87th Academy Awards Nominations Predictions   Leave a comment

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After almost a year of doing monthly predictions, all prayer circles come to this. Tonight, Academy president Cheryl Isaac Boones together with actor Chris Pine, current Best Director winner Alfonso Cuaron, and J.J. Abrams will finally reveal the 2014 class of Oscar nominees. And as per tradition, I’ll be offering my short thoughts in all 21 races.

Ready? Here we go!

BEST PICTURE
• American Sniper
• Birdman
• Boyhood
• The Grand Budapest Hotel
• Gone Girl
• The Imitation Game
• Selma
• The Theory of Everything
• Whiplash

10th (but not predicted): Nightcrawler

With 10 slots up for grabs, it’s easy to identify those that would make it in a field of five. As for starters, there’s clear frontrunner Boyhood ahead of the pack. Along with it is the meta comedy Birdman, Harvey Weinstein’s biggest push The Imitation Game, the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything,  and this season’s biggest surprise The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Selma is a clear victim of campaign mishandling and bad timing which led to its bad guild and precursor performance, but if they’re such on a limited time, it’s indeed wise to focus their eyes to Oscar which I think will pay off with a nomination. Whiplash has indeed been an overperformer this season managing to overcome obstacles one after the other, and a nod is assured at this point. American Sniper fits the bill of that late game-changing contender who’ll usually do well on the big day despite being under the radar for the most part. It’s eliciting real passion which would be enough in a tricky category such as this one. The last two slots clear go to Gone Girl and Nightcrawler — the former being that box office hit representative from an auteur that commands respect among his peers while the latter is a debut feature that hits all the right notes in terms of campaigning. If they decide to nominate ten films, then count on both making it, but since the 6-10 rule change in 2011, the median number of nominees here is 9. I’d give the advantage to Gone Girl making it in then.

BEST DIRECTOR
• Clint Eastwood, “American Sniper”
• Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman”
• Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
• Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
• Ava Duvernay, “Selma”

SPOILER: Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”

The consensus three is composed of Linklater, Anderson, and Inarritu, and they all seem safe and guaranteed for slots already. Despite the Academy being cold to his more recent works, Clint Eastwood never gives up finally hitting the right notes again for the first time in 8 years; thus, I see an Oscar nod accompanying his DGA mention. Like her movie, I’m expecting Globe nominee Ava Duvernay to hit it right at the Osccars despite underwhelming at the precursors. She has the narrative and the passion to make a case in getting nominated. Don’t count out Damien Chazelle though who managed to get a BAFTA nod for Whiplash, or Morten Tyldum who showed up at DGA despite literally missing everywhere.

BEST ACTOR
• Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
• Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
• Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
• David Oyelowo, “Selma”
• Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

SPOILER:  Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

What a category. You have nine names battling out for five slots it’s not even funny thinking the possibilities here. Well whatever happens though, two names are assured already. The two Golden Globe Best Actor winners, Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne for comedy and drama respectively, are likely to happen no matter what. Benedict Cumberbatch is in a safe albeit lower position than the two frontrunners for his turn as Alan Turing. The rest, to put it easily, is a clusterfuck. Despite missing some big precursors, David Oyelowo playing MLK seems too odd to miss especially since the Academy, unlike other guilds, has ample time to see Selma, so I’m sticking with him here. The last spot I go back and forth between two men whose names isn’t Jake Gyllenhaal sadly. While Jake seems logical after hitting all precursors, I think he somehow is affected that the two names are from far stronger films overall. First, there’s Ralph Fiennes who picked up Globe and BAFTA nods as part of a Top 5 finisher. Then there’s Bradley Cooper who’s hot on the heels of AMPAS with two consecutive nods under his belt, and with a really baity role this time around and lots of people campaigning for him. I guess one of those two makes it, and I won’t even be surprised if both Cooper and Fiennes make it in with Oyelowo missing.

