Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The 87th Academy Awards are this Sunday, which means it’s time to place your final bets on the night’s winners. Six of my seven predictions were correct last year, so here’s hoping my omission of a prediction for Best Original Screenplay leaves me with a perfect ballot.
My will win/should win line up a little more than usual, something I didn’t expect until I sat down to hammer out my list. While I wish I had a little more variety to choose from (you’re sorely missed in the Best Director category, Ava Duvernay) this year I think the Academy will (mostly) get it right within its limited pool of potential winners.
Boyhood — which took twelve years to complete, in case you hadn’t heard — has received a lot of attention this awards season. After a surprise win at the Producers Guild Awards, some are predicting Birdman will take home the top prize, but I am sticking with Richard Linklater’s solid family drama. Birdman has many fans, but also some loud nay-sayers, and the Academy tends to play it safe in this category.
Selma is a masterpiece: confidently directed with a stellar cast, the film unfortunately received two nominations (it’s also nominated for Best Original Song). The film’s focus on the multifaceted civil rights movement also stands out in a year where more than half of the Best Picture nominees are films about lone, exceptional white men.
Will win: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Should win: Richard Linklater, Boyhood OR Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Did everybody hear that it took 12 years to make Boyhood? 12 years! Even those who didn’t love the movie (like myself — I prefer the Before trilogy, which took 18 years to make) will find it hard not to honor Linklater’s commitment and drive. But I’d be equally happy with a win for Inarritu, who aimed for the sun with Birdman’s one-shot structure, even if he didn’t quite reach it.
Sidebar: If Boyhood wins Best Picture while Birdman snags Best Director, or vice versa, it will be the third year in a row that the same film doesn’t take both categories, which has only happened at one-fourth of the Oscars.
Will win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Should win: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Moore has been the front-runner since day one, and deservedly so. Playing a linguistics professor diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Moore has turned in another wonderful performance here. That said, I wish Gone Girl, especially nominee Rosamund Pike’s terrifying performance as Amy Elliott Dunne, has gotten a little more attention.
Sidebar: Note that, of the five best actress, only one is in a film nominated for Best Picture (Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything). Those films had no leading female performances to nominate.
Will win: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Should win: Michael Keaton, Birdman
The Theory of Everything is a fairly by-the-numbers bio-pic, but Eddie Redmayne’s performance is a cut above others in the genre. He’s also won nearly every prize leading up to the ceremony, so this point, there’s not much of a question of whose name will be called on Sunday. While I enjoyed Redmayne’s performance, there’s a part of me that wishes Michael Keaton’s early awards season momentum (he received a Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award before Redmayne pulled ahead) had continued.
Best Supporting Actress
Will win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Should win: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
None of Arquette’s fellow nominees gained much traction this awards season (Emma Stone in Birdman is a very, very distant second), which is understandable. Like many actresses, Arquette’s opportunities have slowed as she’s grown older, but her work in Boyhood shows she can still excel when given complex material. I’d be more than happy to see her recognized here before she returns to television as the protagonist in CSI: Cyber.
Best Supporting Actor
Will win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Should win: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
J.K. Simmons has always shone in supporting roles, and Whiplash is no exception. He brings some much needed depth to what could be a one-note role as a sadistic band director, and his sweep of every major award for the performance has made him a lock. If Birdman’s Edward Norton is incredibly lucky, he could pull out a win here, but that’s not likely.
Featured image courtesy of MMXIV Paramount Pictures.