Oscar 2015 Predictions: What Hope Will Win, And What Probably Will

The year in movies for 2014 comes to (more or less) and official close this Sunday, when the 87th annual Academy Awards are given out in Hollywood. We've seen films rise and fall in the assumed lists of winners, with Birdman and Boyhood seeming to vie most heatedly in speculation for the top trophy. In truth, decisions about the best films from 2014 will be made as years go by and films rise and fall to find their true audience and place in culture. But for now we can only wait to see what the Academy's voting block has chosen. Our Oscar 2015 predictions are below, with each category capped by the film we assume will win, and the pick we hope will take the prize.

The four of us — Peter, Germain, Angie and Russ — voted on these choices. We'll begin with some of the technical awards and move towards Best Director and Best Picture.

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Best Visual Effects

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl,Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi,Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
  • Interstellar – Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past – Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

Our Prediction: Despite a vote for Interstellar, the numbers say Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. These films are all technical marvels, but Apes is on another level — one which is easy to recognize, and deserves to be celebrated.

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Best Film Editing

  • American Sniper – Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
  • Boyhood – Sandra Adair
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Barney Pilling
  • The Imitation Game – William Goldenberg
  • Whiplash – Tom Cross

Our Prediction: Boyhood, which is going to be the movie people think of as well-edited, if only for the sake of the way in which it was created.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Here we're split between Boyhood, which is certainly deserving, and Whiplash. In the case of the latter, musical performance and energy is incredibly difficult to capture on screen, and Whiplash nails it, in large part due to editing.

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Best Costume Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Milena Canonero
  • Inherent Vice – Mark Bridges
  • Into the Woods – Colleen Atwood
  • Maleficent – Anna B. Sheppard
  • Mr. Turner – Jacqueline Durran

Our Prediction: There's an outlier vote for Maleficent, but our prediction goes to Grand Budapest Hotel.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Here's there's a vote for Grand Budapest Hotel, but the winner by number of votes is Inherent Vice. Indeed, the costuming in Paul Thomas Anderson's film indicates character thanks to some very smart choices, and also recreates the time period without going overboard.

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Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Foxcatcher – Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

Our Prediction: Foxcatcher, because historical precedent suggests it possesses exactly the quality the Academy loves. (OK, we'll just say it. Oscar loves a fake nose.)

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Guardians of the Galaxy. As Peter says, "I was on set of this film and I can't express how detailed and incredible the make-up effects were in this film. Unfortunately some of it doesn't read as spectacular on the screen, but the work is deserving of recognition."

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Best Cinematography

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Emmanuel Lubezki
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman
  • Ida – Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
  • Mr. Turner – Dick Pope
  • Unbroken – Roger Deakins

Our Prediction: Birdman, which owes so much of its success to a brilliant collaboration between the camera and editing departments.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Birdman.

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Best Production Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
  • The Imitation Game – Maria Djurkovic (Production Design); Tatiana Macdonald (Set Decoration)
  • Interstellar – Nathan Crowley (Production Design); Gary Fettis (Set Decoration)
  • Into the Woods – Dennis Gassner (Production Design); Anna Pinnock (Set Decoration)
  • Mr. Turner – Suzie Davies (Production Design); Charlotte Watts (Set Decoration)

Our Prediction: There's a vote for Mr. Turner, based on the simple concept of the staid period piece catching the Academy's eye, but our official nod goes to The Grand Budapest Hotel.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: The Grand Budapest Hotel, which benefits enormously from the meticulously curated design for which Wes Anderson's films are known.

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Best Sound Mixing

  • American Sniper – John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Jon Taylor,Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
  • Interstellar – Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
  • Unbroken – Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
  • Whiplash – Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

Our Prediction: American Sniper, for the role sound plays in developing much of the film's power.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: We've got a vote for Birdman, but the majority "hopeful" vote goes to Whiplash. And Interstellar, as ambitious as it may have been, gets the "anything but Interstellar" vote.

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Best Sound Editing

  • American Sniper – Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Martin Hernández and Aaron Glascock
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies – Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
  • Interstellar – Richard King
  • Unbroken – Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

Our Prediction: American Sniper, as the sound editing contributes greatly to the film's sense of tension and atmosphere.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: The vote is evenly split between Birdman and Unbroken.

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Best Original Song

  • "Everything Is Awesome" from The Lego Movie – Music and Lyric byShawn Patterson
  • "Glory" from Selma – Music and Lyric by John Legend and Common
  • "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights – Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me – Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
  • "Lost Stars" from Begin Again – Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexanderand Danielle Brisebois

Our Prediction: 'Glory,' which will crown Selma as an Oscar-winner.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: 'Everything Is Awesome,' which will crown The LEGO Movie as an Oscar-winner.

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Best Original Score

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Alexandre Desplat
  • The Imitation Game – Alexandre Desplat
  • Interstellar – Hans Zimmer
  • Mr. Turner – Gary Yershon
  • The Theory of Everything – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Our Prediction: Despite a vote for Desplat's Imitation Game score, we'll put our predictive weight, such as it is, behind Jóhann Jóhannsson, if only because he may not suffer the same split vote that could rule out one Desplat win over another.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: What was I just saying about a split? Here, our desires are split between his Imitation Game score, and Grand Budapest Hotel, with the latter earning our hope based on volume of votes.

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Best Documentary – Feature

  • Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutsky
  • Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
  • Last Days in Vietnam – Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
  • The Salt of the Earth – Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado and David Rosier
  • Virunga – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Our Prediction: Citizenfour, which is both incredibly relevant to our times, and a well-made film.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Citizenfour.

