Whiplash & Wild

So today before work, I tried to catch up on some Oscar and AFI viewing (I will do more over my weekend).  I had a little double feature of Whiplash (Best Picture, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay; one of the AFI’s 10 best of the year) and Wild (Best Actress, Supporting Actress).

Whiplash:  I was discussing this movie with my coworker Paul tonight.  I wanted to love it and I tend to really like teaching movies…except this movie is the anti-Mr. Holland’s Opus.  (Or, as I told Paul, it’s like if Mr. Holland were played by R. Lee Ermey.)  I definitely want JK Simmons’ to win because he’s playing against his usual type and he’s always excellent, but this movie just left me cold.

In general, I would be a fan of the student because I don’t like bitter, angry people…except he was a jerk too.  So I was sort of hoping they’d kill each other.

Wild:  I’m surprised it hasn’t been getting more love.  The director also did Dallas Buyers Club and the screenplay was written by Nick Hornby, who I love.  I haven’t read the book yet, but definitely want to.

Acting is definitely the movie’s strongest suit.  This is a completely different side of Reese Witherspoon (although obviously we’ve seen her excel in movies before) but I think Laura Dern absolutely deserves the Oscar win this year.  This movie could have been completely cliche or boring (we spend a lot of time in movie-Cheryl Strayed’s head and there are also a lot of flashbacks) but the movie was so captivating.

My stance on the Oscar race as of now:

Best Picture (* = seen it)

American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood*, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash*

I think either Birdman or Boyhood will win.  I’m leaning toward Birdman.

Best Director:

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)*, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

I think Richard Linklater, but it may go to Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for Birdman.  I think this is a year they’re going to split the top two prizes.

Best Actor:

Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

This is my worst category in terms of viewed films.  I think it’ll go to Michael Keaton; he’s swept everything so far.

Best Actress:

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)*, Julianne Moore (Still Alice)*, Reese Witherspoon (Wild)*

And this is my best category.  I think it’ll be Julianne Moore, but all three performances I saw were excellent.  Julianne Moore’s was a whole other level, though, and she’s overdue.

Best Supporting Actor:

Robert Duvall (The Judge)*, Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)*, Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), JK Simmons (Whiplash)*

I think JK Simmons.  He played against type and was amazing.

Best Supporting Actress:

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)*, Laura Dern (Wild)*, Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

I hope it’s Laura Dern, but I think it’ll be Patricia Arquette.  Momentum is with her.

Best Screenplay:

Boyhood*, Birdman, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler

I think it’ll go to Birdman, but it’s harder to gauge this because I’ve only seen Boyhood.  This one may definitely change.

Best Adapted Screenplay:

American Sniper, Inherent Vice, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash*

I have no idea.  I wasn’t impressed with Whiplash’s script so I doubt that will win.  This could be American Sniper’s win, but I could also change my mind here. :)

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