SAG Awards

Oscar Picks 2015 - "I used to think that awards ceremonies were... just for publicity purposes. Until you win one. And then you realize it's the people's voice wanting to be heard." - William H. Macy

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Academy Awards are on Sunday. So, with a few days left to edit them if I change my mind, I'm making my picks for the 2015 Oscar winners!

I'm mostly keeping it to "above the line" categories, just because it would take me hours to type out my thoughts on every single award. I have learned from my mistakes blogging about the Golden Globes. I'd rather just obsess over all of them than obsess over all of them AND type it all out! But, of course, like any liberal arts degree holder, if you are curious I am more than happy to give my opinion.

Best Picture
American Sniper
Boyhood
Birdman (or, the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

So this is a tighter category than I expected it to be at the beginning of the awards season! I didn't think that Whiplash, Birdman, or American Sniper would make the showing that they have. I still think that Boyhood is going to pull ahead as the winner - it's won more Best Picture awards over the course of the awards season than anything else - but with how well the other two have done and campaigned, it might not be the upset I originally would've thought it would be if they won. The mock odds in Las Vegas agree with me, putting Boyhood's chances at 2 to 5.

Best Actor
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything

This pick can't possibly be a surprise to anyone who knows me. Or, really, anyone at all. Michael Keaton has had a very strong showing this season, but not only has Eddie Redmayne won all of the biggest awards for Best Actor so far (BAFTAs, Golden Globes, SAG Awards), he also still had the most transformative performance of the year. That being said, the Vegas oddsmakers disagree - they have it as a very tight race between the two of them, with Michael Keaton just pulling ahead at 5 to 6 odds, while Redmayne has 11 to 10. I guess the professional oddsmakers are wrong, and this young woman who doesn't know squat about odds is better than them.

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

Between her record this season, the subject matter she's dealing with, and, you know, the performance she gave, I think Julianne Moore has this one in the bag. This was a pretty simple choice, really. And she has the best individual odds of the season, at 1 to 9. Easiest pick of the night.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash

I think this is Whiplash's big category. I haven't even seen it yet (I know, I know) but I've heard so many good things about it that it kind of should be getting more... aside from how all of the other films also deserve it. But J.K. Simmons' performance is so widely well received, he's been campaigning beautifully for it, and it's been showing pretty much all season. And his odds are at 1 to 5. This is the one Whiplash really has down.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Laura Dern - Wild
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods

She's been winning the Best Supporting Actress awards all season. After Julianne Moore for Best Actress, Patricia Arquette for Best Supporting Actress is the second easiest pick of the night. And, fittingly enough, she has the second best odds, at 1 to 7. Between this and Best Actress, I have all kinds of things to say about the competition in the female acting categories, but for now I'll just leave it to the fact that you should put your money on her in your office pool.

Best Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

I'm pretty ashamed of myself - I only saw one animated film all year, and that was The Lego Movie. Meaning that I have no idea from experience what any of these films are like. So my pick is going entirely off of the Golden Globes win for How to Train Your Dragon 2. But the various ceremonies so often give awards to the same films that it still seems like a pretty safe choice.

Best Director
Alejandro G. Inarritu - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game

The man directed a film over 12 years. He's been winning all season. I'm pretty sure he's got this one. Vegas agrees with me, putting his odds at 1 to 6.

Best Screenplay
Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman - Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson (and story also by Hugo Guinness) - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy - Nightcrawler

I think this is the one where The Grand Budapest Hotel finally gets actually recognized in the Oscars. I think that Birdman and Boyhood are also a very, very strong possibilities. And maybe it's my own sense of wanting them to win that's making me say this as opposed to looking at the facts of what has won over awards season so far, since the three of them have been pretty tied. But I think The Grand Budapest Hotel is going to actually pull ahead and win.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Jason Hall - American Sniper
Graham Moore - The Imitation Game
Paul Thomas Anderson - Inherent Vice
Anthony McCarten - The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle - Whiplash

The Imitation Game was the favorite for this award going into this season. But after The Theory of Everything upset it at the BAFTAs (yay more awards for The Theory of Everything!) I think another film can, and will, upset it here, too. Right now, I think that film will be Whiplash because it's been getting so much buzz. But it's also the category on which I've had the hardest time deciding. I would, of course, be happy if The Theory of Everything won! And American Sniper wouldn't surprise me either, since this is just about the only award it would win. But right now, I'm thinking it's going to be Whiplash.
Which is a little sad for The Imitation Game. This is the only category for which it was a favorite, and now it's not getting this, either. And it wasn't a bad screenplay! It just didn't have anything new. Which is unfortunate.

