Awards Season is Bullshit (Predictions for Oscar Sunday)

Awards Season is bullshit. Ask Dictionary.com.

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Nonsense, lies, exaggeration. Perfect words to describe the rubbish and slander that get tossed around the film journalism world for a three month stretch every year. It truly is bullshit. This is coming from a cinephile who watches everything and follows the latest happenings throughout the season. I care about movies. So I care about what I feel are the great ones getting their due, whether it’s through box office receipts or golden statues. But I don’t let my opinion of a movie change because it does or doesn’t dominate the awards circuit. This seems like common sense, yet time and time again, we see a movies reputation changed strictly because of the over-analyzation and narrative-forcing that comes with awards season. That is what’s bullshit.

Take Boyhood, for example. Boyhood started the year as “the little indie that could” and this years “small movie no one is talking about that you have to see”. Critics absolutely ate it up. Its Sundance buzz lead to an impressive $44.4 million at the box office. It was tabbed as the Best Picture favorite early in the year. A million articles were written about it. It dominated some early awards and critics lists. People started talking about it because of this.

Boyhood_filmAnd now, Boyhood is seen as “the cliché Best Picture choice” and a “gimmicky-movie they won’t stop talking about”. People, even those who haven’t seen it, are simply tired of hearing about Boyhood. Whether you think Boyhood is amazing or just a melodramatic gimmick -my opinion rests somewhere in the middle- it’s not the films fault that this has become the narrative. I’m pretty damn sure Boyhood is still the same film it was when it came out in July, so why am I reading that it’s something else just because a bunch of unions/guilds have given out some awards? Goddamn unions, you ruin everything.

This is one of the many reasons that distributors who believe they have Oscar-caliber material hold off on releasing it until the fourth-quarter. The fact that The Grand Budapest Hotel was released all the way back in March yet remains in the thick of multiple Oscar races, and the favorite in many, is a testament to the universal love for that movie.

Boyhood is still very much in the thick of a close Best Picture race. It might be the favorite. I don’t know. I’ll get to that in a minute. No more bitching. Here are my final guesses for this Sunday. I’ve seen every movie that figures to factor into the races with the exception of Whiplash (Yes, I’ve actually seen Still Alice).

Not doing Animated, Foreign, Documentary, or Shorts because I haven’t seen enough.

Best Visual Effects

Nominees: InterstellarGuardians of the GalaxyCaptain America: The Winter SoldierDawn of the Planet of the ApesX-Men: Days of Future Past

  • Will Win: Interstellar
  • My personal choice: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Godzilla

Interstellar got a surprising amount of nominations in the technical categories considering the complaints about it, and the Academy loves space, so it’s got to be the favorite here. But perhaps the overall success of Guardians of the Galaxy could push it through here, though this category isn’t very kind to superhero movies.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is also certainly in the hunt and would be my pick due to its groundbreaking motion capture that should’ve been awarded the first time around. Godzilla would’ve been a fun and unique choice.

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Best Sound Mixing

Nominees: American SniperBirdmanUnbrokenWhiplashInterstellar

  • Will Win: American Sniper
  • My personal choice: Birdman
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Guardians of the Galaxy

Whiplash made a bigger impact overall than most of us expected, and it could get awarded here in a category that is very tough to guess. The mixing in Birdman is one of the many finely-tuned elements that went into making the film work. But I’m going with American Sniper. War movies do well in sound and it has so many nominations that it’s going to have to win somewhere.

Surprising that Interstellar got the nom here because a lot of people, myself included, had serious complaints about the mixing. Much like Birdman, the sound team for Guardians of the Galaxy was in charge of mixing together so many different sounds. I think they deserved a mention.

Best Sound Editing

Nominees: American SniperBirdmanUnbrokenInterstellarThe Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies

  • Will Win: American Sniper
  • My personal choice: American Sniper
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Godzilla

MV5BMTkxNzI3ODI4Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjkwMjY4MjE@._V1_SX640_SY720_Similar to mixing, it’s really anyone’s guess here, but it’s probably between American Sniper and Birdman. I have a multitude of complaints about the former, but the sound as a whole is not one of them. It’s a deserving winner.

I feel Godzilla was an achievement in sound above all else, would’ve liked to see it pop up somewhere.

Best Original Song

Nominees: “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)…”Glory” (Selma)…”Everything is Awesome” (The LEGO Movie)…”Lost Stars” (Begin Again)…”I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me)

  • Will Win: “Glory” (Selma)
  • My personal choice: “Glory” (Selma)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: “Split the Difference” (Boyhood)

“Glory” will surely, and should, win this one on sunday. There’s an outside chance that bitterness from The LEGO Movie missing out in animated feature could spill over, but that’s probably asking too much. Selma fans can at least be happy with this one category.

Best Original Score

Nominees: Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)…Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)…Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)…Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner)…Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything)

  • Will Win: Jóhann Jóhannsson (The Theory of Everything)
  • My personal choice: Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross (Gone Girl)

The Theory of Everything won the Globe and appears to be the slight favorite but both of Desplat’s scores, specifically The Grand Budapest Hotel, remain in the hunt. I prefer his work on The Imitation Game as he actually adds more tension to the film than the script does.

Best Production Design

Nominees: InterstellarThe Imitation GameThe Grand Budapest HotelMr. TurnerInto the Woods

  • Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • My personal choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Inherent Vice

The Grand Budapest Hotel will dominate some of these technical categories and this one is probably the safest bet of them all. The hotel, which was more or less created, really does add to the story. I’m glad the Academy recognized Interstellar because there was a lot less CGI than you would think in that movie.

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Best Costume Design

Nominees: Inherent ViceThe Grand Budapest HotelMr. TurnerInto the WoodsMaleficent

  • Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • My personal choice: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Get On Up

Another pretty safe bet for The Grand Budapest Hotel, which should be in for a huge night overall. Maleficent and Into the Woods seem like the conventional choices but neither of those films did very well with critics which could seriously hurt them in these sorts of categories.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Nominees: FoxcatcherGuardians of the GalaxyThe Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • My personal choice: Foxcatcher
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Snowpiercer

This is an interesting race. I’d bet on The Grand Budapest Hotel due to the overall love for the film but the prosthetic work in Foxcatcher was phenomenal and is being praised. Guardians isn’t out of the hunt either. It did well with precursors and those sorts of movies have won here before.

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Best Cinematography

Nominees: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)…Roger Deakins (Unbroken)…Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)…Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)…Ryszard Lenczewski (Ida)

  • Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
  • My personal choice: Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Bradford Young (Selma or A Most Violent Year)

Emmanuel Lubezki will come into the night as the heavy favorite for his work on Birdman. He won last year for Gravity, and that helps the narrative if anything. Deakins is the biggest name and the overall love for Grand Budapest keeps this somewhat interesting, but it appears to be Lubezki’s to lose. Props to the Academy for a very cool choice with Ida, though I think Bradford Young turned in great work this year on a couple of different films and deserved some recognition.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Jason Hall (American Sniper)…Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)…Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)…Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)…Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

  • Will Win: Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  • My personal choice: Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: James Gunn & Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Moore has been the slight favorite here for a while due to The Imitation Game sitting on the blacklist then receiving acclaim, but Whiplash popping up in this category makes it even more interesting as they may want to reward Chazelle here for the film as a whole. American Sniper and The Theory of Everything cannot be counted out either, while Paul Thomas Anderson deserves props for attempting (and pretty much succeeding) to adapt Pynchon. Should be a close race.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Wes Anderson/Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)…Alejandro G. Iñárritu & Co. (Birdman)…Richard Linklater (Boyhood)…E Max Frye & Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)…Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

  • Will Win: Wes Anderson/Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • My personal choice: Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year)

2005-4878AndersonWes_IMG_x900This will be an interesting battle between Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, both films co-written by their directors. I believe the Academy is going to award Wes Anderson here, while Iñárritu will still be in the thick of the director and picture races. Both scripts are very unique and impacted the style with which the films were shot. They could also go with Linklater here for his sheer ambition but I think they’ll look elsewhere for his notice. I highly recommend reading the Nightcrawler script.

