We dove deep to find a Montana favorite in the major categories in the upcoming 87th Academy Awards. When in doubt, root Montana!
Best Supporting Actor (nominees)
Robert Duvall, "The Judge"
Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"
Edward Norton, "Birdman"
Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"
J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash"
The Vegas Favorite: J.K. Simmons
The Montana Pick: J.K. Simmons
You may have heard that Simmons, who is the favorite to win best supporting actor for his portrayal of a bonkers music instructor in "Whiplash," is a University of Montana grad. But did you know his time in Montana is what got him into acting? According to the Great Falls Tribune, "It was during his time in Missoula that he found his love for theater and music. 'While I was at the University of Montana, I started spending some summers at Bigfork, doing musicals,' said Simmons. '… Once I started doing summer theater in Bigfork, that was the beginning of a long, convoluted segue from music into what ended up being a film and TV career."
Best Supporting Actress (nominees)
Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"
Laura Dern, "Wild"
Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"
Emma Stone, "Birdman"
Meryl Streep, "Into the Woods"
The Vegas Favorite: Patricia Arquette
The Montana Pick: Meryl Streep
None of the actresses have a personal connection to the state, but three of them have some Montana connections when you look at the roles they have played. For instance, Laura Dern was in the memorable “6-foot turkey” scene in Jurassic Park that supposedly took place in the Badlands of Montana (though we doubt it was actually filmed in Montana).
Patricia Arquette one upped Dern’s scene by starring in the dreadful "Holy Matrimony," which was filmed and based in Great Falls.
Meryl Streep trumped both Arquette and Dern by starring in "The River Wild," which was filmed and based in Montana. And unlike "Holy Matrimony," this movie is rewatchable. Because of this, we give Streep the nod.
Best Actress (nominees)
Marion Cotillard, "Two Days, One Night"
Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything"
Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"
Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"
Reese Witherspoon, "Wild"
The Vegas Favorite: Julianne Moore
The Montana Pick: Reese Witherspoon
We had to reallllly stretch for this one. Reese Witherspoon is nominated for the film "Wild," which is based on Cheryl Strayed's memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail." The true story focuses on Strayed’s decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone in order to focus herself following the death of her mother and a recent divorce. Her ex-husband in the film (and in the book) is "Paul," which is a fake name Strayed used to protect the identity of her real ex-husband. The real ex-husband turns out to be Missoula man Marco Littig. You can read his thoughts on the movie here. BOOM!
Best Actor (nominees)
Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"
Bradley Cooper, "American Sniper"
Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"
Michael Keaton, "Birdman"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything"
The Vegas Favorite: Eddie Redmayne
The Montana Pick: Michael Keaton
Biggest no-brainer on the list. While Michael Keaton was born in Pittsburgh, he has called Montana home since the 1980s. This CBS News video has some great shots of his ranch and some fun insight on the man. For example, he bowed out of "Batman Forever" because according to Keaton it "sucked. Yeah, it just was awful!" Next time you’re in the Livingston/Big Timber area, be on the lookout for him.
Best Picture (nominees)
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"The Imitation Game"
"The Theory of Everything"
The Vegas Favorite: "Boyhood"
The Montana Pick: "Birdman"
None of the best picture nominees have a direct Montana connection, so we’re going with our honorary hometown boy Michael Keaton in "Birdman." You could make the same argument for "Whiplash" because of JK Simmon’s UM connection, but we give the edge to "Birdman" for one reason. Keaton portrays in "Birdman" a frenetic, aging movie star opening a new play in New York. This profile from Esquire (read here) makes it seem like the Montana-version of Keaton is not too different … and we think that’s awesome.