87th Academy Awards: Oscar Nomination Predictions 2015

Tomorrow morning, the nominations are announced for the 87th Academy Awards. The announcement will be historic since it will feature the live reveal of nominations in ALL 24 categories. But which films will be nominated for Oscars, come tomorrow morning?

I’ve been obsessively following the Oscars for over 15 years now, and while the business of Oscar prognostication continually changes, the same basic tenets remain. For the most part, the Guilds dictate the tenor of the season, with the Directors Guild, Producers Guild, Writers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild serving as some pretty strong indicators for how awards season is likely to pan out, although the BAFTAs, the Critics groups, and even the Golden Globes can tell us which way the wind is blowing. That said, the Academy is still very much its own entity, which means, simply, there are just going to be some surprises sometimes that you can’t really anticipate (think Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close earning a Best Picture nomination, or all the love for Beasts of the Southern Wild). So, at the end of the day, it’s really sort of a crap shoot. I’m hardly an expert on this, despite my fandom, but hey, I love being in the thick of awards season. So check out my predictions below and let me know what you think will make the cut in the comments!

87th Academy Awards Oscar Nomination Predictions 2015

Credit: AMPAS

Best Picture:
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Theory of Everything
American Sniper

Every year the Academy has had the choice of nomination between 5-10 films, we’ve ended up with 9 nominees, and I expect this year won’t be any different. I’m not feeling too confident about Whiplash’s chances, but really, the only two films I would probably replace it with have mostly fallen off the radar: Into the Woods and Foxcatcher. Outside of acting nominations, neither film is really earning traction. That said, the actors are the largest voting branch of the Academy, so it wouldn’t be all that stunning to see an actor-driven film like Foxcatcher get in. I’m just not particularly expecting it. And, frankly, I kind of hope I’m wrong about American Sniper, since I feel as though Hollywood would be rewarding the film more out of a sense of fondness for Clint Eastwood (and, to a lesser extent, Bradley Cooper, who stands to earn his third nomination in as many years) than out of love for the movie itself.

Best Director:
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

It’s rare that the Directors Guild nominations line up 5/5 with Oscar, but that’s pretty much what I’m expecting to happen. I really wish David Fincher would make the cut for Gone Girl, and I would LOVE if Ava DuVernay earned the nomination for Selma. But both seem like longshots, at this point, which is a shame. I have my fingers crossed for a surprise, but I’m really not expecting one.

Best Actress in a Leading Role:
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

I’m super-iffy on Aniston right now, and could easily see her getting bumped for Amy Adams in Big Eyes, but I think Aniston will squeak in on the Helen Hunt/Felicity Huffman principle, which dictates that if you’re a big TV star transitioning into an unexpectedly deep role in a film, you’ll find your name being placed on a lot of ballots. Granted, this isn’t true for everyone, but if Sally Field can earn two Oscars after starring in three seasons of The Flying Nun, I don’t see why Jen can’t at least score the nod here, even if comparing her to Field in the first place is kind of silly.

Best Actor in a Leading Role:
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

I’m worried for Oyelowo, since Jake Gyllenhaal has had all season to build and maintain buzz for Nightcrawler. But will enough Academy members have seen it? I suppose the same question would probably apply to Selma, since it entered so late into the Oscar season, but by that reasoning, Bradley Cooper should also be pretty shaky. Basically, Cumberbatch, Keaton and Redmayne are the only certainties here. The other two spots are very much up for grabs. Ultimately, I’m going to stick with Oyelowo and Cooper, on the basis of having chosen their films for Best Picture. This is a category that tends to have a strong correlation with Best Picture.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

This seems like the most locked-up category of them all, since I just can’t imagine this category without Simmons, Norton, Hawke and Duvall. I suppose Ruffalo’s spot is up for grabs, depending on how the Academy feels about Foxcatcher. There’s at least some industry love for it, particularly for the performances by Ruffalo, Steve Carrell and Channing Tatum. But is that love enough to keep Ruffalo in the conversation? I’m guessing it is, largely because I can’t imagine who else would take his spot, unless he ends up splitting votes with Tatum. And I’m not sure the world is ready for “Academy Award nominee Channing Tatum” just yet.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Rene Russo, Nightcrawler
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

I have a strange feeling about Sienna Miller in American Sniper, but she’s popped up literally nowhere this season, so I don’t think she makes the cut. I went back-and-forth between Rene Russo for Nightcrawler and Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year, and while the latter is probably the safer bet, I feel like we need to have an unexpected acting nomination somewhere. Then again, there are plenty of people who wouldn’t exactly consider a Russo nomination “unexpected,” considering how critics have been championing the film and its performances.

Best Adapted Screenplay:
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Gone Girl
The Theory of Everything

If anything is able to squeak in here and bump out one of these five, it’d probably be Wild, since Nick Hornby is a fantastic writer, and Wild is a buzzworthy script. But all has been quiet on the Wild front, save for Reese Witherspoon’s performance.

Best Original Screenplay:
A Most Violent Year
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Switched out Selma at the last minute for A Most Violent Year. The issues over writing credit for Selma is likely to hurt its chances at getting in, even if it does manage to land on enough voters’ ballots to score nods for Best Picture and Best Actor. Besides, A Most Violent Year is written by former nominee and generally excellent, intuitive screenwriter JC Chandor. I just like his chances better.

