87th Academy Awards Picks and Predictions (2015)

Once again, it’s time for Oscar predictions.  I did pretty well last year, getting 16 correct once again (that seems to be what I always get), but there are some tight races this year, and I didn’t make it to nearly as many of the nominees as I would have liked.  I make no promises that any of these will be correct, with the exception of a few seemingly done deals, but read on for all of my predictions and personal picks for this year’s Oscars. Tomorrow night should be lots of fun with Neil Patrick Harris as the host!

(I realize this is very late, getting it just a day before the Oscars, and that I haven’t updated the blog as much recently as I would have liked.  I hope that will change going forward, and I thank you for your patience.)

Best Short Film, Live Action:
Prediction: Aya
My Pick: N/A

Best Short Film, Animated:
Prediction: Feast
My Pick: Feast

Best Documentary, Short Subject:
Prediction: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
My Pick: N/A

Best Documentary, Feature:
Prediction: Citizenfour
My Pick: N/A

Best Foreign Language Film:
Prediction: Ida
My Pick: N/A

Best Animated Feature Film:
Prediction: Big Hero 6
My Pick: Big Hero 6
Much of the discussion about the Best Animated Feature category revolves around the snub of The Lego Movie.  And while I think it was deserving of a nomination, it wasn’t my favorite film of the year, neither was How to Train Your Dragon 2.  There’s a big part of me that would love to see The Boxtrolls win, but I think the most likely choice, as well as my personal favorite of the year, has to be Big Hero 6.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects:
Prediction: Guardians of the Galaxy
My Pick: Guardians of the Galaxy
There’s a lot of love out there for Guardians of the Galaxy, so I think it’ll probably win here, even if there might have been more impressive visual effects out there this year.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing:
Prediction: Interstellar
My Pick: Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing:
Prediction: Interstellar
My Pick: Birdman

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:
Prediction: Guardians of the Galaxy
My Pick: Maleficent

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song:
Prediction: “Glory” – Selma
My Pick: “We’re Doing a Sequel” – Muppets Most Wanted
The backlash against the Academy for snubbing Selma in all but two categories almost guarantees a win for “Glory” here, particularly as it’s not likely to win in its other nominated category, Best Picture.  By all accounts, it’s a powerful song, and it’s gotten a lot of praise on its own, so it’s probably a worthy choice, but my pick would be the opening number from Muppets Most Wanted.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score:
Prediction: The Grand Budapest Hotel
My Pick: Birdman
Alexandre Desplat is nominated twice in this category, for Budapest and The Imitation Game, which in theory gives him an edge over the competition.  The real winner here should be Antonio Sanchez’s brilliant work for Birdman, which was disqualified based on the fact that it used some pre-existing music for sections of the score.  I understand the argument, but given that The Artist won (deservedly) for Best Original Score a few years ago despite using music from Vertigo shows how arbitrarily they decide to enforce that rule.  Some have speculated that the members of the music branch of the Academy just felt that Sanchez’s percussion-centric score wasn’t orchestral enough for their tastes, but I’m not going to speculate whether that might be true.  Regardless, Sanchez’s persistent drumming served an integral role in creating the tension in Birdman and cluing us into the protagonist’s mental state, and it deserves the award.

Best Achievement in Costume Design:
Prediction: Maleficent
My Pick: Maleficent
This is probably an upset pick that won’t work out very well for me (The Grand Budapest Hotel is probably a better prediction), but I was so impressed with the costuming for Maleficent that I’m going to both pick it and predict it to win.  It was a huge feat to successfully recreate the iconic villain from the animated Sleeping Beauty, and Angelina Jolie was completely transformed by the excellent costuming (and hairstyling and makeup) created for the film.

Best Achievement in Production Design:
Prediction: The Grand Budapest Hotel
My Pick: The Philosophers

Best Achievement in Editing:
Prediction: Birdman
My Pick: Birdman

Best Achievement in Cinematography:
Prediction: Birdman
My Pick: Birdman

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published or Produced:
Prediction: The Imitation Game
My Pick: Guardians of the Galaxy
I really liked the script of The Imitation Game, but it’s a shame that James Gunn’s creative adaptation of the Guardians of the Galaxy comics wasn’t nominated.  He turned a group of bizarre characters no one had heard of and turned them into the most talked about group of the summer.  Anyone who can make a talking raccoon and a tree with a three word vocabulary into snarky heroes deserves and Oscar.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen:
Prediction: Birdman
My Pick: The Philosophers
The winner of this award could give an early indication to the way the Best Picture race will shake out.  It’s generally considered to be a two-way race between Birdman and Boyhood, with The Grand Budapest Hotel as a potential spoiler (particularly for this award).  I’m going to go with Birdman, generally playing into the theme of a big night for the film.  I think the Academy will have really responded to its theme of the artist’s search to define himself on his own terms.  However, I’d give the award to John Huddles for his intricate, complex, and beautiful screenplay for The Philosophers.  Having to juggle twenty-one characters in a labyrinth of a plot, while using them to reflect on philosophy and life takes an inordinate amount of skill and balance.

