With the Academy Awards taking place this Sunday, everyone is making their predictions. Why should you listen to mine? Well, rumor has it that certain folks in Hollywood bring my picks around to Oscar parties and win really great prizes with them. Of course, I never see a dime of these prizes, but who cares? This year could be the year that I do poorly. Things are really close in so many categories that aside from a few locks, there’s a lot up for grabs. That is sure to make this year much more exciting than last year. So, here we go. Tell me if you agree or not. I’ve ranked them in the order of likelihood of winning.

Best Picture 

  1. Boyhood 
  2. Birdman
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. Whiplash
  6. Selma
  7. American Sniper
  8. The Theory of Everything

This is pretty much a two horse race right now. I’ve had Boyhood penciled in as the winner since July of last year and I’m not about to change that now.

Best Director

  1. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
  2. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  3. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  4. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  5. Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

Gosh this one is hard. Linklater did something amazing with Boyhood. But Birdman was masterful as well and the DGA gave their award to the latter’s helmsman. I’ll go with them.

Best Actor

  1. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  2. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  3. Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
  4. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
  5. Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

I thought Keaton for a long time, but Redmayne is a little better, plus he plays the same character for a lifetime.

Best Actress

  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  3. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  4. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  5. Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

This one is a lock.

Best Supporting Actor

  1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  2. Edward Norton (Birdman)
  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)

This one is a lock as well.

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone (Birdman)
  3. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
  4. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
  5. Laura Dern (Wild)

Even though I would vote for Emma Stone, Arquette is bringing home the award.

Best Original Screenplay

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Birdman
  3. Boyhood
  4. Foxcatcher
  5. Nightcrawler

The more I think about it, the more I think this is close to a lock. Budapest was so clever, and so well told. There’s an outside shot for Birdman or Boyhood.

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Imitation Game
  2. The Theory of Everything
  3. American Sniper
  4. Whiplash
  5. Inherent Vice

This one is up in the air. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the top four win.

Best Animated Feature Film

  1. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  4. The Boxtrolls
  5. Song of the Sea

The Lego Movie. Seriously…I’m still befuddled at the lack of a nomination, which paves the way for a Dragon win.

Best Documentary Film

  1. Citizenfour
  2. Last Days in Vietnam
  3. Finding Vivian Maier
  4. Virunga
  5. The Salt of the Earth

Life Itself was the only film that could have challenged Citizenfour. And it wasn’t nominated.

Best Foreign Film

  1. Ida
  2. Leviathan
  3. Wild Tales
  4. Tangerines
  5. Timbuktu

An outside chance for Leviathan or Wild Tales here.

Best Cinematography

  1. Birdman
  2. Mr. Turner
  3. Unbroken
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Ida

Birdman in front, with the rest in a pack.

Best Costume Design

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Into the Woods
  3. Maleficent
  4. Mr. Turner
  5. Inherent Vice

I never saw Into the Woods. A lot of folks were claiming it would get a Best Picture nomination, which was just silly. However, I am surprised that its not getting more love for Costume Design, which should lead to a win for Budapest.

Best Make-up and Hair

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. Foxcatcher

This one is so, so close. Being a Marvel fan, I want Guardians to win, and really, think about all the characters that had make-up: Gamora, Nebula, Thanos, Ronan, the Broker, the Collector, Howard the Duck (just kidding).

Best Production Design

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Into the Woods
  3. Interstellar
  4. Mr. Turner
  5. The Imitation Game

Should be a lock.

Best Film Editing

  1. Boyhood
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Whiplash
  5. American Sniper

Should be a lock here as well.

Best Visual Effects

  1. Interstellar
  2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy
  4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  5. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Another one that is so close. Hugo beat out the last Apes film, so I’ll go with the Nolan bus here.

Best Original Score

  1. The Theory of Everything
  2. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  3. Interstellar
  4. Mr. Turner
  5. The Imitation Game

I am hoping for a Budapest win here, but I noticed that no soundtrack Grammy winner has ever won an Oscar. And Theory does have a great score.

Best Original Song

  1. “Glory” (Selma)
  2. “Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)
  3. “Lost Stars” (Begin Again)
  4. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me)
  5. “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)

Should be a sure thing.

Best Sound Editing

  1. American Sniper
  2. Birdman
  3. Interstellar
  4. Unbroken
  5. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

As usual, I’m mostly guessing here, although my top two here both sounded amazing.

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Whiplash
  2. Birdman
  3. American Sniper
  4. Interstellar
  5. Unbroken

See above comment. I can see any of the top three winning here.

Best Live Action Short

  1. Boogaloo and Graham
  2. The Phone Call
  3. Parvaneh
  4. Aya
  5. Butter Lamp

No. Flipping. Idea.

Best Animated Short

  1. Feast
  2. The Dam Keeper
  3. A Single Life
  4. The Bigger Picture
  5. Me and My Moulton

Bah. Feast is a really fun film. Probably the winner.

Best Documentary Short

  1. Joanna
  2. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press One
  3. Our Curse
  4. The Reaper
  5. White Earth

Once again, no clue. Crisis is the popular pick, but I’m leaning away.

