FINAL PREDICTIONS: 87th Academy Awards

contendersthis is a crowded year for best picture, i tell you.

Here are my annual predictions for the nominees of the 87th Academy Awards, to be announced January 15 (Thursday). Contenders are ranked by highest chances of getting nominated.

NOTE: This post is a PREDICTION, not a “BEST OF” list. This post is about predicting the nominees and does not reflect the opinion of the writer regarding the films to be mentioned. (For example, I ranked Boyhood higher than Gone Girl based on my predicted support for the film, but I think Gone Girl is better).

BEST PICTURE
Pretty much the first 7 slots are safe, with the 8th one a bit shakier, but I trust its chances. Meanwhile, the 9th slot is an intense battle, with almost 10+ films fighting for that last slot. (Yes, I’m predicting 9 nominees again, the same way we had 9 nominees since 2011 when the nominations system was changed). One of the most exciting best picture races in years (definitely much more exciting than 2011, 2012, and even 2013.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Boyhood
2 – Birdman
3 – Selma
4 – The Imitation Game
5 – The Theory of Everything
6 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
7 – Gone Girl
8 – Whiplash
9 – Nightcrawler

OR…..:
10 – Foxcatcher (needs passionate support)
11 – American Sniper (lower-than-expected reception)
12 – Interstellar (divisive reception)
13 – Unbroken (mixed reception)
14 – A Most Violent Year (release date too late; lack of precursor notices)
15 – Into the Woods (lower-than-expected reception)

LONGSHOTS:
16 – Mr. Turner (lack of precursor notices)
17 – Still Alice (support focused on Julianne Moore)
18 – Inherent Vice (lack of precursor notices)
19 – Wild (support focused on Reese Witherspoon)
20 – Pride (lack of precursor notices)

selma_ava_duvernay

BEST DIRECTOR
While there is abundance in Best Picture, Best Director has a narrower field, but no less exciting. 3rd slot is shaky, and 4th – 5th slot is up for grabs. I think Wes Anderson will finally crack the Best Director race, but who knows? No safe bets in this (look at 2012 and 2013 for reference).

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Richard Linklater – Boyhood
2 – Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu – Birdman
3 – Ava DuVernay – Selma
4 – Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
5 – Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel

OR…..:
6 – David Fincher – Gone Girl (remember Dragon Tattoo snub?)
7 – Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler (breakthrough director boost)
8 – Damien Chazelle – Whiplash (breakthrough director boost)
9 – James Marsh – The Theory of Everything (if Theory shows up in everything)
10 – Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher (if Foxcatcher has strong showing)

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BEST ACTOR
It has been said before – this is an insanely crowded race. However, the 3 slots are pretty much safe, with the 4th slot also safe, though not as safe as the first 3. 5th slot is a toss-up, relying on how strong the support for their respective films is.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Michael Keaton – Birdman
2 – Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
3 – David Oyelowo – Selma
4 – Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
5 – Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler

OR…..:
6 – Steve Carell – Foxcatcher (IF Foxcatcher does better than Nightcrawler)
7 – Bradley Cooper – American Sniper (IF they fall for Sniper; Oscar favorite – two consecutive noms)
8 – Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner (beloved actor; strong critical support)
9 – Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel (strong critrical cupport)
10 – Ellar Coltrane – Boyhood (IF they fall big time for Boyhood)

LONGSHOTS:
11 – Tom Hardy – Locke (strong critical support)
12 – Oscar Isaac – A Most Violent Year (IF Year has strong showing; strong critical support)
13 – Matthew McConaughey – Interstellar (IF they fall for Interstellar; last year’s winner)
14 – Miles Teller – Whiplash (if they fall for Whiplash)
15 – Jack O’ Connell – Unbroken (IF they fall for Unbroken; breakthrough actor support)

gone-girl-11-600x421

BEST ACTRESS
I don’t think the Best Actress race is that thin, just that they are not in obvious Oscar-bait films, whether they were in very small independent films, a thriller-drama, an ensemble musical piece, a youth-oriented romance, and even an independent science-fiction film.  Both 4th and 5th slot have their weak spots – 4th slot had a fading buzz, and 5th slot is in a very small film with small distribution. Hollywood, please write complex roles for women.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Julianne Moore – Still Alice
2 – Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
3 – Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
4 – Reese Witherspoon – Wild
5 – Jennifer Aniston – Cake

