Watching the Oscars without seeing the nominated movies is like going to book club without reading the book: it’s fun to eat the guac, but you can’t help but feel like you’re missing out.
Let these talking points carry you through the ceremony on CTV on February 22 so you have something to say besides how cute Reese Witherspoon looks (though, by all means, say that too). We threw in our choice of winners too. You’re welcome.
1. Best Picture Boyhood:
Dazed and Confused director Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age drama, famously filmed over 12 years, is the frontrunner, but Birdman, about a washed-up actor’s bid for artistic redemption, and American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s surprise box-office smash, are both potential upsets.
Say: “Birdman really became a contender when it won the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Cast, but in my heart, I still think it’s going to Boyhood.”
Don’t Say: “I started crying at the end when Ethan Hawke said, ‘Boyhood is over son. This… is Manhood.”
2. Best Director Richard Linklater:
The Boyhood mastermind’s first directing nomination isn’t his first time at the ball—he won two nominations, and plenty of fans in high places, for writing Before Sunset and Before Midnight.
Say: “Who would have thought that the director of School of Rock would someday win an Oscar?” [wipe away single tear]
Don’t Say: “This award should really go to whoever found all those actresses to play young Patricia Arquettes. They looked just like her!”
3. Best Actor Michael Keaton:
The most heated race of the year. While Eddie Redmayne made heads explode with his spot-on performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, and Bradley Cooper is nominated for his third year in a row for American Sniper, first-time nominee Michael Keaton has the benefit of a classic comeback story and a meta-role about acting, an asset in the off-chance that anyone in Hollywood is self-absorbed [awkward silence].
Say: “Eddie has the momentum, but he will have lots of chances. This is Keaton’s year!”
Don’t Say: “Birdman? I’d been pronouncing it Batman!”
4. Best Actress Julianne Moore:
Five nominations and zero wins later, Moore’s win for her performance as an intellectual battling early on-set Alzheimer’s in Still Alice is a sure thing. She will be the fifth actress in a row to win for playing a character with a mental illness, following Blue Jasmine’s Cate Blanchett, Silver Linings Playbook’s Jennifer Lawrence, The Iron Lady’s Meryl Streep and Black Swan’s Natalie Portman.
Say: “I’ve been waiting for this day since her bottomless monologue in Short Cuts.”
Don’t Say: “But when is Reese Witherspoon going to get her due?”
5. Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette:
Her relatable portrayal of motherhood in Boyhood, capped by a so-true-it-hurts speech, was a bright spot in a weak year for female roles.
Say: “Who could forget how brilliant she was in True Romance, Ed Wood and Lost Highway? Not me, that’s for sure, as I have seen those movies.”
Don’t Say: “I used to watch Medium and say, give this woman an Oscar.”
6. Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons:
Simmons’ turn as a demanding music teacher in Whiplash was considered an early lock.
Say: “I can’t wait to see him in the King Kong prequel, Skull Island.”
Don’t Say: “Did you know his name is Just Keep Simmons?” (Tina Fey was joking about that.)
7. Best Original Song “Glory”:
The Academy embarrassingly snubbed the excellent Martin Luther King biopic Selma in all categories but two: Best Picture, and this one. The politically charged anthem by John Legend and Common is expected to win, especially after Beyonce introduces it at the Grammys on Sunday.
Say: “This is the third time Best Original Song went to a hip-hop song, after ‘Lose Yourself’ and ‘It’s Hard Out There For A Pimp.’ I thought I did naturally work it into the conversation!”
Don’t Say: “I wish ‘Let It Go’ could win this category every year.”