Our 2015 Academy Award Predictions

The day has come! With the Oscars only a day away, here are our (mostly) expert predictions in every single category. We start with the ones we admittedly know the least about to the ones we know a pretty good amount about. Guidelines: “Shoulda been here” refers to the snubbed pick, “I would vote for” refers to our personal favorite, and “The Oscar goes to…” is the favorite to win the trophy. Enjoy!

Best Documentary- Short Subject

Crisis Hotline
Joanna
Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth

Completely (educated) guessing on this one.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Crisis Hotline

Many of the best documentaries bring little yet important niches of the world into the light and damned if Crisis Hotline doesn’t do that.

Shoulda Been Here: No clue
I Would Vote For: Can’t really judge
The Oscar Goes to…: Crisis Hotline

Haven’t seen any of them. But mark my words, my health class PSA is going to make it huge.

Shoulda Been Here: I made a health class PSA about sleep, and it was pretty fantastic.
I Would Vote For: I’d abstain
The Oscar Goes To…: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

CitizenFour

CitizenFour

Best Documentary- Feature

CitizenFour
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Virunga

CitizenFour is getting all the hype, so I definitely see it winning. Life Itself should have snagged something.

Shoulda Been Here: Life Itself
I Would Vote For: CitizenFour
The Oscar Goes to…: CitizenFour

CitizenFour feels very relevant and taps into the universally engaging subject of surveillance.

Shoulda Been Here: No clue
I Would Vote For; Can’t honestly judge
The Oscar Goes to…: CitizenFour

No comment.

Shoulda Been Here: Who knows
I Would Vote For: Citizenfour has a cool name, so…
The Oscar Goes To…: Citizenfour

Best Live Action Short Film

Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
Parvaneh
The Phone Call

Another complete shot in the dark on this one

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Parvaneh

This one seems to be the consensus and the premise feels simple yet genius (Just as a short film’s premise should).

Shoulda Been Here: No clue
I Would Vote For: Can’t judge
The Oscar Goes to…: The Phone Call

Haven’t seen any of them, and neither have you most likely.

Shoulda Been Here: Nic and Sam made a dance video that was pretty killer
I Would Vote For: I’d pick a name out of a hat
The Oscar Goes To…: The Phone Call

Best Animated Short Film

The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Feast
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

I actually saw Feast. It was so cute! It better win.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Feast
The Oscar Goes to…: Feast

A nice, sincere little cartoon in the true spirit of Disney.

Shoulda Been Here: All covered
I Would Vote For: Feast
The Oscar Goes to…: Feast

Feast played in front of Big Hero 6 and was pretty adorable. It’s about adapting and accepting, and it’s deceptively thoughtful behind it’s comical façade. It’s also the only one I’ve seen.

Shoulda Been Here: Uhhhhhh
I Would Vote For Feast
The Oscar Goes To…: Feast

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida
Leviathan
Tangerines
Timbuktu
Wild Tales

Not familiar with Foreign Language, but I know it’s either Ida or Leviathan for the win. And Ida was nominated in another category (cinematography), so I’m giving it the win here.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: N/A
The Oscar Goes to…: Ida

I’d be a liar if I claimed to know this category, yes but Ida takes place during WWII. With the Academy, when in doubt, WWII it out.

Shoulda Been Here: Do I look cultured to you?
I Would Vote For: Don’t speak no French or nothin’
The Oscar Goes to…: Ida

Haven’t seen any of them. Actually I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single nominee in this category. Oh well. From what I’ve read Ida sounds like the frontrunner, though Wild Tales and Leviathan do have their supporters.

Shoulda Been Here: Force Majeure by the sound of it
I Would Vote For: I’d close my eyes and randomly point to one
The Oscar Goes To…: Ida

How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best Animated Feature

Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Here’s the first real award I have anything to say about. The Lego Movie, as you know by now, was absolutely robbed in this award. Not only should it have been nominated, it should have won. Instead it looks like HTTYD 2 will be taking the trophy, even though Big Hero 6 was better in my mind.

