Best Picture: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
- Will Win: Boyhood. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic that the Academy will choose this over the stale, one-note satire that is Birdman, but I have a feeling Boyhood’s marketing campaign (“It was 12 years in the making,” and “Nostalgia”) will be irresistible to voters. It also helps that the movie is pretty great too.
- Should Win: Boyhood or Selma. The only winners that would make me visibly upset are Birdman and The Theory of Everything, though.
- Left out: My personal favorite movie of last year, Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language, would never, ever be nominated for Best Picture. Neither would many of my other favorites, like Only Lovers Left Alive, Abuse of Weakness, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely or John Wick. However, many of my others could have reasonably been nominated here, including Inherent Vice, Gone Girl and The Immigrant.
- Will Win: Richard Linklater. Even if Birdman steals the top prize from Boyhood, Linklater will win this one…
- Should Win: … As well he should. Although I’d also be perfectly okay with Wes Anderson winning this.
- Left out: Morten Tyldum’s by-the-numbers, uninspired direction in The Imitation Game should have been replaced by the much more substantial work from fellow Best Picture nominees Ava DuVernay and Damien Chazelle. I also wouldn’t have let Birdman stay in any category except cinematography. Others who should have been nominated: Jean-Luc Godard for Goodbye to Language (Hey, David Lynch got nominated for Mulholland Dr. Let me live.), David Fincher for Gone Girl, Paul Thomas Anderson for Inherent Vice, Catherine Breillat for Abuse of Weakness, Jim Jarmusch for Only Lovers Left Alive.
Best Actor: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything).
- Will Win: Michael Keaton. This category may be the most boring of the year, not because Keaton is a sure thing, but because none of the nominees except maybe him and Cooper deserve to be nominated. Redmayne was one of the few things I liked about The Theory of Everything, but the rest of the movie just buried his performance.
- Should Win: As with Theory, one of the few things I liked about Birdman was the lead performance. However, I’d pick Cooper, whose raw, unnerving work in American Sniper seems to be one of the few things people agree on about the movie.
- Left out: I would completely gut this category and include: David Oyelowo (Selma), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Philip Seymour Hoffman (A Most Wanted Man), Chadwick Boseman (Get On Up) and Jason Schwartzman (Listen Up Philip). Also, Channing Tatum should be nominated for Foxcatcher, not Steve Carell.
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
- Will Win: Like Cate Blanchett last year, Julianne Moore pretty much has this one locked down.
- Should Win: Moore is absolutely incredible in an otherwise unremarkable movie. I’m fine with her winning a long-deserved Oscar, I just wish it was for one of her many great performances in better movies.
- Left out: The only performance I haven’t seen in this category is Cotillard, but I did see her in The Immigrant and would have definitely nominated her for that. My favorite performance of 2014 was Isabelle Huppert in Abuse of Weakness, and she would easily replace Jones or Witherspoon. I’d also include Jenny Slate’s hilarious breakout turn in Obvious Child.
Best Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
- Will Win: J.K. Simmons, and I hope he throws a cymbal at Edward Norton’s head when he does.
- Should Win: Simmons was ferocious and great in Whiplash and he’s the only one who deserves to be nominated in this category besides Ruffalo (and maybe Duvall. I don’t know. I’m not watching the goddamn Judge).
- Left out: Owen Wilson (Inherent Vice), Tyler Perry (Gone Girl), Joaquin Phoenix (The Immigrant), Jonathan Pryce (Listen Up Philip)
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
- Will Win: Patricia Arquette, campaigning her here instead of the leading actress category sells her performance short, but none of the other nominees really have a chance here.
- Should Win: Arquette gave the best performance in Boyhood and deserves the trophy, but Dern and Streep were both memorable, too. Knightley and Stone didn’t have nearly enough to do in their movies to warrant nominations.
- Left out: Tilda Swinton’s performance in Snowpiercer absolutely should have been nominated here. Katherine Waterston’s hypnotic turn in Inherent Vice deserved more attention, too. Others: Uma Thurman (Nymphomaniac), Rosario Dawson (Top Five), Agata Kulesza (Ida), Elisabeth Moss (Listen Up Philip).
Best Original Screenplay: Birdman (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Glacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo), Boyhood (Richard Linklater), Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson), Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
- Will Win: Wes Anderson. He’ll be recognized here instead of in the director or picture categories.
- Should Win: “You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it.” (Anderson).
- Left out: Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip), Jim Jarmusch (Only Lovers Left Alive), Chris Rock (Top Five) and Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias (Love Is Strange), to name a few.
Best Adapted Screenplay: American Sniper (Jason Hall), The Imitation Game (Graham Moore), Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson), The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten), Whiplash (Damian Chazelle)
- Will Win: Graham Moore.
- Should Win: In a perfect world, both Andersons would win screenplay awards in the same year. But this is not a perfect world.
- Left out: Gillian Flynn is the biggest omission for adapting her own novel for Gone Girl.
My predictions in the remaining categories (Will Win, Should Win):
Cinematography: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Animated Feature: (I didn’t see any of these, but the one I want to see the most is The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Does that count?)
Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inherent Vice
Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Editing: Boyhood, Boyhood (although I’d be fine if Whiplash won)
Foreign Language Film: (Of these I only saw Ida so let me take this opportunity to again fantasize about Goodbye to Language being nominated for an Academy Award)
Documentary: (I haven’t watched any of these but I hear Edward Snowden is a very nice man)
Makeup: Foxcatcher, Anything but Foxcather
Original Score: The Theory of Everything, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Original Song: “Glory” – Selma, “Glory” – Selma
Visual Effects: Interstellar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Sound Editing: American Sniper, American Sniper
Sound Mixing: American Sniper, Whiplash