Oscars 2014: The B+ Movie Blog Quick Picks

My giant picks article went up a few hours ago. This is the abridged version of that, for easy reference during the ceremony.

Here’s everything you should be taking, and what I’m taking.

Oh, and rankings for that new system I’m trying to see how truly accurate I am at all of this. That is, I’m ranking them in terms of the order they will win. And the closest the winner is to my rankings, the better I do.

Here are the quick picks:

Best Picture:

My personal choice: Birdman

What you should take: Birdman

What I’m taking: Birdman

What’s on my ballot: Birdman

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Boyhood

My rankings:

1. Birdman
2. Boyhood
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. American Sniper
5. The Imitation Game
6. The Theory of Everything
7. Whiplash
8. Selma

Analysis:

You’re looking at a race between Birdman and Boyhood. Boyhood was the early leader, but Birdman came out in front and stayed there, picking up huge wins along the way. Right now, it’s the favorite to win. My gut still tells my Boyhood is gonna pull it out, but I’m not sure how much of that is not wanting to get my hopes up and be disappointed when my #1 movie of the year doesn’t win the Oscar. You know how many times that’s happened for me? Maybe five times in almost 40 years. Sure, you can’t really go back that far, since I’ve only been ranking the last five to ten. But looking back… The Artist was my #1 in 2011. Maybe The Departed is my #1 of 2006. It’s close between that and Children of Men. And maybe Return of the King in 2003, but that’s so far back, it’s hard to tell what I would have done. Before that, you’re going back a while before you get a Best Picture that was for sure my #1. So I don’t want to get my hopes up for a defeat.

Either way, it’s Birdman vs. Boyhood, and nothing else is involved. Don’t believe the Sniper hype, don’t think Budapest will sneak in there. It’s one vs. two. And Birdman is leading at this point because of the preferential ballot. But Boyhood could still win.

– – – – –

Best Director:

My personal choice: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

What you should take: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

What I’m taking: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

What’s on my ballot: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

My rankings:

1. Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman
2. Richard Linklater, Boyhood
3. Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
5. Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Analysis:

With the DGA win, Inarritu is an astounding favorite to win this, and you have to take him. Linklater is the only upset option, but you only take that if you’re really feeling it and are confident. Otherwise, the smart money is on Inarritu all the way.

– – – – –

Best Actor:

My personal choice: Michael Keaton, Birdman

What you should take: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

What I’m taking: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

What’s on my ballot: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Michael Keaton, Birdman

My rankings:

1. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
2. Michael Keaton, Birdman
3. Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
4. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
5. Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Analysis:

Redmayne has every precursor you’d want to see. But it’s not over just yet. Keaton could still take it. He’s got a BFCA win, a Globes win, and if they sweep vote his film, he could be coming along for the ride. Do not count out Michael Keaton. I say this is clearly a 2008 situation, where Mickey Rourke has the emotional vote and Sean Penn has all the important precursors (though there, Mickey Rourke won the BAFTA, which Redmayne has, along with SAG). So, you can still vote Keaton, but smart money is on Redmayne to pull it out. You can vote Keaton here, but Redmayne is the safer choice.

– – – – –

Best Actress:

My personal choice: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

What you should take: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

What I’m taking: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

What’s on my ballot: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

My rankings:

1. Julianne Moore, Still Alice
2. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
3. Reese Witherspoon, Wild
4. Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
5. Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Analysis:

This is Julianne Moore’s category. Don’t overthink it.

– – – – –

Best Supporting Actor:

My personal choice: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

What you should take: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

What I’m taking: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

What’s on my ballot: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Edward Norton, Birdman

My rankings:

1. J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
2. Edward Norton, Birdman
3. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
4. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
5. Robert Duvall, The Judge

Analysis:

It’s all Simmons, all day. He’s not losing. Move along.

– – – – –

Best Supporting Actress:

My personal choice: Emma Stone, Birdman

What you should take: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

What I’m taking: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

What’s on my ballot: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Emma Stone, Birdman

My rankings:

1. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
2. Emma Stone, Birdman
3. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
4. Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
5. Laura Dern, Wild

Analysis:

The second Jessica Chastain wasn’t nominated, this category was over. Arquette walks away with this without any competition whatsoever.

