Prediction: ‘Birdman’ & ‘The Imitation Game’ will lead Oscar nominations

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Back in the day, it took skill to predict who’ll be shortlisted for an Oscar. Today, with the glut of critics awards and precursor industry guild awards, any dummy with half an interest in the ridiculous carnival I’m addicted to can manage a 90 percentile prediction rate. And I’m just another one of those dumdums. I’d like to think I know my stuff when it comes to predicting the Oscars but if you follow the leading award blogs every day for nearly six months a year, chances are good that you’ll do as well as me. That being said, the following are my predictions in all Oscar categories (minus the three shorts categories) before tomorrow morning’s Oscar nominations.

 

Best Picture

American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Nightcrawler
The Theory of Everything
Selma
Whiplash

ALT: Gone Girl
 
The PGA, DGA and WGA nominations for American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game give me enough confidence to chalk those five films up here. I also feel The Theory of Everything will make the cut solely on the strength of its popularity in the actor’s branch. Whiplash makes it seven nominees. If it’s eight, then it’s Selma, the one film that has missed out at every major precursor because of the lack of screeners. I don’t think the screener issue will hurt it with the Academy since the entire group received it. If it misses, watch out for all types of “The Academy is racist” articles to pop up everywhere. If it’s nine nominees, then Nightcrawler grabs it over David Fincher’s more deserving Gone Girl.

 

Best Director

Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

ALT: Clint Eastwood – American Sniper
 
Selma will score a Best Picture nomination but I just don’t think an auteur-leaning group like this manly men Director’s branch is going to spring for a black female filmmaker with only three movies under her belt. They’re likely to go with the flashy white kid (Chazelle) or even their grizzled old vet pal (Eastwood).

 

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman
David Oyelowo – Selma
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

ALT: Bradley Cooper – American Sniper

Argh, this category! What a cluster-fuck. It pains me to remove Ralph Fiennes from the lineup but even though the industry has been extremely kind to Wes Anderson’s film, they rarely reward comedic performances. Cooper’s film has been surging at the right time and he’s very popular in the industry too. He could surprise at the expense of either Gyllenhaal or Oyelowo, or even Cumberbatch, and net his third straight Oscar nomination. I haven’t even mentioned Carell. This category is the hardest to predict.

 

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild

ALT: Amy Adams – Big Eyes
 
Amy Adams is the only one who threatens to spoil the relatively secure Best Actress field. If she does, it’ll be at the expense of Aniston. But Jennifer has been campaigning hard and has popped up everywhere she’s needed to. Her movie wasn’t eligible at the BAFTAs—the only place she missed, so I think she’s in.

 

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

ALT: Tom Wilkinson – Selma

Ugh, Robert Duvall. I love the guy but he’s taking a nomination away from a much worthy actor. Wilkinson is one alternate, Alfred Molina in Love is Strange is a better albeit unlikelier one. I’d even take Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice here but WB’s got their eye on Duvall taking the veteran slot. He’ll be the oldest male nominee ever if he makes it in. The other guys, Simmons, Norton, Hawke and Ruffalo all seem secure. Carell would have been secure had SPC chose to campaign him here instead of the ridiculously crowded Best Actor field.

 

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Rene Russo – Nightcrawler
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

ALT: Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

Nightcrawler’s crazy last minute surge could mean Russo, a veteran actress, could net her first Oscar nomination tomorrow morning. If she could make it in with the BAFTAs, she stands a real chance here—especially since Chastain’s film is barely registering anywhere else. Frankly, I’d prefer if Jessica got in over Streep but no one is pushing her out. The other three seem secure.

 

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

ALT: Wild

The Academy’s insistence that Whiplash be counted as an Adapted Screenplay means it’s going to push out either American Sniper or Wild. Clint Eastwood’s film has been killing it this season, and will do the same at the box office this upcoming weekend. Unfortunately, Wild already feels like a blip on the radar so Nick Hornby won’t be making the cut. This also means Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice) misses out on a screenplay nomination for his second film in a row.  C’est la vie!

