My 2014 Academy Awards Predictions

Chocolate Oscar

After five and a half weeks of promos and buzz, all the winners will be decided…and 90% of us will only be paying attention to who wears what. Even 2005 winner Reese Witherspoon who’s nominated again this year will admit it: “It’s funny that it all becomes about clothes. It’s bizarre. You work your butt off and then you win an award and it’s all about your dress. You can’t get away from it.”

Nevertheless there are lots of us who care who wins what as an ABC commercial for the Oscars used the tagline: “It’s where stars become legends.” Even with the awards cementing cinematic immortality, there are also those of us curious about the Best Picture winner or who will win the most awards or even which hugely-nominated film will be the most shunned.

Whatever the situation, I’m sure you will be entertained with the Oscars. Neil Patrick Harris will host for the first time. We’ll see how he scores as host. We’ll also see what the show has in store for performances and tributes. And us cinemaphiles and Oscarphiles who pay close attention to what many consider to be ‘the biggest horserace outside of the Presidential election.’ Me, I continued my ‘relaxed’ approach again this year where I paid attention to the major award winners and calmly went out to see all the Best Picture nominees. It paid off again this year as I was able to do it with less stress. This makes it the fourteenth year in a row I’ve seen all the Best Picture nominees before the awards.

Now enough about my watching. Most of you will want to know about my predictions. This year I saw enough films and shorts that make up 86 of this year’s 121 total nominations. I’ll bet that’s more than most actual members of the Academy. Maybe I should become an AMPAS member simply because of that! Until then, here are my predictions for the winners for Sunday starting with a Best Picture rundown:

BEST PICTURE:

For this, I will give a brief review of the nominees one by one. As I said earlier, if you click on the titles you’ll get my full reviews:

  • American Sniper – This movie is one that went beyond a lot of people’s expectations. Including mine. Also it presented a very provocative message which Academy members usually like. However its late buzz in the year could hurt its chances for Best Picture. I don’t think it’s as pumped or as awarded as many of the other movies to win Best Picture here. Even though I wouldn’t mind at all if it did.
  • Birdman – It seems like this Best Picture race has been two at the top: Boyhood and Birdman. Now Birdman appears to be a clever but eccentric film. However you will start to understand Birdman if you understand the career of Michael Keaton. This could have you guessing. Although I feel Boyhood will win Best Picture, I feel Birdman has the best chances of being the Most Likely Upsetter. It looks like this year’s Best Picture race may end up being as too close to call as last year’s.
  • Boyhood – Boyhood is a major accomplishment. Not only for what it accomplished cinematically but also for those that saw it. It had a certain charm to it that was common in a lot of independent films from the late-80’s early 90’s. I was reminded of that charm when I saw a replay of Mystic Pizza. The charm I’m talking about is not because it introduced the world to a 21 year-old Julia Roberts. The charm was the film and its characters had hopes, dreams and heartaches that were similar to ours. That’s the charm: films that were pieces of us. That charm was also very present in Linklater’s Dazed And Confused from 1993. They were teens from 1976 with similar desires and dreams and typical teen ordeals that were pieces of us. And we see that charm again in Boyhood as watching Mason Jr’s boyhood was almost like watching my own boyhood in a lot of ways. And that is why this film and American Sniper are the two movies that blew me away the most this year. That’s why Boyhood is my Should Win pick and my Will Win pick.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – What can I say? This is Was Anderson’s masterpiece. For years he’s given us quirky comedies that have charmed us. This time The Grand Budapest Hotel is not only his masterpiece but also the comedic masterpiece of the year. Even though Birdman is close on its heels, this made the better comedy. However I don’t think it will win Best Picture. Comedies rarely do. In fact of the fourteen Best Picture winners in this century, only two were a comedy or musical. And even if this would be the year for a third one, I think the Academy will take kinder to Birdman.
  • The Imitation Game – This film also has a lot for the making of a Best Picture winner. Top notch acting, directing and writing makes for a winner here. Even the box office draw is neither a help nor a hindrance. However it’s been made obvious that there are two movies that reign supreme this Oscar race and unfortunately The Imitation Game is one of those that’s so close but so far.
  • SelmaSelma has made more news for its snub of supporting nominations that it has for how good the film itself is. Many have used this opportunity to talk about how the Academy is full of ‘white men’ and tried passing it off as the reason for its snubs but an Entertainment Weekly article told what really happened. Ava DuVernay was late in submitting all those For Your Consideration DVDs to the various guild members and members of the Academy. Thus the huge snub-out. Having only a single Best Song nomination will definitely put its Best Picture chances to rest.
  • The Theory Of Everything – This would normally be considered a Best Picture contender. It has two of the best acting performances of the year and one heavily favored to win Best Actor. However I feel that the lack of directing accolades for this movie will hurt its chances.
  • Whiplash – This has to be the film from nowhere that did. And this is only Damien Chazelle’s second feature-length film. For those who like jazz music, this will entertain you. Those who’ve never taken a fine arts course or have never been involved with showbiz will end up hating Fletcher. But I believe it is the part of Fletcher that made this movie a surprise hit. However it is lacking the juice to be a top contender for Best Picture.

