The 87th annual Academy Awards salutes the best of 2014 cinema tomorrow night at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Go ahead and anticipate one of the most predictable Oscars in recent memory considering most categories have been cemented since the Golden Globes. However, anything is possible when it comes to the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Here are my predictions in the top six fields.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Overlooked: A Most Violent Year; Belle; Dear White People; Foxcatcher; Fury; Get On Up; Gone Girl; The Homesman; Ida; Inherent Vice; Interstellar; Into the Woods; Love is Strange; Nightcrawler; Pride; The Skeleton Twins; Snowpiercer; St. Vincent; Two Days, One Night; Unbroken; Under the Skin; The Way He Looks
Should/Will Win: Boyhood
Let’s face it. Selma, the most culturally relevant nominee, has no chance. Sniper, the highest grossing nominee raking in $300 million and counting, has a slight chance. But in the end, this (art house) race is all about a boy and a bird(man). Birdman brilliantly captured the idiosyncrasies of actors (hence its ensemble victory at the Screen Actors Guild Awards), but Boyhood’s groundbreaking, universally engaging portrait of adolescence in all its crazy, confusing and thought-provoking complexity will be rightfully rewarded.
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro G. Iñarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Overlooked: Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice; Damien Chazelle, Whiplash; JC Chandor, A Most Violent Year; Ava DuVernay, Selma; Clint Eastwood, American Sniper; David Fincher, Gone Girl; Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler; Angelina Jolie, Unbroken; Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman; Bong Joon-ho, Snowpiercer; James Marsh, The Theory of Everything; Christopher Nolan, Interstellar; Pawel Pawlikowski, Ida; Ira Sachs, Love is Strange; Tate Taylor, Get On Up; Matthew Warchus, Pride
Should Win: Linklater
Will Win: Iñarritu
The sheer originality and artistic perseverance of Linklater spearheading a project for 12 years (with cast incredibly intact!) would be enough in a less competitive year. Still, Iñarritu’s dazzlingly dynamic flair, bolstered by the impressive fluidity of crafting a film as if it were one long tracking shot, is the stronger technical achievement and likely seals the deal.
Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Overlooked: Ben Affleck, Gone Girl; Chad Boseman, Get On Up; Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood; James Corden, Into the Woods; Robert Downey, Jr., The Judge; Chris Evans, Snowpiercer; Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Brendan Gleeson, Calvary; Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler; Bill Hader, The Skeleton Twins; Tom Hardy, The Drop and Locke; Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year; Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman; Irrfan Khan, The Lunchbox; John Lithgow, Love is Strange; Matthew McConaughey, Interstellar; Alfred Molina, Love is Strange; Bill Murray, St. Vincent; Jack O’Connell, Unbroken; David Oyelowo, Selma; Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice; Miles Teller, Whiplash; Denzel Washington, The Equalizer; Ben Wishaw, Lilting; John Lloyd Young, Jersey Boys
Should Win: Keaton
Will Win: Redmayne
The immense wave of acclaim given to Keaton’s amazing tour-de-force as washed-up action star Riggan Thomson reminds me of Mickey Rourke’s awards season respect for The Wrestler. After all, Hollywood loves a comeback, especially when the actor or actress in question had seemingly disappeared. Keaton was mesmerizing but Redmayne, a Tony Award winner and one of the finest actors of his generation, pulled out the stops in prime Daniel Day-Lewis fashion as physicist Stephen Hawking. Redmayne’s tremendous physicality alone will probably be enough to take the Oscar from Keaton akin to Sean Penn (Milk) edging Rourke in a similarly nail-biting contest six years ago.
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Overlooked: Jennifer Aniston, Cake; Emily Blunt, Into the Woods; Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin; Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle and Beyond the Lights; Jenny Slate, Obvious Child; Hilary Swank, The Homesman; Agata Trzebuchowska, Ida; Kristen Wigg, The Skeleton Twins
Should/Will Win: Moore
Moore, a four-time nominee, should have reaped Oscar gold in this category for Far From Heaven, but will finally win for her marvelously detailed, poignant and heartbreaking portrayal of a linguistics professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. She’s an absolute shoo-in and deservedly so.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Overlooked: Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler; Alec Baldwin, Still Alice; Albert Brooks, A Most Violent Year; Nelsan Ellis, Get On Up; Zach Galifianakis, Birdman; James Gandolfini, The Drop; Domhnall Gleeson, Unbroken; Neil Patrick Harris, Gone Girl; Bill Nighy, Pride; Logan Lerman, Fury; Tyler Perry, Gone Girl; Tim Roth, Selma; Martin Short, Inherent Vice; Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher; Tom Wilkinson, Selma
Should/Will Win: Simmons
Norton stole the show with brazen finesse and no one oozes compassionate masculinity like Ruffalo, but Simmons, resurrecting the visceral evilness he displayed on HBO’s Oz, will reign for his sensational performance as a music teacher from hell.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Overlooked: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year; Carrie Coon, Gone Girl; Carmen Ejogo, Selma; Agata Kulesza, Ida; Sienna Miller, American Sniper; Rene Russo, Nightcrawler; Amy Ryan, Birdman; Imelda Staunton, Pride; Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer; Tessa Thompson, Dear White People; Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice; Naomi Watts, Birdman and St. Vincent
Should/Will Win: Arquette
Streep gave a phenomenal Sondheim master class and Stone ignited the screen in her fiery tirade opposite Keaton, but it’s all about Arquette. With beautifully gentle understatement, Arquette, the emotional center of Boyhood, brought anguish, grace and sensitivity to her captivating portrayal of a single mother coping with disappointments, new beginnings and the passage of time.
The 87th annual Academy Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will be telecast live Sun. Feb 22 on ABC beginning at 7 p.m. In related news, The Neon Movies, 130 E. Fifth St. in downtown Dayton, and the Little Art Theatre, 247 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs, will host Oscar parties. FilmDayton is offering a virtual Oscar party.