This year’s Oscars are almost upon us, so we’re taking the opportunity to look over the major nominees and reveal who we think might be taking home the awards this Sunday.
It’s been a great year for offbeat comedy, with Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel sharing the accolade of most nominated film with nine each, including Best Picture and Directing. Not far behind is The Imitation Game with eight, while Boyhood, along with American Sniper, have six nominations. Famously made over a 12 year period, it would be surprising to see something with such commitment and dedication as Boyhood go unrewarded. Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the bigger categories:
Best Picture Nominees:
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
The Grand Budapest Hotel
There are a lot of worthy winners here, and there wouldn’t be too many surprises. Like 12 Years a Slave last year, The Imitation Game has the feeling of a story that needed to be told, as many great Oscar winners do, and we were given some truly unforgettable performances in The Theory of Everything. It seems likely, however, that the award will go to Boyhood. The film was a huge risk and experiment, and could be the only time such a feat is ever achieved, which deserves recognition. We find it hard to believe the award could go anywhere else.
Our Pick: Boyhood
Actor in a Leading Role Nominees:
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
A lot of these actors would be winners any other year – Steve Carell stepped away from his usual comedy roles and really pulled it off, while nobody thought Michael Keaton would have a performance like this left in him. Benedict Cumberbatch has outdone himself, continuing a trend of great acting in The Imitation Game. The real standout performance, however, came from Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. Capturing an iconic character like Stephen Hawking is both emotionally and physically demanding, and Redmayne couldn’t have possibly handled it better.
Our Pick: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Actress in a Leading Role Nominees:
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
There’s an obvious winner here, an odds on favourite in Julianne Moore. It wouldn’t be undeserving, and neither would Felicity Jones’ pin point accuracy in The Theory of Everything, but we’d like to consider Rosamund Pike’s performance. Gone Girl takes the audience back and forth between sympathizing with her character and hating her. It’s not easy to manage this convincingly, and the film hinges on it.
Our Pick: Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Actor in a Supporting Role Nominees:
Robert Duvall – The Judge
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Edward Norton – Birdman
Another clear favourite here is J.K. Simmons, his role of the hardass drum teacher in Whiplash is masterfully intense. However, Edward Norton is a brilliant and underrated actor. He appeared in both Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, the two films leading this year’s nominations. For his nominated role in Birdman he faced the difficulty of being an actor portraying an actor on screen, giving him a chance to show off his skills in performances within a performance.
Our Pick: Edward Norton – Birdman
Actress in a Supporting Role Nominees:
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Emma Stone – Birdman
Laura Dern – Wild
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game
When you go up against Meryl Streep at the Oscars, you’d have to think the odds are against you, but Emma Stone and Patricia Arquette are both in with a chance. Our pick would have to be the latter, Arquette was so natural and convincing as the mother who’s just trying to do the best for her kids in Boyhood. It’s impossible not to sympathise with her character as she faces the challenges of single parenthood. As with everything in Boyhood, there’s nothing too dramatic, nothing too flashy, but top marks for realism.
Our Pick: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Animated Feature Film Nominees:
Big Hero 6
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
How To Train Your Dragon 2
We’re still amazed that The Lego Movie isn’t in the running for this one, but our pick has to be How To Train Your Dragon 2. It had a lot to live up to following the first film, which lost out to Toy Story 3 in the same category, but did so perfectly. The animation is a huge step forward both from the first film and for Dreamworks as a whole, benefiting from recent software advancements. The voice acting and story are all on point, too, staying true to the original but giving us more of everything.
Our Pick: How To Train Your Dragon 2
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Birdman has a very distinctive and impressive style, as does The Grand Budapest Hotel, which certainly wins as the most visually stunning, with Wes Anderson’s trademark style. As far as we’re concerned, though, there’s only one winner here, and that’s Richard Linklater. Above, we pointed out what a risk Boyhood was to make, and it’s success is all down to Linklater. Perhaps his biggest risk was to take a film with no plot, and finding a way to make it work.
Our Pick: Richard Linklater – Boyhood
The 87th Academy Awards take place on February 22nd and will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. You can catch them live at 1.30am UK time, but don’t worry if that’s not convenient, because we’ll be back soon with a review of the night and a full list of winners.