Shoulda Been Here: The Lego Movie
I Would Vote For: Big Hero 6
The Oscar Goes to…: How To Train Your Dragon 2

How Lego Movie was shunned from this category is beyond me: I will always be bitter. Regrettably though, I didn’t get to see a bunch of animated features this year which I’m actually quite upset about as animation is one of the better categories. Anyway, I went with Big Hero 6 as it feels like a spiritual successor to some of Pixar’s better endeavors

Shoulda Been Here: Lego Movie
I Would Vote For: Lego Movie (I’m an anarchist. A very bitter anarchist)
The Oscar Goes to…: Big Hero 6

One of the biggest stories coming out of Oscar nominations (besides the lack of diversity in the major categories) was the fact that The Lego Movie was completely snubbed. I was partial to How to Train Your Dragon 2 anyway, but the fact that The Lego Movie isn’t here cements HTTYD’s status as the clear frontrunner. It could definitely go to one of the smaller animated films, like Song of the Sea, but Oscar voters have gone for the big studios in the past, so take the deserving How to Train Your Dragon here.

Shoulda Been Here: The Lego Movie
I Would Vote For: How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Oscar Goes To…: How to Train Your Dragon 2

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything

Best Original Score

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

Theory of Everything had far and away the best score. It was perfect in tone, beautifully eerie and overall just really enjoyable to listen to. Theory also won at The Golden Globes. I could see The Grand Budapest Hotel sneaking this one out, but I hope not

Shoulda Been Here: Gone Girl
I Would Vote For: Theory of Everything
The Oscar Goes to…: Theory of Everything

This is one of those categories where I honestly don’t know how they compare nominees but I’d guess the Academy goes off of which score pairs with its film the best among a few other factors. In that case, I settled with Theory’s soundtrack which neatly complements the ups and downs of its protagonist’s story.

Shoulda Been Here: Gone Girl
I Would Vote For: The Imitation Game
The Oscar Goes to…: The Theory of Everything

I think this category will keep with the theme of Budapest cleaning up with the early award, but The Theory of Everything could sneak in there. Frankly this category is a little bit silly this year given that Birdman was disqualified for reasons unknown. It wasn’t and “original score” apparently by whatever cracked up definition the Academy is using.

Shoulda Been Here: Birdman
I Would Vote For: Interstellar
The Oscar Goes To…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Selma

Selma

Best Original Song

“Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
“Glory” from Selma
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss you” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

Again, another thing the Lego Movie should win but won’t. “Everything is Awesome” was stuck in my head for weeks. “Glory” was really powerful and great too, which is why I think it’ll win. Plus Selma’s got to get something, right?

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: “Everything is Awesome”
The Oscar Goes to…: “Glory”

I really wanted to give this one to “Everything is Awesome” but no one can deny the power of Selma’s anthem. It relates very much to its film as it ties in old struggles with recent ones while not forgetting its (grass) roots.

Shoulda Been Here: No complaints
I Would Vote For: “Everything is Awesome” (Sorry, historical value)
The Oscar Goes to…: “Glory”

“Glory” will take this one pretty much hands down. It captures Selma perfectly. I, however, would vote for “Everything is Awesome”, the incredibly catchy and subtly pensive anthem from The Lego Movie. I’m not sure if JLAW’s song was eligible, but it’s been played frequently on the radio and she’s the Academy’s darling.

Shoulda Been Here: “The Hanging Tree” (The Hunger Games)
I Would Vote For: “Everything is Awesome” 
The Oscar Goes To…: “Glory”

Best Sound Editing

American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken

What really is Sound Editing compared to Sound Mixing? We’re not sure. But since Whiplash isn’t here, I have to go for American Sniper on this one. There are not many other awards American Sniper is due to win, so this could easily be one of them. The sounds of war are perfectly blended in to add to the chaos of the film. But you can’t completely trust me on this one. I don’t know what it is.

Shoulda Been Here: Whiplash
I Would Vote For: American Sniper
The Oscar Goes to…: American Sniper

Interstellar is comparable to Gravity: it sits in that newer category of somewhat realistic sci-fi movies grounded more in the “Science” than the “Fiction”. SFX artists for this type of movie believe that more accuracy means an overall more effective, realistic experience and rightfully so. In this cynical day and age, it’s more important than ever for space to be a beautiful yet terrifying vacuum as it is in real life rather than a backdrop for more fanciful journeys.

