THE BEGINNING

With the Academy Awards imminent, Tom Fenwick runs through the big 10 categories and his tips on who will be triumphant on February 22, versus who should be

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Best Picture: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson’s finest film, it skilfully balances the needs of a huge ensemble cast with a story that overflows with humour and pathos. It’s the culmination of Anderson’s 20 year career in idiosyncratic world building, visual wonder and quirky storytelling. And for all of those reasons is more than deserving of the recognition.

What will win: Boyhood

Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)

Iñárritu’s career is full of highly regarded but unrelentingly bleak films. Birdman is the exception. A perfectly pitched black comedy, whose central conceit/crowning achievement is to appear as though it’s shot in a single take. It creates a freneticism, blurring our line between viewer and participant. Iñárritu deftly switching between the ensemble cast, a story-within-a-story narrative and the central character’s psychosis with astonishing flair.

Who will win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Best Actor: Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Keaton’s resurgence seems to have come as a surprise. It wasn’t long ago that he was in the middle of a 15 year fire sale on his career. But in Birdman, he pulls off a nuanced character study that is sad, touching and hilarious – occasionally all at once. A broken man in the midst of an escalating breakdown, his performance is an award worthy return to form from Mr Mom.

Who will win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything)

Best Supporting Actress: Emma Stone (Birdman)

Stone sheds her skin to play Riggan Thomas’ ex-addict daughter. It’s a performance that could have easily be overblown, but she manages to elicit a unique, broken tenderness. Even more surprising, is that Stone filmed her parts for the movie in-between breaks on the set of Amazing Spiderman 2, so at least we can now say something good came out of her time in New York.

Who will win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

I had my doubts about Wild – on paper its narrative smacks of a mawkish Lifetime movie – but the end result is a compelling tale of resilience and redemption. And at the centre of that story is Witherspoon, who despite an absence from the mainstream, imbues all of her performances with a magnetic and relatable charm.

Who will win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Best Supporting Actor: JK Simmons (Whiplash)

JK Simmons’ performance in Whiplash will divide audiences. Some will think he’s pure evil, a nightmare made flesh who drives his pupils to the edge of sanity. Some will see him as an obsessive perfectionist who pushes at the boundaries of psychological endurance for the sake of art. The truth is he’s both. And that’s why Simmons deserves all the awards.

Who will win: JK Simmons (Whiplash)

Best Original Screenplay: Nightcrawler

The exclusion of Jake Gylenhall’s performance in Nightcrawler from the Best Actor category is one of the year’s biggest snubs. So it’d be nice to see Dan Gilroy’s script walk away with a consolation prize. Gilroy draws us into a twilight world of sleazy ambulance chasers. Nightcrawler gives sharp, smart, funny and horrifying – yet utterly non-judgemental – insight into what monsters lurk behind the smile of a desperate man.

What will win: Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay: Inherent Vice

It’s been said that Thomas Pynchon can’t be translated to the screen, so the fact that Inherent Vice exists at all is an achievement. It’s a polarising film, but it holds an undeniable touch of PT Anderson magic; retaining the spirit of the source material, but being just accessible enough for it to not be one big inside joke.

What will win: The Theory Of Everything

Best Documentary: Citizenfour

A fascinating, frontline documentary about the most important whistleblower of this – and possibly any – century. The access to Edward Snowden is astonishing and the shocking revelations that he uncovers, somehow even more sickening when they’re presented onscreen.

What will win: Citizenfour

Best Original Song: Everything Is Awesome (The Lego Movie)

In a dastardly twist, the Lego Movie wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Film. So if this acid coloured rainbow of a Tegan & Sarah track doesn’t win we can only assume the Danes will impose a trade embargo on future Lego sets shipping to the USA.

What will win: Glory (Selma)

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