During an evening in May 1929, a little less than 300 individuals gathered in the Blossom Room of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel for a private awards ceremony that celebrated a year of cinematic achievements. There were no envelopes revealing the winners, as they were informed months earlier. There was no red carpet, either, in what still was a movie-town in its youth.
There was, however, a series of statuettes depicting a knight clutching a downward-pointing sword and standing upon a reel of film. Legend has it that the librarian of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences thought the figure, which was designed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer art director Cedrick Gibbons, bore a resemblance to her Uncle Oscar. And so it went: the award found its name, and a tradition was born.
On Sunday, that tradition is set to continue.
Millions upon millions of Americans – from Temple to Los Angeles, and everywhere in between – are likely to tune in to the 87th Academy Awards this weekend. Whether you’re watching for the red carpet or the speeches, the movies or the host – if you’ve seen some of the films, all of them or none of them at all – the Oscars remain Hollywood’s grandest and most celebrated night of the year, and one of the biggest television events of the year.
Alumnus William Goldenberg is among those we’ll be looking out for during the telecast. A graduate of the Class of 1982, Goldenberg received a Best Editing nomination for “The Imitation Game.” He won his first Oscar in 2013 for his work on “Argo,” when he actually defeated himself in the category as he was also nominated for “Zero Dark Thirty.”
In addition to Goldenberg, there are several other nominees whose work during the past year deserves praise and recognition. Only some, though, will leave the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard with the golden statuette in hand. Here are some of my selections for who should.
Richard Linklater’s masterpiece, which he filmed over the course of 12 years, is unlike anything I – and many others – have seen on the big screen before. Watching Mason and his family, all played by the same actors, age throughout the picture was an experience that I won’t soon forget. There are other standout nominees in this category, including “Selma” and “Birdman,” but in defining what was the best overall motion picture of the year, none of them deserve it more than “Boyhood.”
Michael Keaton | “Birdman”
This year’s field – which has gained some controversy for not including David Oyelowo for his role as Martin Luther King Jr. in “Selma” – is difficult to pinpoint. But Keaton’s acting in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” was career-defining, special and the most worthy of the Oscar.
Julianne Moore | “Still alice”
This is Moore’s fifth nomination, and it’s the one that should earn her a win. “Still Alice” was a well-produced film, but it was Moore’s harrowing performance as a doctor, mother and wife going through Alzheimer’s disease that made the movie so compelling.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
J.K. Simmons | “Whiplash”
As Temple film professor Leann Erickson put it to me, if Simmons doesn’t win, “something is very wrong with Hollywood.”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette | “Boyhood”
One of the most special aspects of “Boyhood” was Arquette playing the mother that raises the main protagonist through the many trials and tribulations that life throws at her family.
Richard Linklater | “Boyhood”
The achievement of making a film like “Boyhood” – and doing so in such an effective manner – warrant a victory for Linklater.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo | “Birdman”
The script for “Birdman” is original, funny and moving, and the writing team nailed the dialogue in what was an unconventional but brilliantly executed story.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Jason Hall | “American Sniper”
Hall’s script turned into one of the most surprising box office success stories of the year, and while some critics have gone after its historical inaccuracy, the movie is powerful and effective in its portrayal of war, along with the toll it can take on a soldier and his family.
Avery Maehrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AveryMaehrer