Aaron’s Oscar Predictions
Best Motion Picture:
The race is probably down to Boyhood and Birdman, but I’m leaning with Boyhood. I think its main advantages are Linklater’s status as the Best Director frontrunner and its broader appeal – Birdman may be a little too stylized and esoteric for some Oscar voters. American Sniper may be the dark horse, but I think there will be enough voters that rank it low enough on their list to keep it away. The mere achievement of Boyhood and its broad, inoffensive appeal won’t garner as many low scores, with more consistent high scores.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
While I’m not exactly happy with the list of nominees, this is maybe the toughest winner to predict. I think Carell and Cumberbatch are on the outside looking in, but I could realistically see Cooper, Keaton or Redmayne each winning. The more time goes by, the more I think Cooper might actually win. I’m leaning toward Redmayne, though, mostly for cynical reasons, as it provides the most showy transformation. That’s not to say Redmayne isn’t worthy, especially considering the lack of Oyelowo and Gyllenhaal.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Might be the biggest lock of the night, though the competition is much stronger than the male counterparts. Rosamund Pike is the dark horse, and my personal favorite female performance of the year, but I think the film is too divisive among the voting body. Still Alice isn’t a daring film, but it’s far from the Lifetime movie it could have been and Moore’s solid performance is the biggest reason for that. The fact that she’s been nominated four other times without a win also leads to the obvious choice.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Outside of Duvall in The Judge (admittedly, a film I haven’t seen), all four other nominations would be more than worthy for a win. The J.K. Simmons train has been in full force, though, and that won’t stop on Sunday. It’s a showy performance, full of Oscar-clip fodder, but is also surprisingly deep and nuanced. Edward Norton is probably the second banana and his two previous nominations without a win may work in his favor. Unfortunately for Norton, Simmons is a long-heralded character actor who is stepping into the spotlight. The Academy typically goes for that sort of thing and doesn’t let it go unnoticed.
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
On the other side of the competition spectrum, Arquette doesn’t face much here. Streep is only there for window dressing, Knightley and Dern give good performances but not ones that will grab voters attention. Emma Stone is a legitimate dark horse but there isn’t enough buzz to overturn Arquette’s momentum. Arquette is also helped by having a leading sized role – change the title of Boyhood and replace two scenes, and she’s the lead of that film. That’s something that Oscar usually goes for.
Best Achievement in Directing:
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
While Boyhood’s Best Picture win is far from guaranteed, I would be legitimately surprised if Linklater doesn’t win this award. The voting body will understand the incredible commitment he put into the film and will reward him for that alone. He’s also an established filmmaker that is making his first serious breakout, so the timing is right. I think his success in both independent and more mainstream films works for him, as well.
Best Animated Feature Film:
How to Train Your Dragon 2
My heart says The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, but my head says How to Train Your Dragon 2. Ghibli has a good track record with the Academy but this is probably going to the folks at Dreamworks. There was no way the first in the series was going to beat out Toy Story 3 back in 2011, so this is a minor makeup, as well.
Best Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game
Best Foreign Language Film: Timbuktu
Best Cinematography: Birdman
Best Editing: Boyhood
Best Production Design: The Imitation Game
Best Costume Design: Maleficent
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Guardians of the Galaxy
Best Original Score: The Imitation Game
Best Original Song: Selma
Best Sound Mixing: American Sniper
Best Sound Editing: Interstellar
Best Visual Effects: Interstellar
Best Documentary Feature: Citizenfour
Best Documentary Short Subject: White Earth
Best Animated Short: Feast
Best Live Action Short: Parvaneh