Tony Earnshaw: Oscar predictions? It’s in the lap of the gods – or the Academy voters

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Being a film reviewer has its perks, such as the plethora of DVD screeners that wends its way to me at the beginning of every year in the run-up to awards season.

But it also has its drawbacks, not least around Oscar time when I and others of my ilk are buttonholed in pubs, restaurants and at parties by film fans eager to get the griff on the nominees.

Honestly, folks, I don’t have a clue. My crystal ball is broken. In truth it never worked, anyway. All I can offer is an opinion and even then it doubtless won’t match the voting mood of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Flash back to 1998 and Steven Spielberg had just won the Academy Award as Best Director for Saving Private Ryan. Then, moments later, the gong for Best Picture went to… Shakespeare in Love. Having been seated on the sofa I suddenly found myself on the floor in a daze having yelled “Nooooooooooooooo!” at the top of my lungs.

So, go figure. How on earth can a movie snag the big cheese if its maker is ignored? Why was Spielberg honoured and not John Madden, the man behind Shakespeare in Love? Surely the two go hand-in-hand.

Well, that’s a matter of opinion. 
It happens to be my opinion. 
And I’m not a member of the Academy.

It comes down to comparisons. Barry Norman firmly believes 
that when Gandhi took eight Oscars in 1983, including Best Picture and Best Director for Richard Attenborough the winner should have been ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. And, one assumes, Steven Spielberg.

No Oscar year is the same as the one that preceded it even if, on occasion, the same faces crop up. Think Tom Hanks, who won consecutive awards as Best Actor for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. But set Hanks alongside other greats like Frederic March, Marlon Brando, Sidney Poitier, Richard Burton (who never won) and Daniel Day Lewis in their pomp and who would prevail? Such moments are in the lap of the gods. Or the Academy voters.

Every year the awards circuit is abuzz with talk of the favourites. Thus it is in 2015. The smart money is on Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything and Julianne Moore for Still Alice in the acting stakes, with supporting gongs earmarked for JK Simmons (Whiplash) and Patricia Arquette (Boyhood).

Best Picture? Likely to be Richard Linklater’s 12-years-in-the-making Boyhood with Birdman flapping furiously over its shoulder.

My predictions? Oh, don’t get me started. I’ve been here before. Every year is the same. I get wound up, get disappointed and vow never to engage again. I’m rarely right. Or the Academy is often wrong.

You decide.