Birdman Takes Off Leading 2015 Oscar Nominations and Surprises

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Unknown Well, it suffices to say that this awards season has kinda like being a bride and the day before the wedding the groom changed his mind.  It's been a real roller coaster ride and there don't seem to be any real frontrunners in sight.

Let's begin with the obvious.  It's been no surprise that I'm a huge supporter of the exceptional, stellar and groundbreaking.  So, it is not without a heavy heart that I express my disappointment for Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay's  lack of recognition with a nomination for the 2015 Academy Awards.

I'm guessing,  Jolie was just a little too high profile and they just couldn't give her props in the same manner in which Ben Affleck was dismissed with Argo.  Unfortunately, I believe DuVernay's snub came as a result of Hollywood and studio politics swimming around release dates, late arrivals of screeners and contesting of facts swirling about in the media.

It's unfortunate for both, especially since we celebrate the life, legacy and birthday of Dr. King and a nomination for the aforementioned, Oyelowo and other deserving collaborators on Selma could have given the film a fantastic box-office boost leading the ceremony on February 22nd.  However,  President Obama is scheduled to host a screening of the Selma this Friday, January 16th.  The latest in a line of Oscar contenders like last year’s “Mandela” and 2012’s “Lincoln” to at the White House.  Cast and crew from the movie “Selma” are expected to attend.

Clint Eastwood missed out on possibly becoming the oldest directing nominee, but I'm sure he's not to  worried about that.  Whiplash was good enough to be nominated for Best Picture, but again it's director Damien Chazelle was omitted from the list.

I'm baffled...a film can not come to fruition without a casting director to find the talent and a director to pull the puzzle pieces together and make it look seamless.  Why are casting directors still not recognized in the process by the Academy and why are directors not recognized alongside their films?  Just saying...

The Lego Movie was a big hit at the box office, but not so much with the Academy.  Have to say, I kinda agree with them on this one.  The Lego Movie wasn't one of my favs...great film...but I connected with other nominees like Big Hero 6 and The Boxtrolls a little better.

In the acting categories, it would be sage to say Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette and Whiplash’s J.K. Simmons will most likely take the Supporting Awards. Playing an Alzheimer’s victim in Still Alice, Julianne Moore is the one to beat for lead actress, if only for the well-publicized fact that she is overdue. If anyone had a shot to upset her, it might have been Jennifer Aniston for Cake.  Sadly, she didn’t make the cut for a really fine performance and a great campaign that brought her Globe, Critics Choice and SAG nominations. The mere fact that so many are listing her among the “Oscar snubbed”  is a real testament to how far she was able to come since that Toronto Film Festival debut in September.

As for the Lead Actor race, it really could be between a couple of recent Golden Globe winners,  Birdman’s Michael Keaton and The Theory Of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne. Although, I have to admit I was shocked at the omission of Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler.

Timothy Spall and the helmer Mike Leigh with Mr. Turner peaked too early with the film’s debut at Cannes last year. Not to be completely disappointed, Spall won the Best Actor at Cannes and more recently took home the top acting prize from the National Society of Film Critics.

Amy Adams and Jessica Chastain both got lost in the Oscar shuffle, although Adams took home Globe Gold this past weekend for Big Eyes (also shutout).

Life Itself, The Roger Ebert docu directed by Steve James had the audience crying with loss and appreciation when it debuted at Sundance last year. Today, the movie about the great movie critic was dry when it came to Oscar love and the same could be said for one of my other favorite docs, I'll Be Me about Grammy Winner Glen Campbell's battle with Alzheimer's.  Although, the title song written by Campbell I'm Not Gonna Miss You is nominated.

As far as Best Picture is concerned, it could be anyone at this point.  It would be great to see Selma win, however, Boyhood nabbed the Golden Globe and the sentimental value of taking nearly 12 years to complete may very well play into that decision, as well as, the fact that it's a sentimental favorite.  The same goes for Best Director, although it is my humble opinion that Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman will give folks a run for their money.

Here is video from the Academy on the announcements in full...Don't forget the 2015 Academy Awards will air live on ABC-tv, Sunday - February 22nd

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Here is the full list of nominees...

