Oscar® host Neil Patrick Harris at the Oscar® Nominees Luncheon in Beverly Hills Monday, February 2, 2015. Photo Credit: Phil McCarten / ©A.M.P.A.S.

Oscar® host Neil Patrick Harris at the Oscar® Nominees Luncheon. Photo Credit: Phil McCarten / ©A.M.P.A.S.

For nine years, Neil Patrick Harris impressed and horrified us with his snappy, deviant lines as Barney on How I Met Your Mother. This year, he’s hosting the Oscars and we’re all excited to see him in one tuxedoed piece post his (spoiler) massacre of an ending in Gone Girl — which left him in, let’s just say, slightly less formal attire. This year’s Oscars are fairly political, which could end up making it anyone’s game. We have the snub of Selma and resulting echoes of a lack of diversity (yes, this includes women), the controversy of American Sniper in the midst of a real life court case, and the gay rights message of The Imitation Game during Alabama’s tumultuous back-and-forth war over gay marriage legalization. Despite predictions that fewer viewers will tune in than last year due to many not having seen the films, the Oscars are bound to be eventful. Fan favorites for awards include Birdman, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, but here are GALO’s predictions for how the Oscars will shake out:

BEST PICTURE: Birdman — or as it is also known, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

It’s the movie that’s achieved accolades with the Screen Actors Guild, Independent Spirit Awards, Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, National Board of Review and the American Film Institute. Statistically, no one would be surprised if Birdman continues its sweep and wins an Oscar as well. With an all-star cast of Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Zach Galifianakis and Naomi Watts, their collective creative minds have put forth a dark humored comedy-drama that’s both witty and introspective. Keaton plays a washed-up superhero actor attempting to revitalize his career with a Broadway adaptation.

Buzz: Aside from Boyhood, which is a clear favorite among critics, at least as a frontrunner of awards season, American Sniper seems to be a strong contender for Best Picture. However, “fake baby” might be its Achilles heel. In one scene of American Sniper, the emotionally fraught Bradley Cooper is shown cradling a baby with miraculously still posture. On closer inspection, the audience can see it’s a doll (the real infant called in sick). As a whole, it’s an incredibly thought provoking movie that’s received attention across polarizing political views. But the last-minute, gauche decision to use a doll — rather than wait another day to shoot with a real baby — will likely ensure its second place finish.

BEST ACTOR: Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

It would be considered the biggest upset of the Oscars if he wins over Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton, but Bradley Cooper’s role in American Sniper could make him the dark horse this year. This is Cooper’s third consecutive year being nominated for an Oscar. He’s come a long way from disheveled eye candy in The Hangover series, proving his acting chops with previous nominations for American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook. His portrayal of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was reportedly so accurate to the soldier’s dialect and personality that Kyle’s family has praised the mirroring. Cooper brings home the point that this isn’t just a war movie; it’s an analysis into the struggles of family life and the internal turmoil that comes from taking the life of another.

Buzz: Eddie Redmayne has won Best Actor at the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild awards, so he’s a strong possibility to take home an Oscar tonight. Quite impressive since, arguably, his biggest role prior to The Theory of Everything was a supporting one as Marius Pontmercy in Les Misérables. It’s been a milestone year for Redmayne who not only has received widespread praise for his transformative performance of Stephen Hawking’s battle with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), but has also tied the knot with his long-term girlfriend Hannah Bagshawe.

BEST ACTRESS: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Made in only 23 days for $4 million, Still Alice is a low-budget film with a large emotional impact. In her acceptance speech for Best Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards yesterday, Moore said that she brought her own bras and food to the set (because who knew that bras were provided on set?!). Moore plays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old Columbia University linguistics professor, who finds out she has early onset Alzheimer’s — and her performance is so convincing in its relentlessness to convince herself she won’t let an illness ruin her life that it’s downright heartbreaking to watch. Turns out that the Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild awards, BAFTA and the Broadcast Film Critics Association all think the same — she took home Best Actress at all four. Winning would be the ultimate comeback for Moore who has been nominated in this category four times previously, bereft of a trophy.

Buzz: Let’s see if Moore’s interior decorating skills match her film prowess: she helped design the backstage green room in conjunction with Architectural Digest. A 2012 issue of the magazine highlighted the garden in her New York home. After the red carpet reveal, nominees can use the Twitter camera for a star-studded selfie using the hashtag #ArchDigestGreenroom. Viewers can expect an “Old Hollywood” appeal that combines vintage starlet and comfortable lounge.

BEST DIRECTOR: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Carving its distinct mark in cinematic history, Linklater directed Boyhood over a 12-year period. While most films we know of attempt to shoot in as short a time frame as possible for cost cutting measures, this indie film is truly a labor of love.

Buzz: Sometimes the winner for Best Director is directly correlated with the film that wins Best Picture. In that case, Alejandro González Iñárritu of Birdman could bring home the prize.


In this Sundance Film Festival winner, Simmons plays a pretty terrifying music teacher who throws things across the band room and slaps his students when he finds their performance unsatisfactory (and you thought that the new NBC drama The Slap was going to be the most controversial part of your primetime routine). Here’s a sound bite to sum up his character: “There are no two words more harmful in the English language than ‘Good job.’” Yikes. Luckily, his ability to push his students to their best in Whiplash will more than likely push him to the top for his first Oscar.

