Friday, February 20, 2015

Oscar Forecast 2015: “Birdman” with a Good Chance of “Boyhood”

Update: It was a great show! A Birdman win for Best Picture is one of the Academy's more outlandish choices in recent memory. It's a great choice; I'm intrigued to see how this win looks years from now. Birdman picked up 4 awards as did Grand Budapest. Whiplash did rather well with 3 wins. The Academy really shared the love: every Best Picture nominee won at least one award. I didn't do as great with my predictions with only 16 out of 24 correct. Better luck next year I guess. 

“This is the closest Best Picture race in all the years I've been watching the Academy Awards.” This is exactly what I said last year about the race between “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave.” As it turns out, it's a year later, and things are just as up in the air. It’s another real race. It’s enough to give someone like me heart palpitations. This time it appears to be a race between two of the most unlikely Best Picture frontrunners of all time: the 12 years in the making little indie “Boyhood” and the irreverent show business dramedy “Birdman.” Many of the other races are very close but perhaps, like last year, there won’t be all that many surprises so we’ll just have to wait and see. I can’t imagine there will be a “Gravity” like sweep. I can’t see a film winning more than about 4 awards. If things turn out the way I think, "Birdman," my prediction for Best Picture will only walk away with three wins which in the past seemed impossible, but nowadays it seems to be the trend. Here are my fearless predictions…

Best Picture
Who Will Win: “Birdman.” After having “Boyhood” as my pick for months I’ve officially switched over to “Birdman.” When it comes down to it “Boyhood” could easily win here, but I have to go with the fact that “Birdman” has nearly swept the previous guild awards. No film since “Apollo 13” has lost Best Picture after winning the SAG, DGA, and PGA awards (and we all know “Apollo 13” lost because Rod Howard wasn’t even nominated). The fact that “Birdman” doesn’t have an editing nomination gives me traumatic flashbacks to incorrectly predicting “Brokeback Mountain,” – as no film has won best picture without at least being nominated for Editing since 1980’s “Ordinary People” – but stats were meant to be broken. Boyhood did also win BAFTA, but honestly, flip a coin at this point. And if it were to win, it’d be the closest the Academy has ever gotten, and probably ever will, to rewarding a superhero film for Best Picture.
Who Should Win: “Boyhood.” Frankly, I’d be happy if either film won for two main reasons: first, they’re awesomely entertaining and well-made films, and two, they each represent a great leap forward for the Academy. These two films would have never even been in the conversation 10 or even 5 years ago. A part of me wishes even “Whiplash” would win; all three films are some of my favorites of the year.
Should Have Been Nominated: “Nightcrawler”

Best Director
Will Win: Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman.” He surprisingly won the DGA so he’s the odds on favorite to win here as well. Linklater really COULD win, as arguably both would be extremely deserving, but I’m going with history here.
Should Win: Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman.” Flip a coin in deed, even if Boyhood is my favorite film of the year, I can’t deny the stupefyingly awesome directorial achievement that is “Birdman.”
Should Have Been Nominated: Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash.”

Best Actor
Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything.” There hasn’t been this close of a Best Actor race since 2003 when Adrien Brody shocked the world and won for “The Pianist.” Could Bradley Cooper be a surprise winner even though it feels strictly between Redmayne and Keaton? Sure. Redmaybe has won most of the previous awards and he has the benefit of playing a real life person in a respected Best Picture nominee. I always had a sneaking suspicion, however, that if Keaton were to win here than Birdman was definitely going to win Best Picture in a sweep but I still feel like at this point it’s Redmayne’s to lose.
Should Win: Michael Keaton, “Birdman.” Oh don’t make me choose. Redmayne and Keaton are both excellent though as many have said what Keaton has done is just dazzling to watch.
Should Have Been Nominated: Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler.”

Best Actress
Will Win: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice.” No contest. (Although the last time the frontrunner was someone who played a character with Alzheimer’s Marion Collitard won, just saying. It won’t happen).
Should Win: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice.” She’s been nominated four previous times and has yet to win. Even if her movie is a little scene indie, she’s great in it and actually deserves it.
Should Have Been Nominated: Scarlett Johansson, “Under the Skin”

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash.” One of the sure things of the night.
Should Win: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash.” And he deserves it.
Should Have Been Nominated: Miyavi, “Unbroken.”

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood.” Whether “Boyhood” wins Best Picture or not, this is at least one guarantee win for the film. If Arquette can’t even win this, there’s no way it’s winning Best Picture.
Should Win: “Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood.” The movie could have easily been titled “Motherhood.” Arquette gives a great, realistic and rather natural performance and remains the heart of the entire film.
Should Have Been Nominated: Rene Russo, “Nightcrawler.”

Best Adapted Screenplay 
Will Win: “Whiplash.” The frontrunner really is “The Imitation Game” is really the most obvious likely winner, though I’m uncertain how much love the Academy is going to give it. It’s won some screenplay awards so far, but has yet to go up against “Whiplash” which the Academy has placed here instead of in Original Screenplay. Sometimes indies find love here, like “Precious” a few years back. Is “The Imitation Game” going to be this year’s “American Hustle” and go home empty handed? It’s possible, though if it wins anything it does here.

