The 87th Academy Awards: My Picks and Predictions

Happy Oscar Sunday! Just like last year, I’ll be sharing my predictions for all 24 categories, as well as my personal picks for the major categories (Picture, Director, [Supporting] Actor/Actress, Original/Adapted Screenplay), as I did manage to watch all the films nominated in those 8 categories. Last year I only got 4 of my predictions wrong, but I don’t think I’ll be so lucky this year as there seem to be a few races that are just too close to call (such as Picture and Director). But here’s to an exciting night ahead nonetheless! Now onto my Oscar thoughts…

Best Picture

First, my personal ranking of the nominees, from best to worst:

1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
2. Whiplash
3. Birdman
4. Boyhood
5. Selma
6. The Imitation Game
7. The Theory of Everything
8. American Sniper

My ranking here is more based on how much I enjoyed the film, and this year I was pretty satisfied with what I ranked in the top 5. Looking at what I put in the top 4 though, I was much more into movies with original stories with original characters than biopics (with Selma really being the exception, very disappointed that it only got 2 nominations). The race is very tight between Birdman and Boyhood, in fact, I’m still not very certain with what I’m predicting for Picture and Director, but what I am quite sure of is that it’ll be another split like last year. If Birdman did get a Film Editing nomination, I’d feel much more confident in my pick for it to win as getting nominated in that category is usually a very good indicator for which film is more likely to win the big prize. But as the film did win the SAG, PGA, and DGA, I think it may ultimately be the safer bet compared to Boyhood, which only really has the BAFTA on its side.

My PickThe Grand Budapest Hotel
My PredictionBirdman

Best Director

This is a really tough race to predict, but it’s definitely between Richard Linklater for Boyhood and Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman. As I mentioned above, Iñárritu won the DGA, which is usually a good indicator for him to go on to win the Oscar, but I think if they’re giving the top prize to his film, then they’ll recognize Linklater for his 12-year feat here. Though I’m forever grateful to Linklater for his work on the Before films and am glad to finally see him being seriously recognized by the Academy (he was previously nominated for co-writing Before Sunset and Before Midnight but didn’t have a real chance at winning for those), I was more blown away by Iñárritu and Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel. Also, would have preferred to see Ava DuVernay (Selma) and Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) nominated for Director over Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game).

My Pick: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman OR Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
My Prediction: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Best Actor

Now the race here is really tight between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. I think it ultimately comes down to if the Academy wants to give the Oscar to a veteran actor or to a promising newcomer. Redmayne played a role that often fares well with voters, and has won the major precursor awards. But this category is more often rewarded to older actors, and I think this one will go to Keaton, though this may just be me hoping my personal pick wins. What’s amazing about this category is that 4 of the 5 nominees are first-timers; it’s weird to think that Bradley Cooper has now been nominated three years in a row. It should also be noted that he’s nominated for producing American Sniper, so now he has 4 Oscar nominations under his belt. This was a good year for Best Actor candidates, though; a few others that I would have loved to see nominated include David Oyelowo (Selma), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Miles Teller (Whiplash).

My Pick: Michael Keaton, Birdman
My Prediction: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Best Actress

I’m the most satisfied with the nominees in this category, as all are very deserving here and gave really stellar performances. I almost can’t choose whose performance I love the most, and in fact, each nominee’s performance was my favorite in their respective films. As great as Eddie Redmayne was in The Theory of Everything, I was actually much more taken with Felicity Jones’s performance. But I’m glad it’s very likely that Julianne Moore will finally get an Oscar, and it’s hard to believe that she hasn’t been nominated for one since 2003 (where she was actually a double nominee: one for Best Actress in Far From Heaven and for Best Supporting Actress in The Hours).

My Pick: Julianne Moore, Still Alice OR Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
My Prediction: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor

This is really J.K. Simmons’ Oscar to lose at this point. His performance really isn’t one to be ignored, and I think it’s the most unforgettable performance of the year. In another year, I would’ve liked to see Edward Norton finally win one, but hopefully, another time will come for him sooner than later. But Norton is still a winner in the fact that he’s in the two films with the most (9) nominations this year, Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel.

My Pick: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash OR Edward Norton, Birdman
My Prediction: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

Compared to how much I loved the Best Actress nominees, I’m not really crazy about any of the nominees here and don’t really have a personal favorite, though all gave good performances. Like Simmons, this is Patricia Arquette’s Oscar to lose, and she’s won every major award leading up to this point, so it’d be really surprising if she lost the big one. I’ll say that Keira Knightley was my favorite performance in The Imitation Game, and I really loved her scenes with Benedict Cumberbatch in the film. And I’m very happy to see Laura Dern with a nomination this year, though her moments in Wild were brief, they were still great.

My Pick: Laura Dern, Wild
My Prediction: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay

This year’s top contenders (Birdman and Boyhood) are in this category so the award could go to either one of them. But Wes Anderson provided one of the most original stories this year in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I think Academy voters will recognize that over the rest, especially since it won the WGA.

My PickThe Grand Budapest Hotel
My PredictionThe Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Adapted Screenplay

There’s a weird situation in this category because Whiplash, which is really more of an original screenplay, was put in this category because it’s “based off” on Damien Chazelle’s short film. If voters want to award a screenplay that is actually based on previous work, then it’ll most likely go to The Imitation Game. But I’m putting my money on Whiplash. How great would it be, though, if Wes Anderson won for Original Screenplay and Paul Thomas Anderson won for Adapted Screenplay for Inherent Vice? It’d be my favorite director/writer Andersons coming out on top for their first Oscar wins!

My PickWhiplash OR Inherent Vice
My PredictionWhiplash

And now the rest of my predictions…

Best Animated Feature Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Best Foreign Language FilmIda
Best Documentary FeatureCitizenfour
Best Cinematography: Birdman
Best Film EditingBoyhood
Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Costume DesignThe Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Makeup and HairstylingThe Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Original ScoreThe Theory of Everything
Best Original Song: “Glory” from Selma
Best Sound EditingAmerican Sniper
Best Sound MixingWhiplash
Best Visual EffectsInterstellar
Best Animated Short FilmThe Dam Keeper
Best Documentary Short FilmJoanna
Best Live Action Short FilmParvaneh

So there it is, I’m predicting The Grand Budapest Hotel will walk away with the most awards, with Birdman and Boyhood close behind. Though I don’t think it will win, I’d love to see Alexandre Desplat win Original Score for his work in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Perhaps he’ll actually have a good chance of winning, though, as he’s also nominated for The Imitation Game. Like I mentioned at the beginning, I’m not quite as confident in my predictions as I was in previous years, as there are many races that are just too close to call, but at least it’ll make for a more interesting ceremony.

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