It has been a year in the making, but Tinseltown's biggest event gets underway this Sunday evening. The Academy Awards are the pinnacle of any cinematic year, and you can guarantee that tonight will offer a few surprises. More so than any other year in recent memory, there are a lot of major races completely up for grabs. Birdman vs. Boyhood, Keaton vs. Redmayne, Inarritu vs. Linklater, your guess is as good as mine in these too close to call competitions. But just in case you have no idea which way the Oscar voters will lean, here are my predictions on how tonight will unfold:
Winner - Birdman
There was a time not so long ago when it felt as though Boyhood would be unbeatable in the Best Picture category. However, recent momentum with huge SAG, DGA and PGA wins have put Birdman in the driver's seat.
Winner - Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Here's one race where I'm going against the mainstream grain. After Alejandro G. Inarritu (Birdman) won the prestigious Director's Guild Award, which is usually a very strong indicator of how academy members will vote, the weight has shifted to his corner. However, what once was a rare feat, the Oscars have seen many Best Picture/Best Director splits in recent years. Richard Linklater spent 12 years making his instant classic, Boyhood, and I envision a slight upset tonight in his favor.
Winner - Michael Keaton (Birdman)
It usually isn't a good idea to predict against the guild winners, and I've already done so in the Best Director race, but I'm going to put my faith in another slight underdog, Michael Keaton. Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything has been all the rage lately, however Keaton's once-in-a-lifetime role seems too perfect to vote against. Maybe I'm picking with my heart here, but I hope the academy chooses the veteran for a well deserving performance.
Winner - Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
In a category that's been decided for a few months now, hearing anyone's name other than Julianne Moore would be an absolute shock. She gives a committed performance in the sentimental Alzheimer drama, Still Alice.
Best Supporting Actor
Winner - J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)
While this is another race that feels all but decided, frontrunner J.K. Simmons features a bit more of a challenge from the highly deserving actor Edward Norton (Birdman). If Best Director swings in favor of Birdman as well, Norton could pull off a major upset, but I wouldn't count on it.
Best Supporting Actress
Winner - Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Although Boyhood has slipped front the head of the pack, you can just about lock up a win for the film's matriarch, played brilliantly by Patricia Arquette. Similar to Edward Norton's upset factor in the Best Supporting Actor field, Emma Stone (Birdman) is Arquette's biggest threat. Yet, the upset would be very unlikely.
Other predicted winners ...
Best Original Screenplay - Birdman will ride its wave of momentum in a win here over The Grand Budapest Hotel (which won the WGA albeit Birdman wasn't in contention).
Best Adapted Screenplay - The Imitation Game holds a slight advantage over staunch competitors Whiplash and American Sniper.
Best Animated Feature - How to Train Your Dragon 2 feels like a clear cut favorite, although Big Hero 6 could be a spoiler.
Best Foreign Language Film - Ida firmly holds the frontrunner status by a wide margin, and any other winner would be a bit of a surprise.
Best Documentary - Citizenfour has a huge edge over the rest of the field, making it a very safe pick.