1. Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
2. Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything
3. Michael Keaton in Birdman
These three are about as safe as can be – and will likely be the three duking it out for the win in February. For now, it would be shocking to see one of them left off the ballot.
Four Competing for Two4. Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler
5. David Oyellwo in Selma
6. Steve Carrel in Foxcatcher
7. Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel
8. Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Since I think there are three locks, that means there are spots left – and I think it’s likely that two of the three will get in. A little while ago I would have left Gyllenhaal out – but he’s had a better season than Carell, so perhaps he sneaks in. Perhaps the lack of people having a chance to see Selma will be Oyellwo gets left out. Anything could happen. Fiennes has been quietly chugging along all season – and he could well sneak in. Is the recent surge for American Sniper enough to get Cooper a nomination for a third year in a row?
The Longshots9. Timothy Spall in Mr. Turner
This is an absurdly strong year for this category – in other years Spall might have been a given. It could still pull off a shocking nomination.
Best ActressThe Top Four (Since September)
1. Julianne Moore in Still Alice
2. Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
3. Reese Witherspoon in Wild
4. Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
Since the Fall Festival season ended, these four have been locked and loaded for nominations, and absolutely nothing has changed that. While I think everyone is playing for runner-up to Moore, these four should be safe.
Race for the Fifth Slot5. Jennifer Aniston in Cake
6. Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night (or The Immigrant)
7. Amy Adams in Big Eyes
8. Hilary Swank in The Homesman
9. Emily Blunt in Into the Woods
All season long, we have wondered what the fifth slot in this race was going to be. A lot of people thought it would be Oscar favorite Amy Adams – and perhaps it could be – but no one seems to like her film much. A huge box office hit could propel Emily Blunt in for Into the Woods – but as good as she is, does anyone really talk about her? They love Swank so much she has two Oscars at home – but the second one was a decade ago, and for some reason no one saw The Homesman. Marion Cotillard is the critical cause celebre – but she’s trying to push in for a foreign performance (always tricky) or an English one, that the studio didn’t support until it was forced to by the awards, so perhaps she splits the votes - and she may not be able to afford do that. So amazingly, Jennifer Aniston seems like the safest bet for Cake – a movie that may or may not actually exist, since I have heard NOTHING for ANYONE about it, except for when she shows up in nominations. Bizarre.
Best Supporting ActorThe Top 4
1. J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
2. Edward Norton in Birdman
3. Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
4. Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons has dominated this category all season – and there is no reason to think he won’t walk away with an Oscar. After that, the same three names always seem to show up Norton, Hawke and Ruffalo – all former nominees in respected films, so I think they’re safe. But just like Best Actress, the top four seem rock solid, and the final spot is completely up in the air.
Racing for Fifth5. Robert Duvall in The Judge
6. Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice
When the Globes or SAG had to fill in the final spot, the went with the old vet Duvall in a fine performance in a completely forgettable film. When critics groups fill it in, they went with Brolin. I’m praying for Brolin – he is brilliant, but I’m not convinced. Could someone completely off board (from say, Selma?) squeak in?
Best Supporting ActressThe Top Four
1. Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
2. Emma Stone in Birdman
3. Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
4. Meryl Streep in Into the Woods
It’s sort a theme this year – with Actress, Supporting Actor and now Supporting Actress, seemingly have four very safe nominees, and then a wild card for the fifth slot. Arquette probably wins this, but Stone, Knightley and Streep will be nominated alongside her fairly easily.
Racing for Fifth1. Rene Russo in Nightcrawler
2. Jessica Chastain in A Most Violent Year
3. Laura Dern in Wild
4. Naomi Watts in St. Vincent
5. Tilda Swinton in Snowpiercer
6. Carmen Ejogo in Selma
Unlike Best Supporting Actor, there seems to be a few choices that could sneak in here. The safe money is on Jessica Chastain for A Most Violent Year – although it was a very late breaking movie, so I’m not convinced enough saw it – which is why I’m going with a personal favorite in Rene Russo for Nightcrawler – which has had surprisingly strong support all season. After that, who knows? Dern is fine in Wild, and if enough people like the movie, she could sneak in. Naomi Watts got a surprising SAG nom for St. Vincent, so I guess she’s possible. The critics have done their best to try and put Swinton happen, but I’m not sure they will. Because Selma broke so late, perhaps we’re all underestimating Ejogo in Selma.