Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Problem With: 2015 Oscars Edition

Oscar season ends this Sunday. What a relief. I've had it with this Oscar season. This was the coldest Oscar season I can remember. The temperatures frequently dipped below 20 degrees here. As I write this sentence the windchill is three degrees. Three! How can I be expected to watch and analyze the nominated movies, make my Oscar predictions and complain about the top categories' lack of diversity in this type of weather?

Snow, ice, arctic blasts...we've experienced them all since the Academy announced its nominees in mid-January. Since then, I've basically stayed indoors, curled up underneath several blankets and repeatedly told myself that MTV Movie Awards season is just around the corner. I'm very happy that we're finally closing the curtain on Oscar season.

But before that happens, I'd like to say a word or two or 800 about the nominees. A year ago on this blog I offered critiques of nearly all of the movies in the best picture category for the 2014 Oscars. I'll spare you this time around by highlighting just five of the currently nominated films. I promise not to run too long, but if I start to ramble please feel free to cut me off with orchestral music.

It's fair to say that Boyhood is the front-runner to win the best picture Oscar. It's won a slew of awards over the past two months, in particular for Patricia Arquette's performance as the mother of two kids with a lousy romantic track record. I've watched Bachelorette couples with more stable relationships.

Boyhood was shot over the course of 12 years, but you already knew that. You must have known, because this particular fact is mentioned in every single story about the movie that's been published since its release. I'm exaggerating, but only slightly. A Google search for "Boyhood" and "shot over the course of 12 years" turns up approximately 11,800 results. Richard Linklater should have titled the movie Boyhood (Shot Over The Course Of 12 Years).

Did I just plagiarize the parenthesis joke I made in my Golden Globes monologue just a month ago? I sure did! In my defense, you probably didn't read it the first time.

Perhaps Boyhood deserves to win the Academy's top category, but not, in my opinion, because it was more than a decade in the making. It's not the great accomplishment you might suspect it is. Here's a brief list of other projects that took 12 years to complete:

-Two and a Half Men, the entire series
-Blur's upcoming album
-My studies in elementary school, middle school and high school
-My attempt to watch every episode of Gilmore Girls

Birdman poses the biggest threat to Boyhood in the best picture race. It has an ending that's open to interpretation. If you haven't seen the film, I suggest you skip ahead to my notes on The Theory of Everything. Otherwise, read my take on Birdman's final scene below....

Here's what I believe happened: Michael Keaton's character jumped off the window ledge. However, he survives. He dusts himself off and walks the streets of New York alone, barely recognizable after receiving a new nose. Serendipitously, he runs into the only other actor who can understand what he's going through: Nina Sayers, with Natalie Portman reprising her Oscar-winning role from Black Swan. Following an emotional, heartfelt conversation in a coffee shop, they agree to co-star in a brand-new play that will end in the most disturbing way imaginable.

The Theory of Everything
If Michael Keaton does not take the best actor category, Eddie Redmayne will for his breakout role as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. I hope Redmayne wins, because I'd like for him to star in the "history of Saturday Night Live" movie I created in my head as I watched SNL's 40th anniversary special last weekend.

Redmayne would play Seth Meyers. It's an obvious fit once you browse enough pictures of Redmayne in Google Images. Other casting choices I made: Josh Radnor as Jimmy Fallon, Adam Scott as Colin Jost, Tyler James Williams as Michael Che, and...well, so far I've only cast the male "Weekend Update" anchors after the year 2000.

The greatest mystery of the Oscar nominations announcement, as far as I'm concerned, was the exclusion of David Oyelowo from the best actor race. He was magnificent as Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma. He deserves to be recognized for his performance.

But allow me a moment to dwell on one of his co-stars in the film, Stephen Root. Maybe you don't recognize the name. He played Colonel Al Lingo. Still not ringing a bell? Here's another clue: He played Milton in Office Space. Yes, "I believe you have my stapler" Milton.

When I first spotted Root in Selma, I nearly jumped out of my seat and yelled, "It's Milton in the middle of the civil rights movement!" Honestly, I was so distracted every time I saw him in the movie because all I could think of was Milton. I practically begged for Root's character to advise the government to resolve its issues with King by using a "Jump to Conclusions" map.

The LEGO Movie
I haven't a bad word to say about The LEGO Movie. It was my favorite movie of 2014, hands down. Not only should it win best animated feature, it should win best picture, too.'s not nominated for best picture? It's not even nominated for best animated feature?? How is that even possible??? Did the Academy even watch it???? It's a fantastic film, and I'd argue it was a greater technical achievement than Boyhood. The LEGO Movie was completed in fewer than 12 years, even though virtually all of the sets and cast members were made of LEGOs. I can't even fathom how much work was poured into assembling all of that. It would take me more than 12 years just to put together the Batwing featured in the movie.

Simply put, everything about The LEGO Movie is awesome.

In case you missed it:

The Problem With: "Back To The Future"
The Problem With: "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"
The Problem With: "Family Matters"
The Problem With: 2014 Oscars Edition
The Problem With: "The Wonder Years"