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Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATE

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood November 10, 2014 at 2:17PM

Now that most of the contenders have been screened, we update the state of the Oscar race 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 include Wes Anderson's well-wrought hit "Grand Budapest Hotel" (Fox Searchlight), which gains points for period but loses some for comedy. Similarly, Richard Linklater's "Boyhood" (IFC) 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. Best Picture is "Boyhood"'s to lose. 

Also emerging from Sundance with stellar reviews were 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 crowdpleaser "Whiplash," starring breakout young star Miles Teller and character veteran J.K. Simmons, who leads the supporting actor contenders.

'The Imitation Game'
'The Imitation Game'

That SPC coming-of-age jazz tale went on to wow 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 the great master painter, "Mr. Turner," whose Timothy Spall took home the Best Actor prize; eventual foreign entries "Wild Tales" (Argentina) and "Leviathan" (Russia) and Wim Wenders' exquisite four-hankie doc contender "The Salt of the Earth." Saban Entertainment/Roadside picked up Tommy Lee Jones' tragic western "The Homesman," starring Jones and a moving Hilary Swank.

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, followed by NYFF closing night, was Alejandro González Iñárritu's scabrous and exhilarating showbiz comedy "Birdman," starring acting contenders Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone in top form. Telluride debuted three lit adaptations: writer Nick Hornby and director Jean-Marc Vallee's "Wild," a mother-daughter drama starring Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon (Searchlight); Weinstein Co.'s World War II code-cracking thriller "The Imitation Game," starring a blazing Benedict Cumberbatch with ace support from Keira Knightley; and rookie director Jon Stewart's respected real-life Iranian drama "Rosewater," starring reliable Gael Garcia Bernal.

"The Theory Of Everything"
"The Theory Of Everything"

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, physicist 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" and Julianne Moore as a college professor with Alzheimer's in "Still Alice," which became a must-see the second it was acquired by SPC. Opening nighter "The Judge" (Warner Bros.) yielded mixed reviews overall but positive notices for Robert Duvall in the supporting title role. 

Scoring strong opening night at the New York Film Festival was the much-anticipated mystery thriller from David Fincher, "Gone Girl" (Fox), starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, which earned kudos from many critics and went on to score with audiences. Multiple nominations could be ahead. (My take is here.) Next up at NYFF was Paul Thomas Anderson's Thomas Pynchon adaptation "Inherent Vice" (Warners), starring Joaquin Phoenix, which critics embraced with reservations (mine are here); tech nods are most likely.

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

David Ayer's well-executed indie war picture "Fury" (Sony), starring Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf as members of a tank unit trying to survive the end of World War II, missed the fest circuit and scored well with critics and audiences, but will need late-year critical support to rise to the awards level. (My reactions here.)

Paramount broke Christopher Nolan's post-Kubrickian space odyssey "Interstellar" in mid-October; the likely blockbuster needed consensus critical raves to expand beyond inevitable technical Oscar kudos; the emotional father-daughter through-line carried by Matthew McConaughey and Jessica Chastain could yield them nominations. It didn't measure up to the scale, scope and wonderment of last year's Oscar-winner, Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity."

Opening AFI FEST was J.C. Chandor's follow-up to "All Is Lost," the muted 1980s crime drama "A Most Violent Year," starring an excellent Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis") with solid support from Albert Brooks ("Drive") and the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain. While initial critical response was upbeat for this rumination on right and wrong in the business world, distributor A24 faces heavy competition in the months ahead.

Also breaking at AFI, with enthusiastic support, was Ava DuVernay's sprawling Martin Luther King biopic "Selma," starring a magnificent David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr. (backed by Oprah Winfrey's Harpo, Brad Pitt's Plan B and Paramount) and less rousing, Clint Eastwood's well-made true war story "American Sniper," starring Bradley Cooper in a transformative title role, set for Christmas Day.

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

Among the usual late-year entries not booked on the fest circuit is TWC's Tim Burton-directed 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.) The lavish Disney version of Stephen Sondheim's fairy tale musical "Into the Woods," starring likely supporting actress candidate Meryl Streep and a tuneful ensemble led by Emily Blunt, Chris Pine and Anna Kendrick, directed by Rob Marshall ("Chicago") started screening the weekend before Thanksgiving. Tech nods are likely. 

Next up are Ridley Scott's sword-and-sandal epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (Fox), which pits Christian Bale as Moses against Joel Edgerton as Ramses. Could it be another spectacular "Gladiator," which took home Best Picture? And Angelina Jolie directing 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. 

'Selma'
'Selma'

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. 

