By Spencer Talbot,
Everyone has a favorite season. For some, it’s summer. For others, it’s the holiday season.
For me, it’s Oscar season. Every year from mid-October to late February, I meticulously analyze every film in Oscar contention so that I will have the most accurate Oscar predictions.
Best Picture: Predicting the Oscars is not as simple as choosing my favorite movie. Many factors can determine a best picture winner that have nothing to do with the quality of the film. These include momentum and the preferential ballot system.
Of the eight films nominated this year for best picture the race can be narrowed down to two main contenders: “Boyhood” and “Birdman.”
“Boyhood” was by far the early favorite, winning the Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice Awards and the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA), but has lost considerable steam to “Birdman,” which won the Producer’s Guild Awards (PGA), Screen Actors Guild Awards (SAG) and the Director’s Guild Awards (DGA).
Some award shows have a larger pull on Oscar voters than others, and momentum can easily shift for a film that has early victories but loses later awards and thus ultimately loses at the Oscars.
Another influence on the outcome of the Best Picture race is the preferential ballot system. Before the new system was introduced in 2010, voters would select one of the five nominations and the film with the most votes won. However, when the Academy expanded its nominations to up to ten they changed the voting system to prevent a film from winning with only 11% of the vote.
The new preferential system requires each voter to rank their top five choices. If their top choice does not garner enough votes, then it is eliminated from contention and their second choice becomes their first, so although the eventual winner will have the most support from the largest amount of voters, it is also likely to result in an upset.
Both films are considered landmarks in the industry. “Boyhood” was filmed over the course of 12 years and is regarded as a visionary portrayal of American adolescence, while “Birdman” tells the story of a struggling actor trying to reinvent himself (something all Academy voters can relate to) and was shot in a way that made the film look like one long continuous take.
The race between these two is as close as possible. Although “Birdman” has nine nominations and “Boyhood” only has five, “Birdman” lacks the critical editing nomination. No film since “Ordinary People” in 1981 has won Best Picture without a Best Editing nomination.
“Birdman,” however, won the crucial PGA, an award show that has accurately predicted the Oscar Best Picture winner for the past seven years, although PGA also awarded “The Lego Movie” and “Life Itself” for Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature respectfully.
Neither of those films were even nominated in those categories for the Oscars this year, which leads me to believe that Oscar voters and PGA voters are not in agreement this year.
Academy members also traditionally vote for the film with the most heart, which “Boyhood” definitely has and “Birdman” does not.
Howver, “Birdman” tells a story about an aging movie star struggling to stay relevant–the life story of nearly every Academy member. In addition, the Academy loves to award the Best Picture prize to films about the industry ( i.e. “The Artist” and “Argo”).
Another factor in favor of “Birdman” is that Oscar voters tend to follow the herd. Regardless of what is truly the best film, most of the voters will join the bandwagon of whichever film has the most momentum.
For instance, in 2011, “The Social Network” was the early favorite and won all the early awards. But “The King’s Speech” had a late surge, winning the PGA, DGA and eventually the Oscar.
Many pundits also believe that “The King’s Speech” ended up winning because the film, much like “Boyhood,” is more sentimental than its opponent.
Up until now, “Boyhood” has been the front-runner. Although “Birdman” has become the favorite, I am going to stick with my prediction of “Boyhood” for Best Picture.
I would not be surprised, though, if there ends up being a tie between “Boyhood” and “Birdman” or even a complete upset such as “Whiplash” winning due to the preferential ballot system.
Will win: Boyhood
Could win: Birdman
Should win: Boyhood
Best Director: Traditionally, the winner for Best Director and Best Picture are the same, but the past two years have witnessed a split between two films. I believe that the Academy will repeat this trend. Because Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman) won the DGA, I am picking him for Best Director.
Will Win: Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman)
Could Win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Should Win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Best Actor: Although Michael Keaton was an early favorite, Eddie Redmayne has won the SAG, Golden Globe and BAFTA, making him the clear front-runner.
Will Win: Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Could Win: Keaton (Birdman)
Should Win: Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Best Actress: Julianne Moore. (Still Alice). No Contest.
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) delivers a once-in-a-lifetime, exhilarating performance.
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood). No Competition.
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki is one of the greatest cinematographers of all time. After winning last year for “Gravity,” Lubezki will repeat for making “Birdman” look like it was shot in one long take.
Best Original Screenplay: Even though “Boyhood” and “Birdman” are battling for the Best Picture, I believe Academy voters will mimic the Writing Guild Awards (WGA) winner and opt for “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Boyhood or Birdman
Should Win: Boyhood
Best Adapted Screenplay: This category is up in the air this year. Although “The Imitation Game” won the WGA and “The Theory of Everything” won BAFTA, “Whiplash” is the superior script and was not eligible for either WGA or BAFTA. “The Imitation Game” is currently the front-runner, but I am predicting an upset.
Will Win: Whiplash
Could Win: Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything or American Sniper
Should Win: Whiplash
Best Editing: This category is usually an indicator for the Best Picture winner and since “Birdman” is not nominated, it seems that “Boyhood” is the clear favorite to win this category, but I would not underestimate “Whiplash.”
Will Win: Boyhood
Could Win: Whiplash
Should Win: Whiplash
Best Animated Feature: Predicting this category was difficult this year because the clear favorite–“The Lego Movie”–was not even nominated. Therefore I will go with the Golden Globe winner “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”
Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Could Win: Big Hero 6
Should Win: The Lego Movie
Best Original Score: Even though Alexandre Desplat is nominated twice this year (and long overdue to win), I think that Academy voters will follow the Golden Globes and select Jóhann Jóhannsson for “The Theory of Everything.”
Will Win: Jóhann Jóhannson (The Theory of Everything)
Could Win: Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Imitation Game)
Should Win: Jóhann Jóhannson (The Theory of Everything)
Best Original Song: This seems to be a lock for “Selma.”
Will Win: “Glory” (Selma)
Could Win: “Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)
Should Win: “Glory” (Selma)
Best Sound Mixing: Although “Birdman” won the Cinema Audio Society Awards, I am picking “Whiplash” to win on Sunday because it is far superior.
Will Win: Whiplash
Could Win: Birdman
Should Win: Whiplash
Best Sound Editing: This category typically goes to war movies so I am selecting “American Sniper.”
Will Win: American Sniper
Could Win: Birdman
Should Win: American Sniper
Best Visual Effects: “Interstellar” is the front-runner but frankly I was disappointed.
Will Win: Interstellar
Could Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Best Foreign Language: Ida
Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Documentary: Citizenfour
Best Documentary Short: Crisis Hotline
Best Animated Short: Feast
Best Live Action Short: The Phone Call