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Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATE

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 14, 2014 at 1:05PM

As the fall festivals unwind, here are some possibilities for Oscar consideration for 2015.
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Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood'
Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood'

Going into the season, only a handful of pre-fall movies have Oscar potential; their handlers will rely on critics and guild groups to keep them in the conversation over the long haul. They are Wes Anderson's well-wrought hit "Grand Budapest Hotel," which gains points for period but loses some for comedy. Similarly, Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" has earned critics' kudos for its daring and unique 12-year time travel, but remains a small-scale indie--and summer hit-- that has to sustain itself over a year, from January's Sundance through the long awards slog. So far, so good.

Also emerging from Sundance with stellar reviews were Fox Searchlight's "Calvary," starring veteran Brendan Gleeson as a wary priest under threat; Roadside Attractions' John Le Carre thriller "A Most Wanted Man," featuring a world-weary Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last leading role; Sony Pictures Classics' moving portrait of a marriage, "Love is Strange," starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as an aging gay couple; and intense drama "Whiplash," starring breakout young star Miles Teller and character veteran J.K. Simmons.

Grand Budapest Hotel

That SPC coming-of-age jazz tale went on to play Cannes, which yielded more SPC awards contenders: Bennett Miller's precisely written and directed "Foxcatcher," starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo; Mike Leigh's exquisite period portrait of a great painter, "Mr. Turner," whose Timothy Spall took home the Best Actor prize; possible foreign entries "Wild Tales" (Argentina) and "Leviathan" (Russia) and Wim Wenders doc contender "Salt of the Earth." Saban Entertainment will release Tommy Lee Jones tragic western "The Homesman," starring Jones and Hilary Swank, via Roadside Attractions.

Elder statesman Woody Allen may sit out the season this year, as critics deemed "Magic in the Moonlight" to be a minor entry. 

One acting vehicle to emerge this summer, Universal's "Get On Up," Tate Taylor's follow-up to "The Help," starring an electrifying Chadwick Boseman as Master of Soul James Brown, was tainted by not crossing over to a wider audience.

Breaking big at both Venice and Telluride, with NYFF closing night still to come, was Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's scabrous and exhilarating showbiz comedy "Birdman," starring Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone. Telluride debuted three lit adaptations, writer Nick Hornby and director Jean-Marc Vallee's "Wild," starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern (Fox Searchlight); Weinstein Co.'s World War II code-cracking thriller "The Imitation Game," starring an incendiary Benedict Cumberbatch with ace support from Keira Knightley; and rookie director Jon Stewart's real-life Iranian drama "Rosewater," starring Gael Garcia Bernal.

Toronto brought yet another period Brit biopic (catnip for Academy voters: see "The King's Speech") from Working Title/Focus Features, James Marsh's "The Theory of Everything," a two-hander boasting superb performances from Eddie Redmayne as another genius, Stephen Hawking, and Felicity Jones as his equally heroic wife Jane. Other potential performances earned plaudits at TIFF but will need perfect handling: Jake Gyllenhaal as a Travis Bickle-esque sociopathic news videographer in Open Road's "Nightcrawler," Julianne Moore as a college professor with Alzheimer's in "Still Alice," which became a must-see the second it was acquired by SPC, and Richard Gere as a homeless man in Oren Moverman's "Time Out of Mind," which still seeks a distributor. Opening nighter "The Judge" yielded mixed reviews overall but strong notices for Robert Duvall in the title role. 

Still to come at New York are much-anticipated entries from David Fincher, "Gone Girl," starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, which earned initial raves from trade critics, and Paul Thomas Anderson, "Inherent Vice," starring Joaquin Phoenix. 