Nominations for the 87th Academy Awards

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher”
  • Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”
  • Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game”
  • Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
  • Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Robert Duvall in “The Judge”
  • Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”
  • Edward Norton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
  • Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher”
  • J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night”
  • Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything”
  • Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”
  • Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”
  • Reese Witherspoon in “Wild”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”
  • Laura Dern in “Wild”
  • Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”
  • Emma Stone in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
  • Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods”

Best animated feature film of the year

  • “Big Hero 6” Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
  • “The Boxtrolls” Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
  • “How to Train Your Dragon 2” Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
  • “Song of the Sea” Tomm Moore and Paul Young
  • “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Achievement in cinematography

  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Robert Yeoman
  • “Ida” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
  • “Mr. Turner” Dick Pope
  • “Unbroken” Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero
  • “Inherent Vice” Mark Bridges
  • “Into the Woods” Colleen Atwood
  • “Maleficent” Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
  • “Mr. Turner” Jacqueline Durran

Achievement in directing

  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • “Boyhood” Richard Linklater
  • “Foxcatcher” Bennett Miller
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson
  • “The Imitation Game” Morten Tyldum

Best documentary feature

  • “CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
  • “Finding Vivian Maier” John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
  • “Last Days in Vietnam” Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
  • “The Salt of the Earth” Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
  • “Virunga” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Best documentary short subject

  • “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
  • “Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
  • “Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
  • “The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
  • “White Earth” J. Christian Jensen

Achievement in film editing

  • “American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
  • “Boyhood” Sandra Adair
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Barney Pilling
  • “The Imitation Game” William Goldenberg
  • “Whiplash” Tom Cross

Best foreign language film of the year

  • “Ida” Poland
  • “Leviathan” Russia
  • “Tangerines” Estonia
  • “Timbuktu” Mauritania
  • “Wild Tales” Argentina

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

  • “Foxcatcher” Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat
  • “The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat
  • “Interstellar” Hans Zimmer
  • “Mr. Turner” Gary Yershon
  • “The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • “Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie” Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
  • “Glory” from “Selma” Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
  • “Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights” Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me” Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
  • “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Best motion picture of the year

  • “American Sniper” Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers
  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers
  • “Boyhood” Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers
  • “The Imitation Game” Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers
  • “Selma” Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
  • “The Theory of Everything” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers
  • “Whiplash” Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers

Achievement in production design

  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “The Imitation Game” Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
  • “Interstellar” Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
  • “Into the Woods” Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
  • “Mr. Turner” Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts

Best animated short film

  • “The Bigger Picture” Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
  • “The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
  • “Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
  • “Me and My Moulton” Torill Kove
  • “A Single Life” Joris Oprins

Best live action short film

  • “Aya” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
  • “Boogaloo and Graham” Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
  • “Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)” Hu Wei and Julien Féret
  • “Parvaneh” Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
  • “The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

Achievement in sound editing

  • “American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
  • “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
  • “Interstellar” Richard King
  • “Unbroken” Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

Achievement in sound mixing

  • “American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
  • “Interstellar” Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
  • “Unbroken” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
  • “Whiplash” Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Achievement in visual effects

  • “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
  • “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
  • “Guardians of the Galaxy” Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
  • “Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
  • “X-Men: Days of Future Past” Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Adapted screenplay

  • “American Sniper” Written by Jason Hall
  • “The Imitation Game” Written by Graham Moore
  • “Inherent Vice” Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
  • “The Theory of Everything” Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
  • “Whiplash” Written by Damien Chazelle

Original screenplay

  • “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
  • “Boyhood” Written by Richard Linklater
  • “Foxcatcher” Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
  • “Nightcrawler” Written by Dan Gilroy

I'll Be Me: Glen Campbell Documentary

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2014 has featured an impressive number of documentaries. Life Itself, about dearly departed film critic Roger Ebert; Keep on Keepin' On, a chronicle of an old man and a young man helping one another; Documented,a portrait of the undocumented immigrant experience in 21st century America; The Case Against 8, which takes one into the center of the gay marriage debate; and the list goes on and on. However, none of them made me break into the "ugly cry" like James Keach's...I'll Be Me.

As I 've mentioned many times writing this blog, I am a HUGE fan of country music.  Especially the old school country...Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Tanya Tucker, Barbara Mandrell, Alabama and Glen Campbell.

