Jesse Hassenger’s 2015 Oscar Predictions Blowout and Annual Airing of Grievances

02/19/2015 9:00 AM |
This year's post is dedicated to Oscar Micheaux.

It’s that time of year again: the Oscars are finally happening on Sunday, February 22nd; it turns out that no matter how much they get moved up, the speed of thinkpieces, backlashes, and awards campaigning can always make the season feel like it’s lasted since before the kid from Boyhood had ever gotten in front of a camera (rimshot). So let’s dispense with long-winded introductions, because I’m going through every single damn category and telling you who I think will win, who I’d vote for, and who should’ve made the cut but didn’t. Then we can all go back to what comes most naturally in the cold winter months: anticipating Run All Night starring Liam Neeson. Let’s hit it:

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Will Win: J.K. Simmons is one of the night’s few mortal locks…

Should Win: …and with good reason. A small, contrary part of me thinks it’s a little unfair, pitting the second lead of Whiplash against some legit supporting actors, but there are plenty of scenes in Whiplash without Simmons, who nonetheless looms over the whole thing; if he seems like a co-lead, it’s because he casts such a massive shadow. Also, he rules. Good for him. [Not picking on you, you said “seems” but this whole “is Simmons a lead” thing irritates me because the answer is: No, Miles Teller plays the main character. It’s his character’s story and his alone—there are no scenes in which he doesn’t appear. Christ, it’s like nobody in the Oscar prognostication game has ever read Gerard Genette. -Ed.]

Missing: Nix Robert Duvall’s boilerplate crank routine, replace him with Josh Brolin’s rampaging Bigfoot in Inherent Vice, and you’d have a near-perfect category.

Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Will Win: Lubezki’s gonna win two before Deakins can win one, isn’t he?

Should Win: On the other hand, I don’t particularly want Deakins to win Best Cinematography for Unbroken; maybe Prettiest Color-Corrected Skies. Birdman is a good choice, but considering that Lubezki just won for digitally assisted long takes last year, I’d go with Wes Anderson’s longtime go-to Robert Yeoman, who played around with different aspect ratios and time periods in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Missing:: Under the Skin was one of the year’s most gorgeous, haunting films, in no small part thanks to Daniel Landin, a relative newcomer to shooting features who deserves to elbow his way into the big-name crowd here.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Will Win: Budapest seems like the favorite because it’s the only Best Picture nominee in the bunch, but no, Colleen Atwood plus fairy tale costumes equals an Oscar for Into the Woods; that’s a simple equation.

Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel deserves it because you know there were some carefully worded memos from Wes Anderson on that set.

Missing: I usually have some sci-fi pet cause to champion here, but Jupiter Ascending is actually a 2015 release, so check back next year for my complaints about how that one was robbed.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Grand Budapest just won a Grammy, if that means anything; it probably doesn’t, but with two nominations (for Budapest and Imitation Game), safe to say Alexandre Desplat stands a good chance of taking one home.

Should Win: Look, Grand Budapest Hotel was my favorite film of the year, so I’m happy to say it should win all of its categories.

Missing: I always dig the menacing, discordant scores like the one from Under the Skin.

“Everything is Awesome,” The LEGO Movie
“Glory,” Selma
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again

Will Win: “Glory” is one of Selma‘s two shots at an Oscar and I think it’s the one it can win.

Should Win: “Glory” or “Awesome” would both be fine. [When the Academy gives this to the guy dying of Alzheimer’s, it’s gonna be one of the more discordant moments of the evening. -Ed.]

Missing: As it happens, I wrote an entire essay about this very topic. But even within the boundaries of what was on the Academy’s long list, one of those Muppets Most Wanted songs, for fuck’s sake.

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Will Win: Cheers to Boyhood for finding a new way into the “most editing” designation that often rules the day here: it’s editing that happened over the course of twelve years, from footage that amounts to a large-scale time-lapse.

