2015 Oscars Predictions

It is officially Oscar week, with the ceremony set to air this coming Sunday. With Neil Patrick Harris at the helm and a program with a much heavier emphasis on musical performance in the works, it should at the very least be an interesting experiment. As is tradition on the internet, I’ll go through each category and talk about what will win and what should, with the added little twist of ranking the nominees from best to worst if I had my druthers (films marked N/A are films I have not seen). We begin with the categories of least interest, and work our way up to the main events.

Best Live Action Short:

N/A: Aya

N/A: Boogaloo and Graham

N/A: Butter Lamp

N/A: Parvaneh

N/A: The Phone Call

Will win: I don’t know, Parvaneh?

My schedule precluded me from being able to see two of the three sets of shorts, so this one is just a shot in the dark based on synopses.

Best Documentary Short:

N/A: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

N/A: Joanna

N/A: Our Curse

N/A: The Reaper (La Parka)

N/A: White Earth

Will win: Let’s say Joanna

Similar to the live action shorts, I have no skin in this game.

Best Animated Short

  1. The Dam Keeper

  2. A Single Life

  3. Feast

  4. The Bigger Picture

  5. Me and My Moulton

Will win: The Dam Keeper

I did get a chance to see these (as written up here), and it seems to be a three horse race between The Dam Keeper, Feast and The Bigger Picture. Feast is the crowd-pleaser and the one seen by the most people (it ran in front of Big Hero 6), but the same could have been said for Get a Horse!, last year’s Disney short that ran in front of Frozen and didn’t get the win. My guess is it’ll come down to The Dam Keeper, which boasts the most complex narrative of the three, and The Bigger Picture, the most visually audacious. I expect The Dam Keeper to take it, but I could see it going either way.

Visual Effects

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy

  2. Interstellar

  3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

  4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

  5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Will win: Interstellar

As is always the case, if the Academy has the option of choosing a non-superhero movie, they almost always take it. The wormhole scene alone should be enough for Interstellar to get the win, let alone the docking sequence or a myriad of other examples. I preferred the variety of Guardians of the Galaxy (and find it a tad strange that Captain America: the Winter Soldier made it in over, say, Godzilla), but can’t begrudge the Academy here.

Sound Mixing

  1. Whiplash

  2. American Sniper

  3. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Innocence)

  4. Unbroken

  5. Interstellar

Will win: American Sniper

Clint Eastwood’s box office juggernaut is probably going to walk away with at least a couple of awards, and the sound categories seem like its best chance. The sound mixers of American Sniper do a good job of establishing these oppressive scenes of war and playing them against the quiet of the home front. It’s good work. Interstellar’s nomination here is a bit of a joke, as its questionable sound mixing has been a talking point since its release. Personally, I prefer the inherently musical Whiplash here, and it might have an outside chance, though it’s unlikely.

Sound Editing

  1. American Sniper

  2. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  3. Unbroken

  4. Interstellar

N/A. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

WIll win: American Sniper

Birdman could sneak in a win here, but I think the sound categories will be a clean sweep for Sniper, which as I said previously makes very effective use of sound (even if it isn’t in service of much in the grand scheme of things)

Makeup and Hairstyling

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy

  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

  3. Foxcatcher

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

As is the case with visual effects, always side with the movies that otherwise have an Oscar pedigree. Much like Visual Effects, Guardians certainly deserves the nod here purely due to the work on Drax the Destroyer, Yondu and Nebula, but it’s categories like these that will give the Academy a chance to throw some shine toward Wes Anderson’s overt style. Steve Carell's nose need not apply.

Production Design

  1. Mr. Turner

  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

  3. The Imitation Game

  4. Interstellar

  5. Into the Woods

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Another opportunity for The Academy to honor Anderson, as he’ll likely have a tough time with the bigger categories. despite tying for the most total nominations

Costume Design

  1. Inherent Vice

  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

  3. Maleficent

  4. Mr. Turner

  5. Into the Woods

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Does the category have the word “design” in it? Give it to Wes Anderson.

Original Song

  1. “Glory” (from Selma)

  2. “Everything is Awesome” (from The LEGO Movie)

  3. “Lost Stars” (from Begin Again)

N/A: “Grateful” (from Beyond the Lights)

N/A: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (from Glen Campbell...I’ll Be Me)

Will win: “Glory” (from Selma)

I’m sure many are looking toward this category for reparations from the snubbing of The LEGO Movie from the Animated Feature category, but the Academy is much more likely to take the chance to give Selma a little love considering how otherwise ignored it was in the rest of the awards. It’s a better song anyway.

Original Score

  1. Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)

  2. The Theory of Everything (Johan Johannsson)

  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Alexandre Desplat)

  4. Mr. Turner (Gary Yershon)

  5. The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)

Will win: The Theory of Everything

I’m totally fine with any of the top three winning. Desplat showed a marked whimsy in his work on The Grand Budapest Hotel, but he’ll split the vote with himself for his much less impressive and straightforwardly snoozy work on The Imitation Game. Zimmer’s score is among the best of his career, trading in his usual Christopher Nolan bombast for some real pathos and care, even if it did often overwhelm the film by being too far in the front of the mix (certainly not Zimmer's fault). Johannsson’s work should take it; it’s great, it won the Globe and it features prominently in the film’s most indelible sequence. That should be enough to get him a trophy.

