Awards season is on. With the Venice, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals beginning in late August, early September, the awards season coverage begins. For some this is a year round career, but I like to think about and do a little research once the fall film festival season starts. For the next six months there will be predictions, over-analysis, politics, ass-kissing (the same thing), screenings, screeners and the eventual excitement and disappointment with the Academy Award nominations. It is sort of ridiculous, yet a lot of fun. It is still a matter of opinion and preference, but as absurd as it is to narrow down the best films of each year down to a possible ten or the best actor to an eventual five, it is fun to watch it, be a part of it and get really excited about seeing films during the fall and winter. Films from Iñárritu, P.T. Anderson, Fincher, Nolan, Jolie, Miller and Leigh. Performances from Keaton, Chastain, Cumberbatch, Carell, Phoenix and Pike. It is the best time of the year for true film lovers, especially after the exhaustion of the summer blockbuster season.
The Academy Awards are the big, prestige pat on the back for the film industry. There will be films and artists nominated that you will question, ones that will be nominated due to big budgeted campaigns and others that will not be nominated that probably should be. For the most part, the Academy plays it safe, loving films about the horrors of WWII, slavery, history and they usually throw in a low-budget picture or indie film, or two. They seem to always get something wrong, for example, last year when Inside Llewyn Davis and All Is Lost got shafted big time. 12 Years a Slave won best picture and is without a doubt a quality, emotional and morally strong picture, but The Wolf of Wall Street was the best picture by a long shot. I have a feeling that if Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken is solid, it will be one of the favorites and fit the elderly Academy’s tastes. I feel this year that Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice will be too obscure and goofy for the Academy, and will be the Inside Llewyn Davis or All Is Lost of 2015.
It is all speculation right now. October is when the masses get to see these high-prestige films and I am really excited for Gone Girl, Birdman, Inherent Vice, Interstellar, Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler. Will Gone Girl and Foxcatcher get nominated for Best Picture even though both are dark films with commentaries on the American Dream? Can Michael Keaton win Best Actor for Birdman? Can Julianne Moore finally win an Oscar for either of her performances in Still Alice and Maps to the Stars? Is Boyhood the frontrunner? Will The Grand Budapest Hotel get the recognition it deserves even though it was released in March? What will become of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, And DuVernay’s Selma, Tim Burton’s Big Eyes and J.C. Chand0r’s A Most Violent Year? Will Emmanuel Lubezki win back-to-back oscars in cinematography for Birdman? Is it going to be a very British Oscar? That answer is probably yes. Lots of questions to be answered and over-analyzed, but fun to boot.
I have made my early predictions for the main categories below and will update them at the beginning of each month up until the Academy Awards nominations are announced on January 15th. The big show is on February 22nd. Here we go!!!
- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
- The Imitation Game
- The Theory of Everything
- Gone Girl
- Mr. Turner
- Next 5: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma, American Sniper, Wild, A Most Violent Year
- It is early and there are many films that have to yet to be seen, but I believe the 9 or 10 nominees will be between these 15 films listed here. I would love to put Inherent Vice on this list, but after seeing that trailer, which I loved, I believe the film will be too goofy for the Academy. Hopefully not for their sake. Boyhood, Birdman, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything and Mr. Turner are close to locks. I also believe Gone Girl will be in there, but it is quite edgy. Whiplash will receive a heavy push and with the already high praise received since Sundance, I think it will be nominated. Sight unseen Unbroken has all the qualities of the classically coveted Academy’s desires, but does it work? Foxcatcher is supposedly very bleak and might be too dark to get in, regardless of its quality and Interstellar, if it is a true knockout, will be the big budget, high quality picture that might get a nomination. A lot left to see. I want The Grand Budapest Hotel to get nominated!
- Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
- Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
- Christopher Nolan (Interstellar)
- Angelina Jolie (Unbroken)
- Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
- Next 3: James Marsh (The Theory of Everything), David Fincher (Gone Girl), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
- The only two locks right now are Linklater and Iñárritu. I believe one of the two British directors, Tyldum or Marsh, will get in and there should be a strong push for Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner) to get a nod. Nolan, as long as Interstellar works, will get nominated for, if nothing else, his expansive vision. Unbroken director Angelina Jolie will be nominated, like Nolan, if the film is a knockout. Fincher and Miller, if the Academy falls for the films, could sneak in and watch out for J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year) and Clint Eastwood (American Sniper) if those films are solid.
