Boy, this one snuck up on me. It’s already time for the Oscar nominations to be announced, which means it’s time to settle on some predictions. This has been an odd year in many ways, especially with regards to Best Picture. As I said in my recent Oscar Beat piece, battle lines aren’t clearly drawn between two or even three contenders. There’s even cloudiness over whether one of the biggest contenders might get into the race at all due to late screener deliveries. But that’s all moot now. In less than 24 hours, all will be revealed and we’ll enter the next phase of the awards campaign: the fight to the finish.
After the jump, I offer my predictions for the nominees in a number of categories for this year’s Oscars. Be sure to come back bright and early tomorrow morning (5:30am PT, to be exact) to see the official list of nominees along with my commentary on how things shake out. The awards ceremony will be held on February 22nd.
*Contenders are listed in order of likelihood to be nominated (or, more accurately, how confident I feel in the pick’s chances).
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything
Waiting in the Wings: Gone Girl, Foxcatcher, Unbroken
I’ve already said quite a bit about the Best Picture race over the past few months so I won’t get into much detail here, but the big question is whether Selma gets in. I have a strong feeling it does, even though it only picked up two guild notices. Paramount had a limited amount of time to create screeners for the film, so they decided to focus on Academy members rather than members of the various guilds. I believe this accounts for the film’s non-existence in the PGA, DGA, SAG, etc. nominees, and points to a larger issue: these voters are way too dependent upon screeners. If I’m right, Selma could have a surprisingly strong showing when all the nominees are unveiled.
And then we have the final few slots. American Sniper is somehow being willed into being an awards contender—which is ironic given that Sniper and Selma premiered at AFI Fest on the same night and the response to the former was very muted in comparison to the latter. No matter, it appears to be on track to land a nod. Gone Girl could definitely still make the cut, but given that the DGA recognized Fincher for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and didn’t for Gone Girl, I opted to go with Nightcrawler as this year’s “dark drama” candidate.
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
Damien Chazelle – Whiplash
Waiting in the Wings: Ava DuVernay (Selma), Clint Eastwood (American Sniper), Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)
The top two candidates have been set in stone for months (though that can be dangerous in light of recent major snubs like Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow—don’t completely rule out a shocking omission), and the building momentum for The Grand Budapest Hotel culminated in a DGA nod for Wes Anderson, which I think results in his first ever Oscar nomination for directing. The question now is, “Do I have enough faith in the director’s branch to nominate a woman?” I’m honestly torn, but my pessimistic side is winning out and I’m going with Ava DuVernay missing the cut for Selma. If I’m wrong, I’ll be absolutely delighted.
I’ve learned never to doubt Harvey Weinstein’s muscle when it comes to the Oscars (remember The Reader?) so I think his heavy campaigning will result in a nomination for The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum, who did a fine yet unremarkable job with the film. Academy love could push Clint Eastwood in here, but the DGA nominees rarely match up 5-for-5 (and have resulted in increasingly kooky disparities as of late) so I’m going with Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle for this year’s Benh Zeitlin slot. But keep an eye out for Nightcrawler’s Dan Gilroy, whose film has been surging a bit as of late.
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
David Oyelowo – Selma
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Waiting in the Wings: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne, and Benedict Cumberbatch have fairly solidified their dominance in this category, so I’m thinking Nightcrawler’s rise will culminate in Jake Gyllenhaal taking the sociopath slot, leaving Steve Carell’s fine work in Foxcatcher in the cold. Carell was an early favorite to land a nod here, but Foxcatcher failed to catch on with critics groups and has only done marginally better with the guilds, so I think it’s possible he misses out. And though Selma’s fate is still in a bit of doubt, the Academy can’t help itself when it comes to biopics, and David Oyelowo’s complex, raw portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. should carry him to a nomination. If the Academy falls hard for American Sniper though, they could once again recognize new-favorite Bradley Cooper for what’s admittedly an excellent performance.
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Waiting in the Wings: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Hilary Swank (The Homesman)
You can thank a thin field for the fact that the top four slots in this category have been sewn up since November. And you can thank heavy campaigning for the fact that Jennifer Aniston will likely be taking the fifth slot for her performance in Cake. It’s possible that Amy Adams (Big Eyes) or Hilary Swank (The Homesman) could swoop in and surprise, but all signs point to Aniston getting the nod.