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Oscars 2015 — let the games begin!

It’s that time of the year.

Tonight we’ll all be glued to our screens at 2 a.m. over here in Turkey, first gossiping about the red carpet galore and fashion, then start munching on the junk food, then hope that the commercials will soon be over and we can cut to the chase, to the six-month marathon of the Oscar nominations.

Who will win, who should have won, who shouldn’t have been nominated in the first place and the question of why that specific never was never nominated because he/she deserved to be up there with the rest of the contenders. Oh, Hollywood, we love to hate you and hate to admit that we love you and your Oscars!

Let’s start with the Best Picture nominations. We’ve got Alejandro Gonzalez Innarritu’s directorial masterpiece, “Birdman,” Richard Linklater’s decade-long efforts of capturing a coming-of-age story in the form of “Boyhood,” “Imitation Game,” depicting the efforts of British mathematicians led by Benedict Cumberbatch to solve the Nazi Enigma code machine, Martin Luther King’s struggle for African-Americans’ right to vote in “Selma,” the Stephen Hawking biopic “ The Theory of Everything,” one boy’s love-hate relationship with his music teacher in “Whiplash,” Clint Eastwood’s latest “American Sniper,” which has already caused a lot of political debate about the very strong patriotism the film exudes and finally Wes Anderson’s brilliantly funny and touching “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

“Theory of Everything” Eddie Redmayne

Courage versus virtuosity

The race looks like it is actually between “Birdman” and “Boyhood,” but all bets are on “Boyhood” for Linklater’s courage in working with the same actors on a very loose script for a period of 10 years. Sure, “Boyhood” is an incredible achievement and a worthy emotional journey for those who look fondly upon their childhood and puberty, but “Birdman” is the work of a real virtuoso.

What about directing? Hmmm, this is a hard one, and the bets depend on who gets Best Picture. My assumption is that if “Boyhood” gets Best Picture, Linklater won’t get the directing prize and it will land in the arms of Innaritu, but if “Birdman” gets Best Picture, the Academy will choose to honor Linklater for his unstoppable will.

My gut feeling tells me that the statue will go to Innaritu.

The rest of the gang?  Bennett Miller is up for “Foxcatcher” in the race, for his very disturbing yet refined take on the relationship between three wrestlers and their Oedipal dynamics. Morten Tyldum is up for “The Imitation Film,” which is an enjoyable and harrowing World War II spy thriller, though it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before. And finally, Anderson is up for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” with his habitually idiosyncratic style that has brought together mainstream and art house audiences to embrace him in unison. Anderson also deserves the prize, but like I said before, it’s down to Linklater and Innarittu.

Sadly, Ava DuVernay was not nominated for her great work in “Selma,” which is another way of saying that much like Cannes, the Oscars is also a boys’ club.

Acting prizes

Best Actor? All bets are on Eddie Redmayne for his work in “The Theory of Everything.” The academy loves actors who play disabled, disfigured or mentally challenged individuals who overcome their personal Goliaths, and although Redmayne is a fantastic actor, it is this particular quota that will help him win the race.

Then again, you never know, for Michael Keaton’s comeback in “Birdman” is remarkable. The has-been actor trying to prove himself to the critics and audiences, and his range of acting throughout the film — in which every sequence is filmed as a single shot — does prove that Keaton is back! Bradley Cooper also shines in “American Sniper” as a US Marine trying to keep his sanity between war and real life. Steve Carrell proves that he is more than a comedy actor in his monstrous portrayal of a psychotic wrestling guru of the privileged class, and Cumberbatch is the epitome of neurosis mixed with genius trying to repress his sexual orientation in the “Imitation Game.” But alas, it’s between Redmayne and Keaton. My personal favorite — Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!

The leading lady? The Best Actress race is, in my view, composed of the most competitive and competent performances of the year, even though Julianne Moore will surely win for “Still Alice,” in which she portrayed a linguistic professor losing her mind to Alzheimer’s. Moore was much better in “Maps to the Stars,” but my guess is the academy will honor her this year not just for “Still Alice” but for all the times she was neglected during her inspiring acting career. Marion Cotillard is also a personal favorite in the Dardenne brothers’ “Two Days, One Night” as a wronged factory worker trying to regain her dignity and job, but she already has an Oscar under her belt for her Edith Piaf performance. Felicity Jones is also up for “The Theory of Everything” along with “Gone Girl’s” post-modern hero Rosamund Pike, and Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon’s single-gal’s existential absolution in “Wild” is also under the radar.

