Oscars mystery: Just how close a race was Best Picture?

Thanks to the Secrecy Doctrine of the Academy Awards, we will never know who finished second in the voting for major awards last night, but isn’t it about time for “Boyhood” fanboys in the mediaverse to stop saying it was a close race between their favorite and “Birdman” for Best Picture and to retire the word “bandwagon” from their Oscar vocabulary?

Based on the awards that were actually presented, it’s likely that “Boyhood” was a distant second to “Birdman,” if not third behind “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and maybe even fourth after “Whiplash.”

The “Boyhood” bandwagon was being pulled by critics and other non-industry observers and it only got the movie to the staging area of the Oscar parade where the collective minds of the Academy branches and then the general body took over.

Here’s a general rule for Oscar prognosticating: The industry guild awards are always more important than the awards that preceded them. When the PGA, SAG and the DGA had their say, it was all over for “Boyhood.”

Oscars record: All 8 Best Picture nominees win at least one award

Its fizzled momentum was tipped off mid-way through the show when it lost the film editing award to “Whiplash” (which in turn had been tipped off by the jazz film’s win for sound mixing). If voters weren’t dazzled by Sandra Adair’s task of editing 12 years of a story written on the annual fly into a cohesive coming-of-age story, they were not dazzled by the movie itself.

I thought the academy voters would recognize Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” achievement with a directing prize, and given the number of speeches accorded “Birdman” multiple-hyphenate Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, I wish they had brought him to the stage to take a bow. It was a risky and ambitious project that he conceived and executed and though he had won nearly every other prize available to him during the long awards season, I imagine this is the one he wanted most.

 

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