OR…..:
6 – Amy Adams – Big Eyes (Harvey Winstein back-up)
7 – Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night (strong critical support)
8 – Hilary Swank – The Homesman (strong critical support)
9 – Emily Blunt – Into the Woods (IF they fall for Into the Woods)
10 – Shailene Woodley – The Fault in Our Stars (she campaigns)

LONGSHOTS:
11 – Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle (breakthrough actress support)
12 – Jenny Slate – Obvious Child (breakthrough actress support)
13 – Scarlett Johansson – Under the Skin (strong critical support)
14 – Anne Hathaway – Interstellar (IF they fall for Interstellar)
15 – Marion Cotillard – The Immigrant (IF not Two Days, One Night)

boyhood-ethan-hawke1-600x421

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Now, this is the thin race. No one’s really campaigning that much, and the contenders have been stagnant throughout the whole season. Top 4 slots are safe, but the 5th slot – I’m betting on this given the film’s positive reception and him being a favorite in this category (two wins for two nominations, both for lead roles). That’s why I seriously doubt the chances of the 6th contender, even with the support from Golden Globes and SAG.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
2 – Edward Norton – Birdman
3 – Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
4 – Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
5 – Christoph Waltz – Big Eyes

OR…..:
6 – Robert Duvall – The Judge (beloved actor; Golden Globes + SAG)
7 – Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice (IF Waltz and Duvall fall apart)
8 – Chris Pine – Into the Woods (surprise strong critical support)
9 – Miyavi – Unbroken (IF they fall for Unbroken)
10 – Tom Wilkinson – Selma (IF they ignore the LBJ controversy)

LONG SHOTS:
11 – Charlie Cox – The Theory of Everything (IF they fall hard for Theory)
12 – Tony Revolori – The Grand Budapest Hotel (IF they fall hard for Budapest)
13 – Riz Ahmed – Nightcrawler (IF they fall hard for Nightcrawler)
14 – Tyler Perry – Gone Girl (IF they fall hard Gone Girl)
15 – Steve Carell – Foxcatcher (IF they deem him more suitable here)

XXX MOST VIOLENT DAY MOV JY 3625 .JPG A ENT

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
This looked like a locked race, until last minute emergence of strong contenders shake up the race. There are those who actively campaign, there are those who were not allowed to campaign for their film, there are those carried by the strong buzz for their films, among other things. 4th and 5th slot are a bit vulnerable, though.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
2 – Emma Stone – Birdman
3 – Mery Streep – Into the Woods
4 – Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
5 – Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

OR…..:
6 – Rene Russo – Nightcrawler (IF Chastain is shakier than expected)
7 – Laura Dern – Wild (IF her hard campaign works)
8 – Carmen Ejogo – Selma (IF Selma shows up really strong)
9 – Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer (IF they fall for her performance)
10 – Carrie Coon – Gone Girl (IF they warm up with Gone Girl)

LONG SHOTS:
11 – Naomi Watts – Birdman (IF Birdman shows up really strong)
12 – Kristen Stewart – Still Alice (IF she gets Julianne Moore’s coattails)
13 – Naomi Watts – St. Vincent (IF the SAG support will be reflected)
14 – Jessica Chastain – interstellar (IF they fall hard for Interstellar; if Year was too late)
15 – Katherine Waterson – Inherent Vice (IF Inherent Vice would surprise)

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Since Whiplash is deemed Adapted (more of that later), one slot opens up for this competitive field. Some of the contenders are Oscar favorites, but take note: this category mostly goes with what film has stronger presence.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Birdman
2 – Boyhood
3 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
4 – Selma
5 – Nightcrawler

OR…..:
6 – A Most Violent Year
7 – Foxcatcher
8 – Mr. Turner
9 – Interstellar
10 – The LEGO Movie

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Whiplash’s sudden transfer to this category was both a good thing (less competitive field) and bad thing (some ballots have already been turned in when the change was announced – written ballots , as well as electronic ballots, were in danger due to confusion). Other than that, not much movement here.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – The Imitation Game
2 – The Theory of Everything
3 – Gone Girl
4 – Whiplash
5 – Wild

OR…..:
6 – American Sniper
7 – Still Alice
8 – Inherent Vice
9 – Unbroken
10 – Into the Woods
unbroken

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Even the contenders lacking precursor notices are pretty strong. Back-to-back win for Emmanuel Lubezki or first win for long-time nominee Roger Deakins? Dick Pope’s landscapes in Mr. Turner or Hoyte von Hoytema’s outer space in Interstellar? Will Bradford young make it, given his two acclaimed works in Selma and A Most Violent Year?

