Over the past few years, I have offered predictions for all 24 contested categories at the Academy Awards, as a public service to you, my faithful readers who might need a bit of an edge in their Oscar pool.
Nobody wins their Oscar pool by just getting the top categories right. No, you need guidance on the categories nobody knows about: Best documentary feature. Animated short. Live action short. Sound mixing.
That's why I offer predictions in all 24 categories. Feel free to steal my predictions — or to reject them. Although past results do not predict future performance, last year I got 22 right.
But that was my best year. In a typical year, I'll get 17 or so right.
I've broken this year's Oscars into two categories: The virtual locks and the races that still seem competitive. In today's first installment, let's take care of the easy work and focus on the categories in which it seems to be all over but the acceptance speech — and that covers half of the Oscars.
I'll post the remainder of the Oscar predictions sometime Friday.
Ready? Here we go with the relatively easy picks:
• Actress: Julianne Moore, "Still Alice."
• Supporting actor: J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash."
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• Supporting actress: Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood."
• Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki, "Birdman." You might recall that last year, Lubezki won for "Gravity." Give the guy points for range.
• Costume design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
• Production design: "The Grand Budapest Hotel."
• Editing: "Boyhood." It used to be that the award went hand-in-hand with the best picture Oscar. That's not so true anymore.
• Song: "Glory." Consider it the consolation prize for "Selma." And that means that "The Lego Movie" will go home empty-handed.
• Documentary feature: "Citizenfour," the documentary about whistleblower Edward Snowden. Again, I urge you to make a point of seeing at least one documentary a year — we live in a golden age for documentaries.
• Foreign language film: "Ida," from Poland. Bitter experience has taught me this lesson about the Oscars: Bet against a Holocaust-themed movie at your own risk. And "Ida" boasts another nomination as well, for cinematography, which gives it an edge.
• Animated short: "Feast," a cute Disney offering. (I saw all five nominees, and have to say that this was not the strongest year for this category.)
• Sound editing: "American Sniper."
That gets us half of the way on your Oscar ballot. I'll check in with the other dozen categories on Friday, including a gut-wrenching pick in what could be the closest race of all: Best picture. Here's a tip: You're wasting your vote if you cast it for anything other than "Birdman" or "Boyhood," but it's very tight between those two.