Awards season is officially upon us – or might have been upon us for several months now depending on when you decided to start prognosticating such things.

It feels as though in recent years, the run-up to the Oscars has taken a little bit of the fun out of the guessing game that some of us like to play on “who’s in, who’s out”. Because so many Academy voters are also part of other voting bodies, there are so many signposts leading into Oscar season. It’s come to the point where not only are the eventual winners getting easy to predict, but so too are the nominations. Seriously folks – winning your Oscar pool has never been easier.

Just don’t bet the farm on CAPTAIN PHILLIPS this year.

Some early thoughts on the state of things…

  • At the moment, the first few award bodies have announced nominations, shortlists, and winners giving us a glimmer of what might be ahead. Perhaps most interesting so far is the fact that BOYHOOD was named top dog by both the Los Angeles and New York Critics. The east and west coast writers almost never agree – in fact it’s only ever happened nine times (“Nine times” … Ed Rooney? In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Anyone?). Those nine films are as follows: GOODFELLAS, THE HURT LOCKER, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL, LEAVING LAS VEGAS, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, SCHINDLER’S LIST, SIDEWAYS, THE SOCIAL NETWORK and TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. Notice anything about that list? That’s right, only three of them went on to take Oscar’s top prize, so let’s not plan the BOYHOOD victory parade just yet.
  • Also not to be seen as too much of a trendsetter is The National Board of Review who last week declared J.C. Chandor’s A MOST VIOLENT YEAR as their best film of 2014. NBR is one of the first groups out of the gate, so they could be a trendsetter – and to be fair, in all but one year this century, their prize-winner has made Oscar’s Best Picture class. So while that could mean good things for the Jessica Chastain/Oscar Isaac yarn, it’s no guarantee.
  • All of that said, NBR named THE LEGO MOVIE as one of the year’s top ten. Really??
  • I don’t know about you folks, but if there’s a race I’m most curious about this year, it’s Best Director. There are so many interesting names on the board including Richard Linklater for the aforementioned BOYHOOD, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu for BIRDMAN, Angelina Jolie for UNBROKEN, Ava DuVernay  for SELMA, not to mention fanboy favorites David Fincher and P.T. Anderson for GONE GIRL and INHERENT VICE respectively.  In a year of solid contenders, this might be the most interesting race to watch.

We’ll get more clarity later in the week with both SAG and The Critic’s Choice nominations rolling in, but at this very early stage you have to feel good about BOYHOOD, BIRDMAN, and IMITATION GAME making it to Oscar’s big dance.

Of course, there’s still a lot of dancing yet to be done!

Here’s a gathering of what’s gone down so far. Feel free to make your guesses in the comments section.

National Board of Review

Best Film: A Most Violent Year
Best Director: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
Best Actor (tie): Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year; Michael Keaton, Birdman
Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, Birdman
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Best Original Screenplay: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller, The Lego Movie
Best Adapted Screenplay: Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice
Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Breakthrough Performance: Jack O’Connell, Starred Up & Unbroken
Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child
Best Foreign Language Film: Wild Tales
Best Documentary: Life Itself
William K. Everson Film History Award: Scott Eyman
Best Ensemble: Fury
Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, directing, and starring in Top Five
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Rosewater
NBR Freedom of Expression Award: Selma

Top Films
American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Lego Movie

New York Critics’ Awards

Best Picture: Boyhood
Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Best First Film: Jennifer Kent, The Babadook
Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant and Two Days, One Night.
Best Actor: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Best Cinematography: Darius Khondji, The Immigrant
Best Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Nonfiction Film: CitizenFour
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida
Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie

Los Angeles Critics’ Awards

Best Picture: Boyhood
Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Best Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Actor: Tom Hardy, Locke
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Best Screenplay: The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Best Supporting Actress: Agata Kulesza, Ida
Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Nonfiction Film: CitizenFour
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida
Best Animated Film: The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Best Editing: Boyhood
Best Score: (tie) Jonny Greenwood (Inherent Vice) and Mica Levi (Under the Skin)

Best Production Desigm: Adam Stockhausen, The Grand Budapest Hotel
New Generation: Ava DuVernay, Selma

Independent Spirit Awards

Best Feature
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Love Is Strange
Best Director
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Ava DuVernay, Selma
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
David Zellner, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Best Screenplay
Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski, Big Eyes
J.C. Chandor, A Most Violent Year
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Jim Jarmusch, Only Lovers Left Alive
Ira Sachs & Mauricio Zacharias, Love is Strange
Best First Feature
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Dear White People
Obvious Child
She’s Lost Control
Best First Screenplay
Desiree Akhavan, Appropriate Behavior
Sara Colangelo, Little Accidents
Justin Lader, The One I Love
Anja Marquardt, She’s Lost Control
Justin Simien, Dear White People
John Cassavetes Award – Given to the best feature made for under $500,000
Blue Ruin
It Felt Like Love
Land Ho!
Man From Reno
Best Female Lead
Marion Cotillard, The Immigrant
Rinko Kikuchi, Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Tilda Swinton, Only Lovers Left Alive
Best Male Lead
André Benjamin, Jimi: All Is By My Side
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
John Lithgow, Love is Strange
David Oyelowo, Selma
Best Supporting Female
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Carmen Ejogo, Selma
Andrea Suarez Paz, Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Emma Stone, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Best Supporting Male
Riz Ahmed, Nightcrawler
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Alfred Molina, Love is Strange
Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Best Cinematography
Darius Khondji, The Immigrant
Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Sean Porter, It Felt Like Love
Lyle Vincent, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Bradford Young, Selma
Best Editing
Sandra Adair, Boyhood
Tom Cross, Whiplash
John Gilroy, Nightcrawler
Ron Patane, A Most Violent Year
Adam Wingard, The Guest
Best Documentary
20,000 Days on Earth
Stray Dog
The Salt of the Earth
Best International Film
Force Majeure (Sweden)
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Mommy (Canada)
Norte, the End of History (Philippines)
Under the Skin (United Kingdom)
Robert Altman Award
Inherent Vice
Special Distinction Award
18th Annual Piaget Producers Award
Chad Burris
Elisabeth Holm
Chris Ohlson
21st Annual Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Director: Ana Lily Amirpour
H., Directors: Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia
The Retrieval, Director: Chris Eska
20th Annual LensCrafters Truer than Fiction Award
Approaching the Elephant, Director: Amanda Rose Wilder
Evolution of a Criminal, Director: Darius Clark Monroe
The Kill Team, Director: Dan Krauss
The Last Season, Director: Sara Dosa