Should Win: If I want to spread my love around a bit, yes, by all means, Boyhood—the degree of difficulty on that one seems high, and it still proceeds with Linklater’s trademark lack of fussiness.

Missing: I think a case could be made for Edge of Tomorrow and the way it nimbly cut together its time-loops: some montage here, some emotionally affecting snapshots there, mixing action, sci-fi, romance, and even a bit of comedy. Anyway, it’s a better movie than The Imitation Game.

Wild Tales

Will Win: I kind of assume Ida but that’s based on almost nothing.

Should Win: I didn’t see any of these. I bet Mark has a proper opinion on this [This category’s getting better! A majority of the nominees are real movies. -Ed.]

Missing: Here! I have an opinion here! We Are the Best! was, indeed, the best. I don’t know if it was actually submitted, but I am so punk rock that I don’t care. We Are the Best! forever! Stockholm! Stockholm! Stockholm! [Sweden submitted Force Majeure—which’d look good on this list—anyway it’s much more punk rock to get snubbed. It is also hilarious that the Philippines submitted Lav Diaz’s 250-minute Norte, The End of History, thereby conceivably forcing at least one AMPAS member to watch it. -Ed.]

Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Will Win: CitizenFour seems like it has the most general attention, but in this category that’s secondary to which one is about World War II. But none of these are! Some of them are about nature. Will Last Days in Vietnam make Vietnam the new World War II?

Should Win: I don’t really watch many documentaries. Mark, help me out? [This is good enough for me. -Ed.]

Missing: I actually saw more documentaries this year than usual but none of them were very good [Sorry you missed Overnighters and National Gallery. -Ed.]. So I’ll just use this spot to say, it’s lame that so many critics gave Supermensch a pass. What a bunch of self-congratulatory celebrity horseshit that was.

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth

Will Win: They all sound like sobering affairs, but other predictions I’ve read seem to favor “Our Curse.” “Crisis Hotline” sure sounds like something that could win, though.

Should Win: No clue. [Here and in the other shorts categories I refer you to Eli Goldfarb’s “The Littlest Oscarbait.” -Ed.]


Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Will Win: Before the nominations were announced, I would have said The Lego Movie; absent that, I really don’t know. Usually it’s the most successful, which points to Big Hero 6, but my gut says a bunch of people really and inexplicably loved How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Should Win: I’m trying to work up the calculus that allows The Boxtrolls to win—it’s English-ish! The Academy loves that, right?—but I’m not seeing it. Too bad; it’s a pretty great movie.

Missing: I know it’s branded and all, but seriously: Lego. [Or, as it’s called in my house, Famous Guys and Ladies, and Their Amusing Lego Copies. -Ed.]

The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Will Win: I’m guessing the Disney short “Feast,” although last year the delightful Disney short got its ass beat.

Should Win: I missed the animated short program this year, so “Feast” is actually the only one I’ve seen. It’s good, though!

Missing: The animated shorts program often has at least one cartoon superior to the other nominees, but I missed it this year so I’ll just go back to waiting for Don Hertzfeldt’s “World of Tomorrow” to come out this spring.

Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
The Phone Call

Will Win: “Boogaloo and Graham” is supposed to be cute and Irish and about kids, which is usually what does well here. [I haven’t seen any of these and don’t even understand the case for why these categories still exist to be honest but unless one of the other four nominees is like a dubbed and retitled version of Paris qui dort it’s hard to believe any of them could be better than The Phone Call, in which you’re mostly looking at the face of either Sally Hawkins or Jim Broadbent. -Ed.]

Should Win: Don’t know!

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Will Win: Arquette has this one in the bag, maybe even more in the bag than Simmons.

