Today: June 19, 2024

Oscar Predictions 2015

It’s that time of year again when the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts Sciences start handing out those little gold statues. Each year FilmJuice Editor Alex Moss hedges his bets in trying to predict who might walk away with the Oscars, so join him once again to see just how wrong he can get it in 2015.

Best Picture
For the first time in a while it looks likely that a non-prestige film (re: a film that isn’t trying to be worthy with award baiting material) might actually take home the gong this year. American Sniper is clouded in controversy and kept that box office till ringing, so that’s probably out. Plus it was never anything but middling to average. Selma is a solid film but never reaches say the heights of 12 Years A Slave from last year and, while utterly brilliant, Whiplash is likely to be a little too under the radar for the voters to give it the nod. The Imitation Game and The Theory Of Everything are both great films but perhaps a little too quintessentially British for the American Academy to adore.  The Grand Budapest Hotel won’t win because it’s too quirky for the elderly voters to fully appreciate. Step forward Boyhood and Birdman. Who will win? Probably Birdman because it not only deserves to but it’s a stunning piece of filmmaking.
Head Says: The Academy might just want to award a true blue American this year so Boyhood, which is a genuine slice of Americana will win.
Heart Says: Birdman is simply magnificent and should be praised accordingly.

Best Director
A really very tough category this one as all the nominees do sterling work. The Imitation Game and Foxcatcher are perhaps the dark horses here with the films being excellent but the direction not necessarily being standout. Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest is so typically him you’d imagine that if Oscar liked his style they would have nominated him before now. That leaves the two heavyweights to duke it out between Richard Linklater’s stunning execution of growing-up in Boyhood or Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s staggeringly ambitious Birdman.
Head Says: It’s a tough one and the same applies as with Best Picture. The Academy might chose to split the wins here, which they don’t often do. So Inarritu for the win.
Heart Says: We love Boyhood, it’s near impossible not to, but what Inarritu has achieved with Birdman is so seamlessly breathtaking it would be a hugely worthy winner.

Best Actor In A Leading Role
This one on the surface looks to be pretty open. Except it’s not. Because while all here give brilliant performances there is one stand-out in the crowd and almost certainly an actor who The Academy will want to recognise for this and past performances. Step forward Mr. Michael Keaton who is riveting to watch in Birdman. Carell always feels more like a supporting character in Foxcatcher, lurking in the shadows rather than taking over the film. Cumberbatch is sooo popular with the public you can rule him out and Cooper feels only there to make up the numbers. Keaton’s only real rival is Golden Globe winner Eddie Redmayne who does so much with his portrayal of Steven Hawking that he transcends his characters origins.
Head Says: Redmayne is giving one of those performances that makes Oscar gush.
Heart Says: Michael Keaton has never been as good as he is in Birdman. It feels almost right that he win for a role that feels so much like art imitating life. 

Best Actress In A Leading Role
When you see a list of nominees that have that blend of newbies, former winners and then perennial nominated-but-never-winning, you get a sense of destiny ringing in your ears. Cotillard and Witherspoon are both solid in their respective films Two Days, One Night and Wild but Oscar likes to give it to first time winners and both of these lovely ladies have little gold men on their mantelpiece back home already (for La Vie en Rose and Walk The Line). Felicity Jones is young enough that Oscar will feel she’ll get another bite at the cherry, so she’s out. That leaves Rosamund Pike as, in this writer’s opinion, the standout performer in any category of last year, and that perennial nominee Julianne Moore, who has five nominations to her name and no win so far. Straight shoot-out between the two? Probably not. Sorry Rosamund.
Head Says: Moore all the way. Oscar loves to award those who have been always nominated and never won and she’s undoubtedly one of the best actresses of her or any other generation.
Heart Says: We’ll be waving Pike banners and scarves until that envelope is opened because frankly Gone Girl’s brilliance is in no small part down to her utterly compelling and bipolar performance.

Best Actor In A Supporting Role
A really tough one to call as all bar J.K. Simmons have been nominated before with Duvall being a former winner for his turn in Tender Mercies back in 1984. His role in The Judge is solid but perhaps a little too on the nose for Oscar. Ruffalo is always one of the most dependable actors around but his role in Foxcatcher again, like Carrel, feels on the periphery despite being the only ray of light in the pitch-black drama. Ethan Hawke’s role is wonderfully natural and nuanced but it always comes across as too natural to him -a reflection of himself rather than a full-blown performance. That leaves Simmons and Norton. Simmons has never been nominated before but he’s one of those actors who feels like he’s been around forever without getting the recognition he deserves. His performance in Whiplash is so dense – a monster one minut,e a broken man the next. Meanwhile Norton does a fine job of nearly stealing Birdman from beneath Keaton’s nose.
Head Says: A close one but thanks to his charm, Hawke will walk away with it.
Heart Says: J.K. Simmons has never been allowed to flex his acting muscles as much as he does in Whiplash and he demonstrates he’s an actor of colossal presence, even when not actually on the screen.

