Impossibly Early Predictions: The 87th Academy Awards

We’ve had a week to come down. A week to talk about how great Cate Blanchett and Lupita Nyong’o were, how, er, unique Kim Novak’s presentational style was, and how incredibly predictable the Academy Awards were in the final run (as usual). Well, if you hate predictable things, stop reading now; we have somewhere between 47 and 51 weeks to speculate on the next lot of Oscar wins and nominations, and speculate we will. Here are the official ORWAV tips for 2015’s 87th Academy Awards ceremony.

The Big Films.

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1. Foxcatcher

Dir. Bennett Miller. Starring: Channing Tatum, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo.

After Capote and Moneyball – Best Pic nominees with two Acting nods each – hopes are high for Bennett Miller’s delayed true-crime drama. A near-unrecognisable Steve Carell is as likely for recognition as the director and producers, but Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave and in particular Mark Ruffalo are set to shine with an Academy Acting Branch increasingly receptive to nominating whole casts, ’70s-style. We’ll call this a dead cert.

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2. Interstellar

Dir. Christopher Nolan. Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain.

Remember Inception? Here’s more of the same: loopy, original, blockbusting, and with just enough of each, we reckon, to land it on the Writing ballot, alongside clinches for Pic, Editing, Cinematography and VFX. And this has to be Christopher Nolan‘s year for a first Directing nod – surely? Release date, like the rest of this list, positions Nolan right in Academy voters’ crosshairs – it’ll look less a summer blockbuster (Inception was July 2010), more a serious big-prize contender.

3. Into the Woods

Dir. Rob Marshall. Starring: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine.

Nine was something of a fiasco, but Rob Marshall‘s film still scraped four nominations. Now the Chicago man does Sondheim in his bid to become this century’s Bob Fosse. He certainly has the cast for it, potentially leading this Christmas release into Best Pic, Director and every Art category. From the ensemble, Anna Kendrick has the chops and reputation for a nod, perhaps even as Lead Actress. Fellow Broadway legend Christine Baranski could add to her trophy cabinet too, following Marshall alum Zellweger, Cruz, Reilly and statuette-stealing Catherine Zeta-Jones. The man has form.

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4. Unbroken

Dir. Angelina Jolie. Starring: Garrett Hedlund, Jack O’Connell, Domhnall Gleeson.

Angelina Jolie‘s directing debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, was well-received to the point of serious Oscar talk (for a time, anyway). Well we’re back folks, and this looks even bigger: blending biography, period style and war drama, Unbroken should dance that Oscar-y line between formula and brilliance. With the Coen Bros. involved as scribes, and perennial nominee Roger Deakins lensing, this well-cast passion project may really take off. Exciting stuff.

5. Inherent Vice

Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson. Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon.

Thomas Pynchon‘s novels are bizarre to the point that, for many, they’re impossible to love. And there was an equivalent quality in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master that likely shut him out of the Oscars: “too weird,” in short. But when we smash the two masters together? This unique psycho-acid-detective-caper is perfect for an Academy now used to rewarding the likes of American HustleArgo and even A Serious Man. It’s light weird, not dark weird – so we think a Pic/Dir/Writing triple is likely, plus the auteur’s customary acting nods (especially with this wacky Pynchonian cast), should be good bets for this December release.

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6. Gone Girl

Dir. David Fincher. Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris.

David Fincher‘s films are always events, but despite a strategic Autumn release and probable festival appearances, this looks a little dark for overwhelming Academy love (as with Dragon Tattoo and, well, everything before Benjamin Button). So probably no seal-of-approval Directing nod, although with this respected craftsman firmly back in thriller-land, expect a token appearance on that inclusive Best Picture list. And after Fincher’s consecutive Lead Acting nods for Rooney Mara, Jesse Eisenberg and Brad Pitt, it’s a good time to start talking about Rosamund Pike.

Other Picture/Director Hopefuls:

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With a Summer release, it could struggle against Christmas’ Into the Woods, but Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys could hold enough charm and nostalgic good times that it breaks through to the big time. Meanwhile, Brad Pitt has a WWII drama of his own: Fury, directed by David Ayer (the brilliant End of Watch) and starring Pitt alongside various rising stars. Sounds great, if not as interesting as Unbroken – this may ultimately fall into the same camp as Prisoners.