In 2011, Glen Campbell made two major announcements.  He was going on tour and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  In the midwest, when we had a relative who was having memory issues, we would just say they "lost time" or "were crazy' or "senile".  Alzheimer's disease  is a progressive mental deterioration that can occur in middle or old age, due to generalized degeneration of the brain. It is the most common cause of premature senility.

The farewell tour was chronicled for Glen Campbell ... I'll Be Me, which premiered at the 2014 Nashville Film Festival,  is the documentation of Glen's slow descent  into dementia witnessed by his family, friends, mentors, fans and county music community.  For three years, a film crew captured the singer as he confronted the illness.

Sitting in a small, dark theatre with his wife Kim, they gaze on a larger than life movie screen watching a myriad of images with Glen ranging from childhood to adulthood, revealing various children and wives.  He is barely able to recall any of them, their names or the situations being witnessed onscreen, but the minute he watches himself playing a song or hear his recordings, his memory becomes razor-sharp. Throughout the doc, we witness clips on tour and at home which show Campbell struggling to retain those moments that made him famous.

You see, most people with Glen's advanced stage of Alzheimer's can barely function or speak and need around-the-clock care. His doctors were baffled until they realized that there was the part of his brain where he memorized lyrics and dealt with music that was slowed down his progression on a significant level.  It’s a heart-breaking battle that is all too familiar to millions of individuals and their families.

And then, there are the moments when you realize he is slowly becoming a danger to himself, when he places a pocket knife in his mouth to get "something out of his teeth" or the irrational emotional outbursts over what most would consider little to nothing...but are monumental to him.  As his condition worsened, Campbell was forced to cancel live dates in Australia and New Zealand.  It became no longer feasible for him to stay at home.  The mansion in Malibu is for sale and Campbell was moved to an Alzheimer's facility in Nashville.

“It’s really sad to see someone losing their memory bit by bit,” says Campbell’s wife Kim Campbell. “Especially when you’ve had such a fantastic life and then not to be able to remember it.”  Kim also told Country Weekly that he now has trouble speaking and requires constant attention, adding that his advanced disease has brought on side effects including anxiety, agitation and depression.

It’s been a difficult journey for a musical legend; Campbell was one of the first musicians to top both country and pop charts. There are wonderful moments of him sharing the stage with his beloved children and the joy he gets just from the roar of an audience welcoming him back home...on stage.

 

His daughter Ashley says his advancing Alzheimer’s had compromised his musical abilities, noting that when she toured with him in 2011, he would often forget the words to his own songs while onstage.   “I think a person’s life is comprised of memories, and that’s exactly what Alzheimer’s disease takes away from you,” noted Ashley. “Now when I play banjo with my dad, it’s getting harder for him to follow along and it’s getting harder for him to recall my name. It’s hard to come to the realization that someday my dad might look at me and I will be absolutely nothing to him.”

 

Rolling Stone profiled Campbell in 2011, with various musicians speaking about his musical influence. "He had that beautiful tenor with a crystal-clear guitar sound, playing lines that were so inventive," said Tom Petty. "It moved me." Fellow session legend Leon Russell also spoke about his guitar finesse: "He was the best guitar player I'd heard before or since," he said. "Occasionally we'd play with 50- or 60-piece orchestras. His deal was he didn't read [music], so they would play it one time for him, and he had it."

Whether you like country music or not, Alzheimer's disease and the people we know affected by it is truly six degrees of separation.  Many of my dearest friends have relatives suffering from this disease or have had them slowly deteriorate into someone they don't recognize anymore.  Go see I'll Be Me if for nothing else to be encouraged by Campbell and his family's courageousness of telling his story with the hopes of helping someone else understand the symptoms and seriousness of Alzheimer's, as well as, the joy that can be experienced by celebrating a loved one NOW and not after they are gone.

Contact your Congressman, The White House and anyone else who will listen and urge them to stop so much spending on nuclear weapons and deal with a real war on the mind in our own backyard...Alzhieimer's Disease.

 

For more information and/or to make a donation please log onto www.illbemefoundation.org to donate in honor of Glen Campbell, his family and all those yet to be diagnosed.

Thanks to Eric Osuna/LTLA Communications for his assistance in securing interviews at the premiere and with I'll Be Me Director...James Keach.  Enjoy those events below...