Oscars 2015: Will Win/Should Win (Michael Balderston)

Plenty of close calls result in Academy spreading the wealth…


It’s Oscar Week! Each staff member will be revealing their final picks for the upcoming Academy Awards on February 22. Missed one? Click on Will Win/Should Win 2015. Make sure to make your picks in our Oscar Pool hosted by Fun Office Pools.


Our editor-in-chief, Clayton Davis, has been going through a number of potential scenarios for this year’s Oscars over the last few days, just one more example of how the 87th Academy Awards is one of the more competitive years in quite some time, making it one of the hardest to predict. Just when we think “Birdman” has emerged as the front-runner after scoring the hat trick with the PGA, SAG and DGA, “Boyhood” comes back with BAFTA wins. Plus, “Grand Budapest,” “The Imitation Game” and “American Sniper” remain wildcards.

There are a number of different scenarios that could unfold on Sunday night, but here goes my best guess of who will come away as the big winners.


Best Picture

Will Win: Birdman
Could Win: Boyhood
Should Win: Boyhood
Should Have Been Nominated: A Most Violent Year, Interstellar, Nightcrawler

The biggest indicator that “Birdman” will take home the prize this year is how it did with the guilds. Only “Apollo 13” won the big three and failed to win at the Academy. More important than that is the PGA win in itself, which uses the same preferential voting system as the Academy. My heart wants “Boyhood” to win, but my head says “Birdman,” so in this category the head wins out.


Best Director

Will Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Could Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman
Should Win: Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Should Have Been Nominated: Ava DuVernay – Selma

The days of Best Picture and Best Director naturally locking up may be over. The last two years saw a split between the two and there’s a strong chance that it will happen again. I’ve long believed that the only person who could continue that streak was Richard Linklater for his 12-year odyssey with “Boyhood.” Inarritu is a formidable opponent to have to take down to do so, but I think this will wind up being a year where the Academy really spreads the wealth.


Best Actor

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
Could Win: Michael Keaton – Birdman
Should Win: Michael Keaton – Birdman
Should Have Been Nominated: Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler (many more as well)

Redmayne has been a freight train picking up these awards the last month or so, so I suspect that will continue at the Oscars. It’s a great performance, but it’s a shame that Keaton’s career best work will likely be overlooked. It seemed that Keaton’s story was one of the season’s highlights and would culminate with an Oscar win, but the storybook ending looks to be lining up with Redmayne.


Best Actress

Will Win: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Could Win: Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night
Should Win: Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Should Have Been Nominated: Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Belle

Best Actor is a toss up, but the rest of the acting prizes are all but locked up by seasoned veterans more than worthy of recognition. None more so than Julianne Moore, who gives a painfully beautiful performance in “Still Alice,” making a win not only a nod to the entirety of her career, but a worthy winner in its own right. If anyone can upset her though I’d say Cotillard has the best chance, but it’s not going to happen.


Best Supporting Actor

Will Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Could Win: Edward Norton – Birdman
Should Win: J.K. Simmons – Whiplash
Should Have Been Nominated: Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice

Simmons is a terror in Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash,” crafting one of, if not the, best villains from 2014. As a result Simmons will more than likely join recent winners, Christoph Waltz, Javier Bardem and Heath Ledger whose villainous turns brought them Oscar glory as well.


Best Supporting Actress

Will Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Could Win: Emma Stone – Birdman
Should Win: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Should Have Been Nominated: Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

Best Supporting Actress seemed practically predetermined back in July after “Boyhood” hit screens, Patricia Arquette was that good. Despite some very good work from Emma Stone and another nomination for the legend Meryl Streep, things haven’t changed; Arquette will hear her name called one more time.


Best Original Screenplay

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Birdman
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Have Been Nominated: Dear White People

The screenplay categories are just as exciting as any other category this year, perhaps none more so than Original. “Birdman” is once again a very strong contender, and it would be no real surprise to see it pull off the win here. However, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has been a surprising force on the circuit this year despite its March release, and Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness’ script has been a frequent winner. The Academy continues to spread the wealth as “Budapest” takes Original Screenplay.


Best Adapted Screenplay

Will Win: The Imitation Game
Could Win: Whiplash
Should Win: Whiplash
Should Have Been Nominated: Gone Girl

Best Adapted Screenplay has had its own brand of drama with all the moving around before nominations and then the surprise snub of the presume front-runner “Gone Girl.” “The Imitation Game,” “American Sniper” and “Whiplash” have been vying for “Gone Girl’s” status since, and with tis recent WGA win “The Imitation Game” likely locked it up.


Best Animated Feature

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Could Win: Big Hero 6
Should Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Should Have Been Nominated: The LEGO Movie

Yes, “The LEGO Movie” was absolutely robbed here and had it been nominated it would have won in a cakewalk. However, its absence does allow for an opportunity to show some love to the “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise, whose first film likely would have won had it not gone up against “Toy Story 3.”


Best Production Design

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Interstellar
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Have Been Nominated: Snowpiercer

Wes Anderson films have always had a very specific type of look, and that trait is likely to be recognized by the Academy for his biggest film yet. “Interstellar” could surprise here, as the practical design may get some love, though “Into the Woods” is also a modest threat.


