Saturday, December 27, 2014

Oscar Update: 'Boyhood' still in front, but 'Selma' could play spoiler

It's been a while since we looked at the Oscar race and quite a bit has happened. Films have risen in the ranks, fallen completely off the radar and in some cases, clinched the win already. Here are my current Oscar predictions.

BEST PICTURE

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

On the outside looking in: A Most Violent Year, Unbroken, Interstellar

The Best Picture race is still very murky at this point, but I think that three clear front-runner have emerged. The first is Boyhood, the spectacular directorial achievement from Richard Linklater. The amazingly ambitious project is loved by all corners of the film world, but it was released very early in the year and it could be upstaged by two stronger contenders from more powerful studios. Birdman also has a chance at the win, with its insider humor and career-defining performance from Keaton. But is it simply too weird to take the big prize? I think that's a possibility. And finally, Selma has a very good chance to win this whole thing. It's the strongest competition to Boyhood right now. The powerful, relevant drama appeared late in the game and could definitely play spoiler.

The Grand Budapest Hotel has also seen a surge lately, picking up lots of nominations and wins at various award shows. The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are still in thick of the race as well, but neither feels like a genuine threat to Boyhood or Selma. The darker movies round out the top ten, with Gone Girl, Whiplash, Foxcatcher, and Nightcrawler currently making the final list. Just missing the cut are A Most Violent Year, Unbroken and Interstellar. The latter two were both major front-runners at one point, but reviews have halted them in their tracks. All in all, it's going to be a very interesting couple of weeks as we prepare for the nominations to be revealed.

BEST ACTOR

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

On the Outside Looking In: Timothy Spall, Steve Carell

This is a very competitive category, with seven actors all vying for a chance at the gold. Right now, I have Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead for his performance in the highly-admired drama, The Imitation Game. However, after finally seeing Eddie Redmayne's performance in The Theory of Everything, I can't help but feel that he could take the win here. It's a stellar performance that elevates and somewhat bland and uninteresting film. Michael Keaton is also still in the running for Birdman, but I feel like he's slipping right now. Rounding out my current top five are David Oyelowo and Jake Gyllenhaal, for Selma and Nightcrawler, respectively. The love for Selma is strong and Nightcrawler has a lot of fans in the academy as well. Timothy Spall and Steve Carell just barely missed the cut, but Carell could definitely sneak in. This is a tight category and I have a feeling that we might not know the winner until Oscar night.

BEST ACTRESS

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

Unlike the Best Actor category, this one is pretty much over. Julianne Moore is going to win, no question. The more interesting question is: who will take the fifth spot? Reese Witherspoon, Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones are in. The final spot comes down to Aniston vs. Adams. I have a feeling that Aniston could take it, but never underestimate Adams' power in the Academy.

On the Outside Looking In: Marion Cotillard, Amy Adams

BEST DIRECTOR

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

On the Outside Looking In: Angelina Jolie, Morten Tyldum

This is another category that is pretty much over right now. Richard Linklater's commitment and his unbelievable achievement will be recognized here. The only person who has even a chance of catching him is Ava DuVernay. Inarritu and Fincher are in, with Anderson and The Imitation Game's Morten Tyldum likely set to fight for the final spot.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

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

On the Outside Looking In: Josh Brolin

The Best Supporting Actor category is pretty much completely set. J.K. Simmons is going to win, and Edward Norton, Ethan Hawke, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Duvall will all be nominated as well. Josh Brolin could possibly sneak in for his kooky turn in Inherent Vice, but it's doubtful.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

1. Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
2. Emma Stone, Birdman
3. Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
4. Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
5. Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

On the Outside Looking In: Tilda Swinton

Patricia Arquette is definitely the front-runner in this category and I'm not sure anybody can stop her. Emma Stone's performance is too limited, Streep just isn't good enough, and I just don't see Knightley winning either. The only person I can see sneaking out with the win is Jessica Chastain, but even that's a long shot. Look for Arquette to easily take the Oscar here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

1. Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman
2. Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
3. Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
4. Richard Linklater, Boyhood
5. E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher

On the Outside Looking In: Selma, Nightcrawler, Interstellar

This race is very tight and I think that any of these eight films could sneak out with the win. For me, the front-runners are Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel. A lot of prognosticators have Boyhood getting the win, but I just don't see that happening. Whiplash and Foxcatcher could be in there as well, but don't underestimate Nightcrawler, Selma and Interstellar.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

1. Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
2. Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
3. Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
4. Nick Hornby, Wild
5. Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything

On the Outside Looking In: Unbroken, American Sniper

Gone Girl and The Imitation Game will be fighting this one until the end, with Inherent Vice having the chance to play spoiler. I don't think that Unbroken's screenplay is good enough to get a nomination, but American Sniper could definitely boot The Theory of Everything out of the top five.

That concludes my analysis, but feel free to check out my predictions for the smaller categories that will be in play at the Academy Awards.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

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

BEST FOREIGN FILM

1. Force Majeure
2. Ida
3. Leviathan
4. Wild Tales
5. Tangerines

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

1. Citizenfour
2. Life Itself
3. Virunga
4. Last Days in Vietnam
5. Keep on Keepin' On

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

1. Birdman
2. Gone Girl
3. Unbroken
4. Interstellar
5. Inherent Vice

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Into the Woods
3. The Imitation Game
4. Big Eyes
5. Unbroken

BEST FILM EDITING

1. Birdman
2. Interstellar
3. Boyhood
4. Whiplash
5. Gone Girl

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

1. Foxcatcher
2. Maleficent
3. Guardians of the Galaxy

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

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

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

1. Interstellar
2. Gone Girl
3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Imitation Game
5. Inherent Vice

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

1. Selma
2. The LEGO Movie
3. Big Eyes
4. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1
5. Noah

BEST SOUND EDITING

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

BEST SOUND MIXING

1. Interstellar
2. Into the Woods
3. Whiplash
4. Fury
5. Gone Girl

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

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

Image Credits: The Hollywood Reporter, Schmoes Know, Hitfix, Indiewire, NY Times, Indiewire, Screen Rant, NY Post

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