Best Film Editing

Nominees: American SniperWhiplashBoyhoodThe Imitation GameThe Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Will Win: Whiplash
  • My personal choice: The Imitation Game 
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Birdman

Again, Whiplash is the lone film in the best picture race I haven’t seen but people cannot stop talking about its editing. The remaining four are in also in the best picture hunt and in play here. I’d like to see The Imitation Game to get a win here if it falters elsewhere. It was a flawed movie, but it was cut together so sharply.

Also, it’s laughable that Birdman wasn’t nominated here. Just laughable.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)…Emma Stone (Birdman)…Laura Dern (Wild)…The Imitation Game (Keira Knightley)…Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

  • Will Win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  • My personal choice: Emma Stone (Birdman)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

I don’t even think Arquette was anything special in Boyhood, but she’s going to win this award. Laura Dern barely has any screentime in the forgettable Wild, Knightley is charming but doesn’t really do anything in The Imitation Game, and Streep got nominated just because, well, you know. If someone pulls the upset it will be the young Emma Stone, who gives a breakout turn in Birdman.

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Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)…JK Simmons (Whiplash)…Edward Norton (Birdman)…Robert Duvall (The Judge)…Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

  • Will Win: JK Simmons (Whiplash)
  • My personal choice: Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)

Simmons has had this locked up all year. But let’s not forget the great work of Norton, Ruffalo, and Hawke (all of whom give arguably the best performance in their films). Duvall got a nod of respect with this nomination for the god-awful The Judge. He’s a legend, but his spot should’ve gone to Josh Brolin or Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler).

Best Actress

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

  • Will Win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  • My personal choice: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin)

Julianne-MooreJulianne Moore is going to win what is essentially a lifetime achievement award. She’s been so far ahead all year that other companies have stopped campaigning their leading ladies. Since we know Moore is going to win, I’d like to take a paragraph to take about her movie, Still Alice.

Still Alice was frustrating to me because of what it could’ve been if it took the necessary risks. It was a well-made film by all means. The performances were great. Moore gives a career victory lap here, but Alec Baldwin does a fine job as her husband and Kristen Stewart continues to turn in impressive non-Twilight work as well. The film is shot with an impending sense of dread manipulated by what’s in focus. It’s a nice touch. But whenever it feels like Still Alice is about to get real powerful and explain the family-wide ramifications of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, it moves on to the next conventional moment in the script. It was perfectly fine as both a character piece and awareness campaign, but it never really lives up to its premise or does anything unique. If not for the performances, this is a Lifetime movie.

But, you know, Julianne Moore.

Also, if you’re into sci-fi you have to see Under the Skin. A unique movie with outstanding effects and a really goddamn good performance from ScarJo.

Best Actor

Nominees: Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)…Michael Keaton (Birdman)…Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)…Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)…Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

  • Will Win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  • My personal choice: Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year)

This has turned into Keaton vs Redmayne, two guys who both give great but very different turns in heavily-nominated films. Logic and history says Redmayne is the slight favorite due to his SAG and BAFTA win. He’s also playing Stephen Hawking, whereas Keaton is playing a character some are calling pompous and elitist (though I think those people are completely misunderstanding Birdman, for what it’s worth). It’s coin-toss. My heart is with Keaton but my head is with Redmayne. Bradley Cooper is a dark horse for American Sniper.

A really really tough year in this category. Gyllenhaal, Isaac, and David Oyelowo (Selma) all could’ve easily been nominated. Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Tom Hardy (Locke), Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar), Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher), Bill Murray (St. Vincent), Chris Evans (Snowpiercer), Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), and Ben Affleck (Gone Girl) all turned in great work that would’ve had a better chance most years.

Best Director:

Nominees: Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)…Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)…Richard Linklater (Boyhood)…Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)…Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

  • Will Win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • My personal choice: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

If these final two categories really do come down to Boyhood vs Birdman (which I don’t think they necessarily will), I’m thinking there’s going to a split. Boyhood may have lost some momentum but Linklater’s vision has to be acknowledged by the Academy somewhere, right? Why not here? Iñárritu could easily win, and Wes Anderson has a chance as well. I just feel it’s the right thing to do to award Boyhood either here, in picture, or in screenplay. Given that I don’t have it winning in those latter two categories, this becomes a logical choice.

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It shows how much respect there is for Bennett Miller amongst his peers that he was nominated here despite his film, on the whole, missing out. He’s a great director, and Foxcatcher was a great film.Everyone is looking forward to whatever he does next.

Morten Tyldum, for The Imitation Game, is probably the guy who should’ve been bumped from his group. No matter what your thoughts on the film are, it certainly feels like a conventional project that never gives its director a chance to show off his style. Tyldum may very well be a great filmmaker, but he didn’t show it with The Imitation Game. It would’ve been nice to see that spot go to somebody like Dan Gilroy, who created a thrilling and original gem with Nightcrawler.

Best Picture

Nominees: American SniperThe Theory of EverythingBoyhood...BirdmanThe Imitation GameSelmaWhiplashThe Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Will Win: Birdman
  • My personal choice: Birdman
  • Should’ve Been Nominated: Nightcrawler, Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year

The general consensus is that this category has come down to Boyhood vs Birdman. Those are the two that have stood out throughout the season, and certainly the two favorites, but I don’t think it’s that simple. In every other category, the Academy members each vote for a winner and whoever gets the most votes wins, it’s that simple. But in Best Picture, it works a little differently. I’ll explain…

  • Every member of the Academy ranks all nominees from first to worst. If a film has 50% of first place votes, it wins. But that hardly ever happens and SURELY won’t happen in a close race this year.
  • If no film has 50%, the film with the LOWEST number of first places votes is eliminated, and it’s votes are re-valued. (Let’s say that Whiplash gets the fewest first place votes, it’s eliminated and the SECOND place movie on all those ballots counts as a first now).
  • This keeps going until one movie gets 50% of the first places votes. In a year like this one, we could very well see FOUR movies “eliminated” before a winner is determined. Crazy.

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I think American Sniper is very much in the race due to its late momentum and gigantic box office haul. It’s the popular choice.

We’ve seen the Weinstein’s pull off bigger upsets than having The Imitation Game win.

The Grand Budapest Hotel could very well be in for the most total wins. It has plenty of support from different branches. It’s in the hunt.

As for Selma, I don’t think the Academy is “racist”, I think there’s a lot more love for the film than the nominations indicate. Selma had the bad luck of having most of its potential nominations landing in very competitive categories this year (Actor, Director, Cinematography, Costume Design, Sound Editing). Worse films than Selma have won best picture.

But, let’s assume it’s Boyhood vs Birdman. Remember, it’s important to think about what nominees will be at the bottom as well, seeing as those are the first that will be eliminated and have their votes altered. Here’s how I rank the films on number of initial 1st place votes I expect them to receive.

