Time Machine Oscars: 2014

Myke has a time machine, and the Academy Awards will literally never be the same

For my first run I won’t travel too far back so as to ensure my meddlings won’t lead to the rise of Robo-Hitler and his army of sentient sewer alligators in the 1980’s.

To test out my idea I will be jumping back to early 2015 to alter the outcome of the Academy Awards honoring the films of 2014. What follows is my time traveller’s log.

 

5:00 AM January 15, 2015– Arrived at Samuel Goldwyn Theater to find audio visual booth containing the nominee presentation well guarded by a man who looks like Matt Damon. Told the guard that Neil Patrick Harris had an acting job for him pretending to be a Price Waterhouse guard for one of this hosting bits. Sorry everyone, that unshakeable reality is the price for getting my picks to win.

 

Inside the audio visual booth, I made the following alterations to eleven of the nominee categories. All other nominees and subsequent winners remain the same as in the original timeline. Bolded films in the left column are original timeline winners. Bolded films in the right column are new additions in the adjusted timeline

 

Nominees As We Know Them Myke’s Adjusted Timeline
Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

 

Best Picture

The Babadook

Birdman

Boyhood

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Nightcrawler

Selma

Whiplash

Best Director

Alejandro G Innaritu- Birdman

Richard Linklater- Boyhood

Bennet Miller- Foxcatcher

Wes Anderson- The Grand Budapest Hotel

Morten Tydlum- The Imitation Game

Best Director

Alejandro G Innaritu- Birdman

Richard Linklater- Boyhood

Wes Anderson- The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ava Devurnay- Selma

Bong Joon-ho- Snowpiercer

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper- American Sniper

Michael Keaton- Birdman

Steve Carrell- Foxcatcher

Benedict Cumberbatch- The Imitation Game

Eddie Redmayne- The Theory of Everything

Best Actor

Michael Keaton- Birdman

Ralph Fiennes- The Grand Budapest Hotel

Benedict Cumberbatch- The Imitation Game

Jake Gyllenhaal- Nightcrawler

David Oyelowo- Selma

Best Actress

Rosamond Pike- Gone Girl

Julianne Moore- Still Alice

Felicity Jones- The Theory of Everything

Marion Cotillard- Two Days, One Night

Reese Witherspoon- Wild

Best Actress

Essie Davis- The Babadook

Amy Adams- Big Eyes

Julianne Moore- Still Alice

Marion Cotillard- Two Days, One Night

Reese Witherspoon- Wild

Best Supporting Actor

Edward Norton- Birdman

Ethan Hawke- Boyhood

Mark Ruffalo- Foxcatcher

Robert Duvall- The Judge

JK Simmons- Whiplash

 

Best Supporting Actor

Edward Norton- Birdman

Ethan Hawke- Boyhood

Toby Kebbell- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Tony Revolori- Grand Budapest Hotel

JK Simmons- Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Emma Stone- Birdman

Patricia Arquette- Boyhood

Kiera Knightley- The Imitation Game

Meryl Streep- Into the Woods

Laura Dern- Wild

Best Supporting Actress

Emma Stone- Birdman

Patricia Arquette- Boyhood

Keira Knightly- The Imitation Game

Rene Russo- Nightcrawler

Tilda Swinton- Snowpiercer

 

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Selma

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Best Adapted Screenplay

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The Imitation Game

Snowpiercer

Whiplash

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Animated Feature Film

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Best Animated Feature Film

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

The Lego Movie

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Best Film Editing

American Sniper

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Whiplash

Best Film Editing

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Whiplash

Wild

Best Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Godzilla

Guardians of the Galaxy

Interstellar

X-Men: Days of Future Past

 

Ran into J.J. Abrams backstage on my way back to the time machine. Told him not to stress too much about the whole Star Wars thing and that everything was going to be just fine. Input coordinates into the time machine to jump ahead to the awards ceremony.

 

4:30 PM February 22, 2015– Arrived at the red carpet in front of the Dolby Theater in Hollywood. My attempt to quell civil outrage by getting Selma extra nominations has been cancelled out by patriotic citizens who are furious that American Sniper received nominations only in technical categories. I can only hope its win for Best Sound Editing will placate them and delay a second Civil War for at least another year or two.

 

My meddling has likewise infuriated the academic community but given a big shot in the arm to sci-fi nerd culture. I fell in with a crowd of delightful geeks wildly celebrating the strong showings from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Snowpiercer, and even X:Men: Days of Future Past’s adapted screenplay nomination. I left their company during the third consecutive iteration of “Everything is Awesome”.

