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Awards Blend: Boyhood Leads The Pack As We Make Our First Oscar Predictions

Tis the season for all things Oscar, as the prestigious era of adult dramas, period biopics and Disney musicals gets under way at neighborhood theaters. True, Dumb and Dumber might be the biggest release offered to audiences this weekend. But if you scour the listings for your closest multiplex, you’ll also see that awards hopefuls like Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher, Jon Stewart’s Rosewater and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash are opening in more markets – meaning the push for Oscar glory has begun.

We have been tracking the annual awards race up to this point, commenting on Birdman, Gone Girl and Boyhood -- to name just a few gender-driven titles. But with titles like Wild and The Imitation Game readying for release (and the slew of December titles sure to beef up the standings), this is the first time we’re going on record with official Oscar predictions, breaking films down into Frontrunners, Contenders, Dark Horses and Longshots. We still have a number of films left to screen between now and the end of the year. To date, here’s where I think all of the top films stand:

oscar winner prediction

BEST PICTURE

The FrontrunnerBoyhood

The ContendersBirdmanFoxcatcherGone GirlThe Grand Budapest HotelThe Imitation GameThe Theory of EverythingWhiplashWild

The Dark HorsesAmerican SniperA Most Violent YearExodus: Gods and KingsThe GamblerInherent ViceInterstellarInto the WoodsNightcrawlerSelmaStill AliceUnbroken

The LongshotsBig EyesChefFuryThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesMr. TurnerNoahRosewaterSnowpiercerUnder the Skin

The initial pass of Best Director candidates lacks massive names like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese or the Coen brothers. But it is 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. The latter just started to screen. The former hasn’t been shown yet. So yes, a lot of things might change on this list, but here’s where I think we are right now.

oscar winner prediction

BEST DIRECTOR

The FrontrunnerRichard Linklater, Boyhood

The ContendersDamien Chazelle, WhiplashDavid Fincher, Gone GirlAlejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, BirdmanBennett Miller, FoxcatcherMorten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

The Dark HorsesPaul Thomas Anderson, Inherent ViceWes Anderson, The Grad Budapest HotelJ.C. Chandor, A Most Violent YearAva DuVernay, SelmaClint Eastwood, American SniperAngelina Jolie, UnbrokenJames Marsh, The Theory of EverythingRob Marshall, Into the WoodsChristopher Nolan, Interstellar

The LongshotsDarren Aronofsky, NoahJoon-ho Bong, SnowpiercerTim Burton, Big EyesDan Gilroy, NightcrawlerMike Leigh, Mr. TurnerRidley Scott, Exodus: Gods and KingsJean-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

BEST ACTOR

The FrontrunnersSteve Carell, FoxcatcherBenedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation GameEddie Redmayne, The Theory of EverythingMichael Keaton, Birdman

The ContendersJake Gyllenhaal, NightcrawlerDavid Oyelowo, Selma

The Dark HorsesBen Affleck, Gone GirlChadwick Boseman, Get On UpEllar Coltrane, BoyhoodBradley Cooper, American SniperRalph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest HotelOscar Isaac, A Most Violent YearJack O’Connell, UnbrokenJoaquin Phoenix, Inherent ViceChanning Tatum, FoxcatcherMark Wahlberg, The Gambler

The LongshotsChristian Bale, Exodus: Gods and KingsTom Hardy, LockeAlfred Molina, Love is StrangeBill Murray, St. VincentTimothy Spall, Mr. TurnerMiles Teller, WhiplashChristoph Waltz, Big Eyes

If the Best Actor is stacked, the Best Actress race is rail thin. A few candidates are emerging late, particularly Julianne Moore in the buzzworthy Still Alice. But I’m hoping Rob Marshall’s Into The Woods delivers a few noteworthy female performances, because right now, it’s looking like Reese Witherspoon’s show.

oscar winner prediction

BEST ACTRESS

The FrontrunnersNone

The ContendersJulianne Moore, Still AliceRosamund Pike, Gone GirlReese Witherspoon, Wild

The Dark HorsesFelicity Jones, The Theory of EverythingHilary Swank, The HomesmanShailene Woodley, The Fault in Our Stars

The LongshotsAmy Adams, Big EyesJennifer Aniston, CakeJuliette Binoche, Clouds of Sils MariaEmily Blunt, Into the WoodsMarion Cotillard, One Day, Two NightsAnne Hathaway, InterstellarGugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle

If I had to place my money on one Best Supporting Actor candidate, it would have to be… too soon to tell. As much as I love JK Simmons in the breathtaking Whiplash, that movie hasn’t been setting the indie box office on fire. A few early critics’ groups could boost the profile of these candidates, but for now, it’s a level playing field.

oscar winner prediction

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

The FrontrunnersJK Simmons, WhiplashEdward Norton, Birdman

The ContendersMark Ruffalo, FoxcatcherEthan Hawke, BoyhoodTyler Perry, Gone Girl

The Dark HorsesJosh Brolin, Inherenet ViceAlbert Brooks, A Most Violent YearJohn Goodman, The GamblerTom Wilkinson, Selma

The LongshotsJames Corden, Into the WoodsJohnny Depp, Into the WoodsJoel Edgerton, Exodus: Gods and KingsTommy Lee Jones, The HomesmanLogan Lerman, FuryChris 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

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

The FrontrunnerPatricia Arquette, Boyhood

The ContendersLaura Dern, WildKeira Knightley, The Imitation GameEmma Stone, BirdmanNaomi Watts, Birdman

The Dark HorsesJessica Chastain, A Most Violent YearMelissa McCarthy, St. VincentVanessa Redgrave, FoxcatcherRene Russo, Nightcrawler

The LongshotsCarrie Coon, Gone GirlAnna Kendrick, Into the WoodsJessica Lange, The GamblerMeryl Streep, Into the WoodsTilda Swinton, SnowpiercerKatherine Waterston, Inherent Vice

Sean O'Connell

Managing Director at CinemaBlend. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.