Generation Film’s 2015 Oscar Nomination Predictions for the 87th Academy Awards (Updated)

Below will be my Oscar Predictions for the 2015 Academy Awards. I will explain my reasoning for most of the categories and reveal my risky dark horse choices for a couple of the prominent races as well as provide my own list of which film, which actor, or which technician I would have nominated in each category. Are you ready? If you have any comments, suggestions, or your own predictions to add please comment on the page.

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Best Picture

And the nominees are…

Birdman, Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Gone Girl

Selma

Whiplash

Theory of Everything

Nightcrawler

American Sniper

Potential Upsets: Foxcatcher, A Most Violent Year, Interstellar, Unbroken, Mr. Turner and Into the Woods

Any film that garners Awards attention from all of the renowned ceremonies, including the Golden Globes, the BAFTAs, the PGAs, and the Critics’ Choice Awards, will most likely be nominated in the Academy Award category since it’s extremely rare to lose out on that Awards season momentum. Among those who have received that across the board recognition are Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman: Or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game, James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything, and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. If this were an original five nomination Oscar race these five would most likely be your frontrunners with a few potential surprises to ruin these supposed winners momentum. With each of these films also looking to garner writing attention for either Original or Adapted Screenplay as well as some Acting consideration there’s enough going on with these features to keep them in mind with voters who are looking back on what they enjoyed and what they remember thoroughly throughout the year.

Coming up from behind towards potential upset territory is Ava DuVernay’s Selma, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, David Fincher’s Gone Girl, Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, and Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler. Each of these films have been recognized by some Awards venue for a Best Picture consideration and each of them have varying reasons why they might propel them into frontrunner territory. Most of these films are in the minds of Oscar voters for countless reasons, whether it’s directing, writing, or acting so they’ll most likely be propelled into the race. Of course the likelihood of ten nominations is slim considering nominees have to garner 5% of either first-place rankings in the voting process or 5% after an “abbreviated variation of the single transferable vote” (it’s a complicated process) putting Nightcrawler mostly on the outs with some potential surprises entering the race, such as Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year, Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, or even, dare I say it, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken (completely undeserving of any recognition).

The above list of 10 doesn’t really generate a guttural rejection from me, nor would it really upset a good majority of casual movie buffs or strict film geeks who follow the Awards season madness. They are the expected nominees and mostly for good reason. However, if I were nominating a top 10 picture list the following would be my choices:

Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

Whiplash

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Ida

Boyhood

Selma

A Most Violent Year

Inherent Vice

The Imitation Game

Nightcrawler

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Best Director

And the nominees are…

Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Ava DuVernay (Selma)

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Wes Anderson (Grand Budapest Hotel)

Potential Upsets: Mortem Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), David Fincher (Gone Girl)

There is of course an obvious dark horse personal choice amongst the five nominees and that’s the young newcomer Damien Chazelle for his astounding technical, kinetic, and emotional work with his Sundance feature Whiplash. He’s the only choice I’m making in my directorial prediction that I’m unsure about because there are clearly more prominent names (David Fincher, Clint Eastwood) who could easily garner votes for simply being familiar. However, my gut feeling is that the Academy, for better or worse, will want to recognize some sort of young talent making his way into the prominent Awards circuit for being a daring, creative filmmaker. The most likely of candidates to take his place is David Fincher for Gone Girl but we’ll see how it all turns out. I feel I will be awarded for such a risky choice.

The others though are not all that risky. Richard Linklater is the frontrunner to win while Alejandro González Iñárritu is the next in line for the biggest potential upset putting them in direct competition for the Best Director race. Close behind them are Ava DuVernay for her graceful depiction of a Civil Rights victory in Selma and Wes Anderson who seems primed to finally receive his first Best Director nomination for The Grand Budapest Hotel. His exquisitely unique voice has been lacking recognition for a while and the momentum is in the whimsical film’s favor. Of course, there are potential dark horses who could push both Anderson and Chazelle out of those spots, most likely David Fincher or even Bennett Miller for his morose, languid, yet atmospheric Foxcatcher. But something tells me the above list is where the Academy will go and it’s not far from my own list…in fact it’s the exact same. I do feel as though Mike Leigh never gets the acclaim he deserves (Mr. Turner is wonderful) and J.C. Chandor, though also new, seems as though he’s one of the only filmmakers around tackling hefty subject matter with graceful precision even while he’s changing cinematic styles. And Paul Thomas Anderson is another misunderstood soul with his last film The Master and his current film Inherent Vice being far too cerebral, experimental, and profound for average movie going voters so he potentially would make my list.