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. American Sniper
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Selma
  6. The Imitation Game
  7. The Theory of Everything
  8. Whiplash

After the top two, I feel that the next four are all pretty close (let’s assume The Theory of Everything and Whiplash are the clear bottom two), so I’d consider at them as a whole. The bottom two here are unlikely to have enough 1st place votes to have much of an impact, so I’ll move on to that group of four. Just judging by the films and their target audience, the people who voted for The Grand Budapest Hotel probably went with Birdman next, right? Seem obvious.

Academy_Award_trophyBut what about American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and Selma? You can’t just assume that their supporters are all blue-collar conservatives, british folk, and african-americans…respectively. And even if you were to assume that, would it mean anything? No, it wouldn’t. This is why we’re looking at the most unpredictable best picture race in years. The vegas odds are outrageous. If I was a gambling man, I’d seriously consider jumping on The Grand Budapest Hotel or American Sniper for the reward potential.

Ultimately, I’m going with Birdman because I feel that different branches of the Academy are going to show enough support for it to get to 50% first, specifically technical branches. It may have missed out on the editing nomination (which is a motherfucking unforgivable travesty by the way) but it has, without a doubt, more showy film artistry put into it than Boyhood. As an achievement in sound, in acting, in photography, in visual effects, etc….Birdman triumphs over Boyhood. That’s not a knock on Boyhood, it’s just not that type of film. This race WILL come down to the average industry insider who isn’t necessarily crazy about either film. There are more elements in Birdman for that average insider to get excited about.

Now, seeing as Birdman is my personal favorite film of the year, maybe I’m biased. But given some of the late-season awards it has won, and the Boyhood fatigue, it truly feels like Birdman is in position to win. With that being said, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, or American Sniper take home the top prize. And I wouldn’t write off The Imitation Game or Selma either.

Peace.

2015 Oscar Predictions (Final Predictions part 2 of 2)

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.

Best Actor

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.

Because I still haven't forgotten
Because I still haven’t forgotten

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.

Yes, that's actually Steve Carell
Yes, that’s actually Steve Carell

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.

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Actress

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…

Felicity Jones and co-star Eddie Redmayne
Felicity Jones and co-star Eddie Redmayne

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.

Could spoil…

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.

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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.

My fifth…

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.

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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.

Don't smoke crack
Don’t smoke crack

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)

Never leave us, Tilda Swinton
Never leave us, Tilda Swinton

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

2. Foxcatcher

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.

Chin game strong
Chin game strong

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Production Design

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel

2. Into the Woods

3. The Imitation Game

4. Birdman

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

2. Interstellar

3. The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

5. X-Men: Days of Future Past

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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

2. Godzilla

3. Interstellar

4. Birdman

5. Fury

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

3. Birdman

4. Guardians of the Galaxy

5. Unbroken

michael_bay_shia

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)

Rapper/Actor Common and his 'Just Wright' co-star Drake/Queen Latifah
Rapper/Actor Common and his ‘Just Wright’ co-star Drake/Queen Latifah

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.

wild-tales-il-poster-orizzontale-372037

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Documentary Feature

1. CITIZENFOUR

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.

2015 Oscar Predictions (Final Predictions part 1 of 2)

This is part 1 of my FINAL Oscar nominations predictions; where I’ll go through Best Picture, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography and the Screenplays. 

The acting categories, animated/foreign, and remaining technical awards will come in part 2 very soon.

We have all the critical reception and precursor information we need to actually make concrete predictions for what will be nominated for Oscars this year. Seeing as nominations will be announced Thursday morning, it’s probably time I get going. Here are part one of my predictions.

Remember, this isn’t what I think SHOULD be nominated. It’s what I think WILL be nominated based on the info I have from the media, industry insiders, and precursor awards.

Best Picture

Lock ’em in for a nomination…

1. Boyhood: Has dominated the precursors, critics awards, and guilds. The scope of the project and the universal love for Richard Linklater are bonuses. It’s been the frontrunner for a couple of months now, but a few films are gaining fast. The Globe for Best Drama was just the latest trophy for Boyhood, however, and it has to be considered the favorite as of now.

Poster-art-for-The-Imitation-Game_event_main2. The Imitation Game: Continues to have a great showing with the precursors, has done well at the box office, and will have the British vote on its side. The Weinsteins are pushing it hard, and we’ve seen them pull off surprise wins before (The Artist and The King’s Speech, anyone?) Read my review here.

3. Birdman: Came out early but has gotten all the helps from critics and precursors that it needed. Is a frontrunner in multiple other categories as well. Probably the greatest “artistic achievement” on the list and could easily walk home with the prize. Personally, it’s the best movie I saw in 2014.

Pretty safe bets…

4. The Grand Budapest HotelCame out sooooo early in the year but has been resurrected by nearly every precursor. Wes Anderson getting the Golden Globe nom as a director was huge, as was the film getting a BAFTA nom (Only other “American” films that did were Boyhood and Birdman). Both the NY and LA critics showed love as well. While none of the Globe voters are also Academy voters, the love for the film in evident by it winning Best Musical/Comedy at the Globes.

5. Selma: Missing the BAFTA hurt, and it was shut out by many guilds (but this has more to do with Paramount not sending out screeners). Still, it’s an acclaimed film coming out at the perfect time and should have a great box office showing in wide release (this weekend).

david-oyelowo-s-martin-luther-king-jr-leads-civil-rights-march-in-selma

6. The Theory of Everything: BAFTA nom confirms the British support, and it’s done fine with American guilds and precursors. It will get a lot of votes from the actors branch. Eddie Redmayne’s emergence as a legit contender to win Best Actor only helps.

Toss-ups, but my final 3 spots go to…

7. Foxcatcher: The early love has been realized again thanks to support from the Globes and SAG. There will be a lot of actors pulling for this, as Foxcatcher is performance showcase for three movie stars (Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo). Oh, it was also just really damn good, read my review here.

8. American Sniper: Despite the mixed critical reception, the film has set records in limited release. Its star (Bradley Cooper) and director (Clint Eastwood) are in the hunt in their races as well. The National Board of Review, the editors, and the producers guild all have fallen for it. In a year with plenty of “war” movies, it appears to be the best.

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9. Nightcrawler: The re-release helped it a lot. Many precursors and guilds have responded positively. It’s the “modern” choice and Jake Gyllenhaal has received so much acclaim that he alone can probably get the film a nomination.

Right in the thick of it, wouldn’t surprise me…

Gone Girl: The PGA nomination was big and it got nominated for pretty much every Golden Globe you can imagine. It’s the popular choice in the hunt this year and Rosamund Pike has kept it relevant with the acting branch. If I went with a 10th, this would be it.

Whiplash_posterWhiplash: Has surprised many by staying right in the hunt thanks to great showings at most precursors and guild awards. It’s the frontrunner for Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) and looks more and more like a good bet in editing, which is a very telling category. Ultimately, I think other films are louder though.

Still (kind of) in the hunt…

Unbroken, A Most Violent Year, Mr. Turner, Into the Woods, Interstellar

While it’s had a nice box office showing, Unbroken just hasn’t gotten the acclaim or industry love necessary, same goes for Interstellar and Into the Woods. All three are likely to factor heavily into technical categories though, which keeps them in the hunt. A Most Violent Year and Mr. Turner have already developed cult followings which should get them a few first place votes, but ultimately, I think they’re just too small in a year where a lot of contenders have had surprisingly big showings.

