Saturday, February 21, 2015

Oscar Predictions 2015

With the bloated body of the Oscar ceremony hurtling towards us at terminal velocity, now seems to be the best time to try and predict who will win. Usually I split these things up over two posts, but who has time for that noise? Below are my predictions, along with who I think should win in each category.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

American Sniper 
The Imitation Game 
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything 

Will Win: Birdman 

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

At this point it feels like a toss up between Birdman or Boyhood for the top prize, and while I prefer the Linklater over the Iñárritu (and The Grand Budapest Hotel over all) it feels like Birdman's year. This is probably the one award I most hope I'm wrong about.

Best Achievement in Directing

Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Will Win: Richard Linklater

Should Win: Wes Anderson

Again, I feel like this could just as easily go to Linklater as Iñárritu, but I think the Academy will recognise Linklater, both for the audacity of the experiment of making Boyhood and for his decades of great work prior to this year's breakthrough.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Steve Carell for Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game 
Bradley Cooper for American Sniper
Michael Keaton for Birdman
Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Michael Keaton

Should Win: None of them

There are some big absences from this category - David Oyelowo and Channing Tatum to name but two - and I can't muster up much excitement for the ones that made it. Still, I feel like the story of Keaton's win - much loved veteran performer who returns from years in the wilderness and finds glory and acceptance - is stronger than Redmayne's, and that could give him the edge. Like Picture and Director, this one feels a lot closer than I expected it to be even a few weeks ago.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night 
Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl 
Julianne Moore for Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon for Wild

Will Win: Julianne Moore

Should Win: Marion Cotillard

This is such a strong category that it's a shame it's become a one woman race. As good as Julianne Moore is in Still Alice, this feels very much like an award being given because she didn't win all the other times she was nominated (or "Winsletting" as I like to call it) rather than because it's the best performance.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Robert Duvall for The Judge 
Ethan Hawke for Boyhood
Edward Norton for Birdman
Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Will and Should Win: J.K. Simmons

It's not even worth pretending that anyone else has a chance against J.K. Simmons. Maybe after this he'll finally have the clout to get those pictures of Spider-Man he's always after.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Patricia Arquette for Boyhood
Laura Dern for Wild
Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game 
Emma Stone for Birdman
Meryl Streep for Into the Woods

Will and Should Win: Patricia Arquette

Arquette was fantastic in Boyhood and is more than deserving of a victory. If nothing else, it will add an undue sheen of prestige to the ads for her new show CSI: Cyber.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Boyhood: Richard Linklater
Birdman: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo
Foxcatcher : E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler: Dan Gilroy

Will and Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The screenplay categories have tended to become a place for the Academy to recognise interesting work in films that probably aren't going to do that well in the other big categories. Since neither Birdman or Boyhood look set to sweep, and both have scripts which are problematic (one for being too flashy, one for not being flashy enough) I think that Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness will walk away with the Original Screenplay award. I'd be pretty happy about a Nightcrawler win, though.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

American Sniper : Jason Hall
Inherent Vice : Paul Thomas Anderson
The Imitation Game: Graham Moore
The Theory of Everything: Anthony McCarten
Whiplash : Damien Chazelle

Will Win: Whiplash

Should Win: Inherent Vice

There was some controversy when it was announced that Whiplash was being entered in for Adapted instead of Original due to a technicality (in brief: the screenplay was completed and Damien Chazelle shot a scene as a way of attracting financiers; that scene screened at festivals and won some awards so the Academy counted it as a separate short and said Whiplash was based on that short, even though it was just an extract from a larger screenplay) but it will probably benefit the film since it seems like it has the right balance between being interesting and accessible, whereas its competitors are one or the other.

Inherent Vice should win, though, both because Paul Thomas Anderson should have won something by now and because I can think of nothing harder than adapting Pynchon for the screen, especially compared to the nominees whose job consisted of sanding down the edges of complicated lives while Anderson embraced chaos and complexity.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

The Boxtrolls 
Big Hero 6 
How to Train Your Dragon 2 
Song of the Sea 
The Tale of The Princess Kaguya

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Should Win: The Boxtrolls

Full disclosure: I've only seen two of the nominees, though I'm hoping to finally catch up on Princess Kaguya this week, so I can't say if the other three deserve to win more than the two I've picked. Of those two, I think that HTTYD2 has the greater momentum, even if The Boxtrolls is more visually and thematically adventurous. Of course this means that Song of the Sea will win now.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Wild Tales 

Will and Should Win: Leviathan

This seems like a perfect choice for the Academy since they get to recognise a great film and use it as a chance to score political points by rewarding a film which is heavily critical of contemporary Russian politics. Not that the Oscars ever give awards to films solely for political purposes (Michael Moore shifts uneasily in his seat.)

Best Achievement in Cinematography

Birdman: Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Robert D. Yeoman
Ida: Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr. Turner: Dick Pope
Unbroken: Roger Deakins

Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki

Should Win: Robert D. Yeoman

I usually root for Roger Deakins in this category, but if he won for his work on Unbroken it'd be one of the more shameful examples of Winsletting in living memory. I'd be happy with Lubezki winning for his ambitious work on Birdman, but Yeoman's shifting aspect ratios and ability to capture the mood of different time periods through subtle differences in colour and composition won my heart.

