Its’ the 87th Academy Awards this Sunday night at 3pm PST. As per usual there is a solid crop of films, actors, directors and hair stylists that are up for the naked Emilio Fernandez statue.
So who’ll be the big winners and losers? We have created a list of the main categories and I get to predict who should win.
However, don’t just take my word for it. I have joined forces with Steve Stebbing (@TheStevilDead) of the fantastic local podcast Convicted Cinephiles on The League of Manchildren Network. Together we have given our bold predictions, and it if helps with your Oscar pool, we take 20% of all winnings. Or you can pay us in craft beer. Your choice.
We decided not to include all the categories, because to be honest, it’s a guessing game when it comes to best original song, makeup, and sound editing. We’ll let you have fun with that.
- American Sniper
- The Imitation Game
- Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
- The Theory of Everything
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
TREVOR: I’m still scratching my head in why American Sniper is nominated. I guess The Academy are suckers for flag waving propaganda films. I’m surprised the fake baby wasn’t nominated for best supporting actor. Where is Nightcrawler? Interstellar?
Best picture should be Guardians of the Galaxy and although it is nominated for a few technical golden statues, unfortunately sci-fi action films don’t get the Best Picture love they deserve even if it was truly the best film of 2014.
In my eyes this is a two dog race between Birdman and Boyhood. If I have to pick one, I’m going with Birdman due to how many awards it has already garnered. The trend will continue.
STEVE: About six years ago, The Academy decided to up the nominations from five nominees to ten nominees, which shortened to nine the following years, to only eight this year. Well, for me, it gets easily whittled down to six, as I absolutely hated American Sniper and wasn’t hugely impressed with Selma. All the other films definitely have a place in this category, but where is Foxcatcher, a brilliantly true story character piece or David Fincher’s Gone Girl, one of the most diabolical films I have ever seen?
For me, picking a true winner is like making a Sophie’s Choice. Whiplash is probably the most incredible film experience of the year, I mean the movie moves like the jazz it portrays. Grand Budapest Hotel is the greatest Wes Anderson film to date, as is Birdman for Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.
In the end, I have to say the golden boy is going to go to the twelve year journey that is Boyhood. Nothing I’ve ever seen bottles real life like this film and I doubt we’ll ever see that again. This film is incredibly important and special.
Trevor’s Best Picture Pick: Birdman
Steve’s Best Picture Pick: Boyhood
Best Actor – In a Leading Role
- Steve Carrel – Foxcatcher
- Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
- Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
- Michael Keaton – Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
- Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
TREVOR: It would be an absolute shock to me if this award is given to anybody not named Michael Keaton. Although we have been tricked before and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Eddie Redmayne or Cumberbatch “steal” the award. Some are also giving Bradley Cooper a chance, but in my eyes that would be a long shot…no pun intended.
I’m going to stick with my Keaton prediction for two reasons, his performance, and hate to say it, another legendary character actor who should have got something years ago. Body of work does come into play here and let’s be honest, he’s Batman!
STEVE: This is a very strong category, as it usually is, but really only comes down to a neck in neck race between two actors. As much as Cooper is the only good thing about American Sniper, Carrell delivers a powerhouse performance in his first major dramatic role, this is all really about the battle of Riggan “Birdman” Thomson and Stephen Hawking.
Personally, I really want to see the comeback completed for Michael Keaton and Redmayne needs a little penance for accepting that Jupiter Ascending script. I know you’re thinking “Where’s Benedict?” I think we can all agree this man will see another Oscar nod in the near future.
Trevor’s Best Actor Pick: Michael Keaton
Steve’s Best Actor Pick: Michael Keaton
Best Actress – In a Leading Role
- Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
- Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
- Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
- Reese Witherspoon – Wild
- Julianne Moore – Still Alice
TREVOR: All of these ladies put up some solid performances but in my eyes there was really only one great performance and so this award has already been put aside for Julianne Moore. I would be shocked if the academy went with anyone else.
STEVE: A great group of actresses in this category but I can’t help noticing that besides the multiple nominations for The Theory of Everything, all the other films only see nominations in the best actress race. Were these lead performances the only good part of these films?
That aside, for me, I would give the award to either Pike for her brutally methodical role in Gone Girl or Felicity Jones as the strong and supportive Jane Hawking. Which way will the Oscar go? Right into Julianne Moore’s very worthy hands.
