The 2015 Oscars: predictions and thoughts

Here's our guide to who we think will clean up at this year's Academy Awards, as well as who we think deserves to win...

Go into the Oscars appreciating them for what they are – awards for relatively popular, very good films – and they’re a fun circus, whose mere existence ensures some movies get funded in the first place. Take them as an arbiter of what’s actually the best of anything, and you’re on far shakier ground. But I think most people have long accepted that.

This year alone, something as daring as Nightcrawler – a very uncomfortable, yet brilliant piece of cinema, with plenty to say – barely made it onto the Academy Awards radar. But that’s democracy. Ask 5-10,000 people to choose the best thing, and many times, they’re not going to choose yours.

This year’s Academy Award nominations are no different in that regard, then. But predicting the outcome of the Oscars has become an international sport. So, leave your own predictions in the comments below, and here’s what we reckon will be winning this coming Sunday. And which of the nominees should be…

BEST PICTURE

Ad – content continues below

The nominees:

American SniperBirdmanBoyhoodThe Grand Budapest HotelThe Imitation GameSelmaThe Theory Of EverythingWhiplash

The fact that the Academy is mainly made up of American voters means it’s not entirely wise to dismiss Clint Eastwood’s muddled American Sniper from winning. But let’s just say that would be an unwise choice. Furthermore, Selma and The Imitation Game, whilst both fine films, have been buoyed as much by central performances, we’d argue. Neither strikes us as best film of the year material. You could argue the same of The Theory Of Everything, although that film’s angling to see the story from Jane Hawking’s perspective gives it something that its biopic contemporaries here lack.

For a long time, Boyhood has been the running favourite though, although in recent days, Birdman has become the bookies’ favourite in some quarters. The Oscars certainly have form in rewarding films about the creative arts: two out of the last three Best Picture winners are about moviemaking.

That said, we suspect Boyhood may still sneak this, and we can’t grumble with that. It’s an excellent film, a real one-of-a-kind. And whilst we’d have it in an arm wrestle with Whiplash for the top prize, Richard Linklater’s movie is one that’s hard to begrudge.

Will win: BoyhoodShould win: Boyhood or Whiplash

Ad – content continues below

BEST DIRECTOR

The nominees:

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman Richard Linklater, Boyhood Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

We’ve a sneaking suspicion here that this may be of the years when the Academy splits the Best Picture and Best Director prizes. It’s a two horse race again, which every bookmaker seems to agree with. We wonder, though, if Alejandro G Iñárritu may sneak this. Birdman‘s directorial style is ambitious, effective and quite brilliant. Linklater’s is less overt, more relaxed, and far more patient. The former approach usually prevails over the latter, though, accepting that nobody’s quite pulled off what Linklater has managed with Boyhood.

Will win: Alejandro G IñárrituShould win: Good question. Richard Linklater, probably.

Ad – content continues below

BEST ACTOR

The nominees:

Steve Carell, FoxcatcherBradley Cooper, American SniperBenedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation GameMichael Keaton, BirdmanEddie Redmayne, The Theory Of Everything

A strong field here, and a different two horse race. Going on the way that awards season has gone thus far, it’s Eddie Redmayne who should be preparing an acceptance speech for his extraordinary performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory Of Everything. He seems the clear favourite, and the only contender in touching distance of overtaking him is Michael Keaton in Birdman.

Yet Redmayne’s work is not just brilliant, it’s also firmly in the safety zone of what Oscar likes. It’s harsh on Steve Carell, less harsh on Benedict Cumberbatch and Bradley Cooper perhaps.

Will win: Eddie RedmayneShould win: Eddie Redmayne

Ad – content continues below

BEST ACTRESS

The nominees:

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One NightFelicity Jones, The Theory Of EverythingJulianne Moore, Still AliceRosamund Pike, Gone GirlReese Witherspoon, Wild

Some absolutely corking performances here. In any other year, Rosamund Pike’s mantelpiece would be groaning under the weight of prizes for her career-best work in Gone Girl. But this isn’t any other year. This is Julianne Moore’s year.

The film Still Alice has been little seen compared to the others, and Marion Cotillard will surely have a case if she’s overlooked, but Moore’s Oscar has been a long, long time coming. She’ll have one by Monday morning.