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in "Birdman"
Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in "Birdman"

Among the usual late-year entries that have not yet been booked on the fest circuit (London? AFI Fest?) are Clint Eastwood's war film "American Sniper," starring Bradley Cooper, set for Christmas Day; Angelina Jolie directs the Coen brothers screenplay for "Unbroken," the biopic of World War II survivor and Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini (rising star Jack O'Connell) who died before she could complete the film; Rob Marshall ("Chicago") has mounted a lavish Disney version of Stephen Sondheim's fairy tale musical "Into the Woods," starring Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp and Emily Blunt; and Ridley Scott's "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (Fox) pits Christian Bale as Moses against Joel Edgerton as Ramses: could it be another spectacular "Gladiator," which took home Best Picture?

Christopher Nolan's space odyssey "Interstellar" (Paramount), which stars Oscar-winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway as astronauts on a mission to save the world, looks to boast the scale, scope and wonderment of Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity." Ava DuVernay's sprawling Martin Luther King biopic "Selma," starring David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr., which is backed by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo, Brad Pitt's Plan B and Paramount, is slated for Christmas Day. J.C. Chandor's follow-up to "All Is Lost," 1980s crime drama "A Most Violent Year," stars Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), Albert Brooks ("Drive") and the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain.

Unless TWC throws in a surprise, their last Oscar entry is Tim Burton's Christmas Day true story "Big Eyes," starring Christoph Waltz and Amy Adams as dysfunctional husband and wife painters. (My overview of TWC's Oscar hopefuls is here.)

As usual there are far more potential leading men than women, although the field will narrow as the films play out with critics and audiences. 

Nominations are listed below in alphabetical order. As always, no movie will be listed as a frontrunner unless I have seen it. 

Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner."
Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh's "Mr. Turner."

Best Picture

Frontrunners:

  • "Birdman"
  • "Boyhood"
  • "Foxcatcher"
  • "The Imitation Game"
  • "The Theory of Everything"

Contenders:

  • "Gone Girl"
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • "Interstellar"
  • "Mr. Turner"
  • "Unbroken"
  • "Whiplash"

Long Shots:

  • "American Sniper"
  • "Big Eyes"
  • "Exodus: God and Kings"
  • "Fury"
  • "Inherent Vice"
  • "Into the Woods"
  • "A Most Violent Year"
  • "Selma"
  • "Tracks"
  • "Wild"

Actor

Frontrunners:

  • Benedict Cumberbatch "The Imitation Game"
  • Steve Carell "Foxcatcher"
  • Michael Keaton "Birdman"
  • Eddie Redmayne  "The Theory of Everything"
  • Timothy Spall "Mr. Turner" 

Contenders

  • Ben Affleck "Gone Girl"
  • Bradley Cooper "American Sniper"
  • Ralph Fiennes "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • Jake Gyllenhaal "Nightcrawler"
  • Matthew McConaughey “Interstellar"
  • Jack O'Connell "Unbroken"
  • David Oyelowo "Selma"
  • Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher"
  • Miles Teller "Whiplash"

Long Shots

  • Christian Bale "Exodus: God and Kings"
  • Chadwick Boseman "Get On Up"
  • Brendan Gleeson "Calvary"
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman "A Most Wanted Man"
  • Oscar Isaac "A Most Violent Year"
  • John Lithgow "Love is Strange"
  • Joaquin Phoenix "Inherent Vice"
  • Brad Pitt "Fury"
  • Christoph Waltz "Big Eyes" 

Actress

Frontrunners

  • Felicity Jones "The Theory of Everything"
  • Hilary Swank "The Homesman"
  • Mia Wasikowska "Tracks"
  • Reese Witherspoon "Wild"

Contenders

  • Amy Adams "Big Eyes"
  • Emily Blunt "Into the Woods"
  • Julianne Moore "Still Alice"
  • Rosamund Pike "Gone Girl"
  • Meryl Streep "Into the Woods"

Long Shots

  • Angelina Jolie "Maleficent"
  • Shailene Woodley "The Fault in Our Stars"

Supporting Actress

Frontrunners:

  • Patricia Arquette "Boyhood"
  • Marion Bailey "Mr. Turner"
  • Laura Dern "Wild"
  • Keira Knightley "The Imitation Game"
  • Emma Stone "Birdman"

