Oscars 2015: Who will win (and who should win)

 

 The Oscar will telecast tonight (February 22, 2015)! 

 I'll be watching!  

Who do you think deserves to win?

Oscars 2015: Who will win (and who should win) by Peter Travers, Rolling Stone 

With the Oscar telecast coming right at us on February 22nd, now's the time to check the odds on the main competition. Whether you are betting at home, school or office, the Academy of Old Farts and Retro Sciences (numbering more than 6,000 strong) always has a few thorny surprises up its sleeve. For example, not one person of color appears among the 20 nominees for acting. Can the race-shaming tilt the Best Picture contest in favor of "Selma," especially since the front runners have long been "Boyhood" and "Birdman"? For the answers to that question and more, check out my take on who Will Win and Who Should Win.

Who should win an Oscar? Cast your vote

Best Song

The Nominees
"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

Should and Will Win

"Glory," by John Legend and Common, has entered the Hot 100. It brings the soul of "Selma" home. Its message is vital. Its creators are black. And it's time.

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    Best Director

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

    Narrowing the Field

    Just like the Best Picture race, it's between "Boyhood" and "Birdman." That means Linklater, in his most personal film, takes on Iñárritu in his. In the past three years, Best Picture and Director have not matched up. It might happen again. Yikes!

    Snubs

    By now, you know I'm going to say Ava DuVernay, who by any standard of quality measurement should be there for "Selma." 

    Surprises

    If anyone but Linklater or Iñárritu wins.

    Should Win

    Linklater. I've made my case.

    Will Win

    Iñárritu. Maybe because "Birdman" has more bells and whistles. Or maybe not.

    Video: Watch kids reenact best picture Oscar nominees

    Best Supporting Actress

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

    Narrowing the Field

    Arquette has won every award minted or printed for her poignant performance as the mother of the boy in "Boyhood." Why should that stop now?

    Snubs

    How do you ignore Tilda Swinton ("Snowpiercer") or Rene Russo ("Nightcrawler") or Kim Dickens and Carrie Coon ("Gone Girl")? Did Streep really need her 900th nomination? What about Carmen Ejogo, superb as Coretta Scott King in "Selma"? 

    Surprises

    It's a kick to see Stone dig into a role worthy of her talent. She'll get more.

    Should and Will Win

    Arquette. She's shattering in the scene where she sends her son off to college. 'Nuff said.

    Best Supporting Actor

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

    Narrowing the Field

    Place your bets on Simmons. All respect to Duvall, Hawke, Norton and Ruffalo, but if you think Simmons isn't a sure-as-s--t shoo-in as a drum instructor from jazz hell, then you're not on my effing tempo.

    Snubs

    Duvall is stuck in a crap movie, so I'd trade him for Josh Brolin ("Inherent Vice"), or Riz Ahmed ("Nightcrawler"), or Tyler Perry ("Gone Girl"), proving he can act when not in Madea drag. 

    Surprises

    Norton is as good as it gets as an actor who can't live outside his own head, but a surprise is not gonna happen.

    Should and Will Win

    Simmons. Beat the drum, baby.

    Second best: 25 greatest Best Picture Oscar losers

    Best Actress

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

    Narrowing the Field

    That's easy. Everyone but Moore can go home. It's not that her fellow nominees are coasting. I thought Pike acted the hell out of her role as Ben Affleck's wifey nemesis, but the Academy clearly wants David Fincher's "Gone Girl" gone. And Jones? She'll grab the gold some day, just as Cotillard and Witherspoon did before her. Not now.

    Snubs

    Everyone's b-tching about the diss to Jennifer Aniston in "Cake." Agreed. But I'm pissed about freezing out Scarlett Johansson for "Under the Skin." Or what about Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Beyond the Lights?" 

    Surprises

    They nominated Cotillard in a French-language film, so they must really, really like her. But that much? Nah.

    Should and Will Win

    Moore. Sure, she's overdue (four nominations and no wins). She's also touching and vital as a Columbia professor exhibiting signs of early-onset Alzheimer's.

    Best Actor

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

    Narrowing the Field

    Not a loser in the bunch. Carell totally transformed himself to play a monster of privilege. And Cooper inhabited the body and soul of traumatized Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. But it's not their year. This is a three-way race that pits two British thespians playing real people — Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist robbed of movement and speech by ALS; and Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, a math genius persecuted for the then-crime of homosexuality — against an American actor, Michael Keaton, playing a Hollywood star making a comeback, which many see as him playing a fictional version of himself.

