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Predicting the 87th Academy Awards

Posted by Kenneth Shinozuka on February 20, 2015 at 9:25 PM

Best Picture

Boyhood – 30% chance of winning

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – 29%

American Sniper – 15%

The Imitation Game – 13%

The Grand Budapest Hotel – 7%

Selma – 3%

The Theory of Everything– 2%

Whiplash – 1%

Boyhood was widely expected to win this category after sweeping the early awards circuit and gaining momentum from the Golden Globe Awards, where it triumphed in the Best Drama category. However, the tides seemed to have turned. In late January, Birdman won the Darryl F. Zanuck Award in the Producers Guild Awards, which often predicts the film that takes home the Oscar statuette for Best Picture. Furthermore, Birdman has picked up significant victories in the Screen Actors Guild and Directors Guild Awards, potentially demonstrating that Academy voters are beginning to favor it over Boyhood. Hence, Birdman and Boyhood have become locked in an extremely tight race for Best Picture. Both films certainly deserve the award; Birdman combines a remarkably creative screenplay with groundbreaking cinematography, while Boyhood makes film history with its 12-year shooting period. I still think that, in spite of Birdman’s recent victories, Boyhood will still edge it out in the race for Best Picture. By tracking the development of a character in real time, Boyhood achieves an unprecedented sense of realism, depicting the process of growing up in a sincere and unequivocally honest way. In the end, it may be easier for voters to relate to Boyhood’s universal scenes of a boy bonding with his father and kindling his first romance than Birdman’s arcane philosophical themes.

Best Director

Richard Linklater (Boyhood) – 40% chance of winning

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman) – 38%

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 15%

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) – 5%

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) – 2%  

Again, an extremely close race between Boyhood and Birdman. Linklater was a lock for this category until Iñárritu won the best director award at the Director’s Guild Awards, whose voters comprise a large portion of the Academy members that determine the Best Director winner at the Oscars. Iñárritu’s technical mastery – he shot his entire movie as if it were filmed in one take – will certainly pick up votes from the auteurs among the Academy’s voters. Nonetheless, Linklater’s decision to follow the growth of his main character in real time is surely one of the gutsiest moves ever in the history of cinema, and his unembellished, candid direction is indicative of his film’s total freedom from Hollywood’s banalities and contrivances.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) – 35% chance of winning

Michael Keaton (Birdman) – 30%

Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) – 20%

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) – 10%

Steve Carell (Foxcatcher) – 5%

Eddie Redmayne’s performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything won him the Screen Actors Guild award for best actor, and it may lead to his victory in the Best Actor category at the Oscars. In my opinion, Keaton deserves the award more for fully channeling the existential crisis of his character, but Redmayne’s role may seem more difficult to Academy voters because of the complete physical transformation that it required. While his performance does not grant us full insight into Hawking’s sheer genius, he uncannily embodies the physicist’s idiosyncrasies and may bring tears to the eyes of some Academy voters who admired his nobility in spite of the debilitating effects that he suffered as a result of his motor neuron disease.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Julianne Moore (Still Alice) – 35% chance of winning

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) – 25%

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) – 20%

Reese Witherspoon (Wild) – 10%

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) – 10%  

While “Best Actress” is not this year’s most predictable category by any measure, it is difficult to imagine anybody else winning but Julianne Moore. She won the Screen Actors Guild award for best actress, which typically indicates the winner of the corresponding award at the Oscars. Her heart-wrenching performance conveys the severe emotional pain that Alzheimer’s exacts on its patients. Although Marion Cotillard has won the most awards on the circuit out of the five nominated actresses, her film hasn’t achieved sufficient popularity yet among Academy voters.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) – 65% chance of winning

Edward Norton (Birdman) – 15%

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood) – 10%

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) – 8%

Robert Duvall (The Judge) – 2%

J.K. Simmons delivered the best performance of his career and of the year in Whiplash as an unapologetic and ruthless jazz teacher who will resort to any means to exact the best possible performances out of his students. Any other winner in this category would be one of the biggest upsets of the awards ceremony.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) – 70% chance of winning

Emma Stone (Birdman) – 15%

Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) – 10%

Laura Dern (Wild) – 3%

Meryl Streep (Into the Woods) – 2%

There is no foreseeable scenario in which Patricia Arquette does not win this category. She has won practically every important supporting actress award on the circuit this year, and her performance as Mason Jr.’s mother in Boyhood serves as an emotional anchor in the film and creates a sense of constancy in his changing life.

