best-pic_3166072k 2For the first time in many years, the Oscar race is pretty hard to predict. Sure Best Picture has had some surprising results, Crash over Brokeback Mountain, or Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan, but this year it almost feels as though you could toss a coin and have better results.

This is not only true for Best Picture, but Best Director, is it Richard Linklater for Boyhood or Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman. Can Michael Keaton and his veteran status trump Eddie Redmayne who plays the real life Stephen Hawking? Will a Wes Anderson film win the most awards? No Wes Anderson film has been nominated outside screenplay or animated feature prior to this year, but this will most likely happen.

The Oscars used to be simple, but it is a real puzzle predicting them this year, and my brain hurts. No more thinking, just going with my gut for my predictions. Note, there are some categories, which will just have predictions because they are so far out front, or that’s just my guess.

Best Picture
“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

This is essentially a two horse race between Boyhood and Birdman, and whichever wins statistics will go out the window.

In favor of Birdman

The last film to win Producer’s Guild of Awards (PGA), Director’s Guild of Awards (DGA), and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and lose the Oscar was Apollo 13, those are some strong statistics backing this film. Birdman also won at Guilds where there were numerous broken down categories like Costume Design, and Sound. While Birdman lost Best Film at BAFTA, BAFTA does not do preferential balloting like Oscars do for Best Picture.

Against Birdman

Birdman lost Best Picture at the Golden Globes, it would be the first Comedy to win the Oscar without winning the Globe in Comedy since Annie Hall (1977). Birdman also lost at the Broadcast Film Critics’ Awards, and at the British Academy Awards (BAFTA). BAFTA has a lot of crossover voting with the Academy, and Birdman only won Cinematography. Birdman would be the first film to win Best Picture without an Editing nomination since Ordinary People (1980). How does this film win Picture, maybe director, and only cinematography, it will most likely go 0 for 3 with its acting nominations, that seems like an odd combination, but in an odd year it could happen.

In Favor of Boyhood

Boyhood won BAFTA, the Globes (Drama), and the Broadcast Film Critics’ Awards. These are typically good indicators as to who will win. Boyhood won the Editing Guild Award. Boyhood has the heart of the two films. Oscar voters tend to vote for the less cynical film, The Artist, The King’s Speech Slumdog Millionaire and many others.

Against Boyhood

Losing PGA and DGA is typically the nail in the coffin. DGA has predicted Best Picture 11 times since 2000, and since the creation of the preferential ballot the PGA has predicted Best Picture every year. If Boyhood wins Birdman would join Apollo 13 as the only film snubbed after winning awards from the major guilds.

Now who will win, my gut all year was Boyhood, and I am sticking with it, even though the numbers tell me, to some extent, that I am wrong. I think the PGA statistic is a bit bogus; there was a tie last year, and both 12 Years a Slave and Gravity won, so I am not sure how reliable they are. You could also argue that there was tremendous guild support for Gone Girl, but it was majorly snubbed by the Academy. Selma was not at the PGA, and it is a Best Picture nominee. There are also fewer nominees for Best Picture than at PGA, these could be non-factors, but I am going with gut.

Will Win: Boyhood (you may want to pick Birdman)
Should Win: Boyhood
Next in Line: Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Director
“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

Will this be the third year in a row where Best Picture and Best Director split? That’s what logic is saying to me, except Linklater has won more, and logic would speak Boyhood winning picture and Iñárritu winning director.

Linklater has won the BFCA, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, while Iñárritu has won the DGA, which collective carries more weight? BAFTA and DGA is where you get more cross over voting, and BAFTA going for Linklater said something important. I switched to Iñárritu for about 12 hours, and then when Linklater won BAFTA I went back to much hunch.

Will and Should Win: Richard Linklater-Boyhood
Major Spoiler: Alejandro G. Iñárritu-Birdman

Best Actor
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”

This race is between three men; let’s start with the dark horse, Bradley Cooper. Cooper got into this race after a late surge from American Sniper, he had 0 precursor nominations. The big question is does this supposed close race between the two front runners make way for the third person to win, a la Adrien Brody in The Pianist, it’s quite possible, especially since this is Cooper’s third nomination, three years in a row. The last person to do this was Al Pacino. Cooper certainly has proven himself, he was fantastic in Silver Linings Playbook, a scene stealer in the over rated American Hustle, and one of the best parts of American Sniper, which has few redeeming qualities.

