Oscars 2015 – Predicting the Academy Awards: Acting

The Popcorn Muncher's coverage of the Oscars 2015

In just under a week’s time, this year’s Academy Awards will be in the can and we will know who has earned this year’s crop of prestigious awards. Now though, is a time for wild speculation as The Popcorn Muncher predicts who is most likely to emerge from the Dolby Theatre with gold in their hands.

For the first part of my Oscars 2015 predictions, I will run down the most likely candidates to walk away with the four acting prizes.

 

Best Supporting Actor

Mark Ruffalo is nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars 2015 for his performance in Foxcatcher

Nominees: Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher), JK Simmons (Whiplash)

This is one of the more obvious categories to call at the Oscars 2015.

It is, however, a strong field. Edward Norton’s performance in Birdman is perfectly snarky, Mark Ruffalo is a subtle voice at the heart of Foxcatcher’s macho posturing and Ethan Hawke does a cracking job of being the cool dad in Best Picture frontrunner Boyhood. Only Robert Duvall looks out of place, with The Judge widely panned as a dull awards grab.

Despite the strength of the five nominees, this is very much in the bag for JK Simmons. He is an absolute force of nature in Whiplash, tearing into Miles Teller’s wannabe jazz drummer with gleeful verbal ferocity. It’s a performance of unsaid complexity hiding beneath a simple exterior and it will almost certainly scoop Simmons his first Academy Award.

Prediction: JK Simmons – Whiplash

Hey, whatever happened to… Zach Galifianakis – Birdman

 

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette's performance in Boyhood is the frontrunner to win Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars 2015

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

There are some incredibly strong contenders in the Best Supporting Actress field at Oscars 2015.

Keira Knightley was an early frontrunner for her role alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, but her momentum has waned along with that of the film. Emma Stone also stands a chance, with her performance in Birdman full of wide-eyed intensity.

On the flipside, Meryl Streep and Laura Dern feel like also-rans in the race. As entertaining as they are in Into the Woods and Wild, respectively, they do not stand a chance at scooping the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

The obvious pick for winner is Patricia Arquette. Her performance in Boyhood is heart-breaking, proving the film’s central thesis that life can flash by as nothing more than a blur. She is the centrepoint around which the entire film pivots and she is likely to be rewarded with an Academy Award.

Prediction: Patricia Arquette – Boyhood

Hey, whatever happened to… Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year

 

Best Actor

Michael Keaton's performance in Birdman is nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars 2015

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

The race to win Best Actor at the Oscars 2015 feels like it has boiled down to a basic two horse race between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.

Just on the outskirts of the main skirmish is Steve Carell, who was once tipped as a potential winner for his transformative dramatic performance as oddball murderer John du Pont in Foxcatcher. Despite the strength of his work, the performance has been a little too cold for the major awards ceremonies, who have mostly honoured Redmayne.

The same is true of Benedict Cumberbatch, whose work as Alan Turing is being overshadowed in the battle of the British biopics by The Theory of Everything. Bradley Cooper, on the other hand, is an incongruous addition. His work in American Sniper doesn’t even come close to the terrific portrayals that make up the rest of the field. I’m not sure anyone would’ve complained if his spot had gone to David Oyelowo for Selma.

The juicy battle, though, is between Keaton’s self-parodying role in Birdman and Redmayne’s breath-takingly physical take on Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Redmayne has been given the edge by the majority of the awards ceremonies and looks likely to win the “golden baldie”, but Keaton’s self-aware performance may be just enough to swing it.

Prediction: Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

Hey, whatever happened to… David Oyelowo – Selma

 

Best Actress

Rosamund Pike's performance in Gone Girl is nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars 2015

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

This year’s Best Actress category is an odd one, betraying a lack of strong roles for women in the films of the last twelve months. Whilst the Best Actor category could comfortably have been filled twice over with worthy performances, the Best Actress field moved towards unorthodox choices like Marion Cotillard’s turn in Dardenne drama Two Days, One Night.

There are welcome nods for Felicity Jones’ terrific work at the heart of The Theory of Everything and Rosamund Pike’s utterly terrifying portrayal of Gone Girl’s missing title character – a role that will surely reinvent the Brit’s career.

Reese Witherspoon was long considered a frontrunner for her near-solo outing in Wild, but the last few months of the race have turned the tide towards Julianne Moore. It’s difficult to discuss her performance in Still Alice, seeing as the film is yet to hit UK shores, but it would be a real shock if she didn’t win.

Prediction: Julianne Moore – Still Alice

Hey, whatever happened to… Jennifer Aniston – Cake

Do you agree with my Oscars 2015 predictions? Who would you like to win the acting prizes? Let me know in the comments section.

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