Oscars 2015 – Predicting the Academy Awards: Best Picture

The Popcorn Muncher's coverage of the Oscars 2015

There’s only a little over 48 hours to go until the 87th Academy Awards rolls into the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. We will soon know who has won big at Oscars 2015, but before that, The Popcorn Muncher is predicting who will scoop the golden statuettes.

I’ve already predicted the acting prizes and writing/directing gongs for the Oscars 2015, but who will win the big one? Here, I run down the films in the running for Best Picture.

 

American Sniper

American Sniper is one of the more controversial Best Picture nominees at Oscars 2015

American Sniper is easily the most divisive of the Best Picture nominees at Oscars 2015. With a directorial poker face, Clint Eastwood tells the tale of accomplished US sniper Chris Kyle and his multiple tours of duty during the Iraq War.

It is honestly difficult to understand why American Sniper deserves to be recognised by the Academy. However, it does have a vein running through it that pulses with the kind of patriotism that the Academy adores. It places its crosshairs on an identifiable hero within a conflict that had no real winner.

With several films competing for the cine-literate wing of the Academy vote, American Sniper could be the beneficiary and leave a surprise winner. However, there are far more appropriate and indeed likely candidates.

 

Birdman

Birdman is nominated for Best Picture at Oscars 2015

It’s an open secret that the Academy loves films about cinema itself. With that in mind, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s innovative dramedy Birdman looks like a prime contender to scoop the Best Picture gong at Oscars 2015.

There’s certainly an argument to suggest that Birdman will win. The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews and there’s real buzz around its absorbing central conceit, which portrays the whole film as if were shot in a single, unbroken take.

The performances are uniformly terrific, also, whether it’s Michael Keaton’s frazzled protagonist, Edward Norton’s preening thespian or Emma Stone as Keaton’s troubled daughter.

Birdman is probably the best dark horse bet at Oscars 2015, but it still looks likely to lose out to Boyhood. Speaking of which…

 

Boyhood

Richard Linklater's epic drama Boyhood is the frontrunner for Best Picture at Oscars 2015

For the last few months, almost every film awards ceremony under the sun has showered glory on Richard Linklater’s adventurous drama project Boyhood. By now, everyone is familiar with its concept – following a cast over the course of 12 years, in order to showcase the realistic onset of time.

But Boyhood is far from just a gimmick. Through the prism of Linklater’s idea, the film is an at once uplifting and devastating look at the passage of time. If ever a film makes its audience recognise the brevity of life, Boyhood is that film, particularly as a result of Patricia Arquette’s heart-breaking performance.

It might be predictable, but Boyhood’s victory at Oscars 2015 will be a well-deserved one. A film as genuinely affecting as this deserves the chance to hold a statuette aloft.

 

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson's quirky comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel is nominated for Best Picture at Oscars 2015

Wes Anderson’s quirky comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel sits as a great example of how films can enter into contention based on good word of mouth. Despite being released way back in Spring 2014, the film has been a fixture of awards season and stands a real chance of leaving victorious at Oscars 2015.

Ralph Fiennes really made an impact with his central performance in the film as the flamboyant concierge of the eponymous establishment. Then there’s Anderson’s delightfully offbeat visual style, creating a film that bursts with colour and energy.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the oddest film on the Best Picture ballot at Oscars 2015, but it stands half a chance if Birdman and Boyhood voters end up cancelling each other out.

 

The Imitation Game

Benedict Cumberbatch stars in Oscars 2015 nominee The Imitation Game

When The Imitation Game first burst into cinemas, there seemed to be a real possibility that it could make a splash in the Best Actor field at Oscars 2015. No one could doubt that Benedict Cumberbatch is a red hot star right now and his performance in the film is excellent.

However, recent months have sadly seen the film’s momentum cool considerably. This leaves it with very little chance of walking out of Los Angeles as the Best Picture winner.

The story of British triumph is likely to leave the American Academy cold and the film simply isn’t showy enough to stick in the minds of voters buried under dozens of screeners.

 

Selma

David Oyelowo takes centre stage in Oscars 2015 nominee Selma

Much of the discussion in the media when the Oscars 2015 nominations were announced focused on the fact that civil rights drama Selma was snubbed from many of the major categories. It is, however, in the mix for Best Picture.

Selma is a terrific film from African-American director Ava DuVernay, with a towering central performance from Brit actor David Oyelowo as the iconic Martin Luther King. The direction and acting is enough to make it a hugely impressive film, which should have been nominated far more widely than it was.

There’s a chance that guilt around the other snubs will hand Selma the Best Picture prize at Oscars 2015, but it really is an uphill struggle.

 

The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything is nominated for Best Picture at Oscars 2015

The second of the Brit genius biopics nominated for Best Picture at Oscars 2015 is Stephen Hawking story The Theory of Everything. Eddie Redmayne is highly likely to scoop the Best Actor gong, but the film is one of the rank outsiders to walk away with the top prize.

It is going to suffer from the splitting of the Brit biopic vote, with Theory and The Imitation Game likely to cancel each other out. Those who enjoy this kind of film are going to struggle to choose between the two and may end up picking Cumberbatch’s film as a result of Redmayne being rewarded elsewhere.

Aside from that, though, the film simply isn’t as ground-breaking or exciting as the frontrunners at Oscars 2015. It may do well in other categories, but it isn’t going to win Best Picture.

 

Whiplash

JK Simmons stars in Oscars 2015 Best Picture nominee Whiplash

It may be a little more lightweight than the other films nominated for Best Picture, but Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash is the kind of movie that makes audiences fall in love.

However, its lack of weight compared to the other nominees is going to stop it coming close to the Best Picture spot. Whiplash is about pitch-perfect execution on a small scale, rather than recklessly shooting for the stars and potentially missing. But it’s this lack of risk that will hold it back on Sunday night.

Whiplash is a terrific film that everyone should go and see, but it is the rank outsider in the Best Picture race at Oscars 2015.

 

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

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