My money was on Keaton from the moment Birdman squawked onto the scene, I assumed he was the veteran whose story they would honor. Fun fact if Keaton won he would be the second oldest winner after Henry Fonda, kind of crazy. Keaton won the Globe, and the BFCA; his comeback connected to his past experience with super hero films seems like a lock for a win.

Enter Eddie Redmayne who plays Stephen Hawking, a beloved genius who is dealing with ALS. Redmayne has the typical Oscar winning role, much like Daniel Day-Lewis had for his first win with My Left Foot. This movie has the heart Birdman lacks, and will endear the typical voter to win them over. Redmayne has the Globe, SAG, and BAFTA on his side. I fought this a long time but ….

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne-The Theory of Everything
Very Close Second and Should Win: Michael Keaton-Birdman
Dark Horse: Bradley Cooper-American Sniper

Best Actress
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”

Will Win: Julianne Moore-Still Alice
Should Win: Rosamund Pike-Gone Girl

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”

Will Win: JK Simmons-Whiplash
Should Win: Edward Norton-Birdman

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”

Will and Should Win: Patricia Arquette-Boyhood

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

I would like to see something original win here, like Princess Kaguya. I know Dragon 2 was a fine film, but its win just rings so false. Sadly I think that is the way the Academy will go.

Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2
Watch Out for: Big Hero 6
Should Win: The Tale of Princess Kaguya

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

Whiplash is me going out on a limb with my gut. I know Imitation Game won the WGA, but Whiplash was competing in Original there. I think there seems to be passion around both, look how well Whiplash did at BAFTA! Theory of Everything also upset Imitation Game at BAFTA, which a better barometer than the WGA to me. I still think any film but Inherent Vice can win.

Will Win: Whiplash
Dark Horse: The Imitation Game

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

This is between Budapest and Birdman. I think Budapest’s script is vastly superior, I also think the Academy tends to go for films like Budapest in the screenplay category, and many probably think Anderson is overdue. Budapest won this prize at the WGA, and BAFTA.

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dark Horse: Birdman

Best Cinematography
“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

Will Win: Birdman
Should Win: Mr. Turner

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

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Documentary Feature
“Citizen Four” 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: Citizen Four
Dark Horse: Virunga and Find Vivien Maier

Best Documentary Short Subject
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
“Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
“Our Curse” Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
“The Reaper (La Parka)” Gabriel Serra Arguello
“White Earth” J. Christian Jensen

Will Win: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

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

I can see three films winning this award, two have lots of cuts, and look edited, American Sniper and Whiplash, and the third is Boyhood. I am predicting Boyhood because I think the other two will cancel each other out, and the triumph or accomplishment of putting together 12 years of footage will win out.

Will Win: Boyhood
Major Dark Horse: Whiplash

Best Foreign Language Film
“Ida” Poland
“Leviathan” Russia
“Tangerines” Estonia
“Timbuktu” Mauritania
“Wild Tales” Argentina

Ida makes the most sense to me, it has another nomination in Cinematography, but that does mean anything, Amelie was royally snubbed and had multiple nominations many years ago. I do think the large Jewish demographic in the Academy will connect with this story. Wild Tales is my dark horse because it is the apple in the bag of oranges, something different and unique.

Will Win: Ida
Dark Horse: Wild Tales

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

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dark Horse: Guardians of the Galaxy

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

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dark Horse: The Theory of Everything

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

Will Win: Glory from Selma

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

Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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

I had Feast for a long time, but when voters pick the winners in this category and all the other shorts they watch them, I think The Dam Keep will edge it out.

Will Win: The Dam Keeper
Spoiler: Feast

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

Will Win: The Phone Call

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

Will Win: American Sniper

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

Will Win: Whiplash
Dark Horse: Birdman

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

This is the first time in about 7 years that a Best Picture nomination has been nominated in this category, and when this happens this category sometimes goes off book. Interstellar feels like it could have been a Best Picture nominee; it also has five nominations which show broad support.

Guardians could sneak in to win, but only two films about super heroes have won this award Superman (1978), and Spider-Man 2 (2002).

The real dark horse here involves apes, something that won the visual effects guild, and I have gone back and forth on this but Inception won this award, and I think they will give this film that honor as well.

Will Win: Interstellar
Dark Horse: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes