2015 Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

2015 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

(UPDATED: JULY 28, 2014)

Many of the lineups for the fall festivals have been announced and some films are positioning themselves to be surefire contenders.  Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) looks absoultely brilliant and being named the closer at New York Film Festival, and a Venice play, this could be something to watch out for.  Richard Linklater’s Boyhood received damn near unanimous praise from critics and it may bring Linklater some long overdue recognition, though I think that may come in the form of a screenplay win.  Gone Girl and Inherent Vice also have high-profile spots at NYFF while The Judge being named as an opener for Toronto has given me great pause.  The last “semi-successful” opener they had was The Barbarian Invasions over a decade ago.  This may be a Robert Duvall or bust.  Major buzz is surrounding Focus Features’ The Theory of Everything and The Weinstein Company’s The Imitation Game.  Weirdly enough, they seem like distant cousins at the moment and could be going for the same spot and demographic with the Academy.  Unsure if we’re going to see films like Carol, Selma, MacBeth, and Suffragette this year but we’re crossing our fingers.

CLICK ON THE PICTURES FOR COMMENTARY

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AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE

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1. Birdman (or the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: A washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero must overcome his ego and family trouble as he mounts a Broadway play in a bid to reclaim his past glory.

FOR IT: Innaritu was a near winner for "Babel" in 2006. There's always a lighter film in the lineup. Closer for NYFF and playing at Venice.

AGAINST IT: How different is this going to be? They haven't gone for Innaritu since.

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2. Foxcatcher

Sony Pictures Classics
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SYNOPSIS: The story of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz and how paranoid schizophrenic John duPont killed his brother, Olympic Champion Dave Schultz.

FOR IT: Terrific word out of Cannes.  Highly anticipated from fans of "Moneyball" and "Capote."  Miller is two for two with Oscar.

AGAINST IT: May be too dark for the Academy.

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3. Inherent Vice

Warner Bros.
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SYNOPSIS: Private investigator Larry “Doc” Sportello investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend in Los Angeles.

FOR IT: Paul Thomas Anderson is beloved by writers and filmmakers out there. Oscar has cited him many times before.

AGAINST IT: People that have read the book say that its "weird" which the Oscars don't like. They also passed on the "The Master."

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4. Unbroken

Universal Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: A chronicle of the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who was taken prisoner by Japanese forces during World War II.

FOR IT: World War II film directed by Angelina Jolie. The lines will be around the block. The story is uplifting. It COULD be THE ONE.

AGAINST IT: Will voters be able to take Jolie seriously as a director?

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5. Big Eyes

The Weinstein Company
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SYNOPSIS: A drama centered on the awakening of the painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.

FOR IT: Looks like something that will get the big push from Harvey Weinstein. Tim Burton is due for some Oscar love especially in Director. There will be many pushing for this.

AGAINST IT: We've believed in a Burton project before and have been disappointed. This is a potential bomb.

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6. Gone Girl

20th Century Fox
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SYNOPSIS: A woman mysteriously disappears on the day of her wedding anniversary. Based on the novel, “Gone Girl.”

FOR IT: David Fincher is off a big loss for "The Social Network" and there are some bitter from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" omission.

AGAINST IT: Is it TOO commercial for the Academy? How will lovers of the book feel?

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7. Boyhood

IFC Films
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SYNOPSIS: The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to age 18.

FOR IT: A passion project from Richard Linklater whose films have garnered many accolades and fans over the years. Is it finally his time?

AGAINST IT: May be TOO experimental and/or small for the Academy.

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8. A Most Violent Year

A24 Films
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SYNOPSIS: A thriller set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically one of the most violent years in the city’s history, and centered on a the lives of an immigrant and his family trying to expand their business and capitalize on opportunities as the rampant violence, decay, and corruption of the day drag them in and threaten to destroy all they have built.

FOR IT: Chandor continues to show his skills a filmmaker with "All is Lost" and "Margin Call" under his belt. This seems to be his most accessible and ambitious.

AGAINST IT: Will it be too small for the Academy to embrace?

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9. The Imitation Game

The Weinstein Company
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SYNOPSIS: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II.

FOR IT: Pushed by the Weinstein Company and is playing at TIFF. Looks like a smart biopic that could get a lot of support.

AGAINST IT: The Weinstein Company barely made a Best Pic lineup last year and they already look like they have a strong slate ahead. Which one will be their pony?.

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IN CASE THERE’S TEN

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10. Trash

Universal Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: Set in an unnamed Third World country, three kids who make a discovery in a garbage dump soon find themselves running from the cops and trying to right a terrible wrong.

FOR IT: Everytime we underestimated a Stephen Daldry film, it's made the cut. There's no need to start now.

AGAINST IT: Eventually luck runs out.

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OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS

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11. Interstellar

Paramount Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

FOR IT: Christopher Nolan has been credited as the reason we went to ten (or sliding scale) nominees. There's always a popcorn/science fiction film in the mix.

AGAINST IT: One year after "Gravity," will it seem too familiar?

