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Oscar Predictions: An Expert Versus Random Chance

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | February 19, 2015 |

By Kristy Puchko | Lists | February 19, 2015 |

Every entertainment writer has their own method to selecting Oscar predictions. Some carefully track nominated films’ successes at precursor award shows like the BAFTAs and Golden Globes. Others factor in the arc of a nominee’s career, considering if they are “due” a win after decades of incredible work. And some roll the die. For our predictions this year, we’re doing a bit of both.

I’ll be laying out who I think will win, and why. Then we’ll literally be rolling a die to determine random chance’s picks for the 2015 Academy Awards. Here’s hoping this helps you with your own Oscar betting polls. And we’ll check back post-Oscars to see who’s better at picking winners, me—a professional entertainment reporter who has followed the Oscars religiously for years—or a set of dice my Dungeons and Dragons-playing husband rolled.

Best Visual Effects
Expert: Though this category is cluttered with superhero spectacles, I’d be willing to bet the Academy will go with Interstellar’s brand of hard-nose sci-fi meets metaphysical mumbo jumbo. It’s the pretentious choice.

Random Chance: 2 = Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Best Sound Mixing
Expert: Birdman. Considering the long takes, swerving from one setup to another and Times Square location shoot, this seems a no brainer. Plus the film already won the honor from the 51st Cinema Audio Society Awards.

Random Chance: 1 = American Sniper

Best Sound Editing
Expert: This award tends to go to action movies, where complicated battle scenes demand layered soundscapes. Based on that, my bet goes to The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Random Chance: 4 = Interstellar

Best Shorts: Animated/Live-Action/Documentary
Expert: “Feast” because it’s adorable and Disney. “Boogaloo and Graham” because it’s getting more buzz than you tend to hear on shorts. As for the docs, it’s a bleak field this year with many heart-crushing conceits, but of these I suspect “White Earth” has the edge, thanks to its unexpected perspective, that of a small child facing a new home in a crushingly cold climate.

Random Chance: 4 = “Me and My Moulton” / 1 = “Aya” / 5 = “White Earth”

Best Production Design
Expert: Grand Budapest Hotel. Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock managed to create three distinctive eras, each with the whimsical feel Wes Anderson is known for. And perhaps most importantly, one of these feels like a big old love letter to early cinema with its models and quaint details.

Random Chance: 4 = Into The Woods

Best Original Song
Expert: As catchy as “Everything is Awesome” is, this one’s going to “Glory.” The track from Selma is not only beautiful, poignant, and key to the film’s final moments, but also one of only two spots the Martin Luther King Jr. biopic has a place to compete. This may mean some pity votes, but take solace in that this under-nominated film deserves any honor it gets.

Random Chance: 4 = “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me

Best Original Score
Expert: The Grand Budapest Hotel because it’s the only one of the nominated scores I can remember without prompting.

Random Chance: 2 = The other Alexandre Desplat-nominated score, The Imitation Game

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Expert: Considering the arduous full-body makeup applied to two of its leads, I think Guardians of the Galaxy has the edge over Foxcatcher’s fake nose or The Grand Budapest Hotel’s old age makeup.

Random Chance: 3 = Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Foreign Language Film
Expert: Ida. This devastating and visually striking Polish drama has lots of critical acclaim backing it. But it’s real advantage is that it’s also earned a Best Cinematography nod, rare for a foreign film at the Oscars.

Random Chance: 5 = Wild Tales (Argentina)

Best Film Editing
Expert: American Sniper. The film’s inclusion of that fake baby should be enough to get it barred from this category altogether. But the biopic about U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is too controversial to secure one of the big wins for the night. Expect it to get a smaller, “good for you” award elsewhere. Why not editing? (For the record, I’d prefer Grand Budapest Hotel take this win. But Anderson’s style is often a bit too twee for the Academy.)

Random Chance: 4 = The Imitation Game

Best Documentary
Expert: If it doesn’t go to Laura Poitras’ raved about Edward Snowden doc CitizenFour that will be a major shock.

Random Chance: 2 = Finding Vivian Maier

Best Costume Design
Expert: This is Into The Woods’ Colleen Atwood’s to lose. She’s won three times before, notably twice with Into The Woods director Rob Marshall’s Memoirs of a Geisha and Chicago.

Random Chance: 4 = Maleficent

Best Cinematography
Expert: The Susan Lucci of this category is Roger Deakins, 12-time Oscar nominated director of photography without a win to his name. However, Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken didn’t get anywhere near the kind of award season mileage expected. And Emmanuel Lubezki’s extraordinary use of the long take has been drawing nothing but praise. So this one is all Birdman.

Random Chance: 3 = Ida

Best Original Screenplay
Expert: Nightcrawler got snubbed in the Best Actor race. (Sorry, Jake.) So this could be the chance for its writer/director Dan Gilroy to get recognized.

Random Chance: 5 = Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay
Expert: Inherent Vice. Frankly I loathed this critical darling. But by all accounts it’s very faithful to Thomas Pynchon’s novel. Which I’ll assume I’d also loathe. And the Academy loves them some P.T. Anderson.

Random Chance: 4 = The Theory of Everything

Best Animated Feature
Expert: It should be Boxtrolls. It will be How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Random Chance: 5 = The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Best Supporting Actress
Expert: Meryl Streep has been nominated 19 times. She’s got 3 wins, but Into the Woods won’t be her fourth. This one’s going Patricia Arquette, who’s Boyhood performance has been won her a slew of honors, including the Golden Globe.

Random Chance: 1 = Boyhood’s Patricia Arquette

Best Supporting Actor
Expert: Whiplash. No question. It’s storied and stellar supporting player J.K. Simmons’ time. He won the BAFTA and the Golden Globe. Now, he’s coming for Oscar.

Random Chance: 5 = J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Best Actress
Expert: It’s a crowded field full of outstanding performances. But Still Alice’s Julianne Moore. For Days.

Random Chance: 1 = Two Days, One Night’s Marion Cotillard

Best Actor
Expert: This is one of the night’s tightest races. Birdman’s Michael Keaton won the Golden Globe. The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne won the BAFTA. My heart says Keaton (who’ll always be my Batman/first celebrity crush). But my head says Redmayne’s loyal recreation of Stephen Hawking’s brutal physical decline will most impress Oscar voters.

Random Chance: 5 =The Theory of Everything’s Eddie Redmayne

Best Director
Expert: Boyhood’s Richard Linklater will win. The movie took 12 years to make. That alone should be commended. (But I’ll be rooting for Grand Budapest and Birdman.)

Random Chance: 5 = The Imitation Game (The die is apparently a big fan of a movie about a computer that deciphers seemingly random codes.)

Best Picture
Expert: Boyhood won the BAFTA and the Golden Globe for drama. Yet Grand Budapest took the Globe’s comedy honor, and scored nine Oscar noms. But Birdman also nabbed nine, and has the added allure of being a movie about movies. Plus, it’s one that carries the same kind of scorn of the superhero genre that the Academy seems to. Being one of the few critics in the world who found Boyhood bland and painfully meandering, I’m rooting hard for the other two. But push me for who will win, the idyllic tale of a white boy growing up without any major conflict looks poised to take it.

Random Chance: 8 = Whiplash

The 87th Annual Academy Awards will be held this Sunday.