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Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATE

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood December 4, 2014 at 2:58PM

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 had Oscar potential; critics and guild groups kept 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 had to sustain itself over a year, from January's Sundance through the long awards slog. So far, so good, as "Boyhood" keeps racking up key wins such as Best Film from the New York and Los Angeles Film Critics. Both films scored with critics groups and SAG and Golden Globes nominations. Also emerging from Sundance with stellar reviews was 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 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 and later, won Best Actor from the New York Film Critics Circle; eventual foreign frontrunners "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' dour and tragic western "The Homesman," starring Jones and a moving Hilary Swank.

Breaking big at both Venice and Telluride, followed by NYFF closing night, was Alejandro González Iñárritu's scabrous and exhilarating showbiz comedy "Birdman," starring superb acting contenders Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone (all are collecting key nominations and awards). Telluride debuted three lit adaptations: writer Nick Hornby and director Jean-Marc Vallee's film version of Cheryl Strayed's  "Wild," a mother-daughter drama starring strong actress contenders Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon (Searchlight); and Weinstein Co.'s World War II code-cracking thriller "The Imitation Game," starring a blazing Benedict Cumberbatch with ace support from Keira Knightley. All three are gaining momentum with critics groups, SAG and the Golden Globes.

"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 performances earned plaudits at TIFF and later reviews: 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. 

A strong opening nighter 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"

Paramount broke Christopher Nolan's post-Kubrickian space odyssey "Interstellar" in mid-October; the global box office juggernaut needed consensus critical raves to expand beyond inevitable technical Oscar kudos. While visually splendid gorgeous and epic, "Interstellar" failed to 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 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--but got a welcome boost when the National Board of Review gave the film its Best Picture of the year.

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, Pathe and Paramount) and less rousing, Clint Eastwood's well-made true war story "American Sniper," starring Bradley Cooper in a transformative title role. Both are set for Christmas Day. While Indie Spirit Award nominee "Selma" is growing serious awards momentum, "American Sniper" will likely settle for being a commercial crowdpleaser. 

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.) Original writer James Lapine and "Chicago" director Rob Marshall's  lavishly entertaining 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, started screening the weekend before Thanksgiving. Tech nods are likely. 

While the late-breaking "Unbroken" was snubbed by the SAG and the Golden Globes, director Angelina Jolie's handsome biopic of World War II survivor and Olympic athlete Louis Zamperini (rising star Jack O'Connell), is more likely to be given Oscar respect. Adapted by William Nicholson, Richard LaGravenese and the Coen brothers from Laura Hillenbrand's bestseller and shot by 11-time nominee Roger Deakins, this biopic in the tradition of "The Bridge on the River Kwai" is another soft lob down the middle for the Academy--horrific survivor story, well told. 

'Selma'
'Selma'

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

Contenders:

  • "Foxcatcher"
  • "Gone Girl"
  • "Mr. Turner"
  • "Unbroken"

Long Shots:

  • "American Sniper"
  • "Interstellar"
  • "Into the Woods"
  • "A Most Violent Year"
  • "Wild"

Actor

Frontrunners:

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

Contenders

  • Ralph Fiennes "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • Jake Gyllenhaal "Nightcrawler"
  • Timothy Spall "Mr. Turner" 

Long Shots

  • Bradley Cooper "American Sniper"
  • Matthew McConaughey “Interstellar"
  • Jack O'Connell "Unbroken"

Actress

Frontrunners

  • Jennifer Aniston "Cake"
  • Felicity Jones "The Theory of Everything"
  • Julianne Moore "Still Alice"
  • Rosamund Pike "Gone Girl"
  • Reese Witherspoon "Wild"

Contenders

  • Amy Adams "Big Eyes"
  • Emily Blunt "Into the Woods"
  • Marion Cotillard "Two Days, One Night"
  • Hilary Swank "The Homesman"

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"
  • Rene Russo "Nightcrawler"
  • Tilda Swinton "Snowpiercer"

Supporting Actor

Frontrunners

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

Contenders

  • Josh Brolin "Inherent Vice"
  • Miyavi "Unbroken"

Director

Frontrunners:

  • Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel" 
  • Ava DuVernay "Selma"
  • A.G. Iñárritu "Birdman"
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"'
  • Morten Tyldum "The Imitation Game"

Contenders

  • David Fincher “Gone Girl" 
  • Angelina Jolie "Unbroken"
  • Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
  • Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher"

Long Shots

  • Damien Chazelle "Whiplash" 
  • James Marsh "The Theory of Everything"
  • Christopher Nolan "Interstellar" 

Original screenplay
 
Frontrunners

  • Wes Anderson "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
  • Damien Chazelle "Whiplash"
  • Dan Gilroy "Nightcrawler"
  • A.G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo "Birdman"
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"

Contenders

  • JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year"
  • Christopher Miller and Phil Lord "The Lego Movie" 
  • Damian Szifron "Wild Tales"
  • Paul Webb "Selma"

Long Shots:

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

Adapted screenplay

Frontrunners

  • Gillian Flynn "Gone Girl"
  • Nick Hornby "Wild"
  • Richard LaGravanese, William Nicholson, Joel and Ethan Coen "Unbroken"
  • Anthony McCarten "The Theory of Everything"
  • Graham Moore "The Imitation Game"

Contenders

  • Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski "Big Eyes"
  • Andrew Bovell’s “A Most Wanted Man"
  • Linda Woolverton "Maleficent"

Animated Feature 

Frontrunners

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

Contenders

  • "The Book of Life"
  • "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:

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

Contenders:

  • "The Case Against 8" 
  • "Finding Vivian Maier"
  • "The Overnighters"
  • "Tales of the Grim Sleeper"
  • "Virunga"

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:
  • Roger Deakins "Unbroken"
  • Hoyt van Hoytema "Interstellar"
  • Emmanuel Lubezki "Birdman"
  • Dick Pope "Mr. Turner"
  • Robert D. Yeoman "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Contenders:

  • Jeff Cronenweth "Gone Girl"
  • Benoit Delhomme "The Theory of Everything"
  • Robert Elswit "Inherent Vice"
  • Óscar Faura "The Imitation Game"
  • Bradford Young "Selma"

Long Shots

  • Rodrigo Prieto "The Homesman"
  • Roman Vasyanov "Fury"
  • Dariusz Wolski "Exodus: Gods and Kings"

    Film Editing

    Frontrunners:

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

    Contenders:

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

    Foreign Language Film (Official Submissions)

    Frontrunners:

    • "Force Majeure" Ruben Ostlund (Sweden)
    • "Ida" Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland)
    • "Leviathan" Andrey Zvyagintsev (Russia)
    • "Timbuktu" Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritiana)
    • "Wild Tales" Damian Szifron (Argentina)

    Contenders:

    • "Accused" Paula van der Oest (The Netherlands)
    • "Corn Island" Giorgi Ovashvili (Georgia)
    • "The Liberator" Alberto Arvelo (Venezuela)
    • "Tangerines" Zaza Urushadze (Estonia)

    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"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "Mr. Turner"
    • "Unbroken"

    Contenders:

    • "Big Eyes"
    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "Snowpiercer"

    Original Score

    Frontrunners:

    • Alexandre Desplat "The Imitation Game"
    • Jóhann Jóhannsson "The Theory of Everything"
    • John Powell "How to Train Your Dragon 2" 
    • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "Gone Girl"
    • Hans Zimmer "Interstellar" 

    Contenders:

    • Marco Beltrami "The Homesman"
    • Alexandre Desplat "Unbroken"
    • Gustavo Dudamel "The Liberator"
    • Johnny Greenwood "Inherent Vice"
    • Thomas Newman "The Judge"
    • Steve Price "Fury"
    • Gustavo Santaolalla "The Book of Life"

    Original Song

    Frontrunners:

    • "Everything is Awesome" (Shawn Patterson, Tegan and Sara, "The LEGO Movie") 
    • "Glory" (John Legend and Common, "Selma") 
    • "Immortals" (Fall Out Boy, "Big Hero 6")
    • "Lost Stars" (Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois, Keira Knightley, "Begin Again")
    • "Miracle" (Coldplay, "Unbroken")

    Contenders:

    • "Big Eyes" (Lana Del Rey and Daniel Heath, "Big Eyes")
    • "The Boxtrolls Song" (Cherrie Crystal, "The Boxtrolls")
    • "I'll Get You What You Want (Cockatoo in Malibu)" (Bret McKenzie, Constantine, "Muppets Most Wanted")
    • "I Love You Too Much" (Paul Williams, Diego Luna, "The Book of Life")
    •  "The Last Goodbye" ("Billy Boyd, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies")
    • "Let Me In" (Grouplove, "The Fault in Our Stars")
    • "Mercy" (Patti Smith and Kronos Quartet, "Noah")
    • "Where No One Goes" (Jonsi, "How to Train Your Dragon 2") 

    Makeup and Hairstyling

    Frontrunners

    • "Foxcatcher"
    • "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
    • "The Theory of Everything"

    Contenders

    • "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"
    • "Maleficent"
    • "Noah"

    Sound Editing

    Frontrunners:

    • "Captain America: Winter Soldier"
    • "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"

    Contenders

    • "Amazing Spider-Man 2"
    • "Birdman"
    • "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"
    • "Exodus: Gods and Kings"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
    • "Whiplash"

    Long Shots: 

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

    Visual Effects

    Frontrunners
    • "Captain America: Winter Soldier"
    • "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
    • "The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Guardians of the Galaxy"

    Contenders

    • "Godzilla"
    • "Maleficent"
    • “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb”
    • "Transformers: Age of Extinction"
    • "X-Men: Days of Future Past"

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