Sunday, February 22, 2015

How I Did With My Year in Advance Predictions and Final Oscar Predictions

Tonight are the 87th Academy Awards and before the ceremony I thought it would be best to look back on my predictions for acting nominations made after last year's ceremony to see how well of an Oscar psychic I was. And also predict who will be taking home gold tonight. Three out of the four acting categories seem to be wrapped up (Yay! Julianne Moore!), but it seems like Best Actor is still up for grabs for a couple of actors (well, except for Carell. That's just not gonna happen). So let's dive right in...

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"I've been smelling an Oscar nomination since the first day of filming..."

Best Actor
Chadwick Boseman Get On Up
Steve Carell Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch The Imitation Game
Jack O'Connell Unbroken
Joaquin Phoenix Inherent Vice

The Actual Nominees:
Steve Carell Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton Birdman
Eddie Redmayne The Theory of Everything

How Many Correctly Guessed: 2/5

Last year was my best year yet in this category, just a Tom Hanks shy (my prediction instead of Christian Bale) of having all 5 of the Best Actor nominees correctly chosen. This year I've gone down considerably, but sadly it was still my best category in predicting. There had been early buzz for Carell's work in Foxcatcher for literally years (as it was supposed to come out in 2013), but I'm actually surprised that he found his way in the final five as I was not impressed by his performance (or the movie as a whole). It seemed the film was losing momentum, but Oscar voters were more enamored than I thought. Cumberbatch was always going to get in because of where he is in his career at the moment, the nature of the role, and the Harvey Weinstein factor. I knew at the time that predicting Boseman and O'Connell both was a little younger than what the Academy usually goes for in this category, but the baitiness of both roles just seemed right up their alley. Boseman's performance as James Brown was electric, but the film just never really found an audience and the August release, instead of building momentum, just made it fade from memory as the months passed. O'Connell is still one of my favorite discoveries of this past year and I hope he finds Oscar attention in the coming years because he's very talented. Unbroken seemed like such a sure-thing on paper, but Angie just hasn't found her voice yet as a director (O'Connell made my own list of Best Actor performances this year...but for Starred Up). And Joaquin, coming off great work in The Master and her, seemed like an easy call to make. But Inherent Vice was...I don't wanna say a disaster, but it's pretty unwatchable for me. I'm surprised it managed the few Oscar nominations it did.

Keaton had been in the running for my year in advance predictions, but I decided to leave him off because I wasn't sure how successful González Iñárritu, usually so dour, would be with what everyone was billing as a comedy. The film ended up being more satirical and more darkly funny than I had initially imagined it to be. And now it appears that Keaton could actually win the whole thing...if it wasn't for Eddie Redmayne. Redmayne, who is relatively young for this category, does the kind of performance that wins Oscars with the biopic synopsis and his difficult physical transformation. Both men have been sharing the precursor prizes, with the slight edge going to Redmayne who won at SAG (the past 10 SAG winners in this category have all gone on to win Oscars) and there's also late-breaking dark horse Bradley Cooper, who received his third nomination in a row and whose film has been a huge success. But for whatever reason, I think they're going with Keaton, not just because he's great in the film, which plays on the actor's own career, but because he might not have a shot again. This seems like his moment.   

My Ranking of the Nominees: Keaton, Redmayne, Cumberbatch, Cooper, Carell
Who Will Win: Tough call (and the only one of the night in the acting categories), but I'm going with Keaton
Who Should Win: Keaton


"Dear Diary, I'm surprised as you that Fincher has become a go-to for Best Actress nominations..."

Best Actress
Amy Adams Big Eyes
Cate Blanchett Carol
Rosamund Pike Gone Girl
Emma Stone Untitled Cameron Crowe Film
Meryl Streep Into the Woods

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

How Many Guessed Correctly: 1.5/5 (The half is for Streep...in the wrong category.)

My early predictions would have had three of the five actresses just nominated in this category making their return, but luckily none of them made their way back here...well, at least in Best Actress. Meryl is always gonna find her way into Oscar's heart. Don't get me wrong, I love to be right, but It's nice that the Academy isn't so predictable, always nominating the same actresses. Although, it did seem like Amy Adams could've still made it in here. (I was even still predicting her as the final fifth nominee that thankfully went to Cotillard.) But her film was not well received and I think most felt if she was gonna get a 6th nomination, it might as well be something she has a shot at winning for. Blanchett's film was always an iffy call as it hadn't started filming until April, but I thought it would be ready in time. It wasn't, but she just might make an appearance on my predictions for this year...And Meryl is always a default nominee. After last year when she went lead when she could've gone either way, I thought she would do that again. The film is truly an ensemble and could've gone either way, she would've gotten the nom either way (although, I personally don't think it ranks as some of her best work) and I'm sure Felicity Jones is grateful she went supporting. Emma Stone was another person that seemed ready for an Oscar nomination and I was right in predicting she would receive one this year...but in the wrong film and the wrong category. This film won't even be released until May of this year now (finally titled Aloha) and, judging from the leaked Sony emails, not one of Cameron Crowe's best. Rosamund Pike was the only actress I successfully predicted, but I think that anyone that played that part would've been nominated because of the character and Fincher's involvement. (I don't, however, think that she was all that successful with her take on it.)