After finally seeing American Sniper last night (my friend will apologize later for making me wait so long), I’m ready to put the lid on 2014 (Oscars aside of course) with my 10 Favorite Films of 2014. And so, without further ado…

#10) Selma

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There were some really great things about this film, the best being David Oyelowo, who was one of the few true Oscar snubs this year. It would be higher if the story was a little more driven. The film is pretty much Point A to Point B, which is fine, but it doesn’t feel propelled forward. Plus Tom Wilkinson is pretty unbelievable (in a not so good way) as LBJ. His performance is great, but he doesn’t look a thing like the former POTUS.

#9) Coherence

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A little-known indie flick available to watch on Amazon Prime, this is a true sci-fi thriller. And by sci-fi, I mean actual science fiction, with actual science. It is amazing what some great editing and a small, tightly-knit cast of actors can do. I love being drawn into a film and experiencing what the characters are, and this film accomplishes that in spectacular fashion.

#8) The Grand Budapest Hotel

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What a work of art by Wes Anderson. This is the most beautiful picture of the year, with great set pieces, make-up, and costumes. The cinematography was incredible as well. This is storytelling at its cinematic finest. Ralph Fiennes is perfect in his deadpan quasi-humorous lead, and the rest of the cast follow suit.

#7) American Sniper

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I’m not really sure what all the controversy is about. Oh, gosh, Middle Easterners are depicted as evil people…well that’s what happens when all the good people get out of town because the aren’t terrorists and don’t have interest in staying in a war zone. Were they supposed to throw a few Australians or French folks in there to make it more fair? Anyway, this is truly a masterpiece from the heart of Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood. Of course, with the trial of Chris Kyle’s real-life murderer beginning today, this story is still being written.

#6) The Lego Movie

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Yes, I’m a bad person for putting this above American Sniper, but this film was just a blast of fun. A hilarious script, wonderful animation, and a good story as well. It would have been so easy to go the “do whatever you want and break all the rules” route, but this film actually shows kids that there are certain instructions that need to be followed, and from there we are free to let our imaginations roam.

#5) Boyhood

Boyhood

This film is more of an experience than a movie. I don’t think any other film has captured what growing up is like as well as Boyhood does. Its an emotional ride, a journey through a life. You can really see the American experience through the lens of this film. Broken families, broken hearts, triumph over adversity, mistakes, successes, wonderful coincidences, its all here in a tapestry of humanity.

#4) Captain America: The Winter Soldier AND Guardians of the Galaxy

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I really felt it wasn’t fair to everyone else that Marvel is doing so well, so I’m putting both of their films here. What a year for Marvel Studios (again)! In a year where all other comic book films were either awful (Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesThe Amazing Spider-man 2, and Sin City and 300 sequels) or members of the “The-Effects-Are-So-Good-I’m-Not-Gonna-Think-About-How-Lame-and/or-Nonsensical the story actually is (Big Hero 6X-Men: Days of Future Past) Marvel Studios released two more gems. Can’t wait for their 2015 work, including Avengers: Age of UltronAnt-Man, and their new Daredevil Netflix series.

#3) Birdman

Michael Keaton in Birdman

Michael Keaton in Birdman

Its true, some people just don’t understand this film. I think its because they are looking for a straightforward story, but this is more of a parable, just like Gravity last year. You know how in the Bible, Jesus always is explaining his parables to his apostles because the general public seem clueless as to what they mean? I used to think that perhaps people just were dumber back then, but now I know that isn’t true. Most people seem to have a lack of ability to see past the base foundation of a story. In the case of Birdman, people see a story about a washed up actor who kinda goes crazy. They miss the internal warfare between fame and art, the mirror within a mirror of this film. Its brilliant, it really is.

#2) The Imitation Game

Quad_BC_AW_[26237] Imitation Game, The

I love puzzles, I love problem solving, and Benedict Cumberbatch is one of my favorite actors. He’s uncanny in this film, and so is the story. A great biopic with a sad ending, every American and Englishman should see this film and learn about the man who saved thousands of lives and helped halt Adolph Hitler’s reign of terror.

#1) Calvary

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Another parable-like film that some people couldn’t wrap their heads around. Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd carry this film, which is possibly the most painful film of the year. Its hard to watch, but it perfectly encapsulates the current tumult afflicting the Catholic Church. But this isn’t a film shaming Catholics, or the Church, or victims, this is a film about sacrificial love from a person who is deeply flawed himself. Its not a crime-thriller, but it does solve the mystery of the priesthood, and why so many men are still around, still following God’s call, still standing up for truth. The priesthood isn’t convenience, its about sacrifice, down to the bitter end.

Bonus Round – My 10 LEAST Favorite Films of 2014 (#1 = Least Favorite)

The gang's all here!

So disappointing…

  1. The Interview
  2. Noah
  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  4. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
  5. Fury
  6. Muppets Most Wanted
  7. Magic in the Moonlight
  8. Dear White People
  9. Locke
  10. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Its been a week since 2014’s Oscar nominations were rolled out. This was a surprising year for most of us Oscarologists, with some significant surprises. Still, I predicted 73% of the nominees correctly (and that includes the short films, which NOBODY gets right). Before we get into category by category, lets look at the main films I got correct, and the main picks I totally missed.

Where I Was Right

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1) The Grand Budapest Hotel

With nine nominations, this film was one of the nights big winners. Its hard to imagine that just two or three months ago, experts were bemoaning the fact that this film “came out too early” to be considered for a Best Picture nomination. I wasn’t one of them, although its doing better than I expected in November. I got all nine of its nominations correct. Perhaps people should remember that as long as the film is good enough, it doesn’t matter when it was released.

