Joe’s Oscar Predictions for 2015

Below are my guesstimations on the Oscars this year (or at least, some of the categories). I didn’t do any online research while putting this together, and a lot of this is based on my opinion as well as a limited amount of online research. Still, regardless the outcomes I encourage everyone to see as many of these movies as they can, before or after the Oscars. They’re just all very good.

Now, on with it!

Best Actor:

STEVE CARELL

Foxcatcher

BRADLEY COOPER

American Sniper

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH

The Imitation Game

MICHAEL KEATON

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

EDDIE REDMAYNE

The Theory of Everything

I’m torn, and this is the first year in a long time that I can see this category going in multiple directions – except Steve Carell. Sorry, I like him, but this role is just not showy enough compared to the others, and the movie carries a sluggish aftertaste. Cooper also produced Sniper and he beefed up for the role, it’s also his third nomination in a row, so he’s got a decent momentum going. Been-a-duck Slumberland is building steam in general as an actor who is both great and performs decently at the box office, but The Imitation Game just doesn’t have the kind of steam that is typically seen at this point. Keaton is in the well-respected “comeback” position this year for a role that’s mirroring his life in many ways, and Redmayne did more than just imitate Stephen Hawking, he embodied a person in struggles. Now, up until early December I would’ve told you 100% this is Keaton’s statue. But Redmayne got the Golden Globe for Drama Actor, the SAG award, and the BAFTA (British Academy Awards). He’s not the extreme favorite, but he’s close, and he’ll probably take the Oscar unless older Academy Members vote for Keaton.

Supporting Actor:

J.K. SIMMONS

Whiplash

ROBERT DUVALL

The Judge

ETHAN HAWKE

Boyhood

EDWARD NORTON

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

MARK RUFFALO

Foxcatcher

As in most years, this is one of the toughest categories because each nominee is so strong and stands out in their respective films. I didn’t see The Judge, but Duvall’s nomination feels like an obligatory move. Hawke is strong and part of a unique film; Norton is hilarious and virtually steals the show from Michael Keaton; Ruffalo is the best part of Foxcatcher. But JK Simmons has had this thing locked up since Sundance of 2014. His brutality is counterbalanced in a pair of effective emotional scenes midway through, and the three-dimensional quality of his character is sealed in stone by the end of the picture. He is Whiplash – he will win.

Best Actress:

JULIANNE MOORE

Still Alice

ROSAMUND PIKE

Gone Girl

REESE WITHERSPOON

Wild

MARION COTILLARD

Two Days, One Night

FELICITY JONES

The Theory of Everything

While I didn’t see Two Days, One Night, or Still Alice, I can speak to the rest of the nominees in saying that Rosamund Pike did a fantastic job. Felicity Jones carried most of her movie but Eddie Redmayne has held most of the spotlight lately; Reese was great as she always is, but Wild just didn’t ring a loud enough bell overall. Still, with Julianne Moore’s highly rated performance and sweeping the majority of acting honors, she’s the person to beat.

Best Supporting Actress:

PATRICIA ARQUETTE

Boyhood

LAURA DERN

Wild

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY

The Imitation Game

EMMA STONE

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

MERYL STREEP

Into the Woods

Laura Dern didn’t really make a dent for me, Keira Knightley got an obligatory pat on the back, and Meryl is Meryl. My heart is with Emma Stone for her dynamic, emotionally ranging performance in Birdman, but Patricia Arquette is virtually the centerpiece of Boyhood, the most showy role, and very, very strong.

Animated Feature Film – Without The Lego Movie in this category, I have no idea what’s going to happen, so I pass on making a prediction.

Cinematography:

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

Emmanuel Lubezki

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Robert Yeoman

IDA

Łukasz Żal and Ryszard Lenczewski

  1. TURNER

Dick Pope

UNBROKEN

Roger Deakins

This is Deakins’s 12th nomination…and he’s likely not going to win again because this is such a competitive category, and Unbroken is just about the least exciting of the nominees. Mr. Turner (didn’t see it) appears to mirror Turner’s actual paintings; Ida is a stark black-and-white, which sometimes gets older voters’ attention; The Grand Budapest Hotel is colorful, gorgeous, and utilizes different film sizes and aspect ratios in the storytelling; Birdman is meant to look like one-take, a free-flowing piece. Lubezki won last year for Gravity, and has a very strong shot here to win again – however, it’s almost the same concept as the opening of Gravity, a seamless-looking single take. Going against the grain a little, I’d put my vote in for Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best Directing:

