Oscar gold

A guide to the predicted winners of this year's Academy Awards.

Mary Strother, Writer

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This Sunday night Hollywood Boulevard will be flashing with lights, fancy gowns and slick tuxedos. The Dolby Theatre in Hollywood will host the 87th Annual Academy Awards at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on Feb. 22. Aside from the fun glitz and glamor of the event, the Oscars are a chance to honor the best of the year’s films, performers and collaborators who helped create movie magic. With first time nominees and past winners among the selected contenders this year, the race comes close in many of the major categories. You have come to right place, however, if you want to win your Oscar ballot. I predict the winners in the four major categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.

Best Picture

screenjunkies.com

A much tougher race than last year, this category comes down to two heavyweights — “Birdman” and “Boyhood.” The former took home the prestigious awards of the Producers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. This makes it the one to beat, but the scope of “Boyhood,” filmed over 12 years, might win over voters with its depth of emotion. I call a “Birdman” win here tentatively, but do not be surprised if “Boyhood” swoops in at the last moment.

Prediction — “Birdman”

Best Director

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The directors of the two aforementioned films, Richard Linklater and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, remain the favorites in this category. While Inarritu has the Directors Guild Award already under his belt for the technical bravura shown in “Birdman,” Linklater is an admired director who has never received the nomination for the big award. Again I think the tradition of the Directors Guild award winner taking home the Oscar will prevail here, but I also would not be surprised at an upset from Linklater.

Prediction — Alejandro González Iñárritu

Best Actor

Again — a close call. For months it seemed as though Michael Keaton had the edge; he plays a struggling actor attempting to go back to his roots in “Birdman,” and the Academy thrives off of meta performances like the excellent one he delivered. But then came British biopic “The Theory of Everything,” in which Eddie Redmayne portrays Stephen Hawking in a remarkable way — to the point where the actor disappears fully into the role. After taking home the Screen Actors Guild Award, I think the Oscar statue will land in Redmayne’s hands, but this is still a tough category.

Prediction — Eddie Redmayne

Best Actress

Los Angeles Times
latimes.com

One of the locks of the night, Julianne Moore has earned every accolade available so far for her role as a university professor struggling with Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.” Nominated for an Oscar four times since 1998, Moore’s recognition is long overdue and will surely claim the gold this year.

Prediction — Julianne Moore

Whether or not my predictions are correct, I sincerely hope you all tune in to the Oscars this Sunday to see who takes home the ultimate prize in every category. This final act of the 2014-2015 awards season will help us immortalize many of the best performances and films.

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Oscar gold