It’s that time of year again. The nominations for the 2015 Oscars have been announced, and so, for the next five weeks, there will be debates raging on a global scale over who should win what, but are they really the be all and end all?

Don’t get me wrong, bagging an Academy Award is a big deal – it’s the film industry’s biggest awards night, after all – but what does that little gold statuette prove in the grand scheme of things? Some of the biggest names don’t even bother turning up, for crying out loud. This is mainly because the Oscars are nothing if not controversial, as they have been subject to all manner of outside influences over the years. Smear campaigns and dirty tricks have become as commonplace as the tear-filled speeches. You can have the finest actor delivering one bravura performance after another without getting so much as a sniff. Sometimes, your face simply doesn’t fit; other times, it’s just down to good old-fashioned bias.

Let’s investigate this further by looking at this year’s nominees, with a large dollop of history thrown in. For the purpose of this article, we’ll just concentrate on the ‘Big Four’ categories; after all, they’re the ones that get everyone talking, which is where all the trouble starts in the first place, right?

Best Actor

Of all the categories, this is possibly the most eagerly-anticipated of the lot and, with Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton going into the home strait neck-and-neck, we have an intriguing battle of youth versus experience. Whoever seizes the night, it will mean that Benedict Cumberbatch, the man who can seemingly do no wrong at the moment, will lose out, even though he is by far and away the most popular and talked about actor on the planet right now. But this is the Oscars, so we shouldn’t be too gobsmacked, especially when we consider such legends as Cary Grant and Peter O’Toole never won one. Thought that was shocking? Try Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Edward Norton and Tom Cruise for size.

Bookies’ Favourite: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)/Michael Keaton (Birdman) (joint)

Notable past losers: Peter O’Toole, Johnny Depp

Best Director

Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar. I’ll say that again, Alfred Hitchcock never won an Oscar. Now that you’ve picked your jaw up off the floor, consider also that both Stanley Kubrick and Orson Welles also drew a blank. It seems pretty nailed-on that Richard Linklater will take the honours this year for Boyhood, so the likes of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman) and Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) will have to make do with a nod, but at least they got that. Christopher Nolan, Spike Lee and Terry Gilliam have never been so lucky. Even Sergio Leone, Mr. Spaghetti Western himself, was left on the shelf. Speaking of which, good old Clint Eastwood was overlooked this year, and let’s not even get started on the Ben AffleckArgo episode, or how long it took Martin Scorsese to finally land the pesky thing.

Bookies’ Favourite: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Notable past losers: Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick

Best Actress

Some things never change, as Meryl Streep has been nominated yet again, but it was thought that Jennifer Aniston might finally get the recognition her talents deserve and would therefore go head-to-head with Julianne Moore in this year’s Best Actress field for her outstanding performance in Cake. Nope, not a bit of it, so now the gilt-edged door has been left wide open for Ms. Moore. Those who have lost out in the past in criminal fashion hail mainly from a bygone era: Judy Garland, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich all had illustrious careers which were always missing the cherry on the cake. In the present day, it looks like the same fate will be suffered by Michelle Pfeiffer and Glenn Close, to name but two. That might seem fair enough, but when you think back to 2002 and Halle Berry taking the prize, not to mention that speech, it really puts things into perspective, especially as it is thought by many that their own granny could have taken on that role in Monster’s Ball and still been triumphant.

Bookies’ Favourite: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Notable past losers: Greta Garbo, Michelle Pfeiffer

Best Picture

Oh crikey, where do we start with this one? Let’s go back to 1990 when a film was released on an unsuspecting world that would go down as one of, if not the finest gangster flick of all-time. That movie was Goodfellas, but at the 1991 ceremony it lost out to an overblown western by the name of Dances with Wolves – a fine piece of cinema in its own way, but there’s no comparison, surely. The same can easily be said of Saving Private Ryan, which was beaten by Shakespeare in Love in 1998, and what about Pulp Fiction being pipped to the post in 1995 by Forrest Gump? Do you see a common theme developing? It would appear that the bigwigs prefer a little less in the way of violence, thank you very much, so bear that in mind if you ever fancy going for it. There’s not much danger of any bloodshed with the class of 2015, however.

Bookies’ Favourite: Boyhood

Notable past losers: Goodfellas, Goodfellas and Goodfellas

So you see, win or lose, or even if you’ve been forgotten about completely, you’re in good company. And if all else fails, you can still get trollied afterwards! Everyone’s a winner.

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