Analysis: The Oscars 2015. The acting awards

The Acting Oscars

The race in three of the four acting categories followed a very similar pattern. A strong contender established a commanding lead at the head of the pack while hoovering up all the bellwether awards along the way.
Each category also had one unexpected candidate who sneaked in under the wire but failed to mount a serious challenge.

The exception to this is the best actor category. Here a last minute inclusion to the race is the greatest threat to the leader who themselves only took pole position themselves after the SAG-AFTRA winners were announced.

SAG-AFTRA are two great American labor unions combined: the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. Both were formed in the 1930s and considered a bunch of militant commies by the PGA. As 73% of actors at any time are unemployed, they could be considered to represent the interests of the service, hospitality and call centre industries as well.

The Best Actor nominees are:
Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything)
Benedict Cumberbatch The Imitation Game)
Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher)
David Oyewolo (Selma)

Here’s how the odds shifted:


Back in November Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) was at 25/1 alongside Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), Timothy Spall (Mr Turner) and Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar).
Bill Murray was 33/1 for St. Vincent. Adam Sandler was an optimistic 100/1 for Men, Women and Children.

Michael Keaton in Birdman scooped up all the major acting awards until Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything) won the SAG-AFTRA best actor award and assumed pole position.
Immediately prior to the Oscar nominations Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) had fallen to 100/1 for the award. It is Cooper’s third year in a row to be nominated and the only previous acting nominee in the group. Since 1994 when Tom Hanks won for Forest Gump, only four times have SAG-AFTRA not correctly indicated the best actor Oscar winner.
The Oscar correlation with the SAG-AFTRA equivalents run at 80%.

I want to win: Michael Keaton (Birdman). His performance is honest, brave and affecting. Also because of this.
Who will win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything). As in the best film category, the only other actor gunning for this award is American Sniper‘s Bradley Cooper, if there’s an upset this is who will cause it.

The Best Actress nominees are:
Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Reese Witherspoon (Wild)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Felicity Jones (The Theory Of Everything)
Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night)


Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones haven’t been nominated before and won’t be breaking their Oscar duck here. Reese Witherspoon won for Walk the Line (2005) and Marion Cotillard won for La Vie en Rose (2007). Julianne Moore has 4 previous nominations and is looking unstoppable this year. That 8/1 shot in the third column is Jennifer Aniston in Cake.
Only on six occasions over the past 20 years did the winner of the SAG Award for best leading actress not win the Academy award for best actress. This year SAG-AFTRA went with Julianne Moore (Still Alice) and the Oscar /SAG-AFTRA correlation runs at 70%.

I want to win: It doesn’t matter who you are I want to win, it will be Julianne Moore (Still Alice).
Who will win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice).

The Best Supporting Actor nominees are:
JK Simmons (Whiplash)
Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
Ed Norton (Birdman)
Ethan Hawke (Boyhood)
Robert Duvall (The Judge)

Supp Actor

Ed Norton has 2 previous nominations for American History X (1998) and Primal Fear (1996). Ethan Hawke was previously nominated for Training Day (2001). Robert Duvall has 6 previous nominations with one win. Not for The Godfather or Apocalypse Now, but for Tender Mercies (1983).
This year SAG-AFTRA went with JK Simmons (Whiplash) and though the Oscar /SAG-AFTRA correlation runs at 60% for this award, it’s very much his award to lose. Which he won’t.

I want to win: It doesn’t matter who you are I want to win. It will be the never before nominated JK Simmons (Whiplash)
Who will win: JK Simmons (Whiplash).

The Best Supporting Actress nominees are:
Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Laura Dern (Wild)
Emma Stone (Birdman)
Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)

Supp Actress

Neither Emma Stone or Patricia Arquette have ever been nominated before, unlike Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice (2005) or Laura Dern in Rambling Rose (1991). Meryl Streep has been nominated 18 times previously. She’s even won a couple. This year SAG went with Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) just as every other major award has done. The Oscar /SAG-AFTRA correlation runs at 65% and will soon be nudged up a couple of points.

I want to win: It doesn’t matter who you are I want to win. It will be the never before nominated Patricia Arquette (Boyhood).
Who will win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood) and fully deserved too.