Trevor’s Best Actress Pick: Julianne Moore
Steve’s Best Actress Pick: Julianne Moore
Best Actor – In a Supporting Role
- Robert Duvall – The Judge
- Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
- Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
- K. Simmons – Whiplash
- Edward Norton – Birdman
TREVOR: Another category where there was some fantastic acting by all five men. Although I would love to see Ethan Hawke get the love, my head is making this a two horse race between J.K. Simmons and Edward Norton.
I’m not really sure who to pick but my instinct is saying this is where Whiplash will finally get an award off of the back of Mr. Simmons. No reason to rush or drag this pick, let’s see J.K. get an Oscar. That would be my tempo.
STEVE: Honestly, not trying to take anything away from the great work all these actors contributed this year, they’re really just seat holders for J.K. Simmons to walk away with the statue. This is not to say that there aren’t other people who deserve it, Ruffalo was near unrecognizable and Edward Norton was, well, Edward Norton, but Simmons command of this explosive character MUST be rewarded, because we know director Damien Chazelle won’t be.
Trevor’s Supporting Actor Pick: J.K. Simmons
Steve’s Supporting Actor Pick: J.K. Simmons
Best Actress – In a Supporting Role
- Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
- Emma Stone – Birdman
- Laura Dern – Wild
- Meryl Streep – Into The Woods
- Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
TREVOR: Patricia Arquette. Although Keira Knightley was fantastic in The Imitation Game, in my mind, this award will be given to Arquette and anyone else would be a huge upset. Maybe I’m secretly in love with Patricia ever since True Romance. She’s so cool.
STEVE: This is kind of an easy choice for me. I loved Emma Stone in Birdman. She’s the jaded and frustrated daughter of a former action star, who is just trying to hold the pieces of his life together while figuring out her own. She’s on the right path, but like Benedict Cumberbatch, it’s not her year.
Patricia Arquette went through not only a twelve year journey playing the single mother of two but also went through her own personal struggles and channeled that all into this single performance. That, to me, is what acting is all about and should give her the lead in this race.
Trevor’s Supporting Actress Pick: Patricia Arquette
Steve’s Supporting Actress Pick: Patricia Arquette
- Alejandro G. Iñárritu – Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
- Richard Linklater – Boyhood
- Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
- Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
- Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
TREVOR: This is a super hard category to pick. I would imagine the front runners are Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Richard Linklater. Boyhood may get the edge in this category due to it being somewhat cutting edge in how it was filmed over a twelve-year period. Sure it’s a tad gimmicky but that’s probably why Linklater will edge out Iñárritu for the win. Hard to pick, but I’ll go with Rich in a close race.
STEVE: Another tough category, though Morten Tyldum could easily be switched out for David Fincher in my opinion. Miller is safe because, damn, did you see Foxcatcher? This guy has been seriously under rated since 2011’s Moneyball. When it comes down to it, this is a close race between Linklater, Anderson and Iñárritu, Anderson creating a beautifully constructed murder mystery and Iñárritu with ONE CONTINUOUS SHOT! This category is all about director who push the bounds of film and no one exemplifies that more than Richard Linklater who showed us more than a decade of young Mason’s life and made us feel like a part of it.
Trevor’s Director Pick: Richard Linklater
Steve’s Director Pick: Richard Linklater
Best Original Screenplay
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
TREVOR: This is where I think the runner up in best picture will get the writing award. So if Birdman wins for best picture, I could see Boyhood taking a statue for original screenplay. There might be a chance that Wes Anderson finally gets a well deserved win. Don’t look past The Grand Budapest Hotel here, but because I took Birdman for best picture, I’m going to go with Boyhood for the original screenplay win.
STEVE: Another solid group of nominees, but I feel like The Academy may pick a film out of the norm for this. It won’t be easy with the monologue soliloquys of Birdman or the manic intensity of Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, but I feel it might be safe to say that this will most likely be the only statue Wes Anderson will be taking home on Sunday. Seriously, these lines pop off the actors like delicious popcorn. It’s so fun to watch.
Trevor’s Original Screenplay Pick: Boyhood
Steve’s Original Screenplay Pick: Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Adapted Screenplay
- American Sniper
- The Imitation Game
- Inherent Vice
- The Theory of Everything
TREVOR: Maybe, just maybe, American Sniper could line up this award in its scopes and take it out. In my opinion The Imitation Game is the favorite with Inherent Vice as my second pick. I’m going to stick with The Imitation Game for this category but this award is usually a pick’em. Maybe we should just let the computers decide.