BOYHOOD

Richard Linklater

FOXCATCHER

Bennett Miller

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Wes Anderson

THE IMITATION GAME

Morten Tyldum

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Weird that Bennett Miller is here, since Foxcatcher is not up for Best Picture. Also, his film is the most sluggishly paced, and this is pointed out more than the acting or nuanced camerawork. Inarritu went outside the studio system as much as he could for Birdman, and this is considered a turn for him as a comedic film as opposed to his otherwise hard dramas. Morten Tyldum crafted a fine thriller in the mold of a biopic…but this is easily the least “showy” of the nominees (not a bad thing, just not the typical vote-grabber). Linklater kept a film going over 12 years and kept not only a singular vision and style, but also a method and story. Wes Anderson has been long overdue for a nomination – and this is his first. I think this is between Linklater and Inarritu, and, based on the DGA and other recent awards, Inarritu has a slight edge.

Film Editing:

AMERICAN SNIPER

Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

BOYHOOD

Sandra Adair

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Barney Pilling

THE IMITATION GAME

William Goldenberg

WHIPLASH

Tom Cross

I have no idea why American Sniper is here – and that’s not a joke. I really don’t. Of all the movies that were released this past year, this is the strangest to appear in this category. The editing in The Raid 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Captain America: The Winter Soldier are all better, in my humble opinion as a non-editor. Boyhood was cut together from filming snippets over 12 years; Grand Budapest melded different styles and times into one cohesive vision at a madcap pace; The Imitation Game bounced through time with a thriller’s pace; Whiplash was the most dynamic editing of the year in a small story, was pieced together in a short time-frame, and is a remarkably moving movie. My vote would go to Whiplash, but I think this is one of the categories Boyhood will capture, as it captured voters who respect the process of the making of the movie over anything else and they might vote for a different film for Best Picture.

Visual Effects:

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER

Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould

INTERSTELLAR

Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

This one is difficult once you cull the list. X-Men was okay, as was Captain America with its gigantic action scenes. Guardians of the Galaxy made us love a walking tree as a heartwarming character; Interstellar created a whole new visual look for a black hole and immersed the audience in space travel; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes advanced motion capture filmmaking immensely. My vote would be for Dawn, But I have a sneaking suspicion Interstellar might pull away for it.

 

Original Screenplay:

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo

BOYHOOD

Written by Richard Linklater

FOXCATCHER

Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness

NIGHTCRAWLER

Written by Dan Gilroy

Glad to see Nightcrawler in here, a bit confused why the list includes Boyhood. Whiplash is really an original screenplay, but because they made a short film out of one of the scenes to sell the movie, then eventually made the feature, the Academy deemed it an adaptation (opposite of the WGA awards). I think Wes Anderson will come away with the win here for Grand Budapest Hotel, even though Birdman has won a couple of writing awards. I just think that GBH won’t be handed picture or director, and the Academy wants to reward quirky films usually with the writing (Her, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Still, Birdman has the wave right now.

Adapted Screenplay:

AMERICAN SNIPER

Written by Jason Hall

THE IMITATION GAME

Written by Graham Moore

INHERENT VICE

Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Screenplay by Anthony McCarten

WHIPLASH

Written by Damien Chazelle

Inherent Vice was too complex for a lot of audiences, including Oscar voters; Imitation Game just won the WGA; The Theory of Everything…okay; American Sniper didn’t take enough chances and felt a little by-the-book; Whiplash is the most original idea here, because it is original, and in my mind should come away with the win.

Best Picture:

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers

THE IMITATION GAME

Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers

SELMA

Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers

WHIPLASH

Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers

AMERICAN SNIPER

Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers

BOYHOOD

Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producer

Selma only having one other nomination virtually counts this out — hard to find a movie that has as few nominations winning best picture. The Theory of Everything is very dry and not the sharpest Best Picture material this year. The Imitation Game, despite the Harvey Weinstein machine behind it, does not have the wave of victories at this point; Grand Budapest Hotel is just a bit too quirky for the win here, sadly; Whiplash is almost too indie and the victory for JK Simmons might be considered enough by many, though it could be a Dark Horse here; American Sniper certainly has the box office, but that doesn’t always mean a win here (Avatar vs The Hurt Locker (and Eastwood wasn’t nominated…the last time a BP winner didn’t also have a nominated Director was…Argo…ok then). That leaves Birdman and Boyhood. Birdman has the momentum – SAG Ensemble award, DGA award, and Golden Globe. Boyhood has the critics raving and the respect of a 12-year journey, plus it’s less esoteric than Birdman. I don’t know, I’m actually torn with this one, and that makes this one of the most exciting Best Picture races in recent memory. I think Boyhood will come away with the win here, for the sheer fact of the film’s journey.

Those are my guesses. Hope it’s just an incredible night for everyone – nominees, winners, performers, and viewers.

Cheers!

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