If I were pressured to make my nomination list it might turn out like this:

Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

theoryofeverything

Best Actor

And the nominees are…

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Benedict Cumberbatch (Imitation Game)

Eddie Redmayne (Theory of Everything)

David Oyelowo (Selma)

Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

Potential Upsets: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Ralph Fiennes (Grand Budapest Hotel), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)

The first name most people will notice missing is Steve Carell for his admirable, creepy, yet slightly uninspiring performance from Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. There are two notable reasons why he will most likely lose out on a potential nomination that would really only be given based on the merit that he made a 180 degree turn away from his comedic expectations. Reason number one is that he potentially is being considered not for Best Actor but rather Best Supporting Actor instead, which is what the BAFTAs just did with his nomination. The second reason, however, is simply that in this extremely competitive year of some astounding male performances his just pales in comparison to the likes of unhinged sociopath Louis Bloom portrayed excellently by Jake Gyllenhaal and of course David Oyelowo’s passionate grass roots interpretation of the preacher Martin Luther King Jr. The above five performances are most likely the performances that are going to stay with most of the voting members of the Academy which leaves out one of the first assumed frontrunners Carell as a mostly inept consideration.

However, there are some potential dark horses who could leap in to push out both Oyelowo and Gyllenhaal from their now assumed spots. Bradley Cooper’s phenomenal performance in a lackluster film could push his consideration ahead since he heightens the material he’s part of making it a worthy consideration especially with the Box Office numbers in his corner and previous nominations helping his efforts. Ralph Fiennes’ wonderful performance in The Grand Budapest Hotel deserves recognition and it’s a shame that comedic roles get overshadowed by the melodramatic and showy performances, but with momentum behind the film it’s quite possible he could be a potential threat in obtaining a nomination. Unfortunately it seems both Timothy Spall and Joaquin Phoenix will be left out of this year’s Best Actor race despite a Cannes award in Spall’s pocket and just a continuous transformative adaptability from Phoenix. Both were exceptional performances and far more worthy than some in the above list for recognition if subtlety, nuance, and revelation were as respected as melodrama, forced emotionality, and physical ailment. If I were making a nomination list it would probably be the following:

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice)

Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

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Best Actress

And the nominees are…

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Felicity Jones (Theory of Everything)

Amy Adams (Big Eyes)

Potential Upsets: Jennifer Aniston (Cake), Hilary Swank (The Homesman), Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

While generally the above list showcases some strong performances from women throughout this year it seems that people will sort of get the idea that there aren’t really a lot of female roles with the same amount of depth, attention, or fame in this category. Don’t get me wrong, each of the above actresses in that prediction list were fantastic in some way or another but this category doesn’t ever have as many contenders as the Best Acting category leaving us to conclude that perhaps there aren’t enough female roles in the film industry. I’ll be the first to tell you that assumption is a load of BS, especially when you consider the phenomenal roles throughout this year that aren’t even close to getting recognized, such as Essie Davis in The Badabook, Anne Dorval in Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, Tilda Swinton in Jim Jarmusch’s The Only Lovers Left Alive, or even Mia Wasikowska in Tracks. There are plenty of female roles with incredible depth, palpable histrionics, and emotional resilience but even voters aren’t willing to venture beyond a simple assumed list of given nominees.

It’s looking to be those top five minus the great Amy Adams who will most likely be pushed out by the exceptional PR campaign of Jennifer Aniston for her adequate though not even close to being inspiring performance in the Lifetime equivalent of an Oscar film Cake. How this woman has generated so much Awards recognition and positive response for such a lackluster film and a generally fine performance is beyond my comprehension, especially when the likes of Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night or even Hillary Swank in The Homesman should be talked about more. My list has Amy Adams not only because she won the Golden Globe for her category but it’s mostly my hope that the Academy won’t be conned in the same way some other Awards branches have been by Aniston’s parade. Aniston is the only name in the potential upset list that will probably make it to the overall nomination list.