Shoulda Been Here: Whiplash
I Would Vote For: American Sniper
The Oscar Goes to…: Interstellar

Whiplash wasn’t nominated for some unknown reason. Sniper’s battle sounds certainly contribute to its intensity, so I think it will take the win here. Still, Birdman’s perfectly timed drum lines were pretty great.

Shoulda Been Here: Whiplash
I Would Vote For: Birdman
The Oscar Goes To…: American Sniper

american sniper

Best Sound Mixing

American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash

And what really is Sound Mixing compared to Sound Editing? Again, we’re not entirely sure, but what I do know is that Whiplash just sounded straight up incredible. The music is blended into the film, only adding to the intensity of the film in a huge way. I really wished Nightcrawler snagged a nomination here. The way the sounds of Los Angeles are blended in to the film to add to the eeriness of the movie… too good. Still, it’s Whiplash’s all the way.

Shoulda Been Here: Nightcrawler
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes to…: Whiplash

Those. Drums. This movie was as relentless as its antagonist; practically unstoppable. I imagine it takes a lot to make musical scenes more exciting than the vast majority of this year’s action scenes and sound mixing must be a big, big part of that. For this film, music isn’t fun or artful, it’s a gruelling process of blood, sweat, trial and error. Kudos to whoever did the sound mixing to make that much clear.

Shoulda Been Here: All covered.
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes to…: Whiplash

Just like Interstellar should win everything to do with visuals, Whiplash should win every category with the word “sound” in it. Whiplash’s entire foundation is its sound and jazz, and the music was mixed to perfection. Sure, the sound and drum may not have been entirely synched up right at the end, but you can’t expect Miles Teller to drum that fast. Whiplash should win easily, but American Sniper could sneak in there.

Shoulda Been Here: Birdman
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes To…: Whiplash

Best Production Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Fun fact: The Great Gatsby winning this award last year won me 20 bucks last year on an Oscar Predictions bet. Anyhow, this is another one of those smaller awards that The Grand Budapest is sure to snag up. And I do agree with it winning here. Honestly, The Grand Budapest could snag up all these smaller awards and end having the most awards at the end of the day.

Shoulda Been Here: Birdman
I Would Vote For: The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Oscar Goes to…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

A big part of this movie’s punch, as I mentioned before, is its dedication to fully depicting its era. It has the perfect blend of costumes, makeup and, yessir, production design. Period pieces have taken this award the past few years (Gatsby, Lincoln etc.) and so I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if this lovely piece of historical fiction seized the 2015 title.

Shoulda Been Here: No complaints
I Would Vote For: The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Oscar Goes to…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

I googled what production design is, and apparently it’s “The design of the physical environment that is the backdrop to the story of the film”. I see why The Grand Budapest Hotel is the favorite here, with its popping sets and sceneries, but anything with anything to do with visuals should by default go to Interstellar, which was pretty amazing.

Shoulda Been Here: Nightcrawler
I Would Vote For: Interstellar
The Oscar Goes To…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Here are, to me, the most overlooked people in the film industry. Last year, Dallas Buyers Club won with a microscopic budget, showing the talent of these designers. This year, its Grand Budapest’s to lose. Just one of those awards.

Shoulda Been Here: Into the Woods
I Would Vote For: Guardians of the Galaxy
The Oscar Goes to…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

This whole movie was just brimming with atmosphere and makeup have a lot to do with that. Movies like Budapest prove that you don’t really need a “1932” to prove its “1932”: you just need a proper dose of the right makeup some well made sets and the right amount of dialect to plant your audience in an era.

Shoulda Been Here: No complaints
I Would Vote For: The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Oscar Goes to…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Guardians of the Galaxy should win this award pretty easily, but it’s not the Oscar type of movie. Expect Budapest to continue its sweep of the lower awards with another win here. I’m surprised Into the Woods isn’t nominated. Meryl Streep’s makeup was pretty fantastic in that movie.