Best Picture

Frontrunners:

  • "Birdman"
  • "Boyhood"
  • "Foxcatcher"
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • "The Imitation Game"
  • "Selma"
  • "The Theory of Everything"
  • "Whiplash"

Contenders:

  • "Exodus: God and Kings"
  • "Gone Girl"
  • "Interstellar"
  • "Into the Woods"
  • "Mr. Turner"
  • "Unbroken"
  • "Wild"

Long Shots:

  • "American Sniper"
  • "Big Eyes"
  • "Inherent Vice"
  • "A Most Violent Year"

Actor

Frontrunners:

  • Benedict Cumberbatch "The Imitation Game"
  • Steve Carell "Foxcatcher"
  • Michael Keaton "Birdman"
  • David Oyelowo "Selma"
  • Eddie Redmayne  "The Theory of Everything"

Contenders

  • Chadwick Boseman "Get On Up"
  • Ralph Fiennes "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • Jake Gyllenhaal "Nightcrawler"
  • Matthew McConaughey “Interstellar"
  • Timothy Spall "Mr. Turner" 
  • Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher"

Long Shots

  • Christian Bale "Exodus: God and Kings"
  • Bradley Cooper "American Sniper"
  • Brendan Gleeson "Calvary"
  • Tom Hardy "Locke"
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman "A Most Wanted Man"
  • Oscar Isaac "A Most Violent Year"
  • Jack O'Connell "Unbroken"
  • Joaquin Phoenix "Inherent Vice"
  • Miles Teller "Whiplash"
  • Christoph Waltz "Big Eyes" 

Actress

Frontrunners

  • Felicity Jones "The Theory of Everything"
  • Julianne Moore "Still Alice"
  • Rosamund Pike "Gone Girl"
  • Hilary Swank "The Homesman"
  • Reese Witherspoon "Wild"

Contenders

  • Emily Blunt "Into the Woods"
  • Shailene Woodley "The Fault in Our Stars"

Long Shots

  • Amy Adams "Big Eyes"
  • Jennifer Aniston "Cake"
  • Angelina Jolie "Maleficent"
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw "Belle"
  • Mia Wasikowska "Tracks"

Supporting Actress

Frontrunners:

  • Patricia Arquette "Boyhood"
  • Laura Dern "Wild"
  • Keira Knightley "The Imitation Game"
  • Emma Stone "Birdman"
  • Meryl Streep "Into the Woods" 

Contenders:

  • Jessica Chastain "A Most Violent Year"
  • Jessica Chastain "Interstellar"
  • Rosario Dawson "Top Five"
  • Tilda Swinton "Snowpiercer"

Long Shots

  • Dorothy Atkinson "Mr. Turner" 
  • Marion Bailey "Mr. Turner"
  • Viola Davis "Get On Up" 
  • Sigourney Weaver "Exodus: Gods and Kings" 

Supporting Actor

Frontrunners

  • Robert Duvall "The Judge"
  • Ethan Hawke "Boyhood"
  • Edward Norton "Birdman"
  • Mark Ruffalo "Foxcatcher"
  • JK Simmons "Whiplash"

Contenders

  • John Goodman "The Gambler"
  • Channing Tatum "Foxcatcher"

Long Shots

  • Shia LaBeouf "Fury"
  • Logan Lerman "Fury"
  • Rob Pattinson "The Rover"

Director

Frontrunners:

  • Ava DuVernay "Selma"
  • A.G. Iñárritu "Birdman"
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
  • Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher"
  • Morten Tyldum "The Imitation Game"

Contenders

  • Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
  • David Fincher “Gone Girl" 
  • James Marsh "The Theory of Everything"
  • Rob Marshall "Into the Woods"
  • Christopher Nolan "Interstellar" 

Long Shots

  • Angelina Jolie "Unbroken"
  • Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
  • Jean-Marc Vallee "Wild"

Original screenplay
 
Frontrunners

  • Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • Dan Gilroy "Nightcrawler"
  • A.G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo "Birdman"
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
  • Graham Moore "The Imitation Game"

Contenders

  • JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year"
  • Damien Chazelle "Whiplash"

Long Shots:

  • Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye "Foxcatcher"
  • Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
  • Jonathan Nolan "Interstellar”

Adapted screenplay

Frontrunners

  • Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"
  • Nick Hornby "Wild"
  • Anthony McCarten "The Theory of Everything"
  • Linda Woolverton "Maleficent"

Contenders

  • Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski "Big Eyes"
  • Joel and Ethan Coen "Unbroken" 
  • Steve Zaillian "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

Animated Feature 

Frontrunners

  • "Big Hero 6"
  • "The Book of Life"
  • "The Lego Movie"
  • "How to Train Your Dragon 2"
  • "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya"

