Oscar predictions 2015: Will Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, Selma be nominated this year?

What Will Be Tomorrow’s Oscar Surprises? Two Slate Critics Make Their Final Predictions.

What Will Be Tomorrow’s Oscar Surprises? Two Slate Critics Make Their Final Predictions.

Brow Beat has moved! You can find new stories here.
Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 14 2015 9:35 AM

What Will Be Tomorrow’s Oscar Surprises? Two Slate Critics Make Their Final Predictions.

Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything.
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything.

Photo by Liam Daniel/Universal Pictures International.

Dan Kois: Aisha! You made two pleas to the academy this Oscar season, for Boyhood to land in Best Picture and for Chadwick Boseman to land in Best Actor for Get On Up. It’s looking great ... for one of those calls. The Oscar nominations will be announced Thursday morning, but it’s time to go on the record with our predictions now. (We’ll revisit them and eat crow/holler with triumph afterward.)

Who do you have being nominated for Best Picture?

Advertisement

Aisha Harris:

Coming off the heels of the PGA, SAG, and DGA nominations, the first three all seem like locks as this point. I don't imagine the academy filling all 10 slots (I don’t think they ever have since widening eligibility), but I do think the final slots could go to Foxcatcher and Wild.

Kois: So you have nine nominees? That’s a safe bet; the academy has nominated nine pictures every year that the 5-to-10-film requirement has been operational. But if there’s ever a year where a weak slate will give us a lower total of Best Picture nods, this is the one. So I’m predicting only six nominees:

Advertisement

Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

Harris: Ooh, living on the edge, there, but I think those are solid choices. Every year, the academy surprises by throwing in a couple that are easily forgotten or just seem like surprises: Philomena, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, War Horse, ... which is why I imagine Foxcatcher will sneak in there.

Kois: But I think each one of those movies had the benefit of an engaged, highly passionate group of partisans who put that movie No. 1 or No. 2 on a ballot. I don't see an equivalent movie this year. Do you know anyone who’s passionate about Foxcatcher?

Harris: Well, I can’t recall anyone being passionate about War Horse or Extremely Loud ... but, point taken.

Advertisement

Kois: Extremely Loud had serious partisans—a very small group of people who were passionate about it and would follow it to the ends of the earth. Maybe not War Horse, though, you’re right about that.

Horses loved War Horse, it swept the horse ballots.

For Best Director, I’ve got the traditional mostly-best-picture-movies-with-one-wild-card that ruled in the years before 9-10 nominees:

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay, Selma
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Advertisement

Harris: I agree with all of those except one, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say DuVernay is out, and Damien Chazelle is in for Whiplash. Crazy, I know, but I feel like the final few, intense (and troubling) moments of the film could really seal the deal for the relative newcomer.

Kois: Do relative newcomers get Best Director nominations, though? I guess Benh Zeitlin did.

Harris: Right.

Kois: It would be a big, big deal if someone got nominated for Director without their movie being one of nine BP nominations, but it’s that kind of balls-to-the-wall predicting that’s going to make you a legend.

Advertisement

Who do you have on your Best Actor list? Does Chadwick make it?!?!

Harris: No need to rub salt on the wounds there, Dan. (I think he’ll have a better chance in the near future.)

Kois: When is Chadwick’s better chance? Which of his five Black Panther movies is gonna win him the Oscar?

Harris: I just imagine that he will keep getting better and better with time ... but maybe I just also have a silly girl crush on him.

Kois: I echo and de-gender your silly girl crush. We all have silly crushes on Chadwick.

Harris: My top five, in my best Chris Rock voice:

The 'Batch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Kois: You know what’s the real imitation game? It’s that Benedict Cumberbatch, though a lovely-seeming man, is simply re-creating his Sherlock performance in a totally adequate but pedestrian movie. I think the voters realize that just in time.

Harris: Who do you put in his place?

Kois: My own Oscar shock prediction:

Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Michael Keaton, Birdman
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Mason comes out of nowhere and snags a nomination! I think voters will want to give a reward to that nice young man. It seems like he might never act again, so I could see them thanking him basically for showing up—every year for 11 years.

Who are your Best Actresses?

Harris: I feel pretty confident about this category:

Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Marion Cotillard,
Two Days, One Night

The only wild card I see here is Cotillard. I say The Theory of Everything is going to rack up awards in nearly every major category, including this one.

Kois: You exclude Jennifer Aniston? All her campaigning (and David Ehrlich’s rage) is for naught?

Harris: As much as I’m sure the academy would love to say they nominated a Friends alum for “her Monster,” yeah, I say she doesn’t make the cut.

Kois: I also think Cotillard sneaks in, but I think she does it at Felicity Jones’ expense:

Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Harris: If you’re right, I smell a vehement Ehrlich follow-up post coming soon ...

Kois: So you really think Theory of Everything is going to be huge? I guess I better watch the damn thing.

Harris: It’s got everything Oscar voters could possibly love: A vast physical transformation, a familiar story of overcoming adversity, a difficult romance, the triumph of brilliance.

Kois: Last question: What’s your dark horse? If there’s a movie that catches us all by surprise—an Amour—what do you think it is?

Harris: Either Unbroken or Into the Woods.

Kois: I have two: A good dark horse, representing the ways the academy sometimes pleasantly surprises us, and a bad dark horse, representing the ways the academy sometimes unpleasantly confirms our suspicions.

Good dark horse: Mr. Turner. Biopic, richly rewarded lead performance, academy-beloved writer/director. What if it grabbed Actor, Director, Picture, and Screenplay? Man, that would be great.

Bad dark horse: American Sniper, for most of the same reasons.

Harris: I would not be surprised if Eastwood at least grabbed Best Director. (He was just nominated for the DGA Award.)

Kois: OK, we’re on the record! See you on Thursday so we can break down how delighted we are at Chadwick Boseman’s shocking nomination.

Harris: If you need me, I’ll be playing “Get on the Good Foot” on loop from now until then, for, uh, good luck.

Dan Kois edits and writes for Slate’s human interest and culture departments. He’s the co-author, with Isaac Butler, of The World Only Spins Forward, a history of Angels in America, and is writing a book called How to Be a Family.

Aisha Harris is a Slate culture writer and host of the Slate podcast Represent.