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Oscar Predictions 2015 UPDATE

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood October 15, 2014 at 1:03PM

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 include 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 crowdpleaser "Whiplash," starring breakout young star Miles Teller and character veteran J.K. Simmons, who leads the supporting actor contenders.

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; 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 a moving 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 González Iñárritu'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," a mother-daughter drama starring Laura Dern and Reese Witherspoon (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" 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.

David Ayer's well-executed indie war movie "Fury" (Sony), starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LaBeouf and Jon Bernthal as a tank unit trying to survive the end of World War II, missed the fest circuit and will need enthusiastic critical support to rise to the awards level. Early reaction was mixed. (My reactions here.)

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." But it's only a year later, so comparisons are waiting to be made. (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"
  • "Whiplash"

Contenders:

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

Long Shots:

  • "American Sniper"
  • "Big Eyes"
  • "Exodus: God and Kings"
  • "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"
  • 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"
  • Joaquin Phoenix "Inherent Vice"
  • Brad Pitt "Fury"
  • 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"
  • Rosario Dawson "Top Five"
  • Julianne Moore "Still Alice"
  • 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

  • Albert Brooks "A Most Violent Year"
  • Johnny Depp "Into the Woods"
  • Shia LaBeouf "Fury"

Long Shots

  • Robert Duvall "The Judge"
  • Logan Lerman "Fury"
  • Tom Wilkinson "Selma"

Director

Frontrunners:

  • Alejandro González Iñárritu "Birdman"  
  • David Fincher “Gone Girl" 
  • Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
  • Bennett Miller "Foxcatcher"
  • 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

  • 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 "Birdman"
  • 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"
  • 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"

Contenders

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

Animated Short

Frontrunners:

  • "Feast" (Patrick Osborne)
  • "Lava" (James Ford)

Contenders:

  •  "Baths" (Tomek Ducki)
  • "The Bigger Picture" ( Daisy Jacobs)
  • "Duet" (Glen Keane)
  • "Me + Her" (Joseph Oxford)
  •  "Padre" (Santiago Bou Grasso)

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)

Cinematography
Frontrunners:

  • Jeff Cronenweth "Gone Girl"
  • Robert Elswit "Inherent Vice"
  • Emmanuel Lubezki "Birdman"
  • Dick Pope "Mr. Turner"
  • Robert D. Yeoman "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Contenders:

  • Roger Deakins "Unbroken"
  • Benoit Delhomme "The Theory of Everything"
  • Óscar Faura "The Imitation Game"
  • Hoyt van Hoytema "Interstellar"

Long Shots

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

    Visual Effects

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

    Contenders

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

    Documentary Feature

    Frontrunners:

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

    Contenders:

    • "The Case Against 8" 
    • "Code Black"
    • "E-Team"
    • "Finding Vivian Maier"
    • "Happy Valley"
    • "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)
    • "Timbuktu" Abderrahmane Sissako (Mauritiana)
    • "Two Days, One Night" The Dardennes brothers (Belgium)
    • "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)
    • "Dukhtar" Afia Nathaniel (Pakistan)
    • "Fair Play" Andrea Sedlackova (Czech Republic)
    • "Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem" Oscar Ronit and Shlomi Elkabetz (Israel)
    • "The Golden Era"  Ann Hui (Hong Kong)
    • "Human Capital" Paolo Virzi (Italy)
    • "Ida" Pawel Pawlikowski (Poland)
    • "Life in a Fishbowl" Baldvin Zophoniasson (Iceland)
    • "The Light Shines Only There" Mipo Oh (Japan)
    • "Living is Easy with Eyes Closed" David Trueba (Spain)
    • "Mommy" Xavier Dolan (Canada)
    • "Norte, the End of History" Lav Diaz (Philippines)
    • "Saint Laurent" Bertrand Bonello (France)
    • "Sorrow and Joy" Nils Malmros (Denmark)
    • "Tangerines" Zaza Urushadze (Estonia)
    • "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"
    • "Inherent Vice"
    • "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"
    • "Inherent Vice"
    • "Into the Woods"
    • "Interstellar"
    • "Noah"
    • "The Theory of Everything"
    • "Unbroken"

    Original Score

    Frontrunners:

    • Jóhann Jóhannsson "The Theory of Everything"
    • Clint Mansell "The Imitation Game"
    • Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross "Gone Girl"
    • Antonio Sanchez "Birdman"
    • Gustavo Santaolalla "The Book of Life"

    Contenders:

    • Marco Beltrami "The Homesman"
    • Alexandre Desplat "Unbroken"
    • Thomas Newman "The Judge"
    • Steve Price "Fury"
    • Hans Zimmer "Interstellar" 

    Original Song

    Frontrunners:
  • "The Book of Life"
  • "Begin Again"
  • "The LEGO Movie"

  • Contenders:

    • "Big Hero 6"

    Makeup and Hairstyling

    Frontrunners

    • "Foxcatcher"
    • "Mr. Turner"
    • "The Theory of Everything"

    Contenders

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

    Sound Editing

    Sound Mixing

    Film Editing

    Live Action Short 

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