But I couldn't possibly have predicted who would eventually win for Best Actress this year because her film wasn't even on the radar a year ago. It didn't even have a distributor until this fall. But here she is, our Best Actress front-runner, Julianne Moore in Still Alice. Although her performance doesn't rank among her best work for me and I think both Cotillard (who barely made it in, but gives the best performance in this category) and Witherspoon are much stronger in their films, I am very happy that Juli will finally be an Academy Award winner. And not to say that she's bad in the film - she's actually very good - I've just seen her give better performances and the film itself does her no favors. But it's definitely Juli's time, there is no other competition for the win this year. And I'm just happy that she's finally winning! 

My Rankings of the Nominees: Cotillard, Witherspoon, Moore, Pike, Jones
Who Will Win: Julianne Moore will finally be able to add "Academy Award Winner" before her name
Who Should Win: Cotillard, who gave two amazing performances this year


"Nice job, on predicting me. The only thing I'll throw at you are accolades..."

Best Supporting Actor
Benicio Del Toro Inherent Vice
J.K. Simmons Whiplash
Channing Tatum Foxcatcher
Christopher Walken Jersey Boys
Christoph Waltz Big Eyes

The Actual Nominees:
Robert Duvall The Judge
Ethan Hawke Boyhood
Edward Norton Birdman
Mark Ruffalo Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons Whiplash

How Many Guessed Correctly: 1/5

I knew after Sundance that Simmons was making his way here, but I didn't suspect that his road to victory would be so easy. The only actor that I successfully predicted, Simmons has dominated every Best Supporting Actor category this year coasting to an Oscar win tonight. The other four men that found their way in this category along Simmons have all been nominated here before, but Simmons is assured the win. I say it every year, but this category is always the hardest to predict a year in advance. And as the same 5 men kept being nominated over and over again this awards season, it seemed that no one seemed all that interested in it to begin with. I knew I should have gone with Ruffalo as the Supporting nominee from Foxcatcher since Tatum's category placement was so up in the air, but it just never felt right to put him in over Chan (who gives my favorite performance in the film). I should probably stop predicting Christopher Walken, it never seems to pan out. But his surprise nom from Catch Me If You Can makes him a default for me in predicting this category. And he was arguably the best part of a terrible movie. (God, Jersey Boys was just bad.) Benicio Del Toro is another one like Walken that I always want to include because I think he's an amazing actor, but his film was polarizing and his part in it was way too small to make an impact. If anyone was getting a nomination it would've been Josh Brolin, who obviously didn't. Two-time winner in this category, Christoph Waltz, paired with Amy Adams and Tim Burton seemed like a safe bet, but there was category confusion with his film, which was pretty much a non-starter (outside of Adams' outside chances) to begin with. 

My Rankings of the Nominees: Norton, Hawke, Ruffalo, Simmons, Duvall
Who Will Win: It's been Simmons all season
Who Should Win: Norton


"Don't you judge me. I've been playing your mother for 12 years and have a guaranteed Oscar - I'm celebrating."

Best Supporting Actress
Emily Blunt Into the Woods
Viola Davis Get On Up
Marcia Gay Harden Magic in the Moonlight
Anna Kendrick Into the Woods
Rooney Mara Carol

The Actual Nominees:
Patricia Arquette Boyhood
Laura Dern Wild
Keira Knightley The Imitation Game
Emma Stone Birdman
Meryl Streep Into the Woods

How Many Guessed Correctly: 0/5 (whomp, whomp...)

So what happened here? I didn't get a single nomination correctly predicted. I always give early predictions to Keira Knightley (I did previously for A Dangerous Method and Anna Karenina) and it never works out, I debated with including her in my year in advance predictions for Imitation Game but figured my love for her as an actress just wasn't the same as the Academy's. I guess they chose this year to finally prove me wrong...Mara, a former nominee,  might've made it, if her film had actually come out this year. Into the Woods just wasn't as good as I wished it would be (which had no impact on Streep - it never does), but no one seemed to notice either Blunt (who campaigned in lead) nor Kendrick from the film. I actually prefer both over Streep in this, but am perfectly fine in not successfully predicting their nominations as neither were good enough to warrant nods. And poor Viola Davis and Marcia Gay, both exceptional actresses in thankless cameo roles. Davis fares a little better, nailing the one big scene she's in, and might've been more of a contender if the film had been more successful. But I just watched Magic in the Moonlight a couple weeks ago and can barely remember that Marcia Gay was even in it.

Of course, none of the actresses I predicted a year ago nor the ones that actually made it in the category stand a chance for the win against Patricia Arquette in Boyhood. Like Simmons and Moore, she was won almost every precursor award and hopefully will have memorized her speech for this evening. It took a little longer for people to catch-up with Hawke as a nominee, but almost since it was released this summer, Arquette's performance in Boyhood has been praised as one of the film's best elements - especially her speech when Mason goes off to college. It's a long way to come for an actress that made her debut in Nightmare on Elm Street 3 in 1987, but as her decade plus performance in Boyhood showed, Arquette excels at the long game.

My Rankings of the Nominees: Arquette, Dern, Stone, Knightley, Streep
Who Will Win: Arquette's 12 year performance that's the heart of Boyhood
Who Should Win: Of these nominees, Arquette. But I'm honestly not that excited about any of them

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Make sure to come back all this week as I make my Year in Advance Predictions for 2015!

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