Nomination Predictions for the 87th Annual Academy Awards


This image from ‘Birdman’ shows exactly what my Oscar-prediction ritual looks like.

The Oscars. They happen every year. Often, they honor boring middle-of-the-road movies, but sometimes, they do great things. Show business awards might be meaningless, but there are fewer activities from which I derive more fun than predicting who’s going to win -or in this case be nominated for- an Oscar.

Best Picture
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

The Theory of Everything

The biggest question, at least for me, is whether or not Selma gets nominated. I know, the fact that a nomination isn’t a done deal is ridiculous, but for some reason, most awards-giving groups have decided to ignore the movie. In any case, the Academy’s new weighted ballot and the movie’s passionate supporters should be enough for it to break in. This is, after all, the same logic that turned The Tree of Life into a Best Picture nominee.

Best Director
Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)
Ava DuVernay (Selma)
Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman)
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

This seems to finally be Anderson’s year, while Birdman and Boyhood seem to have the largest and most vocal fanbase. Based on the “passion” logic, I feel like Ava DuVernay will manage a nomination for her outstanding work helming Selma. As for the last spot, we have a couple of movies about British geniuses with anonymous enough direction as to be snubbed despite being sure-things in the Best Picture category, and a young exciting director who, like Benh Zeitlin a couple years ago, started his run by impressing everyone at Sundance.

Best Lead Actor
Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
David Oyelowo (Selma)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Am I crazy? Maybe. But I also like to have fun predicting these things. Keaton and Redmayne are the current front-runners to win, so they’re in. Gyllenhaal and his movie have spent the last month building momentum, and Oyelowo’s performance is so good I refuse to believe it won’t be nominated. As for Ralph Fiennes, I am so in love with his M. Gustave that now that a nomination might actually be possible, I can’t help but predict it. And because there is little chance that the horrendous The Imitation Game will be shut-out completely on nomination morning, Cumberbatch missing out for an irritating socially-awkward-geniuses-say-mean-shit-but-are-adorable performance will have to do.

Best Lead Actress
Jennifer Aniston (Cake)
Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Reese Witherspoon (Wild)

This has been the consensus prediction since the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild announced their nominations, but I have this weird feeling that Amy Adams might get nominated for Big EyesWhy? Because she just got a BAFTA (British Academy) nomination, and she just won a Golden Globe for the role, both things that have helped people get a last minute push in the past. Why am I not predicting her then? Because if she gets in, then who gets left out? Certainly not front-runner Julianne Moore. And even though I didn’t even know Cake was a thing (and am still unsure if it is), I think Aniston is most likely getting nominated. My guess would be Rosamund Pike falls out, but I obviously wouldn’t bet on it.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall (The Judge)
Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
Edward Norton (Birdman)
Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Can Robert Duvall really be nominated for something as universally shrugged over as The Judge? I haven’t seen the movie, but I’d venture to say it wouldn’t be the most embarrassing thing the Academy has nominated (have we already forgotten the “Alone Yet Not Alone” debacle?). The truth is this category is a wasteland. These seem to be the only five men people are even considering here. Don’t believe, then who do you think will get nominated instead of Duvall? Tom Wilkinson? Selma hasn’t picked as much steam as ww hoped. Josh Brolin? Inherent Vice has even less steam. Christoph Waltz? oh, please God no.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Rene Russo (Nightcrawler)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)

It seemed like a huge long-shot not too long ago, but here we are, and Nightcrawler is receiving nominations left and right. In a Supporting Actress race with a fifth spot weak enough to get Naomi Watts SAG-nominated for playing a pregnant Russian prostitute in St. Vincent, I think Rene Russo has more than a decent chance at breaking into the field.

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, NicoláS Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo)
Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)

Three of these movies are so beloved that they will be nominated no matter what, and Nightcrawler has done so well with awards bodies this season that I’d be shocked if its protagonist’s long and crazy speeches doesn’t get it nominated. What comes into question is the last spot, which I think could go either to Selma, which has been ignored by many award-giving guilds because their members allegedly didn’t get to see it on time, or Mr. Turner, which has been similarly snubbed, but has the advantage of having been written by Mike Leigh, who has been nominated in this category the last three times he made a movie.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
The Imitation Game (Graham Moore)
Still Alice (Richard Glatzer, Wash Westmoreland)
The Theory of Everything
 (Anthony McCarten)
Whiplash (Damien Chazella)

Because of the short film that was made in order to finance and turn Whiplash into a feature-length film, the movie has been categorized as an Adapted Screenplay. The Academy’s rules about what does and does not constitute an Adapted Screenplay have been very weird for as long as I can remember, but in the case of Whiplash, it shouldn’t really matter, the movie will be nominated either way. And honestly, now that it is in Adapted, it has a better chance of winning the gold. The other four nominees are Best Picture front-runners (Imitation, Theory), one of the most talked-about scripts of the year (Gone Girl), and… Still Alice, because if Julianne Moore is going to win an Oscar, then why not? Also, it’s my last hope in pretending freaking American Sniper won’t get nominated.

