Fight To The Finish: Oscars Predictions by Aneesh Raikundalia

The Oscar race is coming to it's all mighty finale on February 22nd and it's going to be one hell of a show. The past year has seen what was meant to be a predictable 87th Academy Awards, turned into a magnificent close cut race with quite a few films vying for the top prize and more.

Who could have said that a Grand Budapest Hotel and a Whiplash would be big Oscar contenders. That Boyhood and Birdman from two underappreciated directors, would make big waves Oscar season. There might have just been more surprises than snubs then everyone would like to think.

The Oscars are nowhere near perfect, but they're the flawed best system of film awards that you cannot miss them or even not try to put your money on the heated race. So I'm throwing my hat in as well, one piece by piece.

I will dissect each of the major awards: Best Film, Best Director, Best Leading/Supporting Actor, Best Leading/Supporting Actress, Best Adapted/Original Screenplay, in terms of;

Who Should Win: The nominee that I feel is deserving of the award and why.

Who Will Win: The nominee I predict will win the award and why.

Who I Prefer: This is the nominee or non-nominee who I feel is the ultimate deserving winner, even if they haven't been acknowledged by the Academy.

So let's get cracking, and find out my Predictions for the winners for the 87th Academy Awards…

 

The Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

  • Jason Hall (from 'American Sniper' by Chris Kyle) for 'American Sniper'
  • Graham Moore (from 'Alan Turing: The Enigma' by Andrew Hodges) for 'The Imitation Game'
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (from 'Inherent Vice' by Thomas Pynchon) for 'Inherent Vice'
  • Anthony McCarten (from 'Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen' by Jane Wilde Hawking) for 'The Theory of Everything'
  • Damien Chazelle (from his short film 'Whiplash') for 'Whiplash'

Who Should Win: Damien Chazelle (from his short film Whiplash) for 'Whiplash'

Might I dare say it, that 'Whiplash' is original. In the sense that Chazelle takes his own very different, realistic and honest to god relatable topic and turns it into a riveting screenplay. It’s not as dense in subject matter as most of the other nominees, but it speaks to the idea of competition and how far two individuals are willing to go for the sake of their passion. Each point in the screenplay hits hard like a drumstick and the characters really develop into people with multiple and interesting facets. It hasn’t got the technical nods it deserves, so maybe Whiplash should take this well deserved screenplay one home.

Who Will Win: Jason Hall (from 'American Sniper' by Chris Kyle) for 'American Sniper'

This one was difficult to choose from between the three Biopic features. In my opinion, none of the screenplays were really that great and didn’t probe deep into their characters especially their protagonists despite how focused the instances were to a certain part about each of the real life personas. I chose American Sniper because it’s a contemporary recollection in favor of the other two and would speak far greater volumes to the Academy, due to being a patriotic American film. Also the Academy really loves Clint Eastwood, but I doubt his film sweeps the show like 'Million Dollar Baby' did, a decade or so back. So consider this a consolation prize.

Who I Prefer: Damien Chazelle (from his short film 'Whiplash') for 'Whiplash'

Just read my statement above and tell my why 'Whiplash' shouldn’t win. The films thundering screenplay about a drumming prodigy going up against his unorthodox and manic teacher is a powerful drama with revealing characters and a dose of great humor. It’s a simple story but with wonderful execution in terms of character, dialogue, theme and message.

 

The Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay

Nominees:

  • Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinalaris and Armando Bo for 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'
  • Richard Linklater for 'Boyhood'
  • E Max Frye and Dan Futterman for 'Foxcatcher'
  • Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness for 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
  • Dan Gilroy for 'Nightcrawler'

Who Should Win: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo for 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'

'Birdman' was a really hilarious and meta deconstruction of starry ego and Hollywood’s current position, that you cannot help but feel it should sweep every award including this one. The characters are written with great touch and detail and there’s a need to believe that they’ve been written with the actors in mind. The dark comedy helps engage the audience to the film and the disparity of scenes between character interaction and Riggan’s own psyche are examined with a deft touch and profound themes. 'Birdman' should be well on its way to take this one.