Over in political-thriller territory is Jeremy Renner’s pet project Kill the Messenger, a true-life CIA conspiracy story that plants the star firmly back in the saddle that won him nominations for The Hurt Locker and The Town. If it’s good, its historicity, ensemble cast and old-fashioned potboiler appeal could make it the new Michael Clayton (or Argo).

Finally, don’t rule out Cameron Crowe’s upcoming project (once titled Deep Tiki), returning to the more comedic style of his Oscar successes Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous rather than the over-saccharine shite-ribbons of Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo. Another great ensemble – Cooper, Stone, McAdams, Murray – and an appealingly quirky premise make for the writer-director’s best prospects in nearly 15 years.

Actors After Their Dues:

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For starters, The Chastainator is back with three films and three big chances: Interstellar, which could nab her what we call the “Ripley Vote” (seen recently with Sandra Bullock); more prestigious, however, is J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year, a Manhattan-set crime thriller that pairs her with Oscar Isaac. If that doesn’t work out, Swedish icon Liv Ullmann will direct the two-time nominee alongside Samantha Morton and Colin Farrell in Strindbergian period drama Miss Julie. It’s like a parody of Oscar bait – but overall, we’d say she has a lock in one of these.

More great tips abound in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, wherein he reteams with the Ed Wood writers for a return to half-decent filmmaking. This biopic involves artistic temperaments, legal wrangles and the 1950s, so its lead Amy Adams and co-star Christoph Waltz should be absolutely gunning for gongs.

Michel The Artist Hazanavicius returns with an international drama, The Search, for which Bérénice Bejo will be looking to capitalise on the Tinseltown love she received two seasons ago – it’s her first English-language film since then. She’ll be opposite Annette Bening too, which always helps. Fellow Francophone Marion Cotillard, however, has her own juicy role in the form of Lady Macbeth (you may have heard of her). Cotillard and on-screen husband Michael Fassbender are perhaps not the surest of bets (Shakespeare hasn’t done well for a very long time), but we’ll keep an eye on them.

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On the “stunt acting” side of things, there’s Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking and Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game respectively. The former could be this year’s Iron Lady, requiring as it does the challenge of actually portraying Hawkings’ physical decline… actually, scratch that, it could be closer to My Left Foot. Cumberbatch, meanwhile, may have struck out with his Julian Assange, but rest assured – Turing’s a truly sympathetic hero so shouldn’t be open to the same gaping pitfalls. Being blunt, this really is prime Oscar fodder. And don’t you dare dismiss Nicole Kidman (and Tim Roth!) in Grace of Monaco – if its long delays really are down to Harvey Weinstein’s insistence on re-edits, we may end up with a proper good rewardable film in a way that the recent Diana just wasn’t (at all). After all: Weinstein knows what he’s doing.

Our Final Thoughts:

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VFX has a crowded field this year; as well as Interstellar we have mo-cap opuses Guardians of the Galaxy and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Marvel and Apes have historically done well at Oscar); the visionary Wachowskis’ likely gorgeous (and Brazil inspired!) Jupiter Ascending; Noah, Exodus, and the all-conquering The Hobbit: There and Back Again will fly the flag for meticulously epic craft; and of course the daddy of them all, imaginative, innovative and with hundreds of millions thrown at it: Godzilla.

Terrence Malick has two potentials – Knight of Cups and an Untitled one (formerly Lawless). It’s not unreasonable to suggest that either one of these could nab him some customary nods. But his best bet – as a Writer – could become enormously crowded, with veterans Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Woody Allen (Magic in the Moonlight, capitalising on the period-comedy style that’s done well for him previously), Richard Linklater (Boyhood) and Mike Leigh (Mr. Turner) all placing very convincing bids.

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Finally, after Annie – too sugary – and True Story – too rickety – our one big outside bet (or maybe just wishful thinking?) is that Oscar shutout Anton Corbijn manages to direct Philip Seymour Hoffman into his final race, for the fittingly acclaimed A Most Wanted Man. Exactly the kind of surprise we like.

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