Best Original Song
“Everything is Awesome,” The Lego Movie
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Mine
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again
Who Will Win: “Glory,” Selma. Unfortunately I think Selma will be shut out of any of the other categories, so this seems like the one place it could get Oscar gold.
Who Should Win: “Everything is Awesome.” I generally prefer a song to function inside of the narrative instead of simply playing over the end credits, and it helps when it happens to be as potent an earworm as the one Tegan and Sara (with The Lonely Island) performed here. It would’ve been nice to see a song from Frank and God Help the Girl in this category, two other examples of original music integrated finely into the movie they’re a part of, but the arcane rules by which these nominees are chosen precluded it from being so.
Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Who Will Win: Let’s go with The Tale of the Princess Kaguya as a “just in case Studio Ghibli doesn’t come back” celebratory choice.
Who Should Win: The LEGO Movie. It was one of the best movies of the year full stop, let alone animated, and it’s the biggest snub of the year that it didn’t get the nomination it so richly deserved. It’s hard to say any of these other choices should’ve been bumped in its favor, though. An incredibly strong year for animated pictures.
Best Foreign Language Film
Who Will Win: Ida. Receiving a nomination in another field (in this case, cinematography) usually suggests a Foreign Film considered a cut above the other nominees.
Who Should Win: I haven’t seen enough of these nominees to say for certain (Leviathan comes out locally very soon and Wild Tales is just beginning its release platform), but Ida feels like a safe choice. I wish Force Majeure could’ve been in the running as well, as it could’ve given Ida a run for its money.
Best Documentary Feature
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Who Will Win: CitizenFour.
Who Should Win: I would’ve liked to see The Overnighters get nominated and pull out the win here (it can take the place of Last Days in Vietnam, a film I wasn’t enamored with at all), but an equally of -the-moment picture is CitizenFour so I’m sticking with that choice here.
Alejandro Inarritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Who Will Win: Inarritu. Unfortunately.
Who Should Win: Either Anderson or Linklater. Inarritu’s film is all flash and no substance — the one-shot stylistic conceit adds nothing to the story being told. Tyldum shouldn’t have been nominated (compare the pedestrian visuals of Imitation Game to his delightful thriller Headhunters and you’d begin to understand why). Replace Tyldum with Ava DuVernay, and then we’d be talking.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Who Will Win: Let’s go against the grain of Birdman fever (bird flu?) that’s sweeping the nation and say Boyhood takes the top prize.
Who Should Win: Of the films nominated, Selma, Grand Budapest, Boyhood or Whiplash would be good choices. The Imitation Game is fine if not Oscar-worthy, but the other three candidates are all movies with flaws that out shadow their positive qualities.
So, do you agree with my choices? Disagree? Have alternate suggestions? Have at it in the comments, or let me know via Twitter/email. I’ll see you again this time next year for another round of predictions.