Tom O’Brien (Oscars Top 24 User): Michael Keaton for Best Actor, ‘Mr. Turner’ may surprise

Think you’re an Oscar know-it-all? Think again. Last year when predicting the nominations, our User Tom O’Brien (better known as helmetz in our world-famous Oscar forum) did so well that his current forecasts are now featured as part of Gold Derby’s Top 24 Users.

O’Brien is a 63-year-old television censor originally from Waterbury, CT. Gold Derby sat down with O’Brien to find out how the heck he did so well last year and what he’s predicting to win this year. Hint: You may want to copy some of his Oscar predictions! (See them all here)

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Spill the beans, Tom! How did you do so well at predicting last year’s Oscar nominations?
O’Brien: As a 63-year-old white male working in the industry, I am the embodiment of your average Academy voter. I just had to put myself in the mindset of someone who would vote for “The King’s Speech,” “The Artist” and “Argo” as Best Picture. Last year, it worked out.

Was there one particular Oscar nomination prediction that you were most proud of?
O’Brien: Last year, it was probably Roger Deakins‘ Best Cinematography nomination for “Prisoners.” It was great work in a sadly under appreciated film, and I was shocked and delighted that the Academy seemed to agree.

Click here to see all of Tom O’Brien’s 2014 Oscar predictions

Looking forward, what are your major Oscar predictions for this year?
O’Brien: For now, I’m on the “Unbroken,” Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons, Patricia Arquette and Angelina Jolie trains.

What might be some of the biggest surprises on Oscar nominations morning?
O’Brien: My pick for biggest surprise will probably be for Sony Pictures Classics to wake up that morning to find that their nomination leader is not their show horse “Foxcatcher” but is instead Mike Leigh‘s “Mr. Turner.”

Do you usually listen to Oscar pundits, or go your own way?
O’Brien: At this stage of the race, I listen closely to pundits, many of whom have already seen the leading as-yet-unreleased contenders at festivals or advanced screenings. By the last week, however, I go my own way and judge current momentum and past Oscar voting patterns.

What is your favorite film or performance so far from 2014?
O’Brien: “Boyhood,” probably.  But the performances that put the biggest smile on my face this year include Ralph Fiennes‘ world-weariness in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” Tilda Swinton‘s clueless condescension in “Snowpiercer” and Tom Hardy‘s frantic juggling of phone calls in that car in “Locke.”

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Finally, what are your favorite Oscar wins of all time?
O’Brien: Glenda Jackson‘s Best Actress win for “Women in Love.” (Remember, I’m old.) It was 1969, and for the time, her performance was really out there — all that nudity as well as her brutal sexual humiliation of Oliver Reed. I loved it, but I never dreamed the academy would ever reward it. It was the first time I had ever seen the academy not take the easy way out.

Is O’Brien correct about predicting Keaton to win the Oscar for “Birdman”? Below, use our easy drag-and-drop menu to cast your own ballot for Oscar’s Best Actor and you could be in our Top 24 next year. Your predictions determine our racetrack odds and you can keep editing them right up until the day Oscar nominations are announced. Top score wins $1,000. 

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