2) Ida

Everyone knew Ida was getting nominated for Best Foreign Film. I went with my gut and picked it to garner a Best Cinematography nom as well, which made me a perfect five out of five in that category.

3) Unbroken

This was listed by many “experts” as a front runner for a Best Picture Oscar at the start of the year. I never bought the hype. I prefect facts. And while I was hoping the film would be better than it actually was, some people seemed to be picking this to win awards based on the fact that it used to be considered a favorite, a consideration made entirely on hype. It did get nominations for cinematography and sound editing and mixing, which it deserved, and yes, I picked all three.

Where I Was Wrong

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1) American Sniper

I really don’t understand the love this film got. I can see Bradley Cooper, but not ahead of David Owelowo, who was snubbed. We’re talking a decent film that got nominated here, and worse things have happened, but I feel its Best Picture nomination was a little bit based on luck. This year we had seven solid contenders: BoyhoodBirdmanGrand Budapest HotelThe Imitation GameSelmaThe Imitation Game, and Whiplash. With potentially three more nominations to give out, voters were met with a bunch of films all very close in quality: NightcrawlerAmerican SniperGone GirlFoxcatcher, and A Most Violent Year. Best Picture voting is always a little crazy and hard to follow, but American Sniper probably had the most “viewer friendly” source material of the bunch. Four crime dramas, which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea in the first place, may have canceled each other out, while most people love hearing patriotic stories about real life heroes. The fact that only eight films were nominated indicates that the other films didn’t have appeal across the board, which is too bad for them.

2) Gone Girl

I picked this one to get a Best Picture nomination, and while I wouldn’t consider the lack of one to be a snub. I’m very surprised that it was left out of Best Adapted Screenplay. The film translated well to the big screen, and there were no points where I felt lost without the book. Only one nomination for this film; it went to Rosamund Pike for her chilling performance.

3) A Marvel Trifecta

Augh. I let myself be talked into something, and that something was that the voters wouldn’t be willing to nominate more than one Marvel Comics film for any given category. Based on last year’s snub of Pacific Rim, which seemed to have been canceled out, I thought this was a reasonable assumption. But again, basing an prediction on something completely arbitrary will only get you in trouble (or a wrong answer), as not two, but three Marvel films were nominated for Best Special Effects: Guardians of the Galaxy (which I did predict), Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and X-Men: Days of Future Past (which I did not predict).

And now, onward to the nominations. Let’s see how accurate my picks were. Accurate predictions are in bold, while wrong predictions are crossed out and replaced by the correct nomination. I also list snubs. You’ll notice there are not very many. Snubs, in reality, don’t happen that often. The Oscars are for the Best of the Best, not just “good” films.

Best Picture 

  1. Boyhood (Mark it down now, Boyhood will win Best Picture)
  2. Birdman
  3. Selma
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  6. The Theory of Everything
  7. Whiplash
  8. Gone Girl American Sniper

With only eight films nominated this year, my 9th and 10th picks are left out (Nightcrawler and Foxcatcher)

Best Director

  1. Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
  3. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  4. Ava DuVernay (Selma) Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)
  5. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

Best Actor

  1. Michael Keaton (Birdman)
  2. Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
  3. David Oyelowo (Selma) Bradley Cooper (American Sniper)
  4. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
  5. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

Snubs: David Oyelowo (Selma)

Best Actress

  1. Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
  2. Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
  3. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  4. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  5. Jennifer Aniston (Cake) Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Best Supporting Actor

  1. J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
  2. Edward Norton (Birdman)
  3. Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)

All correct! Yay!

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone (Birdman)
  3. Meryl Streep (Into the Woods)
  4. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
  5. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year) Laura Dern (Wild)

Best Original Screenplay

  1. Boyhood
  2. Birdman
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Selma Foxcatcher
  5. Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay

  1. The Imitation Game
  2. The Theory of Everything
  3. Gone Girl Inherent Vice
  4. Whiplash
  5. Wild American Sniper

Snubs: Gone Girl

Best Animated Feature Film

  1. The Lego Movie The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. The Boxtrolls
  4. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  5. The Book of Life Song of the Sea

Snubs: The Lego Movie. Seriously…how the heck does this NOT get nominated?!?

Best Documentary Film

  1. Citizenfour
  2. Life Itself Last Days in Vietnam
  3. The Overnighters The Salt of the Earth
  4. Virunga
  5. Finding Vivian Maier

Snubs: Life Itself

Best Foreign Film

  1. Ida
  2. Force Majeure Timbuktu
  3. Leviathan
  4. Wild Tales
  5. Tangerines

Best Cinematography

  1. Birdman
  2. Mr. Turner
  3. Unbroken
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Ida

All correct! Yay!

