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Your Oscar Party Cheat Sheet

Your Oscar Party Cheat Sheet


In living rooms around the world, everyone loves predicting Oscar wins. Here's writer Adam Sandel's case that the Academy will spread the love around.

The Imitation Game is the only gay-themed film in this year's Oscar race, with eight nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor -- for Benedict Cumberbatch's prickly performance as Alan Turing, the brilliant gay mathematician who broke the Nazi code.

In another year, the film might have swept the Oscars. But this year's crop of nominees includes a fine film about that other 20th-century genius -- Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything -- and two acclaimed films that broke all the rules of cinematic storytelling: Boyhood and Birdman.

The key to predicting who will win the Oscar is not to bet on your personal favorites (which often leads to heartbreak), but to get inside the heads of the Academy members who actually vote: the nearly 6,000 motion picture professionals whose average age is 63.

By thinking like an Academy voter, and considering the results of the ever-growing number of pre-Oscar awards, we've got it all figured.

OK, this isn't scientific. But what's more fun than predicting with absolute self-certainty which films will win? Here we go.

02-boyhood_0Best Picture

Boyhood is a once-in-a-lifetime film experiment that paid off beautifully and actually was the best picture of the year. Richard Linklater's low-key tale of 12 years in the life of a boy (filmed over 12 years) culminates in an emotional wallop that anyone who has ever been a boy, a girl, a father, or a mother can identify with. The angsty, artsy Birdman has its champions, but for all of its sound and fury, it feels like an emotionally arid exercise. Academy voters are likely to go with their hearts -- and Boyhood.

03-stillalice_0Best Actress

Isn't it time for Julianne Moore to win an Oscar already? This year she will. After five nominations for consistently fine performances, she'll finally bring home the gold for her beautifully subtle and wrenching performance as a woman battling early-onset Alzheimer's in Still Alice.

04-theorofeverything_0Best Actor

Eddie Redmayne graduated from male ingenue (in My Week With Marilyn and Les Miserables) to world-class actor as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. The role includes elements that Oscar voters love: playing a real person, physical transformation, and overcoming a debilitating handicap. But through it all, Redmayne skillfully conveys Hawking's twinkling wit and brilliance.

In Michael Keaton's acclaimed turn as a washed-up actor trying to make a comeback in Birdman, you see all of the effort -- but in a much more challenging role, Redmayne makes it look effortless.

05-boyhood-screenshot_0Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette's performance as the divorced and oft-remarried mother in Boyhood really grows on you, in every conceivable way. Her subtle transformations over the course of 12 years (in film time and real time) add up to a poignant climax -- and an Oscar.

06-whiplash_0Best Supporting Actor

Veteran actor J.K. Simmons doesn't really support anyone as the mercilessly perfectionist conductor in Whiplash; his powerful performance is the film. Long admired in Hollywood for his solid work in films such as Juno and Spider-Man, Simmons has already swept every trophy he's been up for during this awards season -- and he'll win the Oscar too.

Best Director

This is the tightest race of the year, between the tortoise and the hare. Richard Linklater's 12-year labor of love earned him a Golden Globe and major critics awards for Boyhood. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's jittery, break-neck direction of Birdman earned him the Directors Guild award, which often predicts an Oscar win. A Best Picture win for Boyhood may be considered Linklater's reward, so Inarritu (pictured) should win, by a hair, for the self-consciously innovative Birdman.

Grand-budapest-hotel_0Best Original Screenplay

Remember The Grand Budapest Hotel? The Academy did, with nine nominations including Best Picture. But with all the fuss over Boyhood and Birdman, Budapest's best shot at a major award is for Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness's original screenplay. Bonus: The film's striking look is also likely to win awards for Production Design and Costume Design.

01-imitation-game_0Best Adapted Screenplay

The Imitation Game stands its best chance to win for Graham Moore's finely crafted screenplay, based on Andrew Hodges's book Alan Turing: The Enigma. The 33 year-old Moore will likely join Dustin Lance Black, who also won an Oscar for his screenplay about a gay hero: 2008's Milk.

Big-hero-six_0Best Animated Feature

The Lego Movie was mysteriously robbed of a nomination in this category, leaving room for Disney's heartfelt Big Hero 6 to win.

John-legend-and-common_0Best Original Song

Like The Lego Movie, Selma was famously snubbed, except for Best Picture and Original Song nominations, so Oscar voters have this category to make whatever small amends they can. John Legend and Common's "Glory" from Selma should win over The Lego Movie's peppy "Everything Is Awesome."

Ida_0Best Foreign Language Film

Pawel Pawlikowski's haunting Ida, about a young woman who is about to become a nun when she discovers that she's Jewish, is the front-runner among the subtitled set.

11-citizenfour-poster_0Best Documentary Feature

CitizenFour, the story of Edward Snowden, who leaked government documents about the NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens, is the timely front-runner here.

Images courtesy of the respective studios.

We'll leave it to you to predict the Sound Editing and Live Action Short awards, but feel free to comment on your favorites and make your own predictions below.

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