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The Imitation Game (#110 of 18)

Oscar 2015 Composite Winner Predictions

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Oscar 2015 Composite Winner Predictions
Oscar 2015 Composite Winner Predictions

Below is a complete list of our predicted winners at the 2015 Academy Awards.

Picture: Birdman
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Actor: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Original Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Adapted Screenplay: Whiplash
Foreign Language: Ida
Documentary Feature: Virunga
Animated Feature Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Documentary Short: Our Curse
Animated Short: The Dam Keeper
Live Action Short: The Phone Call
Film Editing: Whiplash
Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Cinematography: Birdman
Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Score: The Theory of Everything
Song: “Glory,” Selma
Sound Editing: American Sniper
Sound Mixing: Whiplash
Visual Effects: Interstellar

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Picture

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Picture
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Picture

Tempted though I might be to end an Oscar season I began so long ago quoting Into the Woods’s Witch by dropping another choice lyric from “Last Midnight” (namely the one that would allow me to blithely shrug off the Academy’s fickle tastes with the dismissal, “Oh, why bother? You’ll just do what you do!”), there’s a legitimate three-way race to call this year. Make it four if you naïvely believe the monstrous box-office success of American Sniper is enough to overcome the same partisan resistance that stymied Zero Dark Thirty two years ago. Which means that figuring out exactly what the Academy will do is an even trickier errand than collecting a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, and a slipper as pure as gold.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Actor

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Actor
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Actor

First, praise be to the brave Oscar pundits who have Bradley Cooper in their crosshairs. Indeed, given how close this race probably is between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton, it’s easy to see how Cooper could benefit from a vote split, not unlike, some have argued, Adrien Brody did back in 2003 when this award was anticipated to go to either Jack Nicholson or Daniel Day-Lewis. But we don’t have the courage to rally behind Cooper, terrific as he is in American Sniper, as this and adapted screenplay seem like the two categories where the contentiousness surrounding the Clint Eastwood film’s ostensibly mythmaking depiction of Chris Kyle is most likely to hurt. Which is to say nothing of the fact that, unlike Brody, Cooper enters this race without SAG, BAFTA, and Golden Globe nominations.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Adapted Screenplay

We could make this one easy on ourselves and buy the narrative that every film nominated for best picture will win at least one Oscar next Sunday and call this one for The Imitation Game. But this presupposes that AMPAS members actually fill out their ballots with the intent of “spreading the wealth around” (how many Oscars did American Hustle win again?), and that Graham Moore’s adaptation of Andrew Hodges’s Alan Turing biopic isn’t one of the dullest soft balls to be pegged as a frontrunner in this category since Jason Reitman’s screenplay for Up in the Air, which lost—shockingly, if only in retrospect—to Precious.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Director

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Director
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Director

Even as Boyhood steamrolled the critics groups, even as it dominated the Golden Globes, we had our doubts about its frontrunner status here and in best picture. This little film that so deeply ponders matters of life and love struck such a universal nerve that it seemed as if it could actually buck the trend on Oscar night wherein the most self-congratulatory totem to Hollywood itself typically reigns supreme. After losing the PGA, then (more expectedly) the SAG ensemble, only to then persevere at the BAFTAs, Boyhood was following in all of The Social Network’s footsteps. And just as David Fincher lost the DGA award to Tom Hooper, solidifying The King’s Speech’s frontrunner status leading into Oscar night, the nail in Boyhood’s coffin seemed to come when Richard Linklater lost to Alejandro González Iñárritu. Boyhood, a bigger-hearted film than The Social Network, may still win best picture—that is, if the PGA, SAG, and DGA victories for Birdman can be understood to represent a passionless kind of respect for the means by which the film’s producers, actors, and director, working in perfect congress, realized the pyrotechnic wonder of their one-take stunt. But that’s Eric Henderson’s argument to make next week. In this category where formal bombast is so often rewarded, as conductor of Birdman brute-force razzle dazzle, González Iñárritu is your winner almost by default.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Editing

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Editing
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Editing

