Release date casualties: Anita, Carol, Child 44, The End of the Tour, Hands of Stone, Jane Got a Gun, The Last 5 Years, Midnight Special, Serena, Untitled Cameron Crowe Project, A Walk in the Woods, While We’re Young
Release date additions: American Sniper, A Most Violent Year
New films on the radar: The Theory of Everything, Selma, Suite Francaise, Love Is Strange, Miss Julie, Effie Gray, Still Alice
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn – As the year goes along, it appears clear that this is going to be the most talked about movie of 2014. Every time anything comes out about the film, it is news on IMDb. The trailers are getting better and better. It has the cast and the A-list director. The only thing against it for screenplay is that it is written by the author, which is not always warmly received by the Academy.
2. Unbroken – William Nicholson, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Richard LaGravenese – This movie has quietly sustained buzz throughout the year since its trailer debut during the Winter Olympics. The subject matter and amazing list of writers alone keep it in the running.
3. The Imitation Game – Graham Moore – I was never really sold on this earlier in the year, but it is getting great early reviews and it appears to be a writing showcase if there ever was one. It could be this year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
4. The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten – A movie with a hot young cast about a real life person like Stephen Hawking has got to have some juicy writing in it. Early word is terrific. Watch out for this one.
5. Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson – We still do not have a trailer (which I am almost happy about), but its source material is incredibly dark and weird, perfect for this category.
Others in contention
6. Trash – Richard Curtis – Underestimating a Stephen Daldry movie is never a good idea. Even though this sounds incredibly light and corny…well, so was Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
7. Kill the Messenger – Peter Landesman – These types of movies have been very popular in recent years. I wouldn’t doubt if this gets a really strong box office and jumps into the major awards, seemingly out of nowhere.
8. Rosewater – Jon Stewart – It had a strong trailer, but it is being overlooked and written off by many. I think this is going to blow everyone away.
9. American Sniper – Jason Dean Hall – Surprisingly, this movie was sped up and is set to be released in December. Its subject matter is intriguing, and it is directed by Clint Eastwood. I like this movie’s chances for the acting awards and screenplay. It could be a fairly controversial film a la Zero Dark Thirty.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Predicted Five
1. Birdman – Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo – The movie has been taking festivals by storm, and its subject matter totally suits the Original Screenplay winner profile. It is going to be so much darker and deeper than it sounds. I can’t wait to see it.
2. Foxcatcher - E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman – It appears that this is as good as its early trailer leak last year implied it could be. It is dominating the festivals, and it getting career-best marks for everyone involved. Can a movie this dark really take the major awards?
3. Mr. Turner – Mike Leigh – No real explanation needed here. It is Mike Leigh, so it will be nominated, even when it gets almost no love leading up to the announcement.
4. Boyhood – Richard Linklater – It is almost certainly going to be the best movie of the year, and it is groundbreaking and unforgettable. It has everything that the Academy could possibly ask for in a film. It could be the winner with a few precursor victories.
5. Whiplash – Damien Chazelle – The Sundance winner had an electric trailer, and as I expected, it appears to be this year’s Billy Elliot. The recent Sundance winners have underperformed at the Oscars, but this one appears to be the real deal…and it has a legitimate release date. One note: it is based on the director’s short film, but is listed as an original screenplay. Didn’t we go through this with District 9?
Others in contention
6. Interstellar – Christopher Nolan, Jonathon Nolan – Everyone seems to be in love with everything Nolan right now, and this movie has somehow remained somewhat quiet since its trailer was released. It is taking a different route than Inception, and I respect that. I hope it pays off.
7. Love & Mercy – Oren Moverman, Michael A. Lerner – I am not giving up on this movie just yet, even though we really do not know too much about it. Moverman is a talented writer, and the subject really fits with Academy standards.
8. The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness – Anderson movies are normally well in contention, and this one set a few limited release box office records. Will it be remembered come December?
9. A Most Violent Year – J.C. Chandor – His first two films shook up the awards, and this appears to be his first plot-driven movie. That could bode well for the guy who seemingly mastered all dialogue and zero dialogue.
10. Love Is Strange – Ira Sachs – This is the type of veteran-starring movie that really strikes a chord with the Academy. Reviews are decent, and Sachs has had a couple strong indie hits.
11. Fury – David Ayer – I am still not 100% sold on its trailers, but it is hard to get past the cast and subject. I hope for the best. Ayer is one talented filmmaker.