Should Win: Not only is Arquette terrific in Boyhood, giving a coherent performance across a decade-plus of footage, but none of the other nominees are completely doing it for me. I love Emma Stone forever, and she’s very good in Birdman, but it’s one of the film’s more stock parts [It would also be the highest ratio of Screentime Spent Youngsplaining Twitter:Total Screentime of any Oscar-winning performance. -Ed.]; Streep is good in Into the Woods, but come on, enough; Dern is good in Wild but this seems like an award for the lovable character and lovable actress maybe even more than her particular acting as this particular character; and Knightley is fine in Imitation Game, but she’s been better.

Missing: Some less-heralded supporting performances I like from 2014 include Maggie Gyllenhaal in Frank and Elisabeth Moss in Listen Up Philip.


The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Will Win: Foxcatcher is the most serious but I kinda think Guardians will triumph here.

Should Win: Guardians had a hell of a menagerie [Does Karen Gillan’s wig made of her own hair fall under the purview of this category? -Ed.].

Missing:: Boy, the hair alone in Inherent Vice seems worth an award, but I think these three are fine choices.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Will Win: OK, it’s called The Grand Budapest Hotel; even if a surprising amount of the movie is set other places besides the titular hotel, I think it’s got this in the bag.

Should Win: Grand Budapest, yes, and also if it’s ok with everyone, I’m going to consider it a make-up award for Life Aquatic.

Missing: I always wonder about how or if animation could ever fit into this category; The Boxtrolls had some wonderful production design, but it’s probably all under the umbrella of “animation stuff.” On a more conventional note, except not that conventional because it takes place inside of an enormous train that’s a society unto itself: Snowpiercer!

American Sniper

Will Win: I’m guessing Whiplash, for all that percussion.

Should Win: I’d be happier with Interstellar. If it’s too loud, you’re too old! Unfortunately, the Academy is demonstrably too old.

Missing: Under the Skin again, the most unnerving in a field that, this year at least, uses sound to gin up a fair amount of tension, not just noise.

American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Will Win: This one is for effects, so while Interstellar has a better shot here than in the mixing category, I bet it’ll be American Sniper.

Should Win: Nolan sweep! Nolan sweep!

Missing: Is it the plethora of creatures in the Hobbit movie that gets it in ahead of effects movies like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Guardians of the Galaxy? I have no idea, but those all seem like pretty solid choices to me; it was a surprisingly good year for big-ticket effects-driven movies.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Will Win: Sometimes voters just up and vote for whatever movie they liked best, which would probably give Guardians the edge. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes might get some votes atoning for the fact that Rise of the Planet of the Apes actually lost in this category (to Hugo, illustrating the whatever-movie-they-like-best principle). But then again, if Rise didn’t knock ’em out, is a more advanced version of the same thing going to make a dent? Plus, Guardians has a talking raccoon and I feel like the voters like talking animals.

Should Win: Both the motion-capture brilliance of Dawn or the optical effects of Interstellar stand out.

Missing: I always enjoy the less splashy but often more interesting effects that populate movies like Grand Budapest and Noah—or if you want to go traditional route, the Godzilla effects were a lot more impressive (and painterly) than the Winter Soldier and X-Men stuff.

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Conventional wisdom and various pre-Oscar awards suggest Redmayne. But I wouldn’t be shocked if Keaton or maybe even Bradley Cooper stepped in for an upset. [The real upset is gonna be when Eddie Redmayne gets on stage to receive his Oscar and pulls off the Mission: Impossible mask he’s been wearing since 2002. Turns out all along, he was the rapper Redman, in disguise! This began the year after the release of How High—which Red had thought would lead to more classical roles—when an obviously made-up Englishy-Englishperson named “Eddie Redmayne” made his Globe debut in Twelfth Night. For his acceptance speech, Redma(y)n(e) then performs the entirely of “Jersey Yo!”, impervious to the orchestra trying to play him out. Eventually they join in. -Ed.]

Should Win: Of these, Keaton.