Will win: Julianne MooreShould win: Take your pick: Moore, Rosamund Pike or Marion Cotillard.

Ad – content continues below

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The nominees:

Patricia Arquette, BoyhoodLaura Dern, WildEmma Stone, BirdmanMeryl Streep, Into The WoodsKeira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Taking away Meryl’s usual nomination (not for one of her best roles either, and not one of her best films), and there’s a bunch of interesting roles here. Yet every indicator on Planet Earth suggests that Patricia Arquette has this one nailed. Unsurprising too: whilst Emma Stone’s Birdman work is excellent, Boyhood could just as easily be described as about the evolution of Arquette’s character as any other. It’s her best work by some distance, a raw performance put together across… well, you know the Boyhood story by now. Arquette would be a popular and worthy winner.

Will win: Patricia ArquetteShould win: Patricia Arquette

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Ad – content continues below

The nominees:

Robert Duvall, The JudgeEthan Hawke, BoyhoodEdward Norton, BirdmanMark Ruffalo, FoxcatcherJ K Simmons, Whiplash

With due respect to Robert Duvall, Ethan Hawke, Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo – all excellent actors – they’re wasting their time turning up. Sorry, gents. With particular apologies to Ethan.

Will win: J K SimmonsShould win, and should win the raffle too: J K Simmons

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

The nominees:

Ad – content continues below

IdaLeviathanTangerinesTimbuktuWild Tales

As always, some quality fare here. The race seems to boil down to Ida and Leviathan, and we suspect that it’s the former that’s going to prevail…

Will win: IdaShould win: Ida

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The nominees:

Birdman, Emmanuel LubezkiThe Grand Budapest Hotel, Robert YeomanIda, Lukasz Zal and Ryszard LenczewskiMr. Turner, Dick PopeUnbroken, Roger Deakins

Ad – content continues below

Could this be the year to break the Roger Deakins duck? It’s been a long time coming, but we fear he may be thwarted again. The gorgeous photography of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is going toe to toe with Emmanuel Lubezki’s work on Birdman here. But we think Robert Yeoman will be the recipient of gongage.

Will win: The Grand Budapest HotelShould win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

The nominees:

American SniperThe Imitation GameInherent ViceThe Theory of EverythingWhiplash

Go down the recipients of the Best Screenplay Oscars over the years, and they tend to choose better films than the overall Best Picture vote comes up with. Moral of the story? Listen to the writers. The running favourite at the moment for this one appears to be The Imitation Game. Hopefully, good sense will prevail, and Whiplash will snag the award. But we wouldn’t bet on it…

Ad – content continues below

Will win: The Imitation GameShould win: Whiplash

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

The nominees:

BoyhoodBirdmanFoxcatcherThe Grand Budapest HotelNightcrawler

Accepting everything we’ve said about writers above, this should be Nightcrawler‘s Oscar at a canter. And that’s accepting the strength of what it’s up against. But we wonder if The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman are the more likely candidates for the prize here. Certainly we expect Wes Anderson’s movie to total up a few prizes, although none of the ‘big five’. We’re going with Original Screenplay being its highest profile win.

Will win: The Grand Budapest HotelShould win, and can take the chairs home too: Nightcrawler

Ad – content continues below

ANIMATED FEATURE

The nominees:

Big Hero 6The BoxtrollsHow To Train Your Dragon 2Song Of The SeaThe Tale Of Princess Kaguya

Last year, there was no human being on the planet that had any doubt that Frozen was to take home this particular Oscar. This year? It’s a less clear field. How To Train Your Dragon 2, for one, has been snagging most of the prizes on the Oscar run-in, and Big Hero 6 isn’t too far behind. Sadly, nobody seems to be giving The Boxtrolls much of a look in.

Yet it’s the two lower profile projects that perhaps deserve to be front of the queue here. And if we had to edge one, then Ghibli’s The Tale Of Princess Kaguya is probably the one we’d go for. So we will…

Will win: How To Train Your Dragon 2Should win: The Tale Of Princess Kaguya or Song Of The Sea

Ad – content continues below

VISUAL EFFECTS

The nominees:

Captain America: The Winter SoldierDawn Of The Planet Of The ApesGuardians Of The GalaxyInterstellarX:Men: Days Of Future Past

Technical categories tend to be a little more predictable, so watch us now get most of these wrong. The front runners are Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes and Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. It’s surely the latter – appreciating how extraordinary some of the work in the former is – that’s going to win this one, though.

