Hello, readers. February 22nd will be the 87th Annual Academy Awards, and much like the Green Bay Packers this past Sunday, The Lego Movie, which had everything going for it, will be forced to watch the festivities at home like the rest of us while other animated films compete for the top prize.
I guess not everything is awesome.
Prior to these predictions, I had to play catch up on a few films (American Sniper, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game and Selma), so all the nominees get a fair shot at who I think should win. I’m gonna give you my picks for the main categories (acting, directing and film), and why I think they should win, and then give you my predictions for who will win. Following the primary six categories, I’ll do a quick rundown of who I believe will win in the remaining categories. Keep in mind, I’m only predicting categories where I’ve seen all of the nominees listed, so some will be omitted.
Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Who should win: Michael Keaton
Kinda surprised Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t get a nod for Nightcrawler. Bradley Cooper was great in American Sniper, but Gyllenhaal disappeared into his role, so I would’ve swapped the two. That said, Michael Keaton was absolutely brilliant in Birdman. Knowing his past and what the film’s about this could’ve backfired and felt like a gimmicky performance, but Keaton hits every note perfectly, displaying an emotional range that I had yet to see from him. Certainly, he has the whole “career comeback/legacy actor” deal going for him, but this would be an award that’s completely earned.
Who will win: Michael Keaton
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J. K. Simmons – Whiplash
Who should win: J. K. Simmons
First off, it’s nice to see Duvall get a nomination here. The Judge wasn’t really a good film, but just like Eddie Redmayne’s performance in the mediocre The Theory of Everything, Duvall’s performance was one of the few redeeming elements of it. I’m kinda torn here ’cause I would love to see Edward Norton win. It’s been years since he’s given a performance as good as the one he gave in Birdman, and at the very least this is hopefully a fresh start for him. But J. K. Simmons blew me away in Whiplash. Simmons has given dependably rock solid supporting turns for years in a number of projects, but this was the performance of a lifetime for him. He’s intimidating, cruel, unrelenting, yet he also shows a few glimmers of humanity (you decide if they’re feigned or not). Just like his character in the film, he commands every second of your attention every time he appears onscreen.
Who will win: J. K. Simmons
Best 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
Who should win: Julianne Moore
Rosamund Pike was initially my pick out of the five. If you still haven’t seen Gone Girl, I’ll refrain from saying why. Regardless, my pick changed once I saw Still Alice. With this now being her fifth nomination, Julianne Moore avoids turning her Alzheimer’s stricken character into a “disease of the weak” mope pandering for our sympathies and gives an emotionally honest performance that that humanizes her struggle rather than deify it. Moore plays it small for most of the film, but it’s that approach that makes the few moments the cold reality of her situation hits her hard all the more heartbreaking.
Who will win: Julianne Moore
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Laura Dern – Wild
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
Who should win: Laura Dern
Clearly the Academy is really pushing hard for Meryl Streep to break Katharine Hepburn’s record. That’s the only reason I can think of as to why she got nominated for Into the Woods. Yeah, it’s a fun performance, certainly, but Oscar worthy? No. This is another category that I’m torn over ’cause I loved both Patricia Arquette and Laura Dern’s performances. In the end, I’m going with Dern. Dern elevated what could’ve been another routine story device we’ve seen in past films that used flashback sequences, giving them meaning and leaving the most lasting impression on the film’s central character. It’s by far the quietest out of all the performances, but it’s also the most moving.
Who will win: Patricia Arquette
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
Who should win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
It’s nice to see Wes Anderson finally get recognition for his direction, but this is a two-horse race between Inarritu and Linklater, with me giving the edge slightly to Inarritu. As mentioned up above, Keaton’s performance could’ve come off too much like a wink at the camera gimmick. The single tracking shot look of the film could’ve come off like a gimmick. All the meta swirling around the entire film could’ve become an eye-rolling gimmick, and all the flight of fancy elements could’ve backfired as well, yet Inarritu managed every aspect of his film – script, performance, tone, cinematography, etc. – beautifully.
Who will win: Richard Linklater
American Sniper – Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper & Peter Morgan
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, John Lesher & James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood – Richard Linklater & Cathleen Sutherland
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales & Jeremy Dawson
The Imitation Game – Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky & Teddy Schwarzman
Selma – Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner & Jeremy Kleiner
The Theory of Everything – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce & Anthony McCarten
Whiplash – Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook & David Lancaster
What should win: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
This is another two-horse race between Birdman and Boyhood, and if you’ve read my top 10 best of 2014, the answer here should be easy to guess. Simply put, no film captivated, mesmerized, entertained or moved me more than Birdman last year, so it’s my pick for Best Picture of the year.
What will win: Boyhood
Okay, so there’s my predictions for the main categories. Here’s a quick rundown of the remaining categories, mostly the technical awards.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game – Graham Moore
Best Original Screenplay: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Best Animated Feature Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dean DeBlois & Bonnie Arnold
Best Cinematography: Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Costume Design: Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
Best Film Editing: Whiplash – Tom Cross
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Foxcatcher – Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
Best Original Score: Interstellar – Hans Zimmer
Best Original Song: “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie – Shawn Patterson
Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen & Anna Pinnock
Best Sound Editing: American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
Best Visual Effects: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
Well, those are my picks, and I’m sticking to ’em. Here’s hoping Adele Dazeem gets a chance to hit it out of the park again this year.