First Oscar Predictions

Well done, KC.
The most likely picture?

This’ll be quick and dirty. The Producer’s Guild and SAG have weighed in–the Directors and Writers have yet to. So there are a few races which are closed up, a few which seem closed up, and the rest…who knows, really?

But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to make the best guess possible.

Predicted winners are in bold.


  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Right off the bat…this is basically a two-horse race. It’s really down to Birdman and Boyhood, and any other film winning would be an upset. Sniper is way too polarizing. GBH…too slight. I wouldn’t rule it out as an upset, given that it has Screenplay and Editing nominations on top of Picture and Director (and its Picture – Musical/Comedy win at the Globes), but it’s a long shot. Imitation Game does have Harvey Weinstein behind it, but so far it’s won few major awards, which makes me dubious of its chances.

Selma…I don’t know. Logically, it has no chance at all, but the fact that it got on, seemingly against heavy odds, makes me wonder. It would be one of the biggest upsets ever, but…something tells me it’s not a lost cause. Theory isn’t happening. It’ll get its reward elsewhere. And Whiplash is too small and too indie to win. I’m still a little surprised it got on over Nightcrawler.

Boyhood has been the favorite for most of the season, and normally I would say it’s a done deal…but Birdman won the Producer’s Guild award and the SAG Ensemble award, and those are both major prognosticators for the Oscar. The DGA and WGA will give us more to work with, but I have to wonder if the tide, at least in this category, might not be turning.

So I’ll say Birdman has a slight advantage, though Boyhood is right there at its heels.


  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Until the DGA announces their choice, I can’t predict this with absolute surety, but I think Linklater will win this. Iñárritu might, but I think a split is more likely. It makes sense in its own way.

Anderson is more likely to win Original Screenplay (but I’ll deal with that category when I get to it), Miller is the longest shot, since he doesn’t have a Picture nomination, and Tyldum is not only a relative newcomer, but is–and I can’t imagine many will disagree with me here–the least-deserving nominee here, based on his direction (it’s not bad or anything, but it’s not remotely Oscar-worthy). Unless there’s a massive upset, it’s most likely Linklater.


  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Redmayne won Best Actor at the SAG awards. That, plus his Globe win, gives him a narrow lead. Personally, I still think Keaton has an excellent chance at pulling it off, but no SAG winner has lost the Oscar since 2003. But Keaton is a veteran, giving a great performance, in a film which might win the big one, and he too won a Globe. I’ll admit it’s a close race, but it’s not over.

Carell has no chance (and he’s kind of a supporting role, which doesn’t help). Cooper got in at the last second; I really don’t see him getting far. It wouldn’t be the unlikeliest outcome, but I’m not prepared to chance it. And Cumberbatch’s popularity might have peaked; he was nominated for two SAG awards (one for this, one for Sherlock) and won neither. He’s won virtually nothing for this performance. That situation, I’m afraid, is unlikely to change.


  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Moore won SAG, the Globe, and a fuckton of other awards. She’s been considered horribly overdue for years. She is by far the favorite here.

Cotillard has won a number of awards in her own right, and might be a threat…but not much of one, if we’re being serious. Jones is actually more of a threat because of Redmayne’s success, but Moore carries a much greater weight. Pike was incredible, but given the overall snubbing of her film (which is bullshit of the highest degree), she doesn’t stand much of a chance. And Witherspoon has been nominated far more than she’s won–plus she already has an Oscar.

Supporting Actor:

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Simmons won SAG, the Globe, and almost everything else. There’s really no way he’s not winning.

Duvall got on because of who he is (not that he’s bad, but…come on). Hawke got on because of the film. Norton is great, but if Birdman is winning any acting awards, it’s for Keaton. And Ruffalo hasn’t won anything. This is pretty much a done deal.

Supporting Actress:

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Arquette, likewise, won SAG. And the Globe. And many, many others. It’s hers to lose.

Dern, apparently, has only 8 minutes of screen time. That, and the fact that she hasn’t won anything for the film (and probably barely beat out Jessica Chastain) make her a non-factor. Knightley only has a chance if the film goes big, which isn’t looking likely. Stone, in my opinion, should win…but she hasn’t won much at all. And Streep won a (somewhat criticized) third Oscar just a few years ago. She’s lucky to even be here.

Original Screenplay:

  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nightcrawler

Birdman won the Globe. If it wins the WGA, it’ll take this easily. If not…GBH might pull this off. It is Wes Anderson, after all. Boyhood hasn’t won anything for its writing, Foxcatcher is a dark horse in virtually every category but one, and Nightcrawler, while amazing, has no other nominations, and no film has won Original Screenplay without another nomination since 1957. So…not likely to happen. Too bad.

Adapted Screenplay:

  • American Sniper
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inherent Vice
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

I actually have no idea here. Sniper, again, seems too divisive to win anything major (and the script shouldn’t have been nominated at all). Imitation Game seems so bland. Vice didn’t make a great showing, but it has been decently embraced for its writing, so I’ll say it’s the likeliest choice. Theory, likewise, is bland; Whplash might pull it off, given the lack of a frontrunner, but I think J.K. Simmons is its best chance for recongition. And Vice winning would allow them to recognize P.T. Anderson, which they have yet to do. Why not here?*

Of course, if Gone Girl had been nominated, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

*The biggest issue here is that a non-Picture nominee has only won this category three times ever (1952, 1996, and 1998), so that might suggest a possible win for Imitation Game. But that just seems like such a weak choice, I have a hard time believing it’ll happen.


  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ida
  • Mr. Turner
  • Unbroken

Without a 3D contender, this race is a little more open than usual. Birdman does some awesome things with its use of camera movement, and is able to use the faux-one-long-take gimmick to its considerable advantage. I’ll say it most likely wins.

However, GBH is poised to win Production and Costume Design, and could take this in a sweep. Ida is lucky to be here. I’m glad it is, but it’s the longest shot in the category. Mr. Turner might actually stand a chance, but until the ASC weighs in, I’m not going to predict it. Unbroken could get some momentum if they’re able to highlight how overdue Roger Deakins is, but it’s definitely not his best work (he should have won for Skyfall).


  • American Sniper
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Whiplash

This is a tough one to predict, especially before the Eddies. It’s worth noting that no film has won Best Picture without an Editing nomination since 1980, which doesn’t bode well for Birdman. But if it wins the Eddie (for Musical/Comedy editing), that might say a lot about its Picture chances.

Sniper could win this. It could win all three of its technical nominations and I wouldn’t be too shocked. Boyhood feels like a safe bet, because the editing had to make it flow from beginning to end over its 12 years; I’m thinking it’ll probably win this, just because it feels like it should win. GBH being here makes me think it has a decent shot at a Picture upset, but it wouldn’t win this. Imitation Game…ditto, but at the same time, yawn. (It wasn’t boring, mind you, it was just a totally unremarkable editing job.) Whiplash ought to win this, since it’s a tremendously exciting film, and the editing is a big part of that, but sadly, it’ll probably come in third.

Production Design:

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Mr. Turner

Do I really need to waste any time here?

If you’ve seen the movie, you know there’s no other choice.

I’d love to make a case for Interstellar, but let’s be real here.

Costume Design:

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Inherent Vice
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • Mr. Turner


I don’t have much precedent to go on, but, as happy as Inherent Vice winning would make me, it wouldn’t be the right choice.

Makeup & Hairstyling:

  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

This is Foxcatcher‘s best shot at a win, if they want to throw it a bone. GBH, if it pulls off a tech sweep, might take it.

But if you’ve seen all three films, I think you’ll agree that nothing comes close to Guardians. I have to imagine the Academy would agree.

It’s nice that this category doesn’t suck for once.


  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Mr. Turner
  • The Theory of Everything

Tough one. If Birdman was here, it’d be game over, but the Academy had to suck.

Right now, I’ll just guess that Theory wins, since it won the Globe. But I could see them finally giving it to Desplat, especially since they nominated him twice (GBH and Imitation Game)…but which score would they pick if they did?


  • “Everything is Awesome”, The Lego Movie
  • “Glory”, Selma
  • “Grateful”, Beyond the Lights
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”, Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
  • “Lost Stars”, Begin Again

“Glory” won the Globe and is from a Best Picture nominee. So I’ll give it the edge.

“Everything is Awesome” could win, however, especially if people wanted to make up for the Animated Feature snub.

I suppose there’s an outside chance that “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” could get some recognition just for Campbell’s sake, but it would be a shock.

Sound Mixing:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

Once the MPSE awards are announced, I’ll have a better idea of what’ll win here.

I’m thinking, though, that this would be a good place for Sniper to get recognized. Sort of a compromise with the fact that it won’t win Best Picture.

Whiplash would be the most deserving (though Birdman and Interstellar were extremely well done), but I think Sniper takes it.

Sound Editing:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken

I will say that it might be telling that Birdman was nominated for both sound awards, but I’m not going to predict its winning just yet.

I’ll say Sniper until further notice.

Visual Effects:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

Without a Best Picture nominee in this category, it becomes infinitely more competitive.

You’ve got, arguably, the best VFX of the year (Dawn), the super-ambitious effects from the film we initially thought would a Best Picture nominee (Interstellar), and the 2nd-highest-grossing film of the year (Guardians). And there were plenty who felt Rise of the Planet of the Apes should’ve won in 2011, so Dawn might benefit from that.

Interstellar has five nominations and some staunch defenders, however. And the effects actually helped Kip Thorne understand black holes better. That carries some weight, no? So–by a narrow margin–I’ll take it. For now. But this category is pretty wide open.

Animated Feature:

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

It won the Globe, and the film that everyone assumed would win in a landslide wasn’t nominated–possibly for that very reason.

I’d really love it if Princess Kaguya somehow won, but it’s not likely.

Foreign Language Film:

  • Ida
  • Leviathan
  • Tangerines
  • Timbuktu
  • Wild Tales

It won the Globe. It’s apparently magnificent.

It’s that or Ida.


  • Finding Vivian Maier
  • Last Days in Vietnam
  • The Salt of the Earth
  • Virunga

Without Life Itself, this becomes pretty cut-and-dried.

Predicted Award Totals:

Birdman, 3 Awards: Picture, Original Screenplay, Cinematography

Boyhood, 3 Awards: Director, Supporting Actress, Editing

The Theory of Everything, 2 Awards: Actor, Original Score

American Sniper, 2 Awards: Sound Mixing, Sound Editing

The Grand Budapest Hotel, 2 Awards: Production Design, Costume Design

Still Alice, 1 Award: Actress

Whiplash, 1 Award: Supporting Actor

Inherent Vice, 1 Award: Adapted Screenplay

Guardians of the Galaxy, 1 Award: Makeup & Hairstyling

Selma, 1 Award: Original Song

Interstellar, 1 Award: Visual Effects

How to Train Your Dragon 2, 1 Award: Animated Feature

Leviathan, 1 Award: Foreign Film

CITIZENFOUR, 1 Award: Documentary Feature

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