As I do every year, I try to make my Oscar picks as soon as the nominations are out, so that I’m not biased by any campaigning. In recent years, that’s gotten more difficult as more and more awards shows have become televised, and clear-cut front runners become locks earlier and earlier. That said, here’s who I expect to win. Also, please note that the fact that “The Lego Movie” was snubbed from the Best Animated Feature category makes me question why I will even bother watching this award show. (For the record, I also think “Gone Girl” deserved many more nominations, including Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and I would have loved “Skeleton Twins” or “Obvious Child” to have gotten a screenplay nomination). Please note, my choices for what will win are in bold
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
The Grand Budapest Hotel
It’s the clear-cut frontrunner, even if I enjoyed other movies on this list more (“Birdman” especially, but also “The Theory of Everything” and “The Imitation Game”). I’ve seen every movie on the list, but I have no doubt Richard Linklater et. al will be standing on stage at the end of the night. I just hope his speech doesn’t take 12 years.
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
This is the category from which I have seen the fewest films, but all signs point to Julianne Moore winning this in a landslide. I really enjoyed Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl,” and would love for her to get some recognition for the movie as a whole, but this is Moore’s to lose.
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Another category from which I’ve seen all the nominated films. I disliked “Foxcatcher” and “American Sniper,” though I think Carrell and Cooper did the best that they could given the material and the physical transformations they were asked to make. I think the Brits will cancel each other out, leaving Batman/Beetlejuice/Birdman to take home the award. “Birdman” was my favorite movie of the year, so I have no problem with Keaton’s win here.
Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Another foregone conclusion, unfortunately. As much as Simmons’s performance was top-notch, I thought Edward Norton was what made “Birdman” magical. He played against his own real-life reputation of being difficult on set, and was captivating in every scene. Probably his finest performance since “25th Hour.”
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Emma Stone, Birdman
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Laura Dern, Wild
I’m surprised Laura Dern was nominated, though I think she was very good in “Wild.” I liked Emma Stone in “Birdman,” especially the scenes between her and Norton, and when she chews out Michael Keaton’s deadbeat-dad character. But this is Arquette’s award to lose.
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
I know that Linklater won the Golden Globe, and that “Boyhood” is a triumph of direction staged over twelve years. But “Birdman” was the most inventive movie I’ve seen in years, due in no small part to the direction (the long takes!) of Inarritu. My gut says Academy voters will see that, too.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Not a real stand-out amongst this crowd, which has to make you wonder – where is Gillian Flynn’s nomination for adapting her own novel into a wonderful “Gone Girl” screenplay? I am also surprised Nick Hornby didn’t receive recognition for his “Wild” script.
Best Original Screenplay
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, Foxcatcher
Wouldn’t be shocked if Wes Anderson took home this award, but again, given how creative and different “Birdman” was, I think Inarritu et. al deserve this. Although Chris Lord and Phil Miller deserved a nomination for “The Lego Movie” screenplay, but that’s neither here nor there.
Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Write In: The Lego Movie
Voters can’t be blind to the most important film of 2014. They just can’t. And I refuse to support any other movie, or believe any other film will win this award.
As for the other awards, those are fun for office Oscar pools, but I’m not interested in them, and, let’s be honest, you’re not interested in my prediction for best Documentary Short Subject. So let’s leave it at the major categories.
Is everyone else as disappointed as I am about “The Lego Movie”? Other than “Best Actor,” are there any acting prizes that have any drama (pardon the pun)? Let me know in the comments.