Best Picture Breakdown (87th Academy Awards)


I’ve been slacking a bit this year during the awards season but I’ll try to make up with it from this point on. This year is quite unique in the sense that it seems like it’s a wide open race for Best Picture. At this point last year we knew that Gravity and 12 Years a Slave would be favorites. The year before we knew Lincoln would be a favorite, with Argo’s momentum pushing violently towards the top. But this year? Not only isn’t there a real favorite but there are so many films that have a legitimate shot at receiving a Best Picture nomination. I would guess that there are usually about 12 or so films that have a real chance at a Best Picture nod, but this year? I counted 18.

That’s not saying that there are certainly films that are more likely to receive a nod than others. So let’s start out with our first tier films that are locks to receive a nomination.

First Tier:


  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Imitation Game

These are the cream of the crop during this year’s awards season. They all have the support from the SAG, the Golden Globes and plenty of critic circles. Simply put, there is no doubt that these films will be nominated for Best Picture, but at the same time there isn’t a clear front-runner from these three.

Second Tier:


– The Grand Budapest Hotel
– The Theory of Everything

These two films in the second tier are practically locked to receive a nomination for Best Picture. The Theory of Everything always felt like a Best Picture nomination with its moving story and its incredible Oscar-worthy performances from the two leads, Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The Grand Budapest Hotel always had the quality to be a Best Picture nominee, but I was always skeptical because it was by the quirky Wes Anderson and because it was released so early on in the year that I thought it would be quickly forgotten. Thankfully it hasn’t and has been receiving a ton of support through awards season. Look for these films to be nominated, but don’t expect either to win unless it upsets during the Guild awards.

Third Tier:

– Whiplash
– Foxcatcher
– Selma
– Into the Woods

This is when the movies get tricky. In this third tier, I find that these films have a good chance at rounding out the Best Picture nominees, but I’m not overly confident about my picks. I loved Whiplash, but aside from JK Simmons receiving attention the film isn’t quite doing enough to lock down a nomination (I blame Sony Pictures Classics for backing Foxcatcher and Mr. Turner over Whiplash). As for Foxcatcher, it’s getting attention for its actors but not really for the movie as a whole. Selma has been receiving great reviews, but it’s the epitome of the difference of opinion between the critics and the Academy. And Into the Woods is close, but missing out on that SAG Ensemble nod really is hurting its chances.

Fourth Tier:

– Gone Girl
– Nightcrawler
– Unbroken
– American Sniper

All of the films here in the fourth tier have a chance to be nominated for Best Picture, but it’s an uphill battle. Gone Girl, Nightcrawler, and American Sniper all got boosts from the PGA nominees, but still don’t have enough momentum yet to be considered Best Picture material. As for Unbroken, it’s on very thin ice at this point but I’m not willing to completely give up on it yet.

Fifth Tier:

– Interstellar
– Wild
– Mr. Turner
– A Most Violent Year
– Inherent Vice

Interstellar was one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Will that be enough? There usually is one sci-fi film that gets nominated, including Nolan’s Inception in 2010. Wild has been great for Reese Witherspoon and even for Adapted Screenplay, but remember when Into the Wild didn’t receive an expected Best Picture/Best Director nod? Wild could have the same fate. As for Mr. Turner, A Most Violent Year, and Inherent Vice, all are films from very talented directors but haven’t been as well-received from the Academy as they expected.


2 Responses to Best Picture Breakdown (87th Academy Awards)

  1. interstellar deserves to be nominated. that is all.

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