The Oscar Forecast — Nominations

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by Ken B.

Have I told you that nomination morning is basically the least cringeworthy part of the Oscars for me (even though there are always omissions and inclusions that can make one’s head spin)? Anyway, here we go. I will predict nominations in 21 categories (short films will be excluded). Before we kick things off, let me republish my yearly awards season mantra:


“To predict awards shows, you don’t have to have seen all of the nominees beforehand, you just have to have seen awards shows beforehand.”

Let’s roll. There will be a rank, from 1 – 5 (or 1 – 10 in the case of Best Picture and 1 – 3 in the case of Best Makeup/Hairstyling), and 1 Biggest Threat (or 2 for Best Picture), which, if nominated, do not count towards my final accuracy score. The lower the number, the higher the odds of a nod (in a five nominee category, #1 has what I see as a 99.9% chance of a nomination (round to 100), #2 has a 90% chance, #3 has an 80% chance, and so on). An asterisk denotes what I see as a virtual lock (although, in many categories, especially Best Foreign Language Film and Original Song, calling anything a “lock” is sheer folly.)


  1. Boyhood*
  2. Birdman*
  3. The Imitation Game*
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel*
  5. The Theory of Everything*
  6. Selma
  7. Whiplash
  8. Gone Girl
  9. Nightcrawler
  10. American Sniper

(Biggest Threats: Interstellar and Unbroken)
I have significant doubt that there will be a full ten nominees – it’s a mathematical near impossibility, according to some very bored people who have apparently looked into this kind of thing with the voting process. Selma’s campaign has taken some severe damage in the home stretch, completely snubbed by BAFTA, and director Ava DuVernay similarly left in the dust with the Directors’ Guild. The rise of Nightcrawler and American Sniper has all but decimated the odds of earlier possible contenders, like Interstellar, Into the Woods, Foxcatcher, and Unbroken. Meanwhile, Wes Anderson’s lovely The Grand Budapest Hotel has been the subject of a strong resurgance, getting BAFTA nominations in the double digits and winning Best Musical/Comedy Picture at the Golden Globes on Sunday.


  1. Richard Linklater, Boyhood*
  2. Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman*
  3. Ava DuVernay, Selma
  4. Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. David Fincher, Gone Girl

(Biggest Threat: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper)


  1. Michael Keaton, Birdman*
  2. Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything*
  3. Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  4. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
  5. David Oyelowo, Selma

(Biggest Threat: Steve Carell, Foxcatcher)
With regards to the #1 slot, it all came down, as dumb as it may sound, to a speech. Separated by category, Keaton and Redmayne were both able to win prizes at the Golden Globes. And if Keaton flubbed up his Comedy Actor acceptance speech, Redmayne could have looked better in the eyes of voters. But Keaton didn’t mess up. At the Globes, he was heartfelt, genuine, emotional, moving, and real. I think he can take this award – it’s his time. On the other side, in the bottom two slots, Gyllenhaal and Oyelowo are more or less interchangable in ranking. I wonder who could get in if one of them is snubbed – Steve Carell in Foxcatcher? Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel? Bradley Cooper in American Sniper? Or perhaps a left field shocker like, gasp, Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood (please, oh pretty please Academy)?


  1. Julianne Moore, Still Alice*
  2. Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything*
  3. Reese Witherspoon, Wild*
  4. Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  5. Jennifer Aniston, Cake

(Biggest Threat: Amy Adams, Big Eyes)
Jennifer Aniston prominently rose out of nowhere with Cake, but the question remains, how many voters have seen it?


  1. J.K. Simmons, Whiplash*
  2. Ethan Hawke, Boyhood*
  3. Edward Norton, Birdman*
  4. Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  5. Robert Duvall, The Judge

(Biggest Threat: Miyavi, Unbroken)
Duvall isn’t safe in that fifth spot. It’s wide open. Additionally, since BAFTA put Steve Carell for Foxcatcher in Supporting, maybe he might slide in here instead of Lead, but who knows…


  1. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood*
  2. Meryl Streep, Into the Woods*
  3. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  4. Emma Stone, Birdman
  5. Rene Russo, Nightcrawler

(Biggest Threat: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year)
On the surface, it’s either Russo or Chastain at this point in slot five, however, it could be another possibility altogether, but if there’s an upset and it goes to Naomi Watts in St. Vincent after that lone SAG nomination, I’m going to scream.


