And the Winner Is … Zoomer Predicts the 87th Academy Awards

The red carpet’s ready, the statuettes are all shined and John Travolta’s dialect coach is working overtime to teach him the proper pronunciation of this year’s nominees. All that’s left to do is find out who’ll triumph on Hollywood’s biggest night.

The list of 2015 Oscar nominees boasts some sure bets (those whose last names happen to be Moore or Simmons come to mind) and others that aren’t so obvious, so we’ve delved into Oscar history to make our predictions for the major categories at the 87th annual Academy Awards.


The Nominees:

American Sniper

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)


The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game


The Theory of Everything


Who Should Win: One of the toughest categories of the show, there’s no real “should win” film here. Though there are some long shots, you could make an argument for most of the nominees.

What History Tells Us: Since 2009, all the winners have one thing in common – a strong historical bent. From 12 Years A Slave to Argo to The Artist to The King’s Speech and The Hurt Locker, they’re all either based on true stories, take place in a historical period very different from our own, or both. They’re also all dramas (sorry Grand Budapest Hotel) and only The Artist went out on a limb with the filmmaking process, creating a foreign, virtually silent black and white film.

Who Will Win: Despite the evidence skewing toward historical films, this will likely come down to either Birdman or Boyhood. Birdman, like The Artist, tells a compelling story about a struggling showbiz star in a unique way. Boyhood is a beautiful drama with solid acting and a filmmaking backstory that already gives it an edge in many people’s minds.

The Academy hasn’t shown much love to Selma, so why would they start here? A comedy rarely wins, so statistically The Grand Budapest Hotel is out. Whiplash is a long shot and I think the hype for The Imitation Game has run out of steam. I don’t see the Academy giving the award to two war films so close together, so despite its fan base American Sniper probably won’t take the trophy.

I think Boyhood will ultimately prove the winner, with the The Theory of Everything possibly playing spoiler (even though award-season love for this film is more focused on Eddie Redmayne than the movie as a whole).


The Nominees:

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Who Should Win: Eddie Redmayne’s transformation into Stephen Hawking has largely swept him through award season. And for good reason. A worthy field of contenders, but it’s Redmayne’s to lose. Keaton is probably his main opposition, and I’d be surprised if we saw the Cumber-votes for Benedict.

What History Tells Us: As Time magazine pointed out, Bradley Cooper is one of 10 actors to be nominated three years in a row, and all but one of those actors eventually took home the gold. However, a look at all the winners since 2000 shows an impressive roster of transformative, and autobiographical, roles: Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote, Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, Colin Firth as King George VI and last year’s winner Matthew McConaughey as Ron Woodroof. Cooper’s turn as sniper Chris Kyle is autobiographical, but so is Redmayne’s performance. And Redmayne’s is more in line with the brilliant performances listed above.

Who Will Win: Eddie Redmayne is winning Best Actor trophies left and right this award season, so he’s the frontrunner. An upset win for Michael Keaton, however, would make the nine-year-old Batman fan in me very happy.


The Nominees:

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Who Should Win: Marion Cotillard is on my list of all-time favoruite actresses. And I’ve been a Reese Witherspoon fan since her turn in the cheesy teen thriller Fear. And if Julianne Moore hadn’t delivered the best performance of her career in Still Alice this year, I’d likely be championing one of them. It’s the curse of all the nominees in this category this year.

What History Tells Us: In this category, often the Oscar buzz isn’t far off from Oscar reality. Recent winners include Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) and Natalie Portman (Black Swan), all of whom were the favourite or among the favourites to win in their respective year.

Who Will Win: Julianne Moore. Her dominating award season run this year makes this one of the most predictable awards of the evening, and a very well-deserved on at that. I’ve been pulling for her to pick up the Best Actress nod since seeing Still Alice at TIFF last year.


The Nominees: Robert Duvall, The Judge

Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Who Should Win: J.K. Simmons, both because he’s on a Julianne Moore-like role, and because I really don’t think the other performances are in his league.

