The 87th Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles this Sunday (February 22), but who’s going home empty-handed, and who’s leaving the Dolby Theatre clutching 3.85 kg of gold-plated britannium (that’s what the iconic Oscar statuette is made of, apparently)? Here are NME’s predictions in 10 of the biggest categories.
Best Animated Feature
Nominees: Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Song Of The Sea, The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya
Will win: How To Train Your Dragon 2
Should win:Big Hero 6
In a fairly inexplicable snub, the deserving winner in this category, The Lego Movie, hasn’t even been nominated. This leaves DreamWorks’ very decent sequel How To Train Your Dragon 2 as the favourite following its win at the Golden Globes, but Disney’s charming superhero romp Big Hero 6 could sneak it – and hopefully will.
Best Original Song
Nominees: ‘Everything Is Awesome’ – The Lego Movie; ‘Glory’ – Selma; ‘Grateful’ – Beyond The Lights; ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ – Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me; ‘Lost Stars’ – Begin Again
Will sin: ‘Glory’
Should win: ‘Everything Is Awesome’
John Legend and Common’s rousing Selma theme song has already picked up a handful of Best Original Song prizes including a Golden Globe, and the pair’s performance at this month’s Grammys will have boosted its chances too. ‘Glory’ is the hot favourite, but Tegan and Sara’s super-catchy collaboration with The Lonely Island for The Lego Movie – a parody of an insipid pop banger that works as both a parody and an actual banger – would be a brilliantly subversive winner.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: Birdman, Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler
Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Should win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
After winning in the equivalent category at the BAFTAs, Wes Anderson should take home his first Oscar for his deliciously whimsical screenwriting work on The Grand Budapest Hotel. However, Birdman‘s four-strong writing team – director Alejandro G Iñárritu plus Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo – pipped him at the Golden Globes, so it’s no foregone conclusion. Either way, this is certainly The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s best hope of a victory outside of the technical categories.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: American Sniper, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Theory Of Everything, Whiplash
Will win: American Sniper
Should win: The Theory Of Everything
This is one of the closest categories. Anthony McCarten’s screenplay for The Theory Of Everything is ostensibly the favourite after winning at the BAFTAs, but Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game script is equally well-regarded. And following its bumper performance at the US box office, Jason Hall’s screenplay for American Sniper -adapted, of course, from a late war hero’s autobiography – looks poised to pull off a minor upset.
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood; Laura Dern – Wild; Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game; Emma Stone – Birdman; Meryl Streep – Into The Woods
Will win: Patricia Arquette
Should win: Laura Dern
Patricia Arquette basically has this Oscar sitting on her mantelpiece already. She’s already won over 35 critics’ awards for her committed and affecting Boyhood performance, including a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and a Screen Actors Guild gong. Emma Stone is probably a distant second favourite for her ferocious work in Birdman, but the perennially underrated Laura Dern deserves credit for turning a few flashback scenes opposite Reese Witherspoon in Wild into something very moving.
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Robert Duvall – The Judge; Ethan Hawke – Boyhood; Edward Norton – Birdman; Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher; JK Simmons – Whiplash
Will win: JK Simmons
Should win: JK Simmons
JK Simmons owns the screen in Whiplash and will almost certainly add an Oscar to the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Screen Actors Guild trophies he’s already collected for his incendiary performance as an abusive jazz instructor. Norton shines bright in Birdman and Ruffalo gives a typically sensitive performance in Foxcatcher but at this stage, they’re essentially competing for second place.
Nominees: Steve Carell – Foxcatcher; Bradley Cooper – American Sniper; Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game; Michael Keaton – Birdman; Eddie Redmayne – The Theory Of Everything
Will win: Eddie Redmayne
Should win: Eddie Redmayne
This one could go either away. Early on, Keaton seemed like frontrunner for his career-reviving turn in Birdman, but Redmayne now has the momentum after his victory at the BAFTAs. Redmayne’s tremendous portrayal of the young Stephen Hawking is certainly the more obvious Oscar bait – it’s a transformative role in a biographical drama, something the Academy loves to reward – but 63-year-old Keaton could be a sentimental favourite. And don’t count out Bradley Cooper, who’s nominated for the third time in as many years for his performance in the hugely successful – and patriotic – American Sniper.
Nominees: 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
Should win: Julianne Moore
In a different year, Reese Witherspoon might have collected her second Oscar for her best work in a decade in backpacking drama Wild, a film she also produced. But this year, Julianne Moore is totally unstoppable. Not only does she give a magnificent, multi-layered portrayal of a woman battling early onset Alzheimer’s disease, but the 50-year-old actress is long overdue an Oscar after being nominated four times before and delivering consistently excellent performances over the years.
Nominees: Alejandro G Inarritu – Birdman; Richard Linklater – Boyhood; Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher; Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotell Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
Will win: Alejandro G Inarritu
Should win: Richard Linklater
This one looks too close to call. Linklater won the equivalent prize at the BAFTAs, but Inarritu triumphed at the Directors Guild of America awards, whose winner has gone on to win an Oscar 60 times in 67 years. For his genuinely innovative work on Boyhood, which he filmed in three-to-four day bursts over a period of 12 years, Linklater deserves to sneak it by a whisker.
Nominees: American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory Of Everything, Whiplash
Will win: Birdman
Should win: Boyhood
Birdman is the bookies’ favourite and has the joint highest number of total nominations (nine – the same number as The Grand Budapest Hotel), which certainly won’t count against it. It’s also a film about the entertainment industry, a topic Hollywood understands and enjoys rewarding. Boyhood is a very close second favourite and benefits from its obvious ambition – Linklater has called making the movie a “crazy undertaking” and few would disagree with him. Selma should have been in the running too, but after being snubbed in every other category, it sadly doesn’t stand a chance.
This year’s Academy Awards take place in Los Angeles on February 22, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Check out the full list of nominations here.