If I were making my own list for Best Actress nominees it would look quite different:

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Anne Dorval (Mommy)

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Essie Davis (The Badabook)

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Best Supporting Actor

And the nominees are…

J.K. Simmons  (Whiplash)

Edward Norton (Birdman)

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

Robert Duvall (The Judge)

Potential Upsets: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Adrien Brody (Grand Budapest Hotel), Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes), John Lithgow (Love is Strange), Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler), Tom Wilkinson (Selma), Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)

As it is with most Best Supporting Actor contenders a clear frontrunner always presents themselves and that’s the remarkable J.K. Simmons as the toxic mentor to his Full Metal Jazz Band ensemble in Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. His main competition might be from Edward Norton in Birdman, but that would be quite the shocker and it isn’t likely to be the category to contain any surprises. That means the above list is probably the set list of what is to come with my only loud objection towards Robert Duvall’s fine yet overall unriveting performance in the hackneyed film The Judge. Really the only reason Duvall is getting nominated is because he is Robert Duvall since the film itself was a shallow regurgitation of assumed emotionality and was riddled with clichés. Far more deserving of the spot would be Josh Brolin’s exceptionally hilarious performance in Inherent Vice or even John Lithgow’s eloquent understatement in Love is Strange (though that’s arguably a leading performance).

Of course the potential for Steve Carell to be nominated at all would most likely be here since that’s what occurred for the BAFTAs. However, it’s also an exceptionally competitive category with the predominant leaders already entrenched in voter’s minds as well as some worthy upset performances that are far more deserving of the recognition. My list would resemble the above with of course Robert Duvall replaced with Josh Brolin who embodied the mindset of the impending anarchic 70s with such comedic precision.

My nominations would be:

J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Edward Norton (Birdman)

Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice)

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

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Best Supporting Actress

And the nominees are…

Emma Stone (Birdman)

Keira Knightley (Imitation Game)

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

Potential Upsets: Carrie Coon (Gone Girl), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer), Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods), Emily Blunt (Into the Woods), Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Naomi Watts (St. Vincent), Laura Dern (Wild), Rene Russo (Nightcrawler), Imelda Staunton (Pride)

As compared to the Best Actress category the supporting category is filled with competitors, potential surprises, and loads of memorable performances worthy of being considered in the category. Up until recently the assumed list was mostly the above with a few surprises deviating from them, such as Naomi Watts SAG nomination as well as Imelda Staunton and Rene Russo’s BAFTA nomination. Swinton making the Critics’ Choice nominations also shakes things up leaving the final list sort of into question as we’ll have to wait till announcement day to finally get the answers we’re looking for. But the above list is the safe list with Patricia Arquette leading the pack for a potential win while Emma Stone and Keira Knightley follow close behind.

It’s a tough category to consider and though Arquette is the assumed winner she probably wouldn’t even make my list for the nominations. She did a fine job and tackled the role with remarkable consistency having filmed it over twelve years, but she didn’t haunt me as Swinton did in Snowpiercer or possess the layers of Carrie Coon in Gone Girl or hypnotized me as Katherine Waterston did in Inherent Vice. It just seems like the expected and the familiar performances are the ones that generate the widest response during Awards season because as we all know there is an assumed standard for what gets Oscar attention and what doesn’t. Challenging performances are what should be recognized and unfortunately the above five weren’t continuously challenging, but in fact residing deep in their comfort zones (minus Jessica Chastain and Emma Stone). My list would most likely look like:

Emma Stone (Birdman)

Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)

Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)

Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice)

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Best Original Screenplay

And the nominees are…

Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness)

Selma (Paul Webb)

Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

Potential Upsets: Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh), A Most Violent Year (J.C. Chandor), Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman), The LEGO Movie (Phil Lord, Christopher Miller)

Originally it was assumed that Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash was going to be on the original screenplay consideration list but that was then deemed an Adapted Screenplay due to the fact that it’s based on an Original Screenplay short by Chazelle as well. That then left a slot open for a potential upset to make the list which I have chosen Dan Gilroy’s darkly satirical Nightcrawler for the position. The rest seemed to be set except for the potential rise of Foxcatcher though that seems to be dormant at the moment since the film has been proven to be far less exhilarating and though provoking than it had promised. Of course there’s some controversy on who is actually deserved credit for Selma since director Ava DuVernay contributed a great deal to the final script though it is only credited to Paul Webb who wrote the initial first construction.

What’s positive to note here is that even if there will be some screenplays left out for deserving consideration it’s nice to know that there’s plenty of Original content vying for a Awards consideration spot. Even if Mike Leigh’s improvisational Mr. Turner or J.C. Chandor’s period piece reflection A Most Violent Year misses out on being nominated there’s hope that future years will have just as many complex, fresh, and entertaining original ideas competing against each other. The only listed upset that I just personally can’t get on board with is The Matrix for hyper active children The LEGO Movie which is arguably a fun film to experience but nothing on the level of story writing ingenuity of previous animated films and even some non-animated films this year that are being neglected their recognition. If I were making my list of nominees they would probably be:

Birdman, or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)

Boyhood (Richard Linklater)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness)

A Most Violent Year (J.C. Chandor)

Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)

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Best Adapted Screenplay

And the nominees are…

Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)

The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten)

American Sniper (Jason Hall)

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

Potential Upsets: Wild (Nick Hornby), Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn, Nicole Perlman), Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson), Still Alice (Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland)

There are always technical discrepancies and Writers Guild surprises that throw these two Screenplay categories into questionable territory and this year is no different. Even though the above five might be the risk free choices there are definitely some potential upsets that could drift into the final nominations, especially since the Writer’s Guild acknowledge James Gunn and Nicole Perlman’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Jason Hall’s American Sniper. What was left out of their list is Anthony McCarten’s Theory of Everything and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash with the latter being considered Original for the Writer’s Guild but Adapted for the Academy. Hopefully the confusion on its standing won’t leave it out of any of the Screenplay categories. This is why my prediction list deviates from the Writer’s Guild which always seems to have some options that never make the Academy Award contenders. Never mind that Jason Hall’s script for American Sniper was stilted, shallow, and uneven because it seems that voters from the PGA to the Writer’s Guild have been recognizing it.

Of course the only potential upset that really deserves to enter actual consideration is Paul Thomas Anderson’s in depth, accurate, and astounding adaptation of what could be considered an unadaptable novel from Thomas Pynchon. And of course there are some that are just clearly being ignored for consideration such as Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson’s Snowpiercer. But still, even with the occasional snubs, this category looks appropriately shaped out even if my personal list would be slightly different:

Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)

Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, Kelly Masterson)

Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)

The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)

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Best Animated Feature

And the nominees are…

The LEGO Movie

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Big Hero 6

Song of the Sea

Potential Upsets: The Book of Life, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, Mr. Peabody and Sherman

We’re being told its The Lego Movie’s race to lose; yet it lost the Golden Globe to DreamWork’s unappreciated quality sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2. Still the odds are forever still with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s frenetic tale of a LEGO construction worker finding his anti-conformist spirit. I’m clearly in the outs with this category because no matter how much momentum The LEGO Movie has it still hasn’t convinced me it’s deserving of the award. Certainly it was a fun film with a repetitive refrain in “everything is awesome” to convince us that it just might be, but the true forms of animated artistry existed only in the stop motion brilliance of The Boxtrolls and the hand drawn work in the Irish throwback animation film Song of the Sea. These would be my top two choices for nominations and for a potential win, and if they do garner even nominations it should be enough to recognize their achievements in a field that has valued amplified energy over solid storytelling.

It’s a bit frustrating that the animation giants control the exposure of Awards consideration here and even with Pixar’s absence it’s still DreamWorks and Disney’s show. Granted The LEGO Movie isn’t necessarily part of the big three, but it was still a wide blockbuster animation release meant for product placement, selling toys, and getting kids to annoy their parents in buying an iTunes song. This leaves wonderful animation films such as The Tale of Princess Kaguya and Cheatin’ left out of the consideration race. Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 were both fine pictures, the latter even developing new animation techniques to create their detailed depth of field animation and extensive colorization in image, but they are formulaic in general despite being immensely entertaining at times. This used to be a category that pushed imagination creativity but it has sort of devolved into pandering to children instead of opening up their minds to new worlds. If it were my choice my nominations would be:

Song of the Sea

The Boxtrolls

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Big Hero 6

Cheatin’

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Best Foreign Language Film

And the nominees are…

Ida

Leviathan

Force Majeure

Wild Tales

Tangerines

Potential Upsets: Timbuktu, The Liberator, The Accused, Corn Island

Loads of snubs are already part of this category though no one would even know or possibly care. Taken away from even being considered were loads of phenomenal films, most notably Xavier Dolan’s Mommy from Canada, the Dardennes Brothers’ Two Days, One Night from Belgium, and the Palme d’Or winner Winter Sleep from Turkey. Each of these wonderful films can be considered Award winners in their own right and losing out consideration makes this a tough category to predict with accuracy or even excitement. Still, Poland’s Ida, Sweden’s Force Majeure, and Russia’s Leviathan are quality films that have all made my own Top 20 of the Year list and are worthy competitors. The final two slots are questionable though it seems Argentina’s Wild Tales and Estonia’s Tangerines will pull in to the final spots. I can’t speak for the quality of Tangerines, but Wild Tales, though quite good, could have easily been replaced by the numerous films that were snubbed from consideration.

