McGinnis: Oscar predictions for 2015Written by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
BEST PICTURE: Birdman vs. Boyhood
This is absolutely a two horse race, as the closest runner up to the two lead candidates (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”) is barely within shouting distance. Richard Linklater’s ambitious, bold and visionary film chronicling the growth of a young man was long considered the front-runner, but as award season has progressed the tide has changed. Hollywood found a candidate about its favorite subject — itself — and the landslide of awards being showered on “Birdman” seems to indicate it has its beak in front.
BEST DIRECTOR: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) vs. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
The temptation is to say that these two directors’ chances are completely tied to the Best Picture chances of their films, as the race between Iñárritu and Linklater is as close as their films’ is. But recent history has seen numerous Best Picture-winners’ directors get snubbed in their own category, and with two respected films neck-and-neck, voters may feel giving one Best Director and the other Best Picture is a good compromise. My gut, though, says it’s Iñárritu’s year, however much a Linklater win would delight me.
PREDICTION: Alejandro González Iñárritu
BEST ACTOR: Michael Keaton (Birdman) vs. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Easily the closest of any acting race, as Keaton seemed a lock early in Oscar season, though ironically his odds wavered as his film’s chances skyrocketed. It’s still not out of the realm of possibility for Keaton to pull this one out, but Eddie Redmayne has a lot of factors that Hollywood loves (the Rising Star factor, the He-Played-a-Real-Person factor, etc.). Add in that “Birdman” will probably win at least one bigger prize than this one, and voters’ desire to spread the love means Redmayne is your man.
PREDICTION: Eddie Redmayne
BEST ACTRESS: Julianne Moore (Still Alice) vs. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Moving into the “foregone conclusion” section of this year’s awards, we come to Julianne Moore winning her first Oscar for her gripping portrayal of a woman with early-onset-Alzheimer’s. Only Reese Witherspoon’s lonely hiker has a chance of upsetting Moore’s night, and when you consider that Witherspoon already has an Oscar, that is clearly a very, very slim chance.
PREDICTION: Julianne Moore
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Edward Norton (Birdman) vs. JK Simmons (Whiplash)
Another “race” in name only. Edward Norton’s temperamental method actor might have had a chance in any other year. But the brilliant JK Simmons delivered huge in a role that was absolutely essential to the success of “Whiplash,” and Simmons has been so good for so long that giving him an Oscar feels long overdue.
PREDICTION: JK Simmons
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) vs. Emma Stone (Birdman)
Really you could put any of the other four nominees in here vs. Patricia Arquette and the odds wouldn’t change. Arquette’s single mother was the emotional core of “Boyhood,” and given how it’s looking like the movie may not take many prizes outside of this category, her win will be seen as an acknowledgement film’s greatness.
PREDICTION: Patricia Arquette
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Birdman vs. The Grand Budapest Hotel
Odds seem to favor “Birdman” slightly, a safe bet given how the big categories are heading in that direction. But screenplay is where Oscar likes to reward challenging, unusual, even quirky work from respected creative minds (both of Tarantino’s Oscars came from this category). That description fits Wes Anderson to a T, and if he is to be shut out higher up on this list, then this will be seen as his consolation prize.
PREDICTION: The Grand Budapest Hotel
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: The Imitation Game vs. Whiplash
Wildly different films here, but a solid front-runner in Graham Moore’s work, telling the complex and tragic tale of Alan Turing, in a manner that unfolds much like Turing’s famous machine — disparate pieces that seem to have little connection that eventually lock into place, revealing a meaningful whole. Since “Imitation” will likely be shut out the rest of the night, the Academy will want to honor it somewhere.
PREDICTION: The Imitation Game
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Big Hero 6 vs. How to Train Your Dragon 2
The absence of “LEGO Movie” makes this category a little more clear, though its omission is no less baffling. “Dragon”‘s victory at the Golden Globes seems to indicate it (somewhat surprisingly) has the momentum, though no one would be shocked if “Big Hero 6″ pulled the upset.
PREDICTION: How to Train Your Dragon 2