- Michael Keaton (Birdman)
- Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitiation Game)
- Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
- Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
- Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner)
- Next 3: Joaquin Phoenix (Inherent Vice), Miles Teller (Whiplash), Bill Murray (St. Vincent)
- Even as early as it is, this category already has four locks: Keaton, Cumberbatch, Redmayne and Carell. All of these performances have received outstanding reviews with a tremendous amount of high praise for all of these actors. The field is stacked and dwindling it down to 5 is quite ridiculous. The last spot is up in the air and right now I am going with Spall. He won Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival and he definitely deserves a nomination. There are at least 25 actors that could be up for a nomination…maybe. So many I did not even name here.
- Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
- Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
- Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
- Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
- Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
- Next 3: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Hillary Swank (The Homesman), Julianne Moore (Maps to the Stars)
- I believe that the five nominations will come from these 7 actresses. The field is light this year and that seems to be a serious issue that Hollywood is avoiding. This field should be just has stacked as the men, but Hollywood is still in the dark ages when it comes to a plethora of strong female written parts and roles. Julianne Moore could get nominated for two performances and she is definitely due for a win. Pike should have no problem with the strong reviews of Gone Girl already praising her. I also think Jones and Witherspoon will get in. Chastain is a guess, but with the quality from Chandor’s past two films, there is a good bet she is nominated. It could also be Adams, with the unseen Big Eyes arriving in December.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
- Edward Norton (Birdman)
- J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
- Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
- Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
- Robert Duvall (The Judge)
- Next 3: Josh Brolin (Inherent Vice), Tom Wilkinson (Selma), Albert Brooks (A Most Violent Year)
- Norton and Simmons are the only two probable locks as of now, but I do think Hawke should be nominated without question. He is brilliant in Boyhood. It could be Ruffalo, with Foxcatcher getting rave reviews, but most of the attention was heralded at Carell and Tatum. There is usually a legendary actor that gets a nomination and I am picking Duvall just because they love him and he is supposedly quite good in The Judge, even if the film is mediocre. Brolin looks great, scene stealer, in the trailer for Inherent Vice and it would not surprise me if Albert Brooks, if he is great, which he will be, gets a nomination for A Most Violent Year. A make up for not getting a nomination for his work on Drive.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
- Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
- Emma Stone (Birdman)
- Keira Knighley (The Imitation Game)
- Laura Dern (Wild)
- Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)
- Next 3: Katherine Waterston (Inherent Vice), Anna Kendrick (Into the Woods), Dorothy Atkinson (Mr. Turner)
- This category is a little up in the air, with many of the possible nominees films having not been seen, but one thing is for sure, Patricia Arquette is the clear frontrunner for her powerful work in Boyhood. Right now, she is the clear favorite and Boyhood‘s best chance at an acting win. I would bet that Stone and Knightley are solid predictions with both getting positive notices for their films. Coon and Dern are a guess, with Coon being on a roll right now with this film and her role on the HBO show “The Leftovers” and Dern is supposedly really solid in Wild. I would not be surprised if Atkinson sneaks in for Mr. Turner either.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
- Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
- Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo (Birdman)
- Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
- Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner)
- Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
- Next 3: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar), J.C. Chandor (A Most Violent Year), Paul Webb (Selma)
- I believe this will be a battle between Boyhood and Birdman for the win. I am sticking by my guns that Whiplash is going to get a lot of love from the Academy and this will be a way to honor an emerging young talent in Chazelle. The last two spots could be a toss-up between these other five films. If The Grand Budapest Hotel does not get a Best Picture nomination, it should receive one here. Interstellar and A Most Violent Year are still up in the air.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
- Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese, William Nicholson (Unbroken)
- Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
- Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
- Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl)
- E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
- Next 3: Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice), Nick Hornby (Wild), Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
- Out of all of the categories, this is the one where these are probably going to be the five nominations, or at least where I feel that comfortable in choosing. If one film does not make it, it might be Foxcatcher and that could be where Anderson gets some love for Inherent Vice. Gone Girl, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything are close to locks.
Many films have already been unveiled, but the masses get to view them over the next three months. These prognostications will change and move, but this is an early guess at what could possibly be nominated in the main categories. Fun times!!! So much has yet to be seen!!!
Photo credits by IMDB.