Here is part 2 of my final Oscar predictions, where I’ll through the acting, musical, Animated/Foreign, and technical categories. For predictions in other categories, click here.
Let’s start by looking at the acting categories. Best Actor is supposedly as competitive as ever this year while Best Actress feels like a one-horse race.
Nominations will be announced tomorrow morning.
Lock for a nomination…
1. Michael Keaton (Birdman): The perfect narrative and the perfect role. Keaton absolutely nails every high and low the script asks of him. He’s had a great showing at the precursors, capped off by a Globe win, and has remained a frontrunner. The only thing standing is the fact that Redmayne, Cumberbatch, and Oyewolo all played real-life figures in more typical Oscar-roles.
2. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything): Giving a physically transformative performance as Stephen Hawking, Redmayne’s turn is drawing comparisons to Daniel Day-Lewis’ Oscar-winning turn in My Left Foot. I think that’s a lazy comparison, but the fact remains, Redmayne is in a juicy role that he apparently knocks out of the park. He won the Globe (in Drama) and was cited by the New York critics.
3. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game): It’s a career-best turn, playing a forgotten hero, from a modern A-lister. The Imitation Game as a whole figures to be a major player and Cumberbatch carries the film. He’ll get nominated for sure, and once they look at the nominees, he could very well emerge as the popular pick.
My final two spots…
4. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler): Both Gyllenhaal and Nightcrawler have gained so much late momentum just when we thought they were out of the running. His recent transformation to a “really fucking good actor in everything he does” is McConaughey-esque. He got nominated by both SAG and the Globes.
5. David Oyelowo (Selma): The only reason Oyelowo, who gives a marvelous turn as MLK, didn’t get the SAG nom is because Paramount didn’t send screeners out the guilds. He’s not a lock but I think he’ll get swept in due to overall Selma love.
VERY much in play…
Bradley Cooper (American Sniper): American Sniper continues to gain steam and that has thrown its star and director right into the hunt. Cooper is coming off back-to-back nominations for two very different turns so we know they love him. Ultimately though, I think it’s just too late for Cooper to get the support necessary to crack the top five this year.
Steve Carell (Foxcatcher): Was nominated by both SAG and the Globes but this is a tough year and there are still concerns that this is really a supporting turn (which it is, more on this later).
Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel): Fiennes has received a lot of citations and The Grand Budapest Hotel looks more lock a Best Picture lock everyday. But there are simply too many other guys giving more Oscar-friendly turns.
Long shots but still alive…
Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), Miles Teller (Whiplash)
Given the Boyhood love, it’s surprising to not see Coltrane’s name mentioned more. Both Mr. Turner and St. Vincent are too small to get their veterans leads in. Oscar Isaac has gotten a lot of acclaim this year but he hasn’t been noticed by any precursors outside of the NBR. When people talk about Whiplash, they ignore Miles Teller.
A few GREAT and surprising lead performances they won’t notice: Chris Evans in Snowpiercer. Tom Hardy in Locke. Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher. Chadwick Boseman in Get On Up.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
The 99.9% favorite…
1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice): This race has been pretty much locked up all year. She’s simply been snubbed too many times. The narrative, and the performance, is there. Bow down.
The very-likely other four…
2. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything): She’s a rising star and will have the British vote. In a down year, that alone will get her in. Oh, and she’s awesome. Catch her next in the courtroom drama True Story, which also stars James Franco and Jonah Hill (wait, what?).
3. Reese Witherspoon (Wild): She’s had a great comeback over the last couple of years, taking challenging roles and nailing them. I didn’t think Wild was a great movie, but she was certainly great in it.
4. Jennifer Aniston (Cake): You won’t hear the film mentioned outside of this category but she got the Globe and SAG noms she needed.
5. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl): The Globe and SAG noms are probably enough to get her in this year. There will be a lot of support for the film as a whole. Personally, I don’t think she was very good in it, but I also think D2: The Mighty Ducks is the best movie of 1994.
Amy Adams (Big Eyes): If Oscar voters turned in ballots after the Globes, she could easily be in, seeing as she won the Globe in Musical/Comedy. They absolutely love her, and she apparently carries the film. But a lot of people are saying bad things about Big Eyes and the top five seem pretty secure for now.
Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night): Likely to end up splitting the few votes she’ll receive with herself for The Immigrant. But she’s a great actress who they’ve recognized before which keeps her in the hunt.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Supporting Actor
Pretty clear cut locks…
1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash): Has been the favorite for most of the year and the film has actually gained late momentum. This is a category that loves to go with oft-ignored veterans in crazy roles.
