Predictions and Desires for the 87th Academy Awards (2015)

Here are Patrick’s predictions and desires for the 2014 Academy Awards (held in 2015):

Will Win Should Win
Best Picture Boyhood Boyhood
Best Director Richard Linklater (Boyhood) Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Best Actor Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher)
Best Actress Julianne Moore (Still Alice) Reese Witherpoon (Wild)
Best Supporting Actor JK Simmons (Whiplash) JK Simmons (Whiplash)
Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Best Original Screenplay Boyhood Boyhood
Best Adapted Screenplay The Imitation Game Whiplash

Ranking of Best Picture Nominees

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. American Sniper
  4. Whiplash
  5. Selma
  6. The Imitation Game
  7. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
  8. The Theory Of Everything

Overall, a fine collection of films if not an outstanding selection. There is a strong skew towards true or factional stories being filmed, and also an unusual focus on mental health issues, as showcased varyingly by all five Best Actor nominees, and also troubled women, as seen in several of the Best Actress and Supporting Actress nominees.

In American Sniper, there is a genuine box office smash competing in three major categories. Although criticised from some quarters for glorifying war, snipers and jingoism, it has been a runaway hit with filmgoers, and has grossed more than the other seven nominees combined. The last time this happened, tellingly, was when Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King outgrossed the other four nominees in 2003. That film would win in all categories it was nominated, tying Ben-Hur’s record of 11 Oscars.

In terms of competitiveness, it seems a very open year in some categories, such as Best Picture/Director/Actor, but seemingly very predictable in others, like Best Actress/Supporting Actor/Actress, presuming the above predictions prevail.

One thing that could open up several categories is the suspicion that many Academy members haven’t actually seen a lot of the nominated films. For example, Julianne Moore is favourite in the Best Actress category for Still Alice, a film virtually no-one has seen (yet still six times more than Marion Cotillard’s nominated performance in Two Days, One Night). Will Academy members vote for Moore simply because there is groupthinking that she should win? Or will they vote for a performance they have at least seen, like Rosamund Pike’s magnificent star turn in Gone Girl, one of the breakout hits of the year?

Finally, my favourite part of the Oscars in when the acting nominees have their name and film read out, followed by a clip showing them ‘acting’ in said film. I would dearly love for Reese Witherspoon’s clip to be her writhing on the floor trying to put on her backpack, Steve Carrell’s to be the ornithologist/philatelist/philanthropist helicopter scene and JK Simmons’ to not include any jazz because I hate jazz.

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