Will win: InterstellarShould win: Interstellar

FILM EDITING

Ad – content continues below

The nominees:

American SniperBoyhood The Grand Budapest HotelThe Imitation GameWhiplash

Seen as the early precursor for the film that eventually takes home Best Picture, we’re far from convinced that’ll be the case this year. Instead, we wonder if the glorious Whiplash might nick this one from under the nose of Boyhood? In truth, this might be the closest race of the night, with all five films in with a shout. But the whole point of this feature is to come up with a prediction, so with that in mind…

Will win: WhiplashShould win: Whiplash

PRODUCTION DESIGN

The nominees:

Ad – content continues below

The Grand Budapest Hotel TheImitation GameInterstellarInto The WoodsMr Turner

We can chat about it, but this one’s going to The Grand Budapest Hotel. Mainly because it deserves to go to The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST SCORE

The nominees:

Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest HotelAlexandre Desplat, The Imitation GameHans Zimmer, InterstellarGary Yershon, Mr. TurnerJóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory Of Everything

The score race boils down to two contenders: The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Theory of Everything. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score for the Hawking biopic picked up the Golden Globe, while Budapest bagged the BAFTA. With seven nominations under his belt, though, and still no statue, not only is The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s score superior, but this is Desplat’s year. – Ivan Radford

Will win: The Grand Budapest HotelShould win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST SONG

The two frontrunners are surely Glory from Selma and Everything Is Awesome from The LEGO Movie. With the latter missing out on a Best Animated Feature, Shawn Patterson’s infectiously satirical pop tune could get a deserved sympathy vote, but John Stephens’ powerful number, with its nod to the events in Ferguson, will be hard to beat. – Ivan Radford

Will win: SelmaWe want to win: The LEGO Movie

BEST SOUND EDITING

The nominees:

American SniperBirdmanThe Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five ArmiesInterstellarUnbroken

For the majority of the technical awards, we’re expecting Interstellar to prevail, and that may be the case again here. If there’s a rival, then it’s American Sniper, and we wonder if Christopher Nolan and Clint Eastwood’s films will split the sound prizes. There won’t be an Oscar heading to Middle Earth this year, though…

Will win: American SniperShould win: Interstellar

BEST SOUND MIXING

The nominees:

American SniperWhiplashInterstellarBirdmanUnbroken

The sheer precision of the sound work in Whiplash is wonderful. However, if this one doesn’t go to Interstellar, then we’d be genuinely shocked if we got to the end of the Academy Awards and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper hadn’t won something. So we wonder if it may sneak this one…

Will win: American SniperShould win: Whiplash

BEST MAKE UP

The nominees:

FoxcatcherThe Grand Budapest HotelGuardians Of The Galaxy

Steve Carell’s pretend nose is the only impediment to Wes Anderson’s movie picking up a gong here. Even with his stuck on snout, Foxcatcher ain’t going to win this one though. The Grand Budapest Hotel will.

Will win: The Grand Budapest HotelShould win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

The nominees:

The Grand Budapest HotelInherent ViceInto The WoodsMaleficentMr Turner

Maleficent isn’t a bad shout for this one, although by the same score, Disney’s not-great movie Into The Woods is in the running. But, again, this one feels like it’s going to The Grand Budapest Hotel. We would happily put three English pounds on it doing so.

Will win: The Grand Budapest HotelShould win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

And the rest?

We’d like to offer you some deep insight as to the destination of the gongs for Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, Best Live Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film, but in truth, we’d be pissing in the wind even more than usual. We’ve simply not seen enough of them to call it. So have some guesses, just so you can hold us to whatever virtual sweepstake we’re bound to lose…

Best Documentary: Citizenfour (which is brilliant)Best Documentary – Short Subject: White EarthBest Live Action Short Film: Butter LampBest Animated Short Film: Feast

Your turn now, then. Pop your guesses in the comments below. Whoever gets the most right wins a warm round of virtual internet applause…