The ballot of 2015’s Oscar nominees has been revealed. The red carpet for the 87th Academy Awards ceremony is only a month away from rolling down the streets of Hollywood. The Dolby Theater will soon be swarming with Cinema’s finest, and millions of people will tune in to see the parade of glamour. However, one question remains: have you done your research? Not only is it best to know which films and actors are being represented in each category, but to also make two separate ballots for oneself—which/who you want to win and which/who will most likely win despite your emotions. Let’s debrief:
American Sniper: Directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Bradley Cooper Sienna Miller and Kyle Gallner. Cooper portrays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, one of the most skilled snipers in U.S history. The film follows Kyle’s struggle compartmentalizing life, family and duty.
- Audience favorite—Cooper dealing with visceral war-related dilemmas
- Academy favorite—Eastwood, Cooper, the writers, it’s about war…
The Imitation Game: Directed by Morten Tyldum, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode. The film follows a group of English mathematicians desperately trying to crack the code of a German Enigma encryption machine. To top it all off, the leader must hide his homosexuality or risk arrest and devastation of the entire operation.
- Audience favorite—Benedict Cumberbatch and Benedict Cumberbatch
- Academy favorite—World War II, English for the win, math, addressing struggles of homosexuality 70 years ago
Birdman: Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, starring Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton and Emma Stone. The film follows an actor, who once played a superhero, in his quest to reinstate himself as a serious actor, which also includes attempting Broadway and dealing with an egotistical movie star.
- Audience favorite—Everything.
- Academy favorite—Everything.
Selma: Directed by Ava DuVernay, starringDavid Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo and Tim Roth. The film chronicles the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. specifically during the freedom marches from Selma to Montgomery.
- Audience favorite—MLK, directed by a woman, a reminder of the fight for civil rights
- Academy favorite—MLK
Boyhood: Directed by Richard Linklater, starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. The film follows a boy named Mason through his crucial years, ages 5-18.
- Audience favorite—All the emotions of growing up are involved
- Academy favorite—Coming of age theme, kids, hardships, family
The Theory of Everything: Directed by James Marsh, starring Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones and Tom Prior. The film follows the insurmountable life story of Stephen Hawking.
- Audience favorite—Love, faith, science, undying hope, Eddie Redmayne
- Academy favorite—True story, young mastermind, overcoming tragedy
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Directed by Wes Anderson, starring Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. The film follows a lobby boy and his adventures working for a concierge at a five star Alpine hotel.
- Audience favorite—Wes Anderson, Ralph Fiennes, witty dialogue, storybook feel
- Academy favorite—Wes Anderson’s classic perfection
Whiplash: Directed by Damien Chazelle, starring Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons and Melissa Benoist. The film follows a conservatory student through a grueling journey of humiliation and harassment to become the best jazz drummer he can be.
- Audience favorite—Art, music, love, sacrifice
- Academy favorite—How far is too far, pushing oneself beyond limits
Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
- The Nelson pick: Redmayne or Cumberbatch
- Most likely to win: Keaton or Carell
Actress in a Leading Role
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alive
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
- The Nelson pick: Julianne Moore or Reece Witherspoon
- Most likely to win: Marion Cotillard or Julianne Moore
Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
- The Nelson pick: Edward Norton
- Most likely to win: J.K. Simmons
Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
- The Nelson Pick: Meryl Streep
- Most likely to win: Keira Knightley or Meryl Streep