Selma

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

Oscar Nominations and the Lack of Diversity - "I'd like to formally nominate more diversity in film, please." - Jessica Williams

When I saw who the Oscar nominees were after waking up this morning, it took me a while to realize that anything was wrong. I got excited for the nominees, surprised over a few snubs, and started to think about who my picks would be to win in each category.

If you've visited any other page of this website, or if you have been following this blog for any length of time, or really just know anything about me beyond what you've read so far in this blog post, you'll know that I'm white. And that comes with an incredible amount of privilege. It's a privilege I've experienced my entire life, to the point where I sometimes even forget that I have it; it's so normal to me. Almost everyone on every screen that I watch looks like me, "The Greats" of most art forms - especially including film - look like me, and the people who praise and critique those people look like me. And while I am aware that it's an issue, it's so common that it's become normalized and I don't always remember it.

So when I saw the list of Oscar nominees, it didn't occur to me that just about all of them were white men. I didn't think of Ava DuVernay, who nearly made history as the first nominated black female director. I didn't think of the fact that Top Five was nowhere to be found. All the films that had been nominated were (in my opinion) deserving, so everything was generally fine.

Thank god for my friends who can see things more clearly than I, and who pointed some things out to me that I am now very disappointed I didn't notice for myself.

It's true that awards shows grow increasingly irrelevant as they continue to ignore the films that the average moviegoer actually sees. The Academy expanded the Best Picture category in order to include big blockbuster films, but generally doesn't do so. Award winning films are not taking in more money after their awards, and the Academy has had many famous instances of not giving statues to films that have stood the test of time and become cultural icons. The classic example: Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture when it came out. The more modern example: Neither did The Social Network. Whether or not a movie won an award tends to ultimately mean nothing after a month or two.

But whether or not women and people of color are recognized for their work and taken seriously can mean everything, forever.

I'm not arguing that we should give award nominations to any old film that was made by women or people of color just because it was made by women or people of color. Giving awards just to help advance a movement does nothing but cheapen the award, make the movement seem weak, and overall prove itself to be a useless and meaningless action. And I'll even argue that, although Selma is nominated for Best Picture, there's no way it's going to win out over Boyhood. Selma is a great film, but Boyhood has literally changed the way we perceive cinema and the way it can be done. We can - and very much should - make other films telling black stories, but it will be a very long time before we see another movie like Boyhood.

But the fact that, in a year with films like SelmaTop Five, and also Annie, Wild, and Gone Girl, the fact that there aren't at least more nominations and recognition of the work of women and people of color is at best saddening, and, honestly, a bit closer to terrifying. We as a community can do better than this. We as a community can represent the people we strive to entertain better than this. And while it's too late for the 2015 Oscars, the silver lining is that at least we can do better next year.

Seriously, though. We have to do better next year. And the year after that. And the year after that. And every year, until even a white girl like me who has grown up surrounded by her skin color being the norm on screen would notice an Oscar nominees list that is almost entirely white men. And every year after that, until there is no such thing as just one skin color being the norm on screen. It certainly isn't in real life. And isn't it our job as artists to hold a mirror up to society - all of society?

The Academy Awards 2016: We can do better.

 

"I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either." - Jack Benny

The Drinky Oscars, commonly known as the Golden Globes, are tonight!

Guys, I really love awards shows. I know they can oftentimes be incredibly superficial, and, especially when compared with what people actually see when they go to the movies, they can even be borderline meaningless.

But the glamor! The stars! The movies! The television! The dresses! Guys, I really love awards shows.

And since I'm particularly feeling the awards season this year, I figured I'd put together a list of the Golden Globes nominees, who I think is going to win, and (sometimes) why!

If you guys want to discuss it, I'll be on my Twitter all night (@EmmaLieberman), just aching for somebody to fangirl over it with me!

As a reference, my predicted winner will be in italics, with the category in bold.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

You guys know how much I absolutely adore The Theory of Everything, and in my heart it totally wins best picture. But after a 12 year shoot, with a coming-of-age story where, as Jon Stewart said, you can literally watch the main actor come of age, I really can't imagine anything beating Boyhood.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Jennifer Aniston - Cake

I'll fully admit I've only seen two of the films in this category. But even though it's one of the films I haven't seen, I think Reese Witherspoon is going to get it for Wild. So much of the film was just her that I think it's what is going to make her win. Jennifer Aniston is my dark horse for this category, though. All of this despite the fact that I firmly believe that Felicity Jones is not getting nearly enough recognition for The Theory of Everything.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
David Oyelowo - Selma
Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler

I genuinely feel bad for everyone else in this category. There were such strong performances all around here! Especially Steve Carell, who was pretty transformed in Foxcatcher... but just not to the same degree as Eddie Redmayne. Not only did he have the same level of performance as the others here, but he also made an incredible physical transformation, so if he doesn't win it is an absolute travesty.

