In its 87th year, the Academy Awards – officially rebranded as The Oscars in 2013 – are still considered the top honors for the American film industry. Through the years, the ceremony has been a battlefield between Hollywood heavy-hitters and independent game-changers with some films showered with praise and others completely ignored by the golden statuette.
This year’s Oscars seem to be evenly split between the films that usually attract Academy voters – the historical dramas and biopics that draw wide appeal – and the films that are groundbreaking in content and execution – films that feature dynamic, original stories.
Academy voters tend to be predictable, but this year’s competition is emerging as one of the most difficult to pinpoint as major contenders have emerged from both camps. There is no clear frontrunner expected to make a clean-sweep come Oscar night. That being said, we, Mary Moses Hitt and Colton Herrington, will share our picks for the famed statuette.
Described as the most uncertain Best Picture race in nearly a decade, the eight films in this category are all deserving of their nominations, but only one can make the cut. While “The Theory of Everything,” “Selma” and “Whiplash” are all very well done films, they’re at the bottom of this category’s totem pole. We can easily count them out.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game” have all generated the appropriate financial and critical success to emerge victorious. But, let’s be honest: it’s going to be a photo finish between “Birdman” and “Boyhood” for this top honor.
Over the summer, “Boyhood” started the award season as the distinct frontrunner, but in recent months, “Birdman” has emerged as its rival. Each has received a Best Picture Golden Globe (which splits the award between drama and comedy), with “Boyhood” also earning the Best Picture BAFTA and “Birdman” earning the SAG and PGA equivalents. All this to say, our bet (and our hope) is that “Boyhood” will walk away Sunday night as the ultimate victor.
Will Win: “Boyhood”
Could Win: “Birdman”
Dark Horse: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
In a similar showdown, “Boyhood” director Richard Linklater and “Birdman” director Alejandro González Iñárritu both are the top contenders in this category for their ambitious projects.
Though Linklater took home the BAFTA, Golden Globe and Critic’s Choice for Best Director, Inarritu won the Outstanding Directorial Achievement from the Director’s Guild of America, which is commonly the best indicator of who will take home the Oscar. It’s hard to predict against that. We’re interested to see which route the Academy takes.
If our predictions come true, this would be the third straight Best Picture and Best Director split.
Will Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Could Win: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Dark Horse: Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
This category is always very competitive – so competitive that many contenders can’t even get a nomination. Maybe next year Ralph Fiennes, Jake Gyllenhaal and David Oyelowo. Despite this being a crowded category, two men have emerged as clear frontrunners.
“Birdman” star Michael Keaton and “The Theory of Everything” actor Eddie Redmayne have both taken home multiple awards for their performances. Redmayne, however, won the SAG for Best Actor, and the last actor who managed this feat and didn’t go on to win the Oscar was in 2003.
So, will they give it to up-and-comer Eddie Redmayne or longtime actor Michael Keaton in his career revival?The other three nominees (Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch) deserve the honor but are merely along for the ride.
Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Could Win: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Dark Horse: Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
This year, the Best Actress category is all about Julianne Moore. No offense to Marion Cotillard’s performance, but who even heard of “Two Days, One Night” before the nominees were announced?
We can count her out by default, along with the other three nominees (Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike and Reese Witherspoon) because Julianne Moore is unstoppable in “Still Alice.”
Since the first showing of the film, Moore has been the frontrunner for this category, and nothing has changed since. Her heartbreaking performance will finally garner her first Oscar after four previous nominations with no wins.
Will Win: Julianne Moore
Could Win: Julianne Moore
Dark Horse: Julianne Moore
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR and BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
And, to no one’s surprise, the Oscar will go to J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash” and Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood.” Seriously, the amount of hype these two have had all awards season will mean Oscar gold come Sunday night.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:
In this category “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has already taken home the BAFTA and the WGA. All the nominees have a chance to claim this award, but “Budapest” will likely and deservingly get the victory. It’s time for Wes Anderson to finally be able to call himself an Oscar winner.
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Could Win: “Boyhood”
Dark Horse: “Nightcrawler”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:
The only nominee guaranteed not to win is “Inherent Vice,” which is surprisingly nominated over other superior films like “Gone Girl.” Reflecting how this is anyone’s race, “The Theory of Everything” beat out “The Imitation Game” at the BAFTAs, but “The Imitation Game” took home the Writer’s Guild Award. Even so, “Whiplash” can’t easily be ignored.
In the end, we think this is where the Academy will reward “The Imitation Game.”
Will Win: “The Imitation Game”
Could Win: “Whiplash”
Dark Horse: “The Theory of Everything”
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
This is a completely inaccurate category because “The LEGO Movie” was snubbed, and there are two foreign films that have generated zero buzz stateside. While the Academy isn’t big on animated sequels, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” could win by default based on its Golden Globe success. The Academy is also a Disney fangirl, however, making “Big Hero 6” a possibility.
Will Win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
Could Win: “Big Hero 6”
Dark Horse: “The Boxtrolls”
As for the rest of the mainstream categories, we’ll keep it simple:
Best Cinematography: “Birdman”
Best Film Editing: “Boyhood”
Best Production Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Best Score: “The Theory of Everything”
Best Song: “Glory” from “Selma”
Best Costume Design: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Best Sound Editing: “American Sniper”
Best Sound Mixing: “American Sniper”
Best Visual Effects: “Interstellar”
Signed, your resident movie buffs.