This year's Academy Award nominations are not only the least diverse pool of nominees since 1998, but also has the lowest-grossing best picture nominees since the category expanded in 2009. Still, the 2015 Oscar pool has the potential for a lot of firsts: first feature filmmakers, first Oscar nominations, and a film that's the first of its kind.
John Horn predicts who will win the major categories with Kyle Buchanan, Senior Editor at Vulture.com.
Horn's and Buchanan's pick: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
I think she's gonna win.
I completely agree. It's Julianne Moore. You're listeners are probably thinking, "Still Alice?'" I don't know if I've even heard of that or seen that anywhere. And that's 'cause they've very wisely held off on releasing it [widely], anticipating this moment and, I think, anticipating the fact that she's guaranteed that trophy.
Listen to our interview with Julianne Moore.
Best Supporting Actor:
Horn's and Buchanan's pick: J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
No one else should show up. It's J.K. Simmons.
I think "Whiplash" has a lot of strength in one specific category: Best Supporting Actor, where J.K. Simmons is gonna win.
This is the exactly the right moment for J.K. Simmons. It's something of a career achievement award, as it is for Julianne Moore to be honest. J.K. Simmons — this beloved character actor who has worked with just about everybody in the business — he's finally having his moment, his first Oscar nomination, and he's terrific in that movie as that tyrannical music instructor. It would be hard to find any sort of Oscar clip that's gonna blow his away.
Listen to our interview with "Whiplash" director Damien Chazelle.
Best Supporting Actress:
Horn's and Buchanan's pick: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
(Warning: This clip contains unsuitable language for children.)
I think we're gonna agree here. Patricia Arquette for "Boyhood."
It established this high watermark that nobody could beat. I think that category could have been wide open if somebody had come along with a really galvanizing Supporting Actress contender and nobody really did, so it's Patricia's to lose.
Horn's pick: Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Buchanan's pick: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
I'm gonna go with Michael Keaton here. He's playing an actor, great movie, and I think the Academy is going to have a hard time not giving another award to "Birdman."
I think [Keaton] is definitely one of the frontrunners. I'm gonna go with Eddie Redmayne on this one. If you're saying that the Academy is going to have a hard time distributing the wealth, I think this is "The Theory of Everything's" best play. I think they really love Eddie Redmayne, who's fantastic in a really technically demanding role. But that, to me, of all the acting races is the least sewn up and will be the one to watch even down to the wire on Oscar night.
Horn's and Buchanan's pick: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
It's a tough one...
Not at all.
Richard Linklater For "Boyhood"?
Yes, absolutely! In a walk.
Listen to our interview with "Boyhood" director Richard Linklater.
Horn's pick: The Imitation Game
Buchanan's pick: Boyhood
So again, I think it's going to be "Boyhood." I think "Boyhood" is the consensus pick. Even though it's sort of unusual, it's also the safe one. It's the one that everybody really tends to love that feels groundbreaking, that feels like the one that's going to be an important footnote in Oscar history. The only film like it that's ever won.
I think that's a great argument. But I think you're wrong. Here's why I think you're wrong: I think this is a repeat of a couple years ago, when you had "The Social Network" on the one hand and "The King's Speech" on the other. "The Social Network" — a movie by David Fincher, much more provocative, much more younger-themed, kind of daring, a little bit more experimental — a little bit like "Boyhood." And then you had the old-fashioned movie with "The King's Speech," which went on to win the Oscar. And I think the old-fashioned, crowd pleasing, well-made, smart movie that fits that mold is ... "The Imitation Game."
But see, I think that "Boyhood" actually is old-fashioned and crowd pleasing. I don't think that it's chilly and provocative in the same way that any sort of David Fincher movie is. I think that it's heartwarming, it doesn't skew young. I think the people who really relate to it are the people who are parents and older people themselves. So I think that it actually sort of, you know, it's the best of both worlds.
If it does win Best Picture, it will be the first Sundance debut to have done so, which is an interesting stat this year when it was a wide open field. I must confess, as much of an Oscar prognosticator as I am, I never would have thought — when I saw it at Sundance — that it would have gone this far. And I think that it has because it was a high watermark — an emotional watermark — and a groundbreaking film that no other film came along and surpassed.
Listen to our interviews with "The Imitation Game" director Mortem Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore.