The Arcade goes Academy, predicts The Oscars

Sarah Morris, Staff Reporter Mary Mac Jones

This year, there are many fine competitors for America’s favorite movie contest, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science Awards. Also referred to as “The Oscars,” the program awards those involved in creating some of 2014’s most exciting and creative films to date and will be hosted by actor Neil Patrick Harris. In true Oscar spirit, The Arcade has compiled a list of movies projected to win some of the top categories this year, with honorable mentions to “The Grand Budapest Hotel”and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” which tied for nine nominations, the most of all the films nominated.

“The Imitation Game”

This film, navigating the life of British code breaker Alan Turing, received eight Oscar nods, including one for Best Picture. It is truly engaging from start to finish and showcases an important part of World War II history that was downplayed until recently.  The LGBTQA rights dialogue within it makes it all the more pertinent and touching. It is similar to “The Theory of Everything” in its style and narrative but a bit more exciting and captivating in terms of plot, which should bode well for it this Feb. 22.

American Sniper”

“American Sniper” has recently gained widespread popularity, but that has not come without media backlash. Although Bradley Cooper gives an Oscar-worthy performance playing an American hero, the film has been criticized for its disregard and transformation of the politics and the actual person behind the film’s narrative. “American Sniper” is extremely suspenseful at times but also rather boring and anticlimactic for stretches. The real star is Bradley Cooper’s breakout performance as Navy Seal Chris Kyle.

“Selma”

“Selma was definitely snubbed by the Academy, as the acting performances of David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King were spot on and unforgettable. Director Ava DuVernay displayed masterful shot compositions throughout, not to mention the costumes, cinematography, and dialogue are top notch and strikingly historically accurate. “Selma” was released at a dichotomous time for American society, and it is disappointing that the talented, hard working cast and crew of this movie did not receive the appreciation they deserve for taking such a brave, hard look at the history of racial tension and unrest in the United States.

“The Theory of Everything”

This movie, sweet and inspiring, champions the power of love and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The acting and cinematography are very well done, and it should fare well on Oscar night. Although Stephen Hawking’s amazing story is widely known, “The Theory of Everything” offers new insight into his love and emotional lives. Both Eddie Redmayne, who plays Hawkings, and Felicity Jones, who plays his wife Jane Hawking, do a stellar job portraying a convincing unconventional love.

“Foxcatcher”

The makeup stood out in this film more than anything else. Steve Carell looks as old as he is creepy, portraying the real person John du Pont. Dialogue is scarce, and “Foxcatcher” is not very charismatic until the final scene, unless, of course, you’re in it to see Channing Tatum strut around in tiny shorts. Unfortunately for actor David Oyelowo, who played Dr. Martin Luther King in “Selma,”Carell knocked him out of the race for Best Actor.

“Boyhood”

The experiment that comprises the film is somewhat of a Hollywood marvel. Never has there been such a long-lasting (12 years) film that tracks the problems of a modern/broken family. Albeit fictional, the story reflects many common symptoms of growing up in contemporary, middle-class white America. Although Ellar Coltrane did an excellent job at putting the “boy” in “Boyhood,” the parents, played by Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke, were the standouts of the film, leaving Arquette pinned to take home the Best Actress award.

“Birdman”

The cinematography of “Birdman” is truly unique and stunning, making it an Oscar forerunner. Michael Keaton’s true-to-self performance offers unprecedented insight into the tribulations of an aging star desperate to prove his continued worth. Although repetitive and annoyingly vague about Riggan’s (Keaton’s) state of mind, it is stylistically brilliant and enjoyably quirky throughout. Director Alejandro González Iñárritu has received massive acclaim for his breakout film and is definitely a forerunner in the Best Director category.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” proves to be another striking display of director Wes Anderson’s aesthetic genius. The plot is quaint and complicated and unfolds nicely in a series of perfectly designed scenes full of vibrant colors and patterns. This movie is truly a spectacle that unfolds before viewers’ eyes as any noteworthy work of art should be. It is sure to be a top contender for the Cinematography and Best Director categories.

“Nightcrawler”

Last but certainly not least, “Nightcrawler”successfully captures the current climate of sensationalism in television news and coverage. Moreover, just about everything about this film is done phenomenally. Writer and director Dan Gilroy masterfully displays filmic prowess and could quite possibly become the next “Master of Suspense” after Hitchcock. Not only is the writing impeccable (it’s been nominated for Best Original Screenplay), the acting is also superb. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as sociopathic Louis Bloom is undoubtedly one of his best as he exposes viewers to the inner workings of an adrenaline and TV news junkie. The film is suspenseful from start to finish and gives interesting, unique perspective on the consequences of replacing social interaction with media consumption.