Story of Oscar

Our resident movie guy predicts what will happen at the Academy Awards

“Hold still—I’m looking for your talent.”

“Hold still—I’m looking for your talent.”

The Academy Awards will air on Feb. 22, at 5:30 p.m. on ABC.

The 2014 movie year will officially be put to bed when a bunch of well dressed sorts head home with their naked golden men. Who will be graced with the golden dude doorstops?

How the hell should I know? Since I write about movies, and since Oscar night is some sort of big deal, I have been asked to make some guesses. So, I acquiesced and prepared the following list.

My editor swore if I failed, he’d leave me off his annual Pig Roast Party, one of those things where somebody puts a pole through some poor pig and then shoves an apple in its mouth, while everybody converges like cannibals and shaves the meat off its bones.

Curiously, my editor says this to me every year and, the strange thing is, I’ve never been to any of his Pig parties even though I always write this thing. (I think he’s lying.) Also, I don’t eat pork, so I don’t know why this particular trickery always works.

OK, here are my best guesses as to who will win the Oscars and all that crap.

Best Picture

American Sniper

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game


The Theory of Everything


While I would’ve left American Sniper off this list—it’s just not a great movie—the rest of the films are solid. It looks like this is coming down to Boyhood or Birdman. Birdman is the better film, but Boyhood is pretty fantastic as well. Ultimately, I think Birdman is great enough for it to garner some major awards, but too polarizing—a lot of folks outright hate it—to take the ultimate prize.

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood will win this by a hair.

SNUBS: There was room for two more nominees on this list. I think 2014 was a well-above-average year, and 10 nominees would’ve made sense. The Academy did pretty well here, but I would’ve dropped Sniper and added Gone Girl, Interstellar and Foxcatcher.

Should win: Birdman

Will win: Boyhood

Best Actor

Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)

Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)

Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

This is another tough call, this one being between Keaton and Redmayne. As with Best Picture, I want this to go to Birdman and a well deserving Keaton. I just think Redmayne as Stephen Hawking has always had Oscar written all over it. It could go either way, but I’m betting Redmayne.

SNUBS: I’m pretty unhappy with this list. If this were the Grimmy’s, I would drop Carell, Cooper, Cumberbatch and Redmayne, replacing them with Miles Teller (Whiplash), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) and the criminally snubbed David Oyelowo (Selma) for his brilliant performance as Martin Luther King.

I think Oscar voters snubbed Oyelowo because they were worried they’d get the gig of trying to say his name at the ceremony when announcing the nominees. They don’t want to be this year’s John Travolta.

I would’ve also nominated Nicolas Cage, creating a sixth slot, for Left Behind. I would do this not because he deserves it, for he surely doesn’t, but because such a nomination would cause a cataclysmic cinema vortex over Southern California, where the entire entertainment industry would collapse upon itself and get sucked down into the bowels of the Earth below all of the corpses and magma and shit. The industry would then be reborn with the help of pixies, magic foxes and a resurrected and svelte Orson Welles. Hey, one can dream.

Should Win: Keaton

Will Win: Redmayne

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)

Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)

Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

This is one of the night’s sure things. All of the nominated performances are good, and while I’m an especially big fan of Pike in Gone Girl, Moore is just too damned good as a 50-year-old woman suffering from Alzheimer’s to be ignored. A long deserving actress finally gets her due.

SNUBS: I would drop Jones and Cotillard from this list, replacing them with Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) and the remarkable work of Essie Davis (The Babadook).

Should and Will Win: Moore

Best Supporting Actor

Robert Duvall (The Judge)

Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)

Edward Norton (Birdman)

Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)

J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

This is another sure thing. While Norton, Hawke and Ruffalo were all spectacular; Simmons is going to get this one. Robert Duvall is a great actor, but his nod here qualifies as this year’s worst nomination.

<i>Selma </i>brought a stellar performance from British actor David Oyelowo.

Simmons has been the frontrunner from the beginning, and he will get the gold. I’m thinking that’s on his tempo.

SNUBS: This list almost matched my year-end picks, with the exception of one. I would dump Duvall and replace him with Shia LaBeouf for his performance in the Sia video—I mean Fury.

Should and Will Win: Simmons

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Laura Dern (Wild)

Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)

Emma Stone (Birdman)

Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

Say, this predicting stuff is getting pretty easy. Arquette gets the award in yet another easy-to-guess contest. I suppose Stone could creep in and cause an upset, but there’s no way in hell that Streep, Dern or Knightley win. Arquette will triumph.

SNUBS: I would dump the undeserving Streep, Knightley and Dern, replacing them with Carrie Coon (Gone Girl), Maggie Gyllenhaal (Frank) and Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer).

Should and Will Win: Arquette

Animated Feature Film

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of Princess Kaguya

A damn shame that The Lego Movie was ignored in this category, but Big Hero 6 is just as good, and perhaps better. I say Big Hero 6 wins this.

SNUBS: I say again, The Lego Movie should’ve been in the mix.

Should and Will Win: Big Hero 6

Best Director

Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman)

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Kudos to the Academy for leaving Clint Eastwood off this list for his work on American Sniper. I love me some Clint, but he was off his game a bit for that one, perhaps the most overrated movie of 2014.

While I don’t think Birdman will get Best Picture, Inarritu did take home the Director’s Guild of America Award, always a good indicator of who gets the Oscar. Linklater pulled off his directorial feat over 12 years, something that is sure to get the attention of some voters.

Still, I think this will be one of those weird years where Best Picture and Best Director Oscars go to different films.

SNUBS: The worst omissions of the year involve Selma, with no Best Actor nod and director Ava DuVernay getting ignored. She absolutely, 100 percent deserved the recognition. Everybody here did good and even great jobs, but I would replace Tyldum and Miller with Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) and DuVernay.

Should and Will Win: Inarritu

The rest

Best Original Screenplay: Birdman

Best Adapted Screenplay: American Sniper

Cinematography: Birdman

Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Documentary Feature: Citizenfour

Documentary Short Subject: Joanna

Film Editing: Boyhood

Foreign Language Film: Ida

Makeup and Hairstyling: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Original Score: The Theory of Everything

Original Song: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Short Film Animated: Feast

Short Film Live Action: The Phone Call

Sound Editing: Interstellar

Sound Mixing: Whiplash

Visual Effects: Interstellar