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The LEGO Movie
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

At least one foreign movie usually gets nominated in this category as of late. I think Princess Kaguya is the foreign entry with the highest profile, not to mention the fact that it’s a fantastic film. The other four movies are either big enough hits, or backed by big enough (or respected enough in the case of Laika) studios to not be nominated.

Best Foreign Language Film
Force Majeure (Sweden)
Ida (Poland)
Tangerines (Estonia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)

Of the nine films in the Academy’s shortlist, I think only six have a legitimate chance of getting nominated (based on what I’ve heard about them, since most of them haven’t been released in the U.S. yet). The one of those six I’m not predicting is controversial Russian entry Leviathan, which might be dumb considering the movie just won the Golden Globe. It’s just that these five are reminiscent of what recent Foreign Film races have looked like.

Best Documentary Feature
Keep On Keeping On 
Life Itself
The Overnighters

I am largely unfamiliar with most movies on the Oscar shortlist, so I’m predicting the movies i have either seen or heard the most about.

Best Cinematography
Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman)
Ida (Lukasz Zal, Ryzsard Lenczewski)
Mr. Turner (Dick Pope)
Unbroken (Roger Deakins)

All these films’ cinematography is flashy in one way or another. Some of them seem to have lots of supporters in the Academy, others are pretty enough to find enough fans amongst the cinematographers, and the other was photographed by Roger Deakins, who has become the John Williams (or considering the fact that he has never won, the Alexandre Desplat) of this category.

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Adam Stockhausen)
The Imitation Game (Maria Djurkovic)
Interstellar (Nathan Crowley)
Into the Woods (Dennis Gassner)
Mr. Turner (Suzie Davies)

Nothing to say here except period and fantasy are always preferred over contemporary design in this category, and that being well-liked by the Academy (aka a possible Best Picture nominee) always helps.

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Milena Canonero)
Into the Woods (Colleen Atwood)
Maleficent (Anna B. Sheppard)
Mr. Turner (Jacqueline Durran)
The Theory of Everything (Steven Noble)

Basically the same rules as Production Design apply here. Flashy costumes are preferred, and although there has been the occasional contemporary nominee in the past, this year doesn’t really offer any strong contenders.

Best Film Editing
Birdman (Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione)
Boyhood (Sandra Adair)
Gone Girl (Kirk Baxter)
The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg)
Whiplash (Tom Cross)

It is known amongst people who are interested in such things, that not being nominated for Best Editing means you probably won’t win Best Picture. The last Best Picture winner to not be nominated in this category was Driving Miss Daisy back in 1989, so who does and doesn’t get nominated will be very telling. Here’s hoping Selma and Grand Budapest get in, but given these more “edited” contenders, it seems unlikely.

Best Original Score
Gone Girl (Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross)
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
(Alexandre Desplat)
The Imitation Game (Alexandre Desplat)
Interstellar (Hans Zimmer)
The Theory of Everything (Johann Johansson)

My first question is: will Gone Girl be nominated? My second question is: if not, then can Alexandre Desplat be nominated three times in a single year? (the third movie would be Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, so I guess not).

Best Original Song 
“Everything is Awesome” (The LEGO Movie)
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me)
“Glory” (Selma)
“Lost Stars” (Begin Again)
“We’re Doing a Sequel” (Muppets Most Wanted)

If you ask me, this category is a joke and should be replaced with a “song score” or “soundtrack” category.

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper
Into the Woods

The sound categories are always the hardest. That’s something I feel like you should know. How do you predict them, then? Well, when it comes to Sound Mixing, musicals and movies about music tend to do well. Action movies that feel “serious” or “important” also tend to do well. And when you have a spot left to predict, throw in a Best Picture front-runner with flashy enough sound to be nominated.

Best Sound Editing
American Sniper

Listen, what do I know? These just seem like the type of movies that gets nominated in this category. And then, there is the fact that the sound editors working on Godzilla made the titular monster sound so freaking awesome that I just hope they get a well-deserved nomination, and since I don’t any idea of what to predict, I might as well include them.

Best Makeup and Hair
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Theory of Everything 

The Academy’s Makeup branch is infamous for making weird-ass choices. Like last year, when eventual winner Dallas Buyers Club was nominated alongside one of the biggest flops of the year and a Jackass movie. Luckily, they release a shortlist letting you know what kind of crazy thing they’re planning to do. My predictions might be too conservative when looking at this category’s history, but I just can’t fathom why someone would nominate Noah for Best Makeup.

Best Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Movies that a) are about superheroes and are also the biggest hit of the year, b) are about Hobbits, c) feature Andy Serkis playing an ape, and d) are directed by Christopher Nolan always get nominated in this category. Common sense says that the last spot should go to the monumental Godzilla, but recent nominees Alice in Wonderland and Snow White and the Huntsman make me think Maleficent is clearly going to make it in.



  1. The Animation Commendation · January 13, 2015

    Interesting choices! I feel you’re generally accurate for the most part.

    Once the nominations come out, I usually predict the winners, so await that on my blog sometime.

    • Conrado Falco · January 14, 2015

      Well, at this point we have a good idea of what the likely nominees are going to be. I just hope we have some pleasant surprises Thursday morning. And I look forward to reading your predictions, of course.

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