Buzz: There’s some talk of Edward Norton making a play for the title if Birdman continues its winning streak, but Simmons is still the leading man with his vindictive character that we’re actually rooting for (sometimes the villain has to win, contrary to what Disney would have you believe).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

It’s undoubtedly difficult to be involved in a project for 12 years and keep up with the emotional wherewithal needed for a character’s longevity. But Arquette makes it look easy; so easy in fact that across the board the media is predicting that she’ll leave everyone with a great view of her dress as she climbs to the award podium for the umpteenth time this year.

Buzz: Noting her sweep of awards, it would be a huge upset if anyone else besides Arquette wins in this category. But who knows, the 19 times nominated and three time winning stunner Meryl Streep may be able to mount something else in her trophy case.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman

If Birdman has a first place finish in this category, it’ll be the second consecutive Oscar for Lubezki. He took home an Oscar for Gravity and with the trippy shots he’s achieved in both films, he’ll likely come out the champion.

Buzz: Unbroken, surprisingly, wasn’t nominated in that many categories, so this could be the sleeper hit, bringing a win for Roger Deakins.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN: Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel

The snappy style of the concierge suits and the crisp military uniforms make for an efficient wardrobe sewing up the fanciful plot of The Grand Budapest Hotel. It doesn’t hurt that Pharrell was sporting said attire at the Grammy’s during his performance of “Happyand that the bellhop appeal was decidedly hip. Canonero has been nominated in this category eight times previously. This is her third collaboration with Wes Anderson and they both have a solid chance of winning Oscars this year, if only because Anderson is angling for a comeback after previous nominations.

Buzz: Into the Woods and Maleficent are also strong candidates; fantasy movies tend to bring out the flashier outfits. Plus, who can really forget Angelina Jolie in that horned hat get-up?

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel

This would be the first Oscar win for Wes Anderson, who many agree is long overdue for the honor. Previously nominated for Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Royal Tenenbaums, he’s known for kitschy and provocative plot lines. It would also be the first Oscar for Guinness who shares the nominations for Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Royal Tenenbaums. In a year of fairly darker plot lines in the running, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a humorous beacon that could take the win.

Buzz: Birdman is a likely runner-up but it would be hard to beat the twists and turns of The Grand Budapest Hotel as it tackles three different time periods, overlapping storylines and admirable narration in a fantastical, imaginary European country.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley chronicles Alan Turing’s mathematical genius in cracking Nazi codes. A non-debatable war hero, Turing was then sent to jail in 1952 when it was discovered he was gay. The film is nominated for eight Oscars. What’s propelling The Imitation Game to the top of the list besides great writing is its vocal gay rights backing, with support from organizations like GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign as well as celebrities like Anderson Cooper.

Buzz: Damien Chazelle for Whiplash is a strong contender. While Chazelle is new to the Oscars buzz, the strong consensus for J.K. Simmons to win Best Supporting Actor could give the film allowances to win this category.

BEST FOREIGN FILM: Pawel Pawlikowski, Ida

Originating from Poland, Ida is a front-runner for more than it’s unique black and white cinematography in a predominantly multicolor industry: it’s taken the festival scene by storm. Besides winning Poland’s national film festival, it’s made a name for itself at Sundance as well as in London and Toronto. Plus, it just scored an Independent Spirit Award yesterday night. Set in the 1960s, the film chronicles a young woman about to take her vows as a nun, who unexpectedly embarks on a journey to find out the truth about her Jewish parents who had lived in a Holocaust environment.

Buzz: Argentinean Wild Tales is having one of the latest debuts in the theaters compared to its nominee counterparts, but its plot line has so many absurd turns that its scream for attention may just win the Oscar. Still, Ida opened in May 2014, so it has the advantage of greater publicity.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky, Citizenfour

No doubt that Citizenfour is a political film, so if it wins in this category, it’ll be a statement within itself. Chronicling Edward Snowden, the film involves journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald who are preparing to release confidential reports on the U.S. government’s operations. What this film offers is perhaps a necessary debate on the levels of national security America needs, and in the midst of a political Oscars, CitizenFour could take the gold.

Buzz: With its impressive range producing House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Netflix has made a name for itself with award-winning content distribution. In this respect, Virunga, the love child of Leonardo DiCaprio and Netflix, could be a show stealer. The documentary follows an endangered species of gorillas in Africa and the park rangers that aim to protect them.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE: Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold, How to Train Your Dragon 2

If you’ve talked to any child under the age of 12 about their favorite movie this year, the sequel to How to Train Your Dragon is undoubtedly going to come up as a favorite. In 2011, the original was nominated for Best Animated Feature for both the Oscars and the Golden Globes, 2015 could be the year to solidify the win.

Buzz: In its debut weekend, Big Hero 6 made $56 million. It’s hard to argue with that big of a commercial revenue, and so it could have some sway with the Academy this year.

Tune in to ABC at 7e/4p to watch the 87th Academy Awards and live carpet coverage!