Who Will Win: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness for 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Should of course being the key word. Wes Anderson’s latest was not going to be anywhere near the awards season though it should have and thankfully is. It picked up the recent BAFTA win while losing the Globe for screenplay to Birdman. So it’s an even steven case, except for the fact that this is probably Anderson’s greatest chance to clinch an Oscar. His screenplays have always found a place in the nominees and his film this year, more so. So could it be time for him to finally get one for his meticulously well visioned writing? I’d hazard a guess and say yes. It wouldn’t be so disappointing though.

Who I Prefer: Dan Gilroy for 'Nightcrawler'

Despite 'Birdman' slightly edging out Gilroy’s 'Nightcrawler' for the win, I feel both are nearly on par and that Nightcrawler; a film with this single nominee, should strike gold. Nightcrawler is one of the most fascinating films from last year and its wonderfully structured screenplay is one of the many shining aspects of it. At a surface it’s an engaging thriller, probe deeper and it’s a darkly comical media satire and probe even further it becomes a fearsome and captivating character study. There’s so much to be read between the lines from Nightcrawler and it really hurts that the film hasn’t got even more acknowledgement than it should. It’s not an altogether altruistic reason, but if this is the only thing it’s going to be known for in the big league than it should definitely win.  
 

The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress

Nominees:

  • Patricia Arquette for 'Boyhood'
  • Laura Dern for 'Wild'
  • Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone for 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'
  • Meryl Streep for 'Into The Woods'

Who Should Win: Patricia Arquette for 'Boyhood'

All you need to really see of Arquette stirring twelve year journey in 'Boyhood', is the final moments of the film. Where time flies by for Olivia Evans (Arquette), she can’t tell and it’s in those moments that Arquette really produces her most impactful delivery. Boyhood rests on a lot of things, but above them all I’d put the actors front and center of it due to the twelve year commitment they make. If Arquette’s excellent work is any indication, then it’s that she has worked tirelessly for this film and deserves her time in the sun.

Who Will Win: Patricia Arquette for 'Boyhood'

She’s been a frontrunner for a lengthier time then even JK Simmons (Whiplash). Apart from the inclusion of Emma Stone, this years supporting category looks pretty darned weak. Not that Dern, Knightley and Streep give bad performances but I feel like quite a few outsiders should have been looking in. Arquette has had a hand on every single award so far this season, so it’s no doubt that she’ll snatch up the Oscar.     

Who I Prefer: Tilda Swinton for 'Snowpiercer'

In no way am I saying that Swinton was better than Arquette, but Swinton’s magnificent year of wacky performances is capped of by her turn as the malevolent and slimy Mason in 'Snowpiercer'. It’s not the kind of film the Academy would nominate, but it should have been the kind of performer and performance. She’s cerebral in the role, really getting under the audiences skin. It’s one of the few reasons this year that still makes me feel that when the Oscars get it wrong, they really get it wrong.

 

The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor

Nominees:

  • Robert Duvall for 'The Judge'
  • Ethan Hawke for 'Boyhood'
  • Edward Norton for 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'
  • Mark Ruffalo for 'Foxcatcher'
  • J.K. Simmons for 'Whiplash'

Who Should Win: J.K. Simmons for 'Whiplash'

If there’s one winner the whole world can unanimously agree on that should win an Academy Award this year, then it’s this man. Simmons takes his loud mouth, bashful persona crafted by 'Spider-Man' and dials it down one way and then dials it up in another to give us the portrayal of a vicious and vindictive teacher as Terence Fletcher. He does this but also peels layers so convincingly that the audience believes his methods and are in awe of his succession through the end. It’s a performance that is capturing viewers and its all thanks to the genius of every little tick Simmons puts into his portrayal.

Who Will Win: J.K. Simmons for 'Whiplash'

Did I use the world Unanimous before? Well then it seems the Award bodies all agree, he’s made a clean sweep so it would be relatively hard to see the Academy do any different.

Who I Prefer: J.K. Simmons for 'Whiplash'

Is there anything I don’t make clear above? Well then, move on!