    Snubs

    Here are five who've got as much game as the real nominees. David Oyelowo is electric as Martin Luther King in "Selma". There's Jake Gyllenhaal as a new kind of media creature in "Nightcrawler," Timothy Spall as an artist unbound in "Mr. Turner" and Tom Hardy in a tour de force as a man alone in a car in "Locke." And Chadwick Boseman soars as James Brown in "Get On Up." 

    Surprises

    The popularity of Cumberbatch (go, Sherlock!) cannot be underestimated. In a battle between Redmayne and Keaton, he could be the spoiler.

    Should Win

    Redmayne has detractors who feel that Daniel Day-Lewis did the disability thing better in "My Left Foot." Others feel Redmayne will be hurt by being seen in a bad movie, "Jupiter Ascending," during the voting. I feel his "Theory" performance is magnificent in every detail. That should count.

    Will Win

    Keaton. Come on, people. This dude's been the s--t for years. "Beetlejuice," "Batman," you name it. And no Academy love. Not even a nomination. In "Birdman," he has the role of his career and crushes it. How do you resist? You don't.

    Oscar's best actors of all time

    Best Picture

    The Nominees
    American Sniper
    Birdman
    Boyhood
    The Grand Budapest Hotel
    The Imitation Game
    Selma
    The Theory of Everything
    Whiplash

    Narrowing the Field

    Why am I calling this year's Oscars the "Caucasian Consensus," when "Selma" is one of the eight nominees for Best Picture? Because that landmark film about Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1965 civil-rights march has only one other nomination, for Best Song. Not one person of color appears among the 20 nominees for acting. Apparently, the Academy thought it gave last year when it awarded "12 Years a Slave" the gold. The message from white voters? Don't get uppity. So scratch "Selma" and the other three Best Picture nominees whose directors didn't make the cut. That's you, "American Sniper," "The Theory of Everything" and "Whiplash."

    OK, "Sniper" boasts a box office ($300 million and climbing) that pulverizes the presumptive favorite, "Boyhood" ($25 million), and its other rivals. But Michael Moore and a fat chunk of liberal Hollywood don't cotton to a film that, they think, celebrates a Navy SEAL for a record 160 kills in Iraq. Nonetheless,"American Sniper" is clearly the people's choice in this race. But please remember, the 6,000 or so Academy voters aren't people. They're industry types invested in using the Oscars to reflect a pumped-up and pompous image of themselves to the globe. That's why comedies rarely win Best Picture. Bad news for "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Despite tying "Birdman" for the most nominations (nine), "Hotel" will have to settle for a congeniality prize. But, hey, isn't "Birdman" a comedy? Yeah, but it's edged with disillusion, despair and suicide. That, Hollywood can relate to.

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    Snubs

    Since 2009, the Academy has allowed itself up to 10 nominees for Best Picture. And yet this year, it chose only eight, suggesting a thin field. Really! "Foxcatcher" is nominated for acting, directing and writing, but it's not worthy of Best Picture? Indelible indies such as "Under the Skin," "Nightcrawler," "Snowpiercer," "Locke," "Mr. Turner," "A Most Violent Year" and "Dear White People" got shafted, along with studio releases of fierce intelligence ("Interstellar," "Inherent Vice," "Gone Girl").

    Surprises

    In the race between "Boyhood" and "Birdman," I see only one dark horse in the bunch. That would be "The Imitation Game," nominated in all the right categories (picture, director, writer, actor, supporting actress and editor). More crucially, Harvey Weinstein has put all his company's marketing weight into turning an Academy vote for "The Imitation Game" into a vote for Alan Turing, the computer pioneer and gay martyr played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Gay leaders and technocrats are featured in the ads. Google chairman Eric Schmidt is quoted as saying, "Every time you use a phone or a computer, you use the ideas that Alan Turing invented." Too much? Weinstein knows the Oscar game better than anyone, bringing home "The King's Speech" over "The Social Network" in 2011 and "The Artist" over "The Descendants" the following year. Never discount the Harvey factor.

    Should Win

    "Boyhood." Richard Linklater filmed this story of a Texas boy (Ellar Coltrane) growing up over 12 years, from six to 18, with the same cast and the same artistry. The naysayers claim it's a gimmick. They're wrong. It's a classic.

    Will Win

    The signs point to "Birdman." The Producers Guild and the Screen Actors Guild put it on top. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu's tale of a washed-up actor (Michael Keaton) making a comeback explodes with creativity. The naysayers claim it's style over substance. They're wrong. It's a classic. But "Boyhood" has my heart, for keeps.

    For the original story, visit RollingStone.com

    Monica Mancano

    Monica Mancano

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