Academy Awards 2015: Predictions

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 am (Eastern Standard Time), I’ll be ready with pen and paper in hand, watching the live announcement of the Academy Award nominations. As usual, I didn’t try to figure out the short film categories since I never have any clue what’s in the running. Otherwise, all categories are present and accounted for.

Best Picture (top 10 candidates, if the Academy chooses to nominate so many films): Birdman; Boyhood; Gone Girl; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Into the Woods; Nightcrawler; Selma; The Theory of Everything; Whiplash

Best Actor: Michael Keaton (Birdman); Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel); Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game); Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler); Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Best Actress: Jennifer Aniston (Cake); Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl); Julianne Moore (Still Alice); Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything); Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

[The four absolute locks are Pike, Moore, Jones and Witherspoon. For a while I thought that the fifth spot might go to Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night, but when the film didn’t make the Best Foreign Language Film shortlist and Cotillard failed to earn nominations from the BAFTAs, Golden Globes and SAG Awards, I figured she was out of the running for the Oscar. Aniston is my guess for #5, but I wouldn’t count out Amy Adams for Big Eyes. I would be surprised if the fifth spot went to someone other than Aniston or Adams.]

Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton (Birdman); Ethan Hawke (Boyhood); Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher); Robert Duvall (The Judge); J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

[The BAFTAs threw a curveball by nominating Foxcatcher’s Steve Carell in the Supporting Actor category, but I assume that he was put in the lead category for the Oscar ballots. So unless Carell takes Duvall’s spot – or maybe Josh Brolin can take that same place for Inherent Vice – I think that this will be the final five.]

Best Supporting Actress: Emma Stone (Birdman); Patricia Arquette (Boyhood); Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game); Meryl Streep (Into the Woods); Rene Russo (Nightcrawler)

[Jessica Chastain is a contender for A Most Violent Year and some wishful thinkers are predicting Tilda Swinton for Snowpiercer, but I feel confident in my choices. Laura Dern also has an outside shot for Wild as support for the nomination that the Academy will undoubtedly give to Reese Witherspoon – a repeat of what happened last year with Cate Blanchett/Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine.]

Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman); Richard Linklater (Boyhood); Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel); Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game); Ava DuVernay (Selma)

Best Original Screenplay: Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Mr. Turner; Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay: American Sniper; Gone Girl; The Imitation Game; The Theory of Everything; Whiplash*

[*By rights Whiplash should be considered “original,” but… the Academy had bizarre ideas about that. Also, Wild is a strong contender and it could knock out either American Sniper or the misplaced Whiplash.]

Best Animated Feature Film: Big Hero 6; The Boxtrolls; How to Train Your Dragon 2; The Lego Movie; The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Foreign Language Film: Force Majeure; Ida; Leviathan; Timbuktu; Wild Tales

Best Cinematography: Birdman; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Interstellar; Mr. Turner; Unbroken

[I have also been considering Ida, which got a BAFTA nod for the cinematography, but the Academy loves Roger Deakins so they may reward Unbroken in its place.]

Best Editing: Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Whiplash

Best Production Design: Big Eyes; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Interstellar; Into the Woods

Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Into the Woods; Maleficent; Mr. Turner

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel; Guardians of the Galaxy; The Theory of Everything

Best Original Score: Gone Girl; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Interstellar; The Theory of Everything

[Mica Levi’s score for Under the Skin has probably won more awards than any other score of the season, so by rights she should be one of the nominees, but neither she nor the film has enough heat to generate an Oscar possibility, unless something really crazy happens.]

Best Original Song: “Ryan’s Song” (Boyhood); “Lost Stars” (Begin Again); “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me); “Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie); “Glory” (Selma)

Best Sound Mixing: American Sniper; Birdman; Guardians of the Galaxy; Unbroken; Whiplash

Best Sound Editing: American Sniper; Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Birdman; Interstellar; Unbroken

Best Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; Guardians of the Galaxy; The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies; Interstellar; X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Documentary (Feature): Citizenfour; Finding Vivian Maier; Life Itself; The Overnighters; Virunga

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