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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Trophy Hunter: 2015 Re-Oscars

Ellis Riojas
Ellis Riojas | The Observer

Earlier this week, I wrote a Viewpoint column where I argued for the Academy Awards to be given out five years after the fact. Here, I put that theory into practice as I take the nominees from five years ago — the 2015 ceremony, honoring the best movies of 2014 — and reassert, repick and (in one egregious case) renominate the Oscars’ original picks. Here are the picks.


Best Picture

Nominees: “American Sniper,” “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Whiplash”

2015 Winner: “Birdman”

2020 Winner: “Whiplash”

Right off the bat, here’s one of the hardest categories to relitigate. Alejandro Inarritu’s Broadway-set satire of the star system drew accolades at the time for its all-in-one-take gimmick and its comeback turn for Michael Keaton (who gets his just due a few categories from now). Five years removed, though, “Birdman” reads more as a cinematographic curio than the best movie of 2014. Choosing a replacement was near-impossible — “Selma” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” both came exceedingly close — but Damien Chazelle’s debut gets the edge by announcing the arrival of one of the decade’s most exciting new directing talents. A technically astounding tale of obsession, “Whiplash” overcomes the dual challenges of a tiny budget and a lead performance from Miles Teller to create a tightly-wound downward spiral into utter self-destruction — offering up some amazing drum solos and one-liners along the way.


Best Director

Nominees: Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel;” Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman;” Richard Linklater, “Boyhood;” Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher;” Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

2015 Winner: Alejandro G. Inarritu

2020 Winner: Richard Linklater

What do you think is more impressive? Orchestrating a faux-“oner” that is wholly dependent on the immense charms of its leading man to even work, or an opus 15 years in the making, a full-bodied triumph of filmmaking that takes on no less than an entire life and shows someone coming of age in real-time? Yeah, me too.


Best Actor

Nominees: Steve Carrell, “Foxcatcher;” Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper;” Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game;” Michael Keaton, “Birdman;” Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

2015 Winner: Eddie Redmayne

2020 Winner: Michael Keaton


Best Actress

Nominees: Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night;” Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything;” Julianne Moore, “Still Alice;” Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl;” Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

2015 Winner: Julianne Moore

2020 Winner: Rosamund Pike

Part of my inspiration in advocating for the five-years-later rule is avoiding the Oscars’ annual practice of disguising lifetime achievement awards as competitive ones. Rather than give Moore an “it’s time” trophy for a perfectly fine turn in a movie that no one has watched since the weeks immediately before and after the 2015 Oscars, I’m rewarding Pike for one of the most legitimately unhinged performances I’ve ever seen — and, hopefully, avoiding a gimme trophy for her in 20 years. 


Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Robert Duvall, “The Judge;” Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood;” Edward Norton, “Birdman;” Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher;” J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

2015 Winner: J.K. Simmons

2020 Winner: J.K. Simmons 

If the Oscars gave out awards pro-wrestling-style, Simmons would have the Supporting Actor title belt for the foreseeable future. I’ll just leave this here.


Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood;” Laura Dern, “Wild;” Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game;” Emma Stone, “Birdman;” Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

2015 Winner: Patricia Arquette

2020 Winner: Patricia Arquette


Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: “Birdman,” “Boyhood,” “Foxcatcher,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Nightcrawler”

2015 Winner: “Birdman”

2020 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

“You see? There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed, that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant…” — you know the rest. 


Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: “American Sniper,” “The Imitation Game,” “Inherent Vice,” “The Theory of Everything,” “Whiplash”

2015 Winner: “The Imitation Game”

2020 Winner: “Inherent Vice”

There’s some accounting for degree of difficulty here; rather than the staid biography-to-biopic route of “American Sniper,” “Imitation Game” and “Theory of Everything,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of one of Thomas Pynchon’s most labyrinthine novels takes the author’s nigh-inoperable prose and makes it not only comprehensible, but compelling. 


Best Animated Feature Film

Nominees: “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

2015 Winner: “Big Hero 6”

2020 Winner: “The Lego Movie”

I know I said in my original piece that the original nominations can’t be altered five years later; that doing so would remove the Oscars’ status as a snapshot of a year in cinematic history. I lied. It is baffling that “The Lego Movie” — not only the best animated movie of 2014, but the best one of the decade — wasn’t even nominated. Everything isn’t awesome, but “The Lego Movie” certainly is


Best Foreign Language Film

2015 Winner: “Ida”

2020 Winner: “Wild Tales”


Best Documentary Feature

2015 Winner: “Citizenfour”

2020 Winner: “Citizenfour”


Best Original Score

2015 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

2020 Winner: “Interstellar”

Space organs forever.


Best Original Song

2015 Winner: “Glory” from “Selma”

2020 Winner: “Glory” from “Selma”


Best Sound Editing

2015 Winner: “American Sniper”

2020 Winner: “American Sniper”


Best Sound Mixing

2015 Winner: “Whiplash”

2020 Winner: “Birdman”


Best Production Design

2015 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

2020 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”


Best Cinematography

2015 Winner: “Birdman”

2020 Winner: “Birdman”


Best Makeup and Hairstyling

2015 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

2020 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”


Best Costume Design

2015 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

2020 Winner: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”


Best Film Editing

2015 Winner: “Whiplash”

2020 Winner: “Whiplash”


Best Visual Effects

2015 Winner: “Interstellar”

2020 Winner: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”