One of the biggest problems of turning the Oscars into veritable presidential campaigns is that the element of surprise has been all but eliminated. With all the awards handed in advance and the momentum measured to a fault, we know the winners well ahead of the event. Sure, Birdman and Boyhood are fairly even forces, but as the later begins to fade, the former is at the peak of its powers.
This is how it will go down.
American Sniper: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers.
Boyhood: Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers.
The Imitation Game: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers.
Selma: Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers.
The Theory of Everything: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers.
Whiplash: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers.
Will win: Birdman. Hollywood loves to reward itself.
Should win: Whiplash. Original, visceral, exciting. Too good for this crowd.
Steve Carell in Foxcatcher.
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper.
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game.
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything.
Will win: Eddie Redmayne. It’s well known: Portraying a disability is the surest way to win an Oscar.
Should win: Benedict Cumberbatch. A perfectly built character, with depth, idiosyncrasies, virtues and flaws, mixed seamlessly.
Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall in The Judge.
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood.
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher.
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash.
Should and will win: J.K. Simmons. The man is transfixing. The ultimate character actor role.
Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night.
Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything.
Julianne Moore in Still Alice.
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl.
Reese Witherspoon in Wild.
Should win: Marion Cotillard. De-glammed, desperated, powerful.
Will win: Julianne Moore. She is ok, but the film is blah. That said, she is due.
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette in Boyhood.
Laura Dern in Wild.
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game.
Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).
Meryl Streep in Into the Woods.
Should win: None of them.
Will win: Patricia Arquette. An award for showing up to set every year.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Boyhood: Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson
The Imitation Game: Morten Tyldum
Should win: Richard Linklater. Not for this movie, but his body of work.
Will win: Richard Linklater. Sure, we’ll take it.
Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6: Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli.
The Boxtrolls: Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight.
How to Train Your Dragon 2: Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold.
Song of the Sea: Tomm Moore and Paul Young.
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura.
Should win: Song of the Sea. It’s wonderful. Look it up.
Will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2. Pretty, but not remotely original.
Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper: Written by Jason Hall.
The Imitation Game: Written by Graham Moore.
Inherent Vice: Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson.
The Theory of Everything: Screenplay by Anthony McCarten.
Whiplash: Written by Damien Chazelle.
Should win: Whiplash. No question.
Will win: The Imitation Game. This one is tight. Whiplash and The Theory of Everything could sneak through.
WTF: American Sniper. Awful script, worst dialogue than 50 Shades of Grey.
Best Original Screenplay
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo.
Boyhood: Written by Richard Linklater.
Foxcatcher: Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness.
Nightcrawler: Written by Dan Gilroy.
Should win: Nightcrawler. Way out Hollywood’s comfort zone.
Will win: Birdman. It’s ok. Witty, crackling dialogue.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Emmanuel Lubezki.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Robert Yeoman.
Ida: Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski.
Mr. Turner: Dick Pope.
Unbroken: Roger Deakins.
Should win: Roger Deakins. Come on, the guy has been nominated 12 times!
Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki. It’s a tour de force with narrative purpose. Deserves it.
Best Documentary Feature
CitizenFour: Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky.
Finding Vivian Maier: John Maloof and Charlie Siskel.
Last Days in Vietnam: Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester.
The Salt of the Earth: Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier.
Virunga: Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara.
Will win: Citizenfour. Everybody in the Academy loves Snowden.
Should win: Anybody else. Citizenfour has no value as a documentary. It’s just talking heads.
Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales: Argentina.
Should win: Wild Tales. The best kind of fun: The kind you shouldn’t be having.
Will win: Ida. Gives you the illusion of being smart by watching it.
Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Milena Canonero.
Inherent Vice, Mark Bridges.
Into the Woods, Colleen Atwood.
Maleficent, Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive.
Mr. Turner, Jacqueline Durran.
Should win: Mr. Turner. The costumes feel real, textured, lived-in.
Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Clever, but keeps the world created by Wes Anderson at arm’s length.
WTF: Into the Woods. Lazy at best. Atwood coasting on her reputation.
Best Film Editing
American Sniper, Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach.
Boyhood, Sandra Adair.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Barney Pilling.
The Imitation Game, William Goldenberg.
Whiplash, Tom Cross.
Should win: Whiplash. A master class of good editing: Dizzying, yet perfectly comprehensible.
Will win: Boyhood. Competent, but not particularly impressive, discounting the twelve years in the making.
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Foxcatcher: Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White.
Should win: Guardians of the Galaxy. Bradley Cooper looks just like a raccoon.
Will win: Foxcatcher. One good nose is all it takes.
Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Alexandre Desplat.
The Imitation Game, Alexandre Desplat.
Interstellar, Hans Zimmer.
Mr. Turner, Gary Yershon.
The Theory of Everything, Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Should and will win: The Theory of Everything. Heads and shoulders above the competition.
Best Original Song
“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie. Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson.
“Glory” from Selma. Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn.
“Grateful” from Beyond the Lights. Music and Lyric by Diane Warren.
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me. Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond.
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again. Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois.
Should win: “Everything Is Awesome”. The song defined The Lego Movie. Quite a feat.
Will win: “Lost Stars”. Solid pop song, but nothing else.
Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel. Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock.
The Imitation Game. Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald.
Interstellar. Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis.
Into the Woods. Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock.
Mr. Turner. Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts.
Should and will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel. The level of complexity puts the twee flick ahead of the curve.
Best Animated Short Film
The Bigger Picture: Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees.
The Dam Keeper: Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi.
Feast: Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed.
Me and My Moulton: Torill Kove.
A Single Life: Joris Oprins.
Should win: A Single Life. Succinct, fun and poignant.
Will win: Feast. Hard to compete with the Disney machine.
Best Live Action Short Film
Aya. Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis.
Boogaloo and Graham. Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney.
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak). Hu Wei and Julien Féret.
Parvaneh. Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger.
The Phone Call. Mat Kirkby and James Lucas.
Should win: Aya. A complex drama about human connections contained in barely 40 minutes.
Will win: Parvaneh. Wholesome parable about prejudice. Cute, but film school-like.
Best Sound Editing
American Sniper. Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Brent Burge and Jason Canovas.
Interstellar: Richard King.
Unbroken: Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro.
Should win: The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
Will win: Interstellar.
Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper. John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin.
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga.
Interstellar. Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten.
Unbroken. Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee.
Whiplash. Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley.
Should win: Whiplash. Impeccable blend of image and sound.
Will win: American Sniper. It has to win something, it’s America’s favourite.
Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist.
Guardians of the Galaxy. Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould.
Interstellar. Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher.
X-Men: Days of Future Past. Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer.
Should win: Interstellar. It created realities that only exist in theory. How can you beat that?
Will win: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Monkeys with guns. Sounds about right.