The 87th Academy Awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, are set for Sunday, February 22nd and it’s time to analyze just who or what is going to be walking off that stage with an Oscar. I’ve been tabulating all of the minor and lead-up award winners in all of the Oscar categories since last November on my 2015 Awards Tracker. Those numbers have been my “data analysis” to predicting just what films are going to win. It’s time to begin making my formal and official Oscar predictions. In this fifth post, we start to get the acting areas of “The Big 8” Oscar categories. Here, we look at the female acting awards of Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress. Let’s do this and pick some winners! I’ve said it all season. Stick with me and I will win you your Oscar pool.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The nominees: Patricia Arquette- “Boyhood,” Laura Dern- “Wild,” Keira Knightley- “The Imitation Game,” Emma Stone- “Birdman,” Meryl Streep- “Into the Woods”
Happy to be there: Meryl Streep made this list by resume and credentials alone, not because of rave reviews of her performance in “Into the Woods.” She’s the greatest female actress walking the planet, but she doesn’t need to be nominated for everything every year. Even she grows tired of that and has admitted that very fact. Ease up and spread the wealth, Academy. Outside of Streep, the real surprise name that does deserve to be there is Laura Dern. Her guiding light was a magnificent presence to “Wild.” She didn’t make the Golden Globes and hasn’t won any lead-up awards in this category, but she made the field and deserved to. She doesn’t have a chance to win, but it’s very nice to see her included.
Who was snubbed: There are some quality performances that were skipped that could have had Streep’s obligatory spot. Jessica Chastain is the third-highest winner in this category and was left out. She’s going to win an Oscar someday if she keeps racking up nominations the way she has in her young career. Personally, I don’t think Tilda Swinton was worth it from “Snowpiercer.” My vote for that fifth spot would go to Carmen Ejogo from “Selma.” The film and her performance deserved better attention.
Who should win and will win: The data and the credentials finally match for this one. “Boyhood” star Patricia Arquette has run away with this race from Day 1 with a staggering 28 wins to the next contender’s five. That number would be 29 if you count one award for “Boyhood” that she earned as a lead actress instead of supporting. She’s swept everything from the SAG to the Golden Globe and everything in between. Her motherly guidance was the heart and soul of that long coming-of-age journey. It’s the right role for the right film from the right performer. The seasoned veteran should easily dispatch the duo of pretty young faces in Emma Stone and Kiera Knightley. This one is an absolute lock.
The nominees: Marion Cotillard- “Two Days, One Night,” Felicity Jones- “The Theory of Everything,” Julianne Moore- “Still Alice,” Rosamund Pike- “Gone Girl,” Reese Witherspoon- “Wild”
Who was snubbed: Honestly, I don’t think anyone was erroneously snubbed. These were the exact five that I predicted to be nominated before the nominations and nothing has moved the needle since then. Horror fans would have liked a bouquet thrown in the direction of Essie Davis for “The Babadook,” but simply too few people have seen the film.
Happy to be there: Even though Marion Cotillard is a previous Best Actress Academy Award winner, the fact that a foreign language film performance such as hers in “Two Days, One Night” has been nominated and honored as much as it has is impressive. That counts as twice that Cotillard has achieved that attention. Her Oscar win for “La Vie en Rose” was the first ever given to French language performance. Cotillard’s nomination here boosts the potential for her great film and performance to be seen.
Who should win and will win: Let me start by saying how good Rosamund Pike was in “Gone Girl.” She started out as the proverbial arm candy and then took over that immense film right out from under Ben Affleck and her male co-stars. Without her convincing and twisted performance, “Gone Girl” gets laughed out the cinema door. In any other year, I’d take that performance in a heartbeat. But then the indomitable Julianne Moore showed up in “Still Alice” and blew everyone and everything away. In my review of the film, I called her performance as a women stricken with Early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease as the best single performance of the year, regardless of leading, supporting, or gender. I stand by that and so have all of the major awards. Moore deserves this and she’s right woman to win.