2015 Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

2015 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

(UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 20, 2014)

The Toronto Film Festival is offering a lot of insight into the Best Picture race.  While there are lots of big films and question marks still out there, smaller indie features like “St. Vincent” and “Nightcrawler” have been well received.  Jason Reitman may be back on the beat with “Men, Women & Children” and there is a big love fest for foreign features like “Wild Tales” and “Leviathan.”  Next on the docket will be New York Film Festival where we’ll get our first looks at “Gone Girl” and “Inherent Vice” and joining the race officially from Paramount Pictures is “The Gambler” with Mark Wahlberg.  “The Theory of Everything” is everything that Oscar wants in a winner. Could be something substantial.  

CLICK ON THE PICTURES FOR COMMENTARY

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AND THE PREDICTED NOMINEES ARE

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1. Birdman

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. Telluride and Venice word was extremely positive.

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

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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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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6. 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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7. 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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8. 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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9. 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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IN CASE THERE’S TEN

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10. 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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OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS

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11. 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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12. 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: Late into the race with a New Year's eve release but the buzz surrounding it seems to be high. This could be a last minute entry that takes it all.

AGAINST IT: Think of films like "Blue Valentine" with a similar release date and didn't crack too much. By that point, AMPAS could have their minds made up.

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13. Wild

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: A chronicle of one woman's 1,100-mile solo hike undertaken as a way to recover from a recent catastrophe.

FOR IT: Jean Marc Vallee's "Dallas Buyers Club" was well-received. Telluride word was positive.

AGAINST IT: The reviews were good, not great.

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14. Inherent Vice

Paramount Pictures
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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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15. 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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16. 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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17. Whiplash

Sony Pictures Classics
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SYNOPSIS: A young musician struggles to make it as a top jazz drummer.

FOR IT: Won a prize out of Sundance and has received outstanding reviews. Playing at Toronto and NYFF. Could sneak in.

AGAINST IT: It looks like it skews a bit young. Could be just acting and screenplay.

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18. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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SYNOPSIS: The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

FOR IT: One of the best reviewed films from the first half of the year. If AMPAS wants to right the wrong from the "Moonrise Kingdom" omission, this could be a surprise entry.

AGAINST IT: March was a long time ago. It needs the critic's prizes to bring it back into the conversation.

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19. American Sniper

Warner Bros.
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SYNOPSIS: A Navy SEAL recounts his military career, which includes more than 150 confirmed kills.

FOR IT: Seems to be pulling the same game plan that worked for "Million Dollar Baby" with a last minute release scheduled. Could be a big hit.

AGAINST IT: Eastwood is not as consistent as he used to be. He already has a mixed film under his belt with "Jersey Boys."

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20. 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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ALSO IN CONTENTION

21 Get on Up (Universal Pictures)

22 St. Vincent (The Weinstein Company)

23 The Gambler (Paramount Pictures)

24 Men, Women & Children (Paramount Pictures)

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

26 Pride (CBS Films)

27 The Homesman (Roadside Attractions)

28 Life Itself (Magnolia Pictures)

29 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox)

30 Nightcrawler (Open Road Films)

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

31 Still Alice (Sony Pictures Classics)

32 Kill the Messenger (Focus Features)

33 Begin Again (The Weinstein Company)

34 The LEGO Movie (Warner Bros.)

35 Love is Strange (Sony Pictures Classics)

36 Calvary (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

37 A Most Wanted Man (Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions)

38 The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (The Weinstein Company)

39 The Skeleton Twins (Roadside Attractions)

40 Under the Skin (A24 Films)

**=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.