Off the Carpet: Less than a week to go, it's 'Birdman's' Oscar to lose

Posted by · 11:00 pm · February 15th, 2015

Less than a week away from the Oscars and things still, if you ask around, feel unsettled. But is it? Wasn't the die cast by the Producers Guild victory for “Birdman?” And the notion fortified with SAG ensemble and DGA victories? And again with further industry kudos from the art directors, cinematographers, sound mixers and sound editors?

Again, ask around, and there's still some question. Probably because no matter what happens Sunday night, it will break convention. “Boyhood's” BAFTA win has kept things interesting. But if you're asking me – and I've certainly taken some personal counsel on “Boyhood's” potential to make it out of there with the goods – it simply looks like clear sailing for both Alejandro González Iñárritu and his film. It would be kind of mind-blowing (excitingly, I should add) if anything else were to happen. And I'm willing to embrace it if it does. I just need to see it, first. What's in front of me screams otherwise.

And really, there's too much “yeah, but” to contend with on the “Boyhood” side of things. “It didn't win PGA with a preferential ballot.” “Yeah, but 'Birdman' is more of a producers movie.” “It didn't win the DGA.” “Yeah, but 'Birdman' is more of an auteur showcase.” “It didn't win WGA and 'Birdman' wasn't in the way.” “Yeah, but it's not surprising 'Boyhood' wouldn't win a screenplay award.” “It didn't win the SAG ensemble.” “Yeah, but 'Birdman' is more of an actors' movie.” Etc.

So I'm just left sort of wondering aloud, outside of critics, whose movie is “Boyhood?” If not the producers, the directors, the actors, the writers, with only the editors speaking up for it, where is the sense of wanting Richard Linklater's masterpiece to represent the industry? Across the pond, apparently, and I'm struggling with whether that's enough.

Knowing that no matter which way this pendulum swings, the season will again, perhaps refreshingly, be reconsidered in the context of “history” and “stats” and all these things we toss around to try and make sense of it – I'm OK with either outcome. I have my favorites, but I think it's been a high-quality crop for the industry to choose from, and if you can't see that then I don't know what to do for you.

So let's just leave it at that for now. I'm not sure how much more we can gnaw on these ideas. Greg and I will spend the week breaking down the major categories and a couple of high-profile below-the-line categories. Gerard will chime in with a full breakdown of craft categories mid-week and Thursday, we'll offer up final predictions in every category.

Contenders rankings, in the meantime, are locking into place.

For now, go ahead and talk it through in the comments section. I know you have something on your mind…

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