The 87th annual Oscar awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will be given out on February 22, 2015. As I do every year, here's my picks for this year's Oscar winners. I hope I'm right for a few of them. This year looks like it could be unpredictable for in a couple of categories. Have a look below!
BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR
American Sniper: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers
Boyhood: Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers
The Imitation Game: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers
Selma: Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
The Theory of Everything: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers
Whiplash: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers
Will win: The current frontrunner Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (and major guild winner) looks very likely to fly away with the Oscar for Best Picture. Featuring a strong cast of actors (who won the Screen Actors Guild ensemble award), a director who can think out of the box (and also won the Directors Guild Award) and the backdrop of theatre (the original stomping ground for many of the Academy's members), Birdman was shot specifically as one long continuous take by ace cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki. Albeit with a different subject matter, Birdman looks to take the path as Gravity did last year going into the Oscars. And unlike Gravity which walked away with the technical awards and best director, it eventually lost Best Picture to 12 Years a Slave. Final verdict: to quote The Hunger Games, the odds favor Birdman.
Should win: Over a month ago, I thought Boyhood had this in the bag. Well, major guilds awards later, all signs firmly point towards Birdman. The Golden Globes and BAFTAs however have honored Boyhood so there might a slight chance that a fraction of the voting could shift its way. We won't know of the final outcome until the very last envelope is opened on Oscar night.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
Will win: Eddie Redmayne. The theory usually goes that young actors, when nominated for an Oscar, don't win. The last 'young' winner was Adrien Brody at 29 in 2002. This category habitually honors the seasoned actor for his career (see: Jeff Bridges) or anyone named Daniel Day-Lewis. But at 33, Redmayne took on the challenging role of world renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, charting his journey from an ambitious student at Oxford to his diagnosis of motor neuron disease and his relationship with Jane Wilde Hawking, his wife. It's an uphill task for any actor but Redmayne slips into it like second skin, looking uncannily like Professor Hawking, right down to his crooked smile.
Should win: If the Oscar were going to the seasoned actor getting due this year, I would look no further than Michael Keaton who, cliché be damned, got a role of a lifetime in Birdman. A past his prime actor, who was once the most recognizable faces on the screen, Keaton goes through a whole range of emotions as Riggan Thomson trying to revive his career on Broadway. Keaton is terrific with his interactions with his fellow actors and it's been so long seeing him in a role, it would be an amazing cap on his career with sly wink to the actor who was first Batman. Plus, he would give an amazing speech if he won.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
Will win: J.K. Simmons. He's a character actor whose face you recognize in popular films (Juno, Spider-Man, I Love You, Man) who's now stepping up as the co-lead in Whiplash. Without his rendition of the music teacher from hell, Terence Fletcher, the film would fall flat.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon in Wild
Will win: Julianne Moore. She always features on those annul lists that name actors who should win an Oscar but never have as yet. She should have won twice over for Boogie Nights in 1997 and The Hours in 2002. Moore is always likable and solid in all her films and it still feels if she wins, it will be the same as when Martin Scorsese finally won for The Departed in 2006.
PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Laura Dern in Wild
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep in Into the Woods
Will win: Patricia Arquette. It's not just Ellar Coltrane with whom we journey along in Boyhood, we watch both Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette mature and change as parents. Arquette was outstanding, equal parts vulnerable and fearless, as a mother trying to do the best for her kids. She stands high above the rest of the competition today, even above Meryl Streep.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR
Big Hero 6: Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls: Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
How to Train Your Dragon 2: Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
Song of the Sea: Tomm Moore and Paul Young
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura
Will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2. The best animated film of 2014 (and the most successful) The LEGO Movie isn't even nominated, which makes this category into an unfair playing field. Studio Ghibli's The Tale of Princess Kaguya (which took years to finish), Cartoon Saloon's Song of the Seas and Laika's Boxtrolls will get more viewers with their nominations but the winner here will be DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon 2 in Pixar-less year.
ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Robert Yeoman
Ida: Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr. Turner: Dick Pope
Unbroken: Roger Deakins
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki goes for back-to-back Oscars with his astonishing camerawork in Birdman.
