How to Pitch a Perfect Game at Your Oscar Party

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John Axford, Contributor - The Players' Tribune

Hello. I’m John Axford, a Major League Baseball pitcher who happens to watch a ton of films when I’m not chasing my toddlers around the house attempting to feed them, or cultivating my award-winning mustache. Last year, I went 18-for-18 picking the Oscars on Twitter. Most people were really happy for me, but a vocal minority called me out for not picking all 24.

This year, I’m not only picking every single category, I’m doing it in advance on The Players’ Tribune so you can steal all my picks and impress your pals at your Oscar party.

Now, you’re probably asking: Is this dude qualified, or just lucky? Well, I graduated with BA in Film and Television from Notre Dame, and have been a sponsor of the Milwaukee Film Festival since 2011. I also know how to pronounce Alejandro G. Iñárritu with the appropriate Spanish flair. So let’s do this.

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays

Writing — Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is some tough competition. I just watched Nightcrawler recently and thought it was fantastic, and a really great commentary on modern media. But Wes Anderson’s screenplays are so original that I think The Grand Budapest Hotel will win.

Writing — Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game
This is a dangerous one because I have not seen Whiplash yet. I’m going with The Imitation Game.

Visual Effects: Interstellar
I’m going with Interstellar on this (it’s probably the only win the film will get). It was the most visually impressive film I saw this year. Stunning.

Sound Mixing: American Sniper
The drumming in Whiplash might push it over the top, but I’ll go with the one I’ve seen that had such immersive sound design: American Sniper.

Sound Editing: American Sniper
This is usually a two-for-one with sound mixing. American Sniper takes it.

Short Film — Live Action: The Phone Call
I wasn’t able to get to a theater that played the package of short film nominees this year, so this is purely based on the reviews.

Short Film — Animated: Feast
Once again, based on the Interwebs.

Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is one I didn’t choose last year but it’s an easy one this year. The Grand Budapest Hotel will take it. The production design is crazy. I’ve seen it four times now, and every single time, I’m locked in. Every little intricacy is amazing.

Music — Original Song: “Glory”
As great as “Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie is — and I definitely had that song in my head for about a week straight — I have to go with “Glory” from Selma.

Music — Original Score: The Theory of Everything
Another tough one. I really liked The Grand Budapest Hotel’s score, but I recently saw The Theory of Everything and was completely sucked into the film by the score itself. The last score on that level was Trent Reznor’s from The Social Network.

Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lock here. I mean, look at this.

Foreign Language Film: Ida
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see any of these this year. I actually like to go to theaters to watch films instead of watching on the iPad, so it can be tough when you’re on the road to catch the foreign films. The odds favorite is Ida, so I’ll go with that.

Film Editing: Boyhood
It’s tough to not give it to the film that took 12 years to make. What an incredible feat to maintain the tone of that film over more than a decade of shooting and editing. The logistics alone are crazy; Think about how much technology has changed since 2002.

Documentary — Short subject: Crisis Hotline
Skipped this one last year. Hi, haters!

Documentary — Feature: CitizenFour
This documentary about Edward Snowden should win pretty handily.

Directing: Alejandro G. Iñárritu
For me, Alejandro G. Iñárritu should win for Birdman. This is a close one because it’s tough to beat out Richard Linklater, who took took 12 years out of his life to make Boyhood. But what Iñárritu did with Birdman was revolutionary. I’ve never seen a 2 ½-hour long film that is made to look like it’s entirely one single shot. The level of difficulty there is so high. To direct actors and extras, and have cameras going up and down floors — to move the shots inside and outside with incredible fluidity — it’s really impressive. When I sat down to watch the film with my wife, we just looked at each other after 10 minutes like, “Wait a minute, is this just going to keep going?” I have a soft spot in my heart for Iñárritu because of 21 Grams. If you haven’t seen his other films, check them out (if you don’t mind films that are kind of a downer).

Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Once again, just look at this. This film transports you into a very specific world. It’s stunning.

Cinematography: Birdman
Birdman for sure. It’s not just the technical challenge of having the film be “one long shot,” but the visual subtleties of showing time lapse by a quick shot of the sky … the fluidity of the camera is incredible.

Animated Feature Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2
How was The LEGO Movie not even nominated here? It’s totally insane. I’ll go with How to Train Your Dragon 2. I watched it with my kids but I’d watch again by myself. It was actually pretty heart-wrenching.

Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette
Patricia Arquette is going to run away with it. She did such a phenomenal job maintaining her character in Boyhood — showing the growth of that woman over time. So many genuine “mom” moments from her. Being a parent, I was wondering the whole time, Is this how quickly it really goes?

Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons
J.K. Simmons will run away with it pretty easily for Whiplash.

Lead Actress: Julianne Moore
Reese Witherspoon was raw and great in Wild but I think Julianne Moore is the clear winner here for her performance in Still Alice.

Lead Actor: Michael Keaton
I really want him to win so I might be biased. If you look at the way the category winner has gone in the past 10 years, the SAG winners for Lead Actor usually win the Oscar, too. Eddie Redmayne won the SAG award. I’m going out on a limb here.

Best Picture: Boyhood
I’m going with Boyhood though I wouldn’t be upset if Birdman wins. Boyhood and Birdman were 1A and 1B for me. I think they’ll split the difference on Director / Lead Actor / Best Picture. If Michael Keaton wins best actor and Alejandro G. Iñárritu wins Best Director, Boyhood is taking home best picture. If I’m wrong and Linklater gets best director, Birdman wins Best Picture.

This entire list is a house of cards. I’m either going to go 24/24, or fail miserably and face the wrath of Twitter.

Tell me what you think @JohnAxford.