Until recently, this was a fairly humdrum affair. Boyhood had the major categories sewn up, and that was that. Then, suddenly, American Sniper took off with historic box office, a confirmation that Clint Eastwood can literally do anything besides win presidential elections. And, since then, a steady corrosion of support for Boyhood has existed, undermining it at every turn. Like Selma before it, a mini-controversy erupted over a small portion of the film - in this case, its waiter subplot. Soon, the guilds flocked to Birdman - admittedly, another bold choice, but regrettably another film about entertainment and art.
Today, the Oscar race has splinted with many of the top categories still open-ended. If you want to know the winners, search your soul and wait until Sunday. If you want to know my informed predictions? Proceed...
• American Sniper
• The Grand Budapest Hotel
• The Imitation Game
• The Theory of Everything
Who will win: Birdman
Why: For a while, this was a foregone conclusion: Boyhood. It's been the movie of the year since its summer release. It won the Globe. However, in a curious turn, Birdman has recently been displaying serious momentum, including several critical guild wins. Assuming the Academy has tired of Boyhood leading the conversation - and, as always, enamored with a project with meta-references to their industry - it's time to give the win to Birdman. It will be close, but the tea leaves are pointing to Birdman.
A part of me questions whether the box office dominance of American Sniper came just in time to let the artsy Birdman and Boyhood split, and let it slip in. Eastwood has done it before.
• Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
• Richard Linklater, Boyhood
• Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
• Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
• Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Who will win: Richard Linklater
Why: It's been over a decade since the winner of the DGA - in this case, Alejandro González Iñárritu this year - did not go onto win the Oscar. However, in the surging race between Birdman and Boyhood, I am thinking the Academy will do the right thing and acknowledge the visionary direction by Linklater. Boyhood does not have Birdman's visual panache, which may sink it ultimately, but I'm hoping the modern tendency to divorce Picture/Director will continue here.
• Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
• Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
• Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
• Michael Keaton, Birdman
• Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Who will win: Eddie Redmayne
Why: This is a painful one. Interestingly, while Birdman is now poised to claim some of the Oscar's biggest prizes, the buzz has not translated to its star, Michael Keaton. In fact, while Keaton was once locked in a battle with The Theory of Everything's Eddie Redmayne, it now appears Redmayne has the edge. And why now? He's young, he plays a character who overcomes a tremendous disability, and is based on a real life genius. It screams Oscar bait. Shout out to Mr. Mom, who is in a once-in-a-lifetime role. Shame.
Likewise, I wonder if a Keaton-Redmayne split could repeat the 2002 Best Actor race, in which Day Lewis and Nicholson cancelled one another out, resulting in Adrien Brody winning (!). In this case, watch out for the much beloved pretty boy Bradley Cooper.
• Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
• Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
• Julianne Moore, Still Alice
• Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
• Reese Witherspoon, Wild
Who will win: Julianne Moore
Why: Julianne Moore. But why? Julianne Moore. This is a classic example of an actor winning for the wrong role. Think Al Pacino or Paul Newman winning twenty years after their best work. Or, more recently, Kate Winslet winning for the truly dreadful The Reader.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Robert Duvall, The Judge
• Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
• Edward Norton, Birdman
• Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
• J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Who will win: J.K. Simmons
Why: Another obvious choice. Simmons' win highlights the habit of category fraud - placing essentially a lead role in the supporting category. Of course Simmons is great and deserves the Oscar - he dominates the film in every way.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
• Laura Dern, Wild
• Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
• Emma Stone, Birdman
• Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Who will win: Patricia Arquette
Why: Likewise, Arquette is essentially the star of Boyhood, even more so than the boy himself. She has the arc. And this is a weak category.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
• American Sniper, Jason Hall
• The Imitation Game, Graham Moore
• Inherent Vice, Paul Thomas Anderson
• The Theory of Everything, Anthony McCarten
• Whiplash, Damien Chazelle
Who will win: Graham Moore
Why: If they had any sense they'd give it to Inherent Vice, just so they could finally say Academy Award winner Paul Thomas Anderson. The assumption here is The Imitation Game will win as consolation, despite the fact the script is beyond messy at times. (If you're going to vote for a British biopic about a tortured math genius, The Theory of Everything is much stronger.)
A weird category with no true frontrunner. Whiplash may surprise although it's original..
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
• Birdman, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo
• Boyhood, Richard Linklater
• Foxcatcher, E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
• The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson and Hugo Guiness
• Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy
Who will win: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Why: In a perfect world, Grand Budapest might be more prominent in the discussion for Best Picture. This year, it will have to suffice for Original Screenplay, with Wes Anderson joining previous winners Cameron Crowe, Spike Jonze, and Sofia Coppola in the "you're swell, but we can't bring ourselves to give you the top prize" category.