If I were making my own nominations list for this category it would be:

Mommy

Ida

Leviathan

Force Majeure

Winter Sleep

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Best Documentary Feature

And the nominees are…

Citizenfour

Life Itself

The Overnighters

Last Days in Vietnam

The Case Against 8

Potential Upsets: Tales of the Grim Sleeper, Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Salt of the Earth, Finding Vivian Maier, Keep On Keepin’ On, The Kill Team

Self-aggrandizement and political pioneering usually fill this category at the Academy Awards so expect the same from this year with plenty of Hollywood celebration pieces (Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself) and social projects (Citizenfour, The Case Against 8). That doesn’t mean that some of these expected narrative slants for a documentary aren’t quality documentaries, it just means that some films of cinematic exploration tend to be left out of the nominations. The Academy narrowed down the field to 15 films and the only couple that stick out that will probably not make the final list and are downright fantastic are Tales of the Grim Sleeper, Jodorowsky’s Dune, and Keep On Keepin’ On. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see all of the films (including one of the above listed nominees Last Days in Vietnam) but based on what I know of them and have heard through the Awards grapevine I was able to comprise an expected nomination list.

If I were making a list of nominees based on what I’ve seen and know my list would look like this:

The Overnighters

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Tales of the Grim Sleeper

Keep On Keepin’ On

Life Itself

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Best Cinematography

And the nominees are…

Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Interstellar (Hoyte Van Hotema)

Gone Girl (John Cronenweth)

Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)

Potential Upsets: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman), Inherent Vice (Robert Elswit), Nightcrawler (Robert Elswit), The Imitation Game (Oscar Faura), A Most Violent Year (Bradford Young), Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żalry)

It’s looking as though last year’s Cinematography winner Emmanuel Lubezki will be repeating his Oscar win from last year again this year for his astounding seamless tracking shot work in Birdman. It’s almost unfair, especially to those Roger Deakins fans who know he has never won after being nominated eleven times and is looking to receive his twelfth nomination for his work on Unbroken. However, my inclusion of Deakins is based solely on the fact that he’s always nominated for his exquisite work though compared to the phenomenal potential contenders this year for the artistry of lighting and image I almost would like to leave him off and put in his spot Robert Yeoman’s cinematography in The Grand Budapest Hotel. My long shot choice is Dick Pope’s beautiful work for Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner and though I’m not alone in that prediction there might be other appealing cinematography to the voters of the Academy to replace it.

Honestly this has been a great year for cinematography in all forms, whether it’s been the movement of the camera (Birdman), the potency of colors (Mr. Turner, Big Eyes), the texture of black & white (Ida), and even throwback classic imagery that evokes atmosphere (Inherent Vice, A Most Violent Year). Even if one of those potential upsets makes its way into the final nominees it would be deserved. If I was making a list of nominees my list would look like this:

Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)

Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)

Inherent Vice (Robert Elswit)

Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żalry)

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Best Film Editing

And the nominees are…

Boyhood (Sandra Adair)

Birdman (Douglas Crise)

Gone Girl (Kirk Baxter)

Whiplash (Tom Cross)

The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)

Potential Upsets: Unbroken (William Goldenberg, Tim Squyres), Selma (Spencer Averick), Nightcrawler (John Gilroy), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling), American Sniper (Joel Cox, Gary Roach)

Each of the guilds separate nominating Awards gives us a general idea of which films are being considered for the individual categories and even though the ACE Eddie Awards are divided into Comedy and Drama there are still promising indicators of which will be chosen for the Oscars. Undoubtedly Boyhood, having been shot and compiled over 12 years and organized into a thoughtful presentation, will get its recognition as well as the elegant, practically nonexistent cuts in Birdman. If you’re noticing the cuts too much then it’s probably not edited too well because flow and purpose are what makes a phenomenally edited film. Above my only questionable choice that could easily be replaced is Gone Girl but thrillers are generally well liked in this category because how they are edited impacts their overall effectiveness as a genre. Still, the action sequences of American Sniper could easily put it in the running (it did receive a Drama Eddie nomination) or even The Grand Budapest Hotel and Nightcrawler having also received Eddie nominations. The above list is almost exactly how I would go with the nominations though potential replacements making my list look like:

Boyhood (Sandra Adair)

Birdman (Douglas Crise)

Whiplash (Tom Cross)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling)

Nightcrawler (John Gilroy)

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Best Production Design

And the nominees are…

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock)

Mr. Turner (Suzie Davis, Charlotte Watts)

Into the Woods (Dennis Gassner, Anna Pinnock)

Birdman (Kevin Thompson, George DeTitta Jr.)

Interstellar (Nathan Crowley, Garry Fettis, Paul Healy)

Potential Upsets: The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic), Unbroken (Jon Hutman, Lisa Thompson), Maleficent (Dylan Cole, Gary Feeeman, Lee Sandales), Exodus: Gods and Kings (Arthur Max, Celia Bobak), Inherent Vice (David Crank, Amy Wells), Snowpiercer (Ondrej Nekvasil, Beata Brendtnerova), A Most Violent Year (John P. Goldsmith, Melanie J. Baker)

Production Design is almost like Costume Design in the sense that Period pieces, Fantasy, and Science-Fiction reign supreme in this category because of the details involved in reproducing them. Above are the generally safe choices from the period extravagance of Mr. Turner and The Grand Budapest Hotel, the science-fiction ambiance of Interstellar, and the fantastical within Into the Woods and the labyrinth madness of Birdman. Of course there are some potential spoilers to knock out some of the above list, especially with The Imitation Game and Maleficent which both have had wide exposure to voters and are both firmly set in the typical wheelhouse of potential contenders. Still, there are some that won’t receive the recognition that they rightly deserve despite being part of the usual consideration standard such as the pristine science-fiction uniqueness of Snowpiercer and the grimly set period of the early 80s in A Most Violent Year. My list would include some of the expected nominees plus a few of my own considerations making my list look like:

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock)

Mr. Turner (Suzie Davis, Charlotte Watts)

Birdman (Kevin Thompson, George DeTitta Jr.)

Snowpiercer (Ondrej Nekvasil, Beata Brendtnerova)

A Most Violent Year (John P. Goldsmith, Melanie J. Baker)

beaf9acf-41d6-431f-a557-525f54b2774c Best Costume Design

And the nominees are…

Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)

Maleficent (Ann B. Sheppard)

Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)

The Imitation Game (Sammy Sheldon Differ)

Potential Upsets: Selma (Ruth E. Carter), The Theory of Everything (Steven Noble), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Bob Buck, Ann Maskrey), Inherent Vice (Mark Bridges), Exodus: Gods and Kings (Janty Yates), Big Eyes (Colleen Atwood), A Most Violent Year (Kasia Walicka-Maimone)

Though the general rule of older is better for both Costume and Production Design it looks as though the safe picks this year for the Costume Design category is more on the fantastical side with the frontrunners of Into the Woods and Maleficent emerging into the fray. However, the unexpected and solid period pieces ranging from Mr. Turner to The Grand Budapest Hotel (which also has a blend of period piece and fantastical color interpretation) could pull ahead and are setting themselves up solidly as potential contenders in the race. There are plenty of other finely costumed films that are either period dramas or fantasy adventures that could pull into this category unexpectedly but it seems the top five are the safest choices to make. Of course this strict list leaves out the fine period costuming of Big Eyes, Inherent Vice, and A Most Violent Year from consideration who are even below the potential dark horses of The Theory of Everything and Selma. But watch out for Exodus: Gods and Kings because they have shiny armor and that biblical sense of self despite it being a terribly executed film on numerous considerations. If I were making my own nomination list it would look like this:

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)

Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)

Inherent Vice (Mark Bridges)

A Most Violent Year (Kasia Walicka-Maimone)

Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)

FOXCATCHER

Best Make Up & Hair

And the nominees are…

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Foxcatcher

Guardians of the Galaxy

Potential Upsets: Maleficent, Theory of Everything, Noah, The Amazing Spider-Man 2

