2015 Chicago Mayoral Primary Election

Mayor Rahm Emanuel sucks. He’s the epitome of a conservative, corporatist Democrat. Chicago, like anywhere else, needs more liberal leadership, which is why I’m endorsing Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” García for Mayor of Chicago.

Today is the primary, and if Emanuel fails to get 50 percent of the vote he’ll be forced into an April runoff. Let’s hope that happens and that García beats him then.

FEBRUARY 25 2015 UPDATE: Annnnd it looks like we’re off to a runoff on April 7!

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87th Academy Awards Nominations, Final Predictions

I normally like to post my reviews for the Academy Award Best Picture nominees before the ceremony, but unfortunately I haven’t finished them all yet. I have seen all eight Best Picture nominees and I’ll offer my picks and predictions for that category and all the others below. I’ll post my reviews for the Best Picture nominees at a later time (in the near future, I hope).

See here for my previous edition of 87th Academy Award commentary, from January 15.

Best Picture

What I’ve seen: (all of them) American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

What will win: toss-up between Birdman and Boyhood

What should win: Birdman

I’m on Team Birdman here. Birdman >>>>> Boyhood. Boyhood is fine but really overrated. Birdman (or should I say, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)) is edgy, innovative, and thought-provoking, and I think it pushes the boundaries on storytelling. Many movies can only focus on either plot or character development, but Birdman manages to do both. I’m not saying it’s the best movie ever, but it’s more deserving than any of the others.

The Best Picture race had looked like Boyhood’s to lose, but Birdman seems to have surged into contention, what with victories like its PGA win.

If I had to rank my choices for Best Picture right now (keeping in mind that I haven’t fully digested all the movies yet), they would be as follows (from best to worst):

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

That said, this is definitely the strongest lineup overall that I’ve seen in the last few years. All eight of these movies, even the ones I ranked at the bottom, are at least decent.

Best Director

Who I’ve seen: (all of them) Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Who will win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Who should win: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)

Linklater will probably win for Boyhood, on the strength of the 12-year filming schedule for his film. I’m torn on this. On one hand, the 12-year thing is unusual and I think many people feel like Linklater needs to be acknowledged for that, and this award is the best way to do it (I can’t think of another Oscar that would address that kind of casting and filming decision). On the other hand, it’s becoming less and less impressive the more I think about it, to the point where it’s almost like a gimmick. Birdman has impressive cinematography and is just a much better put-together movie overall, which is why I lean in Iñárritu’s direction. That said, I might be okay with Linklater winning Best Director and Birdman winning in the Best Cinematography category.

The nominations for Anderson and Tyldum feel wasted. One of those should have gone to Selma’s Ava DuVernay instead.

Best Actor

Who I’ve seen: (all of them) Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Who will win: Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Who should win: Michael Keaton (Birdman)

In a year with really solid nominees (and could’ve-been-nominees as well), Keaton is the favorite to win, and deservedly so, but Redmayne also has a decent chance of winning. After having watched American Sniper and being very impressed by Cooper, I understand his nomination (much more so than his nomination for American Hustle), and I would’ve kept him, but thrown out Carell to accommodate David Oyelowo in Selma.

Best Actress

Who I’ve seen: Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Who will win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Who should win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

I’ve changed my mind about the field being weak; it’s actually pretty decent now that I’ve thought more about it. I originally favored Jones because she turned in an unexpectedly subtle but gripping performance, but after having seen Moore I’ll concede that she’s more deserving of the win. Moore already has this award locked up and the contest is a formality at this point.

Best Supporting Actor

Who I’ve seen: (all of them) Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Who will win: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Who should win: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Simmons has this one locked up. I’ve actually seen all five nominated performances, and the funny thing is that I think all of them besides Simmons and Duvall are really overrated. This is actually a pretty weak field. I would’ve put Steve Carell in this category for Foxcatcher (yes, he’s in a supporting role). If Simmons wasn’t competing this year, I could give his slot, and the award itself, to Carell. But as it is, Simmons was easily the best of the five.

Best Supporting Actress

Who I’ve seen: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman)

Who will win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Who should win: No opinion (as long as it’s not Meryl Streep)

Another really weak field. Arquette, Dern, and Stone are all hugely overrated and I feel like those characters are to some extent one-dimensional stereotypes anyway. And you know it’s a weak field when, once again, freakin Meryl Streep has to get yet another Oscar nomination. I don’t want her to win any more Oscars, so I’ll settle for anyone but Streep.

