The Oscars are mere hours away, and I find myself particularly excited for the show this year. One reason is because the two films vying for the biggest awards – Boyhood and Birdman – were two of my favorite films from 2014. But moreover, I’m thrilled for the Oscars because we have a few legitimate chances for an Adrien Brody-type upset.
In 2002, the Best Actor race was a two-way dead heat. Jack Nicholson was either going to become the first man to win three Best Actor Oscars for his against-type work in About Schmidt, or Daniel Day-Lewis was going to take home his second Best Actor trophy for his ferocious turn in Gangs of New York. But when Halle Berry opened the envelope and took a long, stunned pause before saying Adrien Brody’s name, we witnessed one of the best, most unexpected Oscar shocks in awards history.
What’s so fun about this year is that so many major categories are locked in dead heat races. And, applying the split vote Brody-model to these categories, we could potentially be in for some major upsets this evening.
Best Picture and Best Director are split between Alejando G. Iñárritu’s Birdman and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. I could easily see either film winning both awards, or taking one each (Linklater for Director and Birdman for Picture seems most probable). But because the races are so close, what if Birdman and Boyhood split the votes, and The Grand Budapest Hotel sneaks in to nab Best Picture and/or Best Director? That’s assuming Wes Anderson and his film are in third place (hell, American Sniper could be in third, but I’m pretty sure America would implode if Clint Eastwood’s film won Best Picture). I prefer Boyhood and Birdman to The Grand Budapest Hotel, but it would be a lot of fun to see such a big upset.
Three of the acting categories are all but sewn up. But while Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette will all likely be giving speeches tonight, Best Actor is an insanely tight race between Michael Keaton (for Birdman) and Eddie Redmayne (for The Theory of Everything). This is the category where a Brody split seems most realistic, with Bradley Cooper (for American Sniper) sneaking in for the win because Keaton and Redmayne cancelled each other out. My vote has always been for Keaton to win here, but, again, it’d be damn exciting to see a major upset.
Noting all this, I must admit that I’m writing this post with a bit of trepidation. I fear that, rereading it tomorrow, my words here will come off as romantic Oscar pipe dreams. In truth, the Oscars rarely surprise us anymore. If you’re even remotely invested in the annual movie awards hustle, you usually have a pretty good idea who is going to win on Oscar night. However, as far as this evening is concerned, I am glad that not every major category is a foregone conclusion. I honestly have no clue if it will be Boyhood or Birdman, Linklater or Iñárritu, Keaton or Redmayne, and that in and of itself makes this year’s Oscars worth watching.
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