Fearless Oscar nomination predictions

It only feels like yesterday that awards season began, and yet here we are on the cusp of the Academy announcing their anointed ones for 2015. There’s still a lot up in the air, and I wouldn’t say I’m entirely confident with a lot of these categories, but alas, onwards and upwards with this year’s predictions.

Best Picture
American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

I’m well aware Selma has oddly been left out of the Producer’s Guild Awards, and it’s very rare for a film to get Best Picture nominated without a PGA nod, but it has happened plenty of times before, and I think it will still squeak in. There’ll be some mighty big howls if it’s left out. I thought The Grand Budapest Hotel might have some issues being remembered, but after its Golden Globes victory and strong precursor awards showing, it’s clear that’s not the case. You may see Unbroken sneak in, but I get the feeling the film is going to be almost universally snubbed by the Academy. Possible dark-horse Nightcrawler could also nab a place, but fairly unlikely. Yes, I’m going with ten spots, and that’s probably not going to happen, but you tell me which film to take out? How do you eliminate one of them?

Best Director
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay – Selma
David Fincher – Gone Girl
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood

It’s always hard picking the Director nominees, since we only have five slots but generally far more than five deserving directors. I’m going with these choices because they just seem like the avenue the Academy will go down. That being said, the last few years have seen some absolute shockers in this category, and after the baffling Director’s Guild nominations, it’s likely a few of my picks will be wrong. You may see Fincher shamefully ignored (likely) or DuVernay overlooked (highly likely), and in their place directors like Morten Tyldum, Damien Chazelle or Bennett Miller. Hell, even Angelina Jolie or Clint Eastwood could steal a spot.

Best Actor
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Easily the toughest category this year. There are so many brilliant lead actor performances this year that it seems a travesty to only choose five. Leaving out actors like David Oyelowo, Bradley Cooper, Ralph Fiennes, and Timothy Spall, and even young guns Miles Teller and Jack O’Connell, just feels so wrong. They all deserve a nod, but sadly not this year. I think the most vulnerable of my picks is Gyllenhaal, so any of the above men could steal his spot, most likely Oyelowo. I still maintain Carell should be in Supporting, but that’s a rant post for another day.

Best Actress
Jennifer Aniston – Cake
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reece Witherspoon – Wild

A lot has been said about the lack of great female performances this year. I think that speaks more to the lack of great roles being written for women in Hollywood, rather than a lack of great female talent working today. That shouldn’t take anything away from the above performers. They all delivered performances as good as the men. There’s just not as many actresses to choose from for Academy voters when compared to the actors. I can’t really see anyone else sneaking in, except perhaps Amy Adams, but I highly doubt it, given the lack of love for Big Eyes.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Probably the category I’m most confident with predicting. I don’t see anyone else in contention, but the Academy does often throw a curveball in the Supporting fields, so maybe Tom Wilkinson or potentially Josh Brolin could make an appearance.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Laura Dern – Wild
Kiera Knightley – The Imitation Game
Emma Stone – Birdman
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods

This one also seems quite locked away. Maybe they won’t bother nominating Streep, given it doesn’t seem like Into the Woods will get much love at all, or they’ll overlook Dern, but I don’t think so. If they really love Selma, you might see Carmen Ejogo steal one of their spots. I’m not bold enough to put Rene Russo in, but it could happen, and if so, I’ll be screaming with joy.

As always, I won’t bother delving into all the other technical categories. If you would like to see my full predictions list, head to http://www.goldderby.com/dougmj/mypredictions/. In the end, I believe we’ll see Birdman lead with 9 nominations, followed by Boyhood, The Imitation Game and Gone Girl with 7, and The Grand Budapest Hotel and Whiplash with 6.

Let the games begin…