Friday, February 20, 2015

My 2015 Oscars Predictions

The movies snubbed from Oscar nominations has been minor news every year. This year, it was major news. I'd rather not jinx it, but there were so many prominent contenders snubbed in almost all categories, that in the absence of an Earth-shattering surprise, predicting the winner among the remaining contenders has become relatively easy. The issue is so striking, this year I've added the major Oscar snubs to the descriptions of each category, just to get a grasp.

But fortunately, Boyhood and Birdman have been behaving so discordantly during the awards' season, the excitement of the show will be focused on its final moments: Best Director, and Best Picture.

And just before you read my predictions: Leonardo DiCaprio won't be getting an Oscar this year.

Best Picture:

(American Sniper, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash)

Oscar snub: Interstellar

Check out IMDb: if you take the number of awards into consideration, both Boyhood and Birdman have won and been nominated for 250-300 awards around the world. Birdman's conceptual and artistic merits were huge, but I have a hard time believing the Academy will forego an historical 12-years-in-the-making cinematic event called Boyhood, and recognize Birdman as the best film of the year.

(Almost always Best Editing and Best Picture go to the same film. Since Birdman virtually had no "conceivable" editing as the entire film appears to be one shot, that's another point in favor of a Boyhood Best Picture win. Crazy, huh?)

Who do I think should win? Considering that my own personal favorite, Interstellar, didn't even make it to the list ... none of them. Among the eight films, Whiplash and Selma affected me the most. But while Whiplash creates momentary emotional storms, Selma's reach and effect is way more everlasting.

Should Win: Selma

Will Win: Boyhood 

Best Director:


(Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Richard Linklater for Boyhood, Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher, Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game)

Oscar snub: Ava DuVernay for Selma

The time-honored tradition is that Best Picture and Best Director go hand-in-hand. So my prediction is Richard Linklater, the man who personifies American independent film-making. Mexicans are making waves in Hollywood, but Alfonso Cuaron's Oscar win last year as Best Director for Gravity has already stole the spotlight from Alejandro González Iñárritu, and I doubt the Academy will award two Mexican directors two years in a row - no matter how great Iñárritu is (and he really is).

Should Win: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Will Win: Richard Linklater for Boyhood

Best Actor:

(Steve Carell for Foxcatcher, Bradley Cooper for American Sniper, Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game,  Michael Keaton for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything)

Oscar snub(s): Jake Gyllenhal for Nightcrawler, Tom Hardy for Locke, David Oyelowo for Selma, Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner.

With all these snubs, the usually difficult Best Actor race has narrowed down this year to Keaton and Redmayne. Both won Golden Globes; Keaton for Comedy role, Redmayne for Drama. And although dramatic roles always have better chances, Keaton's role in Birdman was a once-in-a-lifetime event played by an actor who's been acting forever, while Redmayne is a relative newcomer who still has a long career ahead of him.

Should Win: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Will Win: Michael Keaton for Birdman

Best Actress:

(Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night, Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl, Reese Witherspoon fir Wild)

Oscar snub: Jennifer Aniston for Cake

There's really no point betting against Julianne Moore. She's had the most prolific career among the five (more than 70 films), and the most number of Oscar nominations among them (four) without a win. But for me, Marion Cotillard's struggle in Two Days, One Night really hurt.

Should Win: Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night

Will Win: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor:

(Robert Duvall for The Judge, Ethan Hawke for Boyhood, Edward Norton for  Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, J.K. Simmons for Whiplash)

Nothing to get bent out of shape about. No rushing, nor any dragging. J.K. Simmons is the winner. If you disagree, ... that's not quite my tempo.

Should Win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Will Win: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress:

(Patricia Arquette for Boyhood, Laura Dern for Wild, Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game, Emma Stone for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Meryl Streep for Into the Woods)

Oscar snub: Amy Adams for Big Eyes, Jessica Chastain for A Most Violent Year

I wasn't too impressed with Patricia Arquette in Boyhood, but everybody's going crazy about her, so whatever. Among the nominees, I believe Emma Stone is the only one who stands out; in a few scenes in Birdman, you could see Michael Keaton's reactions to her words ... by looking at her face.