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Director (updated after DGA)

Locks…

1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood): He’s been snubbed many times in the past. Boyhood is the Best Picture frontrunner, and it really is his vision. He’s dominated precursors. Appears to be the heavy favorite.

2. Alejandro González Iñárittu (Birdman): There’s so much love for different elements of Birdman that he has to get nominated. Golden Globe nom confirmed that people recognize him. Unfortunately for Iñárittu, Linklater chose to make Boyhood a 12 year film instead of 11 or 13.

My finals three spots…

3. Clint Eastwood (American Sniper): Winning best director from The National Board of Review put him on the map and the film has gained a ton of steam in limited release. The Academy LOVES Eastwood. We’ve seen him get nominated for much worse before. DGA nom helps.

4. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game): The film figures to be such a huge player that many are considering Tyldum a shoe-in, but I’m not going to go that far. It could end up being more about the technical aspects and performances, and he’s simply not a big name compared to others in the mix. But he got the DGA nom over DuVernay, which is HUGE.

'Selma' director Ava DuVernay at Sundance
‘Selma’ director Ava DuVernay at Sundance

5. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel): He’s gotten a lot of love from precursors (the Globe nom was HUGE), and he’s somehow never been nominated in this category before. He’s certainly on the bubble, but I’m going with him. Obviously needs the film to get a Best Picture nom, but that shouldn’t be a problem. DGA nom helps

Very much in the hunt for those finals three spots…

Ava DuVernay (Selma): If they go heavy on Selma, which I think they will, she’s in the mix. DuVernay does a very nice job handling the key scenes in the film. She would be the first woman of color to ever receive a directing nomination. A lot of people are rooting for her. But she missed out on the DGA nom which is a killer and there have been lot of accusations of the film being inaccurate which she has responded to in a not-so-friendly manner.

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher): A previous nominee who’s film should be a big player, but the real-life subject of his film has went on a social media tirade bashing Miller, which could hurt. If I was picking five based on personal preference, he’d make the cut.

'Gone Girl' director David Fincher
‘Gone Girl’ director David Fincher

David Fincher (Gone Girl): Has been snubbed before and he got the Globe nom. He needs Gone Girl to make an impact in picture. Being the biggest name in the hunt other than Eastwood certainly helps him.

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash): This appears to be the tiny indie that everyone loves this year. If it scores in picture, editing, and screenplay, he has a shot. But this is a category that prefers to award veterans.

Long-shots…

James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler), Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), Angelina Jolie (Unbroken), Rob Marshall (Into the Woods), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year), Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice).

Just because The Theory of Everything figures to get a Best Picture nom doesn’t mean its director will follow suit. Jolie and Marshall haven’t gotten the acclaim they needed despite their fame. Chandor and Gilroy are probably not big enough names yet. PTA and Mike Leigh garner much respect from the industry but their films don’t figure to make much of an Oscar impact.

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Film Editing

The predicted five…

1. Douglas Crise (Birdman): The editing certainly helps the film pull off it’s “one shot” gimmick. It’s also a Best Picture frontrunner.

2. William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game): The tight editing allows The Imitation Game to raise the tension up a notch and jump through timelines. Goldenberg is a huge name in the field.

3. Sandra Adair (Boyhood): Favorite to win Best Picture. Adair is receiving a lot of praise for cutting all of this footage together.

'Boyhood' editor Sandra Adair
‘Boyhood’ editor Sandra Adair

4. Spencer Averick (Selma): Some truly marvelous work during the actual march sequences. But he needs a ton of love for the film as a whole due to there being a plethora of contenders.

5. Tom Cross (Whiplash): After J.K. Simmons’ performance, the editing is what people talk about in Whiplash. If it gets a Best Picture nom, this one should be almost automatic.

Right in the hunt…

Kirk Baxter (Gone Girl), Joel Cox and Gary Roach (American Sniper), John Gilroy (Nightcrawler), William Goldenberg and Tim Squryes (Unbroken), Lee Smith (Interstellar), Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Kirk Baxter could easily get a nomination and possibly even win.

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Cinematography

The predicted five…

1. Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman): He won last year for Gravity and his work here is probably even more impressive. It’s one of the many things you notice about the film.

A particularly memorable moment from 'Birdman'
A particularly memorable moment from ‘Birdman’

2. Roger Deakins (Unbroken): Possibly the biggest DP in the game and he’s never won before. Unbroken isn’t getting a ton of love, but the photography in it is.

3. Dick Pope (Mr. Turner): The film will be represented somewhere and this appears to be its best chance.

4. Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel): Some great work here and The Grand Budapest Hotel continues to pick up overall momentum which should make it a homerun in the technical categories.

5. Óscar Faura (The Imitation Game): Personally, I think it was typical period piece photography that got annoying at times. But The Imitation Game is a threat in essentially every category.

Right in the hunt:

Bradford Young (Selma/A Most Violent Year), Benoit Delhomme (The Theory of Everything), Robert Elswit (Nightcrawler/Inherent Vice), Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar), Tom Stern (American Sniper)

Both Bradford Young and Robert Elswit might split votes with themselves. If I had to pick one dude in this group to crack the top five, it’d be Delhomme for The Theory of Everything.

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Original Screenplay

The predicted five…

1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood): The scope of the project alone makes is a safe bet for a nomination. It’s the Best Picture favorite.

2. Alejandro González Iñárittu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman): The script, which is all over the internet, is an absolute marvel that lays the groundwork for the films unique visual story telling. It’s also very funny. It’s a shoe-in  

3. Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel): Another shoe-in. Anderson has gotten love from the writers branch before and this is probably his most intricate story yet.

tumblr_n4754ttiqm1re36q7o1_500

4. Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler): Gilroy has a MUCH better shot here than in director, due to name recognition. The script has been cited by critics, guilds, and precursors. It’s a modern idea.

5. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher): FAR from a lock, as Webb or Leigh could easily grab the last spot. Futterman was nominated before for Capote, another Bennett Miller movie.

Right in the hunt…

Paul Webb (Selma), Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year), Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The LEGO Movie), Chris Rock (Top Five)

As a I mentioned, both Paul Webb and Mike Leigh could easily grab one of the last two spots. Selma figures to a major player an despite some of the alleged inaccuracies in the script, it could get swept in. Mike Leigh is a respected veteran. Lord & Miller actually won this award from the NBR, so I wouldn’t count them out. Animated films have made an impact in writing categories before.

 ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦      ♦

Best Adapted Screenplay

The predicted five…

1. Graham Moore (The Imitation Game): Sat on the “Black List” for a couple of years and has been the frontrunner here from the start.

2. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash): At the last minute, it was deemed adapted instead of original, which could cost it votes. But it’d be a frontrunner if it had be seen sitting in this category all year. Note: VERY weak year for Adapted Screenplay.

3. Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl): The fact that she also wrote the book only drives the narrative, and again, it’s a weak year. Would be a crowd-pleasing selection.

4. Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything): Probably a lock for a nomination in a weak year due to the overall expected impact of the film.

God himself aka Paul Thomas Anderson
God himself aka Paul Thomas Anderson

5. Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice): It’s be quite a story if a PTA movie got NO nominations, despite the almost nonexistent buzz surrounding Inherent Vice. But he adapted Pynchon, and won this from the NBR. I’ll give him the final spot.

