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Flack’s 2015 Oscar Nominations Predictions: Best Picture Question Marks and Actor Locks

Posted on | January 8, 2015 | 1 Comment

Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke in BoyhoodAs soon as the bloggers and journalists of awards-season finished analyzing (and retweeting) the 2014 Oscar broadcast, they began speculating about next year’s potential nominees (Jersey BoysBig Eyes?). A lot has changed since then, with the aforementioned films falling short of expectations and some smaller films stealthily sneaking to the front of the pack. There’s been an excess of who-cares mini-controversies (op-eds bemoaning historical inaccuracies, category-placement confusions, straight-up obnoxious Twitter outbursts), while journalists squeeze out every headline they can. Film writers have called this year’s crop of contenders smaller than usual, but they’re far from correct. Sure, some categories are easy to call, but the Best Picture race still leaves plenty of opportunities for snubs and shocks. Unlike profesional Oscar pundits, I haven’t seen every film, overheard industry whispering, or attended any cast-and-crew luncheons. But after much copying-and-pasting, fact-checking, and second-guessing, I’ve come up with my predictions for the major categories, with the nominees ranked in order of likeliness.

Best Picture

A Note: During the past three years, the Academy has allowed five to ten films to be nominated, and nine has been the magic number each time. Deciding how many films will snag noms this time is sheer speculation, so I’ve listed ten.

1. Boyhood

2. Birdman

3. Selma

4. The Imitation Game

5. Whiplash

6. The Theory of Everything

7. The Grand Budapest Hotel

8. Gone Girl

9. Foxcatcher

10. Unbroken

Analysis:

Drawing on the consensus of critics, box-office data, other Oscar experts’ picks, nominations from other awards-groups with overlapping voter-bodies, and my own forecasting, these are the ten films that have the best shot at a nom. Looking closely, my picks can be divided into debatably hyper-specific groups. At the front of the race are three films: coming-of-age journey Boyhood, showy show-business dramedy Birdman, and M.L.K. drama Selma. There’s no chance those films won’t get nominated. To a lesser extent, the same can be said about a duo of beloved indies (Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel) and two period biopics (The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything). It’s the last three remaining spots spots that get tricky. Gone Girl (a populist pick voters can feel good about) and Foxcatcher, two relatively divisive early-fall psychological thrillers, should get in there.

Unbroken and American Sniper, two true-stories of war bravery released on Christmas, will be duking it out for the tenth spot. Many critics have been calling Bradley Cooper’s lead performance the best thing about Sniper, but it’s difficult to imagine him getting nominated in that busy field. That, coupled with liberal voters wary of director Clint “Empty Chair” Eastwood, will weaken the film’s chances. That gives the edge to Unbroken, which despite negative reviews, can be called two of the Academy’s favorite adjectives: “tough-to-watch” and “crowd-pleasing”. If one of those two doesn’t make it, an under-the-radar arthouse pic (Nightcrawler or Mr. Turner) or a Hollywood epic (Interstellar or Into The Woods) could sneak in. But don’t count on it. I’ll stand by my ten picks.

Best Director:

1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

2. Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman)

3. Ava DuVernay (Selma)

4. Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

5. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Michael Keaton in BirdmanBest Actor:

1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)

2. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

3. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

4. David Oyelowo (Selma)

5. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

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)

Best Supporting Actor:

1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

2. Edward Norton (Birdman)

3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

5. Miyavi (Unbroken)

Best Supporting Actress:

1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

2. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

3. Emma Stone (Birdman)

4. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

5. Jessica Chaistain (A Most Violent Year)

Best Adapted Screenplay:

1. The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)

2. Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

3. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

4. The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten)

5. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Best Original Screenplay:

1. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

2. Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo)

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness)

4. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

5. Selma (Paul Webb)

Emmett and friends in The LEGO MovieBest Animated Feature:

1. The LEGO Movie

2. Big Hero 6

3. How To Train Your Dragon 2

4. The Tale of Princess Kaguya

5. Song of the Sea 

Best Foreign Language Film:

1. Ida (Poland)

2. Leviathan (Russia)

3. Force Majure (Sweeden)

4. Wild Tales (Argentina)

5. Tangerines (Georgia)

Best Documentary Feature:

1. Citizenfour

2. Life Itself

3. Keep On Keeping’ On

4. The Overnighters

5. Last Days in Vietnam

And those are my choices for eleven of the twenty-four Oscar categories. Tune in on January 15 for the announcement. One week to go…

Comments

One Response to “Flack’s 2015 Oscar Nominations Predictions: Best Picture Question Marks and Actor Locks”

  1. steve itkin
    January 17th, 2015 @ 10:22 am

    Agree with your picks, rather than the academy.

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