Oscar Picks: 15 Dec 2014

Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood
BEST PICTURE
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
A Most Violent Year
Selma

Falling off: Inherent Vice, Interstellar, Unbroken
Rising star: Whiplash

The skinny: Well, that was an interesting month. With some early critics’ groups already throwing their support behind frontrunner Boyhood, it didn’t seem like much had changed. Then the SAG and HFPA announced their nominations and whoa. Once sure things like Unbroken and Inherent Vice were nowhere to be found. I still don’t think there will be 10 Best Picture nominees, but now anything can happen.

Ellar Coltrane and Richard Linklater of Boyhood (Photo courtesy of The Guardian. No copyright infringement intended.)
BEST DIRECTOR
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Ava Duverney, Selma
David Fincher, Gone Girl

Falling off: Bennett Miller, P.T. Anderson, Angelina Jolie
Rising star: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

The skinny: Is Eastwood actually a good director? That’s the debate going on, despite his National Board of Review win. He’s been hit or miss with the Academy (understandable given his prolific nature), but the Directors Guild will make this decision for them.

Michael Keaton in Birdman
BEST ACTOR
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Falling off: Joaquin Phoenix
Rising star: Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler

The skinny: With Selma surging (slowly), Joaquin gets snubbed again. And while I don’t think Gyllenhaal has a shot with the Academy (his role is too unlikable and he hasn’t been nominated since Brokeback Mountain), his string of nominations elsewhere is certainly impressive.

Reese Witherspoon in Wild
BEST ACTRESS
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Falling off: Meryl Streep (moved to supporting)
Rising star: Hilary Swank, The Homesman

The skinny: With the Globes and SAG Awards matching this list exactly, I think we’re done here.

JK Simmons in Whiplash
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Falling off: Channing Tatum
Rising star: Robert Duvall, The Judge

The skinny: Channing Tatum absolutely deserves to be in this conversation. Foxcatcher is his career-best performance, and if Jonah Hill can get nominated twice, I don’t see why he can’t. Robert Duvall is back again, despite The Judge getting critically ransacked and failing at the box office. Why he has a shot for this but was snubbed for Get Low, I’ll never understand.

Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Falling off: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Laura Dern, Katherine Waterston
Rising star: Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer

The skinny: A sharp group of younger and older, veterans and newbies. But man, I’d love to see Tilda Swinton up here.

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken

Falling off: Nothing
Rising star, still: American Sniper

The skinny: Well, if Unbroken really is done for, American Sniper certainly has a shot. But it has to get something, right?

Ellar Coltrane, Ethan Hawke and Lorelai Linklater in Boyhood
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Selma
Whiplash

Falling off: Foxcatcher
Rising star: Nightcrawler

The skinny: I can see Whiplash being the benefactor of the “Sorry We’re Not Going to Nominate You for Best Picture” nomination,┬ábut Nightcrawler could just as easily take that spot.

A scene from The LEGO Movie
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The LEGO Movie
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Falling off: Nothing
Rising star: The Book of Life

The skinny: I don’t see this really changing, but The Book of Life could make a case.

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