– – – – –

Best Original Screenplay:

My personal choice: Birdman

What you should take: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I’m taking: Birdman

What’s on my ballot: Birdman

What will win if my pick doesn’t: The Grand Budapest Hotel

My rankings:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Birdman
3. Boyhood
4. Nightcrawler
5. Foxcatcher

Analysis:

The category is between Birdman and Budapest. The rest are all just chilling. Buadpest is the technical favorite, based on a WGA win and a BAFTA win. But Birdman was ineligible at the WGA, so we don’t know for sure how that would have went. I’m personally sticking with Birdman for my own reasons, but I think the smart choice is Grand Budapest, because it feels a lot like Spike Jonze last year, where the writer with the vision gets the award over the director whose film is set to get a bunch of accolades. (Though, of course, American Hustle ended up getting squadoosh.) Budapest seems to have the momentum, but it’s a tight race. You can go either way here. But don’t take anything else.

– – – – –

Best Adapted Screenplay

My personal choice: The Imitation Game

What you should take: The Imitation Game

What I’m taking: The Imitation Game

What’s on my ballot: The Imitation Game

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Whiplash

My rankings:

1. The Imitation Game
2. Whiplash
3. The Theory of Everything
4. American Sniper
5. Inherent Vice

Analysis:

A lot of people are moving over to Whiplash at the last minute. I can’t say they’re wrong. It hasn’t competed in Adapted all the way through, so it hasn’t faced any of the competition. However, it didn’t win Original at the WGA (which was a difficult category. So the move arguably only helps it). Imitation Game has beaten the rest of the competition mostly throughout. Theory of Everything won the BAFTA, but I don’t know how important that is. American Sniper hasn’t won anything, and is an afterthought. And Inherent Vice is lucky to even be nominated. Imitation Game won the WGA and the USC Scripter, which is actually a really strong combination and usually points to an Oscar win. Imitation Game is the safe choice, but if you think they’re gonna completely shut it out, then you go Whiplash. That’s the alternate. I’d be surprised by anything else.

– – – – –

Best Editing:

My personal choice: Whiplash

What you should take: Boyhood

What I’m taking: Whiplash

What’s on my ballot: Whiplash

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Boyhood

My rankings:

1. Boyhood
2. Whiplash
3. American Sniper
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
5. The Imitation Game

Analysis:

This one is a surprisingly open category. Imitation Game won’t win, and Grand Budapest would shock everyone and really open up that Best Picture race and keep everyone on their toes. I wouldn’t count on it, though. American Sniper could win, because it’s a war movie, but I think that’s a red herring. I don’t think enough people love it, and I don’t think it’ll get enough votes to win. But you can vote for it if you want. I’m staying away from it. Whiplash has a lot of love, won the BAFTA for Editing, and is a very strong choice. Boyhood is a presumed favorite because of an Eddie win (though that’s not a necessary guarantee of a win here). It’s either Boyhood or Whiplash. I’m taking Whiplash because I think that’ll be the sign that Boyhood is losing. But I feel like Boyhood is the smart choice still. No real reason why. This is definitely one where you can take Whiplash and not feel bad. This is a true 50/50, and Whiplash might even be the favorite. You have options here.

– – – – –

Best Cinematography:

My personal choice: Birdman

What you should take: Birdman

What I’m taking: Birdman

What’s on my ballot: Birdman

What will win if my pick doesn’t: The Grand Budapest Hotel

My rankings:

1. Birdman
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Unbroken
4. Ida
5. Mr. Turner

Analysis:

It’s Birdman all the way. Don’t bet against it. Don’t waste time thinking about it.

– – – – –

Best Original Score:

My personal choice: The Imitation Game

What you should take: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I’m taking: The Theory of Everything

What’s on my ballot: The Theory of Everything

What will win if my pick doesn’t: The Grand Budapest Hotel

My rankings:

1. The Theory of Everything
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. The Imitation Game
4. Interstellar
5. Mr. Turner

Analysis:

There’s no precursor here, so you’re free to do almost anything you want. Don’t bet Turner, don’t bet Interstellar. Otherwise, we don’t know. Imitation Game seems unlikely, based on the lack of support for the film, post-nominations. Grand Budapest won the BAFTA, but I’m feeling like it’s gonna be Theory of Everything. This is the one category where I feel like I’m telling you to take something that isn’t necessarily going to win. But a lot of people seem to be thinking it’s gonna sweep all the tech categories. Personally, I think Theory of Everything takes it, but no one knows because there’s no real guild precursor that you can count on. So, either take Theory of Everything or Grand Budapest. If you think Grand Budapest takes all the techs, go with it. If not, go with Theory.