What History Tells Us: Recent history proves that if your name has some version of “Chris” in it (Christoph Waltz twice, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, Chris Cooper) your odds of a win are good. That doesn’t apply here so the next thing we’re looking for is commanding, near show-stealing performances a la past winners like Heath Ledger’s Joker (The Dark Night), Javier Bardem’s Anton Chigurh (No Country For Old Men) or Jared Leto’s Rayon (Dallas Buyer’s Club). It’s plain to see that Simmons is the frontrunner by a mile.

Who Will Win: J.K. Simmons. If Duvall pulls off an upset, however, he’ll become the oldest Oscar winner in history.


The Nominees:

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Laura Dern, Wild

Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Emma Stone, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Who Should Win: Tough one here, as the list contains no real breakout contenders. I really enjoyed Knightley in The Imitation Game but I think it’ll come down to Arquette or Dern.

What History Tells Us: That this category boasts such a great cross-section of performances that have gone on to win the statuette, from Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave last year to Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables to Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls in 2006. Also, except for last year, in recent years, there haven’t really been any runaway winners. This year feels the same.

Who Will Win: I think the smart money is on Arquette, though I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Laura Dern for the win. She’s put in a solid performance that’s largely been overshadowed by Arquette in Boyhood. I think if the Academy goes breaks with the current award season trends it’ll be here, given this is probably the least predictable of the predictable categories.


The Nominees:

Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu [Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Who Should Win: I think, realistically, this comes down to either Iñárritu or Linklater, both of whom are well deserving of the statuette. The deciding factor will be whether the Academy values the 12-year filmmaking process over innovative camera/shooting technique. Anderson is the long shot spoiler if the Academy decides to get cute.

What History Tells Us: The Academy is on a kick when it comes to innovative filmmaking. The last three years have seen Gravity, Life of Pi, and The Artist earn their directors statuettes, basically lending credence to the idea that this is a two-way race.

Who Will Win: It’s a 50/50 shot, so I’m going with Richard Linklater’s 12-year journey over Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “continuous shot” cinematic achievement.


The Nominees:

Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Who Should Win: The Lego Movie (at least according to the many fans and critics upset with the film’s perceived snub).

What History Tells Us: That Disney, unsurprisingly, reigns supreme in the animation world. This category has only been around since 2001, and the House of Mouse has won eight of those Oscars, including being on a current two-year winning streak as well as winning six of the last eight years. That bodes very well for Big Hero 6. However, the only other production company to win more than one Oscar in this category, DreamWorks (they’ve won two), has How to Train Your Dragon 2, which is almost universally praised and also won the Golden Globe in the same category. Toho, which won in 2002 for Spirited Away, is the company behind The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.

Who Will Win: There’s space for one more statuette in How to Train Your Dragon 2’s trophy case this award season.


The Nominees:

Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)

Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Jason Hall (American Sniper)

Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)

Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)

Who Should Win: This one’s up in the air. I don’t think Inherent Vice is in the running, as it never really lived up to the lofty expectations, but I personally enjoyed The Imitation Game the most.

What History Tells Us: There’s a solid correlation between the winner of this award and the winner of the Best Picture Oscar. Going back to the year 2000, seven films that won this award went on to win Best Picture. The rest of the Best Adapted Screenplay winners were all still nominated for Best Picture. That means that the stats don’t favour Inherent Vice.

Who Will Win: I think Whiplash may surprise here, especially since I doubt it will win the Best Picture statue.


The Nominees:

Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)

Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo [Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]

Richard Linklater (Boyhood)

Who Should Win: I’ve got a soft spot for Wes Anderson, but I feel like it’s probably Iñárritu’s year.

What History Tells Us: Unlike the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, only three winners of this award, since the year 2000, have gone on to win Best Picture: The King’s Speech, The Hurt Locker, and Crash – the first two proving somewhat of an anomaly in a category that favoured smaller or indie-style films like Little Miss Sunshine, Juno and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In recent years, however, higher profile films like Her, Django Unchained, and Midnight in Paris have nabbed the trophy, all of which bodes well for Birdman, which satisfies both the artistic merit quota and the name recognition quota that has served recent winners so well.

Who Will Win: Birdman’s Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo.


The Nominees:

Roger Deakins (Unbroken)

Emmanuel Lubezki [Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)]

Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)

Robert Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski (Ida)

Who Should Win: Dick Pope gained a certain level of notoriety when his name was mispronounced as “Dick Poop” during the nominations announcement. As much as I loved Mr. Turner (I’ll save my Mr. Turner snub-related rants for another day), I think Lubezki’s Birdman earned this prize.