Last year we accurately predicted 23 out of 24 Oscar categories. And because the chances of our literally one-upping that record now that this year’s AMPAS dog and pony show has emerged, and so late in the game, as one of the wiliest to pin down in some time, we’re inclined to give less of a fuck than usual. Which is why we’re going out on a drumstick and calling this for Whiplash. Most are understandably rallying behind Boyhood, which won the Eddie for best edited dramatic feature and doesn’t have to compete in this category with our new presumptive best picture winner, Birdman. The effect of that film’s one-shot magic trick is just as dependent on its editing as it is on its cinematography, but such nuance clearly went above AMPAS’s collective toupee. To be honest, we wouldn’t have been surprised if the Richard Linklater film, given its conventional editing style, had failed to come up short here, as it did when the BAFTAs announced their own shortlist at the beginning of the year. And given the vast overlap between BAFTA and Oscar’s voting bodies, the win across the pond last Sunday for Whiplash is likely a prescient one. In the words of our own Eric Henderson: “Whiplash is basically a demonic musical—neo-Fosse attenuated to the misanthropic rhythms of homophobia. (Which is definitely NOT to say it has Fosse’s razor-sharp sense of timing. Not by a longshot. But it thinks it does, which, to quote J.K. Simmons’s character, is even worse. But certainly not a mark against its chances.)” More to the point: When in doubt, go with the film that most belligerently tests, for better and for worse, the audience’s patience.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Original Score

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Original Score
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Original Score

By now, anyone who’s followed the Oscars with enthusiasm levels we’ll say match your best friend who tries to maybe catch four or five of the best picture nominees only after the nominations have been announced is now likely familiar with the sad case of Alexandre Desplat. An overachieving workhorse in the John Williams tradition, Desplat’s work, like Williams’s (or the protagonist of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which earned Desplat a nomination), has gradually with time streamlined many of the glorious, avant-garde wrinkles from his voice to the point that his scores often skirt self parody. But at least in Williams’s case, a lot of his idiosyncratic, exciting early scores were at least nominated; the films almost everyone agrees represented Desplat’s finest work to date (e.g. Birth; The Painted Veil; Lust, Caution; to say nothing of his compositions for French cinema) were all ignored by Oscar.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Supporting Actress

In the Oscars of our dreams, when The Imitation Game’s Keira Knightley walks the red carpet and Giuliana Rancic asks her who she’s wearing, the ghost of Joan Rivers effortlessly interjects, “Those coattails are by Harvey Weinstein!” In dreams, too, Laura Dern wouldn’t also be passing through, but as layered as her performance in Wild may be, it’s impossible to shake that the film’s editing has so abstracted her character, however purposefully, that the performance itself feels only half-remembered. Meryl Streep’s turn in Into the Woods isn’t so easily forgotten. Its fantastical grotesquerie is consistent with the actress’s recent career choices, but no matter how playfully she vamps, no matter how affectingly she sings her way through “Stay with Me,” the film doesn’t possess the necessary pedigree of, say, the horrendous The Iron Lady. Prestige is something that Birdman doesn’t starve for, and at least one benefit of the film’s over-determined direction is the grace with which it pauses to let its actors express their characters’ desire to live in a less deluded world. Yes, there’s soul behind Emma Stone’s Bette Davis eyes, and yet, can this prisoner of the theater be fully trusted? If Patricia Arquette has remained a frontrunner throughout the Oscar season, it’s because her performance, like Boyhood itself, is a wistful reminder that there’s often more poetry in the real than there is in fantasy.

Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Production Design

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Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Production Design
Oscar 2015 Winner Predictions: Production Design

Us in 2014 about the best production design Oscar, following a string of missed guesses in this category: “We don’t know shit.” Us in 2015, having correctly guessed last year that the most spangled, most ornamented choice would cakewalk its way to a win: “We know some shit.” It doesn’t hurt that this year’s contest is nearly as much a foregone conclusion as it was for The Great Gatsby last year, though we hasten to note that this year offers no contenders we can safely eliminate from the conversation without comment (as we did with American Hustle and Her). True, voters would have to throw back to the dusty era of Gandhi and Out of Africa for something as staid and cloistered as The Imitation Game’s wall of decrypting cylinders (loosely inspired by this) to coattail its way to victory. Frankly, we’re not impressed with the cut of Harvey Weinstein’s jib this season, no matter how often he takes the high road. And if this is one of the only categories the far more beloved Gravity ended up spinning out of orbit, don’t expect the slower, heavier Interstellar to launch.