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Best Foreign Language Film

  • Ida (Poland) in Polish – Pawel Pawlikowski
  • Leviathan (Russia) in Russian – Andrey Zvyagintsev
  • Tangerines (Estonia) in Estonian and Russian – Zaza Urushadze
  • Timbuktu (Mauritania) in French – Abderrahmane Sissako
  • Wild Tales (Argentina) in Spanish – Damián Szifrón

Our Prediction: Ida, which is an exceptional film that would make for a decision in this category that the Academy could be proud of.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: We're split here — in fact, I'm even split on my own choice. Our split is between Wild Tales and Leviathan, though I (voting for Leviathan) would also be very happy with Ida's win. Funny how, when great films are pulled from countries around the globe you can end up with a set of films that are excellent in many different ways. Actually, that's not surprising at all. Everything in this category should be on your watch list.

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Best Animated Feature Film

  • Big Hero 6 – Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
  • The Boxtrolls – Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
  • Song of the Sea – Tomm Moore and Paul Young
  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Our Prediction: Despite one vote for Big Hero 6, we're overwhelmingly guessing that How to Train Your Dragon 2 will take the trophy.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: There's no other category where our votes are so split: How to Train Your Dragon for Peter, Boxtrolls for Angie, Big Hero 6 for Germain, and Princess Kaguya for Russ. Chalk that up, in part, to the diversity of this year's category. Despite being unified by the concept of animation, those four films all tell stories in very different ways, and they all succeed on their own terms.

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Best Adapted Screenplay

  • American Sniper – Jason Hall from American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
  • The Imitation Game – Graham Moore from Alan Turing: The Enigmaby Andrew Hodges
  • Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson from Inherent Vice byThomas Pynchon
  • The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten from Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking
  • Whiplash – Damien Chazelle from his short film of the same name

Our Prediction: Despite one outlying vote for American Sniper, the balance of our prediction goes to The Imitation Game, which is both a very Oscar-like movie, and the winner of the WGA award for Adapted Screenplay.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: We're split here, with votes for Whiplash (which is derived from a short film) and Inherent Vice, with two votes for each. Ultimately, I'm just happy that, as the compiler of this list, I don't have to override anyone to erase a hopeful vote for The Imitation Game.

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boyhood-patricia-arquette

Best Original Screenplay

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo
  • Boyhood – Richard Linklater
  • Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
  • Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

Our Prediction: Our votes were split between Birdman, with Grand Budapest Hotel taking the others. And given the WGA win, Budapest *could* be a lock. But factor in all the non-writer's guild voters and Birdman seems most likely to pull the upset.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Pete votes Grand Budapest, but the rest of us are united in pulling for Nightcrawler, a terrifically lean and mean screenplay.

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Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette – Boyhood as Olivia Evans
  • Laura Dern – Wild as Barbara "Bobbi" Grey
  • Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game as Joan Clarke
  • Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Sam Thomson
  • Meryl Streep – Into the Woods as The Witch

Our Prediction:Patricia Arquette, who was truly the heart of Boyhood, and whose work helped elevate the film by a significant margin.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: No argument with the prediction; it has to be Arquette.

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Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall – The Judge as Judge Joseph Palmer
  • Ethan Hawke – Boyhood as Mason Evans, Sr.
  • Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)as Mike Shiner
  • Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher as Dave Schultz
  • J. K. Simmons – Whiplash as Terence Fletcher

Our Prediction: JK Simmons. One of two likely consensus wins this year is likely to be him, and in this case he deserves it.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: Simmons, and totally not because we're scared he'll throw something at us if we nodded in the direction of Edward Norton.

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Best Actress

  • Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night as Sandra Bya
  • Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything as Jane Wilde Hawking
  • Julianne Moore – Still Alice as Dr. Alice Howland
  • Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl as Amy Elliott-Dunne
  • Reese Witherspoon – Wild as Cheryl Strayed

Our Prediction: Julianne Moore, who has attracted great attention for a film relatively few people seem to have seen. Assuming some Oscar voters will choose based on consensus when they don't have their own opinion, rather than abstaining, Moore would be the choice here.

We'd like the winner to be: Rosamund Pike, whose work in Gone Girl is compelling and devious.

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Best Actor

  • Steve Carell – Foxcatcher as John Eleuthère du Pont
  • Bradley Cooper – American Sniper as Chris Kyle
  • Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game as Alan Turing
  • Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)as Riggan Thomson / Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything as Stephen Hawking

Our Prediction: Eddie Redmayne's work as Stephen Hawking is good, and more importantly it is the sort of good that the Academy loves, in the sort of film the Academy loves. He's not a lock, but he's the forerunner.

We'd like the winner to be: Michael Keaton, whose work in Birdman is exceptionally lively without sacrificing nuance.

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Best Director

  • Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  • Richard Linklater – Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
  • Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

Our Prediction: Split between Iñárritu and Linklater, with some expectation of a split Picture/Director decision. Given the depth of his dedication to Boyhood over many years, Linklater is the best choice.

We'd like the winner to be: Richard Linklater.

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Best Picture

  • American Sniper – Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar,Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan
  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
  • Boyhood – Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson
  • The Imitation Game – Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman
  • Selma – Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
  • The Theory of Everything – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce andAnthony McCarten
  • Whiplash – Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster

Our Prediction: Birdman, despite the fact that Boyhood once seemed to have great momentum, around the time of the Golden Globes. But thanks in part to the other guild awards, especially the PGA award, we're calling it for Birdman.

We'd Like the Winner to Be: There's a big push here for Boyhood amongst the staff, with Selma as strong competitor.