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Indiewire’s Final Oscar Predictions In Every Single Category (aka How To Win Your Oscar Pool)

Indiewire's Final Oscar Predictions In Every Single Category (aka How To Win Your Oscar Pool)

For once, there is a big question mark looming over how Oscar night will end (“Birdman” vs. “Boyhood” is perhaps the tightest Best Picture race we’ve seen in a decade). A handful of other major races — Best Director, Best Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay — are also very much up in the air, though just as many others are very predictable at this point (Julianne Moore, JK Simmons and Patricia Arquette might as well already have their names carved into trophies). But hey, you never know. Maybe Oscar voters will take a rare opportunity to surprise us across the board? Just don’t look for too much risk-taking in our predictions, which largely play it safe in a game where playing it safe usually pays off. We’ll know for sure soon enough, but in the meantime, here’s our attempt at helping you win your Oscar Pool:


Best Picture

The grand daddy of them all remains a mystery. “Boyhood”
was sailing pretty smoothly for a while there — winning buckets of
critics’ group prizes and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture –
Drama. But it lost the PGA, DGA and SAGs big prizes to “Birdman” — and
both
of those films have to contend with the soaring box office (and, to
quote my colleague Anne Thompson, the “steak eater appeal”) of both
“American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game.” It seems like momentum is
being split all over the place, leaving us with the most uncertain Best
Picture race in nearly a decade. We’re perhaps predicting with our
hearts a bit more than we should, but we’re leaning toward “Boyhood”
pulling off the big win.

The Nominees:
“American Sniper” (Clint Eastwood)
“Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
“Birdman” (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson)
“The Imitation Game” (Morten Tyldum)
“Selma” (Ava DuVernay)
“The Theory of Everything” (James Marsh)
“Whiplash” (Damien Chazelle)

Will Win: “Boyhood”
Could Win: “Birdman”
Should Win: “Boyhood”

Best Director

Alejandro González Iñárritu or Richard Linklater? It’s a question that
will make or break your Oscar pool, as the former has the coveted DGA
prize and the latter the BAFTA, the Golden Globe and the Critics Choice.
Could we be looking at our third Best Picture/Best Director split in a
row, or will one or the other’s film prevail across both categories? We went back and forth about that until the very last minute, but in the end we’re guessing Linklater’s 12 year experiment gives him the ultimate edge.

The Nominees:
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tydlum, “The Imitation Game”

Will Win: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Could Win: Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Should Win: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Best Actor

Not too long ago, Michael Keaton seemed like the man to beat in what has
been the most competitive of all the acting races all season long. He’s
the sentimental favorite, starring in the film with the most Oscar
nominations. Not to mention he won both a Golden Globe (in the
comedy-musical category) and a Critics Choice Award a few weeks back.
But then this weekend, he lost out on what could have confirmed his
frontrunner status: the SAG Award. Eddie Redmayne took that for “The
Theory of Everything,” adding to his own Golden Globe in the drama
category. What’s important there is that the last time the winner in
SAG’s Best Actor category didn’t go on to win the Oscar was way back in
2003. Does it appear that Redmayne now has the edge in a
neck-and-neck race between him and Keaton? Not if Bradley Cooper — the
only nominee in this category without any previous bids for the win —
has anything to say about it. Cooper wasn’t competing against Keaton or
Redmayne at any of the aforementioned ceremonies, largely because his
“American Sniper” was released so late in the game. The film is
obviously surging in terms of box office and awards buzz (though also in
terms of controversy). If Keaton and Redmayne cancel each other out,
it’s Cooper who benefits. Which is still a tall order: He’d notably
follow Marcia Gay Harden as only the second person ever to win an
Oscar without a Golden Globe, SAG or Critics Choice Award nomination.
Either way: Toughest acting call of the night, by far (we’re going with
Redmayne, but it’s our least confident call of them all).

The Nominees:
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Could Win: Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper” or Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Should Win: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

Best Actress

This is not a contest. In a year where three of the acting races are essentially set in stone, Best Actress is the most set.
Julianne Moore has pretty much had this locked down since September and there’s really no conceivable scenario that could change that.

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”

Will Win: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Could Win: Reese Witherspoon, “Wild” (but not really)
Should Win: Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”


Best Supporting Actor

Even if it’s a little boring, it’s hard to argue against J.K. Simmons
getting this moment in the mainstream spotlight thanks to his clean
sweep of every Best Supporting Actor trophy out there. It would be
pretty shocking if he didn’t top off that off with an Oscar, though
there is a tiny outside chance Edward Norton could spoil.