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Analysis: The Oscars 2015. The Best Director and other awards go to..

The Directors Guild of America (DGA) award for best feature film has traditionally been a near perfect barometer for the Academy award for best director. Only seven times since the DGA award’s inception has the DGA award winner not also won the Academy award.

Are the DGA a union?
The Directors Guild of America is a labour organisation. Phew, a proper union, not like those nasty producers then.
it was founded in 1936 to protect the economic and creative rights of directors in motion pictures and now has 15,000 members worldwide. It charges an Initiation Fee of $11,015 for a feature director to join. How much?!?
Since 1948 they have an 89% correlation with the Oscar best director award. This year they voted Birdman.

The Academy award best director nominees are:
Boyhood (Richard Linklater, no previous noms)
Birdman (Alejandro G. Iñárritu,1 previous nomination, Babel)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, no previous noms)
Foxcatcher (Bennett Miller, 1 previous nomination, Capote)
The Imitation Game (Morton Tyldum, no previous noms)

Here’s how the odds shifted, click to enlarge:


I want to win: Boyhood. It’s ran a terrific race from the front and deserves a glorious finish.
Who will win: Birdman. As in the best film race Boyhood has lead all the way until the DGA awards when Birdman swooped to snatch pole position in the Oscar race. With no American Sniper to launch a surprise attack, there’s nothing to stop Alejandro G. Iñárritu from picking up the Oscar.

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) is not a labor union but an educational, cultural and professional organisation. Membership is extended by invitation to those who are actively engaged as directors of photography and have demonstrated outstanding ability. Bit of a closed shop then.
It has a 39% correlation with the Oscar. This year it voted for Birdman.

The nominees are:
Birdman (Emmanuel Lubezki, 1 previous win, Gravity 5 more noms)
Unbroken (Roger Deakins, 12 previous noms including Skyfall & The Shawshank Redemption)
Mr Turner (Dick Pope, 1 previous nom. The Illusionist)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Robert D. Yeoman, no previous noms)
Ida (Ryszard Lenczewski & Łukaszal,no previous noms)


I want to win: Birdman. For its huge ambition and flawless execution.
Who will win: Birdman. The Grand Budapest Hotel choose the wrong year to run.

The American Cinema Editors (ACE) is an honorary society of motion picture editors founded in 1950.
Out of 9 of the past 12 years, the winner of the Eddies’ best edited dramatic feature category has gone on to win the Oscar in editing. Also once in that period it went to the winner in the comedy or musical category; Chicago. i.e. 10 of last 12 years an Eddie winner has won the Oscar.
No film has won best picture at the Oscars without also having received at least a best editing nomination from ACE since Ordinary People in 1981. It has 68% correlation with Oscar.
This year it voted for Boyhood.

The nominees are:
The Imitation Game (William Goldenberg won for Argo plus 3 more previous noms)
American Sniper (Joel Cox & Gary Roach won for Unforgiven plus nominated for Million Dollar Baby)
Boyhood (Sandra Adair, no previous noms)
Whiplash (Tom Cross, no previous noms)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Barney Pilling, no previous noms)


I want to win: Boyhood. Because this film can’t win too many Oscars and it sadly won’t win enough.
Who will win: Boyhood. Once again if there’s an upset here it will American Sniper; it’s strongest element was the editing.

The Visual Effects Society Awards (VES) is a non-profit professional, honorary society with almost 3,000 members in 32 countries. But not a union, no.
VES’  It has 67% correlation with Oscar.
This year it voted Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

The nominees are:
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past


I want to win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. A brilliant combination of the rendering of ape fur and motion capture work. Both are massively enhanced by the performance of Andy Serkis who could have been nominated for the best actor award.
Who will win: Interstellar. Though a hugely flawed and unforgivably dull movie, director Chris Nolan is popular within the Academy and this will be his consolation.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) are a labor union composed of the thousands of writers who write for television, movies, news programs, documentaries, animation, and Internet and new media. Yeah, a union! Upon final qualification for current membership, an initiation fee of $2,500 is due, payable to the WGA. Still, cheaper than the directors guild I suppose. It has a 63% correlation with the Oscar. This year it voted for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The nominees are:
Birdman (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo. No previous noms)
Boyhood (Richard Linklater, 2 previous noms Before Sunset, Before Midnight)
Foxcatcher (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, 1 previous nom Capote)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2 previous noms The Royal Tenebaums, Moonrise Kingdom)
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, no previous noms)

WGA original

I want to win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. This immaculate script flavours a sweet, rich and slightly nutty comic caper.
Who will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. It will take home this consolation for not landing either of the top two prizes which in a weaker year it could easily have have won.

