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By Christmas Day, basically every film that hopes to compete for an Academy Award has screened. Because major studios target the holiday date as a prime release slot, films like Disney’s musical Into the Woods, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, Tim Burton’s Big Eyes and Ava DuVernay’s Selma begin screening for wider audiences, so crowds from coast to coast can start to see what all of the fuss is about.

While The Interview ate up most of the movie headlines over the Christmas frame, it will be interesting to see which movies begin to have an impact with ticket buyers. Box office success is a factor when a film is campaigning for Oscar’s top prize, primarily because if a film fails to find a foothold at the ticket booth, detractors quickly can point out this flaw. With that in mind, Angelina Jolie’s Oscar contender Unbroken seemed to get off to a very good start on Christmas Day, and we discuss that in this week’s Awards Blend podcast.

Now, on to the charts. A number of films moved up and down as we sailed past Christmas. As of Friday, December 26, here’s where I think our major contenders stand:

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

The Contenders

American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
The Dark Horses

Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
A Most Violent Year
Still Alice
The Longshots

Big Eyes
The Gambler
It’s possible that this category could break major ground if two female directors (in Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay) are able to land nominations for their pictures Unbroken and Selma. I didn't have a lot of faith in Jolie's chances, especially after SAG and the Golden Globes left her out. The Director field is competitive this year (as in every year), but Unbroken finding a large audience boosts her profile:

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunner

Ava DuVernay, Selma
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
The Contenders

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
James Marsh, The Theory of Everything
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
The Dark Horses

Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
The Longshots

Rob Marshall, Into the Woods
Jean-Marc Vallee, Wild
Easily the toughest category in this year’s Oscar race. There will be at least five worthy Best Actor candidates who’ll be on the outside looking in on the morning of the Oscar announcements. When picking Frontrunners, I have four who I believe are mortal locks. That means there’s one possible slot open for nearly 20 possible contenders. Who’ll survive the lengthy Opening Stage of the awards campaign?

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Michael Keaton, Birdman
The Contenders

Ben Affleck, Gone Girl
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year
David Oyelowo, Selma
The Dark Horses

Chadwick Boseman, Get On Up
Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Jack O’Connell, Unbroken
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
The Longshots

Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher
Mark Wahlberg, The Gambler
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes
If the Best Actor is stacked, the Best Actress race is rail thin. A few candidates are emerging, particularly Julianne Moore in the buzzworthy Still Alice. Jennifer Aniston also received SAG and Golden Globes support for her role in the drama Cake, and now looks like she could disrupt the two-horse race between Moore and Reese Witherspoon.

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
The Contenders

Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
The Dark Horses

Marion Cotillard, One Day, Two Nights
Hilary Swank, The Homesman
Shailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars
The Longshots

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
As predicted, J.K. Simmons is taking the trophies in the early, regional awards races. Hopefully his wins – as well as positive word-of-mouth – can continue to boost Whiplash at the indie box office on fire. Right now, I’m waiting for someone to step up and challenge Simmons for the lead in this category. It hasn’t happened yet.

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

JK Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
The Contenders

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Tom Wilkinson, Selma
The Dark Horses

Josh Brolin, Inherenet Vice
Tyler Perry, Gone Girl
The Longshots

James Corden, Into the Woods
John Goodman, The Gambler
Tommy Lee Jones, The Homesman
Chris Pine, Into the Woods
Much like the Best Picture race, I have one lock (in my mind) for the Supporting Actress race, and it’s tied to Boyhood. Patricia Arquette is the emotional anchor of Richard Linklater’s sprawling, 12-year journey, and her sentimental work should be enough to earn the actress her first Oscar nomination. Who will join her?

oscar winner prediction

The Frontrunners

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
The Contenders

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Naomi Watts, Birdman
The Dark Horses

Laura Dern, Wild
Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice
The Longshots

Carrie Coon, Gone Girl
Melissa McCarthy, St. Vincent
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer