The Jan. 4 headline was as sobering as a New Year's Day hangover: "Award Season," trumpeted The New York Times. As plain as the banner was, hanging over an entire special section of the Sunday Times, it probably jolted more than a few Hollywood executives awake and shifting into overdrive to grab some Oscar love. Many filmgoers may have been puzzled by the headline, and rightfully so, considering that many of Oscar's presumptive nominees haven't yet arrived on local movie screens. American Sniper, Foxcatcher, Leviathan, Mr. Turner and Still Alice all remain to be seen in most cities across the United States, including Boise. However, the fact that most Americans haven't seen a film--or films--has never stopped the Motion Picture Academy in its haste to heap praise on its industry.
Boise Weekly has screened most, if not all, of the likely nominees and with the Academy poised to reveal its picks on Thursday, Jan. 15, BW has some last-minute (albeit unsolicited) advice for the Academy's nearly 6,000 voting members.
Best Picture: We fully expect Boyhood, Birdman, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and Unbroken to make the final list of the year's best, but here's hoping voters' remember all the way back to March for The Grand Budapest Hotel—time has certainly not dimmed our admiration for Wes Anderson's comedy classic. We would also like to see Wild make the final cut, and we would love to see history made with Citizenfour becoming the first documentary ever to be nominated for Best Picture.
Best Actor: It's a safe bet that Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) will be Best Actor nominees. But Bradley Cooper's performance in American Sniper is his best to date as well as being Oscar-worthy, and we think Ralph Fiennes deserves a confirmed reservation for his note-perfect comedic timing in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Best Actress: Julianne Moore (Still Alice) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild) are shoo-ins. For our money, though, Marion Cotillard gives the best female performance of the year in Two Days, One Night.
Supporting Actor: Just hand the award to J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and get it over with.
Supporting Actress: This may be the year's tightest race. Anyone of these five deserve a prize: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman) and Laura Dern (Wild). However, Academy members should take note of the always incredible Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer) and Sienna Miller (American Sniper). Good luck in culling this category to five nominees.
Best Feature-Length Documentary: Citizenfour will probably walk away with the Oscar, but we sense the Academy has a soft-spot in its heart for Life Itself, the tribute to late film critic Roger Ebert. We also adored Keep On Keepin' On, an unforgettable trek through the golden era of jazz with trumpeter/flugelhornist extraordinaire Clark Terry.
Best Foreign Language Film: Force Majeure, Ida and Leviathan all made our shortlist of the best films of 2014. We also hope Academy voters have seen Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) from Argentina, a deliciously dark comedy that considers reckless driving, revenge, tow trucks and an ugly wedding ceremony.
Best Animated Feature: We sure hope The LEGO Movie walks away with Oscar gold, and we expect Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Box Trolls to get nominated. We also adored a lovely sprite of a film called Song of the Sea, crafted in what is now considered to be "traditional animation." We're anxious for more audiences to see this Irish charmer.
While all 6,000 voting members of the Motion Picture Academy can choose nominees for Best Picture, it's important to remember that only actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors, editors nominate editors, etc. Using a unique formula of possible voters vs. possible nominations, The Wrap reported that as few as 307 votes could secure a Best Picture nod, while 192 votes could land an acting nomination in any one of four categories. Here are some real stunners: The Wrap estimates that the magic number for a Best Director nomination is 45 votes and a Best Documentary Feature nod could be secured with as few as 37 votes.
Considering that millions of people around the globe watch the Oscar broadcast (slated for Sunday, Feb. 22), it's fair to say that never have so few done so little for so many. Chew on that, Academy.