Missing: There’s been a lot of talk about Ava DuVernay not becoming the first black woman to be nominated for Best Director. But as disappointing as that is, 2014 was a damn good movie year and Best Director is a damn tricky category to bust into for a number of reasons (white men being one of those reasons, granted). There’s such a regrettably tiny sample size of black female directors that it’s hard for me to get worked up over Academy racism when it’s really a lazy reflection of industry racism. For me, the really ridiculous Selma snub happened over here in Best Actor, where David Oyelowo really ought to have been among the final five. He gives a more nuanced, more coiled, and more interesting performance as Martin Luther King than either of the Brits doing true-life biographical adventures, and unlike Cooper, he isn’t saddled with muddled material. Best Director is always a fluky mix of established auteurs, mavericks, and industry journeymen. But Best Actor loves a good real-life impersonation, so it’s hard not to look askance at a group of five that selects four pasty white dudes over Oyelowo. Speaking of pasty white dudes: Ralph Fiennes was great in Grand Budapest, but hard to complain when that movie got nine other nominations.

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Will Win: Julianne Moore, often nominated and never rewarded, has this sewn up.

Should Win: Vexingly, the Moore-is-due narrative seems to have knocked out what seems like an obvious choice to me: Rosamund Pike. Witherspoon is great, but she already has an Oscar; ditto Cotillard. Felicity Jones does what she can but it’s not that meaty of a part. Moore is fine in Alice but she’s been better in other movies that more than six people actually saw. So how is it not Rosamund Pike’s to lose? She’s funny, scary, and, at just the right moments, opaque in Fincher’s super-entertaining dressing up of Gone Girl. She’s neither a total newcomer nor an over-awarded veteran. She finds additional veins of dark humor in some already-tricky material. This should be an easy one, guys: Rosamund Pike wins. But the absurd metric that categorizes Still Alice as a more important movie than Gone Girl because it’s more serious (even though it’s also the only one of the two that seems engineered in large part to win awards for sensitivity) isn’t having it. I don’t like to place too much emphasis on the importance or influence on Oscar bloggers and the like on the already-ridiculous Oscar race, but I think this is where a little less chatter about Moore’s inevitability could have helped a better performance win. [I’m looking forward to a Moore victory because she seems likely to join the illustrious list of actors taking time in their Oscar speech to thank the directors whose films they did *really* good work in, like Jeremy Irons thanking David Cronenberg (or Natalie Portman thanking Luc Besson). It’s just a question of whether she thanks Todd Haynes, Paul Thomas Anderson, Robert Altman… -Ed.]

Missing: Jenny Slate never had a shot because Obvious Child is a comedy, but she deserves a nomination and possibly the win, for that matter, although maybe it would be more competitive if she were up against the subtle work of Amy Adams in Big Eyes. Also, Scarlett Johansson had a hell of a year, and maybe in a more competitive Best Actress field, her minimalism in Under the Skin would feel a little too small. But she’s remarkable in it, and plus fuck The Theory of Everything.

American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

Will Win: Seems like this is where the old and the old at heart can reward The Imitation Game, with only Whiplash as a potential spoiler.

Should Win: As much as I generally love PTA, Whiplash—which really belongs in the original category, but whatever—should take this.

Missing: One of the weirdest omissions of the year: Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of her own Gone Girl! It wouldn’t even be piggybacking on someone else’s sharp plot twists; it’s all Flynn. [Though the relevant people are holding the party line, I suspect that Flynn’s screenplay may have a slight Actually Written By David Koepp problem. Also Gone Girl‘s shit. Though that’s not really germane to its not being nominated, obviously, given how well it was positioned for this award, so I’m going to go with trade gossip. In case anybody who matters is reading (ahahaha), I am basing this off of nothing tangible. -Ed.] It’s an especially strange call considering that the degree to which three of these five movies work seems to have very little to do with the screenplays at hand, especially American Sniper; was it a photocopier error that resulted in the same Cooper/Miller scene being repeated five or six times in the middle of the movie?


