It’s October 14 and we are a little more than four months away from the Academy Awards, a night of dreaded Hollywood indulgence for some and a much-anticipated night of answered questions for others. The truth is it’s a bit of both, but I tend to fall into thinking the latter of the two, thus my ridiculously early Oscar predictions.
There are two films I’ve seen thus far that I would consider Oscar worthy: Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a brilliant crime caper featuring an extremely light-hearted, albeit comically intense, plot that exhibited Anderson at his very finest. In fact, I’d consider it to be his best film yet. But, there’s the March 28 release date, and the fact that it would have to be riding some kind of wave of momentum to come close to winning an Oscar, much less getting nominated for Best Picture. Mark my words, The Grand Budapest Hotel will be better than many of the Best Picture-nominated films, but will not be nominated itself. It’s a real shame that Wes has never been honored with a Best Picture or Best Director nod, and this film seems like it could have garnered at least one had it been released remotely close to the actual ceremony.
Boyhood is one of the best films I’ve seen in my life sheerly due to the fact that nothing like it has ever been made or even attempted before. Starring Ellar Coltrane, who was cast when six years old and filmed through the age of 18, the film documents the life of a boy named Mason and is the best bildungsroman (coming-of-age story) that has been or ever will be made. Director Richard Linklater has always had a taste for the experimental, especially with his Before Trilogy, starring Ethan Hawke (who also plays Mason’s father in Boyhood) and Julie Delpy, which saw a new release every nine years, each chronicling the state of a couple as time goes on. Linklater only received writing nominations for those films. Hopefully he can receive more nominations, and very likely wins, for Boyhood. The only thing stopping him is the brutal August 15 release date. Anderson and Linklater either don’t care about winning Oscars or don’t know anything about Oscar strategy. Regardless of this setback, Boyhood is still one of the frontrunners for Best Picture.
Every year sees a certain type of movie: the traditional, wartime historical biopic. This year, that film is heavy Oscar bait, as it is directed by a movie star greatly accepted in Hollywood, written by two of the most well-regarded screenwriters of all-time, and based on a critically acclaimed novel based on the life of a man who passed away within this past year. This film is Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, penned by the Coen brothers and based on the book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand. It tells the story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was captured by the Japanese and held as a POW during World War II. It has Oscar written all over it, with an ideal Christmas release date to boot. However, no big-name actors are on board (Jack O’Connell stars as Zamperini. Anyone?), and features the sophomore debut of someone who has not proven herself to be a director.
Another shoo-in for a nomination for Best Picture is Alejandro González Iñarritu’s Birdman, a dramedy about a washed-up actor who once played a superhero and now must stage a Broadway play to reclaim his glory. Ironically starring Michael Keaton (an actor who is most-known, perhaps only by some, as the guy who played Batman in Tim Burton’s first two films), whose actual acting career is very in line with that of his character. With a comedy-oriented supporting cast featuring Edward Norton, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifianakis, Birdman seems to be the comedy option/sleeper of this year. Think Silver Linings Playbook from two years ago. It could also very well win Keaton his first acting Oscar and posit a Best Cinematography award, as Emmanuel Lubezki, last year’s winner for Best Cinematography for his work in Gravity, helms the camera.
Don’t count out Gone Girl (now playing): David Fincher’s latest film adapted from the famous novel by Gillian Flynn. David Fincher has never won a Directing award before, and many feel he deserved it for The Social Network. Will this be the Academy’s means of repaying him?
This year also sees Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s latest film that has a highly secretive plot. We know that it stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain and is a space thriller. That’s about it. But Nolan has a good rep for making great films, and this one looks to continue that streak.
We also have:
- Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller’s latest offering featuring Steve Carell in a dramatic turn as a crazed Olympic trainer turned killer
- The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Joseph Turing, the British man who cracked the Enigma Code in WWII
- The Theory of Everything, with Eddie Redmayne (Marius in Les Miserables) as Stephen Hawking
- Selma, a period piece about Martin Luther King and President Johnson (think The Butler)
- American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s latest offering starring Bradley Cooper as a Navy S.E.A.L. (think Lone Survivor)
- Whiplash, a film about a young drummer with a demanding instructor (J.K. Simmons, who could very well win a Supporting Acting award for this role)
- Wild, the latest offering from Dallas Buyers Club helmer Jean-Marc Valée starring Reese Witherspoon as a hiker recovering from a catastrophe
- Into the Woods, a Disney musical from Rob Marshall (Chicago)
- Fury, a war film starring Brad Pitt, and Shia LaBeouf.
- Inherent Vice, the latest offering from Paul Thomas Anderson, reteaming him with Joaquin Phoenix and telling a 1970s noir story.
So, without further ado, here’s this year’s official (very early and tentative) Edsman Oscar Predictions for each major category. DISCLAIMER: These predictions are based purely out of speculation, as I have only seen Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Christopher Nolan, Interstellar
Ben Affleck, Gone Girl
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
BEST SUPP. ACTOR
Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
BEST SUPP. ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Vanessa Redgrave, Foxcatcher
Emma Stone, Birdman
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Grand Budapest Hotel
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Updates to come in the November issue.