Editors’ Note: This story was originally published Wednesday.

Pete HammondOK, here’s the moment you have been waiting for. Or maybe not. My Oscars predictions. Although many of these categories are Sure Things (I will tell you which ones by noting them as we go along), a remarkable number of them are still up in the air, and I find myself torn between two contenders, sometimes even three. This is a remarkably fluid year for the Oscars, and it begins with a Best Picture race that is a nail-biter right down to the opening of the envelope.

I have to confess I am not a big fan of the prediction game, unlike some other pundits who seem to live or die by this stuff. I am much more interested in writing about the behind-the-scenes machinations and the work itself rather than the mundane what’s up/what’s down/what’s gonna win/what should win. As this week progresses, the white noise of which names will be in those envelopes increases.

That said, I know some of you will take this ballot and bet your lunch money on it, so I will repeat that I am not responsible if  you lose your office or party pool. These predictions are also solely that — predictions — not necessarily my personal opinions of what should win. We all have those. After six months (nine, if you count Cannes) of a grueling campaign, this is simply where I think the momentum is, where the votes most likely have gone (polls closed yesterday), and who makes the final cut based on a mix of precursor awards from the guilds, BAFTA, the earlier critics awards including the Golden Globes and the uncannily predictive Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, plus my own hunches at this point.

To make this interesting for myself, I am more inclined to go out on a limb, but that usually doesn’t work out. If you want to win a pool — and isn’t that what this is all about? — this is the way to go. Drumroll, please.

American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory Of Everything

birdman-boyhood-sag-nominations-600x450After all this time you might think this one would be easier to call. The guilds, the best indicator of where Oscar winds are blowing, have pretty much gone in lockstep with Birdman. But BAFTA, also an excellent gauge, dissed it and went with Boyhood, the presumed favorite after it swept so many critics groups, the CCMAs and the Globes. This is heartbreakingly close, isn’t it? Do you go with the film that dazzled with its audacity and technical brilliance or the one with heart, emotion and real life? Or with this being the one category where the Academy’s preferential voting system comes into play, could something else upset the applecart? Definitely — especially if one of these films is a solid No. 2 choice for many voters. It’s consensus we are looking for here, and we don’t have it from collectively adding up all the precursors. If I had to base it solely on talking to Academy members, I would give it to Whiplash. But could that movie with no directing nomination at the Oscars or DGA really pull off a shocker? The only film to have done that without at least one of those directing nominations is 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy. I don’t have the nerve. My rule of thumb is stick with the guilds.

The Winner: Birdman

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory Of Everything

This is another edge-of-your-seat category this year. It started with about 30 viable contenders and then came down to these five. The common wisdom is it is between Keaton and Redmayne. They both won Globes. Keaton swept the CCMAs, but Redmayne took SAG and BAFTA — very strong indicators. The feeling is Keaton, at 63 and only getting his first nomination, may be owed this. Redmayne has lots of chances to win; Keaton doesn’t. But Redmayne has also done a masterful job on the circuit this year and worked tirelessly charming voters. That counts. Plus, let’s face it, he has the role and he does Stephen Hawking proud. Logically though, if you pick Birdman, a movie about actors , to win Best Picture, shouldn’t one of tthe-theory-of-everything-eddie-redmayne-2hose actors come along for the ride? Keaton would be the one. Or maybe the two frontrunners split and the only nominee who isn’t a first-timer sneaks in at the last minute and takes the prize. Bradley Cooper, now nominated three years in a row, could absolutely do this. It would be a way to reward the astounding success of American Sniper too. But again those guilds come into play. The last 10 actors to win at SAG , won here also. Take the safe route.

The Winner:  Eddie Redmayne, The Theory Of Everything

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLEImage (10) whiplash-miles-teller__140206211231-275x183.jpg for post 677953
Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

This has belonged to Simmons practically since the film debuted at Sundance over a year ago. SURE THING.

The Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLEstill-alice-julianne-moore-slice
Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones in The Theory Of Everything
Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon in Wild

And this award has belonged to Julianne Moore practically from the first screening at Toronto in September. A five-time nominee, she’s way overdue and plays a victim of early-onset Alzheimer’s. SURE THING.

The Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Laura Dern in Wild
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep in Into The Woods

All terrific performances here, but Arquette is in a league of her own with this completely unique performance, a role she made so touchingly funny, sad and, most importantly, real. SURE THING.

The Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING67th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards - Show
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Another killer of a category.  Most people though Linklater’s incredible feat with Boyhood  takes this. But Birdman and Gonzalez Inarritu’s equally incredible feat won DGA, and although Oscar has disagreed seven times in the past, I don’t think they will this year. There’s talk about splitting Picture and Director between the two films, and that could happen as it did due to circumstances the past two years, but likely not this time. Safe to go with DGA.

