Oscar Picks – 15 Nov 2014

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl

American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods

Falling off: The Theory of Everything
Rising star: Mr. Turner

The skinny: November’s the hardest month to write this outlook, since at least half the field has yet to open. The buzz around The Theory of Everything has cooled, at least in terms of its Best Picture prospects. But in a year without a front-runner, expect it to pop up again if it takes off at the box office. And until I see a trailer or a major premiere or really anything for Mr. Turner, it’s not a lock for me yet.

Ellar Coltrane and Richard Linklater of Boyhood (Photo courtesy of The Guardian. No copyright infringement intended.)
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
P.T. Anderson, Inherent Vice
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken

Falling off: Christopher Nolan
Rising star: Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

The skinny: Nolan gets shut out once again, but Interstellar may not even make it into the final slate of Best Picture nominees thanks to middling reviews. It will still do extremely well in the craft categories, but its grand vision may be halted. The Imitation Game, though, is full steam ahead, even if its director is an unknown in the U.S.

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Falling off: No one
Rising star: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

The skinny: American Sniper needs a big push if Cooper hopes to continue his nomination streak. That’s how tough this category is.

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Falling off: Amy Adams
Rising star: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle

The skinny: Late December is just way too crowded, and I’m surprised more studios haven’t held some of their hopefuls until next year. Then again, with nothing set in stone, I can’t blame them for sticking around. Big Eyes remains a big question mark, even if Amy Adams is beloved by just about everyone. Julianne Moore—who hasn’t been nominated since her two-fer in 2002—has the momentum right now.

Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice
Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher

Falling off: No one
Rising star: Tom Wilkinson, Selma

The skinny: Another formidable line-up. If anyone falls out, I just pray they pick someone doing more interesting work than Tom Wilkinson in Selma. I’d love a category full of weirdos.

Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Shohreh Aghdashloo, Rosewater
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice

Falling off: No one
Rising star: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

The skinny: Chastain seems to be out of the Best Actress race for both The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby and Interstellar, but she might be able to make a push as Oscar Isaac’s long-suffering housewife in late-surger A Most Violent Year.

A scene from Unbroken
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

Falling off: Nothing
Rising star: American Sniper

The skinny: American Sniper might beat out The Theory of Everything, but I’d be shocked if anything else fell off.

Patricia Arquette and Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Falling off: Interstellar
Rising star: Top Five

The skinny: Interstellar‘s hokey sentimentality will keep it off the final list. Might we see some Best Picture also-rans like Grand Budapest and Whiplash take the spot?

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

Falling off: The Book of Life
Rising star, still: Song of the Sea

The skinny: Studio Ghibli will not be disrespected.

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