OSCAR PREDICTIONS 2015: The writing and directing categories

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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.  If you follow my website, you will know that 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.  To put it in educational terms to match this website's theme, 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 fourth post, we start to get the beginning three of "The Big 8" Oscar categories.  Here, we look at the writing and directing awards for Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Adapted Screenplay.  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.


The nominees:  Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr., and Armando Bo- "Birdman," Richard Linklaker- "Boyhood," E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman- "Foxcatcher," Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness- "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Dan Gilroy- "Nightcrawler"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

16- "The Grand Budapest Hotel," 13- "Birdman," 4- "Nightcrawler," 3- "Boyhood," 2- Paul Webb- "Selma," 2- Paweł Pawlikowski and Rebecca Lenkiewicz- "Ida," 1- Phil Lord and Christopher Miller- "The LEGO Movie," 1- John Michael McDonaugh- "Calvary," 1- Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman- "The Skeleton Twins"

Who was snubbed:  The standout snub here, in my opinion, is "Selma" and Paul Webb's work.  "Selma" was shorted in so many major categories and this is one of them.  The film did a great job condensing history, linking characters, and creating soaring original words for Martin Luther King.  If you didn't already know, "Selma" was unable to secure the rights from the King estate to use his speeches and transcripts.  Every word you heard out of David Oyelowo's mouth in "Selma" had to be made original and different.  That counts as stellar work.

Happy to be there:  Of these nominees, the black sheep that doesn't belong or match the prestige of its peers is E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman's work on "Foxcatcher."  Bennett Miller's film has been the biggest awards afterthought of the season.  It's getting nominations, sure, but zero love and respect.  I, for one, didn't care for the movie and don't think the script was anything special.  To a lesser degree, Dan Gilroy and "Nightcrawler" should also be happy.  It was left out of Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, making this its most high profile nomination to stand on.

Who should win and will win:  All awards season long, this category has been a two-horse race between "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "Birdman."  The big divider in the data tracking occurred this past weekend when the Writers Guild of America (WGA) named their award winners.  They chose "The Grand Budapest Hotel" over "Birdman."  I will do the same and it matches my own personal choice of what I believe should win if I had a vote.  Back when I reviewed Wes Anderson's film last March, I said then that the screenplay was going to last and be the best script I watched all year.  I was right then and I'm right now.


The nominees:  Jason Hall- "American Sniper," Graham Moore- "The Imitation Game," Paul Thomas Anderson- "Inherent Vice," Anthony McCarten- "The Theory of Everything," Damien Chazelle-  "Whiplash"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

15- Gillian Flynn- "Gone Girl," 4- "Inherent Vice," 3- "The Imitation Game," 1- "The Theory of Everything," 1- "Whiplash," 1- James Gunn and Nicole Perlman- "Guardians of the Galaxy," 1- Gillian Robespierre- "Obvious Child," 1- Bong Joon-ho and Kelly Masterson- "Snowpiercer"

Who was snubbed:  If there is an Oscar snub that is equally surprising and egregious as "The LEGO Movie" being omitted from Best Animated Feature, it's the lack of nomination and respect for "Gone Girl" adapted by its own novelist Gillian Flynn.  As you can tell from the Awards Tracker data, no other film in this category is even close in accolades.  It deserved to be here and, frankly, it deserved to win.  So often, we talk about movies that can't live up to the books they are based on.  No one was saying that about "Gone Girl" from director David Fincher.  All you heard was "nailed it!"

Happy to be there:  The lucky portion of the race belongs to two nominees for totally different reasons.  First, even though it's a distant second to "Gone Girl" in the Awards Tracker data, P.T. Anderson's "Inherent Vice" is out of its class compared to the other nominees.  It's only nominations were for this and costumes.  It's not good enough to be here.  The second lucky one is "Whiplash" from Damien Chazelle for an entirely different reason.  Due to technicalities and weird rules, Chazelle's screenplay was considered as an "adapted" screenplay instead of as an original screenplay as credited and first submitted to the Academy.  It took nearly write-in votes for people to find it and get it on this list.  It deserved the chance to be here, but had an uphill battle to be remembered in the right place.