2. Edward Norton (Birdman): The National Board of Review actually awarded him over Simmons and he’s felt like a lock all year. Playing an actor helps. It’s also been a long time since we’ve talked about him in terms of Oscar chances. If anyone beats Simmons this year, it’s going to be Norton.
Norton has a sour reputation amongst other actors but he’s just sooooo good in Birdman.
3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood): The Boyhood love is likely to land Hawke his 2nd acting nomination. I don’t think he’s any threat to win, but he’s safe.
4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher): A very respected actor who is starting to feel like the only sure thing from Foxcatcher, which early in the year looked like a frontrunner in multiple categories.
5. Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice): A somewhat surprising pick for me, as he’s also an oft-overlooked guy, and voters who are fans of the film may want it to get some sort of nomination. He’s hilarious in the movie.
Also fighting for the fifth spot…
Robert Duvall (The Judge): He’s the common fifth pick as he’s obviously a legendary actor. The Judge is just sooooooo awful that people may feel bad nominating it for anything. But, Duvall did score both the Globe and SAG nods (as did my four locks).
Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes): It’s really a lead turn, as the Globes told us, but he’s campaigning here again, in a category he’s won twice over the last five years. There’s not a ton of love for Big Eyes but like his co-star Amy Adams, Waltz is an Academy darling and cannot be counted out.
Tom Wilkinson (Selma): Unfortunately for the great Tom Wilkinson, who I feel did a very nice job as LBJ in Selma, most of the accusations regarding the films inaccuracy surround his character. If those are powerful enough to possibly bump DuVernay, they’re certainly powerful enough to bump him.
Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)?????: Here’s the deal with Carell. Sony Pictures Classics is campaigning him as lead, and the guilds/precursors have gone with that, despite the fact that he’s clearly not a lead in Foxcatcher. The Brits actually nominated him in supporting, and there’s no actual rule saying you can only vote for a guy in the spot he’s being campaigned for. If all the acting branch members exchanged e-mails or something and agreed to consider Carell supporting, he’d be a lock here. Ultimately I think there’s enough competition in both categories that splitting even a few votes with himself will keep Carell out all together.
This would suck because he really is outstanding in Foxcatcher, it’s just that Channing Tatum is the real star of the movie.
Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler): A dark horse in the truest sense of the word but there’s a ton of support for the movie and it’s being called the great under-the-radar performance of the year.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Supporting Actress
VERY safe bets…
1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood): She’s the favorite as she gives the most lauded performance in the Best Picture frontrunner. The LA critics went as far as to give her the award in Lead, but it’s a supporting turn.
2. Emma Stone (Birdman): She’s had a nice showing at some critics awards and this is a category that often awards young actresses who step out of their comfort zone and put forth a performance many thought they were incapable on giving. That defines Stone’s work in Birdman.
3. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game): She provides a contender with its charm and the Academy does like her. Globe and SAG noms basically make her a shoe-in. British vote.
Last two spots…
4. Renne Russo (Nightcrawler): She’s missed out on most of the key precursors but as Nightcrawler continues to gain steam, it’s looking more and more likely that she could get nominated for this unexpected turn.
5. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year): She got a Globe nom but missed out the SAG. But the Academy likes her and she’s had a great all-around year when you factor in Interstellar and The Disappearance of Elenor Rigby. They have to nominate A Most Violent Year for something, right?
Could easily get nominated…
Meryl Streep (Into the Woods): In no way do I feel comfortable leaving Streep, who seems to get nominated for even her weaker work, off my list. She appears to be the one redeemable quality from Into the Woods. But I’ll go with the upset and put Chastain and Russo in over her.
Naomi Watts (St. Vincent): SAG nom kept her in the hunt but St. Vincent is a very small film that seems to be more about Bill Murray than anything.
Carmen Ejogo (Selma): I thought she was the best part of Selma, providing the film with its emotional background when the other actors where just giving monologue after monologue. She didn’t score any major precursors though, and she’ll need them to go heavy on Selma to have a chance.
