Oscars 2015: The Carpetbagger’s Predictions

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An Oscar statue on the red carpet of the 87th Academy Awards.Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Get your Oscar ballot ready. Here are the Bagger’s coin tosses and sure things and likely winners:

Best Picture

Pick: “Birdman”

Contender: “Boyhood”

This one’s a nail-biter, folks: It could go either way. In a season that kicked off with no front-runner and drew kvetching from some quarters for supposedly lackluster offerings, Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” found its way to the head of the pack, charming critics and winning numerous critics’ awards and top industry prizes. By telling the story of a family over a dozen years through the eyes of its youngest member, “Boyhood” plainly yet movingly painted a rich picture of everyday American life.

There were questions, though, about whether the film’s seeming simplicity and lack of whiz-bang action would be enough to woo Academy voters. One answer seemed to come from the industry guilds, which gave Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s “Birdman,” about an actor who played a movie superhero in the throes of a midlife crisis, their top awards. Initially “Birdman” was deemed too arty and polarizing to be a serious contender, but its technical wizardry and minutes-long takes, and a story line about show business, actors and their attendant angst, earned the film passion votes.

“Boyhood” could win yet; it landed, after all, both a Golden Globe and the top award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. There is also the not-to-be discounted chance, quite slim, that a third contender, such as the megahit “American Sniper” or the Oscar bait “The Imitation Game,” could slip through a divided vote. (“Selma,” despite much discussion, is at this point an also-ran.)

But most bettors’ chips are on “Birdman.”

Best Director

Pick: Richard Linklater

Contender: Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

This is another tricky one to call and remains a bit of a coin toss. Alejandro G. Iñárritu won the Directors Guild of America prize this month for the high-wire act that is “Birdman.” The man who has long reveled in connecting disparate stories and nipping and tucking time gave himself and his cast members a stiff challenge with this: shoot minutes-long scenes in a film that seems free of any cuts. But Richard Linklater’s tenacity in filming his labor of love, “Boyhood,” annually drawing together his performers and crew to tell a story over the course of 12 years,…

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