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Cinema Chat: 'The Internet Cat Video Festival', 'Bridging the Gap: The Joe Dulin Story', 'The Duff'

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The movie awards season is reaching a crescendo. In 'Cinema Chat' this week, David Fair and Russ Collins cover your movie options for the weekend, with a particular eye towards Academy award nominated films. 

Its Academy Award time and you have until Sunday evening to catch up on all the Oscar-worthy films you may have missed. See the Oscar shorts and the “Imitation Game” at the State Theatre. See Julianne Moore in the performance that will probable with Best Actress Oscar in “Still Alice” at the Michigan Theater.

Best Picture

The granddaddy of them all remains a mystery. "Boyhood" was sailing pretty smoothly for a while there -- winning buckets of critics' group prizes and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama. But it lost the PGA, DGA and SAGs big prizes to "Birdman" -- and both of those films have to contend with the soaring box office (and, to quote my colleague Anne Thompson, the "steak eater appeal") of both "American Sniper" and "The Imitation Game." It seems like momentum is being split all over the place, leaving us with the most uncertain Best Picture race in nearly a decade. We're perhaps predicting with our hearts a bit more than we should, but we're leaning toward "Boyhood" pulling off the big win.

The Nominees:

"American Sniper" (Clint Eastwood)

"Boyhood" (Richard Linklater)

"Birdman" (Alejandro González Iñárritu)

"The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Wes Anderson)

"The Imitation Game" (Morten Tyldum)

"Selma" (Ava DuVernay)

"The Theory of Everything" (James Marsh)

"Whiplash" (Damien Chazelle)

Will Win: "Boyhood"

Could Win: "Birdman"

Should Win: "Boyhood"

Best Director

Alejandro GonzálezIñárritu or Richard Linklater? It's a question that will make or break your Oscar pool, as the former has the coveted DGA prize and the latter the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice. Could we be looking at our third Best Picture/Best Director split in a row, or will one or the other's film prevail across both categories? We went back and forth about that until the very last minute, but in the end we're guessing Linklater's 12 year experiment gives him the ultimate edge.

The Nominees:

Alejandro González Iñárritu, "Birdman"

Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"

Bennett Miller, "Foxcatcher"

Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Morten Tydlum, "The Imitation Game"

Will Win: Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"

Could Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, "Birdman"

Should Win: Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"

Best Actor

Not too long ago, Michael Keaton seemed like the man to beat in what has been the most competitive of all the acting races all season long. He's the sentimental favorite, starring in the film with the most Oscar nominations. Not to mention he won both a Golden Globe (in the comedy-musical category) and a Critics Choice Award a few weeks back. But then this weekend, he lost out on what could have confirmed his frontrunner status: the SAG Award. Eddie Redmayne took that for "The Theory of Everything," adding to his own Golden Globe in the drama category.

What's important there is that the last time the winner in SAG's Best Actor category didn't go on to win the Oscar was way back in 2003. Does it appear that Redmayne now has the edge in a neck-and-neck race between him and Keaton? Not if Bradley Cooper -- the only nominee in this category without any previous bids for the win -- has anything to say about it. Cooper wasn't competing against Keaton or Redmayne at any of the aforementioned ceremonies, largely because his "American Sniper" was released so late in the game.

The film is obviously surging in terms of box office and awards buzz (though also in terms of controversy). If Keaton and Redmayne cancel each other out, it's Cooper who benefits. Which is still a tall order: He'd notably follow Marcia Gay Harden as only the second person ever to win an Oscar without a Golden Globe, SAG or Critics Choice Award nomination. Either way: Toughest acting call of the night, by far (we're going with Redmayne, but it's our least confident call of them all).

The Nominees:

Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"

Bradley Cooper, "American Sniper"

Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"

Michael Keaton, "Birdman"

Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"

Could Win: Bradley Cooper, "American Sniper" or Michael Keaton, "Birdman"

Should Win:

Michael Keaton, "Birdman"

Best Actress

This is not a contest. In a year where three of the acting races are essentially set in stone, Best Actress is the most set. Julianne Moore has pretty much had this locked down since September and there's really no conceivable scenario that could change that.

The Nominees:

Marion Cotillard, "Two Days, One Night"

Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything"

Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"

Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"

Reese Witherspoon, "Wild"

Will Win: Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"

Could Win: Reese Witherspoon, "Wild" (but not really)

Should Win: Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"

Best Supporting Actor

Even if it's a little boring, it's hard to argue against J.K. Simmons getting this moment in the mainstream spotlight thanks to his clean sweep of every Best Supporting Actor trophy out there. It would be pretty shocking if he didn't top off that off with an Oscar, though there is a tiny outside chance Edward Norton could spoil.