Best Actress In A Supporting Role
It would be nice, just once, if Meryl Streep took the year off dazzling us with her performances. If only because whenever she’s nominated -and she almost always is -it’s hard to look past her. Into The Woods though is more cartoonish than Oscar would normally like and they certainly won’t feel that she is owed one, having already got three statues to her name, although they came at the price of sixteen other nominations. Dern is a good bet but perhaps too overshadowed by her leading lady in Wild, Reese Witherspoon. Patricia Arquette has been quietly winning awards in the build up so it’s hard to look past her. But it would be great to see one of the young guns win it.  Stone is so captivatingly damaged in Birdman, as the film’s most identifiable character wrapped up in a smoky-eyed, bleach-blonde package of daddy issues. Knightley meanwhile, yes nominated for the second time after Pride & Prejudice (take that haters), gives Benedict Cumberbatch a run for his charms in The Imitation Game.
Head Says: Patricia Arquette is quietly powerful in Boyhood and certainly warrants the accolades she’s been gaining for her role.
Heart Says: Oscar wants to make themselves more interesting to the next generation of cinemagoers so give it to Knightley because if nothing else it will silence those who maintain she’s not a great actress.

Best Cinematography
How to decide which film looked the best this year? Thankfully that’s not up to us but rather the Academy’s call. Lubezki’s visuals on Birdman are good enough to win an Oscar in any year. Yeoman’s work in bringing Wes Anderson’s Budapest Hotel to life, including mixing all manner of aspect ratios up without it feeling jarring, is to be applauded, but perhaps a little too much for Oscar. Dick Pope’s work on Mr. Turner would make the artist himself proud but the only surprise this year is that, for the first time in a looooong time, Roger Deakins work on Unbroken isn’t the standout in the field. Here is a man who has been nominated no less than twelve times without a single win to his name. It’s probably time someone rectified that. He’s one of the greatest cinematographers of all time.
Head Says: Lubezki’s work on Birdman is unparalleled.
Heart Says: Call it sentimentality, because that’s what it is given Unbroken is not his best work, but please give it to Deakins.

Foreign Language Film
Always one of the toughest categories to predict, it rarely goes to who you think it should. This feels like a two horse race between Ida and Leviathan. So it’s unlikely either will win.
Head Says: Leviathan
Heart Says: Leviathan, because it’s mesmerising.

Adapted Screenplay
Always a tough one as realistically you should have read the source material to see how well it was adapted. That’s unlikely to happen, so we’ll have to go by which of these films has the best script. And the tough thing is they’re all brilliant scripts. Jason Hall’s American Sniper is good but perhaps a little too The Hurt Locker light to be a real contender. Whiplash is utterly breathless but much of its magic comes from Damien Chazelle’s direction and two stand out performances rather than its script. Anthony McCarten’s Theory Of Everything again rests heavily on two great performances, which leaves Graham Moore’s Imitation Game going up against Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. A very tough call indeed but Oscar always prefers worthy over comedy.
Head Says: Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game handles the subject matter better than could possibly have been conceived. It would not sadden anyone to see it win.
Heart Says: Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius and Spike Jonze’s win last year for Her might prove helpful here in the light-hearted stakes. But don’t rule out American Sniper. It’s something of a dark horse in all its categories.

Original Screenplay
A category chock full of breathtaking nominees. Wes Anderson’s Budapest Hotel is typically whimsical and therefore unlikely to be to Oscar’s tastes. Foxcatcher is a deeply disturbing script and therefore again perhaps too bleak for the voters to award it the gold man. Birdman, Nightcrawler and Boyhood are all very much in contention here. Birdman’s script is so fluid and perfectly plotted it may well fly away with yet another Oscar. Linklater’s Boyhood is so effortlessly well observed you wonder if some of it isn’t more documentary than film. But don’t rule out Dan Gilroy’s wonderfully ghoulish Nightcrawler. It’s probably too devilishly dark for The Academy but that could just tip them to go with something a little out of left field.
Head Says: Birdman or Boyhood. Toss a coin between these two great scripts.
Heart Says: Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is delicious in its outlook on modern society and therefore warrants awards.

Animated Feature
Let’s get it out of the way early, there’s no Lego: The Movie in here. And that’s sad but perhaps Lego was a little too commercially successful for Oscar to care. Big Hero 6 and How To Train Your Dragon 2 seem much more mainstream than the other nominees, which will either work for or against them. Boxtrolls stop-motion animation is staggering while Song Of The Sea and The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya’s more traditional animation might ignite a sense of nostalgia in voters.
Head Says: With a third How To Train Your Dragon movie in the pipeline it’s likely Oscar might go a Lord Of The Rings route and award the concluding chapter of the saga, therefore look to Big Hero 6.
Heart Says: Boxtrolls, not because it’s a great story but because of the sheer magic the stop-motion captures in a digitally dominated year.

Visual Effects
This is a no brainer, because while watching Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes you forget those damn dirty apes aren’t real. The only other film that could rival it is Interstellar.
Head Says: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes because it’s seminal in what it achieves with motion-capture effects.
Heart Says: See above. It really is that good.

Film Editing
There are two standouts here and both would be worthy winners. Whiplash’s brilliance stems from the editing, the beat of the cutting being synchronous with the beat of the film. But you can’t ignore the brilliance of Boyhood and the way in which is seamlessly takes twelve years of shooting and assembles it into one compelling, coherent whole.
Head Says: Boyhood.
Heart Says: We’d love to see Whiplash walk away with something and this feels like a worth category for it to win. 

Production Design
Always a tough one to predict but all of these could easily take it home. Budapest Hotel is so wonderfully designed using a plethora of techniques it could take this category to make up for it’s unlikely victory elsewhere. Into The Woods has enough eye-popping production design in almost every shot to warrant a win. The way Imitation Game and Mr. Turner capture their period settings is pure magic. Interstellar is a funny one because in many ways you expect The Academy to want to applaud it in some way and this might be it.
Head Says: Into The Woods – Oscar loves this stuff.
Heart Says: The Grand Budapest Hotel is wonderful because of the visual pop the production design gives it.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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