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BEST PICTURE– The one we care the most about. Do “Boyhood” or “Birdman” have it locked up? Or does “Selma” pose a serious threat? Will there be five or nine or ten nominations? Here are the ten that I predict will make up the list of nominees on January 15th.
- Boyhood– IFC is firing the big guns now as far as the campaign goes. Linklater’s film is an achievement if anything, and it is a testament to patience, guts and ambition. The Academy loves this kind of stuff. Boyhood is a lock for Best Picture as far as a nomination goes, and it will most likely win the award too. It is currently winning everything in sight.
- Birdman- I cannot get over just how cool this movie is. It is constantly moving, set to the pace of jazz drums and weaves in and out of different conversations in what feels like one seamless take. The movie is filmed almost entirely in the back of a theatre, which allows the camera to take advantage of the long-winding hallways and layered backstage. It is definitely a fresh and engaging experience. “Birdman” was the way early pick to win the Oscar. Even if that does not look as clear now, what is clear is that this is a lock in any year.
- The Imitation Game- True Story? Check. Harvey Weinstein? Check. Big name actors? Check. World War II? Check. Add all of this together and you get a lock. Many people seem to believe that this could be “The King’s Speech” of the year and steal the win. I am not as convinced, but the comparison is a legitimate one.
- Selma- 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (and a 9/10 rating on the site). These aren’t just good stats. They are on par with movies like “Boyhood” and “The Godfather.” The phrase “masterpiece” has been thrown around quite liberally when describing it. DuVernay’s “Selma” is timely, well acted and ridiculously powerful. Had it not been for a win by “12 Years a Slave” last year, I think that this movie had it in the bag to win this year. Are voters shallow enough to not vote for this movie in fear of looking repetitive? The psychology is murky. I do still believe that this movie has a serious shot at winning the Oscar, and it is definitely a lock. The Screen Actors Guild and the Producers Guild of America have left this one off because screenings apparently did not happen for this movie. This is fairly dangerous for its best picture prospects. If the Academy were less of a political beast then this movie would’ve had a much better showing this year.
- The Theory of Everything- This one is the only lock that does not stand a chance at winning best picture. That being said, it is filled with nomination-worthy performances and it is a favorite with the critics. Voters love the Brits, and they love a true story.
- The Grand Budapest Hotel- Wes Anderson’s biggest film yet seemed like it was out of the race for a while, but the Golden Globes and SAG nods have completely reversed its luck. It isn’t a complete lock at this point, but it has a deadly combination of other nominations that serve as indicators of an Oscar nomination. It is the safest “bet” for an Oscar nomination of the movies that aren’t a lock for best picture.
- Whiplash- Sony Pictures Classics is in a tough spot here. Three of its films- “Whiplash,” “Foxcatcher,” and “Mr. Turner” are on the radar to receive nominations for best picture, and all of them are in danger of being left out in the cold. Some might think this is a more dangerous pick for a nomination than “Foxcatcher” considering that it hasn’t really received any notice other than from independent film awards. However, critics don’t pick who gets the nomination- voters do. The much faster-paced and pulse-pounding “Whiplash” should have the edge on its SPC brothers.
- Gone Girl- This would be a different one for the Academy. “Gone Girl” may have a tough time getting over the fact that it could be a little too popular, but I do think that in this case the box office showing will help it significantly. The movies that get nominated – contrary to popular belief – are ones that perform well in the box office most of the time. In order to get votes, people need to see the movie. And, considering the low box office performance of much of its competition, I sincerely believe we will be seeing “Gone Girl” on January 15th.
- Foxcatcher- Yes, I do think the other SPC film will be nominated. It has been consistently picked by critics and voters, and with many of the actors in consideration for acting nominations across the board, this movie will get the coveted nomination despite its really dark content.
- American Sniper- The Producers Guild Awards, along with a lot of buzz from viewers, has kept this seemingly dead movie alive. I think with the box office performance it has had, even in limited release, “American Sniper” could have the force needed to push out other box office heavyweights like “Interstellar,” “Into the Woods,” and “Unbroken.” For almost two decades now, a PGA nominated movie has won best picture. This will not happen for “American Sniper,” but with the PGA omission of “Selma,” this movie could have a deadlier showing than previously imagined.
Chances to Steal: 11. Unbroken, 12. Interstellar, 13. Nightcrawler, 14. Into the Woods 15. A Most Violent Year