With only three slots for contenders there aren’t too many possibilities to fit this finely narrowed category the above three are your most likely candidates with Maleficent acting as the leading spoiler to the expected game. Actually some would even argue that Maleficent is primed to land one of the slots over The Grand Budapest Hotel but it seems like the momentum is definitely in Wes Anderson’s favor to nab numerous nominations for his film. The other potential upsets aren’t really going to make it into potential consideration unless something drastically wrong occurs. The above list seems like the expected list and not one that I would have too many issues with, if any at all. If I were making a nominations list it would look like:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Guardians of the Galaxy

Foxcatcher

interstellar-christopher-nolan-s-interstellar-aliens-wormholes-or-what

Best Original Score

And the nominees are…

Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)

Gone Girl (Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross)

The Theory of Everything (Johan Johannsson)

The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)

Unbroken (Alexandre Desplat)

Potential Upsets: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat), The Homesman (Marco Beltrami), Fury (Steven Price), Under the Skin (Mica Levi), Nightcrawler (James Newton Howard), How to Train Your Dragon 2 (John Powell)

Let’s give a round of applause to Alexandre Desplat who seems likely to receive at minimum two nominations for his work on The Imitation Game, Unbroken, and The Grand Budapest Hotel with the first two leading the way for their typical sweeping Oscar scores. Of course the favorite might be looking to be Johan Johannsson for The Theory of Everything after a Golden Globe win but that doesn’t always equate a win at the Academy Awards even if it might suggest a definite nomination. There are some well deserving scores to be recognized on the sidelines and they could possibly make their way into the race most notably Mica Levi’s haunting score for Under the Skin and James Newton Howard’s pulsating score for Nightcrawler. Still the above five share common ground in that they are familiar and expected scores to come from those notable composers which leaves Oscar voters feeling comfortable giving them that typical recognition. However, if I were making my own nominations list it would look more like this:

The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)

Under the Skin (Mica Levi)

Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)

Nightcrawler (James Newton Howard)

The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)

selma

Best Original Song

And the nominees are…

Lost Stars (Begin Again)

Glory (Selma)

Everything is Awesome (The LEGO Movie)

Big Eyes (Big Eyes)

Yellow Flicker Beat (The Hunger Games Mockingjay Pt. 1)

guardiansofthegalaxy1

Best Sound Editing

And the nominees are…

Interstellar

Unbroken

Fury

Whiplash

Guardians of the Galaxy

Potential Upsets: American Sniper, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, Into the Woods, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Birdman, X-Men: Days of Future Past

The process of editing the sounds together to make the final impact in the theater means that the best contenders are the ones that shacked, rattled, and knocked you into submission as the walls of sound penetrated your ear drums for final effect. However, there’s definitely artistry to it and the above five nominees look to be the leading contenders in a field of sound with Whiplash being my darkest of horses for the category that’s filled with blockbusters. It’s quite likely that American Sniper will find its way into the final five nominees as well as either Into the Woods or Godzilla. Considering the unpleasant reaction I had towards Clint Eastwood’s latest film I probably would prefer it being recognized for Sound Editing, which was incredibly well done, rather than the typical war bombardment of Fury and Unbroken. Still, this category shapes pretty quickly with the occasional surprise so the above is actually a pretty safe bet. If I were making my own nominations list it would look more like this:

Interstellar

Whiplash

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Birdman

American Sniper

unbroken-movie-angelina-jolie

Best Sound Mixing

And the nominees are…

Interstellar

Unbroken

Into the Woods

Whiplash

Fury

Potential Upsets: Birdman, American Sniper, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, The Imitation Game, Edge of Tomorrow, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Noah, Maleficent

As above so below is the rule with Sound Editing and Sound Mixing even though the mixing aspect takes place on set or live elsewhere in order to capture the sounds used to invoke the actions taking place in the film. It seems like the same vying contenders with Interstellar, Unbroken, Whiplash, and Fury making their way back in with the surprise of Into the Woods coming into the rear as a contender. Of course this also means either Birdman or American Sniper plus a plethora of blockbuster action films throughout the year could make their way into nominee consideration. If I were devising a list of nominees it would most likely look like the following:

Interstellar

Birdman

American Sniper

Whiplash

Into the Woods

interstellar_holy_shit_shot.0

Best Visual Effects

And the nominees are…

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Interstellar

Guardians of the Galaxy

Godzilla

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Potential Upsets:  Captain America: Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Maleficent, Transformers: Age of Extinction

My list:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Interstellar

Captain America: Winter Soldier

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Guardians of the Galaxy

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