Predicting the Academy Awards is a science that's been perfected by film bloggers who spend months tracking the nominated films like myth busters stalking Big Foot. Momentum, guild wins and industry peer pressure are classic signifiers of which film, technician or performer will take home the coveted Oscar. I, however, often stubbornly resist many of the factors and go with my gut. Sometimes this pays off, but mostly I just end up looking like a delusional romantic hoping all those aged Academy members will suddenly do an about face and award the worthy instead of the fashionable. It's time for a reality check.
In 2015, I want to be right, not self-righteous. I'm tired of losing the office pool. I'm tired of being ridiculed by the casual moviegoer who beats me regularly at this masochistic game. "Aren't you a film critic?" they ask. Well, yeah, but that has nothing to do with it! I swear. This year, things are going to change. I'm going to think like an Oscar voter. To hell with taste. Vive la self-congratulation!
The Best Supporting Actor and Actress categories have seemingly been predetermined for a while: J.K. Simmons' hateful, racist, homophobic music teacher in Whiplash is the kind of loud, obvious, evil choice the Academy finds appealing. Patricia Arquette's layered turn in Boyhood as a single mother struggling to keep her head above water is the exact opposite—a study in subtle emotion and tenderness made pragmatic.
Things get a little hazier (but not by much) foreseeing the outcomes of Best Actress and Actor. Julianne Moore has the momentum in hand for her fine turn as a professor slowly succumbing to early-onset Alzheimer's in Still Alice , but if she wins, it will be more of a career award than anything. Marion Cotillard from Two Days, One Night could provide the night's big upset, but the greatest living actress has already won the award before, so odds of that happening are slim.
In the Best Actor race, one-time favorite Michael Keaton has lost almost all the momentum to child-like devil Eddie Redmayne. I refuse to believe we live in a world where Redmayne's hackery will beat out Keaton's genuine prolonged rage. Hollywood also loves an amazing career revival.
Speaking of the two majors, I smell a split. Richard Linklater should ride the yearlong adulation placed on Boyhood by critics and audiences alike and take Best Director. If he wins, it'll be a wonderful triumph for the kind of compassionate, meaningful and complex cinema the Academy should be recognizing.
Meanwhile, with no clear-cut sure winner, I see Birdman being the beneficiary. A rambunctious and angry meta-Hollywood extravaganza, Alejandro González Iñárritu's showy and exhausting mosaic looks like the choice for Best Picture. A month ago, this seemed unbelievable, but wins at the DGA (Directors Guild of America), PGA (Producers) and WGA (Writers) have essentially solidified it as the semi-favorite.
Here are my predictions for all 24 categories—be leery, my friend:
Best Documentary Short: Our Curse
Best Animated Short: The Dam Keeper
Best Live Action Short: Boogaloo and Graham
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Guardians of the Galaxy
Best Cinematography: Birdman
Best Production Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Costume Design: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Visual Effects: Interstellar
Best Original Score: The Imitation Game
Best Original Song: Selma
Best Editing: Boyhood
Best Sound Mixing: Whiplash
Best Sound Editing: Interstellar
Best Foreign-Language Film: Ida
Best Documentary: Citizenfour
Best Animated Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Imitation Game
Best Original Screenplay: Birdman
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Actor: Michael Keaton, Birdman
Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Best Picture: Birdman
And that's it, folks. Tune in at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22, for all the pomp and circumstance at the 87th Academy Awards and see how my picks fare. Somewhere, I'll probably be crying hysterically.