The Oscars are not until February 22, but the internet is already buzzing with predictions and debates. The nominations stirred up a fair bit of controversy, with very notable snubs in several categories. Among the nominated films there are clear frontrunners and dark horses in the biggest awards show of the year waiting to be dissected and debated. Here are my predictions for five of the biggest categories of the night.
Best Animated Feature:
The most bizarre snub of the year was “The Lego Movie”, which in spite of universal critical acclaim was absent from the Best Animated Feature nominations, leaving “How To Train Your Dragon 2” as the standout in the category. However, only a fool counts out Disney, whose “Big Hero 6” certainly stands a chance in a surprisingly weak category.
Though there were many masterful performances this year, including a personal favorite of Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl”, Julianne Moore is the definite frontrunner for her performance in “Still Alice”, to the point where it may be the upset of the night if she does not win.
Possibly the most competitive category of the night, the competition between Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper”, Michael Keaton in “Birdman”, and Eddie Redmayne in “Theory of Everything” took an interesting turn, as Redmayne won the SAG award earlier this year. That is significant because the last person to win the SAG award and lose the Oscar was in 2003. Though history is not on Cooper and Keaton’s side, “American Sniper” has been surging in awards buzz in recent weeks, and Keaton stars in the film with the most nominations this year giving him a strong claim to the throne. I would wager Bradley Cooper is most likely to win, as the Academy has a strong bias toward war films, but this is a category that is too close to definitively call.
Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood”, being such a bold experiment in filmmaking having filmed over the course of twelve years to retain the same actor in childhood and adulthood, makes this category a foregone conclusion. Though Alejandro González Iñárritu would be a strong contender any other year with “Birdman”, “Boyhood” is too strong a statement. Linklater is the definite winner.
The biggest category of the night is a three-horse race between “Birdman”, “The Imitation Game”, and “Boyhood”, though it is nowhere near as close as the Best Actor category. “Boyhood” is the likely and deserving winner, being the type of “once in a generation” films that the Academy adores. However, with all the buzz around “Birdman”, don’t count out an upset from the most nominated film of 2014.