Still in the hunt…
Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Laura Dern (Wild), Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice)
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that both Swinton (for her insane turn in Snowpiercer) and Waterston (for her sexy and wounded character in Inherent Vice) SHOULD be nominated. But neither film appears to be a big player.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Costume Design
1. Sammy Shelton (The Imitation Game)
2. Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods)
3. Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
4. Jacqueline Durran (Mr. Turner)
5. Sharen Davis (Get On Up)
Period pieces The Imitation Game and Mr. Turner feel pretty safe, though I’m not so sure that military engineers during WWII actually dressed as well as they did in The Imitation Game. Colleen Atwood is a branch favorite. The costumes in The Grand Budapest Hotel are the technical aspect I noticed most from a film that figures to factor in to many technical categories. Sharen Davis, who’s been nominated for Ray and Dreamgirls, is my dark horse pick. She’ll have industry support and feels like the best chance the underrated Get On Up has of a nomination.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
1. The Theory of Everything
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
Only going three here, as the shortlist left off early favorites Into the Woods and The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies. My personal vote would be for Foxcatcher due to some of the insane prosthetics used. Guardians of the Galaxy will be in the mix for a few technical awards and some of the work they did with they did with Gamora, Nebula, and The Collector deserves recognition.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Production Design
1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Into the Woods
3. The Imitation Game
5. Big Eyes
The Grand Budapest Hotel seems to be the favorite here and for good reason. What the did with the hotel itself was spectacular. Into the Woods features a ton of fantasy sets that always do well here. The Imitation Game did a nice job capturing the era with some of its sets and the machine itself created for the film looked great. The next two are dark horses but I think people will respond to the “back of the theater” look in Birdman. Tim Burton movies do very well here and Big Eyes got this nod from BAFTA.
Interstellar actually used way less CGI than you probably think and much of that had to do with the model space stations that were created. I think it’s in the hunt.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Visual Effects
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
3. The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
5. X-Men: Days of Future Past
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the clear favorite for its groundbreaking motion capture work. The first one probably should’ve won but lost to Hugo. Interstellar, The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies, and Guardians of the Galaxy are here for obvious reasons. The last spot may very well be Godzilla vs X-Men: Days of Future Past and the latter has been mentioned more recently while the formers best chances are in the sound categories.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Sound Editing
1. American Sniper
American Sniper figures to be a major player and this is probably its surest bet for a nomination. For me, Godzilla, above else, was an achievement in sound, and is deserving of a nomination. Same goes for Interstellar. The continuous shot trick in Birdman doesn’t work if the sound isn’t edited perfectly as we go from room to room and character to character. Fury created some war sounds in very unique ways.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Sound Mixing
1. American Sniper
2. Transformers: Age of Extinction
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
American Sniper is probably safe here as well and I think another war movie, Unbroken, makes the cut due to the work in some of the crash sequences. Transformers: Age of Extinction is a movie that just required so much sound mixing that the branch will recognize it. Both the Cinema Audio Society and BAFTA nominated Birdman here. This feels like a category where Guardians of the Galaxy can make some noise, and would be a popular choice given what they did with Vin Diesel’s voice.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Original Score
1. Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
2. Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything)
3. Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
4. Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
5. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Gone Girl)
If you consider Unbroken here, as well as The Imitation Game and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat has a legit shot at getting three nominations. The Theory of Everything and Interstellar feature acclaimed scores from respected composers.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Original Song
1. “Lost Stars” (Begin Again)
2. “Glory” (Selma)
3. “Ryan’s Song” (Boyhood)
4. “Everything is Awesome” (The LEGO Movie)
5. “Yellow Flicker Beat” (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1)
This is always a near impossible category to predict but I think the top three here feel pretty safe, with “Glory” (Common & John legend) and “Lost Stars” (Adam Levine) looking like the favorites. “Ryan’s Song” is a selection more about its use in Boyhood than the actual quality of the song. “Everything is Awesome” is an ironically catchy song that will be a popular choice, same goes for Lorde’s entry.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Animated Feature
The predicted five…
1. The LEGO Movie
2. Big Hero 6
3. How to Train Your Dragon 2
4. The Boxtrolls
5. Song of the Sea
The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros), Big Hero 6 (Disney), and How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dreamworks) are the popular choices pushed by big studios in a category that usually awards popular choices pushed by big studios. My personal vote goes to The LEGO Movie, which isn’t just the best animated movie this year, but one of the best movies. Period.
The animators have spent much of the year lauding the work their counterparts did in The Boxtrolls. Song of the Sea is a small film but it’s received a ton of praise.
In the hunt…
The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Cheatin’, The Book of Life
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Foreign Language Film
1. Ida (Poland)
2. Leviathan (Russia)
3. Wild Tales (Argentina)
4. Tangerines (Estonia)
5. Timbuktu (Mauritania)
I don’t have much to say here as I haven’t seen any foreign language films this year, other than that Wild Tales looks VERY interesting. From what I’m reading, that, along with Leviathan and Ida, seem to be safe bets.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Best Documentary Feature
2. The Overnighters
3. Life Itself
4. Last Days in Vietnam
5. The Case Against 8
CITIZENFOUR has been considered the heavy favorite all year and I can’t find any reason for that to have changed.
That’s it for me predicting the Oscars, nominations are released tomorrow morning. I’ll have my personal preferences up later today.