The Nominees:
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Will Win: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
Could Win: Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Should Win: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette has basically won every award out there for her work
in “Boyhood” and she’s the film’s only certain win on Oscar night
(though we’re predicting Best Picture and Best Director too). Emma Stone is likely her closest competition,
but that just isn’t happening (don’t even try it, Oscar poolers).

The Nominees:
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Will Win: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Could Win: Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Should Win: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Best Original Screenplay

“Birdman” and “Boyhood” might be battling it out for Best Picture, but
they are in a genuine three-way race here, with Wes Anderson and Hugo
Guinness’ script for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” pulling ahead with its
recent BAFTA win. Any of the three screenplays could win, but something
tells us this will end up going to “Budapest.”

The Nominees:
“Birdman,” Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
“Boyhood,” Richard Linklater
“Foxcatcher,” E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
“Nightcrawler,” Dan Gilroy

Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Could Win: “Birdman” or “Boyhood”
Should Win: “Nightcrawler”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Though Best Picture and its original screenplay counterpart give it a
run for its money, this is probably the most unpredictable of the major
races. Anyone but Paul Thomas Anderson could easily win, especially
after “The Theory of Everything” beat “The Imitation Game” at the
BAFTAs. “Game” had seemingly been the frontrunner, but “Theory,”
“Whiplash” and the soaring “American Sniper” are all looking to upset it
— and we think one of them (“Whiplash”) will.

The Nominees:
“American Sniper,” Jason Hall
“The Imitation Game,” Graham Moore
“Inherent Vice,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Theory of Everything,” Anthony McCarten
“Whiplash,” Damien Chazelle

Will Win: “Whiplash”
Could Win: “The Imitation Game” or “The Theory of Everything” or “American Sniper”
Should Win: “Whiplash”

Best Animated Feature

When the Oscars pulled what was arguably the biggest shocker of this
year’s nominations — snubbing “The LEGO Movie” for Best Animated
Feature — we lost a frontrunner. Left in that wake is the suggestion
that this Oscar is heading the way of Golden Globe winner “How To Train
Your Dragon 2,” but some history does work against that. Only one sequel
has ever won this trophy when “Toy Story 3” did so in 2010 and that
film was the culmination of one of the most critically and commercially
successful animated franchises ever. “Dragon 2” definitely has
fans, but it was only a modest hit. Which could leave the door open for
one of two foreign animated features — Tomm Moore’s “Song of the Sea”
and Isao Takahata’s “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” — to pull off a
surprise win. Whichever film does win, however, should take a moment to
thank “The LEGO Movie” for not being nominated.

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

Will Win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”
Could Win: “Song of the Sea” or “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”
Should Win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Best Foreign Language Film

This is a much tougher call than it once seemed to be. “Ida” had been
positioned as the frontrunner for some time and while it still holds
that position, Golden Globe winner “Leviathan” is coming on strong, as
is “Wild Tales” — which is definitely the biggest crowdpleaser of the
bunch. We’re actually going to make one of our bolder predictions and
suggest the latter gives the night’s bigger surprises.

The Nominees:
“Ida”
“Leviathan”
“Tangerines”
“Timbuktu”
“Wild Tales”

Will Win: “Wild Tales”
Could Win: “Ida” or “Leviathan”
Should Win: “Leviathan”

Best Documentary Feature

Another one that’s looking pretty set in stone. Laura Poitras’ film has
been winning everything and the Oscar is all but certain to make it one
more for “Citizenfour.”

The Nominees:
“Citizenfour”
“Finding Vivian Maier”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“Virunga”
“The Salt of the Earth”

Will Win: “Citizenfour”
Could Win: “Virunga”
Should Win: “Citizenfour”

Best Original Song

The primary opportunity for Oscar voters to reward “Selma” (it’s sadly
the only nomination it got besides Best Picture), this will probably go
to “Glory.” But watch out for “Everything is Awesome” (a way to make up
for the big “LEGO Movie” snub in Best Animated Feature) and “I’m Not
Gonna Miss You” (a way to honor Glen Campbell, who is ailing from Alzheimer’s disease).

The Nominees:
“Everything Is Awesome” from “The Lego Movie”; Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson
“Glory” from “Selma”; Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me”; Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”; Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Will Win: “Glory”
Could Win: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”
Should Win: “Lost Stars”

Best Original Score

Alexandre Desplat vs. Alexandre Desplat? Or will Jóhann Jóhannsson give
Desplat his whopping eighth Oscar loss in 9 years? The Golden Globes
(who have already honored Desplat) ended up picking Jóhannsson for his
gorgeous “Theory of Everything” score, and only once in the past seven
years has that winner not gone on to Oscar. But will Academy voters
really want to vote against Desplat again? Especially since he’s
nominated for two of Oscar’s big favorites — “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
and “The Imitation Game”? Or will the fact that he has two nominations
work against him and cancel him out? That didn’t happen to Steven
Soderbergh back in 2001 and we’re betting Desplat finally gets himself
an Oscar thanks to the grand wave “Budapest” is on in a lot of the
below-the-line categories.

