Last year, we at RELEVANT got perfect marks for our predictions about who would take home Oscars in the major categories. That’s a tough act to follow, especially since this year is more crowded and has more deserving candidates. It’ll be a tight race across the board, but here’s our take on who will ultimately take home the prize, along with a note on who actually deserves it.
It bears noting that, in the grand scheme of things, the Oscars aren’t all that important. However, anything that encourages artists to create great art can’t be all bad, even if it does all get a little stuffy and self-important. Hollywood is pretty devoted to churning out mindless cash grabs, and if the Oscars do come around once a year to encourage studios to actually put some energy into thoughtful, creative films, then more power to them. Here are the movies we think will be awarded.
Best Animated Feature
Nominated: Big Hero 6; The Boxtrolls; How To Train Your Dragon 2; Song Of The Sea; The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
Will Win: Given The Lego Movie‘s baffling snub, this category could go a lot of directions. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was a surprisingly heartfelt sequel, but expect Oscar voters to tip their hat to Big Hero 6, which featured an original story and some truly memorable characters.
Should Win: Like we said, it’s almost offensive that The Lego Movie wasn’t even nominated. Criminal. Unbelievable. Wrong.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated: American Sniper, Jason Hall; The Imitation Game, Graham Moore; Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson; The Theory Of Everything, Anthony McCarten; Whiplash, Damien Chazelle
Will Win: The Imitation Game was nominated for a lot of awards, and this might be the only major one it takes home. It already won the WGA award, which is typically a good indicator.
Should Win: As an achievement, it’s hard to top Whiplash. It was economical in a year with a lot of bloat, and featured an astonishing amount of expertly crafted, riveting dialogue.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominated: Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. & Armando Bo; Boyhood, Richard Linklater; Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman; The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson; Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy
Will Win: Absolutely one of the closest races, with plenty of worthy contenders. Birdman and Boyhood both stand a strong chance here, but voters might decide to give this to The Grand Budapest Hotel as a consolation prize for not getting the Best Picture win.
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t Anderson’s best movie, but it is one of his best scripts. Anderson will probably never get the credit he deserves as a writer, but an Oscar would be a nice touch.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominated: Robert Duvall, The Judge; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Edward Norton, Birdman; Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher; J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Will Win: If you saw Whiplash, you know this isn’t much of a contest. There were plenty of good options here (Norton, in particular, turned in a terrific performance) but nobody knew Simmons was capable of this level of scathing intensity. This is probably the surest bet of the night.
Should Win: Simmons. Nobody else is on his tempo.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominated: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Laura Dern, Wild; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game; Emma Stone, Birdman; Meryl Streep, Into The Woods
Will Win: Ever since Boyhood released, people have been talking about Arquette’s performance. Her short, sad speech to her son just before he moves out for college is one of the most gripping things to happen in any movie all year long. The Oscar voters will remember that.
Should Win: Not enough people saw Wild, and those who did left mostly thinking about Reese Witherspoon’s excellent performance in the lead. But Dern’s quiet, brief appearance deserves more respect than it got.
Nominated: Steve Carell, Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper, American Sniper; Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game; Michael Keaton, Birdman; Eddie Redmayne, The Theory Of Everything
Will Win: Michael Keaton has a lot of good will in Hollywood—he’s been around long enough to make friends with the voters. But Eddie Redmayne’s excellent take on Stephen Hawking has been the most talked-about performance of the year (and took home the Golden Globe, which is a good sign for him.) Our guess goes to Redmayne.
Should Win: Of the nominees, Bradley Cooper’s portrayal of Chris Kyle in American Sniper is probably the least likely to win, given the controversy that has surrounded the movie. None of that controversy should take away from Cooper’s talent though. He plays a man struggling mightily with his actions, and does it all in small, nuanced ways that it make it all the more devastating. And, as we’ve already noted, David Oyelowo’s performance in Selma should absolutely be on this list.
Nominated: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night; Felicity Jones, The Theory Of Everything; Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Will Win: This is Julianne Moore’s fifth Oscar nomination. She’s never won before. She’s going to win this time.
Should Win: As well she should. Playing the victim of early onset Alzheimer’s with understated grace and respect is no mean feat, and she makes it look easy. It’s a monstrously sad performance that ends up being magnificently affirming and even beautiful.
Nominated: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel; Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman; Richard Linklater, Boyhood; Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher; Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Will Win: The closest race of the night will be between Boyhood and Birdman for both Best Picture and Best Director. Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s creative brilliance in the crafting of Birdman was that he never cut. Richard Linklater’s in Boyhood was that he cut 12 years together. They’re both incredible achievements and worthy of recognition, but Linklater will probably win. His passion project took an astonishing amount of patience and wisdom, and he never missed a beat.
Should Win: Hard to say. Iñárritu is a terrific director and Anderson is long, long overdue for the attention he’s finally getting from the Academy. But there is something real and pure about Boyhood, and it’s all thanks to Linklater’s gift and vision. It’s a historic accomplishment in film.
Nominated: American Sniper; Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory Of Everything; Whiplash
Will Win: Given American Sniper‘s popularity, it could pull a surprise win here, but don’t put down any money on it. In all likelihood, the award will go to either Birdman or Boyhood. Typically, the Best Director win is a good indicator of what will win Best Picture, but given how close the race between the two leads is, this year could see a split. In any case, Birdman is a movie about actors, made for actors, so expect actors to lap this one up. It’ll probably win, but this is a very close race.
Should Win: Birdman is impressive, but its message is really directed at the Hollywood elite (i.e. Oscar voters), leaving the rest of us feeling a little like outsiders. It’s ultimately about a deeply depressed actor attempting to redeem his life through art—and he comes to much the same conclusion as the writer of Ecclesiastes does: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?”
Boyhood, on the other hand, is about much more than even its broad title suggests. Yes, it charts the 12-year-long coming of age of a Texas boy, but it’s also about motherhood and fatherhood, it’s about powerlessness and understanding. It’s about the wisdom and lack thereof of both children and their parents, and how we’re all growing up together. When the movie’s over, you realize you never really saw any of the significant events we often mark as defining moments in childhood. We didn’t see Mason get his first job, kiss his first girl, throw his graduation cap in the air or learn how to drive. Instead, we saw tiny moments—him stumbling across a dead bird, going on a camping trip with his father and getting an unwanted haircut. In watching him, we realize how insignificant our perceived milestones are, and see the true value in the small moments that flit by everyday. Those moments make up our boyhoods and girlhoods, and the rest of our lives. It’s an extraordinary feat for a movie, and it took a movie like this to accomplish it. It deserves the win.