Oscars Showdown 2015

#2k15. Another year, another Oscars. See Spot Run was at it again with a blow-out party at the Texas Theater, where went we head-to-head to try and predict the most winners for the evening. With last year’s victory going to to Jeff and Amanda’s dignity on the line, we individually predicted the winners of each category, made a bet (loser buys lunch), and watched the evening unfold with our friends at the Oak Cliff Film Festival and culture critic Chris Vognar of the Dallas Morning News.


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Oscars 2015 Ballot

Best Picture

Jeff: Boyhood.  I honestly expected the Academy to play it safe.  I feel confident in saying that Birdman is the most unconventional film ever to win Best Picture.

Amanda: Birdman or (Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). I saw six of the eight nominees this year – everything but The Imitation Game and Selma. While I’m looking forward to catching them eventually, I think that the call for the year’s best film is easily made between Whiplash, Birdman, Grand Budapest, and Boyhood. American Sniper and Imitation Game are fine films, but don’t have what it takes to be “Best Pictures” in the full sense of the term for me. Part of me thinks Boyhood will win on the grounds of its astounding 12-year feat and sentimentality, but there were also a lot of folks who seemed to not “get” or appreciate what it was getting at. My nod is to Birdman - technically ambitious and stunning, perfectly acted, and an all-around inventive joy ride from start to finish. I haven’t walked out of a theater that giddy about filmmaking in a long time. 

And the winner is … Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman. As someone yelled out at the party – “Everything’s coming up Birdman!” 


Best Director

Jeff: Richard Linklater, Boyhood. The best man won.  I thought the elder, caucasian demographic of the Academy voter would be too afraid to give a Mexican the Best Director Oscar.  Thanks, Obama.

Amanda: Richard Linklater, Boyhood. The brilliance of choosing to shoot the story of a boy growing up in “real time” (insofar as real time can “exist” in cinema) and the directorial challenges coupled with that decision make it seem almost indisputable that Linklater should win this category. While Birdman was the more stylistic, visionary piece, there is so much to be said for Linklater’s commitment to work, grow, and mature with his cast over the course of 12 years.



And the winner is … Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman. Wow – we didn’t expect this one.

“True art…can’t be labeled…because our work can only be judged by time. …I have this [award] only because of the word of the actors, the producers…so many people who worked on this film. This is a slow-motion kind of moment in my life.”


Best Actor

Jeff: Michael Keaton, Birdman or (Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Okay, this result pisses me off.  Eddie’s cute and all, but let’s be real:  The Theory of Everything is a damn Lifetime movie.  Keaton was robbed.  I am not happy about this.  No, I won’t listen to reason!

Amanda: Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher. Honestly, I think Foxcatcher should have gotten a Best Picture nomination. So, I’m glad to at least see the phenomenal cast being recognized with nominations. Steve Carrell blew me away in the role of John DuPont – he’s creepy, unsettling, hard to watch, and, somehow, understated.

And the winner is … Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything. Collective gasp. “I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man.” Amanda found Redmayne’s acceptance speech unendingly sweet, but Jeff thought he was witnessing a robbery.


Best Actress

Jeff: Julianne Moore, Still Alice. Because it’s Julianne Moore.  I hear amazing things.  All I can say is, you don’t make a film like Far From Heaven and not win one eventually.

Amanda: Rosamud Pike, Gone Girl. Love for my girl Marion, but I didn’t see Two Days, One Night; my vote goes to Rosamund Pike for being the penultimate black widow of a sociopathic #bitchgoddess and for the sexiest throat-slitting in film history. 

And the winner is … Julianne Moore. Really, I think everyone saw this coming.


Best Supporting Actor

Jeff: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash. Have you called your parents yet?  Love him. Love his performance.  Love that film.

Amanda: Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher. I have a feeling Simmons will take it, which I don’t have much problem with, but Ruffalo absolutely stole Foxcatcher with his performance. His physicality, his warmth, his charisma – an Oscar would be well deserved. 

And the winner is … J.K. Simmons, Whiplash.





Best Supporting Actress

Jeff: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood. One of the best speeches.  She was the heart and soul of that film.  So deserving.  I love how she is embracing her moment with thoughtfulness, awareness, and activism.

Amanda: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood. As far as pretty much anyone is concerned, this category is uncontested. Arquette was the heart of Boyhood and her heartbreaking moment at the film’s close sealed the deal.

And the winner is … Patricia Arquette, Boyhood. Yup. We nailed it. She’s a dream. “Equal rights to all women in the United States.” #feminism



Best Original Screenplay

Jeff: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Love Birdman, but this was Wes’ year.  He should have won.  GBH is the best version of a Wes Anderson movie Wes Anderson has ever made.  He’s perfected his formula.

Amanda: Nightcrawler. Absolutely among my top three of the year. I think it was vastly underrepresented in the awards season, so with this being the only nod it got, I had to give it my vote. 

And the winner is … Birdman. The whole theater erupted in a collective groan with this one. Not that Birdman was underserving, but everyone expected either Budpaest or, really, anything besides Birdman to win.


Birdman Script


Best Adapted Screenplay

Jeff: The Imitation Game. Although I haven’t seen it, Nazis are always Oscars gold and gay rights are very in right now. It’d be shocking if this film didn’t win in the Adapted Screenplay category.

Amanda: Inherent Vice. It’s not easy to read Pynchon, let alone adapt him. The groovy, dreamy, poetic trip that was this screenplay gives it my vote to win. 

And the winner is … Imitation Game. Jeff nailed it.



Best Animated Feature

Jeff: How To Train Your Dragon 2.  Biggest actual upset.  Literally, no one saw this coming.  The makers of Big Hero 6 should have thanked The Lego Movie for not being nominated.

Amanda: Abstained. 

