On Sunday night, celebrities from around the world will flock to the illustrious Dolby Theatre in Hollywood to honor this year’s finest actors, directors, and crew. Audiences around the country will gather together in front of the TV, fixed in anticipation to witness who will be dressed the most glamorous; who will be vindicated after grueling months (or, in Richard Linklater’s case, years) of work; who will win the pool for Best Supporting Actress. Yeah, plenty of people are going to tune in to the Academy Awards solely because they put money on some of the nominees. While Eventful does not condone putting up your house or pets as collateral on a professional bet for Best Sound Mixing, it is fun to try and guess who will take home an Oscar. With that in mind, the people at the Eventful Blog who cover movies for you all year long would like to weigh in on our picks in some of the biggest categories. Be sure to tune in to the 87th Academy Awards to see if we were wrong!
Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2, The Boxtrolls, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Song of the Sea
If you have children, it’s likely you’ve seen all the nominees for this year’s Best Animated Feature Film. While they all were undoubtedly entertaining and parent friendly, our pick goes to How to Train Your Dragon 2. Sure, it’s partially because the film took home the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, but also because the How to Train Your Dragon series doesn’t pander to kids. It portrays dramatic and emotional conflict that kids might not have faced before, but can understand and process in a somewhat whimsical way.
Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman, Richard Linklater for Boyhood, Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher, Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel, Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game
The race for Best Directing could be a tight one between Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Richard Linklater. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was a visually stunning and conceptually inventive film, but the innovation behind Boyhood makes Richard Linklater the frontrunner for us. The sheer time and dedication he put into directing the film, alone, merits a win; but taking into account the power of the story, the fact that Linklater directed his own daughter, and the bond the director forged with the actors over time makes Linklater the winner in our book.
Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette for Boyhood, Laura Dern for Wild, Keira Knightley for The Imitation Game, Emma Stone for Birdman, Meryl Streep for Into the Woods
Emma Stone gave an unprecedented performance in Birdman. Laura Dern was at her absolute best in Wild. Keira Knightley and Meryl Streep are consistently terrific. But we’re going to have to give this one to Patricia Arquette, who also won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. Arquette has shined in previous films, but her dedication to this role went above and beyond what she’s done before. To keep in character for a role that spans several years was a challenge for the actress, and she it overcame admirably.
Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall for The Judge, Ethan Hawke for Boyhood, Mark Ruffalo for Foxcatcher, J.K. Simmons for Whiplash, Edward Norton for Birdman
J.K. Simmons. Hands down. Completely ignoring that he’s already won a Golden Globe and BAFTA Award for his role, the intensity Simmons portrayed was a masterpiece. Seriously, Simmons has had a long and illustrious career, and apart from his role on HBO’s Oz, this is the finest work he’s ever done. Go see Whiplash and accept this as an inevitability.
Actress in a Leading Role
Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night, Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl, Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Reese Witherspoon for Wild, Julianne Moore for Still Alice
While Reese Witherspoon gave a command performance in Wild, we’re going with Julianne Moore on this one. Moore has proven to be a phenomenal actress time and time again, and her performance in Still Alice as a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease is no exception. The disease isn’t one that’s always portrayed accurately and seriously in film, but anyone who has witnessed a parent or grandparent with the disease knows how well Moore depicted angst and despair that come with the ailment.
Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell for Foxcatcher, Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything, Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game, Bradley Cooper for American Sniper, Michael Keaton for Birdman
This is going to be a really close one, coming down to Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. Michael Keaton gave the best performance he’s given in years (possibly his career) and Birdman wouldn’t have been the same without him. However, Eddie Redmayne faced a big challenge in portraying the wheelchair-bound Stephen Hawking. Redmayne plowed through that obstacle to such a degree that Hawking himself shed a tear at the film’s screening. Such dedication to a role, both mentally and physically, should push Redmayne over the top for the win.
American Sniper, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, Whiplash
While every film nominated was terrific, some films just aren’t going to make the final cut. Whiplash featured some terrific performances by J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller, but never gained wide enough appeal. The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything were spot on biopics, but those rarely get love from the Academy. Selma and The Grand Budapest Hotel were both highly entertaining and thoughtful, but the Academy tends to ignore “independent” filmmakers like Anderson and DuVernay. This one’s going to come down to American Sniper, Birdman, or Boyhood. While American Sniper and Birdman were enjoyed thoroughly by all of us here, we’re going to have to go with Boyhood for Best Picture. The dedication, innovation, and style that permeates the entire film is exactly what Academy voters look for, and should be the deciding factor on Sunday.