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” The Academy might as well call Best Quirky Screenplay as so many strange and unusual, but brilliant, films have deservedly won this category. “Birdman” COULD win here, but films with multiple writers (there are four here) are a rarity in these categories for some reason. If “Birdman” really is going to win best picture, I feel like it could end up taking this too, but Budapest seems most likely. 

Best Animated Feature Film
Will Win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2.” Much has been already been said about “The LEGO Movie’s” shocking snub so I won’t go into that, but I believe it’s basically a race between Disney and DreamWorks. I give the edge to “Dragon” because if “Wreck-It Ralph” can’t win then “Big Hero 6” can’t.

Best Cinematography
Will Win: “Birdman.” No contest. In a perfect world, Roger Deakins would finally get his due and take home a deserved Oscar for “Unbroken.” However, the nominees’ names aren’t on the actual ballot, therefore the year’s most obviously amazing cinematic achievement will take it, giving Mr. Lubezki’s second win in a row.
Best Costume Design
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” I can see arguments being made for other films like “Into the Woods” or even “Maleficent” but those movies aren’t nearly as respected as “Budapest.” There’s also a strong link between this category and Production Design where it’s also almost guaranteed a win.

Best Documentary - Feature
Will Win: “Citizenfour.” The Documentary branch made a big mistake in snubbing “Life Itself” which would have been the presumed frontrunner. “Citizenfour” is arguably the most well-known of the nominees and feels “important.” Though arguments for the other films could be made.

Best Documentary - Short Subject
Will Win: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1.” Your guess is as good as mine.

Best Film Editing
Will Win: “Boyhood.” I’m so conflicted about this one. Honestly, it baffles me that “Birdman” isn’t here, but it doesn’t have obvious editing since the film is presented as if it’s shot in one take (which it isn’t). “Boyhood” isn’t the flashiest of edited films but it has twelve years of footage edited down into a coherent feature. And there’s “Whiplash” the more obviously edited film that many people seem to like. It could go either way. Last year I went on a limb predicting “Captain Philips” and it didn’t turn out that way, so I’m going with “Boyhood.” This is going to be a key category to watch on Sunday. If “Boyhood” does win, it very well could win Best Picture. If it loses here, there’s no way it’s winning the big prize… which makes me wonder why I’m picking it here in the first place.

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: “Ida.” There actually isn’t that one obvious choice this year. “Ida” did get some other love in the Cinematography category but there’s no real popular frontrunner. I’ve also heard good things about “Wild Tales” which some people seem to be selecting.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” If you’re going on sheer amount of impressive makeup then “Guardians” would take this, and it could since it’s a populist movie that everyone seems to like (and the similar Star Trek won this award before) and the work on “Foxcatcher” is subtle and extremely impressive, but at the end of the day I think they’ll reward the more respected film which features lots of facial hair, birth marks, and old age makeup which otherwise makes this a shoo-in. Though, and you heard it hear first, anything can happen here.

Best Original Score
Will Win: “The Theory of Everything.” I’m not 100% confident here but my rationale is that Alexandre Desplat will split his votes between “Imitation Game” and “Budapest;” Hans Zimmer’s “Intersetellar” score is amazing and was talked about a lot when the film came out but overall buzz for the film is down. And the guy who got a surprise nomination for “Mr. Turner” is happy to be nominated. The Academy has a strong record of rewarding new nominees in this category and that would be Johann Johannsson.
Best Original Song
Will Win: “Glory” from Selma. Many think this is a race between general snubs “Selma” and “The LEGO Movie.” I’ve heard rumbles of Glen Campbell getting the sympathy vote, but I think “Selma” will take it.

Best Production Design
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” I’d genuinely be surprised if anything else won.

Best Short Film – Animated
Will Win:
“The Dam Keeper.” Many are predicting another win for Disney with “Feast” which was shown in front of “Big Hero 6.” But besides the win for “Paperman” a couple years ago, Disney rarely wins here which is why I’m going with a different but similarly animated film.

Best Short Film – Live Action
Will Win:
“Boogaloo & Graham.” Your guess is as good as mine, it’s got cute kids and baby chickens. Though many are predicting “The Phone Call” mostly because it features well-known actress Sally Hawkins.

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: “American Sniper.” This seems the best logical place to reward this film. Loud films do will here, as so war and action films. This makes sense to me.

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: “American Sniper.” Sometimes one film will take both sound awards, when it doesn’t it’s usually because one of the Sound Mixing nominees is a music-centric film which tend to do well here. While “Whiplash” does feature music, I feel this like little low budget movie is not quite the type of bombastic music driven film that usually takes this category, which is why I’m going with “American Sniper” to take both, though if “Whiplash” were to win it wouldn’t be terribly surprising. One more thing about “Whiplash” I’d like to mention… I’m wondering if “Whiplash” could be this year’s “Traffic” or “Jaws” and win all of the awards it’s nominated for except Best Picture. It’s possible. Heck, I wouldn’t even be shocked to see Birdman win this in a sweep ala “Slumdog Millionaire.”

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: “Interstellar.” Usually a best Picture nominee ALWAYS wins here, though there is no Best Picture nominee in this category (a first since 2007 when “The Golden Compass” triumphed over “Transformers”). “Interstellar,” however, feels like the only Best Picture nominee of the bunch, since it does have a total of five nominations. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” is the only other one I can really see winning, since the other films will split the comic book vote.

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