The Daily Gamecock

Predicting the major categories for the 2015 Oscars

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Best Picture: Birdman

This one’s hardly a foregone conclusion — despite cleaning up with guild awards, “Birdman” is in a tight race with fellow frontrunner “Boyhood.” But “Birdman” has just enough momentum on its side, plus the Academy-friendly conceit of being a movie about actors, to beat out “Boyhood.” The only caveat is that “Birdman” is a strange, experimental movie that could put off more conservative voters, but its theatrical flair should be enough to put it over the edge.

Best Actor: Michael Keaton

This one’s being served to the Academy on a silver platter: an aging actor respected in his industry, with a meaty, self-referential starring role. How could they not give him the Oscar? Even though Bradley Cooper has the popular vote on his side for surprise hit “American Sniper,” Keaton just has too much going for him to lose.

Best Actress: Rosamund Pike

This race is probably the closest one of the major categories. All of the nominees put in powerful performances, but none were so singular that there’s a clear favorite. Rosamund Pike, for her stellar, pulpy turn in “Gone Girl,” has the best chance of breaking through the crowded field by going big.

Best Director: Richard Linklater

When the Oscars has two neck-and-neck frontrunners, this category can often serve as second place. This is especially likely for Richard Linklater, because it was entirely his unique vision that allowed for “Boyhood,” a movie filmed over 12 years, to be made. If the Academy wants to recognize his accomplishment without turning over the Best Picture race to him, this is where they’ll do it.

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons

Simmons’s performance in “Whiplash” is a highwire act, balancing intense ugliness with moments of real humanity. It’s both great and showy, which puts him at the front of this race. Ethan Hawke is also a possibility for “Boyhood,” but his subtle, laid-back performance is all too likely to go under the radar.

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette

Arquette, for her tender and all-too-real performance in “Boyhood,” should be a lock. The other nominees have clear weaknesses: Laura Dern was excellent in “Wild,” but the movie has no buzz, and Meryl Streep was only nominated for “Into the Woods” because she’s Meryl Streep. This one is Arquette’s to lose.

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