Shoulda Been Here: Into the Woods
I Would Vote For: Guardians of the Galaxy
The Oscar Goes To…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand budapest hotel

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner

The Grand Budapest Hotel had a lot of things going for it, and costuming was definitely one of them. They definitely contributed to the believability of the film. However, I was a bigger fan of Into the Woods’ costumes. I didn’t even like the movie.

Shoulda Been Here: Theory of Everything
I Would Vote For: Into The Woods
The Oscar Goes to…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

For pretty much the same reasons I outlined above.

Shoulda Been Here: Guardians of the Galaxy
I Would Vote For: The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Oscar Goes to… The Grand Budapest Hotel

 Pretty much all of these visual categories are going to The Grand Budapest Hotel. Sure, Budapest’s costumes are great, but some of the costumes in Into the Woods are fantastic, like Meryl Streep’s witch gown and the stepsisters’ gowns.Shoulda Been Here: Guardians of the Galaxy
I Would Vote For: Into the Woods
The Oscar Goes To…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Film Editing

American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash

This is one of the closer calls for the technical awards. Whiplash, American Sniper, or Boyhood could all end up taking the title. I loved Whiplash’s final scene, a film editing masterpiece that added so much tension and intensity just through the magic of editing. However, I do see Boyhood winning it. I mean, there is something incredible about editing together a movie that was filmed over 12 years.

Shoulda Been Here: Birdman/Nightcrawler
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes to…: Boyhood

It’s between a bunch of films that took a few months to make and a movie that took over a decade or so to craft: this is the Academy, which one do you think will win? Boyhood certainly had a lot to do to keep a good pacing and flow and it did quite a job with the entire thing. Whoever had to sift through the years of footage for this one, my cap is off to you.

Shoulda Been Here: No complaints
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes to…: Boyhood

 Really anything Nightcrawler isn’t nominated can be considered a snub. It was that good. This a pretty tight race from the sounds of it, but I have a hard time betting against Boyhood and the monumental task of editing down 12 years of footage into a single, 3 hour movie. Also I’m surprised Birdman wasn’t nominated here, given its seamless edits to give the illusion of a single take.

Shoulda Been Here: Nightcrawler or Birdman
I Would Vote For: Boyhood
The Oscar Goes To…: Boyhood

Best Visual Effects

Captain American: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past

This category was one of my favorites when I saw it. A trio of super-hero movies, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and Interstellar. Beautiful. I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is far and away the best one when it comes to visual effects, but Interstellar is going to win just based off of old Academy tendencies. With no Best Picture nominee here, Interstellar is the closest the Academy is going to get.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Oscar Goes to…: Interstellar

I just love how these apes move like animals first. It’s a vast improvement over the actors who did their best with rubber and prosthetics just a few decades ago. Again, this is a category where I honestly don’t know how they compare, especially in this day and age but, if it were my choice, it’d be Apes. Special effects are largely about making the visually impossible possible and I think Apes got the hardest task and made the most of it.

Shoulda Been Here: All covered
I Would Vote For: Guardians of the Galaxy
The Oscar Goes to…: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Again, Interstellar should dominate any category that has the word “visual” in it. The effects in Interstellar are mind-blowing and each scene, from the massive wave to the wormhole have absolutely dazzling visuals.

Shoulda Been Here: Godzilla
I Would Vote For: Interstellar
The Oscar Goes To…: Interstellar

Birdman

Birdman

Best Cinematography 

Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken

Everyone’s talking about Birdman’s cinematography, which makes it seem like it’s filmed over one continuous take. I loved this and felt it was incredibly well done, so I don’t see anyone else taking it, especially since there aren’t too many other things I see Birdman winning. People thought it was a bit much, but to me it was perfect. Selma could have easily snagged a nomination here, but instead Ida, Unbroken and Mr. Turner snuck in there.

Shoulda Been Here: Selma
I Would Vote For: Birdman
The Oscar Goes to…: Birdman

Birdman’s cinematography was jarring. I remember sitting in seat wondering “When will it cut to another take?” for a solid thirty minutes or so. I really love it when a good director can leave me asking how they pulled something off and I still don’t know and don’t want to know how they achieved the one-take effect. Whatever it is, I’m one hundred percent sure it’s insultingly simple.