 

With twenty minutes to showtime I snuck in through the back door by stripping to my tightie whities and explaining to the doorman I was a part of the show and running late.

 

Once inside I promptly kidnapped John Travolta and hid his temporarily unconscious body in a supply closet in order to stop him from touching Idina Menzel’s face and destroying his public image forever.

 

His tux was a little baggy, but sufficient to help me blend in as I snuck backstage and replaced the appropriate envelopes with my winners. I then took my seat in the crowd to watch my handiwork unfurl.

 

Best Supporting Actor- Ethan Hawke for Boyhood. This was a tough one to switch, as I truly do love J.K. Simmons’ performance as the maniacal Fletcher in Whiplash. I wanted to make the category a tie, but if I’m rigging Oscars why not make things a five-way tie every time? No, there had to be only one.

 

While I will miss Simmons’ kindly speech admonishing us to call our parents (reminder: call Dad to see who’s autograph he would like me to get before I leave) I had to give Hawke the gold for his lively portrayal of a man slowly escaping boyhood and adapting to the responsibility of fatherhood.

 

Best Supporting Actress- Patricia Arquette for Boyhood. No upset here. Arquette’s performance as a complicated and troubled single mom takes the cake, and her speech crying out for equal wage rights brought us all to our feet.

 

This alteration was more to give Rene Russo a tiny bit of time in the spotlight and to allow Tilda Swinton to help us follow The Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore’s admonition to love the weird stuff.

 

Best Visual Effects- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I have nothing but respect for Interstellar’s team of visual effects masters who brought dazzling depictions of black holes, wormholes, and a three-dimensional representation of time to the screen.

 

But I had to follow my heart and award the effects crews that turned a group of talented actors in grey spandex into living, breathing creatures with political ambition and arguably deeper emotions than their human co-stars.

 

Best Animated Feature- How to Train Your Dragon 2. In an arguably unpopular move, I replaced the vastly overrated Big Hero 6 with the slightly less overrated The Lego Movie. I left Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya since I haven’t seen them (I have to be honest).

 

As a movie that is visually breathtaking, narratively engrossing, and uninsulting to both child and adult intellect, How to Train Your Dragon 2 was my clear choice. Dean Deblois was ecstatic to bring an Oscar to the franchise, but who’s to say that when all time finagling is said and done this will be the only Dragon film to take home the gold statue?

 

Best Film Editing- Boyhood. Extreme love for every nominee here, most of all Old Timeline winner Whiplash. But if much of Boyhood’s success is attributed to director Richard Linklater, equal praise needs to go to Sandra Adair’s work compiling twelve years worth of footage and assembling precise, seemingly insignificant moments into a decade-spanning narrative that flows unbelievably well.

 

The power of these small moments and the way they have connecting with audiences everywhere is a testament to her hard work which has finally been rewarded.

 

Best Original Screenplay- The Grand Budapest Hotel. So many great original screenplays this year. While there is still love and respect for Birdman’s egotistically theatrical dialogue, Selma’s inspiring speeches, Boyhood’s unassuming observations on existence, and Nightcrawler’s chillingly timely observation on success and media in America, Wes Anderson has done it (along with co-winner Hugo Guinness).

 

Anderson’s touch for crafting eccentric and vibrant characters has rarely been on this level, and leading them through his most plot-driven film to date has made for one of his most effortlessly watchable movies.

 

His speech was of course a little awkward and riddled with references to authors and artists I’ve never heard of, but his win has inspired all of us trying to hold on to the faint glimmers of civilization that exist in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay- Whiplash. It does truly hurt me to erase Graham Moore’s wonderfully empowering acceptance speech from history, but I didn’t time travel to make easy decisions.

 

Whiplash is a wonderfully cinematic story that caused us to embrace the melodramatic plot holes on its protagonist’s journey towards artistic perfection. Or was it moral annihilation? Both? I can’t decide, which is a testament to Damien Chazelle’s complicated feature debut that rightfully rubs many the wrong way.

 

I made sure to bump into Moore on the way out to personally thank him for a wonderful script and inspiring movie, and encouraged him to keep it up. Our other three nominees were just happy to be there.

 

Best Director- Richard Linklater for Boyhood. Old Timeline winner Alejandro G. Innaritu undertook a bold project by making Birdman a complicit yet critical send-up of acting egotism that took place in seemingly one shot.

