predictions//87th ACADEMY AWARDS

The 2015 Oscar season is here and with it comes one of the biggest guessing games in the world. With the Toronto and Telluride film festivals behind us, the New York Film Festival ahead of us, and lots of Oscar buzz already floating around, this year looks to be just as exciting as last year. While there isn't a major player just yet, like last year's Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, there are a few films on the brink of frontrunner status.

Check back often as these predictions will be continuously updated. 

Make your voice heard in the comments section to let us know if we've forgotten a major player!
(Updated: September 16, 2014)


The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
The Theory of Everything


CHANGES: With its Toronto Film Festival win The Imitation Game gets thrust into the top tier, knocking Big Eyes out of the run.

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Big Eyes; Gone Girl; Interstellar

Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman  
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

CHANGES: Even thought Mr. Turner earned raves at Cannes, and the Academy love Mike Leigh, I think it's going to be too close of a year for it to sneak in. At this point, Jolie is looking brighter and brighter. 

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Christopher Nolan, Interstellar; David Fincher, Gone Girl; Tim Burton, Big Eyes

Steve Carrell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

CHANGES: Like the other categories, Cannes' Best Actor Timothy Spall isn't making the cut right now, especially after the, apparently, incredible performance by Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything.  

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner, Miles Teller, Whiplash; Ben Affleck, Gone Girl

Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Jessica Chastain, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

CHANGES: Following in the footsteps of Redmayne in the Best Actor category, Felicity Jones has not only entered the race, but become the Best Actress frontrunner for The Theory of Everything. I'll stick her up there, but remind you that the same thing happened a few years ago with Like Crazy. Hilary Swank gets the boot for The Homesman.

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Hilary Swank, The Homesman, Patricia Arquette, Boyhood; Anna Kendrick, The Last Five Years

Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J. K. Simmons, Whiplash
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

CHANGES: No major changes here, although we're keeping an eye on Tim Roth in Selma.

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Channing Tatum, Foxcatcher; Ethan Hawke, Boyhood; Logan Lerman, Fury

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods 
Anna Kendrick, Into the Woods
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

CHANGES: Julianne Moore was the frontrunner here, but Maps to the Stars' move to next year ruins that. Emma Stone joins the mix, as does Emily Blunt. It looks loaded with Into the Woods castmembers, but that should thin out soon.

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year; Carmen Ejogo, Selma; Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

Big Eyes
Mr. Turner 

CHANGES: No major change here. 

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Fury; Foxcatcher; A Most Violent Year 

Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

CHANGES: The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything join the mix. Men, Women, and Children is on the brink. 

POSSIBLE UPSETS: Men, Women, and Children; Wild; Kill the Messenger 

Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Lego Movie

CHANGES: No major changes here. 

POSSIBLE UPSETS: The Book of Life; The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart



Grade: D-

Directed by Atom Egoyan
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Mireille Enos, Rosario Dawson, Scott Speedman

The Captive has all of the right ingredients. Director Atom Egoyan is Oscar-nominated. Ryan Reynolds is in major need for a career resurrection and he offers some of his best work here. The cinematography by Paul Sarossy is bitter and cold. But, like the box of puzzle pieces in your grandmother's living room, there's a crucial ingredient missing. What should be a captivating drama is actually just a confusing, desperate mess.

Matthew and Tina are well-meaning parents. They work hard to provide a great life for their daughter, Cassandra. When Matthew leaves Cassandra in the truck while he goes inside their favorite food joint to grab a pie, Cassandra vanishes. Taking place in the bitter winter of North America, Matthew is left with zero clues, not even footprints in the snow. Of course, authorities question Matthew and work to eliminate him as a suspect. Years later Tina and Matthew experience a certain number of incidents that begin to unravel what really happened that day.

As Matthew, Reynolds chews each line as much as he can. While there is some genuinely great moments provided, it's scenes like the one when he can't take the authority's questions anymore and he breaks out into an physical outrage that shift this from a well-written mystery/drama to an over-dramatic piece of fluff. Rosario Dawson and Scott Speedman, as the detectives put on the case, fail even worse. Speedman, especially, has his drama face turned to the highest notch.

Beautifully shot, The Captive should be a film in the mix of an Oscar buzz conversation. It looks just right. There's the right temperament of  anguish. Even the cold, snowy, wintery setting serves as a character of sorts. But, as with many films of pedigree, even a movie that looks good at first has to be able to live up to the expectations. Despite impressive shots, the story isn't strong enough and relies too much on a forgiving audience. We've seen missing children movies before. We've seen fathers suffer with guilt for what has happened to their child. We've seen evildoers wrestle and struggle with their own upbringings and guilt for the actions they've done. All of these things were present in last year's Prisoners, a much better film.

When we get glimpses at the older, teenage Cassandra, locked into a cinder block bedroom full of little girl remnants like pink, frilly bedding and stuffed animals, director Egoyan seemingly jumps ship, allowing his film to follow an eye-rolling trail begging you, as the audience, to give in. Audiences are smarter than this movie allows.

The Captive isn't the worst movie of the year and isn't a complete waste of time. It is, however, the most disappointing movie of the year, so far. Reynolds, especially, deserves better material. He needs to be careful before he fades into John Cusack oblivion.

Rating: R
Runtime: 112 minutes



While it's not the first film festival of the year, or even the Oscar season, the Toronto International Film Festival is historically known as one of the best indicators of how the award season will shape up. The most prestigious prize from the fest is the People's Choice Award, the fest's version of a Best Picture. Festival goers "vote" by inserting their ticket stub into a box as they exit a film they liked or by voting online. In the years since TIFF began over 100 Oscar nominations have resulted from films honored at the end of the fest. Five of those have gone on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, including last year's winner of both 12 Years a Slave. Other winners of both include American Beauty, Chariots of Fire, and The King's Speech.

This year the honor was bestowed upon Morten Tyldum's The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. The WWII-era film follows Alan Turing (Cumberbatch), the British code-breaker who helped put an end to the war. The Weinstein Company will distribute the film in November. The film held its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival just before hitting Toronto.

Here's a look at the rest of the fest's winners:

People's Choice Award: The Imitation Game
People's Choice Award, First Runner-up: Learning to Drive
People's Choice Award, Second Runner-up: St. Vincent
People's Choice Documentary Award: Beats of the Antonov
People's Choice Midnight Madness Award: What Do We Do in the Shadows
People's Choice Midnight Madness Award, First Runner-up: Tusk
NETPAC Award for World or International Asian Film Premiere: Margarita, with a Straw
FIPRESCI Jury Prize for Best Special Presentation Film: Time Out of Mind
FIPRESCI Critics Prize: May Allah Bless France!
Best Canadian Feature: Felix and Meria
Best Canadian First Feature: Bang Bang Baby
Best International Short Film: A Single Body
Best Canadian Short Film: The Weatherman and the Shadow Boxer