This coming Sunday marks the 87th Annual Academy Awards – that’s right, it’s that time of year again. With nine nominations apiece, Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead the pack, but how many of those nominations will they be able to convert into wins? And will the little film that could, Boyhood, really be able to take down the juggernaut that is Birdman? Here’s our final take on the main categories:
Best Original Screenplay
The nominees: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler
This category looks to be a real nail-biter. Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler seem to have the least overall support as they are the only two in this category who aren’t nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director, so we can probably count them out. Boyhood has become an immensely beloved film, but despite being nominated for a slew of screenplay awards this awards season, it has failed to win any, so it’ll probably sit this one out. That leaves Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel to battle it out for the win. The latter has snagged wins from BAFTA and most recently the WGA award (where Birdman’s script wasn’t eligible), whereas the former won the Golden Globe. It could go either way, but when in doubt go with the one with the bigger chance at winning Best Picture. So, Birdman it is.
Winner prediction: Birdman
Best Adapted Screenplay
The nominees: American Sniper, Inherent Vice, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
At the beginning of awards season, this category was deemed rather boring by many Oscar pundits, with no clear frontrunner. Then along came Whiplash and livened things up. It was considered an original screenplay by critics and other awards groups, but due to a technicality, AMPAS decided it was adapted. Now that it no longer has to compete against The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman, it has a real shot of winning. However, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything appear to be popular too, so the award could go to either one. It’s total guesswork at this point, but we think it’ll go to The Imitation Game.
Winner prediction: The Imitation Game
Best Supporting Actor
The nominees: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Well, this is an easy one. J.K. Simmons’s performance in Whiplash has been raved about ever since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival last year. As expected, Simmons has steamrolled through awards season, winning the Golden Globe, the SAG award, and most recently the BAFTA. There is probably a contingent of voters rallying for Edward Norton’s brazen performance in Birdman, but let’s face it, they might as well engrave Simmons’ name on the trophy already.
Winner prediction: J.K. Simmons
Best Supporting Actress
The nominees: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
As with Best Supporting Actor, this category also appears to be a done deal. Like Simmons, Patricia Arquette has won virtually every award in sight for her heartfelt turn in Boyhood. At this point it would be shocking to see anyone else run off with the trophy. Better luck next time, Emma Stone.
Winner prediction: Patricia Arquette
The nominees: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Ever since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival late last year, critics raved over Julianne Moore’s performance in Still Alice, in which she plays a professor who develops early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. That kind of material screams Oscar-bait, and given the fact that Moore has been nominated four previous times, with no wins, it seems like the perfect time to finally award her the gold.
Winner prediction: Julianne Moore
The nominees: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Unlike the other three acting categories, this one appears to be the most competitive. At the start of the awards season, Oscar pundits and critics alike were predicting a win for Michael Keaton’s comeback in Birdman, but the tide seems to have shifted towards Eddie Redmayne. At the Golden Globes the two were in separate categories, but at the SAG awards and at BAFTA, Redmayne prevailed. Keaton could potentially still win, but this looks like Redmayne’s award to lose. His is the kind of performance and film that seem designed to win Oscars.
Winner prediction: Eddie Redmayne
The nominees: Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
This category seems to be a two-horse race between Richard Linklater and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Many Oscar pundits assumed this would go to Linklater, especially after he won the Golden Globe and dozens of critics’ awards. But after winning at the Director’s Guild of America, Iñárritu now seems to be the one to beat. Linklater recently won the BAFTA, but the Academy is a different beast; his understated direction may be too unassuming to take down the flashy razzmatazz of Birdman.
Winner prediction: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
The nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Selma, Whiplash
The most important category of them all seems to have come down to a Birdman vs. Boyhood race. Boyhood has won virtually every critics award, as well as the Golden Globe and BAFTA, whereas Birdman has experienced a recent surge, winning at the Producers’ Guild, the Directors’ Guild, the Screen Actors Guild, and various other industry guilds, all of which show huge widespread support from all areas in the industry. It’s statistically rare for a film with that combination of wins to end up losing at the final hurdle. With preferential voting taking place for this category, Birdman is probably going to appear higher on each voter’s ballot than Boyhood. So, while Boyhood still has its fair share of supporters, it’s going to be tough to take down the behemoth that is Birdman.
Winner prediction: Birdman