Best Animated Feature:
Big Hero 6
The Box Trolls
How To Train Your Dragon 2
The LEGO Movie
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

I feel fairly certain about the first four, but who even knows about that fifth spot? This category normally has at least one out-of-left-field nominee that ends up being more in the arthouse mold than the other four. If it’s not The Tale of Princess Kaguya, it’ll either be Rocks In My Pocket or Song of the Sea. But I just have a hunch that the Academy will go with a Studio Ghibli film, if given the chance. Hence, Princess Kaguya.

Best Documentary Feature:
The Case Against 8
Finding Vivian Maier
Life Itself

I mostly picked these five based on their subject matter, although Virunga is the only one I’ve actually had the chance to see, so far. Granted, even if I hadn’t seen it, it would still sound, to me, like the kind of film the Academy would dig. I would imagine any movie about the war for the Congo’s natural resources would play well with the voters who gave an Oscar to An Inconvenient Truth.

Best Foreign Language Film:
Force Majeure
Wild Tales

Of the finalists in this category, these were among the most critically-acclaimed and awarded over the course of the season. Granted, that doesn’t necessarily assure a place for any of these films, but this is the first year where I feel fairly good about my picks for this category.

Best Cinematography:
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Watch out for Interstellar though. That movie just has to land somewhere. Even when they don’t love Christopher Nolan’s films, they tend to appreciate the craft behind them, at least.

Best Costume Design:
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Immigrant
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

A total crapshoot. It seems like a mistake to assume that BOTH Into the Woods and Maleficent will get in, but I just can’t think which to drop. So they stay.

Best Film Editing:
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

This is probably the most important category in determining a Best Picture winner, outside of Best Director, since a Film Editing nod tends to be an unspoken prerequisite for victory. So my picks here mostly center on the five films I think have the best shot at actually winning Best Picture, for better or worse.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling:
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Theory of Everything

Prosthetic noses, aliens, and aging makeup. Yeah, I’m sticking with these three.

Best Original Score:
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

The music categories are always a rough one to predict, but I feel like it’s hard to go wrong with guys like Hans Zimmer and Alexandre Desplat.

Best Original Song:
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again
“Until the End” from Garnet’s Gold
“Not Going to Miss You” from Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me
“Everything Is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie
“Glory” from Selma

The hardest category to predict, if only because there’s no accounting for the Academy’s tastes. Did anyone actually predict “Alone Yet Not Alone” last year, or “Before My Time” the year before that? I picked “Until the End” as this year’s random nominee, since it’s written by J. Ralph (songwriter of the aforementioned “Before My Time”) and contributions by Liza Minnelli and Wynton Marsalis. And it sounds like a song straight out of Cabaret, which is a huge plus in its favor, in my opinion. If he gets nominated here, J. Ralph would be the first person to score two nominations in this category for songs from a documentary. Not that it’s a statistic that will do him any favors in trying to get nominated, since songwriter info is kept confidential on the ballot to prevent favoritism. The other four of my picks are basically just nominees from throughout the season, coupled with songs from some big hits. For example, “Glory” won the Golden Globe while “Everything Is Awesome” toplined one of the year’s highest-grossing films. “Not Going to Miss You” is another documentary song, but it’s notable for being Glenn Campbell’s last song before succumbing to the ravages of Alzheimer’s, adding an extra layer of sentimentality to what’s already a pretty fantastic, moving track. And “Lost Stars” is gaining added attention from its recent performance by Adam Levine and Matt McAndrew on The Voice, to say nothing of how much audiences and critics seemed to like Begin Again for its original music.

Best Production Design:
Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods

Picked five of the most visually striking films I saw this year.

Best Sound Editing:
American Sniper
Guardians of the Galaxy
Transformers: Age of Extinction

Blockbusters and action dramas tend to do well in the sound categories.

Best Sound Mixing:
American Sniper
Into the Woods
Guardians of the Galaxy
Transformers: Age of Extinction

See “Best Sound Editing”.

Best Visual Effects:
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

These were pretty much the best five, in my opinion. Granted, “best” doesn’t always have a whole lot to do with it. But I’m sticking with this lineup nonetheless.

Best Documentary Short Subject:
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
One Child
The Lion’s Mouth Opens
Our Curse

Picking based on subject matter and gut instinct.

Best Animated Short Film:
The Bigger Picture
Me and My Moulton
The Numberlys

Among the finalists, I feel these were the five most visually-striking films, from what few clips I’ve seen. But it’s virtually impossible to know for sure without actually seeing the films. And the Oscar-nominated Short Film marathon won’t be playing in my local cinema til…well, after the nominations are already out.

Best Live Action Short Film:
Baghdad Messi
Boogaloo and Graham
My Father’s Truck
The Phone Call

Another crapshoot. Here’s hoping my gut instinct does me some favors.

And that’s a wrap! What do you think will be nominated tomorrow morning? Add your predictions in the comments below, and join us tomorrow morning when the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards are revealed LIVE at 8:30 AM ET.

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