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Birdman
2 – Unbroken
3 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
4 – Gone Girl
5 – Interstellar

OR…..:
6 – Mr. Turner
7 – The Theory of Everything
8 – Selma
9 – Into the Woods
10 – A Most Violent Year

Whiplash-5547.cr2

BEST FILM EDITING
Mostly a place filled with frontrunners for best picture, with some surprises here and there (remember 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club nomination?). This category mostly gives the wins to the “most” edited, but last year’s winner Gravity is all about long takes and it snagged a win. Will this be Birdman vs. Boyhood? How about Selma?

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Birdman
2 – Boyhood
3 – Whiplash
4 – Gone Girl
5 – The Imitation Game

OR…..:
6 – Selma
7 – Nightcrawler
8 – Foxcatcher
9 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
10 – The Theory of Everything

BEST SOUND MIXING
A category where both Best Picture contenders and more obvious “sound” pieces (sci-fi, action films, stinkers or not), usually get nominated together.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Gone Girl
2 – Unbroken
3 – Into the Woods
4 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
5 – Transformers: Age of Extinction

OR…..:
6 – Whiplash
7 – Interstellar
8 – Nightcrawler
9 – The Imitation Game
10 – Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST SOUND MIXING
While Best Sound Mixing tend to cater Best Picture contenders, Best Sound Editing is mostly “owned” by action/sci-fi films.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Interstellar
2 – Transformers: Age of Extinction
3 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
4 – Unbroken
5 – American Sniper

OR…..:
6 – Godzilla
7 – Guardians of the Galaxy
8 – Gone Girl
9 – Dawn of the Plane of the Apes
10 – Nightcrawler

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE OR (HOW BIRDMAN IS INELIGIBLE AND ALEXANDRE DESPLAT HAS FIVE ELIGIBLE SCORES)
With Birdman being ineligible in this category, the category could open up both for Oscar favorites (Alexandre Desplat) and “out there” films (Mica Levi). Take note, the music branch is noted as one of the more peer-influenced (or “insular”, as a blogger used that word) branches in the Academy. (Aside from the mentioned contenders below, Desplat is also eligible for Godzilla and The Monuments Men).

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat
2 – The Imitation Game – Alexandre Desplat
3 – Gone Girl – Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
4 – The Theory of Everything – Johann Johannsson
5 – Interstellar – Hans Zimmer

OR…..:
6 – Unbroken – Alexandre Desplat
7 – Selma – Jason Moran
8 – Nightcrawler – James Newton Howard
9 – A Most Violent Year – Alex Ebert
10 – Under the Skin – Mica Levi

interstellar_poster_0

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
One of the technical categories with have a bake-off stage, narrowing down the field to a shortlist of 10 contenders. Again, this category mostly goes with “most” visual effects, with very few exceptions (see 2010’s Hereafter nomination). Final list nominees often include very obvious choices with WTF films (remember the streak of winners all coming from Best Picture nominees from 2008 to 2013?).

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Interstellar
2 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
3 – Transformer: Age of Extinction
4 – Guardians of the Galaxy
5 – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

OR…..:
6 – Godzilla
7 – Maleficent
8 – Captain America: The Winter Soldier
9 – X-Men: Days of Future Past
10 – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

Tilda-Swinton

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Another category with the bake-off process. Questionably, the category only has 7 shortlisted films and eventually 3 nominees. Normally a mixture of best picture contenders and WTF choices. (see 2013’s Dallas Buyers Club vs. The Lone Ranger vs. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa race). Normally a very unpredictable field. Notably missing is The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Guardians of the Galaxy
2 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
3 – Foxcatcher

OR…..:
4 – The Theory of Everything
5 – Maleficent
6 – Noah
7 – The Amazing Spiderman 2

THE IMITATION GAME

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
The field is mostly filled with period pieces and fantasy films, so films that are near the contemporary time are quite rare (see 2013’s Her and 2010’s Inception). Also has a strong match-up with Best Costume Design.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
2 – The Imitation Game
3 – Into the Woods
4 – Unbroken
5 – Interstellar