The Nominees:

Robert Duvall, "The Judge"

Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"

Edward Norton, "Birdman"

Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"

J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"

Will Win: J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"

Could Win: Edward Norton, "Birdman"

Should Win: J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette has basically won every award out there for her work in "Boyhood" and she's the film's only certain win on Oscar night (though we're predicting Best Picture and Best Director too). Emma Stone is likely her closest competition, but that just isn't happening (don't even try it, Oscar poolers).

The Nominees:

Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"

Laura Dern, "Wild"

Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"

Emma Stone, "Birdman"

Meryl Streep, "Into the Woods"

Will Win: Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"

Could Win: Emma Stone, "Birdman"

Should Win: Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"

Opening Downtown

Mommy

Winner of a Cannes Film Festival Grand Jury Prize and a favorite film of movie maven and 107one morning host Martin Bandyke, “Mommy” opens Friday at the Michigan. It’s the story of a single mom who finds herself burdened with custody of her explosive 15-year-old son. As they try to make ends meet, the new girl across the street offers needed support.  The fifth film of a 25 year old cinema genius, Variety raved, “A funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work from Canadian enfant terrible Xavier Dolan.” “Mommy” opens Friday at the State Theatre.

Special Screenings Downtown

The Internet Cat Video Festival

High art cat videos? Produced and curated by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, “The Internet Cat Video Festival” is the first offline celebration of online cat videos. The festival gathers fellow feline fanatics to watch a curated collection of cat clips—from six second Vine videos to short films and everything in between. “The Internet Cat Video Festival” plays Tuesday, February 24 at 7 PM at the State Theatre.

Bluebird

The special New York Film Critics Series next Thursday is “Bluebird” featuring a post-screening interview via Skype with lead actor John Slattery (“Mad Men”).  In the northern reaches of Maine, a local school bus driver becomes distracted during her end-of-day inspection, and fails to notice a sleeping boy in the back of the bus. What happens next shatters the tranquility of her small logging town, proving that even the slightest actions have enormous consequences. “Bluebird” plays Thursday, February 26 at 7:30 PM at the Michigan Theater.

The Killers

The Michigan Theater’s Film Noir series continues with “The Killers.” When two mysterious men muscle their way into a small town and kill an aging boxer (Burt Lancaster), who offers no resistance and seems to be welcoming his death, an insurance investigator (Edmond O’Brien) is hired to locate the beneficiary to Lancaster’s policy, which is the boxer’s former girlfriend (Ava Gardner), whose duplicity played a big part in the boxer’s demise. “The Killers” plays Monday,February 23 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater. Featuring an introduction by UM Professor Dr. Johannes von Moltke.

Bridging the Gap: The Joe Dulin Story

“Bridging the Gap: The Joe Dulin Story” tells the story of Ann Arbor education legend Joe Dulin’s remarkable 52-year career, which will leave a legacy long beyond his passing in October of 2014. The screening is being held to memorialize a very important man that dedicated his life to one dream, and one purpose: to help kids. “Bridging the Gap: The Joe Dulin Story” plays Tuesday, February 24 at 7 PM at the Michigan Theater.

Contagion

The Michigan Theater’s Science on Screen series continues with “Contagion.” Healthcare professionals, government officials and everyday people find themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic as the CDC works to find a cure. The screening features a special post-screening presentation by Capt. Martin Cetron, MD, director of the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).   Presented with support from the UM Center for the History of Medicine. “Contagion” plays Wednesday, February 25 at 7 PM.

Kundo: Age of the Rampant

“Kundo: Age of the Rampant” plays Saturday, February 21 at 2 PM at the Michigan Theater. Admission is free and sponsored by the Nam Center for Korean Studies as part of the Korean Cinema Now film series.

Freaks

“Freaks,” Tod Browning’s 1932 tale of murderous circus performers, plays Saturday, February 21 at 11:59 PM at the State Theatre. Midnights are only $8!

Opening at the Multiplex

DUFF

In “The DUFF” Bianca (Mae Whitman) is a content high school senior whose world is shattered when she learns the student body knows her as the “DUFF.” However, Bianca finds the confidence to overthrow the school's mean girl and remind everyone that no matter what people look or act like, we are all someone's DUFF. “The DUFF” opens Friday.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

After the events of the first film, “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” reveals that Nick (Craig Robinson) and Lou (Rob Corddry) used their knowledge of the future to improve their lives. But during a party in Lou's honor, he is shot by an unknown assassin. Nick and Jacob (Clark Duke) use the time traveling hot tub to try to get back to the past to learn who shot him and undo the damage…if they can. “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” opens Friday.

McFarland USA

“McFarland USA” is the true against-all-odds story of the 1987 McFarland high school cross country team in an economically challenged community. Starring Kevin Costner and Maria Bello, “McFarland USA” opens Friday.

Contact David: dfair@emich.edu