Right in the hunt…

Jason Hall (American Sniper), Nick Hornby (Wild), James Lapine (Into the Woods), The Coen Bros/William Nicholson/Richard LaGravenese (Unbroken), James Gunn and Nicole Pearlman (Guardians of the Galaxy)

Hornby and Hall are both very much in the hunt despite heavy criticism of both their work. Guardians of the Galaxy is obviously a long-shot (and a pipe-dream for me), but not as much as you think. The WGA nominated it in hits category. It should have some support from the branch. I, however, don’t have the balls to throw it in the top five.

Check back tomorrow for my picks in the acting categories, foreign/animated, musical categories, and remaining technical categories.

2015 Oscar Predictions (Best Supporting Actor and Actress)

These are always the most interesting categories for me. Supporting characters can be hilarious, weird, and completely unrealistic without ruining the overall feel of a film. That is why the most eccentric parts are usually supporting parts. I love nothing more than seeing an A-lister dive into some weird part just for the hell of it and ending up with an Oscar for it. Both these races have their frontrunners but are still up in the air to an extent. It’s also anybody’s guess who grabs the last few slots.

Check the archives for other predictions.

Let’s start with the men, because Jared Leto is a man (I think), and damnit Jared Leto is awesome.

And the predicted nominees are…

1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Simmons emerged as the frontrunner long ago and his recent victories from a few critics awards have only elevated his status. This really the perfect role for him, an intimidating music teacher. This is also a category that loves to awards veterans in semi-comedic roles. J.K. Simmons has stolen all the headlines from Whiplash that many thought would go to Miles Teller.

Simmons has never been nominated.

J.K. Simmons in 'Whiplash'
J.K. Simmons in ‘Whiplash’

2. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

Ethan Hawke has been in the race from the start and the Academy going all-in on Boyhood may be the only thing that can prevent Simmons from winning. Hawke has been nominated a couple of times for writing and was also a nominee in this category for Training Day.

He seems to be a safe bet for a nomination but the individual buzz around Boyhood is mostly for its director and Patricia Arquette (we’ll get to her in a second). This is probably too quiet of a role to win an Oscar with.

3. Edward Norton (Birdman)

The NBR giving this to Norton only confirmed what everyone was already speculating, that he is a real contender in this category. He was outstanding in Birdman, and he’s playing an actor, which likely helps his chances with that branch.

Norton has two nominations, for Primal Fear and American History X. The only thing standing in his way of actually winning is J.K. Simmons.

4. Tom Wilkinson (Selma)

Wilkinson, a two-time nominee, plays Lyndon B. Johnson in Selma. Playing a president is a surefire nomination if you nail the little mannerisms and big speeches (which Wilkinson apparently does). However, Wilkinson is far from a sure thing though as the critics awards have been ignoring him despite going heavy on Selma.

5. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

mark
Mark Ruffalo in ‘Foxcatcher’

The entire Foxcatcher cast, Ruffalo included, is being praised and thrown into awards talk. Something to look out for is Sony campaigning Carell for supporting (only announcement is that Tatum is definitely in lead). If that happens, Carell will surely steal votes from Ruffalo and vice versa. Many critics at Cannes singled out Ruffalo’s performance as the best in the film, despite the other two being a little more juicy on paper.

UPDATE: Sony doesn’t appear to be campaigning Carell for supporting, good news for Ruffalo.

Ruffalo has one nomination in supporting, for The Kids are All Right. The SAG and Globe nominations he just received are huge for his Oscar chances.

Didn’t make the cut this time…

6. Robert Duvall (The Judge)

He’s a legend and he’s supposedly pretty good here but the movie just did soooooo bad, both critically and commercially, that it’s hard to see anything from it receiving a nomination. Warners will be pushing him hard as he is their only real horse in any race this year, and he got the SAG nomination, which keeps him in the hunt.

7. Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes)

Waltz has won two Oscars recently and has become much more recognizable to Americans, therefore he’s always in the hunt. Most don’t see Big Eyes making a huge awards impact, though, Waltz has been heralded as the best part of the film.

8. Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)

This a perfect role for Josh Brolin. I won’t give anything away beyond that. I’ve said it in all these predictions; Inherent Vice might be too weird for the Academy, but if it lands with them, Brolin will surely be swept in.

Brolin was nominated once in this category before (Milk).

9. Miyavi (Unbroken)

He’s apparently a scene-stealer as the main antagonist, but he’s a relative nobody in a category that loves rewarding veterans. Also, the film is receiving mixed early responses overall. He’ll need it to make a strong overall impact to have a chance.

Miyavi in 'Unbroken'
Miyavi in ‘Unbroken’

10. Tim Roth (Selma)

Roth’s only nomination was in 1995 for Rob Roy. He’s playing real-life villain George Wallace in Selma. The problem: any Selma votes in this category are probably going to go Wilkinson.

11. Chris Pine (Into the Woods)

Early word is that he’s a scene-stealer and knocks it out of the park in every regard. He’s obviously a big star at the moment and he’s found a nice balance of franchises and personal passion projects (check out Stretch). He’s highly unlikely to crack the top five, however.

12. Andy Serkis (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)

Won’t get nominated. But he’s the best at what he does in the business. He’s deserving.

Now for the ladies.

And the predicted nominees are…

1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

There is a plethora of quality candidates in this category this year, but Arquette seems to be running away with this one. She’s been winning all the critics awards and whenever anyone points to the acting in Boyhood, she’s the first name they bring up. She’s a shoe-in for a nomination and a very good bet to win unless one of the ladies below here can grab some late momentum via SAG or the Globes.

Arquette has never been nominated before.

2. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

Other than Cumberbatch, she’s the most notable part of the film. She’s had a lot of good press over the last few months, got a SAG nomination, and has had a big year altogether with another acclaimed performance in Laggies and an appearance in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

There’s concern that she could split votes with herself due to Laggies, but I don’t think that movie is going to even be sent to voters. Knightley was nominated once before (Pride and Prejudice).

3. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

Chastain at Cannes
Chastain at Cannes

Chastain has also had a big year and continues to be a growing force in Hollywood. She missed out on the SAG nomination but that may very be because people just haven’t seen A Most Violent Year yet. Along with co-star Oscar Isaac, she’s receiving loads of critical praise for her turn. Most importantly, the Academy has proven that they like her.

Chastain is a two-time nominee for The Help and Zero Dark Thirty.

4. Emma Stone (Birdman)

This was just a great performance by her that required her to step way out of her comfort zone. She nailed it. Stone is really starting to gain respect as a young actress: her next two projects are Cameron Crowe and Woody Allen films, and she got the SAG nomination.

While Birdman might be more about the men and technical achievements, Stone seems like a pretty safe bet to score a nomination.

5. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

A wild card along with the rest of Into the Woods, but early word is that she steals the show.

Oh yeah, she’s sort of a big deal, too. Streep is the Academy’s favorite actress. She has EIGHTEEN nominations; her first being in 1978 for The Deer Hunter, her most recent being in 2013 for August: Osage County. She’s won three times (Kramer vs Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, and The Iron Lady).

Didn’t make the cut this time…

6. Laura Dern (Wild)

She plays a small part in a small film that is likely going to be all about Reese Witherspoon. But the reviews for her have been so good and there isn’t a ton of competition here after the top four or five.

