Sunday, February 22, 2015

Final Predictions for the 2015 Academy Awards

After one of the longest award seasons in history, the Hollywood parade is about to end on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre. The Oscars are the final destination after an endless barrage of guild shows, dinners and parties that the industry's best and brightest have to suffer through every year. I followed the Oscar season very closely in previous years, but I've become bored with the whole ordeal. I'm very excited for the show tomorrow, yet I'll also be glad to be done with awards season. So without further delay, here are my final predictions for the Academy Awards:

BEST PICTURE

Will Win: Birdman
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash
Dark Horse: American Sniper, Whiplash

The tightest race in recent memory will come to a close today. Boyhood seemed to have this thing locked up, but after Birdman snagged wins at the Screen Actors, Producers and Directors Guild, the momentum shifted towards Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's black comedy. The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash and Selma continued to linger in the background, while Clint Eastwood's American Sniper made a late surge thanks to explosive box office results. What initially seemed like a done deal became one of the most competitive races ever.

Birdman will win because it has the historical precedence to back it up. The Directors and Producers Guild are absolutely critical awards shows, and Boyhood couldn't do anything at either. If the two films had split the awards, I would have definitely ruled in favor of Boyhood. But I think that there's too much in favor of Birdman right now. The Grand Budapest Hotel could surprise and American Sniper could come out of nowhere, but I think that the victory is safely in the hands of Birdman.

BEST DIRECTOR

Will Win: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Should Win: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dark Horse: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

In 2012 and 2013, Best Picture and Director split. The awards went to Argo and Life of Pi's Ang Lee in 2012, while 12 Years A Slave and Gravity's Alfonso Cuaron took home the awards in the following year. Before that, it was rare for Picture and Director to split. Now, I think that it's something that will happen quite frequently. There's no denying Richard Linklater's directorial ambition and for that reason, he will take home the Oscar.

BEST ACTOR

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Should Win: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler (not nominated- still an absolute travesty)
Dark Horse: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

While I would like to think that this race is completely finished, that is certainly not the case. Eddie Redmayne is in very good shape, but he has yet to face off against Bradley Cooper's powerhouse performance. Cooper came out of nowhere late in the year and could definitely use his Academy goodwill to pick up a victory. And Michael Keaton has a strong chance of pulling a slight upset. But in the end, I think that Redmayne takes the cake for his brilliant portrayal of Stephen Hawking that ticks all the right boxes.

BEST ACTRESS

Will Win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Should Win: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Dark Horse: None

This race is over and done with. Nobody but Julianne Moore is going home with that trophy tomorrow night.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Will Win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Should Win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Dark Horse: None

J.K. Simmons won this award all the way back at Sundance 2014. There's no way that he's losing for his monstrous, outstanding performance in Whiplash.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Will Win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Should Win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Dark Horse: Emma Stone, Birdman

Arquette is close to a sure thing, but I feel that there's some momentum shifting over to Emma Stone's corner. Not to say that she has any remote chance of winning, but I wouldn't say that this race is as finished as Supporting Actor or Best Actress. Still, Arquette should have no time walking away with the win tomorrow.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Will Win: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel/Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Dark Horse: Birdman

Wes Anderson's screenplay for The Grand Budapest Hotel is very witty and charming and he should take home an easy win here. The film won't get a ton of love in the other categories, but it should have a good shot of topping Birdman here. And although I adore the screenplay for Grand Budapest, part of me is hoping for a Nightcrawler win tomorrow. It's not likely, but after a few rewatches, I realized just how brilliant that film is.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Will Win: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Should Win: Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Dark Horse: Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Adapted Screenplay is a complete toss-up. It could go to the traditional, smart and well-written period drama The Imitation Game. Or to the intensely focused screenplay for Whiplash. Word on the street is that the Academy adores Whiplash, so I definitely could see it pulling a slight upset here.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Will Win: Birdman
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dark Horse: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Emmanuel Lubezki's cinematography in Birdman is pretty spectacular, so I definitely understand why it will win (even though I prefer Robert Yeoman's work on The Grand Budapest Hotel). Lubezki's sweeping camera work makes the film a unique experience and he will deservedly pick up his second straight Oscar.