It has a 67% correlation with the Oscar. This year it voted for The Imitation Game.
The nominees are:
American Sniper (Jason Hall, no previous noms)
The Imitation Game (Graham Moore. No previous noms)
Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 3 previous noms for Boogie Nights, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood)
The Theory Of Everything (Anthony McCarten, no previous noms)
Whiplash (Damien Chazelle. No previous noms)

WGA adapted

I want to win: Whiplash because it won’t be taking much else home with it.
Who will win: The Imitation Game. Producer Harvey Weinstein has campaigned prodigiously to ensure he won’t return home empty handed.

The Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD) is a non-profit organisation.
Since the inception of best animated feature at the Academy awards the Annie Award winner has matched up every year except for 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012. It has a 69% correlation with the Oscar. This year it voted for How to Train Your Dragon 2.

The nominees are:
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya


I want to win: The Lego Movie. Yes I know it’s not even nominated. That’s not my fault.
Who will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2. This should be a fallow year for the ASIFA choice, offering some hope to Disney’s superior Big Hero 6.

Click here for acting categories
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Analysis: The Oscars 2015. How the awards season shapes the odds for best picture

The Hollywood awards season will come to a close on Sunday 22nd with the presentation of the most prestigious award, the Academy award for best picture.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is composed of a collection of guilds.
During the awards season each guild hosts its own awards ceremony to honour its members. Each guild also has responsibility for providing the nominations in their own field. e.g. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) have their own DGA best picture award ceremony and also vote to choose Oscar’s best director nominees.
These guild awards influence the betting odds, helping us predict who will win the Oscars.
The exception is the best picture category where all Academy members are entitled to nominate whatever movie they choose (subject to qualifying criteria).
In the final balloting (Feb. 6-17), everyone votes for everything. For the 87th awards, held in 2015 but celebrating the films of 2014, there were 6,124 Academy voting members. The largest single branch is actors, with 1,150 (or 18.7%).

Here’s how they breakdown:

Guild breakdown

The best picture award is considered to be the producers award.
The Producers Guild of America (PGA) represent the producers, the cigar chomping impresarios who sit behind large desks attended by hosts of servile flunkies. They’re all about money, power and money. They’re as tough and relentless as the T100 and they have to be.
These are the guys who borrow the cash to pay the creative types who do the hard graft of making movies. They go to the stock market, global plutocrats, South American drug barons and anyone else with bags of spare cash and a yen for investing in a cash rich, heavily tax subsidised, financially opaque yet high profile and glamorous industry.

Are the PGA are a union? ‘No. We are a professional association, not a union.’ Of course they’re not a union. They’re ultra-capitalists and hate commies the way Indiana Jones hates snakes. Cuban cigars aren’t cheap.

Out of the 25 years the PGA awards have been given, 18 have predicted the winner of the equivalent Oscar. That’s a 72% hit rate, including the previous 7 years on the bounce.

This chart show how the betting odds changed during the Awards season


There were 323 eligible films from 2014. Although Oscar allows up to ten nominees in this category, only eight were chosen.
Gone Girl (14/1) is just outside what will be the eventual cut-off point, though at 9th it would have made the nominees list in previous years. It’s ahead of Martin Luther King biopic Selma (16/1) and Iran set prison drama Rosewater (20/1).
At 25/1 American Sniper sat alongside musical fantasy Into The Woods, crime thriller A Most Violent Year and Tim Burton’s art scam flick Big Eyes.
At 33/1 Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner was lurking with Brad Pitt war movie Fury and PT Anderson’s ‘70’s detective trip Inherent Vice.
The Richard Curtis scripted Brazillian adventure Trash was at 40/1 while barely in the running at 50/1 was Reese Witherspoon’s Wild.
Far back in the field and clearly not fancied at 50/1 was The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The deluded or desperate may have fancied a flutter at 200/1 on the woeful biopic Grace of Monaco