 

The Academy Award for Best Actress

Nominees:

  • Marion Cotillard for 'Two Days One Night'
  • Felicity Jones for 'The Theory of Everything'
  • Julianne Moore for 'Still Alice'
  • Rosamund Pike for 'Gone Girl'
  • Reese Witherspoon for 'Wild'

Who Should Win: Marion Cotillard for 'Two Days, One Night'

The sheer joy at seeing Cotillard nominated, is a rush enough. At the time of the Oscars announcements it was expected to see either Academy favorite Amy Adams ('Big Eyes') or rising favorite Jennifer Aniston ('Cake') to take up the fifth questionable spot in this one horse race. Yet with the arrival of Cotillard (for a moment) the playing field became chaotic. Her performance in the simplistic but hard hitting latest Dardenne Brothers film is mind blowing, it takes a very attentive viewer to notice the little shifts in body language, expression and delivery that she pulls off while moving from house to house to beg for her job. Her spirited turn is nothing short of awe inspiring and while I’m sure she won't win, in my books she’ll remain the best.

Who Will Win: Julianne Moore for 'Still Alice'

She’s been deserving of this since forever, Moore’s win will be an occasion to celebrate. It’s a guaranteed win and it’s been a long time coming. She’s taken away mostly every little and big award on her path towards total domination at the Oscars so there’s no doubt she’s taking it here as well. The debate of whether she deserves it over Cotillard stems, but there’s no denying how terrific Moore is in Still Alice, shouldering the film and basically becoming it.

Who I Prefer: Marion Cotillard for 'Two Days, One Night'

I desperately wanted to type the words Felicity Jones, since she gives a glorious turn against the fact that she plays a subdued role compared to the showier performance by Eddie Redmayne. Then the Academy went and surprised us with Marion Cotillard, it shows they keep their eyes open since Cotillard gives her finest performance yet; proving she is the best actor of this decade for now. In all honesty, her performance here and in the badly promoted The Immigrant could have gotten her Oscar wins not just nominations. I don’t know what else I can say to express her breathtaking performance.

 

The Academy Award for Best Actor

Nominees:

  • Steve Carell for 'Foxcatcher'
  • Bradley Cooper for 'American Sniper'
  • Benedict Cumberbatch for 'The Imitation Game' 
  • Eddie Redmayne for 'The Theory of Everything'

Who Should Win: Michael Keaton for 'Birdman'

Once upon a time despite all the candidates, it was a safe bet to say that Michael Keaton would be winning the Oscar. However after a few topsy turvy months the race has gone another direction and the conflict at its centre makes it even wider now. That still doesn’t change the fact, that amongst the five nominees; Michael Keaton is the most deserving. Not only does he makes a victorious comeback, but he makes it with resounding magnitude. His turn as the psyched, egoistic and desperate Riggan is the stuff of dreams. The meta situation between Riggan and Keaton adds an extra juicy layer to his performance. It was Keaton’s to win at one point, let’s just hope it still is.

Who Will Win: Eddie Redmayne for 'The Theory of Everything'

The statistics speak for themselves. With big wins at the Globes and BAFTA, Eddie Redmayne is probably headed to upset Michael Keaton at the 87th Academy Awards. If voters are however split, then the tale could be different. It’s a tough race to call, but so far Redmayne’s got the edge despite Keaton being well liked, I don’t see the Academy favoring him over an actor playing a revered real life person. It’s been one hell of a competitive season that could have had five other top class performances in the ballot, and nobody would probably bat an eye. Redmayne might have his work cut out, but he is edging closer to the gold. He’s sublime as Stephen Hawking, but he’s not the best in my humble opinion.

Who I Prefer: Jake Gyllenhaal for 'Nightcrawler'

As I said, it’s been such a tight race that another set of five actors could comprise of an alternate nomination ballot. Whether it’s David Oyelowo (Selma), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), Chadwick Boseman (Get on Up) and the best male performer of last year; Jake Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal was drowned by the fact that his performance was oft to compared to De Niro’s fearsome turn as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. There are similarities of sorts, yet Gyllenhaal as Lou Bloom is his own man. His bug eyed turn is maniacal and twisted, he keeps you on the edge leaving the audience with baited breath as to what his next move will be. It’s an ultimate physical and emotional transformation that has got lost due to poor choices.

