s life told in a heartfelt way, or a messianic and narcissistic vision of himself portrayed in an intentionally untruthful way. I am told I am supposed to care deeply about the meaning of this film. 53% of Republicans believe American Sniper should win Best Picture. It is by far the highest grossing of the Best Picture nominees. It may out gross Guardians of the Galaxy. I guess I should watch it.

Rating: 3 Angry Liberal thinkpieces supplemented by 2 angry Conservative thinkpieces about the 3 Angry Liberal thinkpieces and 2 angry Conservative thinkpieces about the 3 Angry Liberal thinkpieces to the 2 angry conservative thinkpieces. Still better than Birdman, probably.

Chances of Winning: Higher than you think.

--Kenny Chatoor is former CJLO radio DJ and magazine contributor currently living in Ontario, "Yeah things are good, there is definitely nothing like CJLO in Toronto though, which is a bummer."