Shoulda Been Here: Selma
I Would Vote For: Birdman
The Oscar Goes to…: Birdman

I’m still not exactly sure what cinematography is and where you draw the line between cinematography and direction. That being said, whatever cinematography is I know it has something to do with framing shots and camera work, both of which were massive attributes for Birdman. Also, Emmanuel Lubezki, nominated for Birdman, won last year for Gravity. Take the repeat here.

Shoulda Been Here: Selma
I Would Vote For: Birdman
The Oscar Goes To…: Birdman

Best Writing-Original Screenplay

Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler

Now we’re getting the big awards, and actually one of the most wide open awards of the night. Of the five nominees, the only one that can be easily eliminated is Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher. I don’t see Nightcrawler winning either, though it was probably my favorite. That makes it a three way race between Boyhood, Birdman, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I have NO idea. I’m going with Boyhood because I think it’s the most creative idea out there, though it would not be inconceivable to see The Grand Budapest Hotel snag this one.

Shoulda Been Here: N/A
I Would Vote For: Nightcrawler
The Oscar Goes to…: Boyhood

A lot of factors make Birdman Birdman. Solid directing, driven actors and a terrific overall environment. Yet I couldn’t do this one without neglecting our screenplay writer who structured the entire movie so ingeniously that I was just entirely bewildered upon first viewing. I love that. I love when a movie is like a punch in the gut. Birdman’s originality caught me off guard and I’m sure it all started with Alejandro Inarritu and company’s screenplay. And Michael Keaton’s career trajectory as well.

Shoulda Been Here: No complaints
I Would Vote For: Birdman
The Oscar Goes to…: Birdman

This is a pretty stacked category right here. You’ve got Birdman and Boyhood, the two films dueling it out for Best Picture, Nightcrawler, which I would have voted for to win Best Picture had it been nominated, Foxcatcher, which frankly was very underwhelmingly written, and then The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is one of the most creative movies in recent years. Although Birdman has that certain meta quality and the Boyhood script created a movie filmed over 12 years, I think Budapest is the favorite here. It seems plucked out of thin air and is so entertainingly quirky that I think it will take the Oscar here.

Shoulda Been Here: The Lego Movie
I Would Vote For: Nightcrawler
The Oscar Goes To…: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game

Best Writing-Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Another one that is relatively wide open. If Gone Girl was nominated here, it probably would have been my vote. Instead, Whiplash is my vote, even though its status as an Adapted Screenplay is a bit sketchy. I wouldn’t be surprised if it won, but I just don’t see it. This is the Imitation Game’s best shot at winning an Oscar, and I expect the Academy to give it to them. As plain as I felt it was, the story was pretty well told. Plus it’s historical, and that’s always a plus when it comes to the Academy.

Shoulda Been Here: Gone Girl
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes to…: The Imitation Game

I said in my original review of this one that it’s tough to make a misanthropic genius likable and that Benedict Cumberbatch did an excellent job with it. My bad: at the time, I honestly didn’t think of how half of that was the screenwriter’s burden as well. Poor Adapted Screenplay writers have to work within the boundaries of history as well which is much harder than it sounds what with the rigorous fact-checking movies and controversies historical flicks face (Looking at you, American Sniper). In addition, the writer of Imitation had to make decoding and primordial computers riveting – and he succeeded. That’s pretty cool.

Shoulda Been Here: Selma
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes to…: The Imitation Game

This one is also very up in the air. Anything but Inherent Vice could win here. Theory of Everything won the BAFTA, Imitation Game had been the favorite before that, American Sniper has been surging at the box office and hasn’t matched up against any of these films yet, and then Whiplash has sneaked in there as a potential winner with a lot of buzz lately. I’m voting a little bit too much with my heart here, but I really want Whiplash to win and I really think that it should. Pencil in Whiplash but have the eraser ready.

