Photo: Maya Robinson and Photos by Sony Pictures and IFC
Now that we’ve finally got the Academy Award nominations, it’s time to make our best guesses as to who will win come February 22. Sure, a lot could change between now and then, but let’s be honest: A lot won’t change. Momentum is a powerful thing, and many of our current front-runners have a strong wind at their backs that should push them onstage in just a few weeks. Here, then, are our super-early predictions on who will triumph in every Oscar category (except for the short films, since we haven’t seen those contenders yet).
Best Picture Boyhood The Imitation Game Birdman The Theory of Everything The Grand Budapest Hotel Whiplash Selma American Sniper
Boyhood has been strong all season, though we shouldn’t count out The Imitation Game, which is peaking (with an immensely strong box-office take) only just now.
Best Actress Julianne Moore, Still Alice Reese Witherspoon, Wild Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
There’s no way that this won’t go to Julianne Moore. It’s one of several imminent Oscar wins this year that could double as a lifetime achievement award.
Best Actor Michael Keaton, Birdman Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game Steve Carell, Foxcatcher Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
This remains the trickiest of the acting races to call. Will Michael Keaton take home the gold for his marvelous comeback role? You could easily make that case, and he’s won a few trophies so far … and yet, I’ve talked to so many voters who love Eddie Redmayne (and The Theory of Everything) that right now, I’d give the edge to that very Oscar-friendly part.
Best Supporting Actor J.K. Simmons, Whiplash Edward Norton, Birdman Ethan Hawke, Boyhood Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher Robert Duvall, The Judge
Last January at the Sundance Film Festival, I shared a car with Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker just a few days after SPC had picked up Whiplash. “I think J.K. Simmons is gonna get the Oscar for that one,” I said, prompting a raised eyebrow from Barker, who just replied, “We’ll see.” And after the way this season has shaken out, with Simmons dominating the precursors, I’m still sticking to that early call.
Best Supporting Actress Patricia Arquette, Boyhood Emma Stone, Birdman Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game Meryl Streep, Into the Woods Laura Dern, Wild
Still, when it comes to way-too-early Oscar predictions, Richard Linklater has me beat. Back in December 2013, he told Vulture that Patricia Arquette should get an Oscar for the then-yet-to-debut Boyhood. And now she will! Time to buy a lottery ticket, Rick.
Best Director Richard Linklater, Boyhood Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
This, too, will go to Richard Linklater, one of the nicest guys in Hollywood (who’s worked with just about every actor in it).
Best Adapted Screenplay Graham Moore, The Imitation Game Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything Damien Chazelle, Whiplash Jason Hall, American Sniper Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Damien Chazelle ended up in this category after the Academy decided Whiplash had been adapted from his own short film … which Chazelle only made to secure financing for the full feature. Confusing! And while voters are rooting for the young helmer, I think they may flock to The Imitation Gamein this category, which presents one of movie’s best opportunities to win.
Best Original Screenplay Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, Birdman Richard Linklater, Boyhood Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, Foxcatcher
Boyhood is a front-runner in other races, but I don’t think it poses as strong a threat in Original Screenplay. Here we may find voters torn between two candidates: Birdman is a wordy whirling dervish where the screenplay is front and center, while Nightcrawler feels truly original and can only be recognized in this category. Since we usually get one idiosyncratic script win, I’m tempted to go withNightcrawler.
Best Foreign Film Ida (Poland) Leviathan (Russia) Tangerines (Estonia) Timbuktu (Mauritania) Wild Tales (Argentina)
That Cinematography nod for Idawill help pull the acclaimed film over the line.
Best Documentary Feature Citizenfour Last Days in Vietnam Virunga Finding Vivian Maier The Salt of the Earth
Will the Academy embrace the chilly, up-to-the-minute Citizenfour, or opt for more traditional fare like Last Days in Vietnam and Finding Vivian Maier? I’m waffling on this one, but I think the voters’ liberal streak will eventually win out, lifting Citizenfour.
Best Animated Feature Big Hero 6 How to Train Your Dragon 2 The Boxtrolls Song of the Sea The Tale of Princess Kaguya
What to do, now that presumed front-runner The Lego Movie isn’t even in the race? The category now favors the well-reviewed How to Train Your Dragon 2, which won the Golden Globe, but watch this space, because the spending and campaigning is about to kick into high gear.
Film Editing American Sniper Boyhood The Grand Budapest Hotel The Imitation Game Whiplash
Whiplash just feels right, doesn’t it?
Best Song Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley, and Nick Southwood, “Lost Stars” (Begin Again) John Legend and Common, “Glory” (Selma) Shawn Patterson, Joshua Bartholomew, Lisa Harriton, and The Lonely Island, “Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie) Diane Warren, “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights) Glen Campbell, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell … I’ll Be Me)
“Glory” was a strong contender regardless, but now that the Academy can view its votes as a make-good to the semi-snubbed Selma, it will be hard to beat.
Best Original Score Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel Hans Zimmer, Interstellar Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner
Both of the Desplat nominations would seem to cancel each other out, so place your bet on Globes winner Johann Johansson, whose The Theory of Everythingscore is foregrounded in that film.
Best Cinematography Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman Dick Pope, Mr. Turner Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel Ryszard Lenczewski and Łukasz Żal, Ida Roger Deakins, Unbroken
Lubezki’s Birdman work is the showiest, but will he win two years in a row after taking this prize for Gravity? Deakins has never won despite countless nominations, but does he deserve it now for Unbroken, a film the Academy didn’t really embrace? The work in Ida and Grand Budapest is worthy, too, but I think Dick Pope’s painterly compositions in Mr. Turner will come out on top. (Let’s just make sure the presenter practices his name beforehand this time.)
Costume Design Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive, Maleficent Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice
The Grand Budapest Hotel outfits a vast cast through a number of time periods, and while the Academy often goes for dresses, gowns, and royalty in this category, this may be the year that Wes Anderson’s fussy costumes break through.
Makeup and Hairstyling Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard, Foxcatcher Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, The Grand Budapest Hotel Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White, Guardians of the Galaxy
Yes, Tilda Swinton’s old-age makeup in Budapest was fun, but how are you not going to give this to the extensive, color-saturated makeup slathered on nearly everybody in Guardians of the Galaxy? They should win this award for Glenn Close’s wig alone!
Production Design Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock, The Grand Budapest Hotel Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts, Mr. Turner Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock, Into the Woods Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis, and Paul Healy, Interstellar Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald, The Imitation Game
Amazingly, this is the first time that a Wes Anderson movie was nominated for Best Production Design, but now that they’ve fully embraced him, voters will surely reward the sets of The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Sound Editing Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, American Sniper Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock, Birdman Brent Burge and Jason Canovas, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Richard King, Interstellar Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro, Unbroken
Interstellarand American Sniper could both triumph here. The next category, though, is where things get tricky for Christopher Nolan’s space epic …
Sound Mixing American Sniper Birdman Unbroken Interstellar Whiplash
… since Interstellar’s soupy, dialogue-drowning sound mix was one of the movie’s most controversial elements. And yet, it still won an Oscar nomination! Will the attention paid to it actually work in the film’s favor? Perhaps, but I think for most voters, the drum-heavy Whiplash will be more their tempo.
Visual Effects Interstellar Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Guardians of the Galaxy X Men: Days of Future Past Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Andy Serkis did groundbreaking work in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but the movie lost the Visual Effects Oscar to Martin Scorsese’s Hugo. An Oscar for the Apes sequel would be a nice consolation prize, but the invented worlds of Interstellar may ultimately make it too tough a competitor.