Boyhood vs. Birdman and the 2015 Oscar Predictions for Best Picture

We are just a few days away until the February 22nd telecast of the 87th Academy Awards. What stands out to me this year is that the race appears to be between my two favorite movies – BOYHOOD vs. BIRDMAN. This is a fantastic race and I’m giddy with excitement that for the first time in over a decade my favorite film of the year might actually win the whole thing. For the record, if one of the other films, besides possibly WHIPLASH, does have an upset win, I will be thoroughly upset. But first let me breakdown the nominees and explain my predictions for Best Picture and Best Director at the 2015 Academy Awards.

Directing
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”

While the race is only between two, this is an extremely tough category to predict. I would say it’s 50/50 on which way this is going to swing. Do you honor the high technical achievement from BIRDMAN or the ambitious project from BOYHOOD. Both directors are deserving since their films work beautifully and are the two best of the year. There is a good chance, just like in recent years, that director and picture are split. I would be very happy with that. I feel like it’s a win/win for me but I think the film that had more of a personal connection will ultimately win out.

Winner: Richard Linklater – BOYHOOD

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Best Picture
“Birdman”
“Boyhood”
“Selma”
“The Theory of Everything”
“The Imitation Game”
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“American Sniper”
“Whiplash”

Lets start out by discarding the obvious choices. Four of the eight films missed director nominations and history has shown that, other than ARGO, no director nomination means the kiss of death for a real shot to win Best Picture. (Click the links to read the reviews.)

WHIPLASH – While WHIPLASH was one of my favorite films (third favorite among these nominees), its victory was the nomination.

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING – Probably my least favorite film of the group, but it is inexplicably causing some worry with its four nominations.

AMERICAN SNIPER – The blockbuster success is a well-deserved win in its own right.

SELMA – A legitimate, albeit small, chance to pull an upset, only because people are all in a huff with the lack of nominations, particularly for director and actor. Here’s a crazy thought, maybe the lack of nominations was because they didn’t deserve it? Every year there are several great films that miss the nomination party. I really like SELMA but it didn’t make my top ten. Like half of the Best Picture nominees, I think SELMA should just be happy to be here.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL – So now we are down to the films that also got a director’s nomination. I’m happy for Wes Anderson’s inclusion, but he has done better work that wasn’t nominated. Baby steps for his brand of filmmaking being recognized and being nominated was a healthy step.

THE IMITATION GAME – Could pull in a wild upset due to the material. People are so blown away with the tragic true story, as they should be, that they are overlooking the fact that the film was very mediocre. Personally, much like the years A BEAUTIFUL MIND or CRASH won, it would be a sock to the gut if it wins. I might just throw up. So that leaves us to our well-deserved final two…

Ellar Coltrane in Boyhood

BIRDMAN or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – When I first saw BIRDMAN, I thought it would e too small and odd for the Academy to embrace. I am so happy that I was wrong. It really is firing on all cylinders, bringing all the important elements in film together in a rare, fluid, dance-like way. While it has won many of the recent awards, it does lack a little of that emotional connection the Academy loves to reward.

BOYHOOD – Richard Linklater blew me away with BEFORE SUNSET. The BEFORE TRILOGY is an exceptional three film piece of work, together and stand alone. But he also is the man behind the delightful DAZED AND CONFUSED and BERNIE. BOYHOOD is a culmination of all his talents and ambition. He really got lucky that no one quit or died in the 12-year span. The beautifully woven story about life is like nothing put on film and that is why I believe my favorite movie of the year, might actually have all the elements to take home the big prize.

Winner: BOYHOOD

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