February 21, 2015 — Last year, following the painfully predictable 86th Academy Awards, I made an off-hand comment in my blog post following the show that I wanted the following year’s ceremony to be “a real nailbiter” – and that’s exactly what we have. I guess these predictions seemed fairly normal to you up until now. Well, hang on. These are the big eight, and things are about to get crazy.
Best Picture: Boyhood
Barely hanging on in the final stretch. It’s basically neck-and-neck with Birdman, the culmination of the most collectively insane awards season I’ve ever seen. I think the preferential balloting system for Best Picture helps Boyhood out, with enough people, even if they didn’t love it, ranking it at position 2 or 3, which could be just enough to take it over the top. Birdman, on the other hand, could have its vocal set of detractors slamming it at the bottom of their ballot, which could ultimately hurt the movie’s chances… or not. I have no idea. Do you know how uncertain I am about this? Right below this paragraph in the Word document where I drafted this article is an alternate piece of text where I justify a prediction that Birdman will win.
Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman
The Directors’ Guild of America Awards are often the perfect predictor for this category at the Oscars. Iñárritu’s (mild) surprise win there, coupled with Birdman wins for Best Ensemble Cast with the Screen Actors’ Guild and a win at the Producers’ Guild for Best Film give the director enough heft for a victory in this category, and arguably enough for a top shot at Best Picture. However, Richard Linklater, frontrunner for the entire season up until the beginning of this month, is inches away.
Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
This has been a weird race (well, just about the entire top tier of categories has been, but this one in particular). If you asked me a month ago, I would have said this one was going to Michael Keaton in Birdman, with Redmayne as a potential spoiler. Now, the opposite is true (Birdman may have left this category, but to unquestionably higher aspirations, as you have just read). What a difference a few weeks make. If something crazy happens, and neither of these two ends up winning, it will likely be at the hands of Bradley Cooper in American Sniper, but I wouldn’t bet the house on that if I were you. In a way, who wins here will be a good indicator of the top two awards – Redmayne either changes nothing or gives a slight boost to Boyhood’s ability to win Best Picture and even Director, despite the fact that he has nothing to do with that movie. On the other hand, a Keaton victory will all but write on the sky that Birdman will reign victorious. If such an outcome happens, you can turn off your TVs then – you know how the show’s going to end.
Best Actress: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Done deal. No major losses at awards ceremonies that matter. Swept the board and then some. If anyone else wins, this will be an upset for the record books.
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Best Original Screenplay: Birdman
The four-man script for Birdman is pure showmanship on display. It’s got all kinds of flair and brilliance from clever back-and-forth dialogue to long articulate monologues. But it isn’t safe. It faces fierce competition from Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel. (On a side note, it’d be cool to see Nightcrawler win, but that’s not on the table – denying Jake Gyllenhaal a nomination in Lead Actor clears any chances of Dan Gilroy’s finely crafted screenplay having enough support for a sneak attack.)
Best Adapted Screenplay: Whiplash
My last major change (I formerly predicted The Imitation Game), which I made the evening before I posted this. While the Alan Turing biopic has the advantage of a Writers’ Guild of America win in the Adapted Screenplay category, it and Whiplash haven’t competed in the same category once in a show that has serious clout in predicting the outcome from the Academy (the latter film has largely been on Original Script lists). Many, including myself, have sensed a surge of support for Damien Chazelle’s film in the final days of Oscar voting, accompanying a near-guaranteed J.K. Simmons win in Best Supporting Actor. A screenplay award will add to its total in a relatively simple way. However, I’ve found that a change made less than 48 hours before the ceremony is almost bound to be wrong 🙂
Boyhood, Birdman, Whiplash – 3
The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Theory of Everything – 2
Into the Woods, American Sniper, Interstellar, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Ida, Virunga, Selma, Still Alice – 1
Normally at these awards, Best Picture and Best Director go to the same film. But this year, like the past two years, I could see a split happening – and both are just about equal in terms of likelihood. It’s either Birdman/Linklater or Boyhood/Iñárritu. I don’t know what chance either film really has of claiming both prizes in a year this close.
I lied. Those aren’t my final comments. These are:
Movie that I like now but will probably ever-so-briefly despise if it wins Best Picture:Birdman.
Impossible win that would make me smile: Dan Gilroy’s vicious and clever script for Nightcrawler winning Best Original Screenplay.
Most confident bet: J.K. Simmons winning Best Supporting Actor.
Least confident bet: Virunga winning Best Documentary.
Thing likely to make me angry: A show running past 11:30 P.M. (so I’m guaranteed to be a little upset.)
Thing likely to make me furious: A show running past midnight ET (so I’m a little less likely to happen, but possible.)
Thing likely to make me turn off the TV, go to bed, and read the list of winners later: A show running past 12:20 A.M. ET (Apparently, show lengths under current producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan have held steady at around approximately 3:35, so I’m not too worried. I feel bad for those of you who slogged through last decade’s four and a half hour insomnia-curing benders.)
Things I am curious about:
- What’s Lady Gaga going to do?
- On a scale of 1 to The 67th Tony Awards, how amazing will Neil Patrick Harris’ opening number be?
- Will anyone who died last year receive a specific tribute in lieu of (or alongside) a placement in the traditional In Memoriam slide show?
- Will anyone be brave/smart/stupid enough to mention that the demographics of the acting nominees in the Dolby Theatre will be whiter than the membership of a Connecticut country club?
- If Michael Keaton wins Best Actor, will that mark the first time more than two people who have played the same character (Bruce Wayne/Batman) at some point in their careers are now Oscar winners? (Christian Bale won Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter in 2011, and then there is George Clooney, who is George Clooney.)
- With the fact that it’s the most covered movie-related event in the media, will the Oscars launch or ground my web traffic to this movie-related website?
(I will attempt to remember to provide answers for these questions in my post-show reactions post. Expect that Monday afternoon, or whenever I can squeeze in a spare moment from my depressingly overpacked schedule in the coming week. (if Wednesday comes and there’s nothing, forget about it.))
And there you have it. My complete set of Oscar predictions in all 24 categories, as well as some thoughts for me to ponder over during/after the show. I’ll be live tweeting some of my likely-caustic comments over at this site’s official Twitter account, @filmreviews12.
OSCAR PREDICTIONS NAVIGATOR:
PART 1: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Animated Short Film, Best Documentary Short Film, Best Live Action Short Film
PART 2: Best Animated Feature, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Documentary Feature, Best Original Score, Best Original Song
PART 3: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay