The 87th Oscars

The OscarsWill it be a coming-of-age tale, a war movie, a civil rights drama, or a story about a washed-up actor trying to make a comeback? Or perhaps something else?

Eight films will vie for best picture at the 87th Academy Awards this Sunday, set to take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. They are: “Boyhood,” “American Sniper,” “Selma,” “Birdman,” “Whiplash,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Imitation Game” and “The Theory of Everything.”

BirdmanEarly signs indicate that “Birdman” could be set for the big win after picking up a lot of honors already during awards season (including Producers Guild Award, Directors Guild Award and Screen Actors Guild Award). In fact, in the 21 years that all three awards have been awarded to the same movie, only once did that move not go on to win best picture at the Oscars (and that was Apollo 13). But you never know what the Academy is thinking; American Sniper has a lot of buzz from being a top box-office hit.

Best picture isn’t the only category to watch out for come Sunday night. Buzz is building around best actor with nominees Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper”), Michael Keaton (“Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game”) and Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”).

Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of EverythingThe last 10 winners of the Screen Actors Guild Award for best actor went on to win the Oscar, and Radmayne won the SAG for his transformative performance as scientist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything”. But in a year which has Bradley Cooper, who plays Navy SEAL Chris Kyle “American Sniper” (which makes for his 3rd consecutive nomination following “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle”), I’m not sure it is possible to predict what will happen.

Julianne Moore - Still AliceThe best actress category seems to be a lock for Julianne Moore. Her performance as a woman with Alzheimer’s disease in “Still Alice” has received award after award this season, topping fellow nominees Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything”), Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”), Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl”) and Marion Cotillard (“Two Days, One Night”).

For the best supporting actress category, all bets are on Patricia Arquette for “Boyhood,” who is competing against Emma Stone (“Birdman”), Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods”), Laura Dern (“Wild”) and Keira Knightley (“The Imitation Game”). The best supporting actor category has nominees Mark Ruffalo (“Foxcatcher”), Edward Norton (“Birdman”), J.K. Simmons (“Whiplash”), Robert Duvall (“The Judge”) and Ethan Hawke (“Boyhood”) and all indications are that J.K. Simmons is going to win an Oscar.

The best director category race is a close one with nominees Morten Tyldum (“The Imitation Game”), Bennett Miller (“Foxcatcher”), Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”), Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) and Wes Anderson (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”).

Neil Patrick HarrisWhen Neil Patrick Harris hosts the show, you know you’re in for a good time. His song-and-dance moves at the Tonys — which he’s hosted four times — have earned raves. He plans to top Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie from last year’s Oscars. We know that he will perform an original musical sequence written by Oscar-winning duo Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez who are famous for bringing us “Frozen”.

A star-studded list of presenters, including several previous Oscar winners, will be on hand at the ceremony. The 42 people scheduled to hand out awards Sunday range from 80-year-old Shirley MacLaine to 18-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz.

Enjoy the show (and the red carpet)!

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