FilmNewsOpinionOscars Coverage 2015

The Oscars: Who Will Win, Who Should Win, Who Should Have Been Here

Ellie Wells ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The first Academy Awards took place in 1927, in a fifteen minute, private ceremony. The winners had already been announced three months before. It’s a far cry from the annual three and a half hour televised spectacle we associate the Academy Awards with today. Meant to celebrate the best of filmmaking, the signature gold statuettes are given out in twenty-four different categories. To even be nominated is to be recognized with the most prestigious award in all of filmmaking.

Still, the homogeneity of the most recent nominees is only the latest in a long line of controversies that the Academy has attracted. Although in its history the Academy has given awards to deserving people, it has often overlooked nominees whose films have stood the test of time. And that doesn’t even touch on those that don’t even receive nominations; Anthony Perkins’ portrayal of Norman Bates in Psycho comes to mind.

The 87th Academy Awards will air on February 22nd. Voting on these nominees technically begins on February 6th and ends on the 17th, but different factors over the years have made the winners relatively easy to predict. And while there are always surprises, the ceremony itself passes each year without much suspense.

But are the projected winners this year deserving? It’s always difficult to say because film is such a subjective medium. The voting process of Academy members is a story for another day, but here I attempt to predict who I think will win, and who deserves to win.

Best Picture

Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox.
Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox.

American Sniper

Birdman

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Who Will Win: Boyhood
Who Should Win: Birdman
Should Have Been Here: Gone Girl

Richard Linklater’s twelve year epic resonated deeply with both audiences and critics alike,  and due to the originality and scope it seems likely that the Academy will give it the top prize. However, a major threat is Birdman, which so artfully examined the state of Hollywood today, and the Academy always enjoys honoring films about itself. But Gone Girl was so powerfully told and constructed, with its story and characters evoking classic thrillers of yesteryear, that its presence in this category is painfully missing.

Best Director

Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood. Photo Credit: Matt Lankes/IFC Films.
Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood. Photo Credit: Matt Lankes/IFC Films.

Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher

Alejandro Inarritu – Birdman

Mortem Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Who Will Win: Richard Linklater
Who Should Win: Richard Linklater
Should Have Been Here: Ava DuVernay

Boyhood was a tremendous feat that could have easily fallen apart at so many different turns. But Richard Linklater kept it going, and eventually realized the project into an impressive final film, and thus deserves the top honor. However, Ava DuVernay told the story of one of our greatest public figures in such a moving and powerful way that it’s a shame her work was not recognized with at least a nomination.

Best Actor

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/Focus Features.
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. Photo Credit: Liam Daniel/Focus Features.

Steve Carell — Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper — American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch — The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton — Birdman

Eddie Redmayne — The Theory of Everything

Who Will Win: Michael Keaton
Who Should Win: Eddie Redmayne
Should Have Been Here: Jake Gyllenhaal

Michael Keaton was good as Riggan Thompson, a former superhero star who attempts to put on a serious play, but Eddie Redmayne was fully transformative as Stephen Hawking. He leaves his previous roles, namely as pretty boy Marius in Les Miserables behind and showcases his tremendous range as an actor. But Jake Gyllenhaal truly gave the best performance of the year in Nightcrawler. He’s unsettling and disturbing in the most captivating way possible.

Best Actress

Julianne Moore in Still Alice. Photo Credit: Linda Kallerus/Sony Pictures Classics.
Julianne Moore in Still Alice. Photo Credit: Linda Kallerus/Sony Pictures Classics.

Marion Cotillard — Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones — The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore — Still Alice

Rosamund Pike — Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon — Wild

Who Will Win: Julianne Moore
Who Should Win: Rosamund Pike
Should Have Been Here: Amy Adams

Julianne Moore’s performance as a woman stricken with early-onset Alzheimer’s has been widely lauded. Considering she has already taken home the prize at the  Golden Globes and Critic’s Choice among many other award shows, it seems likely that she will continue the streak, especially since the Academy will probably want to recognize her long and successful career (she’s received four nominations but no wins). However, Rosamund Pike’s performance as the titular character of Gone Girl was so perfectly realized, her presence on screen so captivating that it’s hard not to imagine it being talked about and analyzed for years to come.