And the winner is … Big Hero 6. 


Best Foreign Language Film

Jeff: Ida, Pawlikowski. Best speech of the night, in my opinion!  Can’t wait to see Ida!  Yay Poland!

Amanda: Ida, Pawlikowski. I’ve only been told to see this film one hundred times. I’m also Polish and it’s on Netflix, so I’m running out of excuses. In any case, this category, too, seems uncontested going into the awards. 

And the winner is …  Ida, Pawlikowski.


Best Documentary Feature

Jeff: CitizenFour, Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, and Dirk Wilutzky.  It’s on HBO tonight!  Set your DVRs!

Amanda:  CitizenFour, Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, and Dirk Wilutzky. Just a good guess on my part. 

And the winner is … CitizenFour. Neither of us have seen it, but all the talk made it a surefire winner.


Sound Documentary –  Short Subject

Jeff: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, Ellen Goodenburg Kent and Dana Perry. Not too hard to predict this one based  on subject matter.  I came here to win!

Amanda: Abstained. 

And the winner is … Jeff! And Crisis Hotline. 



Best Cinematography 

Jeff: Emmanuel Luneki, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Many films have done the “one-take” style, but nobody’s done to this extravagance and elegance. Birdman is probably the most ambitious one-take film of all time. That said, Luneki should co-accept this award with his colorist. I’ve seen the work done to patch the film’s takes together and it is astounding.

Amanda: Robert Yoeman, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Oddly enough, I chose to go with Budapest and not Birdman for this category. They’re both stunning technical achievements in film, for very different reasons. This one is a hard call for me. 

And the winner is … Emmanuel Luneki, Birdman. 


Best Film Editing

Jeff: Tom Cross, Whiplash. This award is the most deserving of the night!  Speaking as an editor, this film was flawlessly cut.  It’s stylized, but subtle.  It’s knows when not to cut, which is at times the definition of great editing.

Amanda: Tom Cross, Whiplash. The kind of film that makes you want a cigarette. Or a Xanax. Or both. Grace of good performances, too, but the anxiety is owed in large part to the pacing of the edit. Good work, Tom Cross! 

And the winner is … Got it! 



Best Production Design

Jeff: The Grand Budapest Hotel. If you guess something else, you must not have seen this film.

Amanda: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Is any explanation needed? Budapest oozes with the fullness and richness of design that we’ve come to expect from Wes Anderson films, and then takes it several steps further. 

And the winner is … The Grand Budapest Hotel. No question whatsoever. This film’s visual style is unparalleled.


Best Costume Design

Jeff: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Hotel uniforms have never looked more stylish!

Amanda: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Same comments as above – perfectly executed Anderson style. 

And the winner is … The Grand Budapest Hotel. 




Best Original Score

Jeff: Intersteller. Hans!  I loved your score!  I listen to it almost daily.  

Amanda: Intersteller. Interstellar’s score and the film itself are synonymous to me. One doesn’t exist without the other and the music is really what carried the story’s entire experience. It’s a brilliantly composed atmosphere.

And the winner is … The Grand Budapest Hotel. This one’s a surprise, but not one we’re unhappy with. It’s a cool score, we just don’t have it playing on repeat as much as Hans Zimmer’s music.




Best Original Song

Jeff: John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn, Selma.  I knew the Academy would throw Selma one bone.  Best Original Song is a safe one to throw.  Not that it’s not deserving, it’s just, you know #OscarsSoWhite…

Amanda: Abstained. 

And the winner is … Selma.



Best Visual Effects

Jeff: Stephanie Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbod, Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians was a critical and box office success.  Even an old curmudgeon like me found it charming.

Amanda: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, and Scott Fisher, Intersteller. Going with my gut!

And the winner is … Intersteller. Amanda got this one in a shocking twist. 


Everybody say, "oooooh!" Everybody say, "Ahhhhh!"

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Jeff: Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White, Guardians of the Galaxy.  Big surprise for me.  Two of the three live action main characters had to extremely detailed full body makeup.  

Amanda: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, The Grand Budapest Hotel. Same comments as for Design and Costuming – this is the most visually rich and stylized film of all the nominees, so my guess is it will take it. 

And the winner is … The Grand Budapest Hotel. 


Best Sound Mixing 

Jeff: American Sniper. I’m so glad to be wrong about this!  Whiplash rules!!!!

Amanda: Whiplash. In a film that’s all about music, I’ve gotta vote for the stellar sound mixing required to make the whole thing seamless, believable, and enjoyable to listen to. 

And the winner is … Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, and Thomas Curley. Whiplash. Amanda takes it!


Best Short Film – Animated

Jeff: The Dam Keeper. I should have known!  I suck at life and am now questioning existence. 

Amanda: Abstained.

And the winner is … Feast. Really, we didn’t know what was going on anyhow.

Best Short Film – Live Action

Jeff: Butter Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak), Hu Wei and Julien Féret.  Hehe.  Butter lamp.  I mean, what you turn it on, does it melt?  I dunno, but give that butter lamp a trophy already!

Amanda: Abstained. 

And the winner is … The Phone Call, Mat Kirby and James Lucas.


Best Sound Editing 

Jeff: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asmen, American Sniper. Yawn.  Huh?  What happened?  Oh.

Amanda: Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). That drum track, though.

And the winner is … American Sniper. 




 Oh, #APJP.


Jeff: You’ll get ‘em next time, Kiddo. Oh, wait. Isn’t that what I said last year? Suck it!

Amanda: Overall, I’m pretty content with how this year’s Oscars turned out, even if Jeff barely scraped by to beat me in the prediction game. If I had’t abstained from the few categories I didn’t want to hazard guesses for, I would have had him.


>>  By JEFF AYALASenior Editor & AMANDA PRESMYK, Junior Producer


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