RogerBW's Blog

87th Academy Awards Predictions 19 February 2015

For the last few years I've been making predictions of the Academy Award winners. Last year I called ten winners out of twenty predictions. I've updated this post with the actual winners now that the results are out.

As usual, I haven't seen most of the contenders; I'm going by reviews and impressions I've picked up, as well as my mental model of the typical Academy voter (an ageing white man who wants to appear progressive while not actually making anyone uncomfortable). I'm also considering old reliable Paddy Power who as always are giving odds.

This year feels much quieter than last. I'm sure the usual hype machines are running, but out on the fringes I've been hearing much less enthusiasm, either for the whole process or for specific contenders.

As before, I'm going to use the "should win" vs "will win" division from Flick Filosopher, which is where you should go for actual film criticism rather than my maunderings; MaryAnn's list of nominees is here. "Will win" is my prediction for the award; "should win" is where I think it ought to go.

I did pretty badly this time, with a mere six correct predictions out of twenty; mostly I underestimated the Academy's willingness to appear self-indulgent and honour Birdman, and I expected an award streak for thinky-SF Interstellar which didn't materialise. I was particularly thrown by the Academy's love for Whiplash, but in retrospect it makes sense: it's very much formulaic and familiar, but at the same time not particularly populist.

Best Picture

Wow. They couldn't even find ten films worthy of consideration.

I see a three-way split: American Sniper is generic thudding war-isn't-fun, The Imitation Game is generic thudding anti-homophobia, and Selma is generic thudding anti-racism (and a "black film" won last year). Of the others, Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman are too thinky, Theory of Everything ticks off points for disabled people (combined with a very physical performance which might help its chances), and Whiplash has wandered into the wrong room by accident.

Though there's still Boyhood, if the Academy gives up all its diversity credentials for the year and celebrate the young white men who are responsible for most of its income. And actually I think that's just the sort of thing the Academy might do. My side bet would be on Selma, since it's the one nomination in a "big" category that involves black people at all and the voters may have tried not to look racist.

OK, "up itself" it was.

American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (did win)
Boyhood (will win)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma (should win)
The Theory of Everything

Actor in a Leading Role

If Birdman won best picture, everyone would assume Hollywood was up itself. So it'll win Leading Actor instead. Though again, Redmayne's a strong contender (at least for people who haven't seen him in Jupiter Ascending).

OK, missed that because of Birdman.

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (should win) (will win)
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything (did win)

Actress in a Leading Role

Witherspoon has been getting all the buzz. From what I'm hearing, Moore really deserves this one, but Still Alice is a depressing film and voters want to push cheerful stuff.

Gosh. That's much more recognition of genuine skill than I expect from the Academy.

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice (should win) (did win)
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild (will win)

Actor in A Supporting Role

I've not heard much buzz here. It'll probably be Norton.

Even more of a surprise.

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (will win)
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J. K. Simmons, Whiplash (did win)

Actress in a Supporting Role

And nobody seems to be talking about this at all. There's no stand-out performance like Lupita Nyong'o's last year.

I had to predict something.

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood (did win)
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (will win)
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Animated Feature Film

Hero got a big PR push, but people actually liked Dragon; Kaguya is Foreign and Looks Weird. The elephant not in the room is The Lego Movie, of course, which was both more financially successful and more critically lauded than any of these. One could argue that some of the foreign entries are better than Lego, but Boxtrolls is entirely out of its depth in this company.

Certainly a surprise for me. Hero's made decent money, but immediately vanished from conversation among the folks I know.

Big Hero 6 (did win)
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2 (will win)
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (should win)


By many accounts the cinematography in Mr. Turner is one of the best things about the film; it's the only nominee that's getting talked about.

But no, it was swept away in the Birdman flood.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (did win)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner (should win) (will win)

Costume Design

Lushness usually wins.

Called it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (will win) (did win)
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner


Oh, hey, an actual non-white person (at least by American standards) got nominated in the Big Five personal awards. And he'll probably win it. And he probably should.

Obviously Girls don't make films. Or write music. Or write or adapt scripts.

Called it.

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (should win) (will win) (did win)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Foreign Language Film

Leviathan's the only one I've heard of, so it'll probably win.

Anti-Russian vote as Chris suggested? No way to know.

