BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: (Edward Norton, Ethan Hawke, J.K. Simmons, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Duvall)
Should Win: J.K. Simmons or Edward Norton. Simmons, similar to his band teacher Fletcher, has been dominating this category since day one. It's his to lose, but I wouldn't be sad if Edward Norton pulled a huge upset. His Mike was an endlessly interesting actor with a massive ego.
Will Win: J.K. Simmons.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: (Patricia Arquette, Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, Keira Knightley, Emma Stone),
Should/Will Win: Patricia Arquette. Laura Dern was delightful in Wild, but Arquette had the strongest role out of all these ladies as a very human mother. When you can make the audiences sympathize with you after you refuse to see your kid off to college, you deserve an Academy Award.
Should Win: I've only seen How to Train Your Dragon 2 out of these nominees, and we all know what really should've been up here, (I'm keeping the rants to a minimum) so I'll go with the Rotten Tomatoes score on which flick is the most worthy: The Tale of the Pricess Kaguya with a perfect 100%.
Will Win: How to Train Your Dragon 2. It won the Annie Award and the Golden Globe for this prize.
BEST DIRECTOR: (Bennet Miller, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, Alejandro G. Inarritu, Morten Tyldum)
Should Win: Richard Linklater. Both Linklater and Inarritu bravely experimented with cinema with phenomenal results. Linklater gets the edge just because of commitment to the craft over more than a decade, and even if the critics want to call it a gimmick, I'm calling it a revolutionary approach to film!
Will Win: Alejandro G. Inarritu.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: (Boyhood, Foxcatcher, Nightcrawler, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman)
Should/Will Win: Birdman. Boyhood's concept is Oscar-worthy, but Birdman had A-plus, snappy show biz banter, and biting commentary on film nowadays. It should absolutely be rewarded with some gold.
Should Win: Whiplash or Imitation Game. The latter brought the hard to understand jargon of 1940s computer to the mainstream, plus some great quotable lines from Cumberbatch's Alan Turing. But who could forget the venomous insults spewing from Fletcher's chrome dome?
Will Win: The Imitation Game. This film's going to either go home empty handed or just win this one award. Since it got the Writer's Guild Award for this category, it's a safe-ish bet.
BEST ACTRESS: (Rosamund Pike, Marion Cotillard, Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, Julianne Moore)
Should Win: Rosamund Pike. In fairness, I haven't seen Still Alice, which everyone has been raving about. I'd just love to see Pike get something for her gonzo, all-out role as the world's most...fascinating wife.
Will Win: Julianne Moore. This is one of those career-award Oscars that seems well deserved, I can't wait to see her performance!
BEST ACTOR: (Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton, Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper)
Should Win: Michael Keaton or Eddie Redmayne. Despite my falling asleep in The Theory of Everything, I certainly caught enough where I could admire the physical endurance Mr. Redmayne put himself through to become the genius Stephen Hawking. That said, Michael Keaton gives the more emotional performance, a complex, narcissistic actor past his prime shooting for one more shot at glory. I'll be bummed if Keaton loses this, but it will be a worthy loss indeed.
Will Win: Eddie Redmayne.
BEST PICTURE: (Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood, American Sniper, Birdman, The Imitation Game)
Will Win: Birdman. Yes, I do believe that Inarritu's satire will trump Linklater's dozen-year piece of childhood reflection. I can't bring myself to put it on my own official Oscar ballot, but the statistics and the gut feeling I have just tell me so. If this does occur, I think it'll be safe to say that it will be the strangest film to ever win Best Picture, but perhaps one of the most technically accomplished! But yes, I do indeed believe Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) will join the ranks of West Side Story, Patton and Unforgiven as one of the select 87 chosen among the decades as the finest films of the year. I'm not saying I won't have beef with the choice though. Read more to see my choices for the other categories!