I am obsessed with award shows. Even though they’re stupid and pointless and pretentious and self-congratulatory, I just can’t help it. I find them utterly irresistible. I watched the Golden Globes when they were on; I’m going to watch the Baftas tonight; and two weeks from today I fully intend to stay up until 5 am watching the Oscars. I just think they’re a lot of fun. I enjoy watching the nominated films, I enjoy watching the ceremonies, and most of all I enjoy trying to predict the winners. Therefore, with a fortnight to go until Oscar night I thought I’d share by predictions for the 11 main categories. Personally I didn’t find this year’s nominations to be as impressive as, say, last year’s (and the lack of diversity this year is, to say the least, uninspired), but there are definitely some gems in there and, as always, I had a lot of fun forming my final predictions.
I think this one is a safe bet. It’s going to be Boyhood. It has everything going for it. It is in itself a monumental cinematic achievement, it was a critical darling, it was quite possibly the most crowd-pleasing film of the year (I’ve yet to meet a single person who disliked it), and it has won several major awards already including the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice Award. Nine times out of ten it is usually the most nominated films that end up winning the top prize but Boyhood, which only garnered a modest 6 nominations, looks set to break that trend.
Runner Up: Since the Oscar voters tend to favour the most nominated films it looks like Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, with 9 nominations each, are the most likely to challenge Boyhood. Both are great films in their own right and worthy competitors. They are both very well made, they are both unique, and they both pushed cinematic boundaries. However, out of these two films, I think that Birdman has a slight edge over The Grand Budapest Hotel because in recent years the Academy has proven to be very favourable of films about films (recent examples include Argo and The Artist). I think that the chances of Boyhood losing this race are very slim but, if it does happen, I think that extra factor could count in Birdman’s favour.
Best Leading Actor
It looks like the competition is split between Michael Keaton for Birdman and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. Both are first-time nominees who give vastly different but equally brilliant performances. Keaton gives a louder, more eccentric performance whereas Redmayne gives a quieter, more sensitive performance. Both have received heaps of praise and both have won Golden Globes. Ultimately though, I think that Eddie Redmayne is going to win. For one thing, he plays a beloved real-life figure. Secondly, not only did he deliver a great emotional performance, he delivered a great physical performance. Redmayne’s portrayal of the physical effects of the disease was so compelling that I often forgot that I was watching an actor. I think that a lot of the voters are going to feel the same way.
Runner Up: Michael Keaton. No question. If Eddie Redmayne doesn’t win, it’s going to be Michael Keaton.
Best Leading Actress
I’ve yet to see Still Alice (I’ve booked a ticket for it at the Glasgow Film Festival in a couple week’s time) so I cannot assess Julianne Moore’s performance first-hand. However, based on the reception she’s received so far, I think her victory is more or less a foregone conclusion. I understand that she portrays a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s (mental disorders are always a big plus with Academy voters) and delivers a powerhouse performance. In addition to the subject matter and her Golden Globe and SAG wins, another factor in her favour is that she is a highly regarded and highly acclaimed actress who has yet to win an Oscar. This year marks her fifth nomination, and I suspect that many voters will feel that she is over-due and will seize the chance to finally recognise her (I’m already starting to like the sound of “Academy Award Winner Julianne Moore”).
Runner Up: Out of the four remaining nominees, the only one I can possibly imagine challenging Julianne Moore is Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl. I’m not sure what the rules of spoiler etiquette are in this kind of article, but I think I’d better be on the safe side and stay clear of them. All I can really say is that she delivers an incredible performance and was the highlight of a great film that was otherwise undeservedly snubbed by the Academy.
Best Supporting Actor
J. K. Simmons. What else is there to say? His performance in Whiplash is loud, ruthless, vicious, layered and captivating. The role he plays is an actor’s dream and he pulls it off brilliantly. He’s going to win.
Runner Up: It’s almost a shame that Simmons is a shoe-in for this award, because Edward Norton’s performance in Birdman is the kind that could possibly win in almost any other year. He similarly gives a loud, bombastic performance which he combines with a twisted eccentricity that is both brilliant and hilarious.
Best Supporting Actress
I think that this is quite a close race because, to me anyway, no one really stands out as a clear winner. Having said that, it looks like the odds are in Patricia Arquette’s favour. She gave a wonderfully vulnerable and sensitive performance in Boyhood, a performance that was literally years in the making, and she has a Golden Globe and SAG to show for it.
