If you’re not participating in an Oscar pool at work or going to an Oscar party, you better find one quick. Here is the inside scoop on the sure things and our best predictions about the close calls. Take careful notes, folks.
Of course there will be surprises and upsets, but that’s all part of the fun. And we will call this one up front: the gayest thing at the Oscars will be host Neil Patrick Harris, because there’s a real lack of LGBT representation (not to mention people of color) among the nominees this year.
Now get your ballots ready and find some high rollers to place bets on the winners. You’re welcome.
It isn’t only the gays who love theater or films about acting. Hollywood just loves to reward itself for movies about the magic of Tinseltown (All About Eve, The Artist), and there are fierce supporters of the strange and wonderful Birdman. Yes, Boyhood collected a few early awards itself but Birdman has taken the more recent, influential ones. It’s a real nail-biter, but Birdman will soar.
DIRECTOR: Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Birdman
Birdman was a complicated feat — long uninterrupted shots of chaos backstage in an actual Broadway theater, and Iñárritu kept it all together seamlessly. Yes, Boyhood director Richard Linklater might win to balance out the praise for the two films, but we think not.
ACTOR: Michael Keaton for Birdman
Yes, it already sounds like a sweep for Birdman, but Keaton will win for some specific reasons. Hollywood loves a comeback and they love Keaton almost as much. Plus, Keaton gave a great acceptance speech at the Golden Globes, which serve as auditions for the Oscars. His biggest threat is Eddie Remayne’s astounding performance in The Theory of Everything, but usually when the Oscar goes to such a young actor it is because he has the sheen of The Next Big Thing. Redmayne just doesn’t yet have the career or the cache of Keaton.
ACTRESS: Julianne Moore for Still Alice
It really does not matter that no one has seen Julianne’s film. It’s a terrible year for female performances and Julianne has this coming after an amazing career (Boogie Nights, The Kids are All Right, and Far from Heaven, all of which included LGBT themes). Plus, she’s a perennial bridesmaid at the Oscars, having been nominated several times, and she really deserves a statuette on her mantle. This category is one of the sure things of the night.
SUPPORTING ACTOR: JK Simmons for Whiplash
You can take this one to the bank. You know Simmons from a zillion television commercials and drama series (The Closer, Law & Order) but you can now add “Oscar-winning actor” to his name because his performance in Whiplash is ferocious and a sure thing to win.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette in Boyood
Well finally, Boyhood wins a category. While people were polarized by Boyhood (almost as much as they were over Birdman) there’s no doubt that Arquette, playing a mother in the film who ages in real time over the 12-year filming of the movie, will take home Oscar gold. We like to believe it is because she is so good, while most of the press has been about how she “allowed” herself to get older and heavier. Because, you know, the hands of time stop for everyone else in Hollywood.
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel delighted moviegoers but surprised everyone with the number of nominations it received. This category may be its best bet to actually win. And screenplay or not, who didn’t love Ralph Fiennes’ performance as the attentive, sexually ambiguous hotelier?
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Graham Moore for The Imitation Game
A win for The Imitation Game is the best chance for a thrilling Oscar speech about the many contributions of LGBT people during history. The inspiring story of Alan Turing, the gay man who helped win World War II by decoding German transmissions (and in the process, creating the basis of future technologies, including the computer you are using to read this). As gay icons go, Alexander the Great has nothing on the heroic Mr. Turing.
ANIMATED FEATURE: How to Train Your Dragon II
Don’t get us started over the fact that The Lego Movie, one of the funniest and most inventive films of the year, was not nominated in the category. We’ll have to settle for a win for this engaging sequel with a lot to say about accepting yourself. And Dragon now joins The Godfather in a very exclusive little club: both films and their sequels will have won Oscar gold.
SONG: “Glory” from Selma
Speaking of snubs, there was seismic activity throughout Los Angeles when the nominations were released and Selma received a paltry two nominations (including nothing for director Ava DuVernay, who could have been the first black woman nominated in the directing category). It felt like a jarring omission during the year of Ferguson. It also didn’t help that every nominee in the acting categories this year are white. And this is why “Glory” will win Best Song, even though “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie is beyond adorable and that film was also snubbed. “Everything is Awesome” may make a livelier performance during the telecast, but “Glory” will overcome.
Regardless of your opinions on Edward Snowden, he sure makes for a compelling documentary subject, and this documentary delivers his story in all of its strange contradictions. This win is another sure thing.
And now, if your Oscar ballot includes the “minor” awards, we salute you for your obsessive behaviors. And including them in the Oscar pool is also the best way to make up for any mistakes we may have made in the major categories.
FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Ida from Poland
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki for Birdman
VISUAL EFFECTS: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher for Interstellar
MAKEUP: Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard for Foxcatcher
SCORE: Jóhann Jóhannsson for The Theory of Everything
COSTUME DESIGN: Milena Canonero for The Grand Budapest Hotel
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Adam Stockhausen for The Grand Budapest Hotel
DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Joanna (squeaking past Veterans Line 1)
LIVE ACTION SHORT: The Phone Call
EDITING: Sandra Adair for Boyhood
SOUND EDITING: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman for American Sniper
SOUND MIXING: Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga for Birdman