Here's Who Will Win at the Oscars

Feb 19, 2015

Three of the four acting contests are sewn up, and the fourth (Best Actor) is reaching mathematical certitude. The Best Director prize looks to be won by a Mexican for the second straight year. But when the Academy Awards air on Feb. 22, on ABC with host Neil Patrick Harris, the Best Picture category will make this one of the cloudiest Oscar races in ages.

The top contenders are trickster endeavors, each filmed in 30-some days: Birdman, which pretends to be a single shot lasting nearly two hours, and Boyhood, which spans 12 years of a Texas lad’s life. Earlier awards from the most influential Hollywood guilds—Producers, Directors and Screen Actors—give Birdman the edge: no film that failed to take at least one of these awards has won Oscar’s top prize since 1996, when Braveheart defeated the guilds’ favorite Apollo 13. Then again, the British Academy (BAFTA) has picked the “correct” film for the past six years. And this time, BAFTA chose Boyhood.

See All the Best Actors in Oscar History

Schauspieler Emil Jannings
1929: Emil Jannings - The Last Command and The Way of All FleshImagno/Getty Images
Schauspieler Emil Jannings
Warner Baxter
George Arliss (1868-1946), English actor, 20th century.
Cinema Personalities. pic: circa 1930's. American actor Lionel Barrymore. (1878-1954) a major star of films and a famed actor. He was also noted as a artist, author, composer and director, one of the famous Barrymore acting family.
Fredric March
Wallace Beery
Charles Laughton
Clark Gable
Victor McLaglen, British boxer and actor, 1934-1935.
Paul Muni, American film actor, 1934-1935.
Spencer Tracy
Robert Donat
James Stewart
Cooper Promo Shot
Cinema. Personalities. circa 1940's. American actor James Cagney portrait one of Hollywood's pre-eminent stars famous for his "tough-guy" roles.
Paul Lukas
Bing Crosby
Ray Milland
Portrait of Ronald Colman
Portrait Of Laurence Olivier
Broderick Crawford
José Ferrer in Anything Can Happen
Humphrey Bogart In 'Sabrina'
Marlon Brando
Ernest Borgnine
Yul Brynner
Barnacle Bill
David Niven
Charlton Heston dressed as Ben Hur
Burt Lancaster
Maximillian Schell
Gregory Peck
Publicity Still From 'For Love Of Ivy'
Rex Harrison In 'My Fair Lady'
Lee Marvin
Paul Scofield In 'A Man For All Seasons'
In The Heat of the Night
Cliff Robertson
John Wayne
Gene Hackman In 'The French Connection'
Jack Lemmon
47th Annual Academy Awards, 1975
Jack Nicholson In 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'
Peter Finch In 'Network'
35th Annual Golden Globe Awards
"The Champ" Press Party
AFI Salute to James Stewart
Actor's Studio Conference
JAN 2 1980, AUG 12 1982, AUG 13 1982, MAR 18 1983; At ceremonies at the Denver Center for the Perfor
Ben Kingsley
Robert Duvall
57th Annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon
William Hurt
The Color Of Money
People's Choice
62nd Annual Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon
16th Annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
"Howard's End" Benefit for AmFAR
American Museum of the Moving Image Tribute to Al Pacino
Tom Hanks
1996 National Board of Review Awards Dinner
Presentation of Memorabilia From "Shine"
4th Broadcast Film Critics Awards
"The Big Kahuna" Premiere
Celebs at British Academy Film Awards
74th Annual Academy Awards - Pressroom
The 75th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room
Sean Penn arrives for the 76th Academy A
Onset For Jamie Foxx Music Video
Stars Promote 'Mission Impossible III' In Rome
22nd Annual Santa Barbara Film Festival - American Riviera Award Presented to Forest Whitaker
9th Annual New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend - Day 3
The Debt - UK Premiere - Inside Arrivals
BAFTA Los Angeles 18th Annual Awards Season Tea Party - Red Carpet
86th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room
88th Annual Academy Awards - Press Room
89th Annual Academy Awards -  Press Room
1929: Emil Jannings - The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh
Imagno/Getty Images
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Hovering above these two acclaimed movies is the (red state) elephant on the ballot: American Sniper, which has earned more at the domestic box office than the other seven Best Picture nominees combined. But it won’t win. The Academy voters typically prefer to honor a socially relevant artistic triumph (12 Years a Slave last year, The Hurt Locker five years ago) over a crowd pleaser of distinction (Gravity, Avatar).

Here, then, are my picks for which films, filmmakers and stars will carry home 8½ lb. of Motion Picture Academy love from the 87th annual awards.

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