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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.

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 a great painter, "Mr. Turner," whose Timothy Spall took home the Best Actor prize; likely foreign entries "Wild Tales" (Argentina) and "Leviathan" (Russia) and Wim Wenders exquisite four-hankie doc contender "The Salt of the Earth." Saban Entertainment picked up Tommy Lee Jones' tragic western "The Homesman," starring Jones and Hilary Swank, for release 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 respected real-life Iranian drama "Rosewater," starring reliable 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, 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," 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. 

Scoring strong opening night in New York was the much-anticipated mystery thriller from David Fincher, "Gone Girl," starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, which earned raves from critics. Multiple nominations are ahead. (My take is here.) Next up at NYFF is Paul Thomas Anderson's "Inherent Vice," starring Joaquin Phoenix. And opening AFI FEST is J.C. Chandor's follow-up to "All Is Lost," 1980s crime drama "A Most Violent Year," starring Oscar Isaac ("Inside Llewyn Davis"), Albert Brooks ("Drive") and the ubiquitous Jessica Chastain.

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." (Trailer here.) 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. 

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"
  • "Gone Girl"
  • “The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • "The Imitation Game"
  • "Mr. Turner"
  • "The Theory of Everything"

Contenders:

  • "Interstellar"
  • "Unbroken"
  • "Whiplash"
  • "Wild"

Long Shots:

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

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"

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"
  • Miles Teller "Whiplash"
  • Christoph Waltz "Big Eyes" 

Actress

Frontrunners

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

Contenders

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

Long Shots

  • Rosario Dawson "Top Five"
  • 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"  
  • David Fincher “Gone Girl" 
  • Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher"
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
  • Morten Tyldum "The Imitation Game"

Contenders

  • Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
  • Clint Eastwood "American Sniper"
  • Angelina Jolie "Unbroken"
  • Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
  • James Marsh "The Theory of Everything"
  • 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

  • Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"
  • 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" 
  • 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:

  • Jeff Cronenweth "Gone Girl"
  • Benoit Delhomme "The Theory of Everything"
  • Emmanuel Lubezki "Birdman"
  • Dick Pope "Mr. Turner"
  • Robert D. Yeoman "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Contenders:

  • Roger Deakins "Unbroken"
  • Óscar Faura "The Imitation Game"
  • Robert Elswit "Inherent Vice"
  • Hoyt van Hoytema "Interstellar"
  • Rodrigo Prieto "The Homesman"
  • 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:

    • "Last Days in Vietnam"
    • "Keep on Keepin' On"
    • "Life Itself"
    • "The Salt of the Earth"
    • "Seymour: An Introduction"

    Contenders:

    • "The Case Against 8" 
    • "CITIZEN FOUR"
    • "Code Black"
    • "E-Team"
    • "Finding Vivian Maier"
    • "Rich Hill"
    • "Masters of Deceit"
    • "Mission: Blue"
    • "Red Army"
    • "Tales of the Grim Sleeper"

    Foreign Language Film (Official Submissions)

    Frontrunners:

    • "Force Majeure" Ruben Ostlund (Sweden)
    • "Leviathan" Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia)
    • "Mommy" Xavier Dolan (Canada)
    • "Two Days, One Night" The Dardennes brothers (Belgium)
    • "Wild Tales" Damion Szifron (Argentina)

    Contenders:

    • "1001 Grams" Bent Hamer (Norway)
    • "Accused" Paula van der Oest (Netherlands)
    • "Beloved Sisters" Dominik Graf ("Germany)
    • "The Boys from the Marx and Engels Street" Nikola Vukcevic (Montenegro)
    • "Bulgarian Rhapsody" Ivan Nichev (Bulgaria)
    • "Cantinflas" Sebastian del Amo (Mexico)
    • "The Circle" Stefan Haupt (Switzerland)
    • "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)
    • "The Dead Lands" Toa Fraser (New Zealand)
    • "Dukhtar" Afia Nathaniel (Pakistan)
    • "Eyes of a Thief" Najwa Najjar (Palestine)
    • "Factory Girl" Mohamed Khan (Egypt)
    • "Fair Play" Andrea Sedlackova (Czech Republic)
    • "A Few Cubic Meters of Love" Jamshid Mahmoudi (Afghanistan)
    • "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" Oscar Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz (Israel)
    • "The Gambler" Ignas Jonynas (Lithuania)
    • "Glow of the Firefly" Khalid Mohammed Mithu (Bangladesh)
    • "The Golden Era"  Ann Hui (Hong Kong)
    • "The Gospel of the Flesh" Eduardo Mendoza de Echave (Peru)
    • "The Guide" Oles Sanin (Ukraine)
    • "Human Capital" Paolo Virzi (Italy)
    • "Ice Poison" Midi Z (Taiwan)
    • "Ida" Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland)
    • "Invasion" Abner Benaim (Panama)
    • "The Japanese Dog" Tudor Cristian Jurgiu (Romania)
    • "Jhola" Yadavkumar Bhattarai (Nepal)
    • "Liar's Dice" Geethu Mohandas (India)
    • "The Liberator" Alberto Arvelo (Venezuela)
    • "Life in a Fishbowl" Baldvin Zophoniasson (Iceland)
    • "The Light Shines Only There" Mipo Oh (Japan)
    • "Little England" Pantelis Voulgaris (Greece)
    • "Living is Easy with Eyes Closed" David Trueba (Spain)
    • "Mateo" Maria Gamboa (Colombia)
    • "Mr. Kaplan" Álvaro Brechner (Uruguay)
    • "Never Die Young" Pol Cruchten (Luxembourg)
    • "Norte, the End of History" Lav Diaz (Philippines)
    • "Olivados"  Faruk Lončarević (Bolivia)
    • "The Red Moon" Hassan Benjelloun (Morocco)
    • "Rocks in my Pockets" Signe Baumane (Latvia)
    • "Saint Laurent" Bertrand Bonello (France)
    • "Sayang Disayang"  Sanif Olek (Singapore)
    • "Sea Fog" Shim Sung-bo  ](South Korea)
    • "Seduce Me" Marko Šantić (Slovenia)
    • "See You in Montevideo" Dragan Bjelogrlic (Serbia)
    • "Sorrow and Joy" Nils Malmros (Denmark)
    • "A Step into the Dark" Miloslav Luther (Slovakia)
    • "Tangerines" Zaza Urushadze (Estonia)
    • "Teacher's Diary"  Nithiwat Tharatorn (Thailand)
    • "Timbuktu" Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritiana)
    • "Today" Reza Mirkarimi (Iran)
    • "To Kill a Man"Alejandro Fernandez Almendras (Chile)
    • "To the Hilt" Stole Popov (Macedonia)
    • "The Way He Looks" Daniel Ribeiro (Brazil)
    • "What Now? Remind Me" Joaquim Pinto (Portugal)
    • "White God" Kornél Mundruczó (Hungary)
    • "The Windows and a Hanging" Isa Qosja (Kosovo)
    • "Winter Sleep" Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Turkey)
    • "With Mom" Ivan Nitchev (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

    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"
    • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "Gone Girl"
    • 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"
    • "Gone Girl"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"
    • "Mr. Turner"
    • "The Theory of Everything"

    Contenders

    • "American Sniper"
    • "Fury"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Unbroken"

    Sound Editing

    Sound Mixing

    Film Editing

    Animated Short 

    Live Action Short 

    Documentary Short 

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