2015 Academy Awards & Oscar Predictions – Monday Morning Critic Special Edition

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The Oscars have fallen in interest over the years for a lot of reasons and admittedly so has my own interest in it.  The Academy Awards still mean something … but they’re not the end all be all of film anymore.  They kind of are like the Heisman trophy of film.  They mean a lot to win one, of course, but it’s never the best in most categories that’ll win.  The Oscars are about a certain type of film at a certain time of the year, nothing more, and oddly enough I think we’re ok with that these days.

Rattling off Oscar wins as enhancing credibility is a lot like citing Rotten Tomatoes scores to me; it’s something but if it’s being cited your argument is failing.  As always, only the categories that matter are the ones that I’m focusing on.  If you’re a gambling man this is the sort of years where playing the chalk would be the most advisable.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Emma Stone (Birdman), Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Kiera Knightley (The Imitation Game), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods), Laura Dern (Wild)

The Prediction:  Arquette is the odds on favorite so I think playing the chalk will be the right call.  Stone would be the viable upset, if Birdman wound up being a storm that rose the waters for all ships.  Usually supporting actress is where the biggest chance of an upset could be, and if it does Stone would be the viable contender to step in, but Arquette has been cleaning up the hardware and should walk away with the Oscar this year.  Streep is an Oscar mainstay, as she can’t do anything in a year without being in the discussion, but a record tying fourth win (putting her and Katharine Hepburn in elite territory) isn’t going to come from this.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:  Edward Norton (Birdman), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), Robert Duvall (The Judge), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

The Prediction:  Simmons has been cleaning things up and seems to be another lock to win an Oscar.  Whiplash hasn’t been garnering any other awards and this feels like the right nominee at the right time.  The Academy does tend to award at least one Oscar to a deserving film that’ll get passed over and this feels it.  Ruffalo and Foxcatcher seem to be in the same boat and look for him to be the upset if it isn’t Simmons.  Duvall is a recognizable name but this would be one of the worst performances to win an Oscar in recent history, easy, if he walks away with one.

Best Actress

Nominees:  Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

The Prediction: Julianne Moore is the presumptive favorite and comes in with a lot of momentum.  She’s also the one person nominated who feels overdue for a win, thus history seems to be on her side.  The problem is that Rosamund Pike had such a deliciously evil performance in Gone Girl, something more people have wound up seeing, might be a late surge away from winning.  The one thing about winning an Oscar is that winning one is more about timing than it is about performance sometimes.

Best Actor

Nominees: Bradley Cooper (American Snider), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

The Prediction:  This is one of the more intriguing categories as history is dictating Redmayne (he just won the SAG award for Best Actor and it’s the best reliable predictor for it) BUT Keaton is riding Birdman‘s coattails alongside a wave of momentum for a long and distinguished career.  Benedict Cumberbatch was the favorite early and seems to have trailed off.  Either of this trio could win.  Throw in that Carell is doing the “comedian in a dramatic role” aspect and Cooper has gotten rave reviews (and American Sniper has made a ton at the box office) and this is the biggest toss up of any of the big categories.  I’ll pick the upset and go with Keaton.

Best Director

Nominees:  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarittu (Birdman), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

The Prediction: This is another category where it gets interesting.  Linklater would seem to be the pick here, as a consolation for Boyhood most likely not winning for Best Picture, like how Alfonso Cauron took it for Gravity as a sort of consolation prize.  Wes Anderson and Bennett Miller haven’t won and would make for nice consolation prizes, as well.  Inarittu should be the pick, as director/picture often goes hand in hand, but I think the award splits this year.  Linklater is my pick.

Best Picture

Nominees:  American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash

The Prediction: For Birdman to lose a upset of historic proportions would have to happen.  No film has won as many awards as this film has right now and not walked away with an Oscar win.  It has all the right things for Oscar too; it has the appropriate amount of reference to Hollywood itself, has an actor playing a role that’s seemingly autobiographical and references the theatrical acting experience that everyone in Hollywood has.  It’s about as naval gazing as it gets, thus it’s the prohibitive favorite coming in.  Boyhood is a safe pick if you’re not going to play the chalk, as it’s the most likely suspect if Birdman didn’t garner the votes to win.  Anything else besides those two will be a genuine surprise.

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