Should Win: Emma Stone for Birdman

Will Win: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay:

(Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)BoyhoodFoxcatcherThe Grand Budapest HotelNightcrawler)

Oscar snub: Selma

I can imagine Birdman's screenplay was extremely difficult to write; maintaining narrative continuity in a whirlwind of events happening continuously in and around a Broadway theater is not an easy feat. But in the past few weeks, there has been a large amount of hype surrounding Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel, and even though I'm not a huge fan of the director, this was his first movie that at least grabbed my attention. To top it off, Anderson won the Writers Guild Award a few days ago, which makes it lock for an Oscar (while Birdman wasn't even nominated by the Guild).

Should Win: Birdman

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Adapted Screenplay:

(American SniperThe Imitation GameInherent ViceThe Theory of EverythingWhiplash)

Oscar snub: Gone Girl

Even before the nominations were announced, I thought Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl is the obvious winner. But we saw how that turned out. Again, the hype is circling around The Imitation Game - a decent movie, but one that contained a few cliche moments for which the screenplay should be blamed. On the other hand, Inherent Vice had some quirky, innovative screenplay twists, and its clever 6-time nominated writer/director, P.T. Anderson, hasn't won an Oscar yet.

Should Win: Inherent Vice

Will Win: The Imitation Game

Best Documentary Feature Film:

(CitizenFour, Finding Vivian Maier, Last Days in Vietnam, The Salt of the Earth, Virunga)

Oscar snub: Life Itself

Again, the race was between Life Itself, the Roger Ebert documentary, and CitizenFour, the Edward Snowden documentary. Ebert is out, so Snowden wins - deservedly so.

Should Win: CitizenFour

Will Win: CitizenFour

Best Animated Feature Film:

(Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya)

Oscar snub: The Lego Movie

People started screaming when they realized The Lego Movie wasn't among the five. How to Train Your Dragon 2 won the Golden Globe, and it will suck if it wins the Oscar too, because it's a movie that parasiting on the splendor of its original. In the meantime, Studio Ghibli's product this year was a two-hour plus animation of "simply sophisticated" wonders.

Should Win: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best Foreign Language Film:

(Ida from Poland, Leviathan from Russia, Tangerines from Estonia, Timbuktu from Mauritania, Wild Tales from Argentina)

Oscar snub: Force Majeure, Winter Sleep

Even though Leviathan won the Golden Globe, and even though Timbuktu's director won two awards at Cannes, Ida won the BAFTA, and it has beautiful black-and-white cinematography, and it's about a favorite Academy subject: the Holocaust. Actually, it's about the children of Holocaust survivors. But that's good enough.

Should Win: (haven't seen them all)

Will Win: Ida 

And for predictions in other categories:

- Best Editing: Boyhood

- Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

- Best Cinematography: Birdman

- Best Makeup: Guardians of the Galaxy

- Best Original Score: The Theory of Everything

- Best Original Song: Selma

- Best Costume Design: Into the Woods

- Best Sound Editing: American Sniper

- Best Sound Mixing: American Sniper 

- Best Visual Effects:  Interstellar

- Best Animated Short Film: Feast

- Best Documentary Short Film: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1  

- Best Live Action Short Film: Boogaloo and Graham


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  2. First of all ,Thank you for your beautifully informative & honest note!
    Some points came to my mind that I want to share them! I feel the same that Oscar might have some surprises for us , it could be in any category ...maybe as you mentioned : the best picture & director.
    First of all , I think that snub part was a great category added to your predictions .I wish it could go on for next years as well since there is almost always snub in the Oscar , as minor or major news.
    Second : who is Emma Roberts ?. I guess it was a typo because you probably meant Emma Stone. Here I like to add that I remember from you that supporting actor nominee, must be someone whose performance is at the level of main role. I felt the same for Patricia Arquetteest .
    Third: About Edit , I noticed that some years the edit winner was different from best picture’s. I took a glance to the history just till 2004 and found out that it's true about : The artist, Kings speech, No country for old man, Million dollar baby and Beautiful mind. Should it still a fact that Edit is almost always goes to the best picture ?....
    I agree about the snub for Selma director who was definitely ignored unfairly (and you know where this sympathy comes from in particular !)
    I agree also about best original SP shift toward Budapest . I bet a lot on this movie even though it's not in my top ten list!

    We have to see tomorrow

    1. Thank you, Maryam. You had me do some homework!

      You are correct. I checked and saw that in the past 25 years, Best Picture and Best Editing have gone to the same movie in 15 out of 25 years. So maybe instead of "almost always", I should've said "the majority of times".

      And I mixed up Emma Stone with Emma Roberts! Emma Roberts is Julia Roberts' niece who's becoming famous in the past few years, but she's nowhere as good as Emma Stone.