BEST FILM EDITING

Will Win: Boyhood
Should Win: Whiplash
Dark Horse: Whiplash

Whiplash has fierce, intense editing and many quick cuts that give the film a sense of urgency. Boyhood, on the other hand, is a strong editing job that condensed a lot of material down to a couple of hours. Conventional wisdom says that Boyhood will win and I have to assume that will be the case. But don't count Whiplash out just yet.

BEST ANIMATED FILM

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Should Win: The LEGO Movie (stunningly not nominated)
Dark Horse: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

This race should have easily been won by The LEGO Movie, but instead, the Academy decided to snub the highly praised animated film and nominate a couple of artsy dramas that nobody saw. So, much to my disappointment, the Oscar tomorrow will likely go to How to Train Your Dragon 2. Big Hero 6 and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya have an outside shot, but this is Dreamworks' race to lose.

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Will Win: Citizenfour
Dark Horse: Virunga

Citizenfour is a timely film and a movie that literally brought history to life. I haven't seen any of the nominated films, but I have to say that it's a massive disappointment that Life Itself was not nominated. A documentary about one of the most important men in the film industry and his love for life and movies should have received a nomination. Just saying.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Will Win: Ida
Dark Horse: Leviathan

Leviathan picked up a few awards, but Ida has steadily dominated all year. The Polish film should pick up its final award tomorrow night.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dark Horse: Maleficent

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a technically outstanding film and the costumes help to fully realize the brilliant world that Anderson has put on screen. The film should have no trouble picking up a win here.

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: Foxcatcher
Dark Horse: Guardians of the Galaxy

There are only three nominees in this category, so The Grand Budapest Hotel has a great shot of winning again here. I would love to see the subtle, interesting work on Foxcatcher get a win, and the love for Guardians of the Galaxy is there, so a victory is not out of the question. But in the end, I still think that The Grand Budapest Hotel will walk home with the trophy.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dark Horse: None

Even though my love for Interstellar is strong, The Grand Budapest Hotel's production values could not be matched. This was a beautifully designed film and it totally deserves a win here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Will Win: Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Dark Horse: Johann Johannson, The Theory of Everything

This is one of the tightest races left, as The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Theory of Everything have fought it out all season. I personally believe that Desplat's work will come out on top, but I can't believe that Hans Zimmer's thundering score for Interstellar hasn't gotten more love. It's a memorable and emotional piece of cinematic music and I would love to see it shock everyone with a win tomorrow.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Will Win: "Glory" from Selma
Should Win: "Everything is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie
Dark Horse: "Everything is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie

The LEGO Movie was infamously snubbed in the Best Animated Feature category, and this could be a way for the voters to make up for that loss. That being said, Selma has dominated this category all year and some also believe that Selma was snubbed by the voters. All in all, this will be a tough fight, but I think that Selma will come out on top with its only Oscar.

BEST SOUND EDITING

Will Win: American Sniper
Should Win: Interstellar
Dark Horse: Interstellar

To be honest, I don't know what Sound Editing is or what Sound Mixing is, but American Sniper was the favorite on Gold Derby so I just went with that.

BEST SOUND MIXING

Will Win: Whiplash
Should Win: Whiplash
Dark Horse: American Sniper

Whiplash had some spectacular sound, so I'm hoping that it picks up a win here.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Will Win: Interstellar
Should Win: Interstellar
Dark Horse: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

This is the only category that Interstellar has a shot of winning and it had some astounding visuals. It should win over the equally impressive effects on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The final three categories are all short films, and I'm not even going to attempt to predict any of them. It should be a very interesting night and I'm hoping for a lot of surprise. Be sure to come back in an hour for my Oscars Live Blog!

Image Credits: New Yorker, Mashable, Indiewire, Hollywood Reporter, Mashable, Wordpress, The Dissolve, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, New Yorker, NY Post, Selma movie, Indiewire

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