Oscars 2015 — Final Predictions

Oscars 2015

Don’t we all just love the Oscars? It’s an evening of maniacal celebration, of gratuitous back-patting, of cringe-worthy speech-making and of hosts trying to grasp the latest social trend – I’m looking at you, selfie Ellen. The folks over in Hollywood might “really like” Sally Field, but they’re not quite as fond of Selma or Nightcrawler, and goodness knows how fond they are of American Sniper (hopefully not as much as many fear).

All joking aside, Academy Awards night is a big one for the film industry. The movies nominated are, for the most part, pretty damn good too and should be heralded on a grand stage. Tonight’s ceremony is looking fairly clear-cut in most categories, but there are still a few ambiguities to be sorted.

Better get on with some predictions then. Click on the appropriate film titles for reviews.

Best Picture

American Sniper



The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game


The Theory of Everything


– Will win: Boyhood

– Should win: Boyhood

– Should’ve been nominated: Interstellar

Oscars 2015 - Boyhood

Best Director

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

– Will win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu

– Should win: Richard Linklater

– Should’ve been nominated: Christopher Nolan (Interstellar), Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin)

Oscars 2015 - Inarritu

Best Actor

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

– Will win: Michael Keaton

– Should win: Eddie Redmayne

– Should’ve been nominated: David Oyelowo (Selma), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

Oscars 2015 - Keaton

Best Actress

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

Rosumand Pike (Gone Girl)

– Will win: Julianne Moore

– Should win: Rosamund Pike

– Should’ve been nominated: Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow)

Oscars 2015 - Moore

Best Supporting Actor

Edward Norton (Birdman)

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

Robert Duvall (The Judge)

– Will win: J.K. Simmons

– Should win: J.K. Simmons

– Should’ve been nominated: Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher), Andy Serkis (DotPotA)

Oscars 2015 - Simmons

Best Supporting Actress

Emma Stone (Birdman)

Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

Laura Dern (Wild)

Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

– Will win: Patricia Arquette

– Should win: Patricia Arquette

– Should’ve been nominated: Carrie Coon (Gone Girl)

Oscars 2015 - Arquette

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper

The Imitation Game

Inherent Vice

The Theory of Everything


– Will win: The Imitation Game

– Should win: Whiplash

– Should’ve been nominated: Gone Girl

Oscars 2015 - TIG

Best Original Screenplay




The Grand Budapest Hotel


– Will win: Birdman

– Should win: Boyhood

– Should’ve been nominated: Guardians of the Galaxy

Oscars 2015 - Birdman

Final Thoughts

It looks as though the only real tussle – and it’s a big one – will be between Boyhood and Birdman for Best Picture. They’ll probably split the top award and Best Director between them, though Boyhood and Linklater deserve both.

Michael Keaton might yet nab Best Actor from Eddie Redmayne and despite the bookies favouring the Brit after his BAFTA triumph, I fancy the American to win in the US (cynical me).

As far as the other three acting categories go, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette are all shoe-ins. The latter two fully deserve to win. Still Alice still hasn’t hit cinemas over here in the UK therefore I have yet to see Moore’s performance, but I just can’t look past Rosamund Pike’s stunning turn in Gone Girl. Pike should win. She won’t.

The biggest snubs of the year are probably Interstellar and Nightcrawler. David Oyelowo absolutely should be contention for Best Actor (he should probably win it, in truth) but at least Selma has top table nomination. With ten possible slots in the Best Picture category, the dismissal of Interstellar and Nightcrawler is unjustified.

Carrie Coon should feel aggrieved to be missing out on a Best Supporting Actress nomination, as should Channing Tatum in the Best Supporting Actor – or even Best Actor – category. It has been a strong year for the actors to be fair. And a word too for Blue Ruin, one of 2014’s less well-known masterstrokes.

If you’re watching, enjoy the show!

Oscars 2015 Best Picture

Images credit: ColliderHollywood Reporter, Indiewire

Selma (2015)


Selma PosterDirector: Ava DuVernay

Release Date: January 9th, 2015 (US); February 6th, 2015 (UK)

Genre: Biography; Drama; History

Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo

Carrying on the awards-fetching tradition that tends to follow flicks of biographical and historical heritage (a tradition particularly in vogue at this year’s Oscars) is Selma. We all know the argument by now: ‘the only reason this weighty film about that important figure doing those serious things has been made is purely to fill the brazen palms of those involved with golden statuettes’. As a general rule I don’t really toe that line. There are too many external factors that’d have to align for a filmmaker to predict prizes before even rolling a camera, and then successfully follow through with that prediction. Oscar bait. It’s a bit of a nonsense assumption anyway. Selma is a film first and foremost, about struggle and perseverance and dignity.

Movies aren’t made to be awarded then, but when the turn of the year approaches and the air begins to smell that bit more Weinsteiny, it’s still an exciting time for cinephiles the world over. And it can be a kick in the teeth when evidently deserving performances aren’t given at least a nod of appreciation by those all-knowing folks in Hollywood. David Oyelowo’s shunning by the Academy is as bewildering as it is unfair on the Brit. He plays Martin Luther King, Jr., minister and activist at the helm of the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the middle of last century.

Director Ava DuVernay’s film centres on Dr. King and his collaborative attempt alongside other SCLC members to gain voting rights for black US citizens in the 1960s. As such, success hinges upon how effectively Oyelowo embodies the famous fellow. In some ways, playing a prolific figure such as King might be easier because his presence has continued to circulate in some form for so many years and his mannerisms and tones therefore exist in great volume, essentially forming a vault of primary sources for the actor to refer to. Having said that, there’s very little room for error because the man is so recognisable — if you’re watching Selma, you’re probably pretty well-versed in the humanitarian’s past. The audience knows King and Oyelowo has to convince, not after 30 minutes or 60 minutes but after 10 seconds, that he is King.

Goodness me, he convinces. Oyelowo’s portrayal is very similar to Eddie Redmayne’s manifestation as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, not because the roles reflect each other in too many ways but because each actor completely dissolves into the persona he is playing. The magnetic charisma is there, shining through particularly during speeches delivered with power and precision, but Oyelowo also conveys a vulnerability in King that humanises the god-like leader. Moments of self-doubt creep in and harness his stubbornness; this unusually burdened appearance can be seen in a prison cell conversation or an emotional debate between husband and wife.

At this point it’s also worth noting some really solid work done by Oyelowo’s supporting cast, namely Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King and Tom Wilkinson as President Lyndon B. Johnson. King and Coretta’s relationship is frosty when we meet them, the latter certainly an admirer of her husband’s moral graft but not as keen on any potentially nasty consequences. “I don’t joke about that”, she says after he quips about dying in the line of protest. Ejogo’s Coretta is strong-willed but clearly at odds with the viable threat posed to her family.

On the other hand, King’s combative rapport with the US head of state is driven by ethical politics. Wilkinson plays the President with that familiar governmental defensiveness — sympathetic to a degree but only really in favour of King because he’s not “one of those Malcolm X types”. It’s a shame we don’t get to see more of Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch plays him in one short scene) as the clash in styles between he and his activist colleague could’ve added another layer to the film’s fairly cut-and-dry morality. Henry G. Sanders’ heartbreaking turn as a pained grandfather is as affecting as anything else on screen. Unfortunately Tim Roth hams it up a too much as the Governor of Alabama, his performance lacking somewhat in authenticity when pitted up against the others.

As alluded to previously, there are a few heavyweight vocal diatribes laced throughout the film but DuVernay smartly avoids employing the famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Instead the material is fresher and Oyelowo is afforded the chance to inject less high profile dialogues with his own portentous verve. Thus there’s never a preachy air but rather a story bound by the bluntness of immorality, one that holds a mirror up against an inconceivable blotch on our history whilst also hauling shocking relevance today.

Despite the obvious humanity failure on display, DuVernay manages to avoid the gloominess of the subject and instead directs with spirit. A bubbling, soulful soundtrack compiled by Jason Moran — which reminded me of a Coen/T-Bone Burnett concoction, oddly — gives energy to proceedings. This vibrant approach means when the Selma to Montgomery protest marches from which the film pivots occur, their impact is heightened. The notorious Bloody Sunday walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge is harrowing in its depiction but also sublimely executed; raw brutality is interspersed with a white reporter’s increasingly disturbed commentary and reactions of abhorrence from around America brought on by television broadcasts.

It might’ve been largely overlooked by awards shows but Selma isn’t a film that should be ignored by those who love accomplished filmmaking. Indeed, Ava DeVernay’s moving dramatisation of oppression in society fifty years ago reaffirms a life lesson that some are failing to abide by even in 2015. For that reason alone Selma is a film worth seeing.

Selma - David Oyelowo

Images credit: IMP Awards, Collider

Images copyright (c): Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, StudioCanal