Who are the early favorites? The spoilers? The trivia tidbits that will make you the life of your Oscar party? Read on.
Sizing up the best picture contenders
▪ “Birdman”: This dark, inventive comedy is our pick to win.
▪ “Boyhood”: A 12-year filmmaking feat or a 3-hour bore?
▪ “The Grand Budapest Hotel”: Lots of noms, but too quirky for the big prize.
▪ “The Imitation Game”: Oscar loves true stories of troubled souls, but buzz isn’t huge.
▪ “The Theory of Everything”: Best actor a strong possibility, but not best picture.
▪ “Selma”: The lack of acting or directing noms is a huge obstacle.
▪ “Whiplash”: It will have to settle for a supporting actor win.
▪ “American Sniper”: See “The Imitation Game,” but add a layer of controversial machismo.
Early favorite: Julianne Moore, as a woman suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s, seemed to have this locked since she wowed the Toronto International Film Festival in September. But few regular folks have seen this film (which doesn’t arrive in KC until Feb. 13).
Spoiler: “Gone Girl” Rosamund Pike, a first-time nominee, may get the sympathy vote for her snubbed film.
Did you know: This is Moore’s fifth nomination, but she has never won.
Early favorites: Oscar loves crazy (Michael Keaton). And afflicted (Eddie Redmayne). And persecuted (Benedict Cumberbatch). This is the toughest category of the bunch, but Keaton was such a surprise he has the edge.
Spoilers: Oscar also loves actors who play against type, a la Steve Carell.
Did you know: Bradley Cooper is the 15th performer ever to be nominated three years in a row. He’s up against a bunch of first-timers.
Early favorite: Patricia Arquette has her first Oscar nomination and a likely win.
Spoiler: Laura Dern was a warm surprise as Reese Witherspoon’s mom in “Wild.” She was also a surprise nominee.
Did you know: Meryl Streep continues to break her own record; this is her 19th Oscar nomination. She has won three times. None of the others have won.
Early favorite: Like Patricia Arquette, veteran character actor J.K. Simmons, perhaps best known for his insurance commercials, is a first-time nominee and likely winner.
Spoilers: Edward Norton and Ethan Hawke may ride their movies’ coattails.
Did you know: At 84, Robert Duvall is now the oldest male acting nominee ever, surpassing Hal Holbrook, who was nominated when he was just shy of 83.
Early favorite: Richard Linklater spent 12 YEARS filming his young star grow up in “Boyhood.” Expect the academy to be impressed. This is his first directing nod (he was nominated twice for writing).
Spoiler: Alejandro Inarritu created all kinds of awesome.
Did you know: This is Wes Anderson’s eighth feature film, but the first to get directing or picture nods.
Sharon Hoffmann, firstname.lastname@example.org