2015 Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

2015 OSCAR PREDICTIONS: BEST PICTURE

(UPDATED: SEPTEMBER 1, 2014)

The festival circuit has begun.  The word for films like “Birdman,” “The Imitation Game,” and “Wild” were very strong.  Films like “Foxcatcher” and “Mr. Turner” remain on the table.  “Rosewater” from Jon Stewart also screened to good, not outstanding reviews.  It could still theoretically do some damage in the race if it picks up steam.  There is still plenty of films to see.  I’ve backed off films like “Big Eyes” and “Into the Woods” a bit until official word drops but both of them have been said to have “trouble” surrounding them.

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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COMMENTARY:

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. Unbroken

Universal Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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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3. Foxcatcher

Sony Pictures Classics
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COMMENTARY:

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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4. Boyhood

IFC Films
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COMMENTARY:

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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5. Selma

Paramount Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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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6. Fury

Sony Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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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7. Interstellar

Paramount Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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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8. Gone Girl

20th Century Fox
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COMMENTARY:

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. The Imitation Game

The Weinstein Company
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COMMENTARY:

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. 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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OTHER TOP-TIER CONTENDERS

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11. The Theory of Everything

Focus Features
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COMMENTARY:

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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12. A Most Violent Year

A24 Films
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COMMENTARY:

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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13. Big Eyes

The Weinstein Company
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COMMENTARY:

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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14. Trash

Universal Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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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15. Into the Woods

Walt Disney Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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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16. Wild

Fox Searchlight Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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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17. Mr. Turner

Sony Pictures Classics
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COMMENTARY:

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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18. Men, Women, & Children

Paramount Pictures
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COMMENTARY:

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. Rosewater

Open Road Films
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COMMENTARY:

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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COMMENTARY:
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20. American Sniper

Warner Bros.
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COMMENTARY:

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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COMMENTARY:
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ALSO IN CONTENTION

21 The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

22 Whiplash (Sony Pictures Classics)

23 True Story (20th Century Fox)

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

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

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

27 The Homesman (Roadside Attractions)

28 Life Itself (Magnolia Pictures)

29 Pride (CBS Films)

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

OTHER POSSIBILITIES

31 St. Vincent (The Weinstein Company)

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

33 Begin Again (The Weinstein Company)

34 The Judge (Warner Bros.)

35 The Search (No U.S Distribution)

36 The Drop (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

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

38 Calvary (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

39 Kill the Messenger (Focus Features)

40 Mojave (No U.S. Distribution)

**=could be pushed 2015

GO AND CHECK OUT OTHER CATEGORIES:

PICTURE | DIRECTOR | LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | FOREIGN LANGUAGE | LIVE ACTION SHORT | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT

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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.