Best Costume Design

  1. Into the Woods
  2. Maleficent
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Mr. Turner
  5. The Imitation Game Inherent Vice

Best Make-up and Hair

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. The Theory of Everything Foxcatcher

Best Production Design

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Into the Woods
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Birdman Mr. Turner
  5. Inherent Vice Interstellar

Best Film Editing

  1. Birdman American Sniper
  2. Boyhood
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. Whiplash

Best Visual Effects

  1. Interstellar
  2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  3. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy
  5. Godzilla X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Original Score

  1. Interstellar
  2. Gone Girl Mr. Turner
  3. The Theory of Everything
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Original Song

  1. “Glory” (Selma)
  2. “Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)
  3. “Lost Stars” (Begin Again)
  4. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me)
  5. “Mercy Is” (Noah) “Grateful” (Beyond the Lights)

Best Sound Editing

  1. Interstellar
  2. Birdman
  3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
  4. Unbroken
  5. American Sniper 

Best Sound Mixing

  1. Into the Woods Birdman
  2. Interstellar
  3. Unbroken
  4. Whiplash
  5. American Sniper

Best Live Action Short

  1. Carry On Butter Lamp
  2. The Phone Call
  3. Aya 
  4. Boogaloo and Graham
  5. My Father’s Truck Parvaneh

Best Animated Short

  1. Feast
  2. Duet The Dam Keeper
  3. Coda A Single Life
  4. The Bigger Picture
  5. Footprints Me and My Moulton

Best Documentary Short

  1. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press One
  2. The Lion’s Mouth Opens The Reaper
  3. Joanna
  4. Our Curse
  5. One Child White Earth

Ok, now that I’ve sucked you in with that headline, let me clarify. Nobody needs to be fired, just reassigned, away from the job they have now, which is supposed to be telling us who the frontrunners are for the Oscar nominations being announced tomorrow morning.

You can find my predictions here. Variety published a rundown of the films they thought to be Oscar favorites. Yes, this was back in November, but still, what were they thinking? This is shoddy. As a major news source, you can’t rely on hype, or you’ll get things wrong, but that seems to be about all that they did, just pick films with lots of hype and/or special effects, with no interest in actual film quality.

There are the films they listed as Oscar favorites:

American SniperBig Eyes, Black or White, Boyhood, Calvary, The Fault in Our Stars, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Foxcatcher, Fury, Gone Girl, The Homesman, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, Into the Woods, Nightcrawler, Mr. Turner, Selma, Rosewater, Still Alice, St. Vincent, The Theory of Everything, Unbroken, Whiplash, Wild.

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Now again, I’ll let it slide a bit because these predictions were made in November. But the fact remains that, even in a list of 27 films, there are some that belong nowhere near a list like this.

Black or White isn’t even eligible for an Oscar, Big EyesExodus, and Unbroken were hyped for months but none of them delivered; The Fault in Our Stars is blatant sucrose for your tear ducts and films like The Homesman and Rosewater have never been on anyone’s radar. So how many of these films will garner even a single nomination? Furthermore, with Variety insisting that these are Oscar frontrunners, how many will get any above-the-line nods? Not many. Here’s a breakdown of my predictions by film nominations.

  • 10 – Birdman
  • 9 – The Grand Budapest HotelThe Imitation Game
  • 6 – BoyhoodThe Theory of Everything
  • 5 – SelmaWhiplash
  • 4 – Gone Girl, InterstellarInto the Woods
  • 3 – NightcrawlerUnbroken
  • 2 – American Sniper, Dawn of the Planet of the ApesFoxcatcherGuardians of the Galaxy, IdaThe Lego MovieMr. TurnerWild
  •  1 – A Most Violent YearBegin Again, CakeGlen Campbell: I’ll Be MeGodzillaThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesThe Judge, Maleficent, NoahInherent ViceStill Alice, all other animated, foreign, documentary, and short films.

Of Variety’s films that I’m leaving out, Big Eyes and Fury both have outside chances at getting in. That leaves Black or White, Calvary, The Fault in Our Stars, Exodus: Gods and KingsThe Homesman, Rosewater, and St. Vincent to be placed on the “what the heck are they thinking?” list. That’s a good 30-40% of the films they picked as “favorites” that won’t get a single nomination. That percentage could get even bigger. Its possible that American SniperInherent Vice, and A Most Violent Year also will fail to get nominated. Not good enough if you’re Variety. Do better.

Of course, you can follow my Oscar predictions here and make fun of me if I’m wrong as well.

Oscar voting ends this Thursday, but with other award organizations announcing their nominations soon, I’m jumping the gun and releasing mine earlier. Remember, these are just Oscar NOMINATION predictions, not Oscar winner predictions. Read on for part two of This Year in Cinema – The Oscarwatch 2014. I’ve placed stars (*) next to nominees I consider to be locks, and they are listed in order of their likelihood to garner a nomination.

Best Picture 

Boyhood

Side note here – anywhere from five to ten films can be nominated for Best Picture. I always pick ten to cover them all, although this year we may only get nine.

  1. Boyhood(Mark it down now, Boyhood will win Best Picture)
  2. Birdman*
  3. Selma
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  6. The Theory of Everything
  7. Whiplash
  8. Gone Girl
  9. Nightcrawler
  10. Foxcatcher

On the bubble: UnbrokenWildA Most Violent Year

List of my Best Picture favorites can be found here. I’ll update an awards listing as the major awards are announced.

