2014 and the start of 2015 have been a great year for entertainment, especially movies. Ranging from the comedic tale of Birdman to the Civil Rights Movement in Selma to the documentary of Alan Turing and WWII in The Imitation Game, movies have been the outlets for many to maybe indulge in some drama, being kept on the edges of their seats or just hysterically laughing at Michael Keaton trying to convey his inner Batman persona. And since movie’s biggest night (The Oscars, yes, I’m talking about the Oscars) is coming up on February 22, I thought I would list the nominees for each of the main categories and give my take on who I think will win and those that might.
- American Sniper
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
- The Imitation Game
- The Theory of Everything
Both Boyhood and Birdman are top contenders in this category. For weeks since its release at the Sundance Festival, Boyhood was the front-runner, gaining accolades from critics’ groups and earning itself a Golden Globe. No one was shocked when the show-business saga Birdman won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. But then it racked up a streak with both the Producers and the Directors Guilds, so suddenly Boyhood was kicked off the stand for Possible Oscar Win. Judging purely by statistics, Birdman has a high chance of winning due to the SAG’s renowned 80% success rate in predicting Oscar winners. But there is still a huge chance that Richard Linklater’s indie epic will be the stealthy one that steals the show.
Actor in a Leading Role
- Steve Carrell – Foxcatcher
- Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
- Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
- Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
- Eddie Redmayne – Theory of Everything
This is the one of the toughest acting calls in this category and will rack up some real drama, as the seasoned veteran who has starred in the film with the most Oscar nominations contends against the bright-eyed and future-bright novice. For months Michael Keaton was the clear front-runner, thanks to his career-rejuvenating performance as a washed-up actor in Birdman. But then Eddie Redmayne appeared as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything and somehow, this turned this into a dual contest. Ironically, right as Birdman’s standing had risen in the Best Picture race in recent weeks, Keaton’s status appears to have slipped, especially after Redmayne beat him at the SAG Awards. Because SAG has predicted every single Best Actor winner in the past 10 years, it seems logical to conclude that the young British lad has secured the lead. But Keaton’s go-for-broke performance, coupled with his long history in Hollywood, should give him the edge over newcomer Eddie Redmayne. Plus, who didn’t feel all happy and sentimental after watching him choke up while thanking his son during his Golden Globe acceptance speech?
Actress in a Leading Role
- Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
- Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
- Julianne Moore – Still Alice
- Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
- Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Julianne Moore’s performance in Still Alice as a linguistics professor battling early-onset Alzheimer’s is subtle, heart-wrenching, but poignantly stunning performance. She won the Golden Globe and SAG awards, giving her a clear edge and a near lock for an Oscar win. After having lost the Academy’s top prize four times before, I think she is ready to get up on that stage and announce to the world that she beat Meryl Streep. No one stands in her way. Not previous Best Actress winner Marion Cotillard, who played a laid-off factory employee fighting to save her job in the Belgian film Two Days, One Night. Not Rosamund Pike, so deliciously wicked and cryptic and intriguing as a rich girl–turned–rejected wife–turned–conniving revenge-seeker in Gone Girl. Not Felicity Jones, forceful yet tender as Stephen Hawking’s first wife in The Theory of Everything. And not even Reese Witherspoon—another previous champ in this category—who so convincingly captured the pain of a woman lost in her own grief by hiking along California’s Pacific Coast Trail in Wild. Moore is ready, and you should be too.
Actor in a Supporting Role
- Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
- Edward Norton – Birdman
- J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
- Robert Duvall – The Judge
- Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
No one comes close to J.K Simmons and his formidable work as Whiplash’s maniacal, sadistic conductor. He has won awards from almost every critics’ group in the country, as well as accolades from SAG and the Golden Globes. There is no uncertainty that the 60-year-old’s performance resonates on its own caliber and excellence, but it also embodies everything that the Academy loves to reward: the journeyman character actor who has probably paid off his dues in projects ranging from NBC’s Law & Order to Spider-Man to those ubiquitous Farmers Insurance commercials.
Actress in a Supporting Role
- Emma Stone – Birdman
- Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
- Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
- Laura Dern – Wild
- Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
This year, not even Meryl Streep can breach into the industry’s love for Patricia Arquette and her 12-year role as the mom in Boyhood. And as Tina Fey and Amy Poehler joked at the Golden Globes, women over 40 can still be top contenders in big blockbuster movies, just as long as they get cast while they are under 40. Admiration for Arquette has only become more fervent as she racks up award after award for her vanity-free deep dive into the life of a woman who puts herself through school, moving constantly, marriage, divorce, children, getting married again, getting divorced again, watching her only loved ones leave her behind to go to college, and then “her own — funeral.” Arquette has won critics’ awards, the Golden Globe, and, most crucially, the SAG award. Over the past decade, the Screen Actors Guild has had a 80 percent success rate in predicting the Oscar winner in this category. So, Patricia, please be prepared for your acceptance speech and don’t read off a crumpled piece of notebook paper or bring a glass of wine up with you to the stage.
- Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
- Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
- Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman
- Richard Linklater – Boyhood
- Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
The 2015 Oscar race has been as perplexing as Birdman’s final scene (you know the part when Michael Keaton jumps out of the hospital window and Emma Stone goes “Where he go tho?? I was just in here” and she looks through the window and smiles)—especially when it comes to the category for Best Director. As usual, Oscar voters are probably going to honor both their favorite films by splitting Best Picture and Best Director such as the year when Alfonso Cuarón won for Gravity and 12 Years a Slave earned Best Picture. This year, Boyhood’s Richard Linklater took home the Golden Globe and a series of critics’ awards, but the Directors Guild prize, which is the most reliable indicator of Oscar win, went to Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The Academy will probably reward Iñárritu for his technical bravura, which will possibly edge out Linklater. But you know, anything could happen.
Best Original Screenplay
- Birdman – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
- Boyhood – Richard Linklater
- Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
- The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
- Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy
Grand Budapest’s BAFTA win and some strong momentum may put itself into the Oscar spotlight, where Wes Anderson might just win for his quirky, hilarious, highly original screenplay. And please humor us with your acceptance speech for all the trivial people who put this beautiful masterpiece together.
Best Adapted Screenplay
- American Sniper – Jason Hall
- The Imitation Game – Graham Moore
- Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
- The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten
- Whiplash – Damien Chazelle
Imitation Game landed eight Oscar nominations, but may only go home with one— it will likely be in this category. Graham Moore has been celebrated for his screenplay since it first landed on the top of the Black List in 2007. The script also won USC’s Scripter Award, also a good bell-wether for the Oscars.
Best Film Editing
- Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach – American Sniper
- Sandra Adair – Boyhood
- Barney Pilling – The Grand Budapest Hotel
- William Goldenberg – The Imitation Game
- Tom Cross – Whiplash
Boyhood’s Sandra Adair, Richard Linklater’s long-term editor, should walk away with this prize. She landed the ACE Eddie Award against some stiff competition, and while she will face off against Whiplash and American Sniper in the category, she doesn’t have to worry about contend-ing with Birdman, thankfully. I mean, seeing Mason (the boy in Boyhood) grow up in the movie was so subtle that half-way through the movie you start thinking to yourself, “Wait, when did he start growing facial hair?” Great job, Sandra.
Those were just some of the many categories that will be presented at the Oscars this Sunday, which will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Will he be able to top Ellen Degeneres’ selfie that blew up the internet last year or order twice the amount of pizza? Watch the 87th Academy Awards on ABC 7:00 Eastern, 4:00 Pacific on February 22! (that’s 6:00 here in Central Zone for those who don’t know their times…get educated!)