She was nominated for best actress at the age of 24 in 1992 for Rambling Rose.

7. Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)

She’s growing in popularity thanks to The Leftovers and she steals scenes in Gone Girl. She’s not just comedic relief, either. The movies popularity keeps her in the hunt, though her co-star Kim Dickens could steal a few votes from her in this category.

Coon lecturing Batman
Coon lecturing Batman

8. Carmen Ejogo (Selma)

Obviously, giving an acclaimed turn as Coretta Scott King puts her in the hunt. But she’s a much smaller name than everyone else here and Selma might make most of its awards bones outside of the acting categories.

9. Kristen Stewart (Still Alice)

Stewart has proved to people that she can actually act and she’s apparently great in Still Alice, though the movies only buzz is about Julianne Moore’s turn. She’ll likely have to prove herself as a serious actress even more before she has much of a chance at a nomination.

10. Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

Swinton won this award for Michael Clayton and every performance she gives gets a lot of praise. She’s insane in Snowpiercer. Just a crazy physical and emotional turn. But it doesn’t seem like the film is going to get much, if any, awards attention.

11. Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice)

As a reader of the book, I can confirm this is a great role, and she’s apparently great in it. But there are much bigger names in the hunt and in her own film.

12. Dorothy Atkinson (Mr. Turner)

A very emotional role but will enough people see it and does anybody know who she is?

 

2015 Oscar Predictions (Best Actress) or…Julianne Moore appreciation day

While the Best Actor race is a dogfight littered with worthy candidates, the Best Actress race continues to seem more like Juliane Moore vs. The Field. The general consensus (amongst critics, awards predictors, everyone, etc.) is that Moore is the heavy favorite to walk home with the award. I’m not going to play devil’s advocate. She’s a great actress in a weak year with a killer role (cognitive psychologist diagnosed with Alzheimer’s). She should be the heavy favorite even without bringing up the fact that JULIANNE MOORE HAS NEVER WON AN OSCAR.

We’ll get into that in a second. Below you can find links to my too-early predictions in other categories.

Best Picture predictions here.

Best Director and Best Film Editing predictions here.

Best Actor here.

 For now, let’s focus on the leading ladies.

And the predicted nominees are…

1. Juliane Moore (Still Alice)

Okay, back to Julianne Moore. I wasn’t joking. She’s never won an Oscar. Even more so than Joaquin Phoenix never having won, this infuriates me. Jennifer Lawrence is 24 with three nominations and a win. Meryl Streep has more nominations than “Pro Athlete X” has kids (she’s got three wins too). Can somebody donate an Oscar to Moore, who at 54 years old, has established herself as one of the greatest and without a doubt the most versatile actress of her generation?

Moore has been nominated four times: twice in supporting (for Boogie Nights and The Hours), and twice in lead (for The End of the Affair and Far from Heaven).  Moore should’ve won for The Hours but that was the year of Chicago where people thought it was actually okay to give Catherine Zeta-Jones an Oscar. What a joke. Far from Heaven got Moore a nomination in lead THAT SAME YEAR but she lost that one to her co-star in The Hours, Nicole Kidman.

Maybe that paragraph was confusing, I’ll clear it up. Juliane Moore was nominated twice in the same year but lost to the girl from Zorro and the lady who used to be married to Tom Cruise; while outshining the lady who used to be married to Tom Cruise in the same movie that said lady won for. This was all about a year after that lady and Tom Cruise got divorced. My head hurts.

And let’s not forget Boogie Nights; where she gave one of the sexiest, most complex, and thoroughly-heartbreaking supporting turns in the history of cinema. I can’t think of another actress on the planet who could’ve pulled off that role. She had to:

A) Do a surprisingly intimate sex scene with a young Mark Wahlberg and deliver this line without laughing⇓.

moore gif

B) Provide motherly consolation to Wahlberg and Heather Graham throughout the movie.

C) Ground the ego of Burt Reynolds Burt Reynolds’ character.

D) Make us root for her to get her kid back.

D) Do all of the above while never letting us forget that she is a coked-out crazy woman.

A+ performance by Julianne Moore. They should give her two Oscars this year and let her speak for twice as long.

As for actual analysis, I haven’t seen Still Alice, but it’s hers to lose for now. She’s a big name having a big year (was also in the Hunger Games), it’s a meaty role, and she’s long overdue. Seems like a no-brainer.

2. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

A previous winner (in supporting for Walk The Line), Reese Witherspoon has experienced a bit of a comeback thanks to a good turn in Mud as well as the buzz surrounding Wild and Inherent Vice. Her performance here garnered a ton of acclaim on the festival circuit and while there are concerns about enough voters actually seeing Wild, Witherspoon is a big enough name that it should be seen by enough of the acting branch to score her a nomination.

Witherspoon, as well as Moore and #’s 3/4 on this list, seems to be a safe bet.

3. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

Jones at the Spidey premiere.
Jones at the Spidey premiere.

Felicity Jones had an as good of, if not a better, chance of scoring a nomination for The Theory of Everything than her co-star Eddie Redmayne. She’s the new big thing, the girl everyone is talking about, this years Lupita Nyong’o. The British vote is always a very powerful factor with the Oscars and she’ll certainly appeal to those voters. Also, Jones is supposed to be outstanding here as Jane Wilde Hawking.

Given the weak year, Jones’ growing star power, and the British factor….she’s a shoe-in.

4. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

I have a laundry list of complaints about Gone Girl, but Rosamund Pike is not one of them. She was absolutely captivating as “Amazing Amy”. Every scene she walked through felt as if it was being manipulated by her presence, even before the story unfolded. Pike was the standout performer in this movie, and that seems to be the general consensus.

One of the most famous actresses in England, Gone Girl should elevate Pike’s status beyond “the Bond girl in the crappy Bond movie” in the eyes of Hollywood movie-goers.

5. Emily Blunt (Into the Woods)

Into the Woods is this years awards season wildcard and Blunt’s turn (which is technically a lead) has a chance to be swept in if the entire project resonates. We’ve seen the “singing thing” work out great for actresses and actors in the past, and frankly, it’s time Emily Blunt gets some damn credit for something. She’s never been nominated for an Oscar and she’s having a very good year thanks to Edge of Tomorrow.

emily-blunt-captain-marvel-movie-casting-interview

Blunt’s screentime could hold her back, as could some names below that are more “due” for an Oscar, but other than the top four, she’s got as good a chance as anyone.

Didn’t make the cut this time around…

6. Jennifer Aniston (Cake)

Ever since Cake premiered at Toronto there’s been talk of Jennifer Aniston getting a nomination. That has remained just talk, as Aniston hasn’t been cited by critics guilds and the film hasn’t made any sort of impact. It’s a very small project that surely won’t be up first in a stack of films an awards voter receives.

Also, are people ready to take Aniston seriously as a dramatic actress? I’m not. It’s going to be hard for her to campaign here while Horrible Bosses 2 is in theaters and with the sour taste of We’re the Millers still in everybody’s mouth. But she’s a star giving an acclaimed performance, so she’s in the hunt.

7. Hilary Swank (The Homesman)

As a two-time winner (for Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby), we know the academy respects her. This is another one of those “woman not sticking to the confines of what we think womanhood is” roles that feel like they were written for Swank. The Homesman (directed by Tommy Lee Jones aka the original smiley face emoji) received a ton of praise at Cannes, specifically for Swank’s performance.