Shoulda Been Here: Gone Girl
I Would Vote For: Whiplash
The Oscar Goes To…: Whiplash

Whiplash

Whiplash

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

In a year with so many wide open races, three of the four acting races are set in stone. One of them is J.K. Simmons for Best Supporting Actor. He delivered one of the best performances I have seen in a long, long time. He is brutally intense and completely believable. My favorite performance of the year in any film, man or woman. Ed Norton has a very tiny chance of stealing this one, but I would be very surprised. And very disappointed. As for the other nominees, Ethan Hawke was my favorite part of Boyhood and Mark Ruffalo was really impressive in Foxcatcher. J.K Simmons is just too good though. All of the nominees deserve a win, but Simmons deserves it most.

Shoulda Been Here: Miyavi (Unbroken)
I Would Vote For: J.K. Simmons
The Oscar Goes to…: J.K. Simmons

It takes true ability on an actor’s part to get me to clench my theatre seat/couch in sheer suspense and/or despair. I love it when an actor is like a magnet that constantly draws the audience’s attention to them without one-upping any of their fellow cast members.  The saying goes that villains always get the better roles and Simmons’s role as the bitter, near sadistic conductor Fletcher is no exception. He’s the most powerful movie villain in a while and the frightening thing is that he’s just a prestigious music teacher. Simmons somehow taps into that reserve of memories we all have of strict adults that we bounced between wanting to strangle and impress.

Shoulda Been Here: No complaints
I Would Vote For: J.K. Simmons
The Oscar Goes to…: J.K. Simmons

Like Moore for Best Actress, JK Simmons is a lock to win for Best Actor here. And he should win. His performance as Terrence Fletcher, the music instructor at a prestigious New York City school is chilling and incredibly scary. I felt my stomach sink whenever he walked on screen, and all of his biting, mocking lines were delivered to absolute perfection. He had so many one line zingers that just dripped with sarcasm and so many moments of blinded rage. He gave really one of the best performances I’ve seen in my entire life. Norton was good too, and others years I might vote for him. Against Simmons he just doesn’t measure up. That being said, when is Andy Serkis going to get any recognition for his mo-cap work?

Shoulda Been Here: Andy Serkis (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)
I Would Vote For: JK Simmons 
The Oscar Goes To…: JK Simmons 

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Laura Dern in Wild
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Emma Stone in Birdman
Meryl Streep in Into the Woods

This is another one of the acting awards that is set in stone. This is Patricia Arquette’s award to lose. I may be the only person who didn’t love Arquette. She was good but I didn’t think she was super special. But hey, I guess my opinion doesn’t really matter. If I had a vote, I would give it to Emma Stone, who had more punch and energy than any other nominee there was. Her character was definitely the most interesting of any of the nominees. She is one of my favorite actresses, and this is definitely the best I’ve seen her. I didn’t see A Most Wanted Year but I like Jessica Chastain too, so that explains that!

Shoulda Been Here: Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
I Would Vote For: Emma Stone
The Oscar Goes to…: Patricia Arquette

She’s slain BAFTA, Golden Globe, and SAG all within a few weeks. Need I say more?

Shoulda Been Here: Jessica Chastain
I Would Vote For: Keira Knightley
The Oscar Goes to…: Patricia Arquette

Like Simmons, Arquette is a definite for the Oscar here. She certainly deserves it, for her committed and vulnerable role as the mom in Boyhood, a mom who was abused, left alone, and forced to come to terms with the fact that she is getting older. However, I feel like her acting wasn’t strictly speaking of the highest level. I think she’s the favorite more for the demands of the role and its innovative nature. Stone, on the other hand, is my personal favorite. She’s funny, raw, and provides some of the film’s harshest social commentary. Unfortunately, she doesn’t really have much of a shot. Go all in on Arquette here.

Shoulda Been Here: Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer)
I Would Vote For: Emma Stone 
The Oscar Goes To…: Patricia Arquette 

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton in Birdman
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

And this is that one acting race that is coming down to the wire. I would definitely vote for Jake Gyllenhaal if he was here, but somehow, tragically he’s not. After J.K. Simmons, hands down the best performance of the year. And how about that David Oyelowo snub? Sad. Instead my vote goes for Michael Keaton who is incredible playing essentially himself on screen. However, I’m just feeling that Eddie Redmayne takes the trophy. He was also remarkable as Stephen Hawking and would be a worthy recipient. I just like Michael Keaton a lot better. There’s also a slight chance the votes split and Bradley Cooper takes it, but that would be crazy. Very, very unlikely.

