2015 Oscar Predictions

From Richard Linklater's best director grab for his 12-year epic Boyhood to Micheal Keaton's emotional acceptance for best actor for Birdman, the Golden Globes brought attention to numerous films and television shows, all worthy of recognition. Now, with that massive award powerhouse behind us, it's time for something even bigger than the Globes. I'm talking about the Oscars, probably the most important and grand of all the award shows, recognizing acclaimed achievements in film. From blockbuster to foreign, the Academy Awards display some of the best films of the year, with an equal amount of laughs and surprises along the way. In preparation for the Oscars this month, here are some of my predictions for the most-recognized areas of film:   


Best Picture- Boyhood

In one of the most personal films of this year, filming the growth of a unique and loving cast for nearly 12 years, Richard Linklater's Boyhood triumphs as it went from a hopeful indie to an inspirational powerhouse. Obviously in the lead for Best Picture, with its dedication to bringing a wholesome story of family and youth shining through to moviegoers everywhere, Boyhood was a visual epic that captured what can be done in cinema with just a little devotion and love. Standing side-by-side to other great films of the year, like the dazed-and-confused masterpiece of Birdman and the rapturous sharpshooter American Sniper, Boyhood wins my vote with its simple yet powerful story of one boy and his journey through life.
  

Runner-Up: The Imitation Game: A challenging choice between the likes of Birdman and American Sniper, my second prediction for Best Picture would have to go to Benedict Cumberbatch's mathematical spy thriller The Imitation Game. Equipped with a witty cast of Englishmen and the loving Keira Knightley, as well as a complex tale of codes and cataclysm, Imitation Game was one of my favorite films of this year. Surely Cumberbatch's best performance, as he played famous code-breaker Alan Turing, this film was emotionally investing, as well as wittingly humorous.


Best Lead Actor- Micheal Keaton

Already dominating in the Best Actor wins for numerous other award shows this year, Birdman's Micheal Keaton has risen from the shadows of obscurity and taken flight, much like his nonsensical joyride of a film has done. Starring as washed-up film actor-turned-playwright Riggan Thomson, Keaton channels his inner psychopath to bring a powerful performance as a frantic actor trying to regain his once-held fame. Jumping back into the acting game after a forgettable RoboCop rehash, Keaton takes back the spotlight once more as he brings his A-game to this theater-house masterpiece.
   

Snubbed: David Oyelowo: While Cumberbatch and Theory of Everything's Eddie Redmayne may be two of my runner-ups for this category, I couldn't go without mentioning the great David Oyelowo. Portraying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the most-snubbed film of the year, Selma, Oyelowo delivered one of his best performances, transforming into King with no trouble. Bringing triumphant power and ferocious leadership to this memorable biopic, Oyelowo definitely deserved a nomination for Best Actor, just as Bradley Cooper and Redmayne did for their biographical roles.    


Best Lead Actress- Felicity Jones

Opposite Eddie Redmayne in the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything, the quiet storm of Felicity Jones raged and raged as she brought a feisty performance as Hawking's wife, Jane. Bringing love and life to the film, as Redmayne supplied the physical and emotional embodiment of the famed physicist, Jones fueled this romantic journey through time and space, giving a great performance for moviegoers to shed tears over.


Runner-Up: Rosamund Pike: How do you go bat-sh*t crazy and do unnatural things to yourself that will make people cringe, but still be a character everyone roots for? Take notes from Rosamund Pike. Playing the psychotic wife to Ben Affleck's Nick Dunne in Gone Girl, Pike takes her performance to the next level, as she meticulously sabotages her husband's life through way of wordplay and murder. While her performance may not be the best I've ever seen, her charismatic and sly nature tops the charts for me this year.     


Best Supporting Actor- J.K. Simmons

Most likely known as the king of intensely scary humor, whatever that means, J.K. Simmons has gone from yelling at teenagers in tights to yelling at teenagers behind drums, giving a visceral performance as the band-leading tyrant Fletcher in Whiplash. Known in the past as the newspaper tyrant who bossed around Tobey Maguire in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, Simmons moves up his ladder of frightening characters to play the violent teacher to Miles Teller's eager drumming prodigy. With Whiplash not likely to catch any wins for other awards, other than possibly Sound Mixing, J.K.'s powerful role in the film should be recognized for all its immense and frightening glory.
      

Runner-Up: Edward Norton: Standing alongside nominees from the great, like Robert Duvall, to the bearded, like Mark Ruffalo, it's Edward Norton's cocking and self-absorbed actor in Birdman that looks to claim the gold from behind J.K. Simmons. Delivering one of his best performances in Birdman, as the arrogant theater actor Mike Shiner who strives for fame alongside Keaton's leading man, Norton goes somewhere I've never seen him go before, bringing outrageous and humorous swagger to his meaty role. Only being exposed to Norton through the likes of a decent Hulk film and typical Wes Anderson masterpieces (like this year's Grand Budapest Hotel), Birdman was a breath of fresh air for me, as I saw Norton as I've never seen before. While Simmons is a shoo-in for the win, I wouldn't be surprised if Norton (or quite possibly Ruffalo's world-class wrestler in Foxcatcher) sneaks by for the win.       


Best Supporting Actress- Patricia Arquette

A mother on-screen, as well as in real life, Patricia Arquette tackles the role of Ellar Coltrane's mom in Boyhood with both ease and struggle. An unlikely front-runner in this award season, Arquette's prominent role in the film shines through the likes of Emma Stone and Meryl Streep, as she packs the heart and emotion of a true mother into her meaningful role as a conflicted and struggling parent in Richard Linklater's indie epic. Already claiming her win at the Golden Globes, there's no doubt Arquette will take home this deserving award.


Runner-Up: Keira Knightley: While a drug-fueled Emma Stone or a wielder of witchcraft Meryl Streep may also be in this tough race for Best Supporting Actress, it is the lovely Keira Knightley who earns my runner-up spot this time. Fantastically playing the witty and self-righteous Joan Clarke, the sole woman in The Imitation Game's team of cryptanalysts, and also the brief fiance to Cumberbatch's Turing, Knightley brings her usual cheery yet menacing nature to her role, similar to how she did with her Pirates of the Caribbean character. In the end, Knightley's Clarke is equal in wit and charm to the film's gang of tweedy code-breakers.   


Best Animated Feature Film- Big Hero 6

With How to Train Your Dragon 2 right on its butt for the win, Disney's Big Hero 6 seems likely to win, as it brought high-flying superhero fun to kids all over the world. With The Avengers are already doing that for older kids and adults, Big Hero 6 appealed to the child in all of us, as it unleashed comedic highjinks and a unique cast of animated heroes for audiences to enjoy. While it may not be my first choice, as I'll show you below, the film definitely deserves the win, as it swept the world with its cool concept and amazing animation.


Snubbed: The Lego Movie: Of course, as I said, Big Hero 6 would not have been my first choice for Best Animated Feature. My choice would've undoubtedly been the blockbuster that was The Lego Movie. Somehow snubbed of this award for some reason, I think The Lego Movie was definitely one of the defining animated films of the year, bringing the blocks of creativity to prominence in a fantastic way. Delivering great computer animation, mixed with a bit of stop-motion, as well as a catchy yet annoying song just like last year's Frozen did, The Lego Movie deserves to be on the ballot. 


Cinematography- The Grand Budapest Hotel

While it may not be able to snatch the Best Picture win from Boyhood or Birdman, Wes Anderson's quirky joyride still deserves to go home with something in its grasps. Known for his unique filmmaking, from his odd casts to his amazing camera-use, Wes Anderson has an eye for the arts. A clear front-runner for this category, with Birdman and Unbroken close behind, Grand Budapest ties its characters and storylines together perfectly with its expert camera work.   


Runner-Up: Birdman: With cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki at its helm, Birdman takes cues from 2013's Gravity as it displays a variety of camera techniques, from long spanning shots to close and personal shots of character's faces. Infamous for its long continuous shots through the inner depths of stage theater, Birdman's cinematography comes at a close second to Grand Budapest, as Lubezki's great talent is displayed for the world to see.    


Best Director- Richard Linklater

With a competitive crowd of fantastic directors fighting for the gold, Richard Linklater manages to earn my vote simply because of the dedication he put into his 12-year experiment known as Boyhood. Spending more than 12 years before this cast ranging from nobodies to minor actors, Linklater had a dream to make an inspiring film about a boy and his life, and he succeeded in that dream. While it may not be as visually appealing as Wes Anderson's work or as thought-provoking as Morten Tyldum's Imitation GameBoyhood holds a unique and special devotion that can't be found in most films of this decade.


Snubbed: Christopher Nolan: While this snub may not be as heart-breaking as Selma's Ava DuVernay, the master of mind-boggling epics from dream-jumping to wormholes should have been at least considered for a Best Director nomination. Christopher Nolan, the great man behind this year's confusing sci-fi flick Interstellar, managed to bring together an all-star cast with an involving plot of saving the world, all in a neat and complex beast of profound filmmaking. While Interstellar wasn't the best film of the year, it was definitely one of the most memorable, along with another memorable score from Hans Zimmer. Either way, Nolan deserves his Oscar glory, just as every other reining filmmaker does.  


Makeup and Hairstyling- Guardians of the Galaxy

On a less interesting, but nonetheless important, category, we have the best in makeup and hairstyling, an area I usually don't pay much attention to. However, this year ranging from green aliens of badassery to irregularly large noses (I'm looking at you, Steve Carell), it was simply too difficult to look away from this category. The best in show, by far, was probably the Marvel powerhouse of Guardians of the Galaxy, showcasing numerous creatures from the ugly to the heroic. Also showcasing the odd mind of director James Gunn, Guardians' unique makeup and hairstyling makes it all the more visually awesome in the final product.  


Best Original Score- Interstellar

While other memorable scores have soared through our eardrums at the theater this year, it's clear that the most notable would have to be the one in Interstellar. Reminiscent of other Christopher Nolan flicks from Inception to the Dark Knight trilogy, as well as numerous past works of composer Hans Zimmer, Interstellar's broodingly intense sound manages to make the space epic even more gripping and sensational. A favorite composer of mine, Zimmer deserves to be recognized for his hauntingly excellent score.
 

Snubbed: Birdman: An easy second choice would have been the ecstatic score of Birdman. Chock full of jazzy percussion that managed to ease along the fun plot at an excellent pace, this snub was one of the most surprising to me. Clearly one of the most unique scores of the year, in an equally unique film of crazed highjinks, Birdman definitely should have been included in the list of nominees, even if it was already up for two other huge awards.   


Best Visual Effects- Interstellar

Sadly not being a contender for either Best Picture nor Best Director, Christopher Nolan's legendary space flick deserves at least some recognition for its amazing story of hope and bravery. And with it being the clear sci-fi blockbuster of the year, why wouldn't it be a front-runner for Best Visual Effects? While it may not be as visually memorable as 2013's similar space film Gravity, Nolan's eye for depicting accurate visuals of outer space's darkest areas is nonetheless awe-inspiring. With a bout of superhero flicks from X-Men to Captain America, along with Andy Serkis' Cesar, on its tail, Interstellar is definitely in the lead for this category.


Runner-up: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: While Guardians of the Galaxy may have had Rocket and Groot, and X-Men: Days of Future Past had a speedy Quicksilver and towering Sentinels, there's no doubt the anticipated sequel in the Apes series would be next in line for this artful award. With the talented master of disguise Andy Serkis leading the pack of computer-generated apes, Dawn continues to bring expert visual effects to the big screen. Showcasing a vast army of grisly apes and dark, post-apocalyptic cityscapes, this sleeper sequel may not be a Best Picture, but may be able to steal this award for some awesome motion-capture skills. 


Best Adapted Screenplay- American Sniper

Telling the darkly true tale of infamous Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, credited as one of the most lethal marksmen in U.S. history, the blockbusting powerhouse of American Sniper looks to snatch the win for Best Adapted Screenplay. With Kyle's fearless story of bravery and sacrifice in times of brutal war entangling readers and moviegoers alike, this Jason Hall and Chris Kyle collaboration is definitely a force to be reckoned with. While other nominees like Inherent Vice, adapted from the Paul Thomas Anderson novel, may clamor to gain the award, I think the amount of heart and power that fueled Clint Eastwood's intense film will hit its mark in the end. 


Best Original Screenplay- Birdman

Full of colorful characters from the insane to the arrogant, and fueled by a genuinely hilarious plot of a washed-up actor seeking redemption, Alejandro G. Iñárritu's mindless masterpiece Birdman is yearning for nearly every award this Oscar season, but one that I'm most hopeful for is Best Original Screenplay. While the courageous tale may piggy-back off star Micheal Keaton's own struggling career just a bit, this amazingly paced plot brings elements of morality and ambition to the horrors of stage theater, all in an pressurized balloon ready to explode. In the end, Birdman may still go home full of gold, with its shining screenplay getting a piece of the praise.


Runner-up: The Grand Budapest Hotel: With an equally insane plot as Birdman, while a bit more foreign and vast, Grand Budapest intertwines the lives of a hotel owner, Gustave H., a lobby boy known as Zero, and an assortment of other decorated characters to concoct a tale of heist and comedic outcomes. With an odd cast ranging from the devilish to the invisible, and some of the best production design I've ever seen, this film takes moviegoers around the world in 90 minutes, as its thick plot of thievery and mystery holds you until the last second. As Birdman takes flight towards the big awards of the night, I wouldn't be surprised if this gem snags Best Screenplay in the end.


While there may be many other great nominees to mention before the big night arrives, like the best in costume design and sound editing and such, I just felt it necessary to offer my opinions on the most talked-about front-runners and snubs of this award season, leaving the rest to surprise me. With the Oscars steadily approaching our TV screens, I wish good luck to all the nominees and hope to see some fun surprises in store for this competitive time. So, as I end yet another long post, what are some of your top picks for this Oscar season? Which films do you think were improperly snubbed and which ones do you wish were snubbed? Let me know in the comments below, and follow for more coming soon this year!  

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