Best Achievement in Editing

Boyhood: Sandra Adair
The Imitation Game: William Goldenberg
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Barney Pilling
Whiplash: Tom Cross
American Sniper: Joel Cox, Gary Roach

Will Win: Boyhood

Should Win: Whiplash

The massive headache of editing Boyhood will probably help it over the finish line, and Sandra Adair and her team did phenomenal work assembling the film in such a way that it felt tonally consistent despite the years of production, and for ensuring that it had a rhythm and pace that matched its low-key slice of life storytelling. However, Whiplash was the sharpest edited film I saw last year, and that final sequence would have been much diminished without the stellar work on display.

Best Achievement in Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game: Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar: Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Into the Woods: Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner: Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts

Will and Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Say what you will about Wes Anderson's quirks: his films look fucking fantastic.

Best Achievement in Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice: Mark Bridges
Into the Woods: Colleen Atwood
Maleficent: Anna B. Sheppard
Mr. Turner: Jacqueline Durran

Will Win: Maleficent

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

I feel like this one will go to the most extravagant work, and Maleficent definitely had extravagance, even if it didn't have much else.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher: Bill Corso, Dennis Liddiard
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Frances Hannon, Mark Coulier
Guardians of the Galaxy: Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White

Will and Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

This is a weird collection of films to pit against each other (though you could say that about the entire concept of giving out awards for art) but I think that the film with the most extensive and inventive makeup and hairstyling will win out. The only possible obstacle to Guardians of the Galaxy might be Dave Bautista and Groot's lack of hair.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

The Imitation Game: Alexandre Desplat
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar: Hans Zimmer
The Theory of Everything: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Mr. Turner: Gary Yershon

Will Win: Interstellar

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Alexandre Desplat is an Academy favourite (these are his seventh and eight nominations since 2007) but two nominations will probably split the votes to his detriment. That leaves the field wide open for Han Zimmer's score for Interstellar, which was just about the only part of that film that was clearly audible throughout.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

The Lego Movie: Shawn Patterson (Everything is Awesome)
Selma: Common, John Legend (Glory)
Beyond the Lights: Diane Warren (Grateful)
Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me: Glen Campbell, Julian Raymond (I’m Not Gonna Miss You)
Begin Again: Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois (Lost Stars)

Will Win: Selma

Should Win: The Lego Movie

It's a crying shame that Selma will only win for Best Song when it should be recognised for so much more. In an ideal world, it'd clean up elsewhere and allow "Everything is Awesome" to take this one, but sadly this world is less than ideal.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

American Sniper: John T. Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Walt Martin
Birdman: Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Thomas Varga
Interstellar: Gary Rizzo, Gregg Landaker, Mark Weingarten
Unbroken: Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, David Lee
Whiplash: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins, Thomas Curley

Best Achievement in Sound Editing

American Sniper: Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Birdman: Aaron Glascock, Martín Hernández
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Brent Burge, Jason Canovas
Interstellar: Richard King
Unbroken: Becky Sullivan, Andrew DeCristofaro

Will Win: Interstellar

Should Win: Who cares?

Christopher Nolan's films tend to get ignored for everything except their technical aspects, and while the many complaints and jokes (like the one I made earlier) about Interstellar's occasionally muddy sound could count against it, Nolan's assurances that it was all intentional could provide a decent enough smokescreen for victory.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, Daniel Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy: Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner, Paul Corbould
Interstellar: Paul J. Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott R. Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past: Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer

Will and Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy

This category has basically become the ghetto for films that audiences actually saw, so I'll defer to the marketplace and go with the film that was the most successful (it doesn't hurt that the film in question also boasted visually stunning effects and created an entire galaxy of fun for people to get lost in).

Best Documentary, Feature

Citizenfour: Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky
Finding Vivian Maier: John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam: Rory Kennedy, Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth: Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, David Rosier
Virunga: Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara

Will and Should Win: Citizenfour

If Citzenfour doesn't win, it'll really mess up HBO's synergy since they're airing the film the day after the ceremony. And when you mess with HBO's synergy, they send The Mountain after you. I don't think the Academy want their heads squished like rotten fruit, so they'll probably go for Citizenfour.

Best Short Film, Live Action

Aya: Oded Binnun, Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham: Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp: Wei Hu, Julien Féret
Parvaneh: Talkhon Hamzavi, Stefan Eichenberger
The Phone Call: Mat Kirkby, James Lucas

Best Short Film, Animated

The Bigger Picture: Daisy Jacobs, Chris Hees
The Dam Keeper: Robert Kondo, Daisuke 'Dice' Tsutsumi
Feast: Patrick Osborne, Kristina Reed
Me and My Moulton: Torill Kove
A Single Life: Joris Oprins

Best Documentary, Short Subject

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1: Ellen Goosenberg Kent, Dana Perry
Joanna: Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse: Tomasz Sliwinski, Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper: Gabriel Serra
White Earth: Christian Jensen

Predicting these three categories is always pretty arbitrary since I haven't seen any of them, so I'll predict winners based on the same specious reasoning that I assume drives the decisions of the average Academy voter:
  • Boogaloo and Graham, because I like the name.
  • Feast, because I've heard really good things about it.
  • The Reaper, because Blue Öyster Cult taught me not to fear it.