Contenders:

  • Dorothy Atkinson "Mr. Turner" 
  • Jessica Chastain "A Most Violent Year"
  • Viola Davis "Get On Up" 
  • Anna Kendrick "Into the Woods" 
  • Sigourney Weaver "Exodus: Gods and Kings" 

Supporting Actor

Frontrunners

  • Ethan Hawke "Boyhood"
  • Edward Norton "Birdman"
  • Mark Ruffalo "Foxcatcher"
  • JK Simmons "Whiplash"
  • Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher"

Contenders

  • Josh Brolin "Inherent Vice"
  • Benicio del Toro "Inherent Vice" 
  • Albert Brooks "A Most Violent Year"
  • Johnny Depp "Into the Woods"
  • Robert Duvall "The Judge"
  • Logan Lerman "Fury"

Long Shots

  • Alfred Molina "Love is Strange"
  • Tom Wilkinson "Selma"

Director

Frontrunners:

  • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu "Birdman"  
  • James Marsh "The Theory of Everything"
  • Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher"
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
  • Morten Tyldum "The Imitation Game"

Contenders

  • Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
  • Clint Eastwood "American Sniper"
  • David Fincher “Gone Girl" 
  • Angelina Jolie "Unbroken"
  • Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
  • Christopher Nolan "Interstellar" 

Long Shots

  • Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice"
  • David Ayer "Fury"
  • Tim Burton "Big Eyes"
  • Ava DuVernay "Selma"
  • Rob Marshall "Into the Woods"
  • Jean-Marc Vallee "Wild"

Original screenplay
 
Frontrunners

  • Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo
  • Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
  • Graham Moore "The Imitation Game"

Contenders

  • David Ayer "Fury"
  • Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye "Foxcatcher"
  • Jonathan Nolan "Interstellar”

Adapted screenplay

Frontrunners

  • Nick Hornby "Wild"
  • Anthony McCarten "The Theory of Everything"

Contenders

  • Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski "Big Eyes"
  • Paul Thomas Anderson "Inherent Vice"
  • Joel and Ethan Coen "Unbroken" 
  • Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"
  • Steve Zaillian "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

Animated Feature 

Frontrunners

  • "The Lego Movie"
  • "How to Train Your Dragon 2"

Contenders

  • "Big Hero 6"
  • "The Book of Life"
  • "The Boxtrolls"
  • "The Penguins of Madagascar"
  • "Song of the Sea"

Cinematography

Frontrunners:

  • Benoit Delhomme "The Theory of Everything"
  • Emmanuel Lubezki "Birdman"
  • Dick Pope "Mr. Turner"
  • Rodrigo Prieto "The Homesman"
  • Robert D. Yeoman "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Contenders:

  • Jeff Cronenweth "Gone Girl"
  • Roger Deakins "Unbroken"
  • Óscar Faura "The Imitation Game"
  • Robert Elswit "Inherent Vice"
  • Hoyt van Hoytema "Interstellar"
  • Roman Vasyanov "Fury"
  • Robert D. Yeoman "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

    Visual Effects

    Frontrunners
    • "Amazing Spider-Man 2"
    • "Edge of Tomorrow"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"
    • "Lucy"
    • "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"

    Contenders

    • "Godzilla"
    • "Captain America: Winter Soldier"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
    • "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

    Documentary Feature

    Frontrunners:

    • "Keep on Keepin' On"
    • "Last Days in Vietnam"
    • "Life Itself"
    • "Rich Hill"
    • "Salt of the Earth"

    Contenders:

    • "The Case Against 8" 
    • "Code Black"
    • "E-Team"
    • "Finding Vivian Maier"
    • "The Look of Silence"
    • "Masters of Deceit"
    • "Mission: Blue" 
    • "The Overnighters"
    • "Red Army"
    • "Tales of the Grim Sleeper"

    Foreign Language Film (Official Submissions)

