Oscar Primer 2015: The March for the Oscars

During the lead up to this year’s Oscar’s on February 22nd I will be covering a lot of the nominees for the upcoming Academy Awards. This will not be your usual Oscar primer, but in fact more of a “catching up to speed” series. I will be dissecting a few films in each instalment. I will be going over what the nominees are, and what chances it stands to win. In the last instalment HERE I covered “Boyhood”, “Gone Girl” and “Inherent Vice”. This time I will be talking about “Selma”, “Interstellar” and “The Boxtrolls”.

“Selma” was directed by Ava DuVernay, released on January 9th and distributed by Pathe. The film has two nominations.

  • Best Picture- Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
  • Best Original Song- Common and John Legend

It is really quite shocking that “Selma” managed to get enough Academy support to crack the Best Picture nominee list but not have enough power to garner any more votes to appear in categories other than Best Original Song. The last time another Best Picture nominee only had two nominations was for “Extremely Annoying and Incredibly Boring”. I will save you all from reading my rant on the snubs of David Oyelowo for Best Actor, Carmen Ejogo for Best Supporting Actress, Ava DuVernay for Best Director among others as all these very strong parts contributed to the fact that this film is in the Best Picture category. The acting is superb and the fact that it is a bio-pic that focuses on a single event rather than the subjects entire life make for an incredibly zeroed in film. The pacing is great and the whole film has a sense of urgency and dread hanging over it, it is impossible to not be scared when the marches finally start to happen. Unfortunately with only two nominations it proves that most of the Academy branches were not in love with the film and it stands no real shot to win. If I were to handicap the race it would probably come in 6th or 7th place in voting. Don’t let the fact that Oprah is in it scare you away from a well-crafted film.

It is always hard to pick what song will win Best Original Song at the Oscars. Does it go to the best music? Does it go to the best lyrics? Does it go to the song with the best message? Does it go to the most popular artist? It usually seems to go to the most well known song, which means it could be a two horse race this year. In Glory written and performed by Common and John Legend you get a powerful tribute to the work that Martin Luther King Jr. inspired people to continue on with. You have Legend’s fantastic piano playing with his gospel vocals which he is famous for and is contrasted with the “Selma” actor Common who performs spoken word verses. The song is fairly catchy and has great meaning behind it (way more so than It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp) so it is a deserving pick to win. It may somehow lose to Everything is Awesome from “The Lego Movie” but that win would more be payback for the Academy not nominating it for Best Animated Feature rather than on its own merits.

“Interstellar” was directed by Christopher Nolan, released on November 7th and produced by Syncopy. The film has five nominations.

  • Best Production Design- Nathan Crowley
  • Best Original Score- Hans Zimmer
  • Best Visual Effects- Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott R. Fisher
  • Best Sound Mixing- Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
  • Best Sound Editing- Richard King

I’m sort of glad I don’t need to discuss the plot and the script of this movie as it is fairly complicated and people really seem to differ on how they view it. I will state for the record I enjoyed it quite a bit but found the dialogue very cheesy and I can understand how some people have a hard time getting past it and the ending. Now that that is out of the way, I have to say the look and feel of the film is like nothing seen since “2001: A Space Odyssey”, something I know Nolan is sick and tired of hearing. The clean and futuristic space ships look great and the planets the astronauts visit look hauntingly beautiful. I can see one of two things happening, either “Interstellar” will sweep almost all five categories it is nominated for or it will go home empty handed. For Best Production Design it goes against a much better received and candy coated “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and the Victorian era “Mr. Turner” that looks so accurate you can smell the filth from the screen. 

Hans Zimmer gets a bit of a bad rap, especially for his previous work with Christopher Nolan. This time he turned in such a unique and original score its hard not to fall in love with it. For the films more intense scenes there are lush, brash organs that make you sweat with anticipation. This year all the scores are well deserving of their nominations with “The Theory of Everything” seemingly in the lead, but my assessment remains the same, “Interstellar” will go for broke or leave with nothing. I’d be pretty happy with a win here for them though.  

With Best Visual Effects being one of more intriguing categories this year I wonder if the practical effects of “Interstellar” will out match the great motion capture CGI for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” or “Guardians of the Galaxy” which has so much special effects it is practically an animated film. I think this is the category “Interstellar” is most likely to win, if it doesn’t don’t expect anything else to go their way.

The sound editing and mixing for this film had all your traditional space ship noises but nothing too original. It wasn’t an action flick so there weren’t a lot of showy sounds to be made. If “Interstellar” is loved by the Academy it might pull out this double win, but really it won’t, which of course puts the rest of the categories into jeopardy. 

“The Boxtrolls” was directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacci, released on September 26th and produced by Laika Entertainment. The film has one nomination. 

  • Best Animated Feature

Without “The Lego Movie” being nominated and Pixar not having a horse in the race this year’s Best Animated Feature category is wide open. The voters will have plenty of choices to vote on with “The Boxtrolls” Claymation stop motion, two CGI films, one traditional hand drawn film and a Japanese water colour film, Asia’s answer to Disney. The film managed to fall flat with its poor storyline. With seemingly no real morals or lessons to be learned (even Frozen had its weird, girls can succeed if they finally ignore men sentiment) the characters don’t prove that they have grown. While the story was subpar, especially when considering the same studio made “Coraline” and the criminally under rated “ParaNorman”, it more than makes up with great animation as stop motion done right is always breath taking. Simply having the best animation is never enough for this category as it usually goes to the strongest story, which puts this film at the bottom of the barrel. I’m not seeing a way that this can surge ahead as there are too many obstacles to overcome.

About author

Music Editor at Live in Limbo and Host of Contra Zoom podcast. Dakota is a graduate of Humber College's Acting for Film and Television. He now specializes in knowing all random trivia. He writes about music, sports and film. Dakota's life goal is visit all baseball stadiums, he's at 7.