December 2014
The first shift in the odds comes in the wake of the New York and Los Angeles Critics Society awards.
Boyhood scores gongs for best film, director and best supporting actress for Patricia Arquette in New York (in LA she wins best actress). Plus in LA Boyhood takes the additional award of best editing, which New York doesn’t award.
At both ceremonies The Grand Budapest Hotel takes the best screenplay and JK Simmons wins best supporting actor for his amazing performance in Whiplash.
Timothy Spall is best actor in New York for Mr Turner while Marion Cotillard wins best actress for Two Days, One Night.
In LA, Spall’s fellow Brit Tom Hardy wins best actor for his late night low-key Locke.

10th & 11th December
The SAG-AFTRA (actors guild) and the Golden Globe nominations are announced, indicating the momentum of opinion.
This is an intangible but it can be telling; Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby (2005) was way of the radar until it garnered 6 noms and won best picture, best director and best actress. It’s worth bearing this in mind when considering the way American Sniper is coming up the rails in this year’s race.
Birdman scores highest with 7 noms as Boyhood and The Imitation Game keep their momentum going with 5 nominations apiece.
Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Theory Of Everything take 4, followed by Into The Woods and Foxcatcher with 3.
Selma is boosted from 10th to 4th, more than halving its odds to 7/1.
Unbroken with no nominations dropped from 3rd (at 10/3) to 5th (at 10/1) It’s also bad news for Interstellar.
However Birdman moved up to 2nd at 5/1 with everything else more or less the same.

January 5
The PGA nominations. American Sniper makes a first appearance as Unbroken drops another place. Boyhood odds shorten and The Grand Budapest Hotel (9th, 25/1) and American Sniper (10th, 33/1) force their way into the reckoning at the expense of Gone Girl and Interstellar.

January 9
At the Golden Globe awards Boyhood enjoys 3 wins with Birdman and The Theory Of Everything winning 2 Globes each.
Boyhood’s odds shrink to an astonishing 1/16 as The Grand Budapest Hotel checks in at 2nd with odds down to 12/1.
Unbroken drops to 9th, on a par with Whiplash at 50/1.

January 15
The Oscar noms are announced with only 8 nominees. 1 less than for the previous 3 years which had 9 nominees apiece and 2 less than the maximum 10 allowed. With 6 Oscar noms Boyhood consolidates first place.

The Grand Budapest Hotel leapfrogs Birdman despite both picking up 9 noms. The Imitation Game picked up 8. American Sniper sneaks under the wire and scores for 6 noms ahead of 5 noms for The Theory Of Everything.

Apart from noms for best song and best film, Selma fails to pick up nominations in any other category.
Despite 5 noms Foxcatcher fails to make the final best film Oscar cut.

January 26
Post PGA and SGA-AFTRA awards
With less than a month to go Birdman (11/10) closes the gap on Boyhood (8/13) with another best picture win, making the race a real competition for the first time.
The Grand Budapest Hotel at 25/1.
Following it’s record breaking box office American Sniper moves up to 4th and with momentum on it’s side is looking a major threat.
The Imitation Game falls to 40/1 while The Theory Of EverythingWhiplash and Selma drop to 100/1 and are out of the race.

February 09
Boyhood‘s BAFTA best film win is very much a consolation prize, winning it has no impact on the Oscar race at all.
On winning the DGA best picture award and best director awards, Birdman swoops into pole position for the first time and looks set to stay.
A best adapted screenplay win for The Imitation Game shifts the odds slightly in its favour but it’s too little too late for the big prize.

I want to win: Boyhood. Way back in March I described it’s brilliance as marking the start of the Oscar race, sadly it may not have the legs to carry itself across the finish line in first place.
Who will win: Birdman. If there’s an upset it will be American Sniper. It has taken more money in the US than all the other nominees combined. It has tremendous momentum and the Academy – especially the PGA – loves a money maker.

Here’s a chart comparing the Best film contenders cost and box office:


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