    Frontrunners:

    • "Force Majeure" Ruben Ostlund (Sweden)
    • "Mommy" Xavier Dolan (Canada)
    • "Two Days, One Night" The Dardennes brothers (Belgium)


    Contenders:

    • "1001 Grams" Bent Hamer (Norway)
    • "Accused" Paula van der Oest (Netherlands)
    • "Beloved Sisters" Dominik Graf ("Germany)
    • "Bulgarian Rhapsody" Ivan Nichev (Bulgaria)
    • "Cantinflas" Sebastian del Amo (Mexico)
    • "Concrete Night" Pirjo Honkasalo (Finland)
    • "Corn Island" Giorgi Ovashvili (Georgia)
    • "Cowboys" Tomislav Mrsic (Croatia)
    • "Cristo Rey" Leticia Tonos (Dominican Republic)
    • "The Dark Valley" Andreas Prochaska (Austria)
    • "Dukhtar" Afia Nathaniel (Pakistan)
    • "Fair Play" Andrea Sedlackova (Czech Republic)
    • "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" Oscar Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz (Israel)
    • "The Gospel of the Flesh" Eduardo Mendoza de Echave (Peru)
    • "The Guide" Oles Sanin (Ukraine)
    • "Ice Poison" Midi Z (Taiwan)
    • "Ida" Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland)
    • "Invasion" Abner Benaim (Panama)
    • "The Japanese Dog" Tudor Cristian Jurgiu (Romania)
    • "Jhola" Yadavkumar Bhattarai (Nepal)
    • "The Liberator" Alberto Arvelo (Venezuela)
    • "The Light Shines Only There" Mipo Oh (Japan)
    • "Little England" Pantelis Voulgaris (Greece)
    • "Mateo" Maria Gamboa (Colombia)
    • "Metalhead" Ragnar Bragason (Iceland)
    • "Never Die Young" Pol Cruchten (Luxembourg)
    • "Rocks in my Pockets" Signe Baumane (Latvia)
    • "Saint Laurent" Bertrand Bonello (France)
    • "See You in Montevideo" Dragan Bjelogrlic (Serbia)
    • "Sorrow and Joy" Nils Malmros (Denmark)
    • "Tangerines" Zaza Urushadze (Estonia)
    • "Timbuktu" Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritiana)
    • "Today" Reza Mirkarimi (Iran)
    • "The Way He Looks" Daniel Ribeiro (Brazil)
    • "White God" Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary)
    • "Winter Sleep" Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey)

    Costume Design

    Frontrunners:

    • "Mr. Turner"
    • "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
    • "The Imitation Game"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "The Theory of Everything"

    Contenders:

    • "Big Eyes"
    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Unbroken"

    Production Design

    Frontrunners

    • "Birdman"
    • "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "Mr. Turner"
    • "Snowpiercer"

    Contenders:

    • "Big Eyes"
    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "The Imitation Game"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Noah"
    • "The Theory of Everything"
    • "Unbroken"

    Original Score

    Frontrunners:

    • Marco Beltrami "The Homesman"
    • Jóhann Jóhannsson "The Theory of Everything"
    • Clint Mansell "The Imitation Game"
    • Antonio Sanchez "Birdman"

    Contenders:

    • Alexandre Desplat "Unbroken"
    • Thomas Newman "The Judge"
    • Steve Price "Fury"
    • Gustavo Santaolalla "The Book of Life"
    • Hans Zimmer "Interstellar" 

    Original Song

    Frontrunners:
  • "Begin Again"
  • "The LEGO Movie"

  • Contenders:

    • "The Book of Life"

    Makeup and Hairstyling

    Frontrunners

    • "Foxcatcher"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"
    • "Mr. Turner"
    • "The Theory of Everything"

    Contenders

    • "Into the Woods"

    Sound Editing

    Sound Mixing

    Film Editing

    Animated Short 

    Live Action Short 

    Documentary Short 

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