Best Original Screenplay

What I’ve seen: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel

What will win: Birdman

What should win: Birdman

This is a fairly strong year for Best Original Screenplay, and Nightcrawler got a consolation prize. I’m hoping Birdman wins the award. Boyhood had lots of pointless, long-winded, pseudo-intellectual discourse (including the memorable line “Moments are like, always… right now.”). A good chunk of Foxcatcher’s script consisted of John Du Pont telling other people how great he was.  The Grand Budapest Hotel was typical Wes Anderson hyper-whimsical nonsense.

Best Adapted Screenplay

What I’ve seen: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

What will win: The Imitation Game

What should win: Whiplash

This field seems unusually weak for Adapted Screenplay, probably because many of the heavy hitters were Original this year (a good thing, I think). There was some smart dialog in Whiplash, which of course was supposed to be in the Original Screenplay category to begin with, but this might be a happy accident that will result in both Whiplash and Birdman taking home Screenplay prizes this year. I haven’t seen Inherent Vice, but it was written by Paul Thomas Anderson so I assume it’s crap. Not sure what was so great about the scripts for American Sniper and The Imitation Game.

Best Animated Feature

What I’ve seen: None

What will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

What should win: No opinion

I re-watched The Lego Movie. Still bad. Still overrated. Glad it didn’t get nominated.

Best Production Design

What I’ve seen: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar

What will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

If this category is for set design, then fine, give it to The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best Cinematography

What I’ve seen: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel

What will win: Birdman

What should win: Birdman

Birdman had amazing cinematography, with nearly the entire movie edited to look like one long take. It should be recognized for that.

Best Costume Design

What I’ve seen: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

What should win: No opinion

Best Film Editing

What I’ve seen: (all of them) American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash

What will win: Boyhood

What should win: Whiplash

I think there’s a reason why Birdman wasn’t nominated here despite having awe-inspiring editing, but I can’t remember what it is. Anyway, that makes a win in Cinematography all the more imperative. Whiplash gets my pick; that movie had some crazy ass editing. American Sniper would be number two. I don’t know what the other nominees are even doing here.

Best Makeup

What I’ve seen: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy

What will win: Guardians of the Galaxy

What should win: Guardians of the Galaxy

Don’t know why The Grand Budapest Hotel would be favored to win. Clearly it should be GotG.

Best Sound Mixing

What I’ve seen: American Sniper, Birdman, Interstellar, Whiplash

What will win: Birdman

What should win: No opinion

Best Sound Editing

What I’ve seen: American Sniper Birdman, Interstellar

What will win: American Sniper

What should win: No opinion

Best Visual Effects

What I’ve seen: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past

What will win: Interstellar

What should win: Interstellar

Why is Captain America even on here? Interstellar needs to win for Visual Effects. You can’t produce the first (?) big-screen portrayal of a wormhole and not win an Oscar for it. Pretty much all the other nominees pale in comparison to Interstellar’s technical achievement. GotG is the only one that even comes close.

Best Original Score

What I’ve seen: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, The Theory of Everything

What will win: The Theory of Everything

What should win: Interstellar

Give this one to Interstellar. That score was awesome.

Best Original Song

What I’ve heard: “Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie), “Glory” (Selma)

What will win: “Glory” (Selma)

What should win: No opinion

“Everything Is Awesome” was okay, not that awesome. “Glory” wasn’t that glorious either. Did “Boom Clap” (The Fault in Our Stars) qualify? It should’ve been nominated at least… or maybe that’s just having it stuck in my head from too much radio play talking.

Best Foreign Language

What I’ve seen: None

What will win: Ida

What should win: No opinion

Best Documentary Feature

What I’ve seen: Citizenfour

What will win: Citizenfour

What should win: Citizenfour

I’ve only seen the one, but based off its quality and the subject matter, it’d be nice for Citizenfour to win.

Best Live Action Short

What I’ve seen: None

What will win: The Phone Call

What should win: No opinion

Best Animated Short

What I’ve seen: None

What will win: The Dam Keeper

What should win: No opinion

Best Documentary Short

What I’ve seen: None

What will win: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

What should win: No opinion