Ida (Poland) (did win)
Leviathan (Russia) (will win)
Tangerines (Estonia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)

Film Editing

Imitation Game if it hasn't got any other awards, which it probably won't have. If it has, Sniper.

Whiplash? Really? That would have been right at the bottom of my predictions.

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game (will win)
Whiplash (did win)

Makeup and Hairstyling

Can the Academy bring itself to give a makeup award to a film that's basically about men? Probably not. So Budapest it is.

Called it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (will win) (did win)
Guardians of the Galaxy

Music / Original Score

Original Score is far enough from the important awards that the Academy can dare to honour science fiction without being thought "nerdy".

I don't know anyone who found the Budapest score interesting at all. Hey ho.

The Grand Budapest Hotel -- Alexandre Desplat (did win)
The Imitation Game -- Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar -- Hans Zimmer (will win)
Mr. Turner -- Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything -- Jóhann Jóhannsson

Music / Original Song

It's no "Let It Go", but as with last year there's only one song I've even heard.

Ah, that's where they put their with-it "black folks are OK" credentials this year.

"Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie (will win)
"Glory" from Selma (did win)
"Grateful" from Beyond the Lights
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
"Lost Stars" from Begin Again

Production Design

Budapest is made for this award. But actually I think we may see Interstellar take a run of minor awards.

In which I was very wrong. The Academy's distaste for SF outweighs its love for a complex film made by Christopher Nolan.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (did win)
The Imitation Game
Interstellar (will win)
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Sound Editing

We can't turn down the chance to kick a fantasy film in the teeth!

Indeed we can't. But science fiction too. And here's a nice safe way to acknowledge Sniper.

American Sniper (did win)
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar (will win)

Sound Mixing

And the difference between editing and mixing is, erm? Whiplash vs Hobbit, that's what it is.

Another part of the Whiplash streak.

American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Interstellar (will win)
Whiplash (did win)

Visual Effects

For sheer scope and majesty, Interstellar does actually deserve this.

Called it. Though at this point I'm quite surprised that it didn't get ignored completely. I'd been expecting the Academy to say "look, we don't hate science fiction, we just hate science fiction with space battles and excitement and stuff".

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar (should win) (will win) (did win)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Writing / Adapted Screenplay

Imitation Game gets diversity credentials. Homosexuals beat motor neurone disease. On the other hand, if Sniper gets anything, I think it'll be here.

Called it.

American Sniper
The Imitation Game (will win) (did win)
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

Writing / Original Screenplay

You can be up yourself in a screenplay. Birdman.

Called it.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (will win) (did win)
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Tags: film

See also:
86th Academy Awards Predictions

  1. Posted by Ashley R Pollard at 01:23pm on 19 February 2015

    Oh dear reading that was depressing. Not your writing, but the implications from the commentary.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 01:35pm on 19 February 2015

    It's weird how much less interesting this year has been than last. I am probably being more cynical than the Academy here; I predict the worst case so that I can be cheerful when I'm wrong.

  3. Posted by Dr Bob at 07:48pm on 19 February 2015

    I surmise from my telly experience that Sound Editing is probably "I'll put a gunshot HERE and a cuckoo calling THERE and the sound of 10,000 oranges squashing the lead man RIGHT THERE" whilst Sound Mixing is "Hmm, the sound of 10,000 oranges squashing the lead man is drowning out the dialogue - better dial it back a little."

    Jon at work is best mates with an Academy Member. He was complaining to Jon that there were waaaaaaaay too many depressing films on the long list this year and eventually gave up watching many of them.

  4. Posted by RogerBW at 10:34pm on 19 February 2015

    Thanks, interesting. Almost all sound mixing in "big" films these days has the dialogue far too far down behind the effects and music for my taste, and I'm not even going deaf yet.

  5. Posted by Chris at 10:38pm on 19 February 2015

    You say Foreign Language Film Leviathan (Russia) (will win)

    I am not convinced that a Russian will win anything; I have a feeling that Americans just at the moment will go all Eurovision Song Contest and Shun that country, to make a point.

  6. Posted by RogerBW at 11:01pm on 19 February 2015

    Interesting thought, but I don't think the typical Academy voter is that politically aware. And if he is, it's a film about life in Russia not being much fun for the little guy when the powerful are against him.

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