Shoulda Been Here: David Oyelowo (Selma), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
I Would Vote For: Michael Keaton
The Oscar Goes to…: Eddie Redmayne

When I think of Keaton in this movie, I can’t help but think of Mickey Rourke in the wrestler a few years ago. I say that because both actors are very much drawing from a real, resonant place: they were both jettisoned by audiences and labeled “washed-up” (Though whether they ever really lost their talent is up to you). Keaton may’ve just been playing himself in this movie but damned if he isn’t good at it; he makes for a very compelling and believable lead.  Mr. Keaton plays to both the sympathetic and the self-absorbed parts of his character and does a beautiful job of grappling with the “Birdman” persona even if he’s just confined to facial expressions or silent reactions to the voice of his ego.

Shoulda Been Here: David Oyelowo (Selma), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
I Would Vote For: Michael Keaton
The Oscar Goes to…: Michael Keaton

I’d vote For Jake Gyllenhaal over anyone in this category, frankly, but of the ones left I’d vote for Keaton in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, as Birdman’s stock has risen for Best Picture it seems like Keaton’s stock as fallen. Redmayne now looks to be the favorite after his SAG win. In my opinion, Keaton’s performance is more intense, self-aware, and darkly funny. Redmayne of course is also incredibly deserving of the Oscar after his performance as Stephen Hawking, but again, Keaton gave the better performance here. His comeback story would seem to spell Oscar gold, but Redmayne looks likely to play spoiler here.

Shoulda Been Here: Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
I Would Vote For: Michael Keaton
The Oscar Goes To…: Eddie Redmayne

Still Alice

Still Alice

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon in Wild

And the third and final acting award that is locked in stone is Julianne Moore in Still Alice. I have yet to see Still Alice but all signs point to Moore taking home the Oscar. I can’t say much about it. What I can talk about is Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl. She was absolutely outstanding. She is a calculated, cold blooded animal that gives the movie so much depth and appeal. I know people who liked the movie, didn’t like the movie, but no one disliked Rosamund Pike. I’m sure Julianne Moore was fantastic, but the fact that I haven’t seen here prevents me from voting for her.

Shoulda Been Here: Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
I Would Vote For: Rosamund Pike
The Oscar goes to…: Julianne Moore

I’ll be honest: I’m following the trends here since I haven’t gotten around to seeing Still Alice. But from all I’ve read and heard, it’s pretty much her’s. It must be incredibly daunting to play an early-onset dementia patient without forcing it but Moore has owned the role and made it genuine. Plus, like Arquette, she’s swept all the major awards so I don’t really have that much of a say except that Ms. Moore can relax for most of the ceremony.

Shoulda Been Here: Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
I Would Vote For: Rosamund Pike
The Oscar Goes to…: Julianne Moore

This is the last of three acting categories that are virtual locks. Julianne Moore is going to win this Oscar, plain and simple. There’s nobody else here who really even has a feasible shot. Moore has one every single lead up award and nobody else has even shown any wisp of upset potential. I haven’t seen Still Alice, so I can’t judge Moore’s performance, but of what I’ve seen Rosamund Pike is my favorite. She was dark, psychopathic, and awesome as Amy Dunne in Gone Girl.

Shoulda Been Here: Emily Blunt (Into the Woods)
I Would Vote For: Rosamund Pike
The Oscar Goes To…: Julianne Moore 

Best Director

Alejandro G. Inarritu for Birdman
Richard Linklater for Boyhood
Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mortel Tyldum for The Imitation Game

Here is another really tight race, one that I believe will determine the Best Picture winner in a way. I think if Inarritu wins Best Director, then Boyhood wins Best Picture. If Linklater wins Best Director, then Birdman wins Best Picture. I truly think Alejandro Inarritu actually did a better job, overall. His actual artistic choices were more interesting. They were bolder and had more significance. His choice to direct it all so that it looked like one take? Brilliant. Every single decision he made was absolutely genius. And the result was an incredible movie. I’m not doubting that Linklater was great, Inarritu was just incredible. Also, Ava DuVernay was absolutely snubbed. Bennett Miller and Morten Tyldum did not deserve it over her.

