A procrastinator’s guide to the Academy Awards

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Kyle Gallner, left, as Goat-Winston and Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ drama “American Sniper.” (Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS)

Madeline Sensibile

There is no doubt that this year’s award season favorites are a complete toss up. With so many excellent films released in the last few months, it is impossible to choose a favorite, and it looks like the critics are having a difficult time choosing their favorite as well.

With the Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice Awards behind us, a few more important award shows lie ahead in the coming weeks. The Oscars is the most important award show of the season due to the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences’ credibility. When an actor, director, or film wins at The Oscars, they are usually set for life in the industry.

The most talked about films of the season have been “Boyhood,” Richard Linklater’s film created over 12 years, the war film ”American Sniper,” directed by Clint Eastwood, and surprisingly the comedic “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” written and directed by Wes Anderson. ??Some years, one has to wonder why certain films are nominated for bigger honors, like Best Picture. For example last year, when “Gravity” was nominated for Best Picture and the film barely had a storyline. This year, each film nominated by any large awards shows, such as the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes, has a reason to be nominated. We are going to narrow it down to the five films you must see to prepare for the awards season.

The first on the list is “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. “The Imitation Game” tells the story of Alan Turing’s role in World War II. Cumberbatch plays Turing in an absolutely heart-wrenching way. Turing was portrayed as a sad soul who was not liked by many, and had an end goal of cracking Enigma, Germany’s master code creator in WWII. Eventually, as many know, Turing was able to do it, but not easily. Cumberbatch is nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Awards, and the film is also nominated for Best Picture.

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The Academy is praising Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” for its amazing aesthetics, with nominations for best make up and hair, costume design and production design, among others. (Photo courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures/TNS)

Another favorite is Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Released last March, Wes Anderson’s latest film was a total hit with the younger generation, but didn’t immediately win critics over. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” shocked the public when the nominations for various award shows came out. Anderson’s film received 11 nominations at the BAFTA awards, and even won Best Comedy Motion Picture at the Golden Globes. Ralph Fiennes gives an unbelievably hilarious performance as M. Gustave, the hotel’s remarkable concierge. Tony Revolori plays the young Zero Moustafa, M. Gustave’s sidekick and lobby boy who just wants to work. Aside from the excellent acting, the cinematography is stunning. Anderson’s glorious attention to detail shines through even in the most simple of scenes. When Zero and M. Gustave walk around the hotel, you see the smallest details from the pink palette of the building to the luxurious hotel rooms. The plot surrounds M. Gustave’s quest to keep a Renaissance painting called “Boy With Apple” gifted to him by one of his hotel guests, played by Tilda Swinton. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay and seven other awards at this year’s Oscars.

Clint Eastwood produced another favorite this year, “American Sniper,” starring Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller. Cooper plays Chris Kyle, a U.S. Navy SEAL, named the deadliest sniper in U.S. history. The film follows Kyle’s four tours in Iraq, shortly after the events of 9/11. Cooper is nominated for Best Actor for this role at the Academy Awards, and rightfully so. Cooper is nearly unrecognizable in the film, showing the intense effects of PTSD and the pains of being separated from your family due to military service.

 

Nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards is Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal. Directly relating to the world of journalism and citizen journalism, “Nightcrawler” is one film worth seeing this season.

Gyllenhaal loses himself in the role of Louis Bloom, a young man living in Los Angeles just looking to get some work and do something with his life. The unsuspecting Bloom turns to filming crime scenes and working with a local TV station. He finds the situation escalates quickly, with no skimping on the suspense from director Gilroy. Bloom’s foray into the world of underground journalism is quite a ride. Gyllenhaal was nominated for Best Actor in a Drama Motion Picture at the Golden Globes, but did not win. Do you think he was snubbed at The Oscars?

Lastly, Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” chronicles Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign for equal voting rights. Starring David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper, an African-American woman living in Selma, Alabama fighting for the right to vote. Cooper’s story is what prompted Dr. King to journey to Selma with a congregation of followers determined to take down Governor George Wallace, played by Tim Roth. Wallace claims that African-Americans have the right to vote, yet the horrific experiences of African-Americans says otherwise. These experiences include beatings, obscene language, and in one instance, even death. In the face of absolute adversity and extreme violence, Dr. King continued his fight for civil rights by embarking on a 54 mile march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama.

Regardless of which movies or actors win in the coming weeks, each film nominated is different and tells it’s own distinct story, unlike films such as “The Interview” or the upcoming “Fifty Shades of Grey.” Which film are you hoping wins big?