by Ken B.
NOTE: Read an updated set of predictions here.
Because, well, why not, I’ve decided to share some early predictions for the eight biggest categories (Picture, Director, Acting, and Screenplay) at the upcoming 87th Academy Awards, with some commentary on each of the races.
BEST PICTURE – Boyhood
It’s the bandwagon effect – Boyhood has kept winning award after award, from virtually every major critic group, to the Golden Globes, to the Critics’ Choice Awards. Boyhood might not be fully unstoppable yet (I could see The Grand Budapest Hotel picking up more steam as awards season progresses, and The Imitation Game right behind it), but it has enough momentum right now for me to make a safe prediction.
BEST DIRECTOR – Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Traditionally speaking, Best Picture and Best Director winners go hand in hand (as in the winner of Best Director is usually the person that helmed the film which ends up winning Best Picture). Lately, however, tradition has flown out the window, so even if his film loses Picture, Richard Linklater has a near-lock status at picking up the Oscar for his work directing the twelve year project.
BEST ACTOR – Michael Keaton, Birdman
I don’t think Keaton is a sure thing. While that generally seems to be the climate among prognosticators for this category, I don’t fully agree. Eddie Redmayne is coming on strong, and is in a very much made-for-Oscar movie (The Theory of Everything). Benedict Cumberbatch waits in the wings. Or maybe some British vote splitting could slice Redmayne and Cumberbatch’s odds, and the runner up suddenly becomes… Bradley Cooper in American Sniper? I don’t know. If anyone but Keaton wins the SAG award, in a ceremony that will be held in the upcoming days, then this whole race is blown wide open again.
BEST ACTRESS – Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Now this is a lock. Moore, an excellent actress who somehow still doesn’t have an Oscar (although that will very soon change), is in a film that rose to prominence at the Toronto International Film Festival, and has a campaign that can take her right over the top. No one’s arguing. I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets a good number of votes from AMPAS members who didn’t even see the movie. She’s that assured at the moment. It’s her time.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
It’s a done deal here. Simmons is a veteran actor who’s likely worked with many of the voters, and this is a big, loud, angry role – that often helps Supporting performances win. Nothing can feasibly stop him now.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Arquette wins here in part because of the fact that there’s really no one who can muster up the support (ha!) to pose a serious threat. Emma Stone? Maybe. Meryl Streep? Perhaps. At the end of the day, regardless of any of the possibilites I just mentioned, Laura Dern and Keira Knightley will probably have to be Honored Just To Be Nominated. (Well, if Knightley can get on the Harvey Weinstein Buy-Me-An-Oscar campaign train… eh… Arquette probably still wins.)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – The Grand Budapest Hotel
With nine nominations, it’s clear that the Academy loves The Grand Budapest Hotel (and I don’t blame them). This seems like the place where it can pick up a big award without a lot of fuss. However, the flashy script for Birdman (also with nine nominations) is following in a close second, and I wouldn’t be shocked of Richard Linklater’s mammoth, almost 200 page screenplay for Boyhood could jump up and win.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – The Imitation Game
This is the only place where The Imitation Game has anything remotely resembling an uncluttered walk to the podium. With an always mighty Weinstein campaign for the film, and what was considered its closest competitor (Gone Girl) without a nomination, this seems like a perfectly logical conclusion. But be forewarned – American Sniper, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash are all possibilities, of varying degrees of distance. When it comes to Inherent Vice, the question is posed of whether or not voters will get the film, which apparently can be quite odd at times. But then again, so is Thomas Pynchon.*
*No offense to Thomas Pynchon.
And these are my preliminary Oscar predictions. In the days leading up to the big show, I will post a full set of picks, with all 24 categories.