12. Selma – Paul Webb – Having a movie about MLK, LBJ, and George Wallace has got to put your movie in contention. It didn’t work for The Butler last year, but this one has a more promising pedigree.
13. 99 Homes - Ramin Bahrani, Amir Naderi, Bahareh Azimi – This is another one where we do not know too much about it just yet, but I am still keeping an eye on it. It has the potential to be a real sleeper hit.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Shohreh Aghdashloo – Rosewater – With basically all of my March contenders now seeming like foolish picks, one of the few films that we haven’t seen still has a strong potential contender. She is a past nominee and will undoubtedly have a dynamite part in Jon Stewart’s passion project.
2. Anna Kendrick – Into the Woods – She is said to have one of the most scene-stealing parts in the play, and we all know she can sing. Look for a second nomination for the budding star.
3. Patricia Arquette – Boyhood – She is quite understated throughout the movie, yet she leaves an emotional impact greater than any other character. It is a flawless performance, and if Boyhood is the contender that we all expect it is, then she needs to get swept in with it.
4. Katherine Waterston – Inherent Vice – She has the best supporting female role in the book, and there is always a newcomer in the mix. PTA supporting players are always getting nominated.
5. Julianne Moore – Maps to the Stars – She hasn’t been invited back since 2002, and playing this crazy part in a Cronenberg movie will show us a side of her we haven’t seen in a long time. I hope for the best with this one.
Others in contention
6. Vanessa Redgrave – Foxcatcher – It seems like she always has a hyped up role, but she ends up coming up short each and every year. Maybe the slam dunk hit by Bennett Miller will change that.
7. Mary Elizabeth Winstead – Kill the Messenger – She is ready for her first nomination, and while buzz on this film is quiet, all signs point to it being an actor showcase and box office semi-hit.
8. Krysten Ritter – Big Eyes – Tim Burton films are not always kind to his actors, but she has the opportunity to steal the movie with her free-spirit character opposite Amy Adams.
9. Laura Dern – Wild – She has a bunch of films this year, and this one seems like her most sure-fire shot at her first nom in 23 years. The buzz for the film is increasing daily.
10. Naomi Watts – Birdman – I am not sure which of the supporting ladies in the film have the best parts, but from the trailer, Watts looked like she has a lot to work with.
11. Viola Davis – Get on Up – The movie came and went early in the year. She will need a couple precursor mentions if she wants to regain her previously established frontrunner status.
12. Lesley Manville – Mr. Turner – She was left off for Another Year. Maybe this true story is her shot at redemption.
13. Rooney Mara – Trash – Each Daldry film has had at least one acting nomination. She probably stands the best chance in the mostly unproven cast.
14. Carmen Ejogo – Selma – She plays Coretta Scott King, which will likely either leave her stealing scenes or getting completely overshadowed by her husband character.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. J.K. Simmons – Whiplash – The trailer almost convinced me that he is a shoo-in nominee and potential winner. I always knew he could do something great in a drama.
2. Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice – When I read the book, I thought “Bigfoot” is a perfect Josh Brolin role. Little did I know, he was already cast in that part.
3. Paul Giamatti – Love & Mercy – I am still convinced that if this movie is big enough, then Giamatti is a potential victor in this category.
4. Michael Shannon – 99 Homes – If the movie is going to work, then he is going to need to be a great villainous character. He should be able to kill it, but who knows how deep Bahrani’s film will really dig?
5. Neil Patrick Harris – Gone Girl – I have said that whoever the killer ends up being is getting nominated. Not being too familiar with the story, I am taking a shot on the TV star being that guy. Please, don’t spoil it for me or anyone else if you already know…
Others in contention
6. Robert Duvall – The Judge – The more I see from this movie, the more it is clear that it is going to make more money than it ought to and both actors are going to be well within contention.
7. Tim Roth – Selma – He plays George Wallace, which will be a great part for the past nominee. He deserves a second invite to the party.
8. Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher – He is a great character actor and already had his Emmy hit movie The Normal Heart this year to remind us of that. This seems like a role that will make or break the movie.
9. Ethan Hawke – Boyhood – His part was the most important one in keeping the movie grounded and relatable. He deserves accolades for it. This should be his second career acting nom, but we will have to see how much the Academy loved the film.