The Nominees:
“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Alexandre Desplat
“The Imitation Game,” Alexandre Desplat
“Interstellar,” Hans Zimmer
“Mr. Turner,” Gary Yershon
“The Theory of Everything,” Jóhann Jóhannsson

Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Could Win: “The Theory of Everything” or “The Imitation Game”
Should Win: “The Theory of Everything”
Should Have Been Here: “Gone Girl”

Best Cinematography

Two in a row for Emmanuel Lubezki? Seems pretty likely, and is also the only sure thing for “Birdman,” unless Dick Poop Dick Pope surprises.

The Nominees:
“Birdman,” Emmanuel Lubezki
“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Robert Yeoman
“Ida,” Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
“Mr. Turner,” Dick Pope
“Unbroken,” Roger Deakins

Will Win: “Birdman”
Could Win: “Unbroken”
Should Win: “Mr. Turner”

Best Film Editing

A three way race between “Boyhood,” “Whiplash” and “American Sniper,”
this could be an interesting early sign as to how strong support is for
“Boyhood” overall.  We’re predicting longtime Richard Linklater editor
Sandra Adair pulls it off, but it’s certainly one of the closer calls in
the technical races.

The Nominees:
“American Sniper”
“Boyhood”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Whiplash”

Will Win: “Boyhood”
Could Win: “Whiplash” or “American Sniper”
Should Win: “Whiplash”


Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup & Hairstyling

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” nabbed all of these trophies at the BAFTAs and we expect it to do the same here. Which — if our overall predictions are correct — would give it an Oscar-leading five wins overall.

Production Design:
The Nominees:
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“The Imitation Game”
“Interstellar”
“Into the Woods”
“Mr. Turner”

Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Could Win: “Mr. Turner”
Should Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Costume Design:
The Nominees:
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Inherent Vice”
“Into the Woods”
“Maleficent”
“Mr. Turner”

Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Could Win: “Into The Woods”
Should Win: “Inherent Vice”

Makeup & Hairstyling:
The Nominees:
“Foxcatcher”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”

Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Could Win: Any of them.
Should Win: “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Shoulda Been Here: “Into The Woods”

Best Visual Effects

“Interstellar” is narrowly the favorite here, but both “Dawn of the
Planet of the Apes” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” stand very good
chances at spoiling.

The Nominees:
“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”
“Interstellar”
“X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Will Win: “Interstellar”
Could Win: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” or “Guardians of the Galaxy”
Should Win: “Interstellar”
Should Have Been Here: “Godzilla”

Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing

“American Sniper” could very well go two-for-two in the sound categories and “Birdman” has an outside chance of doing the same. But we’re betting they get split up, with “Sniper” taking Best Sound Editing, and “Whiplash” adding to its haul for Best Sound Mixing. The latter of which would be kind of awesome considering it’s a low-budget indie up against some very expensive studio films.

Sound Mixing:
The Nominees:
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”
“Whiplash”

Will Win: “Whiplash”
Could Win: “American Sniper”
Should Win: “Whiplash”

Sound Editing:
The Nominees:
“American Sniper”
“Birdman”
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”
“Interstellar”
“Unbroken”

Will Win: “American Sniper”
Could Win: “Birdman”
Should Win: “Birdman”

The Short Films

The short film races are always extremely tough to call — especially now that the entire Academy membership is eligible to vote for them. They are also the categories that could make or break your Oscar pool, so choose carefully. Our picks are “The Phone Call” for Best Live Action Short (a pretty safe bet, it seems), “Feast” for Best Animated Short (less so, but definitely the favorite) and “Joanna” for Best Documentary Short (which seems like “Crisis Hotline”‘s to lose but we’ve just got a gut feeling about “Joanna”).

Best Live Action Short:
The Nominees:
“Aya”
“Boogaloo and Graham”
“Butter Lamp”
“Parvaneh”
“The Phone Call”

Will win: “The Phone Call”
Could win: “Boogaloo and Graham”
Should win: “The Phone Call”

Best Animated Short:
The Nominees:
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”
“Feast”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

Will win: “Feast”
Could win: “The Dam Keeper”
Should win: “The Bigger Picture”

Best Documentary Short:
The nominees:
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press”
“Joanna”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth”

Will win: “Joanna”
Could win: “Crisis Hotline”
Should win: “Joanna”

Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Contributing Editor and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter here.

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