And now, some film categories I like to pretend I know something about...

Best Cinematography
Emmanuel Lubezki - Birdman (or, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Robert Yeoman - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski - Ida
Dick Pope - Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins - Unbroken

They managed to make a film that looked like it was shot entirely in one take. That's such an extraordinary feat of cinema that it's never been done before. It's gotta be recognized for that, right?

Best Costume Design
Milena Canonero - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mark Bridges - Inherent Vice
Colleen Atwood - Into the Woods
Anna B. Sheppard - Maleficent
Jacqueline Durran - Mr. Turner

I think Maleficent doesn't exactly have a bad chance at this one, but Into the Woods took us successfully into a whole other world that was a combination of several different worlds, and made it work. Not that I've seen any of these, but... just from the trailers alone, I think this one goes to Into the Woods. Maleficent looked fantastic herself, but I remember nothing about any of the other characters, and I remember several costumes from Into the Woods.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard - Foxcatcher
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White - Guardians of the Galaxy

It just about always goes to a fantasy film for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Besides, they made a green and a blue woman! Along with all of the other characters they did who weren't computer animated! Foxcatcher did this beautifully subtle transformation of Steve Carell, but I still think Guardians of the Galaxy is gonna get one Oscar, and it's gonna be this one. 

Best Score
Alexandre Desplat - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alexandre Desplat - The Imitation Game
Hans Zimmer - Interstellar
Gary Yershon - Mr. Turner
Johann Johannson - The Theory of Everything

Between the fact that it won at the Golden Globes and the fact that I can't stop listening to it, I think The Theory of Everything has this one. Now, that may just be the fact that it is undoubtedly a pretty score coupled with I-want-it-to-win syndrome. After all, Alexandre Desplat is nominated twice - shouldn't that mean something? But based on its performance thus far, I also think I genuinely do have good cause to believe The Theory of Everything will win best score.

Best Original Song
Shawn Patterson - "Everything is Awesome" from The Lego Movie
John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn - "Glory" from Selma
Dianne Warren - "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights
Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond - "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell... I'll Be Me
Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois - "Lost Stars" from Begin Again

After the incredible outcry against how snubbed Selma was at this year's nominations, I can't imagine it wouldn't get the only category where it actually has a chance of winning. Not only has it won at the biggest award ceremonies (mostly just the Golden Globes, but that's a pretty big awards ceremony!) but it's also been getting the most buzz. Don't get me wrong, "Everything is Awesome" is an absurdly catchy song. Just from thinking about it, it's making its way back into my head, and it'll probably stay stuck there for a few days now. But it would be a major shock if "Glory" didn't end up winning.

If anyone is interested, all of my statistics for the Las Vegas odds for Oscar winners come from here!

Finally, I'm going to try something new here - to make my posts more interesting/to make more people want to read them, I'm going to put life hacks, recipes, and/or other useful things at the end of one each week! So...

Emma's Weekly Internet Finds!

Life Hack: Use waxed, unflavored dental floss to cleanly slice across a cake.

Recipe You'll Mean to Try All Week and Forget But Is Still Really Pretty: Rainbow Heart Cookies - Eugenie Cookies

West Wing Binge Watch 2k15 - "No. No 'however.' Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it." - President Josiah Bartlett, The West Wing S1E17

You know, there were a lot of things I wanted to write about in this blog post. I wanted to write about the Critics' Choice Awards, the SAG Awards, what it means to be a member of the actors union. I wanted to write about this acting class I've been taking at The Barrow Group, how good it is, and the importance of training and, more importantly, training correctly. I wanted to write about British TV and British actors and how they're taking over in the US; as anyone who knows me is aware, I absolutely love talking about British stuff. There is a whole myriad of things I could've discussed here today.