 

The Academy Award for Best Director

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Nominees:

  • Wes Anderson for 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
  • Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu for 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'
  • Richard Linklater for 'Boyhood'
  • Bennett Miller for 'Foxcatcher' 
  • Morten Tyldum for 'The Imitation Game'

Who Should Win: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu for 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'

Despite my undeniable love for Richard Linklater, Inarritu’s command of his film and vivid vision makes his direction the one to beat for me. Birdman is wonderfully realized and shows Inarritu's true bleeding heart against current Hollywood and its practices but also a great understanding of the Stars ego. From the one shot illusion to the drum background score, Inarritu’s imprint is all over this project and he is truly the captain of his ship.

Who Will Win: Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu for 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'

He’s got the BAFTA, Globe and Critics Choice, yet what Richard Linklater doesn’t have is the coveted DGA award resting in the palms of Inarritu. The DGA holds a distinction on par with the three other awards combined and speaks volumes of Inarritu’s big win at the Oscars possibly providing another split of Film/Director this year.

Who I Prefer: Damien Chazelle for 'Whiplash'

Despite the fact that even if her were nominated I’d want Inarritu to win, Chazelle’s work is as (if not more so) fantastic. He has a real grip on the narrative, compacting his film into a moving roller coaster ride just like a drum solo. It’s a work of pure art and the mastery Chazelle shows at his craft is commendable for his sophomore effort. He should be right there amongst the top five, but sadly isn’t.

 

The Academy Award for Best Picture

Nominees:

  • 'American Sniper'
  • 'Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)'
  • 'Boyhood'
  • 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
  • 'The Imitation Game'
  • 'Selma'
  • 'The Theory of Everything'
  • 'Whiplash'

Who Should Win: Boyhood

Despite not being my choice for either screenplay and direction even possibly editing, Boyhood has been such a fascinating film to wait for, watch and talk about that I feel it just needs to win. As much I wrote about Inarritu’s passion, as Linklater’s film overall; Boyhood partially eclipses Birdman.

Maybe it’s the 12 Years factor, maybe it’s because it was such a cinematic experience or maybe cause it’s already in my top ten favorites of all time. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t matter. Boyhood even if it doesn’t score anywhere else, needs to win the big prize.

Who Will Win: Boyhood

I was going to take the easy route and name both Boyhood and Birdman, but despite my overall mistrust of the Academy; I want Boyhood to win the Best Picture so badly that I know it will. The collaborative effort is what makes this film a winning film. It’s already scored the Globe and BAFTA but it missed the PGA and SAG’s to Birdman. That’s scary cause it would mean probable split votes, allowing not as good films like American Sniper or The Imitation Game win, which seem to be Academy favorites. As long as American Sniper doesn’t make the kind of sweep Million Dollar Baby made, I’m okay if even Birdman takes the big one home. (American Sniper was great, but not that great).

Who I prefer: Do I really have to say this again?! Well… Boyhood!   

 

So overall, here are my Oscar 2015 predictions (we’ll see how many come true);

Best Picture: Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland for Boyhood

Best Director:Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Best Actor: Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything

Best Actress: Julianne Moore for Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons for Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette for Boyhood

Best Original Screenplay: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Hall for American Sniper

 

Here are my other predictions as well…

 

Best Animated Feature Film: Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold for How To Train Your Dragon 2

Best Foreign Language Film: Pawel Pawlikowski for Ida

Best Documentary: Laura Poitras, Chris Williams and Roy Conli for Citizenfour

Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Song: John Legend and Common for Glory from Selma

Best Sound Editing: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for American Sniper

Best Sound Mixing: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley for Whiplash

Best Production Design: Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Costume Design: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Film Editing: Sandra Adair for Boyhood

Best Visual Effects: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher for Interstellar

That’s it for my full predictions, let’s see how many I get right. Tell us your own predictions? What do you think of this list? Tell us in the comments below!