10. Johnny Depp – Into the Woods – Playing “The Wolf” is going to be memorable, but can he stand out in that colorful and dynamic cast? Probably, but can he take it all the way to his first supporting nomination? Not sure…
11. Bob Odenkirk – Boulevard – This movie was already on my radar, but since Robin Williams’s death, it is even more so. Could this film be one last send-up to one of our finest actors? Odenkirk and the rest of the supporting cast will need to show up to make the movie something worth checking out. Dito Montiel can certainly direct great performances. Keep an eye on how this one develops.
12. Tom Wilkinson – Selma – He plays President Johnson in the film. I assume that MLK and LBJ will be separated in their acting categories, but it is difficult to decipher which way it will go. I’ll go with MLK being the focus of the story.
13. Edward Norton – Birdman – He looks great in the trailer, but I am getting used to our finest actor getting snubbed for every great performance he gives. Maybe the love affair Oscar has with Inarritu will change that.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Julianne Moore – Still Alice – The role sounds like something that suits arguably our best Oscarless actress, and the festivals have gone gaga over the performance. Is it finally her time?
2. Reese Witherspoon – Wild – She has what appears to be a one-woman-show type role, and she is directed by Jean-Marc Vallee, who just got two actors Oscars last year. Her nomination is pretty much a lock at this point.
3. Amy Adams – Big Eyes – The trailer looks terrific and seems like somewhat of an actor showcase, which is not what we have come accustomed to with Tim Burton. How many noms can she get in such a short amount of time without getting one win?
4. Meryl Streep – Into the Woods – Maybe she is lead, maybe she is supporting. We really do not know, but she is nominated lead almost exclusively now. She will get in either way.
5. Shailene Woodley – The Fault in Our Stars – This would be quite a surprise, especially if she doesn’t show up on the precursors. She is the hottest thing out there right now, and the movie had the emotion, reviews, and box office to take her all the way to the ceremony.
6. Rosanumd Pike – Gone Girl – I do not know too much about the structure, but it is hard to believe that she is really a lead. That is where she is campaigned, though, which might be the thing that makes her just miss out on a first nom.
7. Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything – She is one of the more underrated young actresses in the business, and she has a fantastic role in the movie about Stephen Hawking. If the movie is as beloved as it can be, then she might get swept in with the momentum.
8. Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year / The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby – She has a couple great chances to get nominated. It really all depends on what kind of release the movies get. She should become an Oscar regular in the coming years.
9. Mia Wasikowska – Tracks – Depending on which movie is the bigger hit, she could steal Reese Witherspoon’s nomination with a similar type role.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
The Predicted Five
1. Michael Keaton – Birdman – The trailers are getting better and better. It is the role of a lifetime, more or less about his lifetime. Will that much self-reflection hurt him or help him? It’s hard to tell, but for now, I have to think he is the frontrunner.
2. Steve Carell – Foxcatcher – The physical transformation and mental instability certainly put him right near the top, and he keeps garnering awards and high praise citations from critics and festival audiences. He is a lock for a nomination.
3. Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything – Playing Stephen Hawking is a dream for a young actor like Redmayne. He has already gotten praise for My Week with Marilyn and Les Mis, so he is not a new face in this crowded, incredibly strong category.
4. David Oyelowo – Selma – You do not get too much more of potential Oscar nom than playing the booming personality of Martin Luther King Jr. He has only had a few legitimate roles in significant movies, but the pedigree of this movie and dynamics of his character should be enough to give him an excellent shot at a first nomination.
5. Miles Teller – Whiplash – How cool would it be if our two favorite indie actors turned budding superstars got their first noms in the same year?! Teller has the high-energy Sundance darling, and Woodley has the crowd-pleasing box office weepie. Both have a great chance to capture the younger audience vote of the members.
Others in contention
6. Joaquin Phoenix – Inherent Vice – This is my single most anticipated performance of 2014. I can see the movie being a bit too weird for the Academy, but that hasn’t stopped the acting noms from coming PTA’s way. He is right in the running, and maybe with an eventual trailer, he could climb right back to the top.
7. Brad Pitt – Fury – He is the biggest movie star in the world, arguably. His movie is one of the more uncertain cases of the year, but Ayer can direct actors and the trailers have been intriguing to say the least. He might get in by name alone, anyway.
8. Jack O’Connell – Unbroken – He is a talented young actor, and his movie is one of the ones to beat in the Best Picture race. If they really love the movie, then he could become a no-brainer.
9. Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game – He has a huge fanbase, but he is battling with a few other major British performances. His movie might be much better than I am expecting, but for right now, I will be safe and predict him out.