ACHIEVEMENT IN COSTUME DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice: Mark Bridges
Into the Woods: Colleen Atwood
Maleficent: Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
Mr. Turner: Jacqueline Durran
Will win: Milena Canonero. Just look at the eccentric cast of character spread across The Grand Budapest Hotel. Hands down favorite.
ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Boyhood: Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes AndersonThe Imitation Game: Morten Tyldum
Will win: Richard Linklater. Although I feel Birdman's Alejandro G. Iñárritu might be play spoiler here.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
CitizenFour: Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
Finding Vivian Maier: John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam: Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth: Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
Virunga: Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara
Will win: CitizenFour. The buzz has been mostly about this powerful documentary about Ed Snowden and the NSA leaks. Possibly causing an upset here could be Virunga which has big celebrity support from Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo Di Caprio and Mark Ruffalo.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1: Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
Joanna: Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse: Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper (La Parka): Gabriel Serra Arguello
White Earth: J. Christian Jensen
Will win: Joanna. The emotional story of a mother with a terminal diagnosis looks to be a frontrunner here. Fun fact: Former Oscar winner, Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, composed the music for the short. His score for 2004's Finding Neverland is one of my all-time personal favorites.
American Sniper: Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
Boyhood: Sandra Adair
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game: William Goldenberg
Whiplash: Tom Cross
Will win: Sandra Adair for Boyhood. I can't even imagine the amount of footage she had to wade through over 12 years (there it again!). While the rule of thumb usually means that whoever wins editing wins Best Picture, it hasn't really counted these past couple of years. Boyhood looks to prevail here.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR
Wild Tales: Argentina
Will win: Ida. Golden Globe winner Leviathan or Cesar winner Timbuktu could give it some competition. Wild Tales from Argentina (which in recent years had a winner in wonderful The Secret in Their Eyes) could be the dark horse in the race.Should win: Ida.
ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
Foxcatcher: Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
Guardians of the Galaxy: Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White
Will win: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier for The Grand Budapest for disguising Tilda Swinton beyond recognition.
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SCORE)
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Alexandre Desplat
The Imitation Game: Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar: Hans Zimmer
Mr. Turner: Gary YershonThe Theory of Everything: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Will win: Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory for Everything. The score is just lovely, soft and soaring in the right places.
ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSIC WRITTEN FOR MOTION PICTURES (ORIGINAL SONG)
“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from Selma
Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again
Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
Will win: The slightly older Academy members might be leaning to vote for Glen Campbell's 'I'm Not Gonna Miss You'.
ACHIEVEMENT IN PRODUCTION DESIGN
The Grand Budapest Hotel Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
Into the Woods Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts
Will win: The best looking film hands down, The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's as pretty as Agatha's confections in the film.
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
The Bigger Picture: Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
The Dam Keeper: Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
Feast: Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Me and My Moulton: Torill Kove
A Single Life: Joris Oprins
Will win: The Dam Keeper. This short made by former Pixar animators has the most buzz about it.
Aya: Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham: Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak): Hu Wei and Julien Féret
Parvaneh: Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
The Phone Call: Mat Kirkby and James Lucas
Will win: Parvaneh. Have read a lot of good stuff about this particular short online.
American Sniper: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
Interstellar: Richard King
Unbroken: Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro
Will win: American Sniper. I don't know, films about war usually win here.
Should win: Would have loved to see Interstellar win here. I appreciate its purposeful use of silence in the film.
ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND MIXING
American Sniper: John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
Interstellar: Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
Unbroken: Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
Whiplash: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
Will win: Whiplash.
ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy: Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
Interstellar: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past: Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer
Will win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Weta and Andy Serkis looks to be winning combination.
American Sniper: Written by Jason Hall
The Imitation Game: Written by Graham Moore
Inherent Vice: Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything: Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Whiplash: Written by Damien Chazelle
Will win: Damien Chazelle's Whiplash. Although recent Writer's Guild winner The Imitation Game could give it real competition here.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Boyhood: Written by Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher: Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler: Written by Dan Gilroy
Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was one of my favorites last year. What a crazy, wonderful, hilarious and entertaining movie.