The Grand Budapest Hotel

Will Win: This is where Wes Anderson gets his [But what will he wear? -Ed.].

Should Win: Budapest, and not just because it’s a personal favorite; every other movie in this category is, for me, driven more by other elements, from performance (Foxcatcher; Nightcrawler) to directorial vision (Boyhood) to fancy camera moves (Birdman). Anderson’s movie is beautifully directed, as always, but he’s a terrific writer and I’m excited to see him rewarded, just five or six years after the de facto advice for his career was that he should direct something he didn’t write. Turns out that’s really dumb advice.

Missing: This isn’t a bad crop, but unlike many of these nominees, Dear White People has a lot of its greatest strengths on the page.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Will Win: The director/picture split has become far more common in the past decade-plus, and I’m always itching to predict one. This year, with a seemingly tight race between Boyhood and Birdman, seems like an obvious candidate for another recurrence of that trend, but in what direction? Does Linklater get director for his tenacity in actually making Boyhood while Birdman gets the big award for being the movie a lot of people apparently liked best? Or does Iñárritu get honored for the technical difficulties and triumphs of his work while Boyhood gets the big prize for the size and scope of its achievement? As much as actors love a story about one of their own (and as much as Linklater’s Austin connection places him outside the Los Angeles in club), I feel like it’s Linklater’s time, guilds be damned.

Should Win: I love Anderson, but Linklater deserves it too.

Missing: [Since you forgot to put anything here, and talked about Ava DuVernay above, allow me to just say that Clint Eastwood will outlive us all, and that the rubber baby forced actors to pretend and audiences to believe, because movies are fucking magical. But really James Gray’s mastery of tone, eye for composition and sense of color, sensitivity for period and rapport with actors are what directing actually even is, so, him. -Ed.]

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Will Win: See above. If it’s a split, I guess this goes to Birdman, but part of me thinks that maybe Boyhood could take both. I’d bet on Boyhood, but only because of my stubborn insistence on betting with my heart ever since I managed to win an Oscar pool despite picking Moulin Rouge! for Best Picture (note: I have only won one Oscar pool since then).

Should Win: Of course, my heart of hearts belongs to The Grand Budapest Hotel, and that’s what I’d vote for, were I somehow to find myself in possession of Academy membership. But Boyhood is my second choice and I would be truly satisfied with Linklater’s low-key epic taking the big prize, not least because it would be the least Oscar-y movie to win since, I don’t know, No Country for Old Men?

Missing: Among actual awards hopefuls, I prefer Inherent Vice and Foxcatcher to the non-Selma biopics (Sniper, Imitation, and Theory). But per my annual tradition, I will reach beyond the boundaries of simple awards contenders and list a bunch of movies I’d say are notably superior to those three weakest of Best Picture nominees: Interstellar; Edge of Tomorrow; God Help the Girl; Muppets Most Wanted; Under the Skin; The Lego Movie; The Boxtrolls; Gone Girl; Joe; We Are the Best!; X-Men: Days of Future Past; Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Guardians of the Galaxy; Godzilla; Rise of the Planet of the Apes; 22 Jump Street; Neighbors; The Interview; Snowpiercer; Obvious Child; Blue Ruin; Dear White People; Frank; Only Lovers Left Alive; Noah; Into the Woods; Life Partners; Lucy; Alan Partridge; Locke; The Drop; They Came Together; Mood Indigo; Magic in the Moonlight; Wetlands; White Bird in a Blizzard; Nightcrawler; Mockingjay Part One; Non-Stop; A Walk Among the Tombstones; and John Wick. [Babadook! Dook! Dook! -Ed.]

And if we were just talking about The Theory of Everything, that list could expand to include Sex Tape, I Origins, Camp X-Ray; Hercules (the one with the Rock, not Kellan Lutz); The Fault in Our Stars; Land Ho!; Night Moves; and Pompeii. Among others. See you on this list next year, Jupiter Ascending!