She’s in the hunt as always but I unfortunately confirm rumors that she has agreed to star in the upcoming Kyle Korver biopic.

Miltonious-blog-Kyle-Korver-Hilary-Swank

8. Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle)

This performance has received a lot of hype and British period pieces are always great for actresses. But I have two questions:

1) How many voters have/will see this movie?

2) Who the hell is Gugu Mbatha-Raw?

It’s probably just not her time yet and this probably isn’t the movie to catapult her to superstardom. Though, if there was ever a year for a complete shocker in this category, it’s this year.

9. Shailene Woodley (The Fault in Our Stars)

Woodley, who probably should’ve been nominated for The Descendants, is an actress who will likely go on to a whole slew of nominations. You just wonder if they’re ready yet, and if this is the right project. The Fault in Our Stars is a tear-jerker, albeit one that is apparently skillfully made with outstanding performances. But usually, this isn’t the kind of movie that gets any nominations.

Woodley may have to wait. If they weren’t going to nominate her for The Spectacular Now, I can’t see what would compel them to nominate this turn.

10. Amy Adams (Big Eyes)

Amy “5 Nominations, 0 Wins” Adams always has a chance (though I think she really only has 4 nominations, I credit her cleavage with the American Hustle nom). They love her. One of the big stories surrounding last years show is that she has never won, and that story will continue whether or not she’s nominated for Big Eyes. She’ll have a ton of people pulling for her.

Amy Adams is a younger Julianne Moore!

But nobody’s seen Big Eyes. There is concern that it might be bad, and maybe they’re getting tired of nominating Adams. Make her earn it.

11. Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night/The Immigrant)

Choose one of the two acclaimed Marion Cotillard performances above and that can be what you yell about when she’s left out. She won this award seven years ago for her turn in La Vie en Rose.

Next up for Cotillard: she’ll be playing Lady Macbeth opposite Michael “never plays nice guys” Fassbender.

Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix in 'The Immigrant'
Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix in ‘The Immigrant’

12. Jessica Chastain (The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby)

This two-time nominee was an early favorite but the entire three-film did not do very well and has been forgotten. Her best chance is likely in supporting for A Most Violent Year. Chastain is currently shooting The Martian, a Ridley Scott-helmed sci-fi epic that also stars Matt Damon.

13. Jenny Slate (Obvious Child)

She’s hilarious and the film is supposed to awesome. But Slate will likely have to settle for a nomination in the comedy category at the Golden Globes.

Next I’ll be going through Best Supporting Actor & Actress, which are always fun categories.

2015 Oscar Predictions (Best Actor)

Many awards-themed sites and blogs are calling this the most competitive Best Actor race ever. I’m not going to go that far, but there are certainly a slew of deserving candidates. I count as many 20. Some of them A-list stars, some of them old dudes, some of them newcomers.

This will be a long one so let’s skip the foreplay and get right into it. As always, ordered from best chance to worst chance at being nominated.

And the predicted nominees are…

1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)

A shoe-in for a nomination. Keaton’s return to glory, like his characters, is the comeback of the decade. There’s a real “Travolta in Pulp Fiction” thing going on here. But Keaton’s turn is much more layered and sympathetic than Travolta’s, giving him a shot at winning. So many people were so great in Birdman but Keaton is never overshadowed and topped them all. It’s his movie.

Keaton has never been nominated before, which is a shame because he was tremendous in Jackie Brown and My Life. We’ve seen other former-Batmen like Christian Bale and George Clooney grab Oscar glory; Keaton has a great shot at doing the same. His performance here is one for the ages. Up next for Keaton is some voice acting for the Despicable Me spinoff about the minions.

2. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

benedict
Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘The Imitation Game’

Cumberbatch has become an A-list star, and more importantly, an A-list star with legit acting chops. He has a chance to carry The Imitation Game to awards season glory. Cumberbatch is great in everything he’s been in but he’s never been asked to give a performance like this. It’s a juicy role.

He’s a shoe-in, and could easily become the clear favorite once The Imitation Game gets a wide release (Christmas) and people actually see it. Cumberbatch’s star will continue to rise, and he’s reportedly joining the Marvel team as Dr. Strange. Though, Cumberbatch himself said to “Tell the fanboys it’s still just a rumor.”

UPDATE: Since I started this yesterday he has OFFICIALLY been cast as Dr. Strange.

3. David Oyelowo (Selma)

Playing MLK is obviously Oscar bait, but by all accounts, Oyelowo completely dives into the role and is truly the best part of the movie. He’s been on the rise for a minute now, and this role will push him into stardom. Selma figures to make a ton of noise and unless it disappoints greatly, I can’t see Oyelowo being bumped. He’s the third and final shoe-in.

Selma caps a great year for Oyelowo, who also appeared in A Most Violent Year and Interstellar.

4. Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year)

Man-crush, commence. Oscar Isaac is the fucking man and it’s a travesty he wasn’t nominated for Inside Llewyn Davis last year. He’s apparently even better in A Most Violent Year, and the speech he gives his employees that leaked on the internet has “Oscar scene” written all over it (reminds me of Daniel Day-Lewis’ speech to the town early on in There Will Be Blood). This is a stacked category this year, so the fact that his movie is small and he hasn’t completely blown up yet may get him bumped. But these last two slots are wide open, and I’m betting on Isaac, who split the award with Keaton from the NBR.

Isaac will star opposite Mark Wahlberg in the upcoming thriller Mojave, and he’ll also play the title villain in X-Men: Apocalypse.

Oh, I almost forgot, he’s in FUCKING STAR WARS. The Academy might want to reward this great actor now before he becomes too famous and awesome for them. The next 10 years will be a 3-way between Chris Pratt, Channing Tatum, and Oscar Isaac for biggest star on the planet. Whoops, I said “3-way”. I meant “3-way battle”. I need to stop now.

aaa

5. Jake Gylenhaal (Nightcrawler)

I’m giving the last spot to Gylenhaal, who has gone from a crappy actor to a solid actor back to a crappy actor and finally to a tremendous actor. I think the Academy will need to reward Nightcrawler in some way. He’s also probably the biggest current star in this top five, and that never hurts. All the reviews for Nightcrawler say it’s the best work Gylenhaal has ever turned in. I still like Bubble Boy, but that’s just my opinion. Like Isaac, Gylenhaal could easily be bumped in favor of most of the guys listed below.

Up next for Gylenhaal is a Mt. Everest movie that was shot in 3D and the boxing movie Southpaw, a part that was originally offered to Eminem of all people. Gylenhaal is a previous nominee (in supporting) for Brokeback Mountain.

Didn’t make the cut this time around…

6. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Redmayne is apparently outstanding as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He could easily crack the top five as most expect him to. Playing real-life figures, especially ones with physical or mental disabilities, is Oscar bait (not being insensitive, it’s a fact). I just have a strange feeling that due to its early release and moderate reception, the film might have a rough morning when nominations are announced.

Redmayne will appear alongside Channing Tatum and Mila Kunis in the space epic Jupiter Ascending.

7. Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)

Spall is a veteran actor who has never been nominated before and is apparently the best part of Mr. Turner. But in a tough year, the film may prove to be too small to get him in the top five, though he did win the award at Cannes.

8. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

The funny man transformed himself physically and emotionally to step into the shoes of John du Pont, a paranoid-schizophrenic/billionaire/wrestling aficionado who murders Olympic champion Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo), brother of champion Mark (Channing Tatum). An A-lister in this type of role is always going to be a contender, but I’m worried about Carell splitting votes with Tatum, who apparently turns in a career best performance and also is being campaigned as a lead by Sony.

Carell looking creepy in 'Foxcatcher'
Carell looking creepy in ‘Foxcatcher’

Many, including myself, feel Carell was snubbed for his supporting turn in Little Miss Sunshine.

9. Jack O’Connell (Unbroken)

O’Connell is a young actor on the rise. He’s 24 years old and won acclaim for his starring role on Skins (the not-shitty British version). His role in Unbroken, as Olympic champion turned plane crash survivor turned POW, is a good one. But there are some legitimate concerns that the film isn’t really that great and will be more of a technical showcase than anything. Also, 24 is an incredibly young age to score a nomination at in this category. They may want to make him prove it.

10. Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)

Bradley Cooper is one of the new A-listers that the Academy has warmed up to. He’s coming off back-to-back nominations for Silver Linings Playbook (lead) and American Hustle (supporting). He’s one of the most recognizable names/voices in the game thanks to The Hangover series and Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s also the best part of American Sniper, according to word from AFI fest, and we’ve seen Eastwood work wonders for actors before even if the film isn’t all that good (Invictus scored nominations for both Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon). But if this film struggles to make an impact in other categories, it’s hard to see Cooper making it three nominations in a row.

11. Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher)

Tatum has now shown through multiple films his ability to function as an action star, funny guy, and serious dramatic actor. Foxcatcher could be his coming out party, as many are citing him, not Carell or Ruffalo, as the best actor in the movie. Regardless, he’s likely to split votes with his co-star. I don’t think either of them get in, but if one does, I’d bet on Carell because he’s more “due”.

Tatum will be playing a volatile actor in the next Coen Bros movie, so maybe he’ll be back in the hunt sooner than we think.

12. Bill Murray (St. Vincent)

IMO Murray should've been the next Batman
IMO Murray should’ve been the next Batman

We all love Bill Murray, and he’s outstanding in St. Vincent, but a Golden Globe in the comedy/musical category seems more realistic. The Weinstein Company is pushing this one though, and it’s done well at the box office as well as winning the people’s choice award at Toronto. Murray has been nominated in this category before (Lost in Translation).

13. Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood)

This is not a conventional performance and he’s obviously very young (still just 20) but there is so much love for the film that he could be swept in, though most of that love is being pointed in directions other than that of the cast. He’ll HAVE to get the SAG nomination. Boyhood could ultimately function as his breakthrough role if he goes on to great things.

14. Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

It’s a comedic role, which makes it very tough unless you’re in supporting. The film also came out very early. But he’s Ralph Fiennes, a two-time nominee (Schindler’s List and The English Patient) who’s unforgivably been ignored by the Academy since the mid-90’s.

The End of the Affair, The Constant Gardener, The Duchess…just some of Fiennes’ turns that were worthy of nominations.

15. Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar)

I actually thought McConaughey was the best part of Interstellar. The scene were he breaks down while seeing his daughter on the screen, for the first time in what is really 20 something years on earth but feels like a few days to him, contains as good of acting as any single moment I’ve seen this year. Interstellar falls apart completely (which it really almost did) if it wasn’t for the audience’s emotional investment in McConaughey’s character. That credit goes to him, not Nolan.

We’re all aware of the “McConaissance”; how thanks to Dallas Buyers Club and True Detective, the pretty-boy formerly known for How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days has become one of the most widely-respected dramatic actors in the business. He’s in the hunt, but it’s a long-shot. If Interstellar makes any awards impact, it’s unlikely to be via the acting categories.

aa gif

16. Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice)

You could argue, and by that I mean I would argue, that this 3-time nominee (Gladiator, Walk the Line, The Master) was snubbed last year for his subtle yet heartbreaking turn in Her. His role in Inherent Vice, a weeded-out private detective bouncing around early-70’s L.A., is a juicy one. After mixed word out of the NYFF, I think Inherent Vice might ultimately struggled at the Oscars because it really is a stoner comedy before anything else. Paul Thomas Anderson is a great director of actors and if the Academy likes the movie as a whole, Phoenix would probably jump up 10 spots on this list and will be thrown right into the hunt.

Side note: everyone always loves to complain about the fact that Leonardo Dicaprio has never won an Oscar. You know what’s an even bigger travesty? JOAQUIN PHOENIX NEVER HAVING WON ONE. By his own doing, he’s not the recognizable star Dicaprio is. But he’s every bit (and more) the dramatic actor.

For Gladiator, Phoenix lost to Benicio del Toro in Traffic (frustrating but understandable). For Walk the Line he lost to Phillip Seymour Hoffman in Capote. (100% understandable). For The Master he lost to Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln (frustrating but extremely predictable). Phoenix has had the bad luck of turning in his best performances in years where a veteran actor gives a more Oscar-friendly turn.

17. Miles Teller (Whiplash)

I think Miles Teller is incredibly over-rated but the word around his performance in Whiplash is very positive, even if it’s overshadowed by J.K. Simmons’ supporting turn. We will see if Teller develops into the sort of actor who is in the hunt whenever he does a movie. It’s too early and too tough a year for his chances to be taken seriously.

18. Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up)

Here’s a guy that nobody is talking about in this category but should be. He absolutely NAILED his turn as James Brown, in the same way Phoenix did his turn as Johnny Cash. I was surprised that Get On Up didn’t make more of an impact critically or commercially. I loved it. Boseman is, obviously, a star on the rise. He’ll also be joining the Marvel team as Black Panther.

19. Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 12.48.27 PMI can confirm reports that the Bat-dong did make an appearance in Gone Girl. I can also confirm reports that Affleck was very good in the movie despite the fact the he seems to be the only one in the cast not receiving a ton of praise. He’s obviously a long-shot, but if Gone Girl is the popular film that the Academy chooses to embrace this year, it’s not completely out of the question. We know the Academy respects him.

20. Chris Rock (Top Five)

Another long-shot, but early word out of Toronto was great and he gets bonus points for also writing and directing the movie. It goes wide in one week and will need a major commercial push to stand a chance in any category.

21. John Lithgow (Love is Strange)

This is a very small film but Lithgow is reportedly great. However, Sony doesn’t seem to be too intent on putting it on screens or campaigning it for awards.

22. Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins)

This years surprise hit at Sundance, I think The Skeleton Twins could’ve made an impact if a better/bigger company had picked it up for distribution. Roadside Attractions seems to be more focused on the film listed below than anything.

23. Phillip Seymour Hoffman (A Most Wanted Man)

Yes, it’s Hoffman’s last role. Yes, it’s a long shot. But A Most Wanted Man actually supposed to be great (as is his turn) and it’s making a strong impact in limited release.

24. Tom Hardy (Locke)

No chance. I just wanted to post a picture of Tom Hardy kissing a puppy.

TomHardy-672x372

25. Chris Evans (Snowpiercer)

No chance, but he should have a chance. Playing Captain America probably eliminates Evans from any Oscar-consideration, because apparently, bringing new life to a classic character and entertaining hundreds of millions doesn’t qualify as “art”. But he was outstanding in Snowpiercer. One particular speech at the end is as good of an “Oscar scene” as there is this year.

 

Next we’ll be looking at Best Actress, which unlike this category, is considered to be a rather weak group this year.