BEST DIRECTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood – What can I say? Do you know of anybody else that has done a film that films its characters over twelve consecutive years? This was a huge gamble and it paid off big time into one of the best movies of the year if not the very best. I will admit Dazed and Confused is still my favorite Richard Linklater movie but Boyhood is his triumph. An experimental piece that payed off big time!

BEST ACTOR:

-Should Win: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory Of Everything – A lot of people criticize the Academy for giving Oscars to performances of people with disabilities. Hey, it takes a lot of study and a lot of body preparation in order to achieve a completely believable performance. However Eddie went beyond imitating a famous person or portraying a person with a debilitating illness. He gave Stephen human emotions in many scenes even when he said nothing or was talking with his talking machine. He went above and beyond what I expected.

-Will Win: Michael Keaton – Birdman – Rarely do comedic performances win Best Actor. This performance was different. This was deep and reminded you just how uncomfortable life as an actor is, especially as a former A-lister who’s constantly reminded of the role from 20 years ago that made them a superstar. Also this was completely different from the Michael Keaton I’ve always known and seen. So that performance really grabbed me.

BEST ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win: Julianne Moore – Still Alice – What can I say? Julianne Moore has the actress performance of the year. It wasn’t about portraying a woman with Alzheimer’s and showing her deteriorate over time but also the character of Alice Howland that made the film as well. It was so full of dimension, it blew me away.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR:

-Should Win and Will Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash – Sure, you will find Fletcher dislikable even to the point you want to punch him yourself but I heard from an interview with an anonymous Academy voter: “There are many people in Hollywood that would model themselves after him.” Scary thought but just reminds you of what showbiz is like. Simmons was so dead-on in his role, I’d be hard-pressed to find an equal this year. Heck, he could have even been the lead actor.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

-Should Win and Will Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood – There’s just no other competition this year. Sure, she ages 12 years like Ellar, Ethan and Lorelei but the neat thing about her role is that sometimes you think the movie could be more about her than Mason Jr. It’s easy to think that. Plus as she ages, she grows as a person too just like Mason Jr.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo – Birdman – Yes, Birdman was quirky and even eccentric but so is my Will Win pick. Nevertheless I think it was great to conceive a script that follows characters around and fits within a time frame of just about 48 hours.

-Will Win: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson has always been known for creating some delightfully eccentric, or eccentrically delightful, films that charm us in the end. You could rightfully call The Grand Budapest Hotel his masterpiece.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY:

-Should Win: Jason Hall – American Sniper – I admit it. Ever since I saw American Sniper, I was blown away. Nevertheless this is an excellent script as it not only tells the story of all that happened but really gives a good perspective on Chris Kyle.

-Will Win: Graham Moore – The Imitation Game – Deserving in its own right. It took the biography of Alan Turing and turned it into a story told by Turing to all of us just as he was facing his downfall. Just the first line “Are you paying attention?” will have us paying attention.

Just One More:

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:

-Should Win: Big Hero 6With The LEGO Movie inexplicably snubbed from that category, there’s already one clear favorite as seen below. However I preferred Big Hero 6 because it added more to the fantasy element of animated films and plus it was a lot more fun and creative in its animation.

-Will Win: How To Train Your Dragon 2- Thanks to the snub of The LEGO Movie, this film is now the heavy favorite. Rare case that the first film didn’t win in this category but the sequel has way better chances. Nevertheless this is a rare case where a sequel to an animated movie didn’t lose its charm. It makes for a deserving winner. However upsets are possible. Not just from Big Hero 6 but also from The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya.

Here are some of my predictions for the other categories. In these, here’s who I think Will Win:

BEST ART DIRECTION:

– The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:

-Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman

BEST COSTUME DESIGN:

-Milena Canonero – The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:

Citizen Four

BEST FILM EDITING:

-Sandra Adair – Boyhood

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:

Ida – Poland

Some of you may wonder I’m not adding a Should Win prediction in this category this year. Simple, because I haven’t seen a single one of the nominees. Yeah, first year since 2008 that has been the case.

BEST MAKEUP:

The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE:

-Alexandre Desplat – The Imitation Game

BEST ORIGINAL SONG:

-“Glory” – Selma

BEST SOUND MIXING:

Birdman

BEST SOUND EDITING:

Birdman

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS:

Interstellar

BEST ANIMATED SHORT:

Click Here For Predictions

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT:

Click Here For Predictions

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT:

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

And there you have it. My predictions for Sunday’s Oscars. It’s not easy predicting even after all these fifteen years of paying close attention to the Oscar race in both nominees and winners. The more I get a better understanding of the Academy over time, the more I’m still left confused. Anyways winners to be decided there and then. Let’s hope the wins go to the right movies. Also let’s hope Neil delivers a great rookie performance that will make him be in demand for future Oscar shows.

Oh yeah, here’s a bonus:

Other Nominated Movies I’ve Reviewed:

Wild

Foxcatcher

The LEGO Movie

Gone Girl

Unbroken

Into The Woods

Guardians Of The Galaxy

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