What History Tells Us: The last five films to win this award are Gravity, Life of Pi, Hugo, Inception, and Avatar. Notice a trend? Given Oscar voters’ recent penchant for awarding films created using various CGI/animation techniques, Emmanuel Lubezki’s visual work in Birdman seems to come closest to filling the requirements this year. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the colourful Grand Budapest Hotel win, or for the Academy to completely reverse their preferences from recent years and choose the black and white war film Ida.

Who Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).


The Nominees:

Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods)

Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice)

Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)

Jacqueline Durran (Mr. Turner)

Anna B. Sheppard (Maleficent)

Who Should Win: This is a tough three-way race between Atwood, Canonero and Sheppard, and you could argue any of those choices as the right one.

What History Tells Us: It’s no surprise that period pieces and fantasy films have done well here in the past. Inherent Vice is probably out of the running, and Mr. Turner or Maleficent could pull off an upset, but this will likely come down to Canonero, whose won a few statuettes already this season for The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Atwood for Into the Woods.

Who Will Win: I think Milena Canonero is the betting favourite, especially given how the style and costuming of The Grand Budapest Hotel has become so synonymous with the identity of the film.


The Nominees:


Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth


Who Should Win: I enjoyed Finding Vivian Maier on so many levels. Her life story is shrouded in mystery – kind of like if Mary Poppins had a dark side – the way her work was (re)discovered proved fascinating, and the filmmaking in general was great. It’s pretty obvious which film I’m pulling for, though unfortunately I’m not a voting member of the Academy.

What History Tells Us: That this could go either way. Most years there’s at least one documentary that has broken through to the mainstream and garnered a following. Sometimes that doc, like 20 Feet From Stardom, The Cove, or Bowling For Columbine, rides the wave to Oscar gold. Other times, like with Supersize Me or Michael Moore’s Sicko, it doesn’t. Winners in the last few years have chronicled subjects as varied as an obscure American musician, high school sports and the most recent American financial crisis.

Who Will Win: CitizenFour is pretty much universally heralded as brilliant, and as much as I love Finding Vivian Maier I think CitizenFour’s momentum will carry over to the Oscar podium.


The Nominees:

Ida (Poland)

Leviathan (Russia)

Tangerines (Estonia)

Timbuktu (Mauritania)

Wild Tales (Argentina)

Who Should Win: Mommy, the tremendous Quebecois drama by Xavier Dolan. But alas, it wasn’t nominated. In that case, since this year marks the first ever nominations for both Estonia and Mauritania, I’m pulling for one of them to take the prize. That said, I think either Wild Tales (Argentina) or Leviathan (Russia) really should win.

What History Tells Us: Italy has the most wins in history and France the most nominations, and neither is represented here. Four out of the last five winners have focused on love, loss, illness, or regret surrounding older/elderly characters. While boomers play central roles in these stories, the films are quite different.

Who Will Win: Russia’s Leviathan is the betting favourite, though Ida could surprise.


The Nominees:

“Everything Is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)

Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson

“Glory” (Selma)

Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

“Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)

Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me)

Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond

“Lost Stars” (Begin Again)

Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Who Should Win: Though “Everything is Awesome” is catchy and “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” is a possibility, I think this year belongs to “Glory.”

What History Tells Us: From Elton John to Eminem to Adele and Three 6 Mafia, it’s not unusual for established recording artists to take this award. They’re not a sure bet, but they get more mainstream airplay and we tend to remember them better than lesser-known winners. That said, powerhouse songs like last year’s “Let It Go” from Frozen, performed by Idina Menzel – or Adele Dazeem if you’re John Travolta – can easily prove a powerhouse when attached to a major motion picture.

Who Will Win: “Glory” fulfills both sets of criteria above, boasting both established performers and the good fortune to have swept away most of the competition this award season. Some feel that Glenn Campbell could prove a sentimental choice for the Academy, but I think “Glory” will take the statue home.

Do you agree or disagree with our predictions, or have some of your own? Let us know in the comments below or tweet Mike at @MikeCrisolago.