– – – – –

Best Original Song:

My personal choice: “Glory,” from Selma

What you should take: “Glory,” from Selma

What I’m taking: “Glory,” from Selma

What’s on my ballot: “Glory,” from Selma

What will win if my pick doesn’t: “Everything Is Awesome,” from The Lego Movie

My rankings:

1. “Glory,” from Selma
2. “Everything Is Awesome,” from The Lego Movie
3. “Lost Stars,” from Begin Again
4. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” from Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me
5. “Grateful,” from Beyond the Lights

Analysis:

Take “Glory.” Unless you really think they’re gonna spite vote “Everything Is Awesome.” Otherwise, take “Glory.” They’ve been everywhere, giving great performances, making classy speeches, I can’t see them losing. Stick with it. They should take it home.

– – – – –

Best Production Design:

My personal choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What you should take: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I’m taking: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What’s on my ballot: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What will win if my pick doesn’t: The Imitation Game

My rankings:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. The Imitation Game
3. Into the Woods
4. Interstellar
5. Mr. Turner

Analysis:

This is one of the biggest locks of the night. Take Grand Budapest and let whatever else beat you.

– – – – –

Best Costume Design:

My personal choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What you should take: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I’m taking: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What’s on my ballot: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Into the Woods

My rankings:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Into the Woods
3. Mr. Turner
4. Inherent Vice
5. Maleficent

Analysis:

Also one of the biggest locks of the night. Let it lose.

– – – – –

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:

My personal choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What you should take: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What I’m taking: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What’s on my ballot: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Guardians of the Galaxy

My rankings:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Foxcatcher

Analysis:

You could make a case for Guardians, but Budapest should take this easy and muscle its way toward another tech.

– – – – –

Best Visual Effects:

My personal choice: Interstellar

What you should take: Interstellar

What I’m taking: Interstellar

What’s on my ballot: Interstellar

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

My rankings:

1. Interstellar
2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Analysis:

All the trendy people are gonna try to say that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is gonna win, but trust me, Interstellar is the most likely winner. It won the BAFTA, and a movie that’s only nominated once hasn’t won this category since 1992. Smart voters have Interstellar. More power to you if you have Apes and it wins.

– – – – –

Best Sound Mixing:

My personal choice: Interstellar

What you should take: Whiplash

What I’m taking: Birdman

What’s on my ballot: Birdman

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Whiplash

My rankings:

1. Birdman
2. Whiplash
3. American Sniper
4. Interstellar
5. Unbroken

Analysis:

Reminder that you have to consider both Sound categories at the same time. Because the last time you want is to take Birdman in one and not the other, and it wins both. Or it wins the other one and you lose both. You don’t want to be put in that situation. I say that statistically, the odds probably don’t favor a clean Birdman sweep. So while I’m gonna be the idiot taking it everywhere, you don’t need to be. Whiplash seems to have enough fervent support to be able to pick off this category (and Editing). American Sniper doesn’t feel like a movie that wins both Sound categories. And typically war movies do better in Editing and music movies do better here. So, if you’re not taking Birdman, Whiplash is the bet here.

– – – – –

Best Sound Editing:

My personal choice: Interstellar

What you should take: American Sniper

What I’m taking: Birdman

What’s on my ballot: Birdman

What will win if my pick doesn’t: American Sniper

My rankings:

1. American Sniper
2. Birdman
3. Interstellar
4. Unbroken
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Analysis:

The Hobbit and Unbroken are out. Interstellar got mixed sound reviews. Doubt that’ll pull it out, but it’ll get votes. Your winner is either Birdman or American Sniper. Thing is, you can’t pick a Best Picture winner in a Sound category without taking it in both. Unless you’ve got a set winner in the other. You have to pick the sound categories together. It’s not like the other categories. So if you take Birdman here, you almost have to take it in Mixing. Nobody wants to split the sound categories and have something sweep. Otherwise, precursor points to American Sniper. So it’s a 50/50 on which to take. The Sound categories are the wild cards this year.

– – – – –

Best Animated Feature:

My personal choice: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

What you should take: How to Train Your Dragon 2

What I’m taking: How to Train Your Dragon 2

What’s on my ballot: How to Train Your Dragon 2

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Big Hero 6

My rankings:

1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
2. Big Hero 6
3. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
4. The Boxtrolls
5. Song of the Sea

Analysis:

Either How to Train Your Dragon or Big Hero 6 is winning this, and Dragon seems to be the favorite. Big Hero 6 won a bunch of the guilds, but for technical stuff. When you get to straight up film, I think Dragon takes this. 65/35 in favor of Dragon.