Who should win:  Fans of my website know what I'm going to say.  "Whiplash" was my #1 of the year and I think it should win everything it's nominated for and even awards that it's not.  I'm not ashamed to show my love for the film all day and all week long.  A screenplay Oscar is a big deal and the award would vault newcomer Damien Chazelle to another level, but the film isn't big enough or popular enough to win.  Instead, Chazelle will have to be the next J.C. Chandor as a Sundance-find-done-good who turned his rookie Oscar nomination from "Margin Call" to "All Is Lost" and "A Most Violent Year."  

Who will win:  What will win is something more proper and prestigious in pedigree.  This will be a safe pick and award with the bold "Gone Girl" not in the picture and "Whiplash" being too small.  The absence of "Gone Girl" has made this anyone's race to win.  Much like in the Original Screenplay category, the great separator came this past Valentine's Day weekend when the WGA named Graham Moore's "The Imitation Game" as the best adapted screenplay of the year.  It also won the prestigious USC Scripter Award.  That's enough to earn my smart bet and money.  "American Sniper" and "The Theory of Everything" are going to come up short.  This will become the one win of the night for "The Imitation Game" in an effort to spread the wealth, or at least try.


The nominees:  Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu- "Bridman," Richard Linklater- "Boyhood," Bennett Miller- "Foxcatcher," Wes Anderson- "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Morton Tyldum- "The Imitation Game"

AWARDS TRACKER (number of prior award wins in this category):  

29- Linklater, 7- Inarritu, 4- Ava DuVernay- "Selma," 1- Clint Eastwood- "American Sniper," 1- Tyldum, 1- Miller, 1- Pawel Pawlikowski- "Ida"

Who was snubbed:  Here's another top award and another "Selma" snub with director Ava DuVernay.  It's a shame too, because it would have made respectful and timely history.  An African-American woman has never been nominated for Best Director.  The inclusion of DuVernay would been a nice gesture to changing times and history.  It's one of those situations where the least they could do was the whole "honor to be nominated" thing.  Most of all, the film and her work was deserving and should have earned a nomination without charity.  

Happy to be there:  With "Foxcatcher" not in the final eight Best Picture nominees, Bennett Miller has no business being here.  I'm not saying that you can't have a director nominee that isn't matching of the Best Picture nominees.  But, when you allow 5-10 Best Picture nominees, it's a different story.  If that's the case, in my eyes, even if "Foxcatcher" just missed making the Best Picture field, that makes Bennett Miller the ninth best director at best.  He stole a spot that could have went to DuVernay or even Clint Eastwood, even though he's got his Oscars.  "American Sniper" is a more watershed film than "Foxcatcher." 

Who should win:  I'm going to admit a change of heart in this category and general field of talking about directors.  I've never been much of a Wes Anderson fan, but his last two films ("Moonrise Kingdom" and "The Grand Budapest Hotel") have won me over as a reformed fan.  I'm starting to see his brilliance, not just as a storyteller, but as a stager and director of big casts and lavishly fun productions.  It's splitting hairs with who will win, but I'd love to see Wes Anderson win.

Who will win:  A great many prognosticators and talkers are calling for a "Birdman" win here with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.  Everyone is pointing at Inarritu's recent DGA win from the Directors Guild of America and calling that a solid indicator that locks him with the Oscar.  I don't buy it.  I've seen the DGA goes its own way as recently as Ben Affleck and "Argo."  Richard Linklater and "Boyhood" have dominated the Awards Tracker data all winter and I don't think it has lost enough momentum among the Academy voters.  Like Alfonso Cuaron last year for "Gravity," I know Inarritu is that next hot foreign-born commodity, but "Birdman" isn't "Gravity."  I'll stick with Linklater, a very deserving eventual winner in his own right to blend 12 years of footage together as he worked, went, and added.