It is true that in years past, many of the categories have felt easy to predict, but this year, a number of categories feel like an incredibly close race not just for two films, but in some instances even three or four. The Best Picture victor in particular is the hardest it has been to call since before The Return of the King in 2004. It makes it not only exciting to see which films will ultimately come out on top, but also a nail-biter to see if our favorites will somehow be able to hit it big.
So, like I did last year, I’m going to make a post detailing my picks for what I think the eventual award winners will be, and my reasoning as to why, and I’ll also chip in my picks for what I’d most like to win in each category. Keep in mind that I am nowhere near 100% on most of these, but this is about as certain as I’m ever going to be. With that said, let’s get started.
Best Live Action Short: The Phone Call
Best Documentary Short: Our Curse
Best Animated Short: Feast
The Short film categories are some of the trickiest to call, because no one really knows how the branches voting for them think. However, with voting having been expanded to the Academy as a whole in recent years, it’s always fun to make estimated guesses. The Phone Call is an incredible short, featuring career-high performances from Sally Hawkins and Jim Broadbent, and could propel itself to a win based on its well known stars. Feast has the benefit of playing before Best Animated Feature nominee Big Hero 6, and I think its popularity will help it out. Our Curse has the potentially baity subject matter that can appeal to this branch of voters, although I wouldn’t be shocked at Joanna or Crisis Hotline winning.
Best Visual Effects: Interstellar
Christopher Nolan has always been praised for his preference for practical effects work over CGI, and it looks like Interstellar will mark the second time one of his films has won this award. It still faces tough competition from the fantastic motion capture of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but I think The Nolan film will eke it out. Also, congratulations to Marvel for scoring three nominations in this category.
Should Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Best Sound Editing: American Sniper
Whether or not you love American Sniper, there’s no denying the staggering quality to the sound work in the film. The sound team of the film look primed to win at least one category, but as for the other category…
Should win: Interstellar (in the absence of How to Train Your Dragon 2)
Best Sound Mixing: Birdman
A complete shot in the dark, but it’s a gut reaction that I have to go with. The Academy as a whole has never been the best at differentiating the two categories, and it’s very rare to see an example of two films nominated in both sound categories splitting victories (Les Miserables doesn’t count as it was only in Sound Mixing), so traditional logic usually dictates that if you pick a film to win one, it’s best to predict it for the other. However, let’s not forget when Slumdog Millionaire and The Dark Knight split wins in both categories in 2008, and I expect that to happen again with the subtle, but phenomenal sound work of Birdman. It’s a Best Picture favorite, it’s sound work is essential to maintaining its tone, and though I may end up kicking myself in the back should Sniper win, I have to go with the bird.
Should win: American Sniper
Best Original Song: “Glory” from Selma
This one is pretty much a lock. John Legend and Common have been cleaning up awards left and right for their powerful anthem from Selma, and most of its competition doesn’t have the momentum to beat it. “Grateful” should be satisfied it’s even nominated at all, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” doesn’t have the same popularity to it, and “Lost Stars” (though beautiful) is not the runaway success that “Falling Slowly” was in 2007. “Everything is Awesome” is the only real competition Selma has, especially for those who really want to see The Lego Movie win an Oscar after its egregious Animated Feature snub, but I think the Best Picture nominee will win it by far.
Should win: “Glory”
Best Original Score: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Congratulations to Alexandre Desplat for managing two nominations this year, and though I’d prefer he win for his stronger work in The Imitation Game, I’d be incredibly satisfied to see him win an Oscar at long last. However, he’s not out of the woods yet, as the Academy could easily give the award to The Theory of Everything as a consolation prize for the film.
Should win: The Imitation Game (in the absence of How to Train Your Dragon 2)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Guardians of the Galaxy
The Grand Budapest Hotel looks likely to be the biggest winner in the technical categories, but this is one category where I ultimately think it won’t win. That’s not to say it doesn’t deserve to win, but I think the flashier, more plentiful variety at work in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy will be the one to claim the prize.
Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Production Design/ Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Both of these are guaranteed for Anderson’s gorgeously designed film. They’ve been cleaning guild and award show victories left and right, and nothing can derail them.
Should win Costume Design: Into the Woods
Should win Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Film Editing: Boyhood
What to pick, what to pick? Do I go with the skillfully assembled montage of 12 years in Boyhod? Do I pick the rapid fire cutting of Whiplash (potentially a Dragon Tattoo in this category)? Do I pick the exhilarating mixture of home front sequences and action showcases in American Sniper? All of them seem like likely winners, and I know that whatever I pick, I’ll probably be wrong anyway, but I’ll go with Sandra Adair on this one.
Should win: The Imitation Game (in the absence of Birdman)
Best Cinematography: Birdman
Well, Duh! The film’s one-take cutting is genius. Get that second Oscar, Chivo!
Should win: Birdman (in the absence of Interstellar)
Best Documentary Feature: Citizenfour
With Life Itself out of the running, this recipient of numerous guild honors was always the second most likely option, and looks to be the big winner of this category. Be aware that Virunga could be a spoiler in this category.
Best Foreign Language Film: Leviathan
Most of the popular vote points to Ida winning the category, but I’m firmly sticking with the trend of the Golden Globe winner eventually going on to win the Oscar.
Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2
This category gave us the biggest, most shocking snub of the year. For the entire year, Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s The Lego Movie was the assumed frontrunner, but when it failed to show up on Nomination morning, the uproar was furious. The sad fact remains that it was not nominated, and in its absence, that leaves the victory wide open for Golden Globe winner How to Train Your Dragon 2. The film is critically acclaimed all across the board, and considering its competition includes a superhero flick from the recently awarded Disney, Laika’s weakest stop motion effort to date, and two foreign animations that few people have seen, to see director Dean DeBlois win for his powerful film will be so satisfying.
Should win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game
The script won the WGA, it’s one of the chief competitors to win Best Picture, and it’s backed by the crafty Harvey Weinstein. This is one victory The Imitation Game can look forward to on Oscar night.
Should win: The Imitation Game
Best Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
This is a tricky race to call, as the three most likely candidates to win Best Picture are all battling with each other to see who will eventually win. There’s a case to be made for all of them, but I think recent WGA award winner Wes Anderson will at long last claim a rightfully deserved Oscar for his layered and remarkable scripting.
Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
There is the very real possibility that Boyhood will lose in all five of its other categories, but this is one category where no such threat will happen. However, as much as I love the film, I can’t help but feel Arquette has been swept up in the popularity of Boyhood, giving a very good, but not quite Oscar worthy performance. She’s cleaned up every major precursor leading up to here, but will sadly coast to victory over the more deserving Keira Knightley and Emma Stone.
Should win: Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
No rushing or dragging here! Moving on…
Should win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Best Lead Actress: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Julianne Moore will at long last claim her rightfully deserved Oscar after years of putting up with the Academy nominating her only to leave her without a win. There’s nothing in her way.
Should win: Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Best Lead Actor: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Here’s the thing; I don’t actually believe that Eddie Redmayne is going to win, as I think Michael Keaton will still be able to edge it out to victory despite Redmayne's suprise victory at the Screen Actor's Guild. This is merely a prediction for my own sake, as I don’t want to get my hopes too high for fear of the crushing disappointment of my favorite performance of 2014 losing, and I’d rather get a prediction wrong and be ecstatic than be wrong and be bitter about it. The race here is simply that close, and I could also see Bradley Cooper making a huge upset here.
Should win: Michael Keaton - Birdman
Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu – Birdman
Having claimed the prestigious DGA award not long ago, it seems that Innaritu is the clear favorite to win. Don’t be shocked, however, if Linklater has enough of a surge in support to snatch it in the final stretch.
Should win: Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu - Birdman
Best Motion Picture of the Year: Boyhood
This is hands down the toughest category to call. Ever since its release in August, Boyhood has been universally acclaimed by critics as a masterpiece of modern filmmaking. For most of the year, it was the clear frontrunner, and claimed victories from the Golden Globes and the Critic’s Choice Awards, but being the early frontrunner is seldom a good thing. In what has been called a Social Network 2.0, the momentum for the Best Picture award later swayed to Birdman, which beat Boyhood out at the PGA’s, which uses a preferential voting ballot system identical to the one used by the Academy, which makes it possible for a film to receive fewer first place votes than another film, but still win because it has enough second or third place votes to prevail.
Admittedly Birdman’s frontrunner status was always in doubt, due to the fact that the film was not included in the Best Film Editing lineup on nomination morning, and a film has not won Best Picture without at least securing a spot in that lineup since Ordinary People 34 years ago. However, rather than it being a mark of death on the film’s chances, maybe the film’s editing was that invisible that the snub didn’t do as much damage as we thought. Widespread appeal was an essential for Birdman, and with its DGA victory, many now predict it to be the favorite for Best Picture. However, I think the race is still more heated than most assume. I doubt that one of these films wins Best Picture without also winning Best Director, and it all simply comes down to which film is the more likely to come out on top. It’s neck and neck between the two, and there is no clear cut answer as to which can pull it off.
In fact, the race may become so heated, and passion for both films may lead to such a split that a spoiler in this category could come from nowhere and best both of them. In that instance, The Grand Budapest Hotel looks most likely to do so. It’s geared to potentially win at least four awards on Oscar night, and is likely also going to be adding an award for its screenwriting to its tally. The film may come off as too idiosyncratic to win, but it may actually be more accessible than we give it credit for. Everyone loves this movie, it has endured with staggering longevity, and with its impressive tally of nine nominations, it’s clear that the film’s fanbase is passionate enough that should the battle between Birdman and Boyhood lead to a split, Wes Anderson could be the biggest winner of the night.
Of course, there’s also the possibility of what I’m predicting to happen, that Anderson takes screenwriting, Innaritu takes directing, and Linklater takes Picture. That would honestly be the best option to reward all three directors for their hard work and dedication to each of their unique and impressive films, and allow the Academy to spread the love in a very inspired way. Do I think it will actually happen? Likely not, but I honestly have no idea of what to think about any of this. I’m simply spreading the wealth in my predictions to cover all bases, because I don’t want to get any of them wrong. Then again, they could screw with me by switching the order of how all three of these auteurs are rewarded. In fact, it's entirely possible for any one of these directors to claim all three awards in one fell swoop, but to play it safe, I’m calling Anderson for screenplay, Innaritu for direction, and Linklater to claim Best Picture for his beloved 12 year experimental epic.
Should win: Birdman
And we shall see how all of my predictions pan out this Sunday. Enjoy the show, everyone…