Best Director

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl

  1. Richard Linklater* (Boyhood)
  2. Alejandro González Iñárritu* (Birdman)
  3. Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  4. Ava DuVernay (Selma)
  5. Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)

On the bubble: David Fincher (Gone Girl), Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

Best Actor

Michael Keaton in Birdman

Michael Keaton in Birdman

  1. Michael Keaton* (Birdman)
  2. Eddie Redmayne* (The Theory of Everything)
  3. David Oyelowo (Selma)
  4. Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game)
  5. Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler)

On the bubble: Steve Carell (Foxcatcher)

Best Actress

Julianne Moore in Still Alice

Julianne Moore in Still Alice

  1. Julianne Moore* (Still Alice)
  2. Rosamund Pike* (Gone Girl)
  3. Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything)
  4. Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
  5. Jennifer Aniston (Cake)

On the bubble: Amy Adams (Big Eyes), Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)

Best Supporting Actor

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash.

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash.

  1. J.K. Simmons* (Whiplash)
  2. Edward Norton* (Birdman)
  3. Ethan Hawke* (Boyhood)
  4. Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
  5. Robert Duvall (The Judge)

Best Supporting Actress

Meryl Streep in Into the Woods

Meryl Streep in Into the Woods

  1. Patricia Arquette* (Boyhood)
  2. Emma Stone* (Birdman)
  3. Meryl Streep* (Into the Woods)
  4. Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
  5. Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

On the bubble: Laura Dern (Wild)

Best Original Screenplay

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  1. Boyhood*
  2. Birdman*
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel*
  4. Selma
  5. Nightcrawler

On the bubble: FoxcatcherA Most Violent Year

Note (1/10): It was unexpectedly announced this week that Whiplash is considered an Adapted Screenplay. My predictions have changed accordingly.

Best Adapted Screenplay

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  1. The Imitation Game*
  2. The Theory of Everything*
  3. Gone Girl*
  4. Whiplash
  5. Wild

On the bubble: Unbroken

Best Animated Feature Film

the_lego_movie_2014-wide

  1. The Lego Movie*
  2. Big Hero 6
  3. The Boxtrolls
  4. How to Train Your Dragon 2
  5. The Book of Life

On the bubble: The Tale of the Princess KaguyaSong of the Sea

Best Documentary Film

citizenfour

  1. Citizenfour*
  2. Life Itself*
  3. The Overnighters
  4. Virunga
  5. Finding Vivian Maier

On the bubble: Jodorowsky’s DuneLast Days in Vietnam

Best Foreign Film

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  1. Ida*
  2. Force Majeure
  3. Leviathan
  4. Wild Tales
  5. Tangerines

On the bubble: Timbuktu

Best Cinematography

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  1. Birdman*
  2. Mr. Turner*
  3. Unbroken
  4. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  5. Ida

On the bubble: The Imitation GameInterstellar, Gone Girl,

Best Costume Design

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  1. Into the Woods*
  2. Maleficent
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. Mr. Turner
  5. The Imitation Game

Best Make-up and Hair

Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher

Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher

  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  2. Guardians of the Galaxy
  3. The Theory of Everything

On the bubble: MaleficentFoxcatcher

Best Production Design

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  1. The Grand Budapest Hotel*
  2. Into the Woods*
  3. The Imitation Game
  4. Birdman
  5. Inherent Vice

On the bubble: InterstellarMr. Turner

Best Editing

Quad_BC_AW_[26237] Imitation Game, The

  1. Birdman*
  2. Boyhood*
  3. The Grand Budapest Hotel
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. Whiplash

On the bubble: SelmaGone GirlInterstellar

Best Visual Effects

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  1. Interstellar*
  2. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes*
  3. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
  4. Guardians of the Galaxy
  5. Godzilla

On the bubble: Captain America – The Winter SoldierMaleficent

Best Original Score

unbroken-movie-review-108d6c03-ae8a-41ce-af7c-608d0db0ec78

  1. Interstellar
  2. Gone Girl
  3. The Theory of Everything
  4. The Imitation Game
  5. The Grand Budapest Hotel

On the bubble: Unbroken

Best Original Song

Im-Not-Gonna-Miss-You-CP

  1. “Glory” (Selma)*
  2. “Everything is Awesome” (The Lego Movie)*
  3. “Lost Stars” (Begin Again)
  4. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You (Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me)
  5. “Mercy Is (Noah)

On the bubble: “Split the Difference” (Boyhood), “Big Eyes” (Big Eyes), “Yellow Flicker Beat” (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1)

Note: After “Glory” and “Everything is Awesome,” this is a crapshoot.

Best Sound Editing

guardians-of-the-galaxy-rocket

  1. Interstellar*
  2. Birdman
  3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  4. Unbroken
  5. American Sniper 

On the bubble: Into the WoodsGuardians of the Galaxy

Best Sound Mixing

american-sniper

  1. Into the Woods*
  2. Interstellar*
  3. Unbroken
  4. Whiplash
  5. American Sniper

Best Live Action Short

  1. Carry On
  2. The Phone Call
  3. Aya 
  4. Boogaloo and Graham
  5. My Father’s Truck

On the bubble: Summer Vacation, Baghdad Messi

Best Animated Short

  1. Feast*
  2. Duet
  3. Coda
  4. The Bigger Picture
  5. Footprints

On the bubble: Symphony #42The Dam Keeper

Feast is the only one I’ve seen, so pretty much anyone’s guess after that.

Best Documentary Short

  1. Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press One*
  2. The Lion’s Mouth Opens
  3. Joanna
  4. Our Curse
  5. One Child

Let the end of the year wrap-up commence. Today is “Where Did They Come From?”, a recap of the year in film source material, and next week will be “Top 10 Lists” (the best of 2014 and hopefully 2015), and my official Oscar predictions.

Today we’re dealing with that ugly little monster that keeps saying that Hollywood is losing its creativity. Listen, its not the movie studios who are at fault if you choose to ignore films you’re not familiar with. Known commodities will nearly always win box office battles, because its easier to get people in the seats, but profit and box office receipts don’t equal quality, and in this age of Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Redbox, there’s no excuse for not seeing the amazing new ideas out there. So…

Where Did They Come From?

There are four categories: Originals, Adaptations, Sequels (which include Prequels), and Remakes. I’m dropping re-releases this year, there are so few and they are usually pretty limited in scope.

To be fair, I’m only listing films that made it to wide release. If they have already announced wide release dates for early 2015, but have been out already in limited release, then they have been counted. If I counted limited release films as well, the original films would be the clear winner.

Originals

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Using the same qualifiers that the Academy Awards use, Original Films are films that are new screenplays, and not based on previously existing material such as novels, plays, television shows, etc. Basically, “Original” means not connected to any pre-existing work in print, screen, or stage. Films like Selma, based on events but not creative works, are still original films. Last year there were 50 original films released. This year, that number falls by one to 49.

The Top Five Original Films at the worldwide box office in 2014 were:

(* = still in theaters)

  1. Interstellar* – $648.9M (Written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan)  
  2. The Lego Movie – $468M (Written by Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
  3. Lucy – $458.9M (Written by Luc Besson)
  4. Neighbors - $268.2M (Written by Andrew Cohen and Brandon O’Brien)
  5. Non-Stop – $222.9M (Written by Ryan Engle, John W. Richardson, and Chris Roach)

Adaptations

guardians-of-the-galaxy-rocket

Adaptations are all films based on already existing material, which can include novels (The Maze Runner), comic books (Guardians of the Galaxy), plays (Annie), TV shows etc.

Reboots such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are classified as adaptations because they are not sequels to existing material, but new versions of adapted material. Films like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One are considered adaptations as well. These are not actually sequels in the sense that Captain America: Winter Soldier or Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb are, but actually new adaptations of works that continue the story adapted in the first film.

With 50 total adaptations, they were the most common film in 2014. This is the first time in at least four years that there have been more adaptations than original films. Last year there were just 40. Its still important to note that most adaptations have never been adapted, so they are still new material, aside from the anomalies like Mockingjay.

The Top Five Adaptations at the worldwide box office in 2014 were:

  1. Guardians of the Galaxy -  $772.5M (Adapted from the Marvel Comics comic book series)
  2. Maleficent – $757.8M (Adapted from the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty)
  3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1* – $671.9M (Adapted from “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins)
  4. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies* – $580.7M (Adapted from “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien)
  5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $477.2M (Adapted from the Mirage Studios comic book series)

Sequels/Prequels

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In this category are films that are sequels or prequels to other films. Spin-offs like Annabelle are also included. Easy huh? There were 20 sequels in 2014, that’s an increase of two from last year.

The Top Five Sequels/Prequels in 2014 were:

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $1.1B <— Yes, billion. How do these crappy films keep making money?!?
  2. X-Men: Days of Future Past – $746M
  3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – $714.1M
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – $709M
  5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – $708.3M

Remakes

Joel Kinnaman

This category includes all remakes of feature films regardless of their country of origin. There were only 3 remakes in 2014, here are their international box office totals.

  1. Godzilla – $525M (Remake of 1954 film Godzilla)
  2. RoboCop – $242.7M (Remake of 1987 film of the same name)
  3. About Last Night – $49M (Remake of 1986 film of the same name)

In Conclusion

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The majority of 2014 films are brand new to the screen, either by way of Original Screenplay or an Adaptation. In the next few years we’re going to be seeing a whole new slate of long term projects make it to the big screen. We have Deadpool, the continuing Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Comics big guns, new Star Wars films and even Lego getting amped up. I look forward to it. Hope you do as well.

Man, I LOVE this time of year! Critics’ Choice, Golden Globe, and SAG nominations have been announced in the past week and that only means one thing…all the movie award “experts” are going to have to start changing their predictions to go along with the ones I’ve had on the board the entire time! The folks at Gold Derby, with their inexplicable love for American Sniper and Top Five, and befuddling list of “shocking” snubs that included four or five names in each category, Rope of Silicon, who went hook, line, and sinker for the hype surrounding Unbroken, and many more movie lovers and critics are included in the ranks of those who were left surprised by many a nomination this week. Their prediction charts are quickly morphing into near copies of mine, yet again. But before we get too ahead of ourselves, lets take a closer look at all the nominations.

Best Picture

So here we have the respective grand prizes. These aren’t all determined the same. The critics pick ten films, the Globes five dramas and five comedies and/or musicals (I know, odd pairing), and the SAG picks Best Cast, not Film, but close enough.

