It’s officially Oscar day, and you know what that means: It’s time to predict the winners of the 87th Academy Awards! Here are my picks, as well as a bit of insight into why I chose the films I did and which movies I think should win instead.
I promise to keep the complaining about The LEGO Movie’s snub to a minimum…
The Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
This is a tough call, because all of the nominees, with the exception of American Sniper (a movie I hated) could stand to win in any other year. But, over the past few months only two films have really been in the conversation: Birdman and Boyhood.
Of the two, I think Birdman will take home the top prize. Boyhood earned a ton of praise and momentum when it came out in the summer, but Birdman continues to snag awards from the various Hollywood guilds, most notably the PGA. I personally liked Birdman more, though Boyhood may be more of a technical achievement. But, that’s what they invented the technical categories for, and I think Linklater’s impressive opus stands a better chance of dominating there than in winning the night.
I would absolutely love to see something like Grand Budapest or Whiplash – two of my favorite films of the year – surprise us all and take the Oscar, but that’s a long shot.
The Nominees: Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Bennet Miller (Foxcatcher), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
Like the Best Picture category, this is really a two man race between Linklater and González Iñárritu, who directed two of the most impressive and resonating films of the year, for various reasons. I hope the award goes to Linklater, because of the sheer amount of skill it took to pull off a film like Boyhood, shot in pieces over the course of twelve years, without it turning into a complete mess.
The Nominees: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Michell Keaton is the obvious standout here, who was great in Birdman and is the only nominee who played an original character and not someone from history. With that said, as much as I loved his performance and think it’s a career best, Redmayne gave the better performance. His work as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything is not only made of the stuff that the Academy loves, but was exceptional, mesmerising, and – most importantly – convincing. It also required an exceptional amount of physical control that is so subtle and well done that it seems effortless.
Best ActressThe Nominees: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild) I loved Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl, and would absolutely love to see her take home the Oscar here. However, considering how the Academy snubbed Gillian Flynn and David Fincher’s wicked little film in almost all of the other categories, I think it’ll be hard for her to get the upper hand here. I’m guessing Moore will win (and if so, it’ll be her first win out of five nominations), or perhaps Cotillard, who the Academy adores. Best Supporting Actor The Nominees: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. SImmons (Whiplash) J.K. Simmons deserves to win, and likely will. Otherwise, he might throw a chair at Academy voters. He was incredible in Whiplash, and the film simply would not have been as tense, dramatic, or compelling without him. Best Supporting Actress
The Nominees: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
Patricia Arquette was the very heart of Boyhood, and her end-of-film monologue was one of the biggest standout moments not only of the film itself, but of 2014 as a whole. Add the fact that her performance captured in pieces across a twelve year timeline in her career (just think, she was filming Medium in between Boyhood stints), and her performance just becomes that much better.
Best Original Screenplay
The Nominees: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler
Seeing as this is the only big category that Nightcrawler was nominated for, I’d love to see it get the Oscar. However, there’s no denying the brilliance that went into Wes Anderson’s screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel. He won the Writer’s Guild award for it, and I’m thinking he’ll win the Oscar as well. If not, it’ll go to Birdman.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Nominees: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
The fact that Whiplash is on here is a bit of a joke, not because the film doesn’t deserve a nomination, but because it’s not in the Original Screenplay category because of a stupid loophole. With that said, I’m glad it got a nomination in the first place, and would love to see it win. I’m leaning more toward The Imitation Game though; it’s the kind of “Oscar-bait” film the Academy loves, and was a wonderfully written film that shed light on a deeply important person in history few (including myself) knew anything about. It also won the WGA for the same category, so that gives it a bit of a leg up on these other scripts.
Best Animated Feature Film
The Nominees: Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
I’m still baffled (ie: pissed) that The LEGO Movie – one of the most impressive animated films in recent memory – wasn’t nominated. With that said, I think How to Train Your Dragon 2 will walk away with the gold here; I’m guessing not many voters saw Song of the Sea or The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and Big Hero 6 was both derivative and forgettable. I didn’t see Boxtrolls, but it’s lacking any sort of buzz, so Dragon 2 stands the best chance, I think.
Best Original Score
The Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Interstellar, Mr. Turner, The Theory of Everything
As delightful as The Grand Budapest‘s score was, The Imitation Game will likely take the top spot here. I’d also love to see Hans Zimmer awarded for his work in Interstellar, a film that would not have succeeded without his pounding, haunting score.
Best Original Song
The Nominees: “Everything is Awesome,” (The LEGO Movie), “Glory,” (Selma), “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights), “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” (Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me), “Lost Stars,” (Begin Again)
“Everything is Awesome!” That song is still stuck in my head, and actually serves as a great reflection of the kind of year in cinema that 2014 was. “Glory” could also win here, as it could be seen as the more “important” of the two. Either way, these wins would turn the otherwise-snubbed films into Oscar winners.
The Nominees: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ida, Mr. Turner, Unbroken
The clear winner here is Birdman, a film that owes much of its success and praise to Emmanuel Lubezki’s camera work, which made the film appear as if it were captured within an incredibly long and elaborate single take.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Nominees: Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Guardians of the Galaxy
I’d love to see Guardians win here, as the film displayed a wide range of alien races through makeup instead of CGI. But, seeing as the film is a bit weird and blockbuster-y for the Academy’s tastes, I think the edge goes to Foxcatcher. Steve Carell’s prosthetic nose might have been distracting, but the Academy loves them a prosthetic nose.
Best Costume Design
The Nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice, Into the Woods, Maleficent, Mr. Turner
The Grand Budapest, thanks to some incredible costume work that was both rooted in history and clearly a result of Wes Anderson’s quirky visual flair.
Best Film Editing
The Nominees: American Sniper, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Whiplash
Whiplash was a sometimes unbearably tense film with spectacularly captured musical performances that are hard to pull off. For that reason, I hope it wins. But I’m going to guess that Boyhood takes this one because of the way it was made.
Best Visual Effects
The Nominees: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, X-Men: Days of Future Past
As breathtaking as Interstellar‘s visuals were, the win here goes to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, an outstanding achievement in visual effects that don’t feel like visual effects. It’s a crime that Andy Serkis was once again snubbed for his mo-cap performance as Caesar, and giving Dawn the win here will help make up for it.
I either didn’t see some of these films or just don’t have a vested interest in these smaller categories. As such, here are my quick guesses/predictions:
Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel – a film that oozes with impressive and engrossing production design
Best Sound Mixing: American Sniper, unfortunately (sorry Whiplash)
Best Sound Editing: I still don’t know what the real difference is between sound mixing and editing, so… American Sniper I guess?
Best Documentary – Feature: Citizenfour
Best Documentary – Short Subject: Uh… Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1? Sure, let’s go with that.
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida
Best Animated Short Film: Feast
Best Live-Action Short Film: The Phone Call