Birdman, Boyhood or Budapest? Predicting the 87th Academy Awards

Norton was nominated solely for his choice of underwear.
Norton was nominated solely for his choice of underwear.
Photo by Alison Rosa

Oscar days are here again That most pompous time of year again So, let's get 'faced on all our beer again Oscar days are here again.

The 87th Academy Awards will be handed out this Sunday. In between Neil Patrick Harris rendering the plot of American Sniper through interpretive dance and attempting to exorcise the unquiet spirit of Seth MacFarlane from the Dolby Theater once and for all, some major awards will be distributed.

As I have every year since I can remember, I'll be watching as well. My experience hasn't transitioned to full-on hate watch mode yet, but there has been a noticeable uptick in my drinking during the broadcast over the last decade. And having long ago discarded any illusions about the artistic merit of this (or any other) awards show, I now pay attention mostly for gentlemanly wagering purposes.

To that end, here are my (for entertainment purposes only) picks for the 2015 Oscars. I also put the odds on an Amal Clooney red carpet eyeroll at 13/5.

Best Supporting Actress AKA "The Award They Throw At You Right Away So You'll Tune In At The Very Beginning."

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Nominees Patricia Arquette - Boyhood Laura Dern - Wild Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game Emma Stone - Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Meryl Streep - Into the Woods

Who Wins? Arquette. She's won every other award of note, and is far and away the favorite. Dern was solid but little seen, while the Academy will string Knightley and Stone along for another decade or so. Streep, on the other hand, proves she could pretty much just make fart noises with her armpit and get a nom (Into the Woods was ... not good).

Who *Really* Wins? Fans of *dreamy* presenter Jared "Jordan Catalano" Leto. I don't have odds on whether or not he'll have cut his hair by then.

Best Supporting Actor Long regarded as the Lifetime Achievement Oscar, no one on the current list really qualified. Duvall won in 1983 (Best Actor for Tender Mercies) and everyone except the probable winner are under the age of 50 (and even Simmons doesn't have what you'd call a storied filmography).

Nominees Robert Duvall - The Judge Ethan Hawke - Boyhood Edward Norton - Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher J. K. Simmons - Whiplash

Who Wins? Simmons. I personally loved Ruffalo, but come on; have you *seen* Whiplash?

Who *Really* Wins? Every musician who not-so-secretly believed percussionists were insane.

Best Adapted Screenplay The category is long on biopics this year, most of them tragic in nature, with The Theory of Everything being the sole "triumph against adversity" true story. And Stephen Hawking didn't even have the courtesy to help the screenplay's chances by dying.

Nominees American Sniper - Jason Hall The Imitation Game - Graham Moore Inherent Vice - Paul Thomas Anderson The Theory of Everything - Anthony McCarten Whiplash - Damien Chazelle

Who Wins? On one hand, it seems like the Academy would give The Imitation Game an "A" for effort (or Adapted) here. And I like Whiplash, but Chazelle adapting it from his own short story seems like, I dunno, cheating? I'm going with The Imitation Game.

Who *Really* Wins? Thomas Pynchon fans who have longed to hear a B-list celebrity say his name on TV.


Best Original Screenplay Forget what I said about "artistic merit" earlier, the fact that this is Nightcrawler's sole nomination is bool sheet.

Nominees Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) - Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo Boyhood - Richard Linklater Foxcatcher - E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness Nightcrawler - Dan Gilroy

Who Wins? The Grand Budapest Hotel ... I think? I'm not counting out the possibility of a Boyhood run, and I'd personally prefer Birdman or Nightcrawler, but I think this is the year the twice previously nominated Anderson wins it.

Who *Really* Wins? Everybody who stayed awake through The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Best Animated Feature If you saw more than two of this year's animated nominees, you're in the minority. And of the two major (i.e. Disney and DreamWorks) releases, I'd argue there's no heavy favorite.

Nominees Big Hero 6 The Boxtrolls How to Train Your Dragon 2 Song of the Sea The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Who Wins?The Academy loves tragedy, even in their kids' movies. You had that in both Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2, but only the latter (like its predecessor) was truly stunning to look at.

Who *Really* Wins? Parents who had to spend ten minutes calming their shrieking kids in the theater after *that scene* in HTTYD2.

Best Actress Two previous winners, two first-time nominees, and one four-time nominee coming off the performance of her career. This category is the closest thing to a slam dunk the Oscars have this year.

Nominees Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything Julianne Moore - Still Alice Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl Reese Witherspoon - Wild

Who Wins? Moore. Anybody else, and I'd have given Pike a better shot, but this is Moore's fifth nomination and the Academy loooves this kind of shit. Not even co-starring in Seventh Son should change the outcome.

Who *Really* Wins? Maude Lebowski aficionados. You know who you are.


Best Actor If you had asked me in December, I'd have told you this was Keaton's award to lose. Steve Carell never had a shot -- Nicole Kidman nose notwithstanding -- and Chris Kyle is too problematic for anyone to take a risk on Cooper. Of course, this was before Eddie Redmayne steamrolled through the BAFTA, and SAG awards. It's a shame, because Keaton's role was thrillingly original, while I can't say much for Redmayne beyond the fact he does a great Stephen Hawking impression.

Nominees Steve Carell - Foxcatcher Bradley Cooper - American Sniper Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game Michael Keaton - Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything

Who Wins? Redmayne. And it won't be that close.

Who *Really* Wins? Fans of easily digestible, inspirational entertainment.

Best Director Look at that list of nominees, not a Spielberg, Scorsese, or Uwe Boll among them.

Nominees Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel Alejandro González Iñárritu - Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Richard Linklater - Boyhood Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game

Who Wins? GAH. I keep going back and for between Linklater and Iñárritu. Boyhood is the kind of achievement in filmmaking we'll probably never see again, but it's pastoral and organic where Birdman is frenetic and accomplished in its own schizo fashion. In the end, I give the edge to Iñárritu.

Who *Really* Wins? Maybe now we'll finally get an Amores Perros sequel.

Best Picture There are eight nominees, but this is ultimately a two picture race (sorry, Wes). Boyhood enjoyed a ton of early momentum, with Birdman picking up recent steam. The question comes down to what Academy voters value more: a "legitimate theatre" piece that shows Hollywood can take a punch, or a rambling, occasionally self-indulgent ode to childhood that took 12 years to film?

Nominees American Sniper Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Boyhood The Grand Budapest Hotel The Imitation Game Selma The Theory of Everything Whiplash

Who Wins? I just don't see anyone derailing the Boyhood train at this point.

Who *Really* Wins? The audience, who'll get to hear Linklater thanks every person who appeared in Slacker.

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