But I can't do any of it. Why? Because I started watching The West Wing on Netflix, and it's all I can think about.

You guys it's so good. The Netflix blurb about it claims that it was ranked the 7th best drama of all time. Now, I don't know when those rankings came out, and as I firmly believe we are living in a golden age of television, I think there are some series that could give it some serious competition. I'm looking at you, Breaking Bad. But the idea that it is at least very highly ranked and well regarded is something that I am absolutely on board with.

The thing that's particularly interesting in watching it is seeing not just the differences between the late 90's-early 00's and now, but the similarities! Our dealings with China. How ravaged African nations are by AIDS, and the extent to which Americans lump all of them together into just "Africa." Education. Gay rights. Healthcare. It's almost depressing that these issues don't go away... but it's handy because it means the series isn't too dated! The risk with watching anything more than five or so years old is that sometimes the issues just aren't a problem anymore, or something that was normal then seems strange to someone watching now. But I'm not experiencing that at all with The West Wing! Maybe I'm older than I feel I am, and I remember these things being issues so well that it just seems current to me... but I'd much rather think of it as the series just holding up well and not being dated.

Of course, don't get me wrong, the differences are worth looking at, too! There's one in particular that I'd like to point out: An episode I was watching last night had Josh Lyman arguing with a congressman about a bill that placed another ban on gay marriage. One of the points that the congressman brought up was that the majority of the population was against gay marriage. Only fifteen years ago, polls said that the majority of Americans thought that LGBTQ+ people shouldn't be allowed to get married. Now 36 states have legal same-sex marriage, and later this year the Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not it's constitutional on a federal level. It's just amazing to me how far we've come in such a relatively short period of time.

Beyond any of that, though, it's good television. It's dramatic, it made me yell at my television/computer screen, it's funny, the characters are complex, and, naturally, the writing feels effortless. Characters speak in incomplete sentences, they cut each other off, they say stupid things, sometimes they don't, and storylines are woven together, in and around each other, to keep episodes flowing together while not having to bother with a massive, overarching season or series plot. It's Aaron Sorkin at his best.

I suppose that's just it for me. The West Wing is everything The Newsroom could have been. It's a little bit sad when put that way, but it's true. And it just makes me love The West Wing that much more.

And I have more than five and a half seasons left of it!

Before I finish this post, I'd like to throw in just a few more observations that I've made about the series from the less-than-a-season-and-a-half I've seen so far that are far less intellectual and analytical but, I think, still deserve to be said:

  • The level to which I identify with Donna Moss is extraordinary. I would say that I want to be her when I grow up but... aside from what happened to make her join up with Bartlet and, more specifically, Josh, I pretty much already am her. And I love her. I'm not even jealous of Janel Moloney for getting to play her because she's just perfect.
  • I think Josh Lyman/Bradley Whitford is really attractive? Like...?? I did not expect this. My type is usually tall, blonde, and British, with sharp, prominent cheekbones. And occasionally that type can be broken - my attraction to Sam Seaborn/Rob Lowe is not really a surprise because have you seen Rob Lowe - but...??? Granted, his personality is right up my alley. Someone who is a massive jerk but still a good guy when it comes to the stuff that matters will get me every time. But man, I did not expect this. I didn't even realize it until more than halfway through the first season. And now I want to give him the biggest hug, like, all the time. It's weird. But very, very present.
  • Toby when he's doing the right thing and being a good guy is the most awkwardly adorable thing. Also, I love having a Jewish guy there, especially since his Judaism is a significant part of who he is. Not all of who he is. Not even most of who he is. But a significant part.
  • I so deeply appreciate how Sorkin allows Republican characters to make excellent points. He really never did that in Newsroom (and, no matter what he said, Will McAvoy was not a Republican) and I do like how the major characters reflect the views that I personally hold. But it's so rare now, even in real life, to see a Republican articulately arguing his/her point of view that it's not only refreshing to see it here but has occasionally genuinely made me think about my own political beliefs and why I believe them.
  • All of the actors on this show are very much actors' actors. And the writer is a writers' writer. And I can feel myself getting better both as an actress as well as a writer just from watching this show. It's wonderful.