10. Robert Downey Jr. – The Judge – His movie got mediocre marks from the TIFF, but the movie still looks like exactly the kind of performance that gets nominated despite all of that.
11. Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner – Mike Leigh has not had a great track record with his male actors, especially Spall, but this seems like a pretty surefire Oscar contender.
12. Bill Murray – St. Vincent – He was one of the big gainers out of Toronto. The role sounds wonderfully strange and scene-stealing from the description. He needs his second nomination soon.
12. Oscar Isaac – A Most Violent Year – He was left off for Inside Llewyn Davis, unfortunately. He is going to be a star for a long time, and being directed by the great J.C. Chandor could do wonders for Isaac.
13. Ellar Coltrane – Boyhood – He goes through the most obvious transformation in movie history, and with each year that goes by, he grows more and more impressive and mysterious. It is a phenomenal performance, and if Boyhood is our eventual Oscar juggernaut, then he will be nominated.
15. Ben Affleck – Gone Girl – Has the Academy gotten over it yet? Can he get his first acting nomination? He had to have been close for Argo after his BAFTA nom. This seems like his best shot yet in a role that will push him further than any lead role he has ever had.
16. Gael Garcia Bernal – Rosewater – The buzz on the Jon Stewart drama has been quiet, but Gael Garcia Bernal is one of the best foreign actors in the world. His role appears to have a lot required of him, but he could underplay it like he has done in the past (The Motorcycle Diaries, for example).
17. Jeremy Renner – Kill the Messenger – He has a couple nominations to his name already, and this true story has good potential to be his third. The buzz has really died down recently, but once it gets released, I believe that we are all going to be taken by the film. It will mostly rely on Renner to make that happen.
18. Bradley Cooper – American Sniper – He had a pretty amazing physical transformation in Clint Eastwood’s true Navy SEAL action-drama, and you would be hard pressed to find a more likable and popular actor working today. He might be our next Tom Hanks and get nominated for every remotely serious role.
19. Philip Seymour Hoffman – A Most Wanted Man – Does the Academy want to throw PSH one more bone? God’s Pocket underperformed, and the Hunger Games movies aren’t going to have enough for him to really chew on. This is a brilliant and subtle performance and our last chance to recognize the best actor of this generation. I am rooting for him.
The Predicted Five
1. David Fincher – Gone Girl – He has had three major Oscar hits in a row, and despite all the precursor wins for The Social Network, he was unable to take home the gold. Everyone in the industry loves him. He has an incredibly relevant and seemingly moody and dark thriller, which could be the next The Silence of the Lambs at the Oscars. I think he wins big, even if not at the other awards.
2. Richard Linklater – Boyhood – He had the most complex directing job in recent memory. Everything about the movie was flawlessly put together and beautifully realized. After two noms for screenwriting, it is time that he gets his directing recognition.
3. Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher – He is simply incapable of making a bad movie. His film seems much more involved dramatically than his previous two Best Picture-nominated features, which will only heighten his chances at receiving a nom this time.
4. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu – Birdman – Birdman is getting praise from everyone, and would be hard to see the architect of such a crazy and brilliant premise not getting the nod.
5. James Marsh – The Theory of Everything – He directed one of the most popular modern documentaries in Man on Wire, and his film about Stephen Hawking will certainly get the British vote, at least in part.
Others in contention
6. Stephen Daldry – Trash – We still know very little about the movie, but Daldry has gotten nominated for 3 of his 4 films. Good enough to keep him well within contention.
7. Angelina Jolie – Unbroken – We saw with Ben Affleck how hesitant the Academy is to anoint acting stars who direct (ones not named George Clooney, that is). Her direction in In the Land of Blood and Honey was terrific, so we know that this film will be handled with class and artistic beauty.
8. Ava DuVernay – Selma – If there is a newcomer, it will probably be her. Her film will likely be in the spotlight upon its US release.
9. David Ayer – Fury – The Brad Pitt-starring vehicle will likely be a box office smash and have some frantic direction. War films are always in contention in this category.
10. Christopher Nolan – Interstellar – Depending on the quality of the film, this might be Nolan’s best chance at a directing nomination yet, despite a space film taking home the award last year.
11. Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game – If the British vote does not go to James Marsh, then it will go this way or the way of…
12. Mike Leigh – Mr. Turner – He has gotten a couple nominations in this category in the past. This is his most Oscary film since Vera Drake.
13. Damien Chazelle – Whiplash – The Sundance winners do not always have the release to get nominated in all categories, but I am trusting that this one will.
14. J.C. Chandor – A Most Violent Year – If there was ever a director who more showcased directing talent than one who made an exclusively talking movie (Margin Call) and then made one completely devoid of dialogue (All Is Lost) and had them both succeed with flying colors, then I would like to see it. If this movie has the quality of those two, and if the plot is as thick as it seems, then he should be nominated strictly on principle.
The Predicted Ten (I predict 9 will get nominated)
1. Gone Girl (David Fincher) – This case reminds me a bit of 2006. There was the director whose film had never won Best Picture (Scorsese), and his film (The Departed) was another great one in the genre that he had seemingly mastered. There were a host of crowd-pleasers (Little Miss Sunshine, Dreamgirls) and deep Oscar films (Babel, Letters from Iwo Jima) that could have easily taken home the prize, but we all overlooked the totally solid and probably fantastic film from one of the greats that wound up taking home the gold at the last minute.
2. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie) – If the Academy can get past the name of the director, then this movie could easily go all the way. I am assuming that it is as great as it promises. It is difficult to predict any other way. The trailer was amazing.
3. Boyhood (Richard Linklater) – I would almost like this movie’s chances to win Best Picture if it had been released 30-40 years ago. Back then it was much easier to anoint movies of this length and scope. Hopefully the current members see the grace and magic that this movie truly is and recognize that.
4. Birdman (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) – This movie, given the festival reviews and buzz, seems like a surefire nominee at this point. Hopefully the intrigue and mass showing of its trailer will get audiences on the bandwagon as well.
5. Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller) – It has been a long time coming for this film, and I had almost lost faith when its release was delayed until this year after the foreign trailer leaked last summer. It appears that it has weathered the storm and is ready to embark on an exciting awards season.
6. The Theory of Everything (James Marsh) – The British votes will likely be going this way, so the nomination seems pretty clear. It is this year’s The Queen, Philomena, Secrets & Lies, etc.
7. Trash (Stephen Daldry) – Stephen Daldry’s only miss in this category was his debut…which he got a Best Director nom for. I am not underestimating him. Even The Reader’s average reviews garnered a nod.
8. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle) – The Sundance darling with a likely Supporting Actor winner and a rising star as the lead has an excellent chance to get recognized here. Let’s just hope the distribution is appropriate.
9. Selma (Ava DuVernay) – Here, we have another true story. It could end up being this year’s Frost/Nixon. It appears more complex than just simply another biopic.
10. Fury (David Ayer) – If there are ten, then the Brad Pitt-starring tanker film will get some love. The last time two war films were both nominated was in 1998, which is why I did not rank this higher. I am just more confident in the less conventional Unbroken to win over the voters.
Others in contention
11. Interstellar (Christopher Nolan) – The movie will make a bunch of money at the box office, and Nolan is a really popular director right now. If sci-fi really is back for good, then the movie should get in if it is not a dud.
12. The Imitation Game (Morten Tyldum) – I have never been as high on this movie’s potential as everyone else, but everything is pointing to it being truly great. We will have to see how American audiences respond.
13. Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh) – Mike Leigh films are always right in that 8-15 range for Best Picture. Could this be his second nomination in this category and his first in 18 years?
14. A Most Violent Year (J.C. Chandor) – I really want this to live up to the potential I put on it and up to the standards of Chandor’s first two films. Given everyone involved with the film, I don’t see how this can fail. How will the Academy take it, though? They have only been mildly impressed with Chandor’s work so far.
15. Into the Woods (Rob Marshall) – The musical looks like a beautiful holiday treat, but is it deep or serious enough to warrant this type of Oscar love? I am not sure, but since Marshall has directed a winner in the past (Chicago), I am not counting it out.
16. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson) – The movie is not going to be one that really dominates the Oscars or Golden Globes. It is likely much more of a critic darling, but sometimes those pass over to the Academy too. I hope this is one of them.
17. Love & Mercy (Bill Pohlad) – No other predictors even have this film as a contender, and yet I am sticking with it. I have nothing to really go on, other than a few glowing reviews, a killer cast, and one of my favorite writers. If this gets nominated the way I predicted it to back in March, then is that going to eclipse my predicting The Secret in Their Eyes taking down The White Ribbon for Best Foreign Film back in 2009? I think so…
That’s all I got! What do you think of 2014 so far? Your predictions? What are your most anticipated throughout the fall and winter months? Let me know below!