– – – – –

Best Foreign Language Film:

My personal choice: Ida

What you should take: Ida

What I’m taking: Ida

What’s on my ballot: Ida

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Leviathan

My rankings:

1. Ida
2. Leviathan
3. Wild Tales
4. Tangerines
5. Timbuktu

Analysis:

Leviathan won the Globe, and that’s been a good precursor the past four years, but Ida has a second nomination, and just feels like the film that’ll appeal to the most voters. Plus it’s a Holocaust movie (not completely, but enough). They like that. Leviathan seems to be a little too dense thematically to appeal to people. And don’t count out Wild Tales, because it’s fun as shit, even though it’s an anthology film. That would be a nice little pleasant surprise. But Ida is the movie that should appeal to everyone. Stick with that.

– – – – –

Best Documentary Feature:

My personal choice: CitizenFour

What you should take: CitizenFour

What I’m taking: CitizenFour

What’s on my ballot: CitizenFour

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Finding Vivian Maier

My rankings:

1. CitizenFour
2. Finding Vivian Maier
3. Virunga
4. Last Days in Vietnam
5. The Salt of the Earth

Analysis:

CitizenFour has been sweeping everything leading up to this. It looks to be one of the bigger locks of the night. And if it doesn’t win, look to Finding Vivian Maier, since it’s about discovering an artist we didn’t know about before (like Searching for Sugar Man, and, in a way, 20 Feet from Stardom). Virunga is a real dark horse, but feels like a really unlikely winner. Stick with CitizenFour. But if you want to pick a potential upset, it’s Vivian Maier.

– – – – –

Best Documentary Short:

My personal choice: Joanna

What you should take: Joanna

What I’m taking: Joanna

What’s on my ballot: Joanna

What will win if my pick doesn’t: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

My rankings:

1. Joanna
2. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
3. Our Curse
4. White Earth
5. The Reaper

Analysis:

Joanna or Crisis Hotline. Don’t bother with anything else. Joanna is the emotional choice, and Crisis Hotline is the issue choice. They like both of these things. I’m sticking with emotion, and the fact that, after watching all five, I found Crisis Hotline to be pretty boring, even though the issue is important. And Joanna is really well done. So, since people generally see most of the nominees before voting, I’ll say Joanna is most likely to win. But it’s one or the other. This is always one of the most difficult categories to pick. You don’t have to be right. Just be informed.

– – – – –

Best Live-Action Short:

My personal choice: Parvaneh

What you should take: Boogaloo and Graham

What I’m taking: Boogaloo and Graham

What’s on my ballot: Boogaloo and Graham

What will win if my pick doesn’t: The Phone Call

My rankings:

1. Boogaloo and Graham
2. The Phone Call
3. Parvaneh
4. Aya
5. Butter Lamp

Analysis:

This is the widest category of the year. Four potential winners. Disregard Butter Lamp. Trust me. Don’t do it. Otherwise, Aya or Parvaneh could win. Parvaneh was my favorite, but I’m worried voters won’t be able to tell the difference between the two, since they’re both female names. The Phone Call is well made, but it’s a downer. They like light-hearted things in this category, historically. Boogaloo and Graham has a memorable name, and is about two little Irish boys and their pet chickens. That should be your winner. The Phone Call would make sense as an alternate, and Parvaneh and Aya are wild cards. Take your pick.

– – – – –

Best Animated Short:

My personal choice: Feast

What you should take: The Dam Keeper

What I’m taking: Feast

What’s on my ballot: Feast

What will win if my pick doesn’t: The Dam Keeper

My rankings:

1. The Dam Keeper
2. Feast
3. The Bigger Picture
4. A Single Life
5. Me and My Moulton

Analysis:

Feast is the one every one knows and would vote for, but Disney hasn’t won this category, outside of Paperman, since 1969. So, maybe it’s not the right choice. The Dam Keeper feels like it’s what fits with them, tonally, in this category. And The Bigger Picture is a wild card that could win. I’m taking Feast because I’m dumb, but The Dam Keeper is probably going to win. But it’s a shorts category. Who knows.

– – – – – – – – – –

Those are the quick picks.

Remember, my ballot is my own personal one. What You Should Take is the one that I feel is most likely to come out. My rankings are based on a new system where, if your #1 wins, you get one point. If your #5 wins, you get 5 points. And you want to get as few points as possible. I’m gonna try to keep us all under 30 points.

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