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Linklater's guts, vision and determination to film - for two weeks every summer over 12 consecutive summers - the otherwise normal story of a boy growing up, ageing naturally along with other members of his family in the film Boyhood (above) puts him neck-and-neck with Inarritu who directed Michael Keaton in Birdman, a film based on a quirky tale about a washed-up Hollywood star in search of redemption on the Broadway stage.
BT_20150213_GEOSCARS13B_1513005.jpg
Linklater's guts, vision and determination to film - for two weeks every summer over 12 consecutive summers - the otherwise normal story of a boy growing up, ageing naturally along with other members of his family in the film Boyhood puts him neck-and-neck with Inarritu who directed Michael Keaton in Birdman (above), a film based on a quirky tale about a washed-up Hollywood star in search of redemption on the Broadway stage.
THE 87TH ACADEMY AWARDS

Will it be Boyhood or Birdman?

Directors Richard Linklater and Alejandro G Inarritu vie for the coveted gilded statuette.
Feb 13, 2015 5:50 AM

WITH just over a week to go before the 87th Academy Awards, Oscar pundits and would-be poets are asking: To B(oyhood) or not to B(irdman)? That is the question. Officially, there are eight contenders for the coveted Best Picture prize that will be handed over by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Feb 22 but in the eyes of the prediction experts the B's have it, and the rest are also-rans.

Birdman, a quirky tale about a washed-up Hollywood star in search of redemption on the Broadway stage, is at once a dizzy fantasy and a dazzling showcase of acting and filmmaking. Boyhood, born of a crazy (but brilliant) idea to chronicle a young boy growing up over a 12-year span, is an exercise in turning the ordinary into something extraordinary.

Between them, these two films have swept every major award thus far in the awards season, so even though it's de rigueur for winners to feign surprise when their names are announced, it's also safe to assume that the producers of these two films (Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland for Boyhood and Alejandro G Inarritu, John Lesher and James W Skotchdopole for Birdman) will be up to speed on their acceptance speeches.

The same goes for the frontrunners in several major categories, including Best Director (a two-horse race between Linklater and Inarritu) and Best Actor (Michael Keaton for Birdman and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything).

Meanwhile, the leading nominees in the Best Actress (Julianne Moore for Still Alice), Best Supporting Actor (JK Simmons for Whiplash) and Best Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette for Boyhood) categories can exhale, safe in the knowledge that (barring a spectacular upset) golden statuettes with their names inscribed are pretty much in the bag.

Linklater has been justifiably lauded for having the guts, vision and determination to film, for two weeks every summer over 12 consecutive summers, the otherwise normal story of a boy growing up, ageing naturally along with other members of his family. Inarritu's soaring achievement is more of a visual tour de force, where cinematography and other technical aspects are complemented by a darkly humorous plot and a superb cast.

Eddie Redmayne was thoroughly convincing in his role as the wheelchair-bound physicist Stephen Hawking and while he probably doesn't need much of a confidence boost - given the raft of awards he has picked up en route to the Oscars - three little words from the past will provide some welcome perspective: My Left Foot, the 1989 film which won another Brit (Daniel Day-Lewis) a Best Actor Oscar for playing, um, a wheelchair-bound victim of cerebral palsy.

Still, Redmayne is a relative newcomer to the Hollywood scene and Keaton - a Hollywood lifer rejuvenated by the role of a lifetime - may just garner enough votes to pip him at the post.

The suspense will be missing in the other acting categories as Moore (playing a woman struggling to deal with symptoms of dementia), Simmons (as the music teacher from Hell) and Arquette (as a mother who is there for her kids as they grow up) have swept all before them at other awards ceremonies.

The only tension will be if, as threatened, Simmons is invited (a la Whiplash) to conduct the orchestra during the show. Despite strong performances from the likes of Edward Norton (Birdman), Reese Witherspoon (Wild), Emma Stone (Birdman), they are destined to go home disappointed (though there will no doubt be toothy smiles for the cameras).

Special mention goes to Wes Anderson and The Grand Budapest Hotel, which collected nine nominations in all - along with Birdman the most of any film this year.

This offbeat and highly original comedy, about the multiple goings-on in a hotel from a bygone age and its concierge to die for, premiered early in 2014 and still had energy to burn come nomination time. It won't win the Big One, but it deserves every success that comes its way.

And now, the envelopes please. . .


The Oscars roll call

GEOFFREY EU and DYLAN TAN weigh in

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Geoffrey Eu: Birdman

Dylan Tan: Boyhood

Best Director

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Alejandro G Inarritu (Birdman)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

GE: Alejandro G. Inarritu

DT: Richard Linklater

Best Actor

Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)

Benedict Cumberbatch (The

Imitation Game)

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

GE: Eddie Redmayne

DT: Michael Keaton

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

GE: Julianne Moore

DT: Julianne Moore

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall (The Judge)

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

Edward Norton (Birdman)

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

JK Simmons (Whiplash)

GE: JK Simmons

DT: JK Simmons

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Laura Dern (Wild)

Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

Emma Stone (Birdman)

Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

GE: Patricia Arquette

DT: Meryl Streep

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

GE: The Grand Budapest Hotel

DT: Birdman

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

GE: The Imitation Game

DT: Whiplash

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida (Poland)

Leviathan (Russia)

Tangerines (Estonia)

Timbuktu (Mauritania)

Wild Tales (Argentina)

GE: Ida

DT: Leviathan

Best Documentary Feature

CitizenFour

Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth

Virunga

GE: CitizenFour

DT: Virunga

Best Animated Feature Film

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

GE: How to Train Your Dragon 2

DT: Big Hero 6

Best Original Score

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)

The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)

Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)

Mr Turner (Gary Yershon)

The Theory of Everything (Johann Johannson)

GE: The Grand Budapest Hotel

DT: Interstellar

Best Original Song

Everything is Awesome (The Lego Movie)

Glory (Selma)

Grateful (Beyond the Lights)

I'm Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell… I'll Be Me)

Lost Stars (Begin Again)

GE: Glory

DT: I'm Not Gonna Miss You