 

You know who else undertook an overwhelming project? The guy who shot his movie over twelve years, resisting genre cliches like that one magical grownup that shapes your life from childhood onward or idolizing your one defining moment like learning to drive or your first kiss.

 

Richard Linklater gambled over a decade of his life on a project that was about nothing except an unexceptional boy growing up. He could only have faith that in the end he and his talented cast and crew could pull it together into something with immense meaning and emotional weight without having to make it seem too desperate to elicit those feelings.

 

He put in not only time and effort, but his entire being into a distinctly authorial film that blurred the line between fictional and reality unlike any other. His speech was likewise gracious but unpretentious, thanking his cast and crew and all who made Boyhood an artistic success.

 

Best Actor in a Leading Role- Michael Keaton in Birdman. As close a race as was had this year, with my hand desperately wanting to switch out Keaton’s envelope for Gyllenhaal’s or Fienne’s at the last second backstage.

 

This was a strong year for leading actors, but Keaton’s performance is so rooted in who he is, where he has been, and a wonderful sense of self-awareness that I had to let him have that Oscar.

 

He is so thoroughly engrossing in Birdman that we cannot help but admire his talent. His theatrical range bounces seamlessly from the overwhelmingly dramatic to the wonderfully absurd, always eliciting sympathy from us and a desire to see him succeed.

 

That dream of success is realized as the genuinely nice and unbelievably cool Mr. Keaton takes the stage to accept this award amidst thunderous applause. He is gracious and appreciative, with a wink of sly humor and a mighty Birdman screech as he holds his Oscar high in the air for all to see.

 

Best Actress in a Leading Role- Essie Davis in The Babadook. The most surprising and unconventional win of the evening. As Mrs. Davis accepts her award for her portrayal of a single mother distraught with grief and tortured with disturbing images that reflect her own depression and sense of loss, she echoes Patricia Arquette’s remarks and thanks her fellow nominees for their portrayals of strong women finding their voice and the courage to push forward through the trials which make it seem impossible to attain new levels of individual identity and personal happiness and fulfillment.

 

While it may hurt now to see the wonderful Julianne Moore’s sole Oscar stripped from her, I wouldn’t be too distraught about it. Time has a way of fixing things, specifically in the ‘90s.

 

So the evening draws to a close, and we endure Neil Patrick Harris’s excruciating wrapup bit regarding his “predictions” (for which I still accept responsibility). Even with all of the alterations, expectations still rest on a tight race between Birdman and Boyhood for Best Picture. The inclusions of The Babadook, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Nightcrawler have gone over surprisingly well as a breath of fresh air. Sean Penn takes the stage and proclaims the winner of the grand prize is none other than….

 

Best Picture- Boyhood. Boyhood takes home its fifth and final Oscar, a fair but not overwhelming victory lap. There is wild applause as the cast takes the stage and hold each other like family, relishing the acclamation for their twelve years of hard work.

 

This ambitious project has been rewarded for forging a connection with audiences that speaks to the random and seemingly insignificant sequences of events that define us. Many are upset that the award has been given to an overly artsy and aimless narrative, but you can’t please everyone.

 

As the applause dies down and the crowd begins to shuffle to their after parties I find joy in the winning eyes of Boyhood’s cast and crew. Essie Davis is ecstatic over her win and Michael Keaton is being flooded with congratulations out front.

 

But this all came at a cost. I had supposed guaranteeing my choices’ victories would set history right, but I find it difficult to make eye contact with J.K. Simmons, Eddie Redmayne, and Julianne Moore. The disappointment is more than I can bear, so I make sure to get Kirk Douglas’s autograph for my dad, then head back to the time machine.

 

7:21 AM January 16, 2018– Arrived in my bedroom and snuck back into bed. My wife will never even know I was gone. I Googled the news stories from the day after the awards. Birdman’s losses understandably upset many film fans, but Boyhood’s victories and an extra win for The Grand Budapest Hotel were embraced cheerfully.

 

The sting of defeat has dissipated for the nominees who lost out thanks to my meddling, but I carry it still in my heart that conjured it up mere seconds before. I am sure the hurt will be kept alive in the angry comments of those who now know I was the one responsible.

 

But, as I said before, I have not undertaken this campaign to make the easy decisions. After a month of recouping (time travel takes quite a toll on you after all) I will endeavor another expedition even further into the past and continue to set cinematic history straight..

 

But which year should I visit next?

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