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Handicapping Best Picture Oscar nominees

By JOEY OSTER/ VN FILM CRITIC
On February 11, 2015

    

BY JOEY OSTER

VN MOVIE CRITIC

First off, eight films being nominated is too much and makes no sense.

It does not spike viewer interest, and it demeans receiving a nomination in the Oscars’ most prestigious category, Best Picture.

 Just go back to five, please and thank you.

Here are the Best Picture nominees, ranked lowest to highest in terms of chances of winning.

 

SNOWBALLS IN HELL

8. “Whiplash”: The most peculiar of the nominees, “Whiplash” is as close to being universally loved and acclaimed as a film can get. It has a nominated screenplay and a supporting actor with a probable win.

It wooed at film festivals, but its scope is too small and specified to “feel like a Best Picture winner.”

Many people love “Whiplash,” including myself, but headscratchingly it sits at the bottom of the totem pole.

7. “The Theory of Everything”: I hated it, but I unfortunately don’t have a vote.

It’s been picking up minor awards on the road to the Academy Awards.

It’s biggest win for Best British Film at the British Academy Film Awards, but that usually doesn’t translate well to Oscar gold.

6. “Selma”: It could easily be a couple spots higher on this list.

“Selma” is a beloved film among critics, especially with the current civil rights controversies in Ferguson.

Although it had huge momentum, the film was snubbed in every other major Oscar category.

There’s the chance “Selma” takes a page out of the “Argo” playbook from two years ago and uses the snubs to surge and take home the grand prize.   

 

THE RISING JUGGERNAUT

5. “American Sniper”: Originally thought to have zero chance at winning, Sniper is suddenly picking up steam.

It’s been the most talked about film of the past month while simultaneously dominating the box office.

This, along with the love for director Clint Eastwood among older Academy members, not to mention the possibility of Bradley Cooper taking home hardware, makes the film a scary dark horse.

 

THE CLASSIC OSCAR BAITER

4.  “The Imitation Game”: This feels like your typical Best Picture winner in the tradition of “The King’s Speech” and “12 Years a Slave.”

It’s a straightforward, well-done period piece anchored by a strong performance from its lead actor.

But this year, that won’t be enough.

“Imitation” has a little bit of gas in its tank, but not enough to slug it out with two of the most original and innovative films of all time, let alone 2014.

 

THE DARLING

3. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”: Wes Anderson has finally been able to perfectly construct his own dollhouse of a world in which he has complete control over every minute detail and movement.

The film sprinted out of the gate back in March, was forgotten for a moment, then emerged just in time for awards season.

The snub of Ralph Fiennes for Best Actor hurts its overall chances, but Anderson locking up a nom in Directing more than makes up the loss ground.

Beating out “Birdman” for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical at the Golden Globes was monumental for its chances.

But at the end of the day, the Oscars are not the Globes, and “Budapest” is still the cute little caper comedy that won’t be able to hang with the big boys.

 

THE HEAVY HITTERS CREW

“Boyhood” vs. “Birdman”: This is the closest Best Picture race in years.

“Boyhood” has been the Cinderella sitting in the driver’s seat since late July, but the tables have turned.

“Birdman” is on fire, snatching up the top prize at the Director’s Guild of America Awards and Best Ensemble at the SAG Awards. More importantly, “Birdman” just beat out “Boyhood” for top prize at the Producers Guild Awards.

The last seven films to win that award have gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

The idea of splitting the Best Director and Picture between the two films seems to play in favor of “Boyhood.”

The Academy would be more likely to reward Iñárritu’s lively spark of a film in the directing category, where his hand is more visible – thus resulting in a Best Picture victory for “Boyhood.”

Either way, it’s going to the wire on Feb. 22.

The Academy will be forced to decide on the flashy brilliance of “Birdman” or the subtle greatness of “Boyhood.”

 PREDICTION: “Boyhoodat the buzzer in OT

 

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