Runner Up: I have to be honest; I don’t think Meryl Streep deserves to be in this race. I know that she’s the best actress of her generation and, in the words of Cam from Modern Family, “she is perfection”, but she really doesn’t deserve to be here. I know that it’s blasphemy to say this, but Meryl Streep is not a very good singer. She’s not bad, but she isn’t good either. Her singing in Mamma Mia is not as amazing as everyone thinks it is and neither is her singing in Into the Woods. However I seem to be in the minority here because here she is on her 19th nomination. I feel compelled to name her as the runner up because she’s Meryl freaking Streep and because everyone else has been raving about her performance in this film, but I do so grudgingly.
Iñárritu’s victory at the Director’s Guild Awards yesterday has drastically improved his chances of an Oscar victory but, as deserving as he is, I still think that the Academy is going to opt for Richard Linklater. Boyhood was an incredibly ambitious project and the fact that Linklater pulled it off shows him to be a visionary director. It is a very close race, but in the end I think that the voters will respond more to Linklater than they will to Iñárritu.
Runner Up: Alejandro G. Iñárritu. His work on Birdman is seminal. His singular vision turned Birdman into a roller coaster of a film and I believe he deserves to be recognised for it.
Best Adapted Screenplay
I found this category to be the most difficult to judge because I was utterly convinced that Gone Girl was going to win. I still haven’t gotten over the shock of its snub. However, upon review, I find myself favouring Whiplash for the win (even though the debate rages on over whether or not it even belongs in this category). The conflict between the two main characters is amazing to behold and the way that they evolve and are developed throughout the film is incredible. The actors deserve praise for their impeccable performances, but Damien Chazelle more so for providing the material.
Runner Up: Probably The Imitation Game. The entire film is a celebration of one of the most remarkable men in British history and they did a first-rate job of portraying Alan Turing as the brilliant man that he was.
Best Original Screenplay
This category boils down to a race between Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel and, as I write this, I still cannot decide which one deserves it more. They are the two most original, most unconventional films of the year and I really wish I could predict them both. Ultimately I think that the voters are more likely to choose Birdman for the same reason why I made it the runner up of the Best Picture race but, honestly, they should both win.
Runner Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Best Animated Feature
Even now I still cannot believe that The Lego Movie was snubbed. It was funny, it was clever, it was brilliant and it was more than worthy of a nomination. However, even if it had been nominated, I would still be predicting How to Train Your Dragon 2 to win. It’s not often that a sequel improves on the original, but it did in this case. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was full of action, full of humour and full of heart and complements the original film perfectly.
Runner Up: This is where I should be writing about The Lego Movie. In its absence I’m going to have to go with The Boxtrolls. Even though I haven’t actually seen it, I feel I can safely call it the runner up due to a process of elimination. For one thing it has been consistently nominated in other major award shows, unlike Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. In addition I feel I can safely dismiss Big Hero 6 because, having seen it, I did not find it to be in any way Oscar-worthy.
Best Foreign Language Film
I have to confess that I have not seen any of the nominees in this category and so what follows is going to be based purely on speculation. The consensus, as I understand it, is that the main competition is between Poland’s Ida and Russia’s Leviathan. Both have received acclaim and won awards. I think I’m going to side with Ida on this one, mainly because it is the only film to be nominated in another category (Best Cinematography), something that can count for a lot in this race (it certainly helped A Separation and Amour).
Runner Up: Leviathan.
This is another category where I haven’t seen any of the nominees (I will get round to them, honest) but I think a lot of people agree that Citizenfour is the most likely to win. The Edward Snowden story is one of the biggest stories in the world right now, so it is unsurprising that Citizenfour is the film that everyone wants to see.
Runner Up: Finding Vivien Maier. No particular reason for this one. I looked each of the nominees up and this one seemed like the most interesting one after Citizenfour.
There are still two weeks to go, and a lot can happen in that time. Tonight’s Bafta results or next weeks WGA results could change people’s perceptions on certain films. Some kind of controversy could emerge which could ruin a nominee’s chances at winning (it’s happened before). During the next two weeks I could watch some of the films I haven’t gotten round to seeing yet and end up changing my mind on certain choices (I haven’t seen Selma yet). The voting ballots are not due until the 17th of February so, until then, nothing is written in stone. However, whatever does happen in the following fortnight, I’ve decided that the predictions I make here are final and cannot be changed for better or worse. Whatever will be, will be.