  1. Birdman* (by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Nicolás Giacobone and Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo)
  2. Boyhood* (by Richard Linklater)
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel* (by Wes Anderson)
  4. Nightcrawler (by Dan Gilroy)
  5. A Most Violent Year (by J.C. Chandor)

(Biggest Threat: Selma (by Paul Webb))
Why do I have A Most Violent Year in at position 5 over scripts like Selma and Mr. Turner? I have no idea.


  1. The Imitation Game* (screenplay by Graham Moore, based on Alan Turning: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges)
  2. Gone Girl* (screenplay by Gillian Flynn, based on her novel of the same name)
  3. The Theory of Everything* (screenplay by Anthony McCarten, based on Traveling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking)
  4. Whiplash (screenplay by Damien Chazelle, based on his short film of the same name)
  5. American Sniper (screnplay by Jason Hall, based on American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle)

(Biggest Threat: Inherent Vice (screenplay by Paul Thomas Anderson, based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon))


  1. The Lego Movie*
  2. Big Hero 6*
  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2*
  4. The Tale of (the) Princess Kaguya
  5. The Boxtrolls

(Biggest Threat: The Book of Life)


  1. Citizenfour*
  2. Life Itself*
  3. The Case Against 8
  4. Jodorowsky’s Dune
  5. Last Days in Vietnam

(Biggest Threat: Virunga)


  1. Ida – Poland, in Polish*
  2. Force Majeure – Sweden, in Swedish*
  3. Wild Tales – Argentina, in Spanish
  4. Leviathan – Russia, in Russian
  5. Tangerines – Estonia, in Estonian and Russian)

(Biggest Threat: Timbuktu – Mauritania, in Arabic, French, and Tamasek)


  1. The Theory of Everything*
  2. Interstellar*
  3. Gone Girl*
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Biggest Threat: Unbroken)


(Here, clicking the song title itself will take you to a YouTube video of the prospective nominee).

  1. Glory”, Selma*
  2. Everything is Awesome!!!”, The Lego Movie*
  3. Lost Stars”, Begin Again
  4. Split the Difference”, Boyhood
  5. Mercy Is”, Noah

(Biggest Threat: “Yellow Flicker Beat”, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1)


  1. Birdman*
  2. Unbroken*
  3. Interstellar
  4. Gone Girl
  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

(Biggest Threat: Mr. Turner)


  1. Into the Woods*
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel*
  3. Interstellar
  4. Birdman
  5. Mr. Turner

(Biggest Threat: The Imitation Game)


  1. Boyhood*
  2. Birdman*
  3. Whiplash
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. Gone Girl

(Biggest Threat: Interstellar)


  1. Foxcatcher*
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. The Theory of Everything

(Biggest Threat: Maleficent)


  1. Maleficent*
  2. Into the Woods*
  3. Mr. Turner
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Exodus: Gods and Kings

(Biggest Threat: The Imitation Game)


  1. Into the Woods*
  2. Whiplash*
  3. Fury
  4. American Sniper
  5. Interstellar

(Biggest Threat: Unbroken)
Everyone’s complained about Interstellar’s sound mix. Can it still get in?


  1. Interstellar*
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy*
  3. American Sniper*
  4. Whiplash
  5. Fury

(Biggest Threat: Unbroken)


  1. Interstellar*
  2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes*
  3. Godzilla
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy
  5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

(Biggest Threat: Transformers: Age of Extinction)

The nominations for the 87th Academy Awards will be announced at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time (5:30 Pacific Time) on Thursday, January 15, 2015. The nominees for all 24 categories will be revealed in that presentation, by a group consisting of directors Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams, actor Chris Pine, and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs.