Is it that time of year again? Ballots filled out, winners decided, hours away from the results. It’ll be exciting, frustrating, and most likely loooong. Get ready for the Julianne Moore standing ovation, and the final face-off in the battle of the titans. Will it be “Birdman” or “Boyhood”…because this is a two-horse race folks. All day Sunday, at different times and in over 50 cities, most of my official picks will have been broadcast on “America Weekend with Ed Kalegi”. But this writing is my final say regarding the Best Picture race. Will I have any last-minute changes-of-heart? You’ll find out right here, over the course of a special two-part Oscar Predictions 2015:
Best Supporting Actor: the winner will be J.K. Simmons for “Whiplash”. His commanding performance is the best thing about a highly entertaining film that fails to understand the power of subtlety. I love Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood”, and Edward Norton certainly has a shot with “Birdman”, but Mark Ruffalo is probably the best performance in the category for “Foxcatcher”. Sadly, no one is even talking about Mark. Duvall? Not a chance. Decent performance from a legendary actor in a bad film (“The Judge”). Simmons takes it…and he pretty much deserves it too.
Best Supporting Actress: the winner will be Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood”. It’s one of the comebacks of the year, as she mostly dropped out of major motion pictures for a good portion of the last decade (for whatever reason, television became her steady line of work), and she’s the standout of the most talked about film of 2014. Laura Dern has too slight of a role in “Wild”, and Keira Knightley has too safe of one, in “The Imitation Game”. Emma Stone could sneak in there for “Birdman”, but I’m just not feeling that upset. Meryl Streep…please. A wonderful actress who is getting TOO much recognition now. Plus, “Into the Woods” stinks. Arquette takes Oscar home.
Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne wins for dressing up as Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”. It’s not a great performance, but he gets to mug from a wheelchair after slowly physically deteriorating…and Oscar eats that up. His chief competition is Michael Keaton for “Birdman”, of course, and MK certainly has a realistic shot. But Eddie edges him. I guess you can’t count out Bradley Cooper for “American Sniper”, but it doesn’t seem likely–even considering that this is his third straight Best Actor nomination. Benedict Cumberbatch has the odds stacked against him for “The Imitation Game”, and Steve Carell and his prominent proboscis belonged in the supporting category. ER grabs the gold.
Best Actress: Julianne Moore for “Still Alice” in a landslide. She’s respected, she’s gorgeous, she’s a 5-time nominee, and she’s never won. It’s the biggest lock of the night. Felicity Jones will be here again, but she doesn’t stack up for her work in “The Theory of Everything”. Rosamund Pike was fine in “Gone Girl”…but not that fine. However, we’ll see her again here too. Marion Cotillard is an amazing actress, but she’s won before–plus no one has seen “Two Days, One Night”. Reese Witherspoon had a nice comeback with “Wild”, after a string of crappy rom-coms, but she been to the winner’s circle before too. Moore easily.
Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for “Birdman”, and it’s been a virtual certainty since he grabbed the DGA award earlier this month. Richard Linklater cannot be dismissed for “Boyhood”, however. But Bennett Miller for “Foxcatcher”, Wes Anderson for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, and Morten Tyldum for “The Imitation Game” can be dismissed. This is a battle between the “B” pictures. And “Birdman” will bypass “Boyhood”…at the very least for this important statue.
Best Animated Feature: All signs are pointing to a “How to Train Your Dragon 2” victory. I prefer “The Boxtrolls” myself, but it doesn’t have a prayer. The big Disney machine can’t ever be discounted, but I think they come up short this year with “Big Hero 6”. And no matter how good “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” are, absolutely no one is betting on them to pull out this award. DreamWorks nails it this season, with “Dragon”.
Stay tuned for Adapted and Original Screenplay, plus the biggest award of the night, hours from now, when I present my Oscar Predictions 2015, Part Two!