2015 Oscar winners Predictions

2015 Oscar Winner Predictions

Ethan Hawke: Oscars 2000 vs. BAFTAs 2015Mike Hogan, Richard Lawson, and Katey Rich gather for one last set of Little Gold Men Oscar predictions.

Best Picture

Confusion reigns over best picture this year, with almost everyone predicting a win for either Boyhood or Birdman—unless the award ends up going to American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, or Whiplash. The critical adoration for Richard Linklater’s ambitious, heartfelt, 12-years-in-the-making coming-of-age story, Boyhood, looked like an asset until it started to seem like a handicap, on the theory that Academy members do not like being told that a very un-Oscar-y film (no hero, no glamour, not even any inspirational speeches or period costumes) is the best of the year. Birdman, meanwhile, is nearly as ambitious, and more recognizably “crafted”—not to mention far more self-referential to Hollywood, an industry that really does enjoy rewarding stories about itself. But neither movie made a cent in studio terms, causing some to look to American Sniper, with its gung-ho $300 million haul, or even The Grand Budapest Hotel, which might feel like another off-putting hipster creation from Wes Anderson, if it hadn’t made $175 million worldwide. And don’t count out Whiplash (arguably a more Academy-friendly indie than its fellow Sundance breakout, Boyhood) or even The Imitation Game (you don’t think Harvey Weinstein has given up, do you?). Could a dark horse take it? Probably not. If you’re betting for real money, pick Birdman. Or Boyhood. Or Birdman. We really don’t know. —MH
Pick: Birdman
Runner-Up: Boyhood

Julianne Moore: Oscars 1998 vs. BAFTAs 2015Best Director

“If Birdman wins best picture, this goes to Richard Linklater. And if Boyhood wins best picture, this goes to Alejandro González Iñárritu.” Plenty of Oscar pundits have predicted some variation of that split over the months, but unfortunately, Oscar voting doesn’t work that way—nobody knows who the best-picture winner will be when casting their director vote. With the top category still so up in the air, this one remains so as well, though Iñárritu has consistently maintained an edge for helming the technically complex, actor-heavy Birdman. We’ll stick with the conventional wisdom and predict Iñárritu as the victor here, though Linklater ought to be nipping directly at his heels for having both the audacity to dream up a 12-year production and the tenacity to see it through. —KR
Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Runner-Up: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Best Actor

Any way you look at it, 2014 was a dauntingly strong year for leading performances by men. Just look at all the performances that weren’t recognized with nominations: Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler, Oscar Isaac in A Most Violent Year, David Oyelowo in Selma, Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner, Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher, Miles Teller in Whiplash—the list goes on and on. And any of the men who actually were nominated—Steve Carell for Foxcatcher, Bradley Cooper for American Sniper, Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game, Michael Keaton for Birdman, and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything—would have every right to claim the statuette without being incurring the wrath of Kanye West. All that said, this has effectively been a two-man race since December, with support coalescing around Redmayne and Keaton even before the Golden Globe nominations were announced. In time-honored fashion, they split the Globe acting categories, with Redmayne winning drama and Keaton claiming comedy, but Redmayne’s string of successes at the Screen Actor’s Guild and BAFTA awards give him the look of a winner.Michael Keaton: Oscars 1983 vs. BAFTAs 2015 There’s still a chance the Academy, stocked as it is with veteran industry players in their 60s and older, will reward Keaton over bushy-tailed young Redmayne, but at this point that would count as a (mild) surprise. —MH
Pick: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Runner-Up: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Best Actress

Amid all the fervor about Jennifer Aniston maybe getting an Oscar nomination, and then the “Oh, well” fallout when she didn’t, the actresses who were actually nominated kinda got ignored. It didn’t help that very few people had seen most of the films. Only Rosamund Pike, from Gone Girl, was in a real hit. If this were the People’s Choice Awards, she’d be a shoo-in to win. But the Oscars work differently, and little-seen performances are often rewarded. Marion Cotillard has picked up some critics’ prizes for the Belgian film Two Days, One Night (and, really, for The Immigrant). And Reese Witherspoon certainly has her fans in the Academy. So they might be contenders in another year. But this year there’s probably no beating Julianne Moore, whose portrayal of an Alzheimer’s sufferer in Still Alice is rich and detailed, but human-sized. This isn’t her best movie or her flashiest role, but it’s good enough to finally give a beloved actress a long-overdue Oscar. —RL
Pick: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Runner-Up: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Best Supporting Actor

We’re still not entirely sure why this category has, for months now, been a coronation for veteran character J.K. Simmons, who does terrifying and unforgettable work as a menacing music instructor in Whiplash. Yes, the role is essentially a lead, which always helps, if you can sneak into this category. And Simmons has, over the course of a long career, worked with essentially half of Hollywood, and his reputation as a nice guy can only make people happier to check off his name on their ballot. But the competition in this category, from Edward Norton’s scene-stealing in Birdman to Mark Ruffalo’s hulking kindness in Foxcatcher, is far from easy. Whatever the reason, this has become Simmons’s year to triumph—and no matter how much you like the other performances, it will be impossible not to celebrate right along with him. —KR

Reese Witherspoon: Oscars 1999 vs. BAFTAs 2015 Keira Knightley: Oscars 2006 vs. BAFTAs 2015 Robert Duvall: Oscars 1973 vs. Golden Globes 2015
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