Best Cinematography

Will Win: Birdman
Could Win: Unbroken
Should Win: Birdman
Should Have Been Nominated: A Most Violent Year

Emmanuel Lubezki will repeat in Best Cinematography; it is all but locked up after his win this past weekend with the ASC. Though, if there were to be an upset I’m sure no one would complain if Roger Deakins finally got his due.


Best Costume Design

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Into the Woods
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Have Been Nominated: Snowpiercer

The costume design of “The Grand Budapest” will add to the film’s Oscar haul as the lavish looks offer a vibrant and interesting wardrobe for this eccentric group of characters.


Best Film Editing

Will Win: Boyhood
Could Win: Whiplash
Should Win: Whiplash
Should Have Been Nominated: Edge of Tomorrow

The task of cutting 12 years of footage into a single, cohesive film is a tremendous accomplishment and looks to be rewarded. However, “Whiplash” has a tempo to it that works perfectly, it neither rushes or drags and blends this thrilling work in outstanding fashion; it would be a welcome upset.


Best Make-Up & Hairstyling

Will Win: Guardians of the Galaxy
Could Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: Guardians of the Galaxy
Should Have Been Nominated: Into the Woods

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is the showiest of the three nominees, and sometimes that’s what you need to win at the Oscars.


Best Sound Editing

Will Win: American Sniper
Could Win: Birdman
Should Win: Interstellar
Should Have Been Nominated: Godzilla

“American Sniper’s” high tally of nominations was a surprise to most and made many believe that it could be an upset, but I believe it will be much ado about nothing, with Sound the only categories it really offers much of a threat. It should watch out for “Birdman” though, who could sneak up, and say what you will about “Interstellar,” it was an immersive experience and the sound was a huge part of that.


Best Sound Mixing

Will Win: Whiplash
Could Win: American Sniper
Should Win: Whiplash
Should Have Been Nominated: Godzilla

There’s a strong chance “American Sniper” pulls the usual sweep with these two categories. Still, going with “Whiplash.”


Best Visual Effects

Will Win: Interstellar
Could Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Should Have Been Nominated: Edge of Tomorrow

“Interstellar” reminded us that not all great effects have to be computer animated, so for that it will take the top prize. The Academy probably should give a make-up Oscar to “Planet of the Apes” after “Hugo” somehow beat “Rise” in 2011, one of the more questioning upsets I can remember in recent years.

Best Original Score

Will Win: The Theory of Everything
Could Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should Win: Interstellar
Should Have Been Nominated: Birdman

Alexandre Desplat has two chances to finally take home a Best Original Score Oscar, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Imitation Game,” and that may be why he misses out yet again. Desplat could be the victim of split voting, paving the way for Golden Globe winning score “The Theory of Everything” once again taking the crown.


Best Original Song

Will Win: Glory – Selma
Could Win: Lost Stars – Being Again
Should Win: Lost Stars – Begin Again
Should Have Been Nominated: Split the Difference – Boyhood

“Selma” was completely snubbed in so many categories, but the Academy will make it an Academy Award winner, and rightly so. “Glory” is a tremendous song that captures not only the spirit of the film, but speaks to the present as well. My personal taste would make me more than happy to see “Lost Stars” pull the upset, but not counting on it.


Best Documentary Feature

Could Win: Finding Vivian Maier
Should Have Been Nominated: Life Itself

The last few years have seen the inspirational docs taking the top prize, this year that would likely be “Finding Vivian Maier.” When you have a film like “CITIZENFOUR,” however, which chronicles one of the biggest stories of this century, the Academy would be wise not to overlook it.


Best Foreign Language Film

Will Win: Ida
Could Win: Wild Tales
Should Win: Ida
Should Have Been Nominated: Force Majeure

When a foreign language film, doc, or animated feature gets nominated in a separate category, the smart money is to then pick it to win its main category. “Ida” was a surprise nominee for Best Cinematography, showing the Academy likes it. They probably like it enough to single it out here.


Best Documentary Short

Will Win: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Could Win: Joanna
Should Win: N/A
Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

See Oscar Circuit – Best Documentary Short


Best Animated Short

Will Win: Feast
Could Win: The Dam Keeper
Should Win: N/A
Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Best Live Action Short

Will Win: The Phone Call
Could Win: Butter Lamp
Should Win: N/A
Should Have Been Nominated: N/A

Total Wins:

Boyhood – 3
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 3
Birdman – 2
The Theory of Everything – 2
Whiplash – 2
American Sniper – 1
Crisis Hotline – 1
Feast – 1
Guardians of the Galaxy – 1
How To Train Your Dragon 2 – 1
Ida – 1
The Imitation Game – 1
Interstellar – 1
The Phone Call – 1
Selma – 1
Still Alice – 1

What do you think?

Written by Michael Balderston

NoVA native who has returned to the Washington D.C. area after two years in L.A. My biggest annoyance since leaving L.A. is not having immediate access to indie films on their first weekend, but I'm making due. When I'm not tracking the year's Oscar players or exploring film history, I'm rooting for my Philadelphia sports teams.


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