Screened Out – Our Annual Oscar Contest with Picks and Predictions

By : Stephen Miller
Comments: 21

Do you think you have what it takes to pick the winners of the 87th annual Academy Awards? Put your guesses to the test and you can win four Regal Cinema tickets and a $25 gift card to spend on concessions! Tune in February 22; we’ll draw the winner from the correct guesses.

Every year, some serious flak is thrown around. This year, there is a surprising lack of minorities in the nominations. That’s pretty amazing considering critics and audiences alike roundly praised the performances and direction in Selma (which did receive a Best Picture nod). But that wasn’t the only snub. The top animation moneymaker, The Lego Movie, didn’t make the cut.

Watermark’s film critic Stephen J. Miller makes his picks and predictions

This year's closest race is between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne.

This year’s closest race is between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne.

Best Actor

This is this year’s toughest, most impressive race. It’s neck-and-neck between Michael Keaton in Birdman and Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. They’ve both won Golden Globes, and Redmayne got the Screen Actors Guild – actors make up the largest block of Oscar voters. The Producers Guild picked Birdman, though; they’re the second largest Oscar-voting population. Though Bradley Cooper in American Sniper has been gaining some ground, the backlash has already started. Steve Carell in Foxcatcher and the assiduous Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game don’t stand a chance.

Who Should Win: Both Redmayne and Keaton are impressive, but Redmayne is showy while Keaton’s long scenes with elaborate blocking and few cuts are technically amazing: Keaton.

Who Will Win: Though it’s basically a toss-up – the only genuine knuckle-biter this year – I’m going to guess the race is close enough that the producers’ votes will count: Keaton.

Julianne Moore will likely win for her magnificanet work, though most audiences will have seen Rosamund Pike's turn as a conniving wife.

Julianne Moore will likely win for her magnificent work, though most audiences will have seen Rosamund Pike’s turn as a conniving wife.

Best Actress:

Usually, this is a close race, but not this year. Unfortunately I didn’t get a screener for the always-breathtaking Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night. She and Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything) keep getting accolades but no wins. Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl is probably the most viewed performance, but that never guarantees a win – and in fact can work against a film. Reese Witherspoon miscast herself in the self-produced Wild.

Who Should Win: Julianne Moore is heartbreaking as a Harvard professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s in Still Alice.

Who Will Win: Moore has deservedly won everything else this year; it’s finally her time after five nominations.

Hollywood veteran J.K. Simmons probably has this year's Best Supporting Actor award in the bag.

Hollywood veteran J.K. Simmons probably has this year’s Best Supporting Actor award in the bag.

Best Supporting Actor

Again, this isn’t even a close race. It’s amazing Robert Duvall (The Judge) and Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher) – though both great actors – got nominated for these roles. Ethan Hawke is quite admirable in the long, choppy Boyhood, and Edward Norton is hilarious in Birdman, but they haven’t a chance.

Who Should Win: Everyone agrees it’s character actor J.K. Simmon’s year for his turn as a sadistic jazz conductor in Whiplash.

Who Will Win: Put Simmons’ name on the statue already.

Patricia Arquette is the odds-on favorite for Best Supporting Actress.

Patricia Arquette is the odds-on favorite for Best Supporting Actress.

Best Supporting Actress:

They can carve the name on this statue, too. Perennial nominee Meryl Streep (Into the Woods) joins the illuminating Laura Dern (Wild), the subtly wonderful Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), and Emma Stone in her first role with serious recognition (Birdman).

Who Should Win: Her work is the strongest unifying force in Boyhood: Patricia Arquette.

Who Will Win: Arquette has won everything else.

Richard Linklater (Boyhood) and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman) are in a close race for Best Director.

Richard Linklater (Boyhood) and Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Birdman) are in a close race for Best Director.

Best Director:

For the daring and ingenuity of his project, Richard Linklater is the odd-on favorite for Boyhood. His film took 12 years to make, following an unknown actor (Ellar Coltrane) grow up – and it could’ve failed at any point. However, the film, though very emotionally affecting at times, is overlong and somewhat uneven. Alejandro G. Iñárritu decided to shoot Birdman as if it were on continuous shot; that’s some amazing filmmaking! Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel shows the director’s quirky DIY filmmaking at its best. Next to these three, Bennett Miller (the lugubrious Foxcatcher) and Morten Tyldum (traditional The Imitation Game) don’t stand out.

Who Should Win: Both Linklater and Iñárritu have great creativity and influence with actors. Though his story is less emotional, what Iñárritu shows over Linklater is some mind-boggling technical filmmaking. Linklater tends to just point a camera and shoot. Give it to Iñárritu!

Who Will Win: The basic pathos that Boyhood stirs will give Linklater the win.

Best Picture:

As opposed to many of my fellow critics, I thought it was a great year for film, because all of these nominees – and several others – are really interesting! American Sniper has some serious backlash now, though, because of its subject matter and modifications of Chris Kyle’s story. Selma should become a classic, but it currently is also raising ire for how it portrayed President Lyndon Johnson. The Imitation Game, Whiplash, and The Theory of Everything have extraordinary performances, but they haven’t been winning any awards. The Grand Budapest Hotel deserves to be here, because Anderson is one of the most consistently unique filmmakers working today, but that won’t swing a win. Best Picture is between hand-held Boyhood and elaborately shot Birdman.

Who Should Win: I always vote for the outstanding movie that also expands the art of filmmaking; that would be Birdman, hands down.

Who Will Win: I’m going to guess that the Screen Actors and Producers Guild votes for Birdman have together picked this year’s winner, and rightfully so!

The final race up in the air is likely between Birdman and Boyhood for Best Picture.

The final race up in the air is likely between Birdman and Boyhood for Best Picture.

Watermark Staff picks and predictions
Selected by polling the entire staff, majority rules.

Best Actor: Michael Keaton in Birdman

Best Actress: Julianne More in Still Alice

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall in The Judge

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

Best Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman

Best Picture: American Sniper

So what about you? We’re giving away a Regal Movie Pack for 4 to the Watermark reader who gets the most picks right in the same six categories Stephen and the Watermark Staff predicted: Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director and Best Picture. The prize package includes tickets for four and a $25 gift card to spend on treats. Simply make your guesses in a comment on this article by 5 p.m. Feb. 20 to be eligible to win. We’ll award the prize to the reader who guesses the most categories correctly. In the case of a tie, we will choose a winner from that pool at random. Be sure the account you use to make your comment is attached to an email address you check regularly, as that is the only way we have to reach you should you win. 

Good luck! 

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