Special to AMFM Magazine by Jimmy Willden

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in Birdman

Michael Keaton and Edward Norton in Birdman

 

2015 has been one crazy ride in the world of cinema. For the longest time, it seemed we had a Best Picture lock in Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, but then Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman creeped in and started winning all the major awards leading up to this year’s Oscars. What’s interesting to note, and what I’m still trying to figure out even as I write this year’s Picks & Predictions, is that it’s starting to look like we might have yet another split in the awards for Best Picture and Best Director. If this happens, it would be the third year in a row where Best Picture goes to one film, and Best Director goes to another.

 

A few months ago, when I set out to start reviewing the films many considered to be the ones who had their dogs in the Oscar race, I knew that the first film I should watch was Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. From its very first screening, Boyhood seemed to be on the fast track to Oscar glory. I will admit though, when I walked out of my very first screening of the film, I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. Yes, oh-my-god, it’s a film that entered into unprecedented territory by taking 12 years to make…but when you strip away all of the novelty of the gimmick, what are we left with? A mediocre movie that is way too long for its own good, and full of flat and stilted performances (even from this year’s Supporting Actress frontrunner Patricia Arquette). So I was left asking myself why such a mediocre movie was garnering such universal praise? It wasn’t until after I walked out of my second viewing of the film when I found my answer. Boyhood, while not great, is still a film from a filmmaker who had the balls to take the risks necessary to make sure such a film even exists. Kudos to that, I guess.

Soon after, I watched Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, and when walking out of the screening for that movie, I had the biggest grin on my face. See, while Iñárritu didn’t take 12 years to film Birdman, there was still an uphill, years-long battle to get the movie made. And the end result? SPECTACULAR. For months after, Birdmanwas at the top of my own Best Movies of 2014 list and I was certain that it could and would beat out Boyhood come Oscar Sunday. But then, Awards Season kicked into high gear, and in its wake…both movies still have a shot at Oscar Gold. Boyhood won the top prizes at the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards. BUT THEN Birdman took home to the top prize, and what historically been the biggest guarantee of winning at the Academy Awards, the Producers Guild Awards (PGA).

So technically, it’s anyone’s race to win…

Real quick…before we dive into my 2015 Oscar Picks & Predictions, I feel as though I should state that neither of these movies are my FAVORITE FILM of 2015. For me, I bestow that honor on Whiplash. And though, that little film has no chance at taking home Best Picture come Oscar Sunday, I still wish it would get its due…and so I’m taking some time here to say so.

Now, back to the subject at hand…the reason we’re all here:  Jimmy Willden’s 2015 Oscar Picks & Predictions

BEST PICTURE

PICK (who I think should win): Whiplash, Damien Chazelle; Runner-Up: Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu.

PREDICTION (who I think will win): Boyhood, Richard Linklater; Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu.

This is one of the tightest Best Picture races I’ve witnessed in years, but in the end, I have a feeling that Boyhood is going to pull an upset and win out over the Producer Guild winner, Birdman. Call it a hunch, but I’m putting my money on Boyhood.

 

BEST DIRECTOR

PICK: Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu, hands down.

PREDICTION: Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu; Runner-Up: Boyhood, Richard Linklater.

Since I think that the Academy is going to give Best Picture to Boyhood, I also think they’re going to split the top prizes, hence, giving Best Director to Alejandro González Iñárritu. Early on, I thought that Linklater was going to take home this prize (which, it would have been cool to see the Godfather of Indie taking home a Best Director Oscar), but ultimately, this is how I think the dominos are going to fall come Sunday.

 

 

BEST ACTOR

PICK: Michael Keaton, Birdman – no contest.

PREDICTION: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything; Runner-Up: Michael Keaton, Birdman.

For most of Awards Season, Michael Keaton had this on lockdown, but then Redmayne snuck in and started winning all over the place, including the BAFTA and SAG Awards for Best Male Performance. In the end, those awards won by Redmayne should prove, sadly, detrimental to Keaton’s quest for Oscar glory…

BEST ACTRESS

PICK: Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl; Runner-Up: Reese Witherspoon, Wild.

PREDICTION: Julianne Moore, Still Alice; Runner-Up: Reese Witherspoon, Wild.

Rosamund Pike’s layered and nuanced performance in Gone Girl still brings chills to my spine when I think about it, but unfortunately, this isn’t her year. Julianne Moore stole the show with her brilliant performance in Still Alice, and I honestly do not think that the Academy will think twice about giving this award to anyone else.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

PICK: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash; Runner-Up: Edward Norton, Birdman.

PREDICTION: Same as my picks.

When I first saw Birdman, I was all “You go Norton! YOU GOT ‘DIS!” But after seeing J.K. Simmons phenomenal performance in Whiplash, I honestly feel there is no contest here. The award goes to Simmons, hands down…but Norton…there’s still a slight chance you could pull an upset…

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

PICK: Emma Stone, Birdman; Runner-Up: Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

PREDICTION: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood – no contest.

Sorry Emma, but Patricia’s got this one on lockdown. This has been one of the most certain categories throughout Awards Season.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

PICK: Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy; Runner-Up: Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo.

PREDICTION: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson; Runner-Up: Boyhood, Richard Linklater.

This one is tough for me, because anyone of the nominees could take home the statue come Sunday…but I’m putting my money on Anderson’s script.

 

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

PICK: Whiplash, Damien Chazelle – no contest.

PREDICTION: Whiplash, Damien Chazelle; Runner-Up: The Imitation Game, Graham Moore.

Oh, all mighty Movie Gods, please let Whiplash win. Sure, the other screenplays in this category are sufficient, great efforts…but Chazelle’s script is hands down the best. Let it win what it deserves. Thanks…amen.

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

PICK: None of them. (Yes, I’m butthurt that The LEGO Movie wasn’t nominated.)

PREDICTION: How to Train Your Dragon 2; Runner-Up: Big Hero 6.

Who cares. The rightful winner, The LEGO Movie, isn’t here. So…again…who cares.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

PICK: Leviathan – no contest.

PREDICTION: Ida; Runner-Up: Leviathan.

Leviathan is one of my favorite Foreign Language films to come out in a long time, but since Ida was shown some love in another category – Best Cinematography – I think that it might claim the prize.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

PICK: Citizenfour – no contest.

PREDICTION: Same as my pick.

After claiming the DGA for her category, as well as the BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature. Laura Poitras’ Edward Snowden documentary is pretty much a lock for the Academy Award.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

PICK: Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki – contest.

PREDICTION: Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki; Runner-Up: Unbroken, Roger Deakins.

Birdman’s Emmanuel Lubezki will and should win, but I’ve included Unbroken as my Runner-Up because, well, come on! It’s Roger Deakins.

BEST FILM EDITING

PICK: Whiplash – no contest.

PREDICTION: American Sniper; Runner-Up: Boyhood.

Sucks to be Tom Cross (the editor of Whiplash), because unfortunately, I do not think he can pull off a win against either American Sniper or Boyhood. Sandra Adair might just win for successfully tying together a twelve-year endeavor in filmmaking into a somewhat cohesive story…but I think American Sniper just might come out on top. We shall see come Oscar Sunday!

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

PICK: Interstellar; Runner-Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel.

PREDICTION: The Grand Budapest Hotel – no contest.

Since Birdman isn’t on this list, I’m going to have to give this one to The Grand Budapest Hotel.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

PICK: The Grand Budapest Hotel; Runner-Up: Inherent Vice.

PREDICTION: The Grand Budapest Hotel; Runner-Up: Into the Woods.

Since The Grand Budapest Hotel is nominated for Best Pic, I’m giving it a slight edge over the other nominees. It should bring home the statue.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

PICK: Interstellar, Hans Zimmer – no contest.

PREDICTION: The Theory of Everything, Johann Johannsson; Runner-Up: The Imitation Game OR The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat.

Honestly, Desplat might win for either The Imitation Game or The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I still think my money is on The Theory of Everything.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

PICK: “Lost Stars”, Begin Again, Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois; Runner-Up: “Glory”, Selma, Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn.

PREDICTION: “Glory”, Selma, Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn; Runner-Up: “Lost Stars”, Begin Again, Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

PICK: Interstellar – no contest.

PREDICTION: Interstellar; Runner-Up: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes could pull an upset, but come on…Interstellar’s got this!

 

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

PICK: Guardians of the Galaxy; Runner-Up: Foxcatcher.

PREDICTION: Foxcatcher; Runner-Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Honestly, anyone could win this category…but that nose…

 

BEST SOUND MIXING

PICK: Whiplash – no contest.

PREDICTION: American Sniper; Runner-Up: Whiplash.

Here’s hoping Whiplash takes it, but as the game is played, me thinks the Academy is leaning towards American Sniper.

 

BEST SOUND EDITING

PICK: Interstellar; Runner-Up: Birdman.

PREDICTION: American Sniper; Runner-Up: Unbroken.

There’s no way my favorite sound-edited film of 2014 (Interstellar) is going to take home the win come Sunday, so I’m giving it to American Sniper. Sad face.


So there they are, my 2015 Oscar Picks & Predictions! Disagree with any of my choices? Sound off below! Check back here this Sunday, Feb. 22 as we update this list with the winners, and release my Overall Report Card.

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