2015 Oscar Predictions – Ben’s Picks

Best Actor
Steve Carell- Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper- American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch- The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne- The Theory of Everything

Will win: Eddie Redmayne- The Theory of Everything

Should win: Michael Keaton- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Theory of Everything Movie Header Image

Analysis: Redmayne has won The Globe, the BAFTA and The SAG while Keaton only has the Critic’s Choice, the Globe for Comedy and the several critics awards. Since the SAG and BAFTA actually have Academy members and Redmayne is playing a real person with disabilities (an Academy favorite) this is the most likely win, though Keaton is still a possibility being in an Oscar frontrunner for Picture which could help. Redmayne has the momentum right now but if there is an upset in acting this is where it is most likely.

Personal Bias: Another weak category, which is unacceptable with so many great ones to choose from like Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner to Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.  But the biggest question mark for me is, with all the love that The Grand Budapest Hotel got, how did the best lead actor performance of the year, Ralph Finnes playing one of the most original and clever characters of the year, miss out here?  Okay, so with what we have, Carrell makes us stop thinking he is a comedic actor but the performance is so stilted in just being creepy all the time there is nothing else to it.  Even when he becomes violent there is no examination of him beyond that he is creepy. Eddie Redmayne has the physical part of the performance down but I never had a sense of who Stephen Hawkins as a person is in the film.  Plus, he all but disappears in the middle of the film so I really do not understand the praise Redmayne has gotten. Cooper brings a physical and interesting mental intensity to his character but again there lacks a larger sense of who this person is and how the war damaged him and his relationship to those around him. Cumberbatch plays the misunderstood genius with flare and we do get a nice emotional sense of where he is coming from in his work and how he tries to function even if the movie’s editing gets in the way. For me though, Keaton is the only choice here as a washed up actor trying to find himself and give himself dignity, while both fighting the urges of his own subconscious that wants to be a sell out star again, and trying to keep his family and show together.  His performance is deeply moving, complex and very funny. Easily the best in this line-up for me.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard- Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones- The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore- Still Alice
Rosamund Pike- Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon- Wild

Will win: Julianne Moore- Still Alice

Should win: Julianne Moore- Still Alice

Still Alice Movie Header Image

Analysis: Julianne Moore has won the Critic’s Choice Award, SAG, Golden Globe, and the BAFTA, is also deemed “overdue” in some circles, and she is playing a character dealing with a disability. All around it tells us that she is unbeatable.

Personal Bias: This has been an interesting year for actress in that I liked many of the performances but nothing that made me feel wowed for the longest time. I haven’t see Cotillard and that makes me so sad because I love what the directors, the Dardenne Brothers, have done in the past.  Felicity Jones, like the rest of the cast of Theory of Everything, I am unimpressed by. Reese Witherspoon is very good as a woman using hiking to try to find mental clarity. Rosamund Pike has several levels on which she gets to play. Yet what wowed me like no other is what Julianne Moore does in Still Alice, creating the most complete vision of going through Alzheimer’s with fear, confusion and anger. This is a towering achievement and Moore deserves all the praise and awards she has gotten.


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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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