5 Big Last-Minute Oscar Nomination Predictions


The 87th annual Academy Award nominations will be announced Thursday morning, January 15, beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET. With the Golden Globes come and gone and all of the major guild nominations announced, below are five things you can expect to see tomorrow morning.

1. Selma Will Fare Better than Most People Think

The faux-controversy surrounding Selma’s portrayal of President Lyndon B. Johnson has some Oscar prognosticators claiming the film will have a poor showing on nomination day. Adding to those arguments is that fact that Ava DuVernay’s portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was snubbed by every major guild, failing to secure nominations from the DGA, WGA, PGA and SAG, all relatively decent predictors of the Oscars.

But after the year that was 2014 and the unexpectedly modern resonance of Selma, it is hard to believe that it won’t at least score nominations in the Best Picture and Best Director categories. The film may only end up winning one — Best Song for John Legend and Common’s “Glory” — but it will at least remain in the conversation for these major awards.

Things get a bit dicier when it comes to a Best Actor nomination for the brilliant David Oyelowo, who embodies Dr. King like no one has before. In a less competitive year, he would be a no-brainer for this category, and very well still might make the cut. But he is competing against locks Michael Keaton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne as well as likely candidates Steve Carell and Jake Gyllenhaal (those five got the SAG nods).

If one of those men has to go to make room for Oyelowo, I have to guess it will be Carell, whose creep-tastic performance in Foxcatcher is striking, but arguably a supporting role. Oyelowo owns Selma as Dr. King and should be rewarded for that.

2. Birdman Will Lead the Field with 10+ Nominations

Unlike Selma, Birdman has an enormous amount of support from the guilds. And while Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is still on track to win Best Picture, Birdman has the perfect combination of excellent acting and impressive visual effects to win the film the prize for most nominations.

With Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone, the film has three acting nominations on lock. Throw in Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, plus inevitable nominations for cinematography, film editing, sound editing and at least one other technical category, and the film will easily top the rest of the field. It won’t even matter that Antonio Sanchez’s propulsive drum-based score was deemed ineligible by the Academy.

3. The Grand Budapest Hotel Will Sneak into Best Picture Category

Speaking of Birdman, perhaps the biggest upset of Sunday’s Golden Globes was The Grand Budapest Hotel’s win over that film in the Best Motion Picture, Musical and Comedy category. While the Oscars don’t split the Best Picture category like the Globes do, they do allow for up to 10 nominees, meaning that both smaller-budget films (think Nebraska) and larger blockbusters (think Inception) that have no chance of actually winning the award can still make the cut.

This year, it appears that Boyhood, Birdman, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything and Selma all fall in that mid-zone sweet spot. In other words, if there were only five nominees, those would be them.

With Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken more or less dismissed by critics, that leaves the larger-scale slot to David Fincher’s mostly well-received Gone Girl and possibly Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar if the nominators are feeling generous. More likely, Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, which has dominated the box office in limited release, will sneak in there instead.

On the small-scale side, Whiplash and Foxcatcher both seem poised to make the list and now, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is very likely to join them. Aside from its Globe win, that film also scored nominations from the PGA, WGA and DGA (beating out Selma’s DuVernay), as well as scoring a nod for its ensemble from SAG.

If I had to guess the 10 films that will make the cut for Best Picture on Thursday morning, I would say: American Sniper; Birdman; Boyhood; Foxcatcher; Gone Girl; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; Selma; The Theory of Everything; Whiplash.

4. Amy Adams Will Secure Best Actress Category’s 5th Slot

As is often the case at the Oscars, the Best Actor category is far more competitive than Best Actress. While at least a couple of excellent male performances will get left out in the cold, nominators appear to be struggling to come up with five solid female lead performances to honor, demonstrating just how wrong Russell Crowe really is.

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes has flown mostly under the radar, but with her Golden Globes win for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical on Sunday, Amy Adams put herself back on the map for the Oscars. Adams was denied a SAG nomination for her role as artist Margaret Keane, but if the past is precedent, the Oscars cannot get enough of her.

Adams has been nominated five times over the last nine years and never won. Of course, even if she is nominated this year, she will likely lose again, this time to Julianne Moore, who plays a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s in Still Alice.

Moore received four nominations in just five years between 1998 and 2003 and hasn’t been nominated since. This is her time.

As for the other three spots, I’m predicting Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Reese Witherspoon (who should win for her incredible work in Wild), and, in an upset over Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike, Jennifer Aniston, who reinvented herself for the little-seen Cake.

5. Clint Eastwood Will Score His 5th Best Director Nomination

The Academy loves Clint Eastwood so much that they gave him a lifetime achievement award 20 years ago before three of his four Best Director nominations and one of his two wins.

He beat out contenders like Selma’s Ava DuVernay and Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle for the DGA nominations, though there is precedent for that organization to reward a more technically-adept filmmaker (Captain Phillips’ Paul Greengrass) while the Oscars nominate someone a bit more indie-minded (Nebraska’s Alexander Payne).

But I think this time Eastwood makes the cut along with likely winner Richard Linklater (Boyhood) plus Birdman’s Alejandro González Iñárritu, Selma’s DuVerney and The Imitation Game’s Morten Tyldum.

That means Wes Anderson, who has inexplicably never received an Oscar nomination for Best Director, will have to keep waiting.

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