If you’re reading this, I assume that you’re either passionate about production design or trying to get whatever advantage you can find on your Oscar pool. Some describe these as the boring categories, mostly because whoever comes up to accept the award is likely to look like they have never spoken in front of a crowd in their life. But these are the people who have made some of our favourite movies this year so good. Besides, with the acting awards being mostly a done deal this year, the annual Assholes Oscar pool will be decided on categories like this.
For the past five years, this award went to big movies (Avatar, Inception, Hugo, Life of Pi, Gravity), all of which you could see im IMAX 3D. This pattern doesn’t help us this year, unfortunately. I won’t comment on Unbroken because I have not yet seen it. I am assuming its between Birdman and Grand Budapest Hotel. Since I started watching, the Oscar has gone to a Best Picture nominee 16 out of 20 times. Either way, watching Mr. Turner felt a little like homework and the disorienting and unconventional framing in Ida is likely to alienate a lot of voters.
Of the four of us, Luc and Jay predicted a win for Birdman and Sean and I are voting Grand Budapest. I’m regretting my decision already. Wes Anderson films feel almost perfect shot for shot. You get the sense that nothing happens by accident, that shots are framed exactly how he wanted and capturing exactly what he wanted. But birdman is bananas. Giving the appearance of one long continuous take, the camera frantically follows characters backstage and even through Times square. I think the word I used was “exhilerating” to describe my experience when I reviewed Birdman in December. I don’t know which of the two will win. But Birdman really should.
X-Men: Days of Future Past
This is the fun part. This is the category that honours the movies that we actually want to see. Since I started watching, past winners include Independence Day, The Matrix, and Spiderman 2. This year is rare in that out of the five nominees, there’s not a single one that I hate. My favourite X-Men, my favourite Planet of the Apes, and my favourite Captain America. All in one category.
There’s not much in X-Men or Captain America that I haven’t seen before and I think we can safely rule either of these two out. Other than that, it’s anybody’s game. Jay and Luc predicted a win for Interstellar and Sean and I are voting Guardians of the Galaxy.
I couldn’t always tell what was going on in Guardians but I could almost tell it was awesome. The action was spectacular but even better was the creation of two characters- Groot and Rocket- that moved seamlessly around the human actors. They were so believable that they were able to even have comic chemistry with the others.
The assholes agree for once. All four of us predict a win for Grand Budapest Hotel. Nothing seems out of place in a Wes Anderson film and visually this seems to be one of his most meticulous. Of the other nominees, only Mr. Turner gives it a run for its money. Mike Leigh worked so hard to recreate Turner’s time and place that it got in the way of telling an interesting story. In fact, Mr. Turner probably deserves to win here. But the assholes are united. Grand Budapest will win.