We all know that it’s going to be Moore’s night even though “Still Alice” qualifies as an above-average TV movie.

“Still Alice” Julianne Moore

Best Actor in a Supporting Role will probably be bequeathed to the wonderful J.K. Simmons for his portrayal of a cruel-hearted psychotic music teacher — there’s a lot of psychotics this year — in “Whiplash,” but you never know. Gossips are also pointing towards Mark Ruffalo as a super nice and friendly wrestling trainer in “Foxcatcher” — too bad Channing Tatum isn’t up there with him; he’s also brilliant alongside Ruffalo and Carrell. Ethan Hawke for “Boyhood,” Robert Duvall for “The Judge” and Edward Norton for “Birdman” are also among the candidates, but looking back at the result of the Golden Globes it won’t be a surprise if Simmons pulls out his acceptance speech.

Last but definitely not least, the Best Supporting Actress prize comes in as the trickiest category. Now, Patricia Arquette is a personal favorite of mine; she’s a profoundly talented actress, and she has never fit the norms of the typical Hollywood beauty. As such, I don’t know anyone who would complain if she received the Oscar for her endearing and compassionate portrait of a single mother in “Boyhood.” Then again, Meryl Streep is still the lioness of Hollywood, and her role as a witch in “Into the Woods” might just take over the evening and cast some spells. Laura Dern has a small but important role in “Wild,” but she’s not really under the spotlight. Keira Knightley was an intelligent and funny scientist in the “The Imitation Game,” but I’m sure her Oscar moment will come in a couple of years in the Best Actress nomination. Emma Stone is heartbreakingly good in “Birdman,” but there’s still time for her to shine in the years to come.

My heart is with Arquette!

2015 Oscar nominations in key categories

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold the 87th edition of the Academy Awards at a ceremony on Sunday. Following is a list of nominees in major categories.

Best Picture: “American Sniper” “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” “Boyhood” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” “The Imitation Game” “Selma” “The Theory of Everything” “Whiplash”

Best Actor: Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher” Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper” Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game” Michael Keaton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night” Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything” Julianne Moore, “Still Alice” Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl” Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Richard Linklater, “Boyhood” Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher” Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

Best Supporting Actor: Robert Duvall, “The Judge” Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood” Edward Norton, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher” J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood” Laura Dern, “Wild” Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game” Emma Stone, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Meryl Streep, “Into The Woods”

Best Adapted Screenplay: Jason Hall, “American Sniper” Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game” Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice” Anthony McCarten, “The Theory of Everything” Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”

Best Original Screenplay: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Armando Bo, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Richard Linklater, “Boyhood” E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman, “Foxcatcher” Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Dan Gilroy, “Nightcrawler

Best Foreign Language Film: “Ida” (Poland) “Leviathan” (Russia) “Tangerines” (Estonia) “Timbuktu” (Mauritania) “Wild Tales” (Argentina)

Best Animated Feature Film: “Big Hero 6” “The Boxtrolls” “How to Train Your Dragon 2” “Song of the Sea” “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

Best Documentary Feature: “Citizenfour” “Finding Vivian Maier” “Last Days in Vietnam” “The Salt of the Earth” “Virunga”

Best Original Song: “Everything is Awesome,” from “The Lego Movie” “Glory,” from “Selma” “Grateful,” from “Beyond the Lights” “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” from “Glen Campbell… I’ll Be Me” “Lost Stars,” from “Begin Again”

Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat, “The Imitation Game” Hans Zimmer, “Interstellar” Gary Yershon, “Mr. Turner” Johann Johannsson, “The Theory of Everything”

Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Robert Yeoman, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Lukasz Zal, Ryszard Lenczewski, “Ida” Dick Pope, “Mr. Turner” Roger Deakins, “Unbroken”

Best Visual Effects: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” “Guardians of the Galaxy” “Interstellar” “X-Men: Days of Future Past”


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