Best Supporting Actor

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/Sony Pictures Classics.
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash. Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/Sony Pictures Classics.

Robert Duvall — The Judge

Ethan Hawke — Boyhood

Edward Norton — Birdman

Mark Ruffalo — Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons — Whiplash

Who Will Win: J.K. Simmons
Who Should Win: J.K. Simmons
Should Have Been Here: Logan Lerman

J.K. Simmons is absolutely enthralling in his turn as an emotionally abusive music theater, and wholeheartedly deserves all of the recognition he has thus far attained. Few saw Fury and those that did were mostly left cold, but Logan Lerman is terrific as a new recruit in the final weeks of World War II. His character provides the emotional core to the film, and his performance proves that he has come a long way since the Percy Jackson franchise.

Best Supporting Actress

Michael Keaton and Emma Stone in Birdman. Photo Credit: Alison Rosa/Twentieth Century Fox.
Michael Keaton and Emma Stone in Birdman. Photo Credit: Alison Rosa/Twentieth Century Fox.

Patricia Arquette — Boyhood

Emma Stone — Birdman

Keira Knightley — The Imitation Game

Laura Dern — Wild

Meryl Streep — Into the Woods

Will Win: Patricia Arquette
Should Win: Emma Stone
Should Have Been Here: Jessica Chastain

Patricia Arquette does a fine job as a hardworking single mother, but was eclipsed by Ethan Hawke through his three-dimensional characterization of a role that, in the hands of any other actor, might have been one note. Emma Stone’s turn as a recovering drug addict and Riggan’s daughter is immensely captivating. Through her performance, we empathize with he, we see the complexity to someone who is, on the surface, a spoiled brat. And Jessica Chastain was very good in A Most Violent Year, but it’s too bad there was not another spot for her.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict Cumberbatch and Allen Leech in The Imitation Game. Photo Credit: Jack English/The Weinstein Company.
Keira Knightley, Matthew Beard, Matthew Goode, Benedict Cumberbatch and Allen Leech in The Imitation Game. Photo Credit: Jack English/The Weinstein Company.

American Sniper

Inherent Vice

The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Will Win: The Imitation Game
Should Win: Whiplash
Should Have Been Here: Gone Girl

With Whiplash qualifying for adapted screenplay rather than original (director Damien Chazelle developed his feature from a short of the same name), things were thrown off. Paul Thomas Anderson’s muddled and confusing Inherent Vice somehow made it in, and Gone Girl was inexplicably left out, all the more shocking considering its screenplay was Gillian Flynn’s first attempt at the form. It seems likely that the Academy will acknowledge The Imitation Game here, since its script has all the workings of a traditional Academy-friendly film. Whiplash is a visceral look at what it takes to pursue a career in the arts, and it is truly one of the most thought provoking and complex films of the year.

Best Original Screenplay

Michael Keaton in Birdman. Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Twentieth Century Fox.
Michael Keaton in Birdman. Photo Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Twentieth Century Fox.

Birdman

Boyhood

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Nightcrawler

Will Win: Birdman
Should Win: Birdman
Should Have Been Here: A Most Violent Year

Birdman deservedly took home the Golden Globe for best screenplay, and upon examining the writing there is an impressive amount of depth to not only the story and the characters. But J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year had similar depth, and it’s a shame not to see it recognized.

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One Comment

  1. Having just seen Still Alice on Monday, I will agree that Julianne Moore delivered a powerful performance that, for my money, helped elevate the film’s pretty basic story. As much as I loved Pike, Witherspoon and Jones (haven’t seen Two Days, One Night), it seems like Moore has the momentum. And Emma Stone was great in Birdman, but it feels like her best scene IS the Oscar Moment where she chews out her father.

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