With the Academy Award nominations being announced later this week, I thought I would once again put in my two cents on how things will go on Thursday morning.  Predicting how the Academy thinks has always been a rather inexact science so if I turn out to be wrong on many of these, I might be embarrassed but I won’t necessarily be surprised.  Alright, here we go.

2015 Oscar Nominations Predictions

Best Picture

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Selma
  5. The Theory of Everything
  6. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  7. Whiplash
  8. Gone Girl
  9. Foxcatcher
  10. Nightcrawler

Dark Horses: American Sniper, Unbroken

Analysis: Boyhood, Birdman, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything have been leading the 2015 Oscar field for months now and there’s little reason to think their names won’t be called.

Supporters of Selma however, have understandably been concerned by the lack of recognition it’s received from the Golden Globes, SAG and BAFTA but the popular theory is that the voters for those organizations were unable to watch those films beforehand (a problem that the Academy is highly unlikely to face).  It should also be noted that Selma’s near universal acclaim from critics (a whopping 99% Tomatometer) and the important subject matter will all but guarantee a nomination.

Thanks to some surprising momentum boosts from the previously mentioned award shows, and virtually every critic circle, The Grand Budapest Hotel is also poised to score a 2015 Oscar nomination despite being released in theaters so long ago, it’s already being aired on HBO.  The theatrical run for Whiplash has been considerably quieter than most of the other contenders on this list (just over $7 million worldwide) but the film’s strong following still make it a pretty safe bet to make the cut.

After that though is where the picture feels a little more blurry.  Right now, the reception for Gone Girl feels similar to David Fincher’s last movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (whose Oscar campaign wound up being less than successful).  That’s not to say it won’t be nominated but it’s far from a lock.

Foxcatcher has problems of it’s own thanks to it being very publicly denounced by one of the film’s subjects Mark Schultz (played by Channing Tatum) a couple of weeks ago.  It’s still possible that Foxcatcher can overcome this badly timed controversy but it’s without a doubt very vulnerable especially with Nightcrawler surging it’s way into the race.



Best Director

  1. Richard Linklater- Boyhood
  2. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu- Birdman
  3. Wes Anderson- The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Ava DuVernay- Selma
  5. Morten Tyldum- The Imitation Game

Dark Horses: Damien Chazelle-Whiplash, David Fincher- Gone Girl

Analysis: Much like the movies they made, Linklater and Inarritu are virtual locks for this 2015 Oscar category.  It’s also difficult to believe Wes Anderson won’t secure a nomination especially considering the surprising amount of praise it’s generated from everyone else.  The last two spots are really more like educated guesses for me.  DuVernay missed the cut from the DGA which historically doesn’t bode well for prospective candidates but again I find it hard to believe the Academy ignores the work of Selma like so many other awards have.  I believe the last spot will be between Tyldum, Fincher and Chazelle with Tyldum getting the edge thanks to the usual solid campaigning from The Weinstein Company


Best Actor

  1. Michael Keaton- Birdman
  2. Eddie Redmayne- The Theory of Everything
  3. Benedict Cumberbatch- The Imitation Game
  4. David Oyelowo- Selma
  5. Jake Gyllenhaal- Nightcrawler

Dark Horses:  Steve Carell- Foxcatcher, Ralph Fiennes- The Grand Budapest Hotel

Analysis: The field for this 2015 Oscar category has been by far the most crowded and therefore the most likely for a surprise nomination.  The top three spots undoubtedly belong to Keaton, Redmayne, and Cumberbatch and despite the seed of doubt planted with Selma, I still feel confident the fourth spot will go to Oyelowo.  The last remaining could go to about a half dozen well deserving actors but my gut tells it will go to Gyllenhaal (though I would rather it go to Ralph Fiennes).


Best Actress

  1. Julianne Moore- Still Alice
  2. Felicity Jones- The Theory of Evrything
  3. Rosamund Pike- Gone Girl
  4. Reese Witherspoon- Wild
  5. Jennifer Aniston-Cake

Dark Horses: Amy Adams- Big Eyes, Marion Cotillard- Two Days, One Night

Analysis: Sadly, this 2015 Oscar category hasn’t been nearly as competitive as it’s male counterpart giving me little reason to think my top four picks will be snubbed.  The only question mark in my mind is Jennifer Aniston.  About a month ago, few people really thought she would be nominated but some surprise recognition from the Golden Globes, SAG, and the Critics Choice Awards have made her the favorite for the final spot in the race especially since Amy Adams hasn’t really been seen as the Oscar contending performance she was hoping for.


Best Supporting Actor

  1. J.K. Simmons- Whiplash
  2. Edward Norton- Birdman
  3. Ethan Hawke- Boyhood
  4. Mark Ruffalo- Foxcatcher
  5. Tom Wilkinson- Selma

Dark Horses: Josh Brolin- Inherent Vice, Robert Duvall- The Judge

Analysis: Like the Best Actress category, I have few doubts the first four contenders on my list.  The last one relatively speaking however, feels wide open.  Wilkinson is the best bet (in my mind) in front of Brolin and Duvall since both of them were more or less seen as bright spots in disappointing films that have largely been forgotten in the race.


Best Supporting Actress

  1. Patricia Arquette- Boyhood
  2. Emma Stone- Birdman
  3. Meryl Streep- Into the Woods
  4. Kiera Knightly- The Imitation Game
  5. Jessica Chastain- A Most Violent Year

Dark Horses: Rene Russo- Nightcrawler, Laura Dern- Wild

Analysis: Patricia Arquette emerged as the front runner last summer and very little has changed since then in that respect.  While they have little chance of actually winning, Stone, Streep and Knightly all have ample reason to expect their names to be called tomorrow morning.  I think the last spot will be between Chastain and Russo with the slight edge going to Chastain, partially for the year she’s had and also because of her more favorable history with the Academy.


Best Original Screenplay

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Selma
  5. Foxcatcher

Dark Horses: Nightcrawler, A Most Violent Year


Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Imitation Game
  2. The Theory of Everything
  3. Gone Girl
  4. Whiplash
  5. Wild

Dark Horses: American Sniper, Unbroken