Oscar Watch: Everyone's a winner among best picture nominees

Oscar Watch: Everyone's a winner among best picture nominees
A look at the eight best picture nominees and how they will likely fare at the Academy Awards Sunday night. (Warner Bros. Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures, IFC films, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Focus Features, Paramount Pictures, The Weinstein Co.)

This year at the Oscars, everyone's a winner. And we're not just talking about those $125,000 gift bags nominees will take home in their limos.

For the first time since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences expanded the best picture category six years ago, it looks as though every one of the movies nominated for the top prize is going to come away with at least one Oscar. It's like Little League, but with better-behaved parents.

So in this final edition of Oscar Watch, let's look at the eight best picture nominees and how they will likely fare Sunday night at the ceremony.

FULL COVERAGE: Oscars 2015

"American Sniper"

Oscar nominations: Picture, lead actor, film editing, sound editing, sound mixing, adapted screenplay

Will likely win: Sound editing

Could possibly win: Lead actor, adapted screenplay, sound mixing

There are three sure bets on Oscar night: Host Neil Patrick Harris will sing, presenter John Travolta will make a self-deprecating joke about "Adele Dazeem" and a handful of conservative culture warriors will decry the fact that Hollywood ignored "Sniper" because it didn't win best picture.

The academy gave Clint Eastwood's movie six nominations. Six! That's some serious love. And even if it wins only the sound editing Oscar (a pretty sure bet as war movies do well in that category), no one from that team is going to go away heartbroken. A $300-million take at the U.S. box office has a way of soothing disappointment.

And while the movie's star, Bradley Cooper, will probably come up short in his bid for the lead actor Oscar, I wouldn't want to bet against him the next time he's nominated. Cooper, who has emerged as a truly great talent with this run of "Silver Linings Playbook," "American Hustle" and now "Sniper," will be more than due.


Oscar nominations: Picture, director, supporting actor, supporting actress, original screenplay, film editing

Will likely win: Supporting actress, film editing

Could possibly win: Picture, director, original screenplay

"Boyhood" eventually crafted a campaign that highlighted the ambition and artistry behind its 12-year journey to the screen. But it came late, after way too many images of a young Ellar Coltrane lying in a field of grass. Yes, this is Hollywood. Everyone loves grass. Because, you know, amid the endless miles of concrete and asphalt, who doesn't enjoy getting back to nature at a park or a ... wait ... you didn't think I was talking about the other kind of grass, did you? Geez, just how many times did you watch "Inherent Vice"?

"The Imitation Game"

Oscar nominations: Picture, director, lead actor, supporting actress, adapted screenplay, film editing, production design, original score

Will likely win: Adapted screenplay

Could possibly win: Original score

After rousing festival screenings at Telluride and Toronto (where it took the audience prize), Harvey Weinstein believed he had a best picture winner with this period drama about Enigma code-breaker Alan Turing. The movie did earn eight nominations and a decent theatrical take ($157 million worldwide), but never did quite catch fire as a serious Oscar contender despite Weinstein's hard-sell tactics to "honor the man, honor the film." Not everyone appreciated the campaign. Grantland's Mark Harris called it "appalling." A more accurate label might be "typical." And the academy will indeed likely honor it, giving an Oscar to Graham Moore's lauded screenplay.


Oscar nominations: Picture, original song

Will likely win: Original song

Could possibly win: None

At the moment, there are nine (nine!) musical performances set for this year's Oscar show, 10 if you throw in host Harris' inevitable song-and-dance number. But since I'm on a roll predicting things here, I'll go out on a sturdy limb and forecast that Common and John Legend performing the majestic anthem "Glory" from "Selma" is the only song that will get people out of their seats. Its inevitable Oscar win will be deserved and a small way for voters to show their love to a movie that should have received more than two nominations.

Twitter: @glennwhipp