Red carpet

Getting tuxedos fitted, trying on dresses, rolling out the red carpet – the Academy Awards® are almost here!

But perhaps besides the style and glitziness, the most exciting element of the ceremony is the winners! And there are so many nominees to choose from: you have the charming and whimsical (The Grand Budapest Hotel), the intimate and moving (Boyhood, Whiplash), and historical heartbreakers (The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything), among many more.

We reached out to five valued members of our statewide film community about their Oscar® picks and opinions!

Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF)’s Director of Programming – Beth Barrett

BEST PICTURE – It is one of the best races in recent years, so picking a winner is almost impossible! I do think Boyhood stands out as one of the most complete films in decades because it is so satisfying on so many levels. I do think it will come home with an Oscar® this year. The biggest surprise for me this year is that the Academy® didn’t nominate the full ten titles, with great films not getting a nod. Gone Girl should have certainly been on the list, as should have been Nightcrawler. 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – This is a race that is up-for-grabs. There is no true frontrunner here, but I think The Imitation Game is going to come out on top for Graham Moore’s stellar adaptation. Again, the lack of a nomination for Gone Girl, a very complex adaptation of a very complex novel done successfully, is the big surprise for me.

Tacoma Film Festival (TFF)’s Festival Director and Programmer – Laura Marshall

BEST PICTURE – I really want either Whiplash or Birdman to win the award, but I do think Boyhood is going to take it. I was surprised Gone Girl wasn’t on the Best Picture list. As crazy and unlikable as the characters and story are, the film was incredibly well made. You can’t go wrong with [David] Fincher.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY – I really want Birdman to win and think it definitely will. If it doesn’t win Best Cinematography, I will be very surprised. A film last year that had stellar camerawork that should have been recognized was Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter. 

Walla Walla High School’s Digital Media Instructor – Dennis DeBroeck

BEST PICTURE – What should and will win? Without a doubt, American Sniper. It’s a movie that has had more impact than any other in recent times. When you don’t hear a sound at the end of the movie from the audience as they leave, you know a film has captured their thoughts, respect, and emotions. It was American.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING – Again, American Sniper. When a film is that far ahead of any other in revenue, there must be an acknowledgement of perfection. Editing, yes.

I think this will be a test of the integrity of the Academy Awards® to see the outcome. The film is not what traditionally wins but the overwhelming success says what the movie experts feel about it – that is, the people that pay and go to the movies.

Pickford Film Center’s Executive Director – Susie Purves

BEST PICTURE – What a difficult choice. My prediction? The Academy is a political entity that hates controversy. The smear campaign on Selma was effective and deadly. That the New York Times and the Washington Post jumped on the bandwagon made my skin crawl and sealed Selma‘s fate. This film should be essential viewing for every American but it will not win. Whiplash and American Sniper are still waging campaigns even though the voting has ended. What does that mean? I don’t have a clue. If you forced me to predict, I would spin around and pin the tail on Boyhood. 

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND EDITING – Sound is a force that moves you through every scene in Birdman. It was a powerful tool used exquisitely and the film deserves to win the Best Sound Editing Award.

Spokane International Film Festival Senior Programmer/Producer – Adam Boyd

BEST PICTURE – There were a lot of really strong dramas this year (Selma, Whiplash, The Imitation Game) but the one film that stuck with me the most was Birdman. Not only was it technically mind-blowing (assembled as a feature film done in a single take), but the performances from every actor on the screen conveyed a realism that held me at the edge of my seat. The film’s comment on the dissonance (and harmony) between film and stage acting was intriguing, and I really enjoyed the self-reflexive nature of the film embodied by Michael Keaton’s character, Riggan. It was dark, it was funny, and I loved it.

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN – I have a special place in my heart for the work of Wes Anderson, and while I feel his last few films have been much more about visual whimsy and less about relatable character and story, Budapest seemed to capture the best of both worlds. Production designer Adam Stockhausen (who has done production design and art direction for Anderson in the past) created a stunning visual world in this film that felt altogether real and of pure dream-like imagination. In addition to the beautiful design of the Grand Budapest Hotel itself, which has elements of early 20th century architecture blended with a color pallet of the 1930s, Stockhasuen also builds an entire world of foreign luxury hotels that each have their own feel and flavor. Budapest isn’t just eye-candy, it has visual substance that enhances the story within the film.

We thank these professionals for their excellent insight and predictions. Tune into the Academy Awards® this Sunday at 4pm Pacific Time on ABC!