Tuesday 17 October 2017

Critic's guide to Oscar hopefuls

With the Oscars on their way this weekend, our film critic Damon Smith looks at who will win the big prizes and more importantly who should win:


Will win: Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Critics' darling Boyhood has fallen by the wayside in recent weeks, allowing the giddy show business satire Birdman to gallop to the front of the pack. It's an obvious choice - a back-slapping celebration of Hollywood, celebrity and the creative process - but if Oscar voters chose unparalleled quality over self-congratulation, they would check into Wes Anderson's visually stunning and hilarious murder mystery The Grand Budapest Hotel instead.


Will win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance))

Should win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance))

Richard Linklater's 12-year devotion to Boyhood is certainly admirable and Wes Anderson certainly worked his magic behind the camera in The Grand Budapest Hotel but Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu should become the second Mexican director in succession to be ushered to the podium for his bravura direction of Birdman. Stitched together to resemble a single fluid take, the film is a technical master class with Inarritu at the helm.


Will win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything)

Should win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything)

While Michael Keaton would be the sentimental choice as the comeback kid for his eye-catching work in Birdman (Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance), Redmayne's jaw-dropping, transformative performance as Stephen Hawking is in a league of its own, recalling Daniel Day-Lewis's deserved first Oscar win for My Left Foot. He was 32. Redmayne has recently turned 33. Destiny is surely calling.


Will win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Should win: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

With her fifth nomination, Moore will finally secure a shiny golden statuette for her mantelpiece. She is long overdue and really should have won in 2003 for Far From Heaven when Nicole Kidman stole her thunder. On merit, Cotillard's heart-breaking turn as a desperate woman threatened with redundancy, who must persuade work colleagues to reject a monetary bonus and keep her on instead, deserves the glittering prize.


Will win: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Should win: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Of all the marvels in Damien Chazelle's exhilarating second directorial feature Whiplash, J.K. Simmons's electrifying portrayal of a monstrous teacher Terence Fletcher, who terrorises a 19-year-old drumming student, sears deepest into the memory. The cold, calculated manner in which Simmons verbally and physically abuses sweat-drenched co-stars, who don't meet his character's warped idea of perfection, is delicious.


Will win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Should win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Strictly speaking, Arquette is the lead actress in Richard Linklater's long-gestated passion project, which should have been entitled Motherhood considering that her plucky matriarch is the emotional fulcrum for the 12 years of on-screen tears and tantrums. She has collected virtually every critics' award and plaudit for the role en route to the Oscars and will be unstoppable on the night.

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