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Into the Woods
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
St. Vincent
Pride

Birdman counts as a musical or comedy? I'm not really sure that it does, but I am considering that it was just stuffed into this category so it could win along with Boyhood.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Julianne Moore - Maps to the Stars
Amy Adams - Big Eyes
Emily Blunt - Into the Woods
Helen Mirren - The Hundred Foot Journey
Quvenzhane Wallis - Annie

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Michael Keaton - Birdman
Bill Murray - St. Vincent
Ralph Fiennes - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Christoph Waltz - Big Eyes
Joaquin Phoenix - Inherent Vice

Best Animated Feature Film

The Lego Movie
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
Boxtrolls

Does it ever feel like sometimes the animated category is just a list of all the animated films that came out that year? My pick is easily The Lego Movie since it had such heart as a story. But my dark horse is The Book of Life - it's more multicultural, and... I don't want to say "more" artistic, but artistic in a whole other very interesting way!

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida
Force Majeure
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
Tangerines
Leviathan

I don't feel qualified to make a pick here since I haven't seen any of these films, and I haven't seen much discussion or buzz about them.

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
Emma Stone - Birdman

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Edward Norton - Birdman
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher

I feel like this is going to be the "make sure Whiplash gets something" category. I think that Edward Norton's performance was fantastic, but I don't know if it was enough to rise over anyone else's here, and they don't want just a couple of films to sweep everything.

Best Director - Motion Picture

Ava DuVernay - Selma
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Birdman
David Fincher - Gone Girl
Richard Linklater - Boyhood

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Graham Moore - The Imitation Game

I thought Gone Girl was a very fun, solid film. But I don't think it was necessarily awards-worthy. I do think that screenplay, however, is where it gets recognized. The story (and, more specifically, the way it was adapted for the screen) was just so clever, surprising, concise, and clear.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Alexandre Desplat - The Imitation Game
Johann Johannson - The Theory of Everything
Trent Raznor, Atticus Ross - Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez - Birdman
Hanz Zimmer - Interstellar

I really enjoyed the Interstellar score, but I'm really not sure it was the best, and we all know that Hanz Zimmer can do better than "mot sure it was the best." When we come around to the Oscars, I think The Theory of Everything is going to get it, absolutely. It's score was so gorgeous that I listened to it several times over after seeing the film, and I had my heart broken by just the music all over again, every time. But the Birdman score was innovative, interesting, it told the story of the film as an interwoven part of the film, it's unlike anything any of us have heard before, and the only reason I think The Theory of Everything beats it for an Oscar is because, for whatever reason, the Birdman  score doesn't qualify for the Oscars; it's not being nominated. Which, in my educated opinion, is dumb.

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

Big Eyes
Selma
Noah
Annie
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I

Best TV Series - Drama

Downton Abbey
The Affair
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
The Good Wife

Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama

Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder
Claire Danes - Homeland
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife
Robin Wright - House of Cards
Ruth Wilson - The Affair

Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama

Kevin Spacey - House of Cards
Clive Owen - The Knick
James Spader - The Blacklist
Dominic West - The Affair
Liev Schreiber - Ray Donovan

Best TV Series - Musical or Comedy

Orange is the New Black
Girls
Jane the Virgin
Transparent
Silicon Valley

Best Actress in a TV Series - Musical or Comedy

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
Gina Rodriguez - Jane the Virgin
Lena Dunham - Girls
Taylor Schilling - Orange is the New Black

It's time for Edie Falco to be awards-style recognized for Nurse Jackie. The rest of them will have their time. Their shows aren't going anywhere. My dark horse is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for the same reason as Edie Falco, but... less.

Best Actor in a TV Series - Musical or Comedy

Don Cheadle - House of Lies
William H. Macy - Shameless
Ricky Gervais - Derek
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent
Louis C.K. - Louis

I feel like this is so Louis C.K.'s year. He's got the talent. He's got the performance. He's got the buzz. I think he's going to the the Golden Globe.

Best TV Movie or Mini-Series

Olive Kitteridge
Fargo
The Missing
True Detective
The Normal Heart

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Jessica Lange - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Maggie Gyllenhaal - The Honorable Woman
Frances McDormand - Olive Kitteridge
Allison Tolman - Fargo
Frances O'Connor - The Missing

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Martin Freeman - Fargo
Matthew McConaughey - True Detective
Woody Harrelson - True Detective
Billy Bob Thornton - Fargo
Mark Ruffalo - The Normal Heart

It's a bit of a toss-up between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson for this one. I picked Matthew McConaughey because I heart just a touch more about his performance. But a lot of it was also in conjunction with Interstellar. So I'm really not sure! But regardless, I'm pretty sure that True Detective will win here.

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Kathy Bates - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Uzo Aduba - Orange is the New Black
Joanne Froggatt - Downton Abbey
Michelle Monaghan - True Detective
Allison Janney - Mom

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Bill Murray - Olive Kitteridge
Jon Voight - Ray Donovan
Matt Bomer - The Normal Heart
Alan Cumming - The Good Wife
Colin Hanks - Fargo

Not making a pick here either. I just don't know enough - a girl can only see so many things in a year!

If any of you have comments/agree or disagree with anything here, though, please do let me know! Awards season discussion is, after all, one of my favorite not-so-guilty pleasures.

EEE Golden Globes!