BEST ACTRESS
• Amy Adams, “Big Eyes“
• Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
• Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
• Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
• Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

SPOILER: Jennifer Aniston, “Cake”

In probably the most boring race for Lead Actress in a long time, we have four names likely making it in already: Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Rosamund Pike, and Felicity Jones. The last spot is between two ladies with equally both pros and cons. First up, you have perennial nominee Amy Adams in Harvey Weinstein backed-up film Big Eyes.  She just won the Golden Globe last Sunday eve increasing her chances of a nom. While it seemed like her snub is impending, the Today Show controversy made her such a headline again. And she got in at the BAFTAs which sealed her last two nominations despite both times missing at SAG. Then there’s Jennifer Aniston in that film that no one probably knew about: Cake. While pundits are rallying about it, plus her getting in at Globe + SAG, would that be enough for her to have that elusive Oscar nod? Me thinks that it’s better to be safe and stick with a name the Academy has nominated five times in nine years.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
• Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
• Edward Norton, “Birdman”
• Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
• J.k. Simmons, “Whiplash”

SPOILER: Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”

This is as barren as one can possibly get, so it’s either we retain that same line up, or we have a totally out of the field surprise. Steve Carell’s BAFTA nod here threw many of us in the loop so let’s see if SPC can pull this trick off. I’d say they get close, but not totally good enough.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
• Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
• Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
• Emma Stone, “Birdman”
• Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

SPOILER: Renee Russo, “Nightcrawler”

Patricia, Keira, and Emma have garnered precursors one after the other that they’re names are expected to show up already. Meryl missed the BAFTA (like last year for August: Osage County) but who cares? It’s the Oscars we’re talking about here so hello nod #19. The last spot is between Globe nominee Jessica Chastain who’s hot on the heels of Oscar getting nominated twice in the last three years, and BAFTA nominee Renee Russo. It does seem logical that Nightcrawler is the stronger performer between that and A Most Violent Year, but Chastain is the more known of the two, and I don’t expect Nightcrawler to really hit it big with the Oscars despite great precursor run. I keep going back and forth, but I think I give Chastain a hair-like edge in this race.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
• Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Armando Bo,
Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., “Birdman“
• Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
• Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
• Mike Leigh, “Mr. Turner”
• Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler”

SPOILER: E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, “Foxcatcher”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
• Jason Hall, “American Sniper”
• Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”
• Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”
• Anthony McCarten, “The Theory of Everything”
• Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”

SPOILER: Nick Hornby, “Wild”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
• Force Majeure (Sweden)
• Ida (Poland)
• Leviathan (Russia)
• Tangerines (Estonia)
• Wild Tales (Argentina)

SPOILER: Timbuktu (Mauritania)

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
• Big Hero 6
• The Boxtrolls
• How to Train Your Dragon 2
• The LEGO Movie
• The Tale of Princess Kaguya

SPOLER: Song of the Sea

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
• Citizenfour
• Finding Vivien Maier
• Life Itself
• The Overnighters
• Virunga

SPOILER: Last Days in Vietnam

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
• Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)
• Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal)
• Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
• Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

SPOILER: Interstellar (Hoyte van Hoytema)

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)
• The Imitation Game (Sammy Sheldon Differ)
• Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)
• Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)
• Selma (Ruth E. Carter)

SPOILER: Belle (Anushia Nieradzik)

BEST EDITING
• Birdman (Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione)
• Boyhood (Sandra Adair)
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)
• The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)
• Whiplash (Tom Cross)

SPOILER: American Sniper (Joel Cox and Gary Roach)

BEST HAIRSTYLING & MAKE UP
• The Grand Budapest Hotel
• Guardians of the Galaxy
• The Theory of Everything

SPOILER: Foxcatcher

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
• Gone Girl (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)
• The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)
• Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)
• The Theory of Everything (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

SPOILER: Nightcrawler (James Newton Howard)

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
• Everything Is Awesome (The LEGO Movie)
• Glory (Selma)
• I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me)
• Lost Stars (Begin Again)
• Opportunity (Annie)

SPOILER: Split the Difference (Boyhood)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
• The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen)
• The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic)
• Interstellar (Nathan Crowley)
• Into the Woods (Dennis Gasner)
• Mr. Turner (Suzie Davis)

SPOILER: Unbroken (Jon Hutman)

BEST SOUND EDITING
• American Sniper
• Guardians of the Galaxy
• The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
• Interstellar
• Unbroken

SPOILER: Fury

BEST SOUND MIXING
• American Sniper
• Birdman
• Into the Woods
• Unbroken
• Whiplash

SPOILER: Gone Girl

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
• Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
• Godzilla
• Guardians of the Galaxy
• The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies
• Interstellar

SPOILER: X-Men: Days of Future Past

NOMINATION TALLY (only of ym predicted Best Picture nominees)

The Grand Budapest Hotel – 10
Birdman
– 9
The Imitation Game – 8
Boyhood, The Theory of Everything –  6
Selma, American Sniper, Whiplash – 5
Gone Girl – 4

Personally I’m rooting for Jennifer Aniston just to make this season go crazier and more fun. Launching my prayer circle in a few!

Talk about this with me on Twitter: @nikowl

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