With less than a month to the 87th Academy Awards, I think that it’s time for some semi-qualified Oscars predictions. Turns out that there are more than 20 categories that earn awards on Oscar night. Who knew?! In order to provide the hard-hitting insights that the year’s biggest award show warrants, I’ll focus on the acting awards here, along with a few of the lesser known categories tossed in for fun.
First up are best actress and best supporting actress categories. The field of supporting actress is chock full of household names: Keira Knightley, Emma Stone, Laura Dern, Patricia Arquette and Meryl Streep. Some back-of-the-envelope calculations conservatively show that this is Meryl Streep’s 49th Oscar nomination. But since she was nominated for her work in a Disney musical called “Into the Woods,” I don’t think she has much of a chance this year. My money is on Patricia Arquette, who played the role of the mother in “Boyhood.”
Next is the award for best actress, which is really up for grabs. Outside of Reese Witherspoon and Julianne Moore, there aren’t many actresses you would recognize by name. But if someone were to say, “It’s that crazy lady from ‘Gone Girl!’” or “It’s that lady who tried to kill Batman!” you would have a much better idea of the contenders. Moore is playing her cards right as a college professor going through early-onset Alzheimer’s. It’s an Oscar-bait role of the highest order. However, I’ll go with the not-so-secret underdog candidate, Rosamund Pike, better known as the manipulative psychopath who plays Amy in David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.”
Time for some predictions on the smaller categories. Fair warning: I am extremely unqualified to discuss these but then again, few are. Makeup and hairstyling only has three in the running, representing “Foxcatcher,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Pretty sure I could do green face paint and tell the computer graphics guys to make me a tree and a raccoon, so “Guardians” is out. I’m calling “Foxcatcher.” Steve Carell was wearing approximately three fake noses in every scene, an impressive feat. Production design is all about the sets and the little knick-knacks you see on-screen, so the smart money is on Wes Anderson’s meticulously crafted “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” right? “Interstellar” is the dark horse, since it probably has to win something this year, what with it being a Christopher Nolan production and all.
Animated short film is always full of little films that no one has ever seen before and will likely never see at all. My pick is “The Dam Keeper” because with a title like that, it most definitely has to have some beavers in it.
Our last of the less flashy categories is an audio double shot: sound editing and sound mixing. I have absolutely no clue how these two differ so here are some predictions based on somewhat sound logic. For sound editing I’ll go with “American Sniper” because that is a LOUD movie. Between all the sniper fire, regular fire, power drills and fake babies crying, the editing must have been top notch. Give the sound mixing Oscar to “Whiplash” because that is one heck of a movie and it is about jazz musicians and everything they play seems well mixed, I think. Who knows, I’m no sound mixer.
Now time for the big finale, best actor and best supporting actor. J.K. Simmons has already been declared the winner of the supporting actor category by most of the national media and now you can add me to the list as well. Simmons commanded every scene of “Whiplash” that he was in, summoning a fury and force that you just don’t see in his Farmers Insurance commercials. It would have been cool to see an actor who once portrayed the Incredible Hulk win an Oscar this year, but unfortunately Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo will have to wait another year for their Oscar win. Also, shout-out to my man Ethan Hawke for being great in every Richard Linklater film he is in; he has come so far from “Training Day.”
Best actor is similar to the best actress category in that star power abounds. Bradley Cooper put on 50 pounds and an accent to provide a strong performance in “American Sniper” that will surely be cast away due to its seemingly pro-war agenda. Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum from Michael Scott of “The Office,” Steve Carell played the DuPont heir turned cold-blooded murderer with a creepiness that I have never seen before. He is definitely the sleeper in this category. We’re lucky this year seeing as we got to take in not one, but two British actors (the loveable Benedict Cumberbatch and the unknown Eddie Redmayne) take on roles that are kind of a bummer. The edge among the Brits goes to Redmayne who is following Julianne Moore’s model by playing Stephen Hawking as he experiences the rare early-onset of ALS. But I predict that they will all be bowing down Michael Keaton come Feb. 22. Keaton was a real tour de force in the wholly unique “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” Working alongside the likes of Edward Norton, Emma Stone and Zach Galifianakis, in a role that has shades of Keaton’s own life, he truly shines. What a feel good win that would be.