Shoulda Been Here: Ava DuVernay (Selma)
I Would Vote For: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
The Oscar goes to…: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

This one kind of ties in with cinematography but, yes, where all others are shouting “Linklater!”, I must side with Inarittu. Laugh at me, fine. But Birdman was just so well-crafted over all that I would never, ever be able to forgive myself if I didn’t pick it for directing. A director kind of has to command and lead the project; to drive it forward and the sheer weight of Birdman is certainly a lot to keep rolling. Alejandro Inarritu had to work through a lot of heavy material for this one and worked within the confines of (What’s supposed to look like) a single take. Without giving too much away, no film with a scene like the climax and open-ended end of this movie deserves to lose this spot.

Shoulda Been Here: Ava DuVernay (Selma)
I Would Vote For: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
The Oscar Goes to…: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

This is a really tough one. A lot of the categories this year are the tightest that they’ve been in years. On one hand, Inñáritu’s was the top prize at the Directors Guild Award for his no cuts, theatrical direction. On the other, Linklater won the Golden Globe and directed one of the most innovative concepts in film in the last decade. I think it will go to Linklater based on his innovation and the fact that Birdman looks primed to take Best Picture. There’s been a Best Director/Best Picture split for the last three years, and I think we will find this trend to continue next week. Still, this is is one of the closes categories of the night.

Shoulda Been Here: Ava DuVernay (Selma)
I Would Vote For: Richard Linklater 
The Oscar Goes To…: Richard Linklater

Boyhood

Boyhood

Best Picture

American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

And here’s the big one! In one of the tightest races I can remember (even Argo vs Lincoln had an anticlimactic feel to it), it’s Birdman vs Boyhood for the prize. First I’d like to touch on the snubs. Nightcrawler definitely should have been nominated, and with only 8 nominees, it’s ridiculous that wasn’t. Same with Gone Girl. Anyhow, down to the fight. Of the two, I personally like Birdman better. I thought it was more adventurous and intense, and I would definitely watch it again. In fact, as I write this, I’m watching Birdman. Whiplash was my favorite film, so that’s why I’d vote for it. However, I think Boyhood’s going to win. I can’t give you an exact reason why. Both were great films, I’m just feeling Boyhood. It is inventive and a real cinematic accomplishment. Boyhood winning would make for a big feel good story too. No matter what, I’d be satisfied with the winner of this year’s Academy Awards.

Shoulda Been Here: Nighcrawler, Gone Girl
I Would Vote For: Whiplash, Birdman
The Oscar goes to…: Boyhood
~Vig

I’m not biased, I promise!
Okay, maybe I am. But really, I deeply respect any movie that can keep me guessing. That has little to no interest in explaining its incredibly original and smart modus operandi. The Best Picture should be the film where all of the factors, every single category, work in conjunction with one another to create an unforgettable story. Birdman’s actors compliment its complex characters; its dialogue creates its darkly comedic tone; its camerawork just allows you to breathe in the atmosphere of it all between its jolting scenes. I think the sign of a Best Picture is truly that you couldn’t take any one factor away or else the entire project would suffer and, boy, is that accurate in this case. I love Birdman. I think it’s the type of movie we need (Hi, inadvertent Dark Knight reference!) amongst the mountain of less-than-original films Hollywood pumps out today. It’s artsy and complex enough for thus snobs at the Academy yet accessible enough for viewers like you and me. If that’s not a perfect movie, I’m not sure what is.

Shoulda Been Here: Gone Girl
I Would Vote For: Birdman
The Oscar Goes to…: Birdman

~Zach

For a few months, it seemed like Boyhood was going to breeze to the top prize at the Oscars. It racked up award after award and had all the requisite Oscar buzz. Then Birdman got on a bit of a roll, bolstered by wins from the Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, and Directors Guild. The last time a movie won all three of those awards and lost Best Picture was when Apollo 13 lost to Braveheart. Boyhood certainly has the innovation and significance to win Best Picture, but I think Birdman will continue its strong run and take the top prize.

Shoulda Been Here: Nightcrawler
I Would Vote For: Birdman
The Oscar Goes To…: Birdman
~Will

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