Contenders

  • "The Boxtrolls"
  • "The Penguins of Madagascar"
  • "Song of the Sea"

Animated Short

Frontrunner:

  • "Feast," Patrick Osborne, director, and Kristina Reed, producer (Walt Disney Animation Studios

Contenders:

  • “The Bigger Picture,” Daisy Jacobs, director, and Christopher Hees, producer (National Film and Television School)
  • “Coda,” Alan Holly, director (And Maps And Plans)
  • “The Dam Keeper,” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, directors (Tonko House)
  • “Duet,” Glen Keane, director (Glen Keane Productions & ATAP) 
  • “Footprints,” Bill Plympton, director (Bill Plympton Studio)
  • “Me and My Moulton,” Torill Kove, director (Mikrofilm in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada)
  • “The Numberlys,” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, directors (Moonbot Studios)
  • “A Single Life,” Joris Oprins, director (Job, Joris & Marieke)
  • “Symphony No. 42,” Réka Bucsi, director (Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest)

Documentary Short 

Contenders:

  • "Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” (Perry Films)
  • “Joanna" (Wajda Studio) 
  • “Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace" (Show of Force)
  • “The Lion’s Mouth Opens” (Tree Tree Tree)
  • “One Child" (New York University)
  • “Our Curse" (Warsaw Film School)
  • “The Reaper (La Parka)" (Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica) 
  • “White Earth" (Weary Traveler)

Documentary Feature

Frontrunners:

  • "The Case Against 8" 
  • "Citizenfour"
  • "E-Team"
  • "Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me"
  • "Finding Vivian Maier"
  • "Keep on Keepin' On"
  • "Last Days in Vietnam"
  • "Life Itself"
  • "Red Army"
  • "The Salt of the Earth"

Contenders:

  • "Alive Inside"
  • "Code Black"
  • "The Great Invisible"
  • "Happy Valley"
  • "Merchants of Doubt"
  • "Mission: Blue"
  • "The Overnighters"
  • "Particle Fever"
  • "Point and Shoot"
  • "Rich Hill"
  • "Supermensch"
  • "Tales of the Grim Sleeper"
  • "Virunga"
  • "Waiting for August"

Live Action Short 

Contenders:
  • “Aya,” Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, directors (Chasis Films)
  • “Baghdad Messi,” Sahim Omar Kalifa, director, and Kobe Van Steenberghe, producer (a team productions)
  • “Boogaloo and Graham,” Michael Lennox, director, and Ronan Blaney, writer (Out of Orbit)
  • “Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak),” Hu Wei, director, and Julien Féret, producer (AMA Productions)
  • “Carry On,” Yatao Li, director (Rochester Institute of Technology)
  • “My Father’s Truck,” Maurício Osaki, director (Lupi Filmes)
  • “Parvaneh,” Talkhon Hamzavi, director, and Stefan Eichenberger, producer (Zurich University of Arts)
  • “The Phone Call,” Mat Kirkby, director, and James Lucas, writer (RSA Films)
  • “SLR,” Stephen Fingleton, director, and Matthew James Wilkinson, producer (Stigma Films)
  • “Summer Vacation (Chofesh Gadol),” Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon, directors (GREENproductions)

Cinematography

Frontrunners:
  • Robert Elswit "Inherent Vice"
  • Emmanuel Lubezki "Birdman"
  • Dick Pope "Mr. Turner"
  • Robert D. Yeoman "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • Hoyt van Hoytema "Interstellar"

Contenders:

  • Jeff Cronenweth "Gone Girl"
  • Roger Deakins "Unbroken"
  • Benoit Delhomme "The Theory of Everything"
  • Óscar Faura "The Imitation Game"

Long Shots

  • Rodrigo Prieto "The Homesman"
  • Roman Vasyanov "Fury"
  • Robert D. Yeoman "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

    Film Editing

    Frontrunners:

    • "Boyhood"
    • "Foxcatcher"
    • "Gone Girl"
    • "The Imitation Game"
    • "Whiplash"

    Contenders:

    • "Birdman"
    • “The Grand Budapest Hotel"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "The Theory of Everything"
    • "Unbroken"

    Long Shots:

    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Selma"
    • "Mr. Turner"

    Foreign Language Film (Official Submissions)

    Frontrunners:

    • "Force Majeure" Ruben Ostlund (Sweden)
    • "Ida" Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland)
    • "Leviathan" Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia)
    • "Mommy" Xavier Dolan (Canada)
    • "Saint Laurent" Bertrand Bonello (France)
    • "Timbuktu" Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritiana)
    • "Two Days, One Night" The Dardennes brothers (Belgium)
    • "White God" Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary)
    • "Wild Tales" Damion Szifron (Argentina)

