This time every year we at Rotten Tomatoes lock ourselves in a room, put our collective heads together and try to do the undoable: guess who will win at the Academy Awards. We know this is somewhat futile, but we love it. Last year we were 21/24. Let’s see if history repeats itself.
Like last year, we see the race split between two frontrunners: Boyhood and Birdman. While Birdman has been gaining momentum with wins at the guild awards, we think it will be rewarded elsewhere. Best Picture seems the natural final leg for Boyhood‘s twelve-year journey.
That said, this is where we see the split heading, especially after Iñárritu took home the top prize from the Director’s Guild. While Linklater’s held his vision for twelve years, it’s hard to ignore Iñárritu’s impressive work with a large ensemble cast of actors and the film’s strong visual style.
Early on in the race, it seemed this was Michael Keaton’s award to lose. But as the race progressed, Redmayne’s transformation into Stephen Hawking took center stage, taking home the BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG awards.
This marks Julianne Moore’s 5th nomination (she’s lost four times, including the year she was nominated in two categories). The Academy loves to reward people for years of consistent good work (except poor Peter O’Toole!), and this year is Moore’s year. She’s already got the BAFTA, Critics Choice, NBR, Golden Globe and SAG. It’s time to make space on her mantle for one more.
In the role of his career, consummate character actor J.K. Simmons steals the show as the acerbic music teacher of your nightmares. Simmons is as sure a bet as you’ll find this year, having already won in this category at the BAFTAs, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, SAGs and countless film critic groups. His performance is just the Academy’s tempo.
While Emma Stone has been up-and-coming for years now, her nomination is her prize. This award is as good as Arquette’s. Critics and voters seem to agree that while the film is called Boyhood, it’s Arquette’s steadfast mother who is the heart of the film. Like J.K. Simmons, she’s racked up wins at the BAFTAs, Critics Choice, Golden Globes, SAGs and critics groups.
A couple of us here at Team Tomato would argue that this film should have made its way to the Best Picture category. This homage to the Polish New Wave of the early 1960s has already won several awards in this category.
In a year with no Pixar release (and a shocking lack of The Lego Movie), we think this Certified Fresh Disney crowd-pleaser will take the gold. We can’t wait to hear Baymax’s speech.
The perfect storm of an interesting (and timely) story told in an interesting way, CitizenFour has been cleaning up in this category all season.
This is Wes Anderson’s third nomination in this category, but the first time one of his films has made the leap to Best Picture (and director and 7 more categories), so we think this is where the Academy will reward Anderson for bringing us his quirky, unique cinematic worlds for the past twenty years.
While we debate the validity of putting this in the adapted category, we think this is where the Academy will show love to writer/director Damien Chazelle.
After losing in this category five times, it seems Emmanuel Lubezki is set for a back-to-back win after nabbing gold for Gravity. His work on Birdman helped create the illusion of a film that takes place in one seamless shot, hopefully ending on a podium.
It’s often said a film is born in the editing room and without the work of Sandra Adair, Boyhood is just twelve years of footage. Side note: Adair has edited all of Linklater’s films since Dazed and Confused.
Costume designer Colleen Atwood practically is this category. She’s been nominated a whopping 11 times in the last twenty years, and we think this Sunday she’ll see her fourth win.
Wes Anderson films have long been known for their distinct style and this film is the pinnacle. A world within a world within a world, all unique and exquisitely detailed.
The heart of this film is the relationship between Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane, and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s swelling, romantic score brings the viewers into their passion without ever overwhelming us with schmaltz.
One of only two nominations for Ava DuVernay’s MLK biopic, it’s tough to think that if it doesn’t win here, it’ll go home empty-handed.
The Academy loves a well recorded war pic.
Did you hear this movie? Did you see those drums? Our hearts are still beating to Fletcher’s tempo.
While Caesar and his clan were seamlessly brought to life in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians of the Galaxy boasted some eye-popping visuals, we think every one of the nominees in this category utilized their effects in much the same fashion and achieved similar goals with them. Every one of the nominees, that is, except for Interstellar, whose depiction of mindbending theoretical concepts sets it apart from the pack.
Big hair and fake noses are great and all, but the complete transformations of Zoe Saldana and David Bautista into their alien characters are out of this world.
The Phone Call stars the great Sally Hawkins as a suicide hotline operator and the great Jim Broadbent as the grief-stricken man on the other line. That’s right: this one’s got two recognizable actors, which means it’s twice as likely that Oscar voters got around to watching it.
Written and directed by Daisy Jacobs, The Bigger Picture sounds like a run of the mill drama: two brothers take care of their elderly mother. But what makes this film exceptional is the animation itself: life-size characters painted on walls interacting with real objects, resulting in a refreshing “How’d they do that?” from viewers.
American Sniper isn’t the only Oscar-nominated film about the psychological wounds of warfare; Crisis Hotline focuses on a suicide prevention call center for servicemen. It’s a haunting, observant document of a vital issue, and it’s sure to resonate with members of the academy.