July Nomination Predictions
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicholas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo "Birdman"
Richard Linklater "Boyhood"
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman "Foxcatcher"
Mike Leigh "Mr. Turner"
JC Chandor "A Most Violent Year"
Other Contenders - Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan "Interstellar", David Ayer "Fury", Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski "Big Eyes", Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb "Selma", Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness "The Grand Budapest Hotel", Cameron Crowe "Untitled Cameron Crowe Project", Woody Allen "Magic in the Moonlight", Damien Chazelle "Whiplash", Anthony McCarten "Theory of Everything", Graham Moore "The Imitation Game", Thomas McCarthy and Paul Sado "The Cobbler", Ned Benson "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby", Bruce Wagner "Map to the Stars", Justin Simien "Dear White People", Bill Dubuque and Nick Schenk "The Judge", Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias "Love is Strange", Steven Baigelman, Jez Butterworth, and John-Henry Butterworth "Get On Up!", Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson "The Skeleton Twins", John Carney "Begin Again"
Commentary - If even half of the contenders on this list are good, this will still be an incredibly tight race. Two major contenders have already emerged. Foxcatcher came out of Cannes with a lot of heat on it, and the last two Miller projects have gotten into Best Picture, and gotten a screenplay nod from the writers. Boyhood, last year's nominee Richard Linklater's twelve-year project, might just be too ambitious for many of the categories, but the writers have always embraced Linklater, and I think they will respect his work. But most of the other predictions are really going out on a limb. The first looks at Birdman are truly exciting, and Inarritu's films have always had a following within the Academy. This could be his most popular work to date. Back in 2010, we all thought Mike Leigh's Another Year, despite its strong critical showing, was going to walk away from Oscar Nomination morning with a fat goose egg. But surprisingly, it was the writers that came to bat for, as they usually do (and usually the directors as well). This branch respects what Leigh does, and Mr. Turner debuted at Cannes to great reviews. Don't be surprised if Leigh once again survives the onslaught of later fall contenders to earn another Oscar nomination. Finally, I think that JC Chandor will return to the race. The Academy failed to embrace All is Lost, and since there was no dialogue, I was not surprised that it failed to make a mark with the writers (although The Artist was nominated so it may have just not been their cup of tea). But Chandor surprised a lot of people with a screenplay nod for Margin Call, and A Most Violent Year looks fantastic. If it holds together well, then Chandor could rebound from last year's miss. Beyond these five though there are a tremendous amount of contenders. I was so close to putting Interstellar in, as Inception earned a slot a few years back. But for genre films to breakthrough in these categories, they have to really land well (remind ourselves that recent Academy genre favorites Avatar and Gravity failed to make it into this race). If Interstellar is as good as it looks, then I might have to make some room for it. David Ayer has a lot to work with in the World War II epic Fury, and Ava DuVernay and Paul Webb are tackling the Civil Rights era in Selma. Historical projects do well with the Academy, so depending on their reception, they too could see some love. Wes Anderson was able to buy his time in 2012 to score a nod for Moonrise Kingdom, and he is hoping to do the same with The Grand Budapest Hotel. Previous winners Woody Allen and Cameron Crowe either seem to hit it out of the park or flop, but if Magic in the Moonlight and the Unititled project are Midnight in Paris or Almost Famous, then they should not be discounted. Big Eyes has some mixed buzz right now, and of course Burton's recent track record is worrisome. But if this is a return to form for Burton, then the script will be in play. Also look out for the scripts of The Imitation Game, Theory of Everything, The Cobbler, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Whiplash, Dear White People, Get on Up, and The Judge.