This past football-less Sunday marked the two week countdown until the 87th annual Academy Awards (join my FREE Oscar Pool here). And unlike many years in the past, we have quite a few races that are officially too close to call. Now that all of the major guilds have released their winners, even more questions have been raised about who wins and who goes home empty handed.
In a surprising turn of events, Birdman has catapulted itself into the pole-position of the Best Picture race after capturing top honors from SAG, PGA and, most recently, the DGA. Despite Boyhood's BAFTA win last night, the impressive coming-of-age tale has lost too much momentum to maintain its "front-runner" status.
Predicted Winner: Birdman
Biggest Threat: Boyhood
Other Nominees: American Sniper, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, Selma, The Theory of Everything and Whiplash
The Best Director competition is a huge toss-up at the moment. Birdman's Alejandro G. Inarritu took home the valuable DGA statue, however Richard Linklater's 12 year directorial feat with Boyhood feels like it's too impressive to overlook. It'll be close, but a momentum shift for Birdman could swing things in Inarritu's favor.
Predicted Winner: Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Biggest Threat: Alejandro G. Inarritu - Birdman
Other Nominees: Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel, Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher and Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game
Another race that's difficult to dissect in the Best Actor category. The field is stock-piled with worthy inclusions, but I'm putting my stock in the SAG winner, Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). SAG has managed to match winners with the Oscars since 2004 and I'll take a decade-long history of consistency. That would leave Birdman's Michael Keaton as the unfortunate loser in this intense head to head battle.
Predicted Winner: Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Biggest Threat: Michael Keaton - Birdman
Other Nominees: Steve Carell - Foxcatcher, Bradley Cooper - American Sniper and Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
There isn't much debate surrounding the Best Actress field. Julianne Moore appears to be a shoe-in for her work in Still Alice and it would be an absolute stunner if she was dethroned.
Predicted Winner: Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Biggest Threat: Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Other Nominees: Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night, Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything and Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons has boasted a lengthy career as a wonderful character, and the veteran actor will finally be recognized for his outstanding performance in the music-centric drama, Whiplash. Simmons holds a firm grasp over this race after sweeping every major precursor.
Predicted Winner: J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Biggest Threat: Edward Norton - Birdman
Other Nominees: Robert Duvall - The Judge, Ethan Hawke - Boyhood and Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Although Boyhood's momentum seems to be quickly fading, I doubt it will be enough to supplant the film's most notable performance. Patricia Arquette has clearly dominated all of the early precursor awards, but perhaps Emma Stone can ride Birdman's recent wave of success and pull off the upset.
Predicted Winner: Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Biggest Threat: Emma Stone - Birdman
Other Nominees: Laura Dern - Wild, Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game and Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
Best Original Screenplay
The Best Original Screenplay competition will be interesting to watch. The voting members obviously appreciate The Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, but I'm still not convinced that Birdman can be taken down. At this point, I'm expecting a BIG day for the critically adored film.
Predicted Winner: Birdman
Biggest Threat: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Other Nominees: Boyhood, Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler
Best Adapted Screenplay
When it comes to the Best Adapted Screenplay race, the only reason I'm leaning in favor of The Imitation Game is Harvey Weinstein. Part of me believes the film's allure is fading, yet Weinstein is putting all of his resources into the WWII drama. If the film manages to lose, the rising indie sensation, Whiplash, would be the biggest benefactor.
Predicted Winner: The Imitation Game
Biggest Threat: Whiplash
Other Nominees: American Sniper, Inherent Vice and The Theory of Everything