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No real surprises here. I forgot that Pride existed, but it won’t be up for any Oscars anyway. The big winners here are BirdmanBoyhood, “Budapest,” “Imitation,” and “Theory.” Just like last year with American Hustle, people were all ready to crown Unbroken the Oscar champ. Now its gasping for breath (comparatively speaking) and my dark horses Nightcrawler and Whiplash stick around. Many folks were dismissing “Budapest” because of its early release. I laugh at them because a good film is a good film, and its been on my list for probable nominees since its release.

If you’ve been following my Oscarwatch, you’ll know that right now, my Oscar nominee predictions are once again forecasting things accurately so far. Currently I have Boyhood, Birdman, Selma, Whiplash, Grand Budapest Hotel, Nightcrawler, Gone Girl, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, and Foxcatcher. I also need to point out that Interstellar is absent from any nomination. That’s because its just not as good as these, and while now you’ll be seeing people scrambling to ditch that film, along with Unbroken, in favor of NightcrawlerWhiplash, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, I won’t be one of them, since I had them picked all along.

Best Actor

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Nothing to see. Pretty much as expected. Gyllenhall does have staying power, but it won’t matter with Keaton and Redmayne duking it out.

Best Actress

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Of course the big surprise here is Aniston. I really don’t think she, or anyone, has a chance to beat Julianne Moore in Still Alice. Some folks were surprised to see Amy Adams left out of most of the nominations. I wasn’t, although I look forward to seeing Big Eyes. You can’t go off hype.

Best Supporting Actor and Actress

These last two acting categories are pretty uneventful. I really like Swinton’s nomination, although its probable that she and Watts will be missing out on Oscar nominations. Simmons should win the Oscar with Norton having an outside chance.

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I won’t get into the other categories, but stay tuned. The award season picks back up later this month!

The awards season is upon us! This past week, both the New York Film Critics and the National Board of Review announced their winners, and the Los Angeles Film Critics will be following suit later today. So since we have a light weekend in new releases (Wild and Still Alice are in limited release and worth your time, while The Pyramid is in wide release and isn’t), let’s look at the first week of winners.

Its important to note that these awards are not the greatest indicators of future hardware. We really only see the consensus of a limited group of individuals, albeit knowledgeable ones. There are many critics awards this time of year (Boston and D.C. are two others for example), but NY and LA are the most well known. The National Board of Review is a non-profit that works for the betterment of self-expression in film, among other things, so their scope is a little more narrow, but still a very respected one.

Boyhood

Here are the winners in compirable categories. NYC = New York Critics Circle, NBR = National Board of Review

Best Film: NYC – Boyhood, NBR – A Most Violent Year

Best Director: NYC – Richard Linklater (Boyhood), NBR – Clint Eastwood (American Sniper)

Best Actor: NYC – Timothy Spall (Mr. Turner), NBR – Tie, Oscar Isaac (A Most Violent Year) & Michael Keaton (Birdman)

Best Actress: NYC – Marion Cotillard (The Immigrant & Two Days, One Night), NBR – Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Best Supporting Actor: NYC – J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), NBR – Edward Norton (Birdman)

Best Supporting Actress: NYC – Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), NBR – Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

Best Screenplay: NYC – The Grand Budapest Hotel, NBR – The Lego Movie (Original), Inherent Vice (Adapted)

Best Animated Film: NYC – The Lego Movie, NBR – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Best Foreign Film: NYC – Ida, NBR – Wild Tales

Best Documentary: NYC – Citizenfour, NBR – Life Itself 

Other Awards: NYC – Best Cinematography: Darius Khondji (The Immigrant); Best First Film: Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), NBR – Best Ensemble: Fury; Breakthrough Performance: Jack O’Connell (Starred Up Unbroken); NBR Freedom of Expression Award: RosewaterSelma

So…some thoughts. The NBR loses a bit of credibility in failing to pick The Lego Movie for their Best Animated Film Award. But they do tend to pick their favorites regardless, as you can see with A Most Violent Year. The films/people to really keep an eye on for future awards are Boyhood (currently my favorite pick to win Best Picture at the Oscars), J.K. Simmons, The Lego Movie, and Michael Keaton. Julianne Moore also is quickly becoming the favorite in the Best Actress Race. A new more names here will likely be seen on future awards lists, so its not like they aren’t good choices, I just don’t see them as favorites.

An interesting note is the almost complete omission of Unbroken. Many folks have had this as an Oscar favorite since day one. I have not, because I wait to see the finished product. I think it could get some nominations, and again, these awards aren’t that telling, and we also don’t get a sense of who the “finalists” were.

Where do They Come From?

  • The Pyramid: Original

Original: 44

Adaptation: 42

Sequel/Prequel: 17

Remake: 1

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY. This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films not included until end of year if Oscar potential exists. Numbers in parenthesis are indicative of how many places the film moved from week to week.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Boyhood ( – )
2) Whiplash ( – )
3) Birdman ( – )
4) The Grand Budapest Hotel ( – )
5) Nightcrawler ( – )
6) Gone Girl ( +2 )
7) The Imitation Game (NEW)
8) The Lego Movie ( -2 )
9) Foxcatcher ( -2 )
10) Interstellar (-1)

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! Second of all, here we go.

The Blockbuster Report

Film releases are staggered this week, with Penguins of Madagascar and Horrible Bosses 2 being released yesterday, and The Babadook and The Imitation Game appearing in limited release tomorrow.