Best Achievement in Directing:
Prediction: Alejandro G. Iñárritu; Birdman
My Pick: Alejandro G. Iñárritu; Birdman
This one will also be a tough battle between Iñárritu, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, and Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel.  I give the edge to Iñárritu, for the challenge of crafting Birdman to look as if it were filmed in one take, but Linklater could just as easily win for crafting a film over 12 years.  I’d like to give this award to John Huddles for The Philosophers as well, but Birdman is really hard to ignore.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
Prediction: Patricia Arquette; Boyhood
My Pick: Keira Knightley; The Imitation Games
The first of three of the acting categories that seem completely locked up, there’s little chance that this goes to anyone other than Arquette for her 12 years of work on Boyhood.  However, I’d go with Keira Knightley’s excellent work in The Imitation Game as Joan Clarke.  She provided the perfect balance to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Alan Turing, and gave the film a sense of life and energy.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
Prediction: J.K. Simmons; Whiplash
My Pick: James D’Arcy; The Philosophers
This one is another lock, as Simmons is the man to beat for his role as a determined music teacher in Whiplash.  But for me the best performance in this category was another teacher, in this case James D’Arcy as the vaguely menacing philosophy teach/wild card in The Philosophers.  D’Arcy, long a favorite of mine, gave Mr. Zimit a charming exterior at the film’s start, only to have that stripped away as the film went on to reveal a darkness underneath, for him to wind up pitiable and pathetic by the film’s end.  His performance only gets better on subsequent viewings, when watching knowing the film’s twist ending allows you to see what’s going on underneath the exterior of the performance.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
Prediction: Julianne Moore; Still Alice
My Pick: Sophie Lowe; The Philosophers
The third lock of the acting categories, we should finally get to see Julianne Moore take home an Oscar for her role as a woman suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s.  I’d go with Sophie Lowe for her understated performance in The Philosophers as the central figure in a plot we don’t really understand until the film’s end.  She’s the moral voice of the film, questioning what she’s told and providing a push back against her teacher.  She seems like a passive character, merely reacting to events, but she’s actually manipulating proceedings, as becomes clear by the film’s end.  Subtle performances rarely win Oscars, but hers was the one that most impressed me in 2014.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
Prediction: Michael Keaton; Birdman
My Pick: Michael Keaton; Birdman
The Best Actor category is a race between age and youth, with Michael Keaton for Birdman on one side and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything on the other.  Both performances have been highly praised and are worthy winners, but I give the edge to Keaton.  Generally, these sort of career-capping performances tend to win, particularly ones as potentially self-referential as Keaton’s.  There’s always the aspect of the “lifetime achievement award” mentality playing a role in the voting as well, and Keaton has had a long, successful career.  Redmayne underwent a remarkable physical transformation in his impression of Stephen Hawking, so he’s still a likely candidate, but I’m going with Keaton.

Best Picture:
Prediction: Birdman
My Pick: The Philosophers
The Best Picture Oscar seems like a two-way race between Boyhood and Birdman, with The Grand Budapest Hotel as a potential spoiler.  Both films were impressive feats of filmmaking.  Boyhood was filmed over twelve years, following a boy as he grew up and reuniting cast and crew each year to film more of the story.  Birdman was filmed in such a way as to make it seem like one long take, featuring long takes and impressive camera work to show us one actor reaching the end of his rope.  Honestly it could go either way, but I’m picking Birdman to win the big one.  I think the fact that the Academy loves movies about Hollywood and actors gives it a leg up, plus I’ve heard some complaints that while Boyhood is an impressive achievement, it’s not as engaging a film as Birdman.  We’ll see how it all shakes out tomorrow!

My pick, of course, is The Philosophers, the film I couldn’t stop talking about all year.  I never thought I’d get to see it, but it finally received a wide release this year (even if it may not actually be eligible for the Oscars this year), and I was instantly entranced.  You can obviously read my thoughts in my review, but The Philosophers was the movie that spoke to me the most intensely this year.  It had deep, interesting things to say, and it told them in a compelling, exciting, beautiful way, and with a surprising dash of humor at times.  Of all of this years releases, it’s the one that will stick with me the longest, and the one I’ll try my hardest to recommend to anyone I meet.  And judging by the fact that my review/analysis of the film is the most read thing I’ve ever posted on my blog, I imagine I’m not alone in that.

What do you think?  Birdman or Boyhood for best picture?  Who will win the major awards?  What category are you most interested in?  What films are you rooting for?  Are you looking forward to Neil Patrick Harris as host?  How many jokes do you think we’ll get about how white the Oscars are this year?  Or would you just like to tell me how pointless the Oscars are and why I you’re not going to watch and no one else should?  Let me know in the comments!

8 thoughts on “87th Academy Awards Picks and Predictions (2015)

  1. I’ve not read you stuff for a while as you disappeared from those people I am following for some reason (if it was something I did to offend you please let me know).

    The first thing I have to say in response to this is if you have not seen Ida you must do so as soon as you can. It was my favourite film of last year and the only win I really care about. I will be disappointed if Eddie Redmayne doesn’t get the award as I thought he was brilliant. Keaton was good too and may take it for all of the reasons you talk about but I though Redmayne’s performance was right up there with Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot. Of course they are saying his appearance in Jupiter Ascending might see him get Norbited.

    I have actually managed to see all of the movies nominated for Best Picture this year and my money is on Boyhood. (Figuratively speaking, I’ve never actually placed a bet on the Oscars but I wish I’d put something down on Helen Hunt for as Good as It Gets because the early odds on her were low. Unlike you I was actually of an age to gamble back then.) The other films are all great but Boyhood actually does something really different and should be rewarded for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t a clue why I disappeared from the blogs you follow, but you certainly didn’t offend me or anything like that. Must have been a glitch.
      I definitely want to see Ida, as I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about it. I definitely think Eddie Redmayne has a chance, and although I laughed really hard at “Norbited,” there’s probably not too much danger of that as he’s not the star/centerpiece of Jupiter Ascending in the way that Eddie Murphy was for Norbit.
      Congrats on seeing all of the Best Picture nominees! I wish I’d gotten around to it like I have in previous years, but life just got in the way too much. (And I would have put money on Helen Hunt if I had been old enough to. I was sure she was going to win that year.) We don’t have too much longer to wait to see if you’re right about Boyhood!


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