Proving to be one of the toughest years yet for completing the Oscar Challenge since I started 6 years ago, with life getting in the way in the best possible ways, I was still able to see every film that was readily available to me, viewing 43 of the 45 films nominated and all 15 short films. The two missing films were “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me,” which was nominated for Best Original Song and “The Salt Of The Earth,” which was nominated for Best Documentary. Neither of these films had a theatrical run in Los Angeles during the 39 days I had to complete the challenge, they were not yet available on DVD (I do not yet have access to screeners), and neither of them could be found streaming illegally online. However, I will likely seek them out when they do become available. Of course, it feels mildly dissatisfying in having not fully completed the challenge, but it was fun nonetheless. Having finished the challenge today with a viewing of “Wild Tales,” I have to say that became my favorite new discovery of the films I had not seen prior to starting the challenge.

As far as the Oscars go, there were very few surprises. I correctly guessed 17 of the 24 categories, which matches my count from two years ago (last year, I did a little better with 20 out of 24). The lack of love for “Boyhood” was to be expected, at least by me, feeling “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)” was the better film overall. It’s only win of the night was Patricia Arquette. In predicting the love for “Birdman,” I also chose Michael Keaton for Best Lead Actor, but it going to Eddie Redmayne felt like a win-win situation to me. I was predicting a split between Director and Picture, just because of the unwavering love for “Boyhood” and the recent trend in splitting those categories between films, but deep down I am so glad Alejandro G. Iñárritu won and really wish I would have went with my gut and picked him, rather than doing the smart chose. “Big Hero 6” was a mild surprise, winning over “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” which won the Golden Globe and arguably being the better film, but that just shows how much the Academy likes to be different. Most of the categories I got wrong went the runners-up that I had picked, except for what I deem a surprise win for Alexandre Desplat and his Original Score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which won four awards, with all the winners attributing their wins to the genius that is Wes Anderson. And my favorite film of the year, “Whiplash,” took home three awards, including a much deserved win for J.K. Simmons.

Overall, the show had its normal ups and downs. Putting John Travolta and Idina Menzel on stage together was brilliant, Lady Gaga looked and performed like an actually lady, Julie Andrews’ appearance and Graham Moore’s acceptance speech were unforgettable, and overall, Neil Patrick Harris did a worthwhile job as host, although Ellen set the bar fairly higher last year. Anyway, here are the winners from the night. Marked in green are the categories I got right, while the red are the categories I guessed wrong: Picture

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Best Directing

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Best Actor In A Leading Role

Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory Of Everything”

Best Actress In A Leading Role

Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Best Actor In A Supporting Role

J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Actress In A Supporting Role

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Best Animated Feature

“Big Hero 6”

Best Cinematography

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” Emmanuel Lubeszki

Best Costume Design

“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Milena Canonero

Best Documentary Feature


Best Documentary Short

“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”

Best Film Editing

“Whiplash,” Tom Cross

Best Foreign Language Feature

“Ida”, Poland

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Music (Original Score)

“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Alexandre Desplat

Best Music (Original Song)

“Glory” from “Selma”

Best Production Design

“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Adam Stockhausen & Anna Pinnock

Best Short Film – Animated


Best Short Film – Live Action

“The Phone Call”

Best Sound Editing

“American Sniper”

Best Sound Mixing


Best Visual Effects


Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

“The Imitation Game,” Graham Moore

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

“Birdman,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., Armando Bo

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