By Todd Perkins, Staff Movie Critic
The 2015 Academy Awards will be aired live Feb. 22, with talent, new and old, being handed golden statuettes in honor of delivering the best achievements in costuming, sound, writing, acting, directing, among many other categories.
Despite there being so many great films released last year, only a small handful of movies are actually up for the top nominations and only eight works nominated for the top award Best Picture. With only two weeks away, it is time to pick favorites, decide who is the most deserving, and predict who will actually win the top awards.
Both Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor categories seem to have solid locks for who is going to win.
Patricia Arquette seems to be a sure thing for her performance as a single mother in “Boyhood”, with Emma Stone as a dark horse contender for her role in “Birdman”. Laura Dern in “Wild”, Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game”, and Meryl Streep in “Into the Woods” are all terrific, but it is Arquette’s to lose. J.K. Simmons’ performance in “Whiplash” is guaranteed to get him the Oscar for his brutal role as a jazz band leader, with Edward Norton’s darkly comic turn in “Birdman” as his only competition. Ethan Hawk in “Boyhood” and Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher” would both be frontrunners in this category in a lesser year, but Robert Duvall seems to have racked up his seventh nomination out of respect rather than for his performance in “The Judge”. It is a fairly safe bet that viewers will see Arquette and Simmons take the stage on Oscar night.
Best Actress will most likely be given to Julianne Moore for her work in “Still Alice” as a linguistics professor who starts to lose her memory, but she will be facing competition from Rosamund Pike for her bold and disturbing role in “Gone Girl” and Reese Witherspoon’s return to form in “Wild”. Felicity Jones also has a small chance for stealing the gold for her part as Stephen Hawking’s supportive wife, Jane, in “The Theory of Everything”, but Marion Cotillard will have to settle for taking away a nomination from Jennifer Anniston’s performance in “Cake” for her own role in “Two Days, One Night”.
Best Actor is by far the tightest race, with Michael Keaton’s self-reflective role as ex-superhero actor Riggan Thompson in “Birdman” going head to head against Eddie Redmayne’s accurate portrayal of Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”. Right now the edge seems to be tipping towards Redmayne, but it could very well be Keaton’s name called out. Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher” and Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game” could potentially be labeled dark horses for their two fantastic performances, but Bradley Cooper’s part in “American Sniper” is a longshot at best.
The Best Picture race appears to be between two films: “Birdman” vs. “Boyhood”. Both films experiment with their approach of filmmaking, with “Birdman” being designed to look as if it were shot as one continuous take and “Boyhood” shot for small periods over a span of twelve years. Directors Alejandro Inarritu (“Birdman”) and Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) are also the frontrunners for Best Director, and it looks as if both Inarritu and “Birdman” could take the lead in both categories. “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “The Imitation Game”, and “Selma” could all three shock viewers with a surprise win, but “American Sniper”, “Selma”, and “The Theory of Everything” do not seem to stand a chance. These are my thoughts on how things will turn out on Oscar night, but there could be some major upsets and surprises announced on February 22.