I’ve seen 6 out of the 8 nominees this year (not particularly interested in The Theory of Everything or American Sniper). Could my favorite of the nominees and favorite of the year (Birdman) be the big winner? It’s a neck-and-neck race between it and Boyhood. Birdman has all the major guild awards, Boyhood has the critics awards, the Globes, and the British Academy behind it. It could go either way. Yet strangely I find myself almost wanting Boyhood to win. Why? Best Picture backlash. Boyhood can withstand it; it’s a small movie, decidedly not Oscar baity, and almost universally liked. Even the people who dislike it respect it. Birdman, on the other hand, already has a vocal segment of people that flat-out HATE it, and I just know if Birdman wins it’s gonna be impossible to even mention the movie in certain corners of the internet without starting a drawn-out fight. Is this a stupid reason to root for the film I liked less? Yeah; really I’m just trying to prepare myself for it if it happens. Either film winning would make for one of the more interesting Best Picture winners in history. At the moment I’m predicting it goes to Birdman, but really, this could go either way.
Birdman‘s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is deserving, and stands a chance. They love immense technical achievements in this category (see last year’s win for Gravity) and the Director’s Guild win is one of the strongest predictors for the big prize. However, given how the Indie Spirit Awards turned out, I’m now predicting a split where Richard Linklater wins for his 12-year commitment to Boyhood.
Best Lead Actor
A competitive category (and that’s not even getting into unfortunate snubs like David Oyelowo in Selma). Michael Keaton in Birdman gets my vote, and if he wins this category as I’m predicting expect a Best Picture win for Birdman as a lock. If he doesn’t get it, Eddie Redmayne’s much-praised portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything seems the most likely winner (assuming his ridiculousness in Jupiter Ascending hasn’t hurt his campaign at all).
Best Lead Actress
I’ve only seen one of the nominees, Rosumund Pike in Gone Girl, whose chances of winning are rather low given the lack of love for the film overall from the Academy. Julianne Moore in Still Alice has won all the major precursor awards so she likely wins this one as well. Too bad Essie Davis’s work in The Babadook wasn’t eligible, and Under the Skin was too strange for Academy voters and Scarlett Johansson got snubbed.
Best Supporting Actor
JK Simmons in Whiplash might be the clearest lock of the night. As much as I enjoyed Edward Norton in Birdman and Ethan Hawke in Boyhood (and you can argue Simmons’ character is more of a co-lead than a supporting character), it’s hard to argue that this lock isn’t well-deserved.
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette‘s 12 years of developing the mother in Boyhood will be a deserved win. Emma Stone’s great in Birdman but her part’s tiny compared to Arquette’s. Somewhat disappointing the early campaigning for Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer didn’t work out.
Best Animated Feature
Without The Lego Movie in the picture, this is one of the tightest races. Boxtrolls can be counted out as style over substance. How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Big Hero 6 appear to have the mainstream vote split. In such a tight race, I’m gonna be optimistic about the chances of The Tale of Princess Kaguya taking the gold (though I won’t cry murder if something else wins).
Best Original Screenplay
This is a competitive three-way race between Boyhood‘s write-as-we-go casualness, Birdman‘s fast-paced banter, and The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s tight narrative. I’m going with Birdman in this category.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Whiplash‘s nomination here is one of the year’s strangest, not because it’s not good but because it’s not really “adapted” from anything (a short was produced to sell the film to investors, but the short was actually adapted from the feature script rather than the other way around). Its has a chance of winning given the relatively weak slate (still don’t understand the love for Inherent Vice), but this is the one award The Imitation Game has a serious chance at winning, and I expect it will.
Best Foreign Language Film
Only seen Ida, the presumed frontrunner. Though I didn’t personally connect with its chilly distance, it’s a beautifully shot movie with an interesting premise and strong performances and would be a respectable winner.
Haven’t seen any of this year’s nominees yet (surprised the Ebert doc Life Itself didn’t make the cut but then again the branch seems to really hate director Steve James for some reason), but Citizenfour is the topical one people have actually seen, so it wins.
Emmanuel Lubezki wins his second Oscar in a row, this time for Birdman‘s single take trick.
Best Film Editing
The ambition of Boyhood will most likely take this, barring a surge of love for the more suspenseful beats of Whiplash.
Best Production Design
Can you believe this is the first time one of Wes Anderson’s immaculately-designed films has even been nominated in this category? The Grand Budapest Hotel has to win.
Best Costume Design
With the damn wolf costume likely sinking Into the Woods‘ hopes of winning, another award of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Best Make-Up and Hairstyling
Grand Budapest or Foxcatcher could take this oft-unpredictable category, but this is where voters will get the chance to show their love for Guardians of the Galaxy, which even if it wasn’t so beloved is also the easy answer if we go with the theory that Academy voters tend to equate “best” with “most.”
Best Visual Effects
A close call. Interstellar‘s the most prestigious of the nominees and its wormhole effects are beautiful, but Guardians of the Galaxy and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes deserve credit for creating convincing CG characters. Between those two, I’m hoping Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gets it for its amazing motion capture work, and unless the Academy really hates this series and feels like snubbing it again in this category, this could make up for the previous film’s inexplicable effects snub.
Best Original Score
Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar score is certainly worthy, but based on precursors, this is likely The Theory of Everything‘s award.
Best Original Song
They had to make this tough this year, didn’t they? This is the only Oscar both of this year’s most absurdly snubbed movies (The Lego Movie and Selma) have any chance of winning. I’d be happy with either but I’d say “Glory” from Selma gets it (pray they don’t cut off Common’s acceptance speech the second he mentions Ferguson or anything contemporary political).
Best Sound Editing
Interstellar‘s sound worked for me but the complaints about some theaters being too loud works against it. A Hobbit win isn’t impossible (award for the series from its fans who apparently still exist based on those anonymous ballots The Hollywood Reporter‘s been publishing), but this is probably American Sniper‘s best shot (… I’m sorry for that).
Best Sound Mixing
Could just be the same winner as sound editing, but the lone nominee of Whiplash, a movie that places particular emphasis on sound, has a strong shot at breaking things up.
Best Animated Short
I’ve seen none of the nominees but my friend who has says to bet on The Dam Keeper.
Best Live-Action Short
Same friend as above says bet on The Phone Call.
Best Documentary Short
Neither me or my friend has seen these, so, uh, I like the title The Reaper, how about that one?