If I had an Oscar ballot…

We're winding down the year-in-review game here at HitFix as 2014 draws to a close. For whatever reason I took a year off of the ballot/superlatives posts, but I'm back with those personal assessments of the best of the year, beginning today with my top picks across the Academy's 24 categories.

Check back in tomorrow for a list of winners from this lot, as well as others in a slew of peripheral categories. And of course, feel free to let us know what your Oscar ballot would look like in the comments section below.

(Oh, and naturally it goes without saying this post is living in a parallel reality where I'm not confined to a specific branch for nominations and reign supreme over all categories with selections for each.)

We'll find out if the Academy agrees with any of this when the 87th annual Oscar nominations are announced on Jan. 15.


Best Picture
“Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, Arnon Milchan, James W. Skotchdopole)
“Boyhood” (Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland)
“Foxcatcher” (Megan Ellison, Bennett Miller, Jon Kilik, Anthony Bregman)
“Inherent Vice” (Joanne Sellar, Daniel Lupi, Paul Thomas Anderson)
“The Overnighters” (Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss)

Best Director
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “Inherent Vice”
J.C. Chandor, “A Most Violent Year”

Best Actor
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “A Most Wanted Man”
Oscar Isaac, “A Most Violent Year”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

Best Actress
Anne Dorval, “Mommy”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, “Beyond the Lights”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”

Best Supporting Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Nightcrawler”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Gary Poulter, “Joe”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Minnie Driver, “Beyond the Lights”
Rene Russo, “Nightcrawler”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Katherine Waterston, “Inherent Vice”

Best Adapted Screenplay
“Cold in July” (Nick Damici, Jim Mickle)
“Gone Girl” (Gillian Flynn)
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois)
“The Imitation Game” (Graham Moore)
“Inherent Vice” (Paul Thomas Anderson)

Best Original Screenplay
“Beyond the Lights” (Gina Prince-Bythewood)
“Birdman” (Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Armando Bo)
“Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
“Foxcatcher” (Dan Futterman, E. Max Frye)
“Whiplash” (Damien Chazelle)

Best Cinematography
“Birdman” (Emmanuel Lubezki)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Robert D. Yeoman)
“Inherent Vice” (Robert Elswit)
“Mr. Turner” (Dick Pope)
“A Most Violent Year” (Bradford Young)

Best Costume Design
“The Boxtrolls” (Deborah Cook)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Milena Canonero)
“Inherent Vice” (Mark Bridges)
“Into the Woods” (Colleen Atwood)
“Maleficent” (Anna B. Sheppard)

Best Film Editing
“Birdman” (Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione)
“Edge of Tomorrow” (James Herbert)
“Foxcatcher” (Jay Cassidy, Stuart Levy, Conor O'Neill)
“Whiplash” (Tom Cross)
“Wild” (John Mac McMurphy, Martin Pensa)

Best Makeup
“Foxcatcher” (Bill Corso; Kathrine Gordon)
“Inherent Vice” (Gigi Williams; Miia Kovero)
“Snowpiercer” (Gabriela Plakova; Linda Eisenhamerova)

Best Music (Original Score)
“Godzilla” (Alexandre Desplat)
“Gone Girl” (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Alexandre Desplat)
“Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer)
“Under the Skin” (Mica Levi)

Best Music (Original Song)
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” (Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois)
“America For Me” from “A Most Violent Year” (Alex Ebert)
“Land Ho!” from “Land Ho!” (Keegan DeWitt)*
“Glory” from “Selma” (John Stephens, Lonnie Lynn, Che Smith)

Best Production Design
“Birdman” (Kevin Thompson; George DeTitta Jr.)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Adam Stockhausen; Anna Pinnock)
“Inherent Vice” (David Crank; Amy Wells)
“Mr. Turner” (Suzie Davies; Charlotte Watts)
“Snowpiercer” (Ondrej Nekvasil; Beata Brendtnerovà)

Best Sound Editing
“American Sniper” (Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman)
“The Babadook” (Frank Lipson)*
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (Douglas Murray; Will Files)
“Fury” (Lisa Pinero; Paul N.J. Ottosson, Marc Fishman)
“Godzilla” (Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn

Best Sound Mixing
“American Sniper” (Walt Martin; John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff)
“Fury” (Paul N.J. Ottosson)
“Godzilla” (Michael McGee; Rick Kline, Gregg Landaker, Tim LeBlanc)
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (Tony Johnson; Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick)
“Transformers: Age of Extinction” (Peter J. Devlin; Greg P. Russell, Scott Millan, Jeffrey J. Haboush)

Best Visual Effects
“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Erik Winquist, Daniel Barrett)
“Godzilla” (Jim Rygiel, Guillaume Rocheron, Ken McGaugh, Joel Whist)
“The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” (Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White)
“Interstellar” (Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, Scott Fisher)
“Under the Skin” (Dominic Parker)

Best Animated Feature Film
“The Boxtrolls” (Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi; David Bleiman Ichioka, Travis Knight)
“Cheatin'” (Bill Plympton; Desiree Stavracos)
“How to Train Your Dragon 2” (Dean DeBlois; Bonnie Arnold)
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya” (Isao Takahata; Yoshiaki Nishimura, Seiichirô Ujiie)

Best Documentary Feature
“CITIZENFOUR” (Laura Poitros; Mathilde Bonnefoy, Dirk Wilutzky)
“The Internet's Own Boy” (Brian Knappenberger)
“The Overnighters” (Jesse Moss; Amanda McBaine)
“Tales of the Grim Sleeper” (Nick Broomfield; Marc Hoeferlin)
“Virunga” (Orlando von Einsiedel; Joanna Natasegara)

Best Foreign Language Film
“Leviathan” (Andrey Zvyagintsev – Russia)
“Mommy” (Xavier Dolan – Canada)
“Timbuktu” (Abderrahmane Sissako – Mauritania)
“White God” (Kornél Mundruczó – Hungary)
“Wild Tales” (Damián Szifrón – Argentina)

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace”
“One Child”
“Our Curse”

Best Short Film (Animated)
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”

Best Short Film (Live Action)
“Baghdad Messi”
“Carry On”
“Summer Vacation”

Oh, and one more that I would love to see the Academy add…

Best Ensemble
“Inherent Vice”
“Wild Tales”

*”The Babadook” and the title track from “Land Ho!” have been deemed ineligible for either arbitrary Academy rules (in the case of the former) or presumably submission issues (in the case of the latter though that may have been disqualified for other reasons). I would write them in anyway because whatever.

†While I have not seen all of the eligible contenders for the shorts categories, I have indeed viewed each of the shortlisted finalists. So I feel good enough about offering up favorites there.