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It’s that magical time of year when film come to a head, colliding in a battleground of prestige, vying for golden statuettes that boast careers and fatten paychecks. This year’s Academy Awards nomination met with controversy out of the gate – most notably for the exclusion of noted female and African-American directors, actors and screenwriters – but that hasn’t stalled the herds of celebrities literally waiting in the wings to reward each other and today is the biggest and easily the most important of the awards season. So don your fanciest dress, pop your priciest wine and set out the stinkiest cheeses because today months and months of speculation and prognostication end to the tune of shiny statues.

Below, I’ve not only laid out my predictions for the winners but also have noted categories in which the winner might not be so black and white. If you haven’t already, be sure to join our Annual Silver Screen Riot Oscar Contest to get in on the games and win cool prizes.

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Best Picture
Will Win: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Could Win: “Boyhood”

Look, it’s been a Birdman/Boyhood battle for months, with the rest of the competition falling by the wayside over the course of the preliminaries. I would easily put 99% odds on one of these two winning but I feel that the advantage is slightly in Birdman‘s corner. Both are the vision of auteurs and both are massively distinct from not only the rest of the field but of filmography in general. Expect outrage if American Sniper snipes it.

Actor
Will Win: Michael Keaton in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”
Could Win: Eddie Redmayne “The Theory of Everything”

All signs point to Eddie Redmayne for the win today – he won at the BAFTAs, the SAGs and the Golden Globes – but the Academy loves a comeback and they love old friends, divining that dial back at Keaton. Issue is, the Academy also loves a biopic and Redmayne absolutely destroys as Steven Hawkings. I’m more personally invested in a Keaton win (and think his performance was superior) but I’ll harbor no grudges if Redmayne eeks him out (aside from the whole getting it wrong part.)

Supporting Actor
Will Win: J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”

No need to waste words here. Simmons deserves it and he’s getting it. 100%.

Actress
Will Win: Julianne Moore in “Still Alice”

Unfortunately this is another category that’s completely locked up. Don’t get me wrong, Moore is fine but the movie itself is definitively lackluster, there were more deserving candidates and Moore herself has had better performances. Shame.

Supporting Actress
Will Win: Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood”

Lock number three, Arquette will win for her 12-year performance in Boyhood. Even if the reasoning behind that win might be more than a little dubious for some voters.

Animated Feature
Will Win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2” Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
Could Win: “Song of the Sea”/ “The Tale of the Princess Kayuga”

This year, outrage erupted in the Animated Feature category as many expected The LEGO Movie to take home gold and then it wasn’t even nominated. This opened up the door for Dreamworks to sneak in with their sequel to the popular 2010 film How to Train Your Dragon. HTTYD2 won at the Golden Globes and I’m willing to bet it wins again tonight. The only stick in the spokes could be Song of the Sea and The Tale of the Princess Kayuga but I’m willing to bet that both went too under-seen by Academy voters to be serious contenders. Wouldn’t be too surprised by an upset here.

Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: “The Imitation Game” Written by Graham Moore
Could Win: “Whiplash” Written by Damien Chazelle

I’m crossing my fingers for a Damien Chazelle upset here – an upset that’s slightly more favorable today after Dan Gilroy beat out Moore at the Independent Spirit Awards last night – but those odds are still pretty unlikely. Moore will likely win for his straight-and-narrow biopic script. #Boring.

Original Screenplay
Will Win:  “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Could Win: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo

This be a competitive category as Birdman could easily sneak into the win here. Hell, even Boyhood might be able to secure a win but I’m guessing that voters didn’t think that the merits of Boyhood lay in the script so much as the process itself. I’m going with Grand Budapest because a win here will constitute a conciliation prize for a movie that definitely isn’t in the running for any of the top categories.

Cinematography
Will Win: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Emmanuel Lubezki
Could Win: Any of the others

This is really Lubezki’s category to lose but he’s up against strong competition and I wouldn’t be shocked with an Ida win or even a Dick Poop (*wink*) win for the gorgeous Mr. Turner. Even Robert Yeoman stands a chance with his work on Grand Budapest. If Roger Deakins finally wins for an Oscar for Unbroken – arguably his worst work – I’m going to break something.