Best Original Screenplay

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo (Birdman) – 40% chance of winning

Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 30%

Richard Linklater (Boyhood) – 15%

Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler) – 10%

E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher) – 5%

Even Wes Anderson’s quirkiness is no match for Iñárritu’s sharp wit, acerbic comedy, profound wisdom, and penetrating social commentary. Iñárritu’s screenplay is one of the most daring examples of creativity in Hollywood today, transcending the bounds of traditional storytelling.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) – 35% chance of winning

Graham Moore (The Imitation Game) – 30%

Jason Hall (American Sniper) – 20%

Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice) – 10%

Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything) – 5%

Graham Moore’s rich, multi-layered script may win the favor of some Academy voters, but Damien Chazelle’s breathlessly paced first-time effort bursts with such energy that it’s difficult to deny it the win in this category. (By the way, Chazelle’s screenplay is actually an original effort, and many were puzzled when it was nominated in the adapted category.)

Best Animated Film

How to Train Your Dragon 2 – 70% chance of winning

Big Hero 6 – 15%

The Boxtrolls – 10%

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – 3%

Song of the Sea – 2%

Best Documentary

Citizenfour – 80% chance of winning

Finding Vivian Maier – 10%

The Salt of the Earth – 5%

Last Days in Vietnam – 3%

Virunga – 2%

Best Foreign Language

Ida – 45% chance of winning

Leviathan – 35%

Wild Tales – 10%

Timbuktu – 5%

Tangerines – 5%

Best Cinematography

Emannuel Lubezki (Birdman) – 55% chance of winning

Ryszard Lenczewski & Lukasz Zai (Ida) – 20%

Dick Pope (Mr. Turner) – 12%

Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 8%

Roger Deakins (Unbroken) – 5%

Best Costume Design

Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 60% chance of winning

Collenn Atwood (Into the Woods) – 25%

Anna B. Sheppard (Maleficent) – 7%

Jacqueline Durran (Mr. Turner) – 5%

Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice) – 3%

Best Film Editing

Sandra Adair (Boyhood) – 45% chance of winning

Tom Cross (Whiplash) – 35%

Joel Cox & Gary Roach (American Sniper) – 10%

William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game) – 5%

Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 5%

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 70% chance of winning

Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard (Foxcatcher) – 20%

Elizabeth Yanni-Georgiou and David White (Guardians of the Galaxy) – 10%

Best Original Score

Johann Johannson (The Theory of Everything) – 35% chance of winning

Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 30%

Hans Zimmer (Interstellar) – 28%

Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game) – 5%

Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner) – 2%

Best Original Song

“Glory” (Selma), Music and Lyrics by John Legend & Common – 65% chance of winning

“Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie), Music and Lyrics by Shawn Patterson – 20%

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glenn Campbell…I’ll Be Me), Music and Lyrics by Glen Campbell & Julian Raymond – 10%

“Lost Stars” (Begin Again), Music and Lyrics by Gregg Alexander & Danielle Brisbois – 3%

“Grateful” (Beyond the Lights), Music and Lyrics by Diane Warren – 2%

Best Production Design

Adam Stockhausen & Anna Pinnock (The Grand Budapest Hotel) – 65% chance of winning

Dennis Gassner & Anna Pinnock (Into the Woods) – 20%

Nathan Crowley & Gary Fettis (Interstellar) – 10%

Maria Djurkovic & Tatiana Macdonald (The Imitation Game) – 3%

Suzie Davis & Charlotte Watts – 2%

Best Sound Editing

Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman (American Sniper) – 35% chance of winning

Richard King (Interstellar) – 30%

Martin Hernández & Aaron Glascock (Birdman) – 25%

Brent Burge & Jason Canovas (The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies) – 5%

Becky Sullivan & Andrew DeCristofaro (Unbroken) – 5%

Best Sound Mixing

Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño & Thomas Varga (Birdman) – 27% chance of winning

Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins & Thomas Curley (Whiplash) – 26%

John Reitz, Gregg Ruldoff & Walt Martin (American Sniper) – 25%

Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker & Mark Weingarten (Interstellar) – 21%

Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño & David Lee (Unbroken) – 1%

Best Visual Effects

Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter & Scott Fisher (Interstellar) – 70% chance of winning

Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett & Erik Winquist (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) – 20%

Stephane Cerreti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner & Paul Corbould (Guardians of the Galaxy) – 8%

Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill & Dan Sudick (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) – 1%

Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie & Cameron Waldbauer (X-Men: Days of Future Past) – 1%

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