Each year I share my predictions and provide a few thoughts about the selections and choices. This year is no different so here are my thoughts:
- Best Actor – Nominees are: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher), Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Benedict Cumberbatch (Imitation Game), Michael Keaton (Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). Another very strong year for best actor nominees. In fact this is probably the strongest in the last 5 – 10 years. All the roles were wonderfully deep and complex and each actor had to have range in their roles. My vote would be for Michael Keaton because he always seemed on the edge of reality and or ignorance. However, Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch were almost as strong. But anyone who is selected here is worthy of the award.
- Best Actress – Nominees are: Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night), Felicity Jones (Theory of Everthing), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Reese Witherspoon (Wild). This group is not as strong as the Actor’s list. However there were two performances that stood out to me: Julianne Moore who is my 1st choice because I fully believed her – she was that person. Rosamund Pike is my 2nd choice playing an unlikeable character but was so clearly strong that it is amazing. Given those choices, my 3rd choice would be Felicity Jones because of the subtle strength she brought to the character.
- Best Supporting Actress – Nominees are: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Laura Dern (Wild), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), and Meryl Streep (Into the Woods). The top three here for me are Keira Knightly, Emma Stone, and Patricia Arquette. I think Stone did an amazing job of making the character real, strong and with possibility. Knightley was exceptional as the attractive girl genius and friend. Arquette’s transformation over 12 years was amazing.
- Best Supporting Actor – Nominees are: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Marke Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash). Another very strong group, but here I have to select J.K. Simmons because he was mesmerizing each moment he was on the screen. One never knew what would happen or how he would react. However, both Norton and Hawke were very strong as well. What I liked about Hawke was how he became a good father. Any of these three can win.
- Best Cinematography – Nominees are: Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Emmanuel Lubezki), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert Yeoman), Ida (Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski), Mr. Turner (Dick Pope), and Unbroken (Roger Deakins). There is no question in my mind that the mind-blowing cinematography of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the winner. I was enraptured with the camera movement throughout the entire time.
- Best Adapted Screenplay – Nominees are: American Sniper (Jason Hall), The Imitation Game (Graham Moore), Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson), The Theory of Everything (Anthony McCarten), and Whiplash (Damien Chazelle). This category is difficult. These are very strong and divergent screenplays and I loved them all. To me it is a toss-up as there are extraordinary moments of dialogue in each of them.
- Best Original Screenplay – Nominees are: Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacabone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo), Boyhood (Richard Linklater), Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson), and Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy). First off although I thought the screenplay for Nightcrawler was brilliant, I don’t think it will win. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and Boyhood are probably the best bets and I’d pick Birdman.
- Best Director – Nominees are: Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game). Strong candidates – all. However for me it is a toss-up between Inarritu and Linklater. Although very different films, both did an amazing job of presenting their amazing stories.
- Best Picture – Nominees are: American Sniper, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash. Each of these films, except Selma had very strong acting by principal characters. Selma was an overall very good film but without an exceptionally strong lead I don’t see it winning. I think it will come down to the same contest as identified in the Best Director category. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is my choice, although I would not be unhappy if the winner is Boyhood.