Costume Design
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Milena Canonero
Could Win: Any of the others

Costumes is one of those categories that I think I have a handle on until I don’t and with this year’s crop, I wouldn’t be shocked by any win. With the costumes, consistency is not a factor as the winners seem to win depending on which way the wind is blowing. I’d give Inherent Vice a fighting shot but Colleen Atwood‘s fanciful work in Into the Woods could win for her, just as Maleficent‘s Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive might pull an Alice in Wonderland (again Colleen Atwood). Mr. Turner‘s quaint costumery could also secure a win but I’m going with Budapest because it’s my populist below-the-line victor and my personal favorite.

Director
Will Win: “Boyhood” Richard Linklater
Could Win: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Alejandro G. Iñárritu

This is as much of a two-horse race as we have this year and I’m going with the dreaded Picture-Director split largely because I think the Academy won’t want to send Boyhood home empty-handed and I think they attribute its success almost entirely to the work of Linklater. Also, this is likely my subconcsious  hedging its bets so that if Boyhood or Birdman locks up the top slots, I’m in on at least one of the parties.

Documentary Feature
Will Win: “CitizenFour” Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky

Not much discussion here, Citizenfour all but has it in the bag.

Documentary Short Subject
Will Win: “Joanna” Aneta Kopacz
Could Win: ?

Short Subject Documentaries aka the least interesting category of all. I didn’t watch any of them so this is a bit of a stab in the dark, though I’ve seen it populate some prognosticator’s lists.

Film Editing
Will Win:“Boyhood” Sandra Adair
Could Win: “American Sniper” Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach

Personally, I’d give this to Tom Cross for Whiplash but that’s not really in question. Adair whipped together 12 years of footage, a mighty task. Expect her to win for it unless Sniper nabs this as its solitary consolation prize – a result I’d bet against and would not like to see.

Foreign Language Film
Will Win: “Ida” Poland
Could Win: “Wild Tales” Argentina

Ida seemed the obvious winner when chief competitor Force Majuere was omitted for the nomination pool but the dark and sumptuous Wild Tales could nab a win. Not very likely though.

Makeup and Hairstyling
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier

Two words: Tilda Swinton. Guardians is too mainstream and Foxcatcher not quite popular enough. This is Budapest‘s to lose.

Original Score
Will Win: “The Theory of Everything” Jóhann Jóhannsson
Could Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Alexandre Desplat/ “The Imitation Game” Alexandre Desplat

Desplat desplatted his chances by going head-to-head with himself and I see that resulting in him splitting votes with himself. Jóhannsson’s score is powerful and inspiring and poised for the win. I would like to see Desplat’s work on Budapest take the win here though.

Original Song
Will Win: “Glory” from “Selma” Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

Signed, sealed, delivered, this one’s in the bag.

Production Design
Will Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Could Win: The others…maybe?

Mr. Turner has that old-timey Oscar feel to it but the production design on Budapest is truly beyond reproach. It’s not totally secure but a loss here is unlikely.

Animated Short Film
Will Win: “Feast” Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Could Win: “The Dam Keeper” Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

I’ve been hopping back and forth between these two probably more than any others as I think the odds are as 50-50 as they get. Disney produced Feast which is a gift and a curse – everyone’s seen it but it might be a touch too mainsteam for Academy tastes.

Live Action Short Film
Will Win: “The Phone Call” Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

Another category I didn’t bother to disgest, the live action shorts are a category that likely needs to be put to rest. I’m betting on The Phone Call because it stars two Oscar-nominees (well, one nominee, one winner) and thinking that’s gonna be enough to draft to gold.

Sound Editing
Will Win: “American Sniper” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Could Win: “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock

Ah, the fated sound categories. For those who don’t know, editing is concerned with the creation of sounds while mixing is, you guessed it, how those sounds are mixed. I’m going with Sniper for both because it’s a movie that relies on sound and has made way too much money. This tends to be a category for moneymakers. We’re still hoping Birdman wins though.

Sound Mixing
Will Win: “American Sniper” John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
Could Win:“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga

See above.

Visual Effects
Will Win: “Interstellar” Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
Could Win: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist

At first, I had these two predictions switched, thinking Apes would edge out Nolan’s space adventure but then I remembered that Rise of the Planet of the Apes didn’t take home the Oscar for Visual Effects four years back, when the technology was all new and shiny. That opens the door for Interstellar‘s one and only win.

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And there we have it. Don’t forget to sign up for our Annual Silver Screen Riot Oscar Contest and try to edge out our predictions here.

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