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12. Into the Woods

Walt Disney Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: A witch conspires to teach important lessons to various characters of popular children’s stories including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel.

FOR IT: Since "Chicago" won Best Picture, we've been getting musicals in contention nearly each time. This beloved musical was a hit on Broadway. Just might do the trick.

AGAINST IT: It is a darker story than what many may be used to.

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13. Fury

Sony Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: April, 1945. A battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and her five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Wardaddy and his men face odds in their attempts to strike at Nazi Germany.

FOR IT: World War II is the Academy's favorite time period. David Ayer produced an underrated gem in "End of Watch." Is this his chance for the mainstream?

AGAINST IT: There's another World War II film from a high-profile star in the mix.

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14. Mr. Turner

Sony Pictures Classics
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SYNOPSIS: An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner's life.

FOR IT: Cannes praise was very loud with Timothy Spall winning Best Actor. Leigh is beloved in the Academy.

AGAINST IT: Mike Leigh is surefire in screenplay but in Picture, he usually comes up short.

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15. Selma

Paramount Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: Martin Luther King, Lyndon Baines Johnson and the civil rights marches that changed America.

FOR IT: Late entry and a biopic that everyone will be paying attention to. Ava DuVarnay is becoming a force in Hollywood. Could she be our next Kathryn Bigelow?

AGAINST IT: She just finished filming. Will it be ready in time?

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16. The Theory of Everything

Focus Features
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SYNOPSIS: A look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.

FOR IT: Focus Features is on a roll following "Dallas Buyers Club." This biopic has many excited and could be more of sure thing than many think.

AGAINST IT: In a year of many biopics, will this one stand out?

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17. Rosewater

Open Road Films
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SYNOPSIS: A journalist is detained in Iran for more than 100 days and brutally interrogated in prison.

FOR IT: The early buzz is big for Jon Stewart's debut. An intriguing story that feels in the realm of past winners like "Argo." Also pushed by Megan Ellison who is fresh off two Best Picture nominations.

AGAINST IT: Will they be able to take Stewart seriously? How will they fair with this first time director?

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18. Men, Women, & Children

Paramount Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: A look at the sexual frustrations that young teenagers and adults face in today’s world.

FOR IT: Jason Reitman continues to be a force in the filmmaking world. When it comes to the Academy, they either go all-in or nothing at all. This acclaimed novel sounds baity.

AGAINST IT: After "Labor Day," has he lost his touch with the Academy? Family-surrounded drama starring Adam Sandler doesn't sound like the Academy's forte.

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19. True Story

20th Century Fox
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SYNOPSIS: A drama centered around the relationship between journalist Michael Finkel and Christian Longo, an FBI Most Wanted List murderer who for years lived outside the U.S. under Finkel's name.

FOR IT: This film that's based on a popular book is said to be a very intriguing story that some Oscar voters may not be able to resist.

AGAINST IT: This looks like it can be more of an acting possibility than a big Picture contender.

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20. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

FOR IT: Wes Anderson barely missed out on a Best Picture nomination with "Moonrise Kingdom." This first quarter film has its vocal lovers.

AGAINST IT: Will they remember it by year's end?

ALSO IN CONTENTION

21 Wild (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

22 Kill the Messenger (Focus Features)

23 Suite Française (The Weinstein Company)

24 The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (The Weinstein Company)

25 Exodus: Gods and Kings (20th Century Fox)

26 Carol (The Weinstein Company)**

27 Suffragette (No U.S. Distribution)**

28 Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)

29 The Cobbler (No U.S. Distribution)**

30 Life Itself (Magnolia Pictures)

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

31 The Water Diviner (No U.S. Distribution)**

32 The Homesman (Roadside Attractions)

33 Pawn Sacrifice (No U.S. Distribution)**

34 Calvary (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

35 A Little Chaos (No U.S. Distribution)**

36 Map to the Stars (eOne Entertainment)

37 The Search (No U.S Distribution)

38 The Drop (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

39 Queen of the Desert (No U.S. Distribution)**

40 The Judge (Warner Bros.)

**=could be pushed 2015

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Clayton Davis

Editor-in-Chief & Owner at The Awards Circuit
Clayton Davis started to write professionally in his sophomore year of college when Johnny Alba, the editor and owner of the old Oscar prediction site, The Oscar Igloo, had an opening for staff writers. Clayton wrote for The Igloo for nearly four years before being appointed editor and revamping and renaming The Oscar Igloo into the now popular mega-site, The Awards Circuit. Since then, Clayton has become a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association where he votes and attends the kick off to awards season show, The Critics Choice Awards. Most recently, Clayton is a now an active member of the International Press Academy, which hosts the popular Satellite Awards as well as the newly integrated Broadcast Television Journalists Association, which hosts the Critics Choice Television Awards. In June 2014 he became the year's first accepted member to New York Film Critics Online. He has been quoted in various outlets (CNN.com, Bloomberg.com, TheWrap.com, AceShowbiz.com, SlashFilm.com, ScottFeinberg.com) and continues to raise the bar for film-talking enthusiasts around the globe.