STEVE: This is another interesting one. I’m still baffled by the American Sniper nom, but Inherent Vice is such an insane movie, I’m so happy it got the recognition it deserves. In line with my favorite film of this year, I have to go with Whiplash. Damien Chazelle adapted his own short film to make this brilliant little movie about the struggles of a jazz drummer in the most prestigious school in America. This script is gold.
Trevor’s Adapted Screenplay Pick: The Imitation Game
Steve’s Adapted Screenplay Pick: Whiplash
Best Animated Film
- Big Hero Six
- Song of the Sea
- The Boxtrolls
- The Tale of Princess Kaguya
- How to Train Your Dragon 2
TREVOR: Why are so many critics giving this award to How to Train Your Dragon 2? Sure the Dreamwork’s film was nice to look at and the first installment in the series was fantastic but the sequel was lacking.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya was the best animated film of 2014 and The Boxtrolls would be a close second. Many believe How to Train Your Dragon 2 will take it, which in my mind, is a toothless pick.
STEVE: This is usually a tough category but I feel like this is going to land one of two ways. The critic darling this year is Dreamworks’ How To Train Your Dragon 2, and it’s a great film, I agree there, it’s award worthy. On the other hand, the love and painstaking time that is put into the films of Laika, for me, automatically warrant a myriad of awards for The Boxtrolls. It’s a beautiful piece of stop motion animation that I can watch time and time again.
Trevor’s Animated Pick: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Steve’s Animated Pick: The Boxtrolls
- Finding Vivian Maier
- Last Days in Vietnam
- The Salt of Earth
TREVOR: Virunga is getting a lot of love and has gained some momentum over the last few weeks, but I believe this award should go to the extremely important Edward Snowden doc CitizenFour.
The only concern I have is the NSA. Some of you may laugh, but American Sniper is being nominated for some awards, do you think the powers that be would really want to see the story of an “American turncoat” in Snowden get praise over their propaganda film? Okay I’ll take the tinfoil hat off and stick with CitizenFour because it has won the most precursor awards. Meanwhile your Government is watching you read this post.
STEVE: Best documentary is a touchy subject, being that it all boils down to what subject matter is more hot button or more relevant to the people making the Oscar decisions. That’s why I have to say CitizenFour must be at the top of everyone’s list.
Edward Snowden’s story went completely viral in the middle of 2013 and became another scary fact that “Big Brother is WATCHING”. So of course a film was coming. The best part is this movie plays almost like a thriller and keeps you on the edge of your seat, quite literally. Even if it doesn’t win, everyone should still see this important movie.
Trevor’s Best Documentary Pick: CitizenFour
Steve’s Best Documentary Pick: CitizenFour
Best Foreign Language Film
- Wild Tales
TREVOR: This is a tough category for me to call. I loved Wild Tales, Levaithan and Ida. So it’s hard to pick the best when there is so much great quality. I think Wild Tales has an outside chance of picking up the golden statue but don’t be surprised if Ida gets the win.
STEVE: This is tough, being that it’s such a strong category. Tangerines is an absolutely gorgeous piece of cinema, as is Leviathan. Going beyond the beauty of these movies, the anthology that makes up Wild Tales is too crazy to ignore. I may be a little biased as my friend, artist Juan Ferreyra, did conceptual art for this movie.
Trevor’s Documentary Pick: Ida
Steve’s Documentary Pick: Wild Tales
Best Visual Effects
- Captain America 2: Winter Soldier
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- X-Men: Days of Future Past
TREVOR: This is the category where they nominate films that the academy were too scared to give Best Picture to. Seriously, most of the films in this category were some of the best of 2014 and all they get is best visual effects? Regardless, this is a tough category to call.
Interstellar should get the statue but I would not be surprised to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or Guardians of the Galaxy pick up this award. Maybe in another dimension these films got best picture nominations.
STEVE: These are all gorgeous and seamless films in their visual effects department. As far as quality goes, I may strike X-Men from that statement, but these are all nominees at the top of their field. That being said, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes brings so much emotion into their main characters that I feel Andy Serkis was absolutely robbed of any recognition. The work on these apes characters is nothing short of ground breaking and enhances these performances exponentially.
Trevor’s Visual Effects Pick: Interstellar
Steve’s Visual Effects Pick: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Thanks for voting for your favorite. Do you agree with our picks? Feel free to comment and give us your Oscar predictions.