 

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

ALT: Selma

Birdman, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel all feel like foregone conclusions here while Nightcrawler has been picking up all the important precursors. What about Foxcatcher? Bennett Miller’s film feels like it’s almost disappeared from the race, and I think the writers are going to dub it more of a director’s showcase than anything. But does that mean Selma will prevail over it? With the intense (and unwarranted) controversy surrounding the film, I’m not so sure.

 

Best Foreign Language Film

Wild Tales (Argentina)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Force Majeure (Sweden)

ALT: Tangerines (Georgia)

I think Force Majeure, one of my favorite movies of 2014, is the one at risk here but I just don’t feel like dropping it over Tangerines.

 

Best Animated Feature

Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Lego Movie
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

ALT: The Song of the Sea

The four big studio movies seem like safe bets so it’s down to the last spot here. Will it be one of the GKIDS duo The Song of the Sea or The Tale of Princess Kaguya? Or will The Book of Life pop up instead as a surprise nominee? I’m betting on Kaguya because of its Studio Ghibli connection and because it’s just the type of movie the animators’ branch will stick up for.

 

Best Documentary Feature

Citizenfour
Keep on Keepin’ On
Last Days in Vietnam
Life Itself
Virunga

ALT: The Overnighters

I’m going with the most popular docs of the 15 that were shortlisted. Citizenfour is the frontrunner, and Life Itself was the frontrunner before Citizenfour arrived. Last Days in Vietnam is immensely popular in the industry and Keep on Keepin’ On and Virunga have big campaigns with strong studios behind them. Does this mean The Overnighters gets the boot?

 

Best Cinematography

Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
Unbroken

ALT: Ida

I’m going with four out of the five ASC nominees here, with Interstellar taking the place of The Imitation Game. I wouldn’t be surprised with Ida popping up here too but it feels like such a tiny movie to show here, even though BAFTA gave it a nod.

 

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner

ALT: Big Eyes

Tim Burton’s movies tend to do really well in the Costumes and Production Design categories. I really want to put Big Eyes here but I don’t think it’s costumes stand a chance against the more period, obvious work in the five I’ve chosen above. There’s the WW2 movie (The Imitation Game), the frontrunner (Into the Woods), Wes Anderson’s likely tech behemoth (The Grand Budapest Hotel), the costume drama (Mr. Turner) and the fantasy blockbuster (Maleficent).

 

Best Film Editing

American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

ALT: The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is where I think Wes Anderson’s film misses. The five others are just really flashy editing showcases. This even includes Sniper, a film whose genre almost always scores here. Nightcrawler would be my seventh choice.

 

Best Makeup

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Theory of Everything

ALT: Foxcatcher

Guardians of the Galaxy’s creature feature work and The Theory of Everything and The Grand Budapest Hotel’s old age makeup will make it over Foxcatcher by a nose.

 

Best Original Score

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
The Theory of Everything

ALT: The Judge

These five seem relatively secure but this branch tends to surprise on nomination morning more often than not. But which movie will they go for?

 

Best Original Song

“Lost Stars” – Begin Again
“Grateful” – Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” – Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
“Everything is Awesome” – The Lego Movie
“Glory” – Selma

ALT: A batshit insane out-of-nowhere nominee.

I’m just spit-balling here. This category is always a mess. If Boyhood makes it in here for one of its two eligible songs, the Best Picture race is over. I’m calling it now.

 

Best Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Maleficent

ALT: Mr. Turner

It’s been such a strong here for production design. Tim Burton’s films seem to be staples of this category but I just don’t think the work in Big Eyes is flashy enough to merit a nomination. Christopher Nolan’s film is the one at risk here but I don’t feel like removing it right now.

 

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Unbroken
Whiplash

ALT: Guardians of the Galaxy

 

Best Sound Editing

American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
Unbroken

ALT: Birdman

The industry hasn’t responded well to Interstellar’s use of sound so for that reason, I think it misses in Sound Mixing. I expect Birdman to take its place. Shooting that film was probably a nightmare, and it gets in on difficulty alone. I wanted to go with Into the Woods but I think Whiplash takes the musically-inclined film spot this year. American Sniper, The Hobbit and Unbroken seem like shoo-ins in this category considering their genres and past success in this field.

 

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

ALT: Godzilla
Easy picks from slim pickings.

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