As you can expect based on seeing the trailers, Horrible Bosses 2 is just plain horrible. Penguins is ok, nothing too special, but a decent family film. The limited release films are what you really want to see. The Babadook is possibly the best horror film of the year. Its an Aussie film that debuted early in the year in its native land and is finally reaching the U.S. Its scary, and it has a great story. The Imitation Game, led by Benedict Cumberbatch in the leading role, is about Alan Turing, the man who led a rag-tag team of geniuses in decoding the Nazi Enigma codes in World War II. Cumberbatch delivers an amazing performance.

Must See: The Imitation Game

Certainly Worth Your Time: The Babadook

Hmm, OK: Penguins of Madagascar

Stay Away: Horrible Bosses 2

Where do They Come From?

  • Horrible Bosses 2: Sequel
  • Penguins of Madagascar: Prequel/Spin-off of the Madagascar series
  • Mockingjay, Part One: Adaptation of the novel.

Original: 43

Adaptation: 42

Sequel/Prequel: 17

Remake: 1

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY. This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films not included until end of year if Oscar potential exists. Numbers in parenthesis are indicative of how many places the film moved from week to week.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Boyhood ( – )
2) Whiplash ( – )
3) Birdman ( – )
4) The Grand Budapest Hotel ( – )
5) Nightcrawler ( – )
6) The Lego Movie ( – )
7) Foxcatcher ( – )
8) Gone Girl ( – )
9) Interstellar (+1)
10) Guardians of the Galaxy ( -1 )

Well, its about time! Yes, about time I’m back, and about time that some worthwhile films are finally hitting theaters. Also, with SAG ballots getting sent out next week, we’re about to get into award season, and we can’t miss that. Beginning now, you’ll be seeing a regular posting schedule here each week. Each Monday you’ll be reading a new movie review, and each Friday you’ll be reading a new TWIC (This Weekend in Cinema). The days in between will feature an eclectic mix of opinion, creative ideas, reviews of other media, and other things. Now, off to the films!

The Blockbuster Report

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Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in Foxcatcher (Sony Pictures Classics).

There are five films on the docket this weekend, and we’ll start off with a MUST SEE film that I’ve been waiting to see for a couple years now. Foxcatcher. Starring Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, and Channing Tatum, it tells the real life story of one of the most bizarre murder cases of all time, involving John du Pont (Carell), the eccentric wrestling aficionado, and Olympians Mark and Dave Schultz (Tatum and Ruffalo). This is my Film to Catch this week. Its in limited release though, so find it where you can.

Of course, the atrocity that is Dumb and Dumber To is also in theaters this weekend. Don’t go anywhere near it. Other films released this weekend are Rosewater (directed by Jon Stewart), which is similar to Argo in theory, but not nearly as good, The Homesman, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep, is a solid flick not getting much attention, and Beyond the Lights, an ok movie that has some lessons to teach.

Must See: Foxcatcher

Certainly Worth Your Time: None.

Hmm, OK: Beyond the Lights, The HomesmanRosewater

Stay Away: Dumb and Dumber To

Where do They Come From?

Got some catching up here.

  • A Walk Among the Tombstones: Adaptation of novel of the same name by Lawrence Block.
  • The Maze Runner: Adaptation of the James Dashner novel.
  • This is Where I Leave You: Adaptation of book of the same name by Jonathan Tropper.
  • Tusk: Original
  • The Boxtrolls: Adaptation of “Here Be Monsters!” – novel by Alan Snow
  • The Equalizer: Adaptation of TV series of the same name.
  • Men, Women, and Children: Based on novel by Chad Kultgen
  • Annabelle: Prequel to The Conjuring
  • Gone Girl: Adaptation of novel by Gillian Flynn
  • Left Behind: Adaptation of novel of the same name.
  • The Good Lie: Original by Margaret Nagle
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: Adaptation of the book of the same name.
  • Dracula Untold: Adaptation of characters from Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula.
  • The Judge: Original by Nick Schenk and Bill Dubuque.
  • The Best of Me: Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name.
  • The Book of Life: Original by Jorge Gutierrez.
  • Fury: Original by David Ayer.
  • John Wick: Original by Derek Kolstad.
  • Ouija: Original by Juliet Snowden and Stiles White.
  • Nightcrawler: Original by Dan Gilroy.
  • Big Hero 6: Adaptation of the Marvel Comics series.
  • Interstellar: Original by Christopher and Johnathan Nolan.
  • Dumb and Dumber To: Sequel
  • Beyond the Lights: Original by Gina Prince-Bythewood
  • Saw: Re-release

Original: 43

Adaptation: 41

Sequel/Prequel: 15

Remake: 1

Re-release: 2

Oscarwatch

These ten films are the “Best of the Year,” IF THE YEAR ENDED TODAY. This weekend’s releases not included.

They are ranked based on likelihood of winning Best Picture at the Oscars, with #1 being most likely. International films not included until end of year if Oscar potential exists. Numbers in parenthesis are indicative of how many places the film moved from week to week.

DISCLAIMER: I may not personally recommend (or even like) all films on this list.

1) Boyhood ( – )
2) Whiplash ( – )
3) Birdman ( – )
4) The Grand Budapest Hotel ( – )
5) Nightcrawler ( – )
6) The Lego Movie ( – )
7) Gone Girl ( – )
8) Guardians of the Galaxy ( – )
9) Interstellar (NEW)