By Peter Knegt | Indiewire December 16, 2014 at 12:21PM
It's fairly safe to say that if there were just five nominees for Best Picture, they would be made up of the following: "Boyhood," "Birdman," "The Imitation Game," "Selma" and "The Theory of Everything." This quintet received Best Picture nominations from both the Golden Globes and the Critics Choice, and save for "Selma" (which wasn't screened early enough to get the votes it likely would have otherwise), all of them received SAG nominations for Best Cast. It's extremely rare to get that kind of precursor attention and then not receive an Oscar nod for Best Picture.
"Moonrise Kingdom" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" are the only two films in the past four years to receive Golden Globe and Critics' Choice nominations for Best Picture not make Oscar's cut, and both received the former in the Comedy/Musical category (which doesn't have the same kind of Oscar crossover rate as its Drama counterpart). Only one film, meanwhile, has received both of those nominations plus a SAG Best Cast mention since Oscar expanded its list beyond five nominees and then not recieved a Best Picture nomination: 2009's "Nine." It seems very unlikely that "Boyhood," "Birdman," "The Imitation Game" and/or "The Theory of Everything" are about to become the next "Nine."
But the question of which films might join those five locks is where things get interesting. The Oscars' Best Picture race can feature anywhere from five to 10 nominations. A quick reminder of how that works: Nominated films must earn either 5% of first-place rankings or 5% after an "abbreviated variation of the single transferable vote." Basically, a film needs a lot of voters to put it near the top of their ranked ballots. In all three years since this system has been in place, nine films have been nominated. It's almost impossible to predict whether that will be the case again, so let's just say there will be nine once more.
One of the most interesting developments in the last two weeks of awards announcements is the film that's looking pretty solid as the sixth lock: Thought a dark horse at best not so long ago, Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" received support across the board, and actually joins "Boyhood," "Birdman," "Game" and "Theory" as the fifth film to get that holy trinity: Golden Globe and Critics Choice Best Picture, and SAG Best Cast. If this was still just a five film race, it would arguably be "Budapest Hotel" vs. "Theory of Everything" for that last slot.
After that comes five films that stand reasonable shots at rounding out the rest of the list (if there is a rest of the list, that is): "Gone Girl," "Foxcatcher," "Nightcrawler," "Unbroken" and "Whiplash." All of them received Best Picture nominations from either Globes or the Critics Choice, seem to have their fair share of passionate supporters. It's feasible that "Mr. Turner," "Into The Woods" or "American Sniper" could rally as well. So while the race may have narrowed significantly since November's end (sorry, "Interstellar"), this is one major race where there are plenty of question marks that will probably remain open-ended right up until the morning of the nominations.
Here are our current predictions for Best Picture. Check out our predictions in other categories here. And click on each film title for more information on that film and current critics scores.
They Seem Pretty Locked In:
1. "Boyhood" (Richard Linklater)
2. "Birdman" (Alejandro González Iñárritu)
3. "The Imitation Game" (Morten Tyldum)
4. "Selma" (Ava DuVernay)
5. "The Theory of Everything" (James Marsh)
More Iffy, But All Have Solid Shots (It Just Depends on How Many Nominees There Are):
6. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (Wes Anderson)
7. "Whiplash" (Damien Chazelle)
8."Gone Girl" (David Fincher)
9. "Unbroken" (Angelina Jolie)
10. "Foxcatcher" (Bennett Miller)
Don't Count Them Out Just Yet:
11. "Nightcrawler" (Dan Gilroy)
12. "Mr. Turner" (Mike Leigh)
13. "Into The Woods" (Rob Marshall)
14. "A Most Violent Year" (JC Chandor)
15. "Interstellar" (Christopher Nolan)
16. "American Sniper" (Clint Eastwood)
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