Foreign Language Film

  1. Ida

N/A: Leviathan

N/A: Timbuktu

N/A: Wild Tales

N/A: Tangerines

Will win: Ida

I sure wish any of these movies other than Ida actually opened anywhere near me. Ida should have this in the bag by virtue of receiving another nomination outside this category (for Cinematography).

Documentary Feature

  1. Citizenfour

  2. Last Days in Vietnam

  3. Virunga

N/A: Finding Vivian Maier

N/A: The Salt of the Earth

Will win: Citizenfour

The three docs I’ve seen are all excellent, and the category for the most part lacks a crowd-pleaser like 20 Feet from Stardom or Searching for Sugar Man (though I guess Finding Vivian Maier is along those lines). That leaves the winner open for something a little heavier, and Laura Poitras’ rapturously received Edward Snowden documentary that feels more like Enemy of the State than a real life story should take it home, and with good reason.

Animated Feature

  1. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

  2. The Boxtrolls

  3. How to Train Your Dragon 2

  4. Big Hero 6

N/A: Song of the Sea

Will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Sure, The LEGO Movie should have been in this category. Sure, it still shouldn’t have won even if it were nominated, because it definitely pales in comparison to The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Sure, none of that will matter, as How to Train Your Dragon 2 is a decent success of a movie, and that should be good enough for an Academy that seems loath to remember that non-CG movies are still worthy of their time.

Writing, Original Screenplay

  1. Boyhood

  2. Nightcrawler

  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel

  4. Foxcatcher

  5. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

WIll win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

It’s a two horse race between Grand Budapest and Birdman, which is thoroughly depressing for many, many reasons. I’m going with Budapest because this is where movies like that, movies by Wes Anderson or Quentin Tarantino, always end of winning. This is their own little Best Picture slot when they have no chance to win the big one. Still, Birdman could take this as a sign of a steamroll through many of the major categories, but the fact that Anderson hasn't won for writing yet should theoretically push him over the top.

Writing, Adapted Screenplay

  1. Whiplash

  2. Inherent Vice

  3. The Theory of Everything

  4. The Imitation Game

  5. American Sniper

Will win: The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game is too much of a crowd-pleasing biopic to come away empty handed. This seems to be the only category it has a chance, so its thoroughly banal script will be honored, A Beautiful Mind style.

Film Editing

  1. Whiplash

  2. Boyhood

  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel

  4. American Sniper

  5. The Imitation Game

Will win: Boyhood

No Birdman to gum up the works here, so this should be the one non-acting win for Boyhood (which is such a depressing sentence to write). It’s sad, because it really doesn’t even deserve it compared to Whiplash, which is among the best edited films in years, but you take what you can get.


  1. Ida

  2. Mr. Turner

  3. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel

  5. Unbroken

Will win: Birdman

Two statues in a row for Lubezki, who will get all the plaudits for Birdman’s single-take gimmick.

Supporting Actress

  1. Laura Dern (Wild)

  2. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

  3. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

  4. Emma Stone (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))

  5. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Will win: Arquette

Dern and Arquette are basically 1A and 1B for me, so I won’t be upset when Arquette gets Boyhood another statue. This one is in the bag.

Supporting Actor

  1. JK Simmons (Whiplash)

  2. Edward Norton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))

  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

N/A. Robert Duvall (The Judge)

Will win: Simmons

Simmons is another mortal lock here, though every performance I’ve seen in this category is very, very strong (sorry, Academy, you’re not tricking me into seeing The Judge).

Best Actress

  1. Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

  2. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

  3. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

  4. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

  5. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Will win: Moore

Three out of the four acting categories have mortal locks. Nothing else to see here (except Two Days, One Night. Everyone should see Two Days, One Night).

Best Actor

  1. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

  2. Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)

  3. Michael Keaton (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))

  4. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

  5. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

Will win: Redmayne

Redmayne has won everything so far, so even though his supposedly dreadful performance in Jupiter Ascending hit the theaters just as voting opened, that shouldn’t be enough to derail him here. If it does, it’s Keaton’s to take, but Redmayne should still (rightfully) come out on top for his transformative performance.

Best Director

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

  2. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

  3. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance))

  4. Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

  5. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Will win: Inarritu

Linklater is the only one in the category even remotely worthy (this category is thoroughly depressing), but considering the rising tide of Birdman after winning the PGA, SAG and DGA awards, the fix is in. Linklater’s BAFTA will have to be his consolation prize.

Best Picture

  1. Boyhood

  2. Whiplash

  3. Selma

  4. The Theory of Everything

  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

  6. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  7. The Imitation Game

  8. American Sniper

Will win: Birdman

This sucks. But it will happen. It is inevitable at this point. Watching a long ceremony like this in order to watch the coronation of a film I hate will be a nice flashback to 2011. And 2010. And 2008. And 2005. And 2002...