OR…..:
6 – The Theory of Everything
7 – Birdman
8 – Gone Girl
9 – A Most Violent Year
10 – Mr. Turner

LEGITIMATE SPOILERS:
11 – Selma
12 – Big Eyes
13 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
14 – Inherent Vice
15 – Snowpiercer

test-your-fairytale-knowledge-before-going-into-the-woods-this-christmas-7eda14a1-0e21-4d6b-8f60-84635a1a6ee9

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Just like Best Production Design in terms of its taste, but with some pleasant surprises from time to time with some out-of-nowhere, but really inspired choices (Bright Star, I Am Love, W.E.).

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Into the Woods
2 – The Grand Budapest Hotel
3 – The Imitation Game
4 – The Imitation Game
5 – Maleficent

OR:
6 – Big Eyes
7 – Mr. Turner
8 – A Most Violent Year
9 – Unbroken
10 – Inherent Vice

LEGITIMATE SPOILERS:
11 – Birdman
12 – Belle
13 – The Immigrant
14 – The Homesman
15 – Get On Up

lego_a

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Is this The LEGO Movie’s to lose, or will another film emerge as the winner?

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – The LEGO Movie
2 – The Boxtrolls
3 – How to Train Your Dragon 2
4 – Big Hero 6
5 – The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

OR…..:
6 – The Book of Life
7 – Song of the Sea
8 – Cheatin’
9 – Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart
10 – Rocks in My Pockets

snowden-citizen-four

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Is this CITIZENFOUR vs. Life Itself, or will another film benefit from the two-way race and may emerge as surprise victor?

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – CITIZENFOUR
2 – Life Itself
3 – The Overnighters
4 – Keep On Keepin’ On
5 – Jodorowsky’s Dune

OR…..:
6 – Finding Vivian Maier
7 – Virunga
8 – Last Days in Vietnam
9 – The Salt of the Earth
10 – Art and Craft

LEGITIMATE SPOILERS:
11 – Citizen Koch
12 – The Internet’s Own Boy
13 – The Case Against 8
14 – The Kill Team
15 – Tales of the Grim Sleeper

62004-song_04739cr_lg

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
One of those inexplicably unpredictable categories, with the exception of the frontrunner (see 2012’s Skyfall and 2013’s Let It Go). However, no frontrunner has showed up so far. It also had its surprise nominees these past years (2011’s Real in Rio, 2012’s Before My Time, and 2013’s Alone Yet Not Alone, yet the latter’s nomination got rescinded, BUT STILL).

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – “Glory” from Selma
2 – “Lost Stars” from Begin Again
3 – “Split the Difference” from Boyhood
4 – “Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie
5 – “Mercy Is” from Noah

OR…..:
6 – “Miracles” from Unbroken
7 – “Big Eyes” from Big Eyes
8 – “Opportunity” from Annie
9 – “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
10 – “America for Me” from A Most Violent Year

LEGITIMATE SPOILERS:
11 –“Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
12 – “Immortals” from Big Hero 6
13 – “I’ll Get What You Want” from Muppets Most Wanted
14 – “What is Love” from Rio 2
15 – “Ryan’s Song” from Boyhood

force-majeure-cannes-21

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
I’m guessing Russia’s Leviathan would be too political a choice for this surprisingly conservative category (once in a while, we get a Dogtooth, but mostly heart-breaking melodramas do well here). I haven’t seen it, but buzz suggests that. And I do think it’s not yet a done deal for Poland’s Ida.

PREDICTED NOMINEES:
1 – Poland – Ida
2 – Sweden – Force Majeure
3 – Argentina – Wild Tales
4 – Mauritania – Timbuktu
5 – Estonia – Tangerines

OR…..:
6 – Russia – Leviathan
7 – Georgia – Corn Island
8 – Netherlands – Accused
9 – Venezuela – The Liberator

What films are you betting on? What are your thoughts on this year’s Oscar race?

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2 thoughts on “FINAL PREDICTIONS: 87th Academy Awards

    • Moore’s buzz isn’t as strong as months ago, but it can manage to surprise, given that the its topic does have emotional impact (and that does the trick even if the film is less than extraordinary – The Help, Philomena, for example). Old-age illness/struggle did well last 2012 with last-minute inclusion Amour.

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