2015 Oscar Predictions – Ben’s Picks

The Academy Awards are here again and unlike most years I am actually ready to move on to the next year. Don’t get me wrong, I will watch and get excited and angry depending on the results but most awards are pretty wrapped up except, ironically, the top two prizes. Yet even there the potential winners are not bad films, either way something good will win. Still this is my addiction each year so here are my thoughts on the potential winners.

Some acronyms SAG (Screen Actors Award) BAFTA ( British Academy of Film and Television Arts) DGA (Directors Guild of America) PGA (Producers Guild of American).

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall- The Judge
Ethan Hawke- Boyhood
Edward Norton- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo- Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons- Whiplash

Will win: J.K. Simmons- Whiplash

Should win: Edward Norton- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Whiplash Movie Still 1

Analysis: J.K. Simmons has won the majority of the critic awards, the SAG, the Golden Globe, The Critic’s Choice, and the BAFTA plus his film did much better than anyone expected nomination wise getting Best Picture, which is always a possibility, but also getting technical support in editing and sound mixing that is much more surprising. This is an easy call, he can’t lose.

Personal Bias: I have not seen The Judge but everything I have heard has not been encouraging movie or performance wise. Mark Ruffalo has some good moments but nothing that makes him jump out as exceptional, just the most human of the characters he is surrounded by. J.K. Simmons is intense and dominates the screen when he is there but I found the character to be lacking much to dig into as a person, while still being a striking performance. Ethan Hawke as the dad that isn’t always around but still cares and tries was a heartfelt beauty of a performance that is so un-showy that you forget how tough it is to be a normal person. Edward Norton for me though is the most complex in this category and is one of the best performances of the year period as a self-absorbed but equally talented stage actor who, while being a jerk, also projects vulnerability as a person and a performer. This complexity of traits was amazing to view and is easily my choice for best of the year.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette- Boyhood
Laura Dern- Wild
Keira Knightley- The Imitation Game
Emma Stone- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep- Into the Woods

Will win: Patricia Arquette- Boyhood

Should win: Patricia Arquette- Boyhood

Boyhood Movie Still 2

Analysis: Like Simmons Arquette has swept the awards, Critic’s Choice, Golden Globe, SAG, and BAFTA. Also Boyhood is one of the two Best Picture frontrunners and Best Picture winners usually have one acting win and this is where the chance is most likely. Best Picture win or not, Arquette cannot lose.

Personal Bias: This is a pretty weak category in my opinion, putting in Kristen Stewart for Still Alice or Carrie Coon from Gone Girl would have helped here. Still with what we have I didn’t see Streep so maybe that would have helped make this stronger. Dern is fine but has so little screen time and does so little with it it is hard to understand how she made it in, Knightly is not asked to do much of anything in The Imitation Game and it merely feels like she is along for the ride with one of the big movie contenders. Emma Stone is very good in her role, playing up a more dark and bitter person than I have ever seen her play, and has been my choice to win at times during the year.  Yet she doesn’t have th ecomplexity of frontrunner Patricia Arquette as a mostly single mom dealing with life and all its hardships. She, like Hawke, I originally overlooked till she started winning and I really thought about what she brings to the role, the quiet intensity of a person just trying to keep life going and never certain how to do it but simply doing her best. It isn’t a showy role which makes it that much more amazing that she is actually going to win.


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Benjamin is a film connoisseur and Oscar watcher who lives in Minneapolis and, when not reviewing movies, works at the Hennepin County Library.

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