• Birdman, Emmanuel Lubezki
• The Grand Budapest Hotel, Robert D. Yeoman
• Ida, Ryszard Lenczweski and Lukasz Zal
• Mr. Turner, Dick Pope
• Unbroken, Roger Deakins
Who will win: Emmaneul Lubezki
Why: Hard to beat the soaring cinematography of Birdman. Flashing takes the cake.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
• The Grand Budapest Hotel, Milena Canonero
• Inherent Vice, Mark Bridges
• Into the Woods, Colleen Atwood
• Mr. Turner, Jacqueline Durran
• Maleficent, Anna B. Sheppard
Who will win: Milena Canonero
Why: The Best Picture nominee gets the benefit of the doubt. Further, M Gustave is going to be a helluva Halloween costume someday.
BEST FILM EDITING
• American Sniper, Joel Cox and Gary Roach
• Boyhood, Sandra Adair
• The Grand Budapest Hotel, Barney Pilling
• The Imitation Game, William Goldenberg
• Whiplash, Tom Cross
Who will win: Tom Cross
Why: My gut says Boyhood, but I feel the tide drifting away. The final sequence in Whiplash may just be too much.
BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING
• Foxcatcher, Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
• The Grand Budapest Hotel, Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
• Guardians of the Galaxy, Eliazabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White
Who will win: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
Why: Hard to beat Grand Budapest's flair. Sorry Michael Scott's prosthetic nose.
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
Who will win: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Why: Desplat deserves a win here for Grand Budapest - he's never won - but I'm thinking The Theory of Everything's snoozefest of a score will sneak in a victory. The Grand Budapest Hotel does feel like it's dominating the techs this year.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
• "Lost Stars" from Begin Again, Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois
• "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me, Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond
• "Everything is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie, Shawn Patterson
• "Glory" from Selma, John Legend and COMMON
• "Grateful" from Beyond the Lights, Diane Warren
Who will win: John Legend and Common
Why: Common, man. Used to Love H.E.R. Be. Obama's favorite rapper besides Jigga. "Glory" is a tad rote for my blood, but I love the idea of this becoming the third rap song to win Best Song. Besides, the Academy would be REALLY racist to totally ignore Selma, right? ...right..?
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
• The Grand Budapest Hotel, Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock
• The Imitation Game, Maria Djurkovic and Tatiana Macdonald
• Interstellar, Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis and Paul Healy
• Into the Woods, Dennis Gassner and Anna Pinnock
• Mr. Turner, Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts
Who will win: Adam Stockhausen and Anna Pinnock
Why: Again, love the fairy tale visual of Wes Anderson. This is his year. Shout out Dignan and Mr. Henry.
BEST SOUND EDITING
• American Sniper, Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
• Birdman, Martin Hernandez 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
Who will win: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Why: We have a couple war movies here. I am thinking the safe bet is going with the one nominated for Best Picture.
BEST SOUND MIXING
• American Sniper, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
• Birdman, 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
Who will win: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley
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
Who will win: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
Why: In Nolan we trust.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
• Big Hero 6
• The Boxtrolls
• How to Train Your Dragon 2
• Song of the Sea
• The Tale of Princess Kaguya
Who will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Why: You'd think Lego Movie. You'd think that. I want to say Big Hero 6, but I'm leaning toward the franchise.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
• Wild Tales, Damián Szifrón; Argentina
• Tangerines, Zaza Urushadze; Estonia
• Timbuktu, Abderrahmane Sissako; Mauritania
• Ida, Pawel Pawlikowski; Poland
• Leviathan, Andrey Zvyagintsev; Russia
Who will win: Ida
Why: Leviathan is the best of the bunch, but...
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
• Finding Vivian Maier
• Last Days in Vietnam (Kennneddyyy)
• The Salt of the Earth
Who will win: CITIZENFOUR
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
• Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
• Our Curse
• The Reaper
• White Earth
Who will win: Joanna
BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
• The Bigger Picture
• The Dam Keeper
• Me and My Moulton
• A Single Life
Who will win: Feast
Why: Just because..
BEST LIVE-ACTION SHORT FILM
• Boogaloo and Graham
• Butter Lamp
• The Phone Call
Who will win: Parvaneh
Agree? Disagree? Harass me on Twitter (@hoglundan) Sunday night. I am likely much smarter than you.