The nominees for the 87th Academy Awards will be announced tomorrow morning. Between the indie-driven Boyhood, some really fantastic biopics (Selma, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game) and quirky works like Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, there’s a pretty great crop of films to consider for the six main categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress). Although there are definitely some guarantees (see: lots of nominations for Boyhood), there are a few categories that are up for some contention given the overabundance of contenders (looking at you, Best Actor category.)
Granted, I haven’t seen all of these films. I missed out on Boyhood’s theatrical run (but I’m planning on renting it soon) and am waiting for A Most Violent Year, Cake and Still Alice to come out in theatres. I’ll probably see Inherent Vice, American Sniper, Big Eyes and Into the Woods on a cheap Tuesday sometime soon. I’ve read a lot about each of these films though, so I hope that my hours spent on Variety and Vanity Fair and Screen Rant and practically any digital outlet that posted an article on film in the last six months proves to be somewhat helpful in my guesses.
Best Picture (Eight slots)
Guaranteed: Boyhood, Selma, Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Birdman, Wild
Likely: Gone Girl, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Into the Woods
Maybe: Whiplash, Big Eyes, Unbroken
I’d Be Surprised By: Nightcrawler, American Sniper.
Notes: I saw Nightcrawler. I loved it. I just think it’s success lies more in Jake Gyllenhaal’s character than the actual storytelling, as interesting as the subject matter was to watch. As I mentioned, I haven’t seen American Sniper, but I haven’t read anything overly spectacular about it. I’m curious to see what warranted all those guild nominations it received, though.
Best Director (Five slots)
Guaranteed: Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Ava DuVernay (Selma), Alejandro González Inñárritu (Birdman)
Likely: David Fincher(Gone Girl), Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
Maybe: Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
I’d Be Surprised By: Tim Burton (Big Eyes), Angelina Jolie (Unbroken), Jean Marc Vallée (Wild)
Notes: The Imitation Game is a well-built crowd-pleaser. I think Tyldum’s got a good shot at pulling a nomination in this category because of how well he pulled everything together. I would love to see Wes Anderson’s work on The Grand Budapest Hotel get recognized. I absolutely loved its quirkiness and aesthetic, which made it a standout in 2014. While Unbroken and Wild were both great efforts from Jolie and Vallée respectively, I just don’t think they compare to Linklater, DuVernay and Inñárritu’s visions.
Best Actor (Five Slots)
Guaranteed: Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), Michael Keaton ( Birdman)
Likely: David Oyelowo (Selma), Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)
Maybe: Bill Murray (St.Vincent), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
I’d Be Surprised By: Jack O’Connell (Unbroken), Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Notes: This year, actors were just really great at being dramatic. I know a lot of people are saying that either Oyelowo or Carell will probably get snubbed, but I think both of their physical transformations and embodiment of their characters were much more brilliant than some of the other performances we’ve seen. I’m including O’Connell in that consideration. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of O’Connell’s work. I am one of those annoying individuals who likes to talk about the fact that I knew of him when he was on Skins (I’ve also seen 71′ and yes he’s great in that as well.) I think his work in Unbroken is a huge, huge turning point in what will certainly be a fantastic career. Will I be disappointed if he ends up taking a spot? Not at all. I just don’t think this is the year that it’ll happen.
Best Actress (Five Slots)
Guaranteed: Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Likely: Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Maybe: Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
I’d Be Surprised By: Emily Blunt (Into the Woods), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights)
Notes: Yes, I said Mbatha-Raw even though there’s been little to no mention of Beyond the Lights in Academy Award consideration. Who knows what might be thrown at us tomorrow morning, and while I’d be completely surprised by it, I could sort of see it in the realm of far possibility. I’ve heard some lovely things about Blunt’s performance in Into the Woods, but again, I’m not sure how it stacks up against all the other really great dramatic performances see on screen this year.
Best Supporting Actor (Five Slots)
Guaranteed: Ed Norton (Birdman), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
Likely: Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher),
Maybe: Christoph Waltz (Big Eyes), Robert DuVall (The Judge)
I’d Be Surprised By: Channing Tatum, (Foxcatcher), anyone else the Academy may nominate
This category is pretty clear-cut. Majority of these actors were already nominated for the Golden Globes, but I thought I’d throw Channing Tatum in there because while I felt a bit mixed about his performance, it was in many ways a big leap for him. It’d be an interesting turn of events to see his name thrown back into consideration, since Foxcatcher‘s hype has slowed significantly post-festival season. I cannot think of any other supporting actors who left a particular impression off the top of my head, but feel free to send some names my way and we can discuss! Let’s see what happens tomorrow.
Best Supporting Actress (Five Slots)
Guaranteed: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Emma Stone (Birdman), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Likely: Meryl Streep (Into the Woods), Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
I’d Be Surprised By: Kim Dickens (Gone Girl), Carmen Ejogo (Selma)
This category is also pretty clear-cut this year, and I think the nominations are pretty much locked down to the names I mentioned (and who was nominated at the Golden Globes.) That being said, I think Dickens and Ejogo gave some great performances in their respective films. I don’t really see this happening for Ejogo, but Dickens conjured a lot of conversation surrounding her work in Gone Girl and I’d love to see some recognition for it.
The Academy Award nominations will be announced tomorrow morning at 8:30am. Let’s see how my predictions compare to the actual nominations. Who do you think will get nominated? Comment or tweet me at @whatthemehek and let me know!