    Contenders:

    • "1001 Grams" Bent Hamer (Norway)
    • "Beloved Sisters" Dominik Graf ("Germany)
    • "Cantinflas" Sebastian del Amo (Mexico)
    • "The Circle" Stefan Haupt (Switzerland)
    • "Concrete Night" Pirjo Honkasalo (Finland)
    • "Corn Island" Giorgi Ovashvili (Georgia)
    • "Cowboys" (Croatia)
    • "Dukhtar" Afia Nathaniel (Pakistan)
    • "Fair Play" Andrea Sedlackova (Czech Republic)
    • "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" Oscar Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz (Israel)
    • "Human Capital" Paolo Virzi (Italy)
    • "Life in a Fishbowl" Baldvin Zophoniasson (Iceland)
    • "The Light Shines Only There" Mipo Oh (Japan)
    • "Living is Easy with Eyes Closed" David Trueba (Spain)
    • "Norte, the End of History" Lav Diaz (Philippines)
    • "Sorrow and Joy" Nils Malmros (Denmark)
    • "Tangerines" Zaza Urushadze (Estonia)
    • "The Way He Looks" Daniel Ribeiro (Brazil)
    • "Winter Sleep" Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey)

    Costume Design

    Frontrunners:

    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Mr. Turner"
    • "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
    • "The Imitation Game"
    • "Maleficent"

    Contenders:

    • "Big Eyes"
    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "Inherent Vice"
    • "The Theory of Everything"
    • "Unbroken"

    Production Design

    Frontrunners

    • "Birdman"
    • "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "Mr. Turner"

    Contenders:

    • "Big Eyes"
    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "Inherent Vice"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Snowpiercer"
    • "Unbroken"

    Long Shots:

    • "The Imitation Game"
    • "Noah"
    • "The Theory of Everything"

    Original Score

    Frontrunners:

    • Alexandre Desplat "The Imitation Game"
    • Jóhann Jóhannsson "The Theory of Everything"
    • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "Gone Girl"
    • Gustavo Santaolalla "The Book of Life"
    • Hans Zimmer "Interstellar" 

    Contenders:

    • Marco Beltrami "The Homesman"
    • Alexandre Desplat "Unbroken"
    • Thomas Newman "The Judge"
    • Steve Price "Fury"
    • Antonio Sanchez "Birdman"

    Original Song

    Frontrunners:"Everything is Awesome" (Tegan and Sara, "The LEGO Movie") 

    • "Glory" (John Legend and Common, "Selma") 
    • "I Love You Too Much" (Paul Williams, Diego Luna, "The Book of Life")
    • "Immortals" (Fall Out Boy, "Big Hero 6")
    • "Let Me In" (Grouplove, "The Fault in Our Stars")
    • "Lost Stars" (Gregg Alexander, Keira Knightley, "Begin Again")

    Contenders:

    • "The Boxtrolls Song" (Cherrie Crystal, "The Boxtrolls")
    • "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)" (Bret McKenzie, Constantine, "Muppets Most Wanted")
    •  "The Last Goodbye" ("Billy Boyd, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies")
    • "Miracle" (Coldplay, "Unbroken")
    • "Mercy" (Patti Smith and Kronos Quartet, "Noah")
    • "Where No One Goes" (Jonsi, "How to Train Your Dragon 2") 

    Makeup and Hairstyling

    Frontrunners

    • "Foxcatcher"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "The Theory of Everything"

    Contenders

    • "American Sniper"
    • "Fury"
    • "Gone Girl"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"
    • "Unbroken"

    Sound Editing

    Frontrunners:

    • "Birdman"
    • "Captain America: Winter Soldier"
    • "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"

    Contenders

    • "Amazing Spider-Man 2"
    • "Edge of Tomorrow"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"

    Long Shots:

    • "Godzilla"
    • "Lucy"
    • "Maleficent"

    Sound Mixing

    Frontrunners:

    • "Birdman"
    • "Captain America: Winter Soldier"
    • "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"

    Contenders

    • "Amazing Spider-Man 2"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
    • "Whiplash"

    Long Shots: 

    • "Edge of Tomorrow"
    • "Godzilla"
    • "Lucy"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "X-Men: Days of Future Past

    Visual Effects

    Frontrunners
    • "Amazing Spider-Man 2"
    • "Captain America: Winter Soldier"
    • "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"

    Contenders

    • "Edge of Tomorrow"
    • "Godzilla"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "Lucy"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
    • "X-Men: Days of Future Past"


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