The Winner: Alejandro G. Inarritu, Birdman

Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How To Train Your Dragon 2
Song Of The Sea
The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

Big Hero 6  has impressively won big at some below-the-line guild contests while How To Train Your Dragon 2 cleaned up at the Globes and the Annie Awards. It’s definitely a race, and both have spent big to get their message across. A squeaker.

The Winner: The Lego Movie  (sorry,  forgot).  The REAL Winner: How To Train Your Dragon 2

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILMtimbuktu-cannes-2014-6
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Tangerines (Estonia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)

Just about any one of these films could win. This is a very difficult category to call, especially since rules were changed to allow all members to vote and even watch on screeners sent to them by the Academy. Ida had a head start and became an unlikely art house hit. Plus Poland’s never won. Wild Tales is the most vivid and funny, but does it play as well on a screener as it does with a crowd? And comedies aren’t usually in the winners circle here. Timbuktu is a stunner and very relevant to the world today. Leviathan is a triumph only for the fact that this critical film even got submitted by Russia, overcoming its detractors in that country. Tangerines is a film with classic Academy appeal. So toss a coin. Mine came up Mauritania on a hunch.

The Winner: Timbuktu (Mauritania)

American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory Of Everything

I am tempted to go with Whiplash here but the screenplay is probably not the key reason Oscar voters seem to love this film so much. And maybe the fact it made this category on a technicality won’t be a factor one way or another (it’s not really an adaptation, but in order to get it financed they turned an 18-minute scene into a short and the Academy deemed that “previously published material”). That aside, this is the category where they can “honor the man” by “honoring the movie,” a film members have repeatedly told me they loved, so WGA winner Graham Moore will  take it for his Alan Turing story The Imitation Game.

The Winner: The Imitation Game, Graham Moore

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Academy takes the word “original” seriously in this category.  Last year it went to the offbeat Her from Spike Jonze. Though this is extremely competitive with two Best Picture lead candidates, Boyhood and Birdman, battling it out here too, I think this is finally a perfect opportunity to go a little quirkier and give it to WGA and BAFTA winner Wes Anderson  for being reliably original.

The Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner

Chivo takes it two years in a row.  Plus Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki just won ASC to add a cherry on top. SURE THING.

The Winner: Birdman

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into The Woods
Mr. Turner

Budapest SURE THING.

The Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days In Vietnam
The Salt Of The Earth

A lot of people think the Edward Snowden docu Citizenfour is indeed a sure thing here. I don’t. But if you want to win your pool play this conservatively and go with the presumed frontrunner. On the other hand, every now and then you have to go out on a limb and take a shot. And consider that the moving Virunga has Netflix behind it and they are spending millions to win this. I don’t know. The bigger question is did everyone who is voting here see all five? The Academy sent screeners three weeks ago. If they did, I don’t see how Rory Kennedy’s magnificent Last Days In Vietnam could lose. That said, there’s no money behind that PBS docu. All of these films are simply great this year. What to do, what to do?

The Winner: Citizenfour

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth

Frontrunner is presumed to be HBO’s fine Crisis Hotline. It’s very good. But the emotional corker of a film is Poland’s Joanna  about a dying mother’s last gifts to her family. It’s not in English, it’s slow going for the first few minutes, but it’s also unforgettable. Sometimes that wins Oscars against all odds.

The Winner: Joanna

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

The editors themselves gave their ACE Eddie to the remarkable achievement of Sandra Adair in putting together 12 years of footage for Boyhood and helping it to become a masterpiece. BAFTA went for the frenetic and thrilling pacing of Whiplash. It’s a toss-up, but how do you deny Boyhood this one?

The Winner: Boyhood

ACHIEVEMENT IN MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLINGImage (6) foxcatcher__140417132040.jpg for post 715288
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians Of The Galaxy

Hmmm. Another toss-up. If Budapest continues its sweep in the craft categories it could be pulled in here. This also could be a place though to honor a beloved summer blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy just simply because Academy members liked the movie as much as everyone else. Or — and this has been the trend often in this category — it could go to the smaller film that worked in concert with a nominated actor, such as Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto’s transformation in Dallas Buyers Club last year. I think that will happen again this time around for Foxcatcher, which has those two nominated performances from Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo that were also major makeup achievements as well.

The Winner: Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Theory Of Everything

Alexandre Desplat has two nominations this year — for Budapest and Imitation Game — and both are Best Picture nominees which helps to increase their odds. He has now been nominated eight times and never won — yet. But I don’t think that’s a factor. Only the title of the film, not his name, appears on the ballot. The Theory Of Everything with a first nomination for Johann Johansson is the big threat here, but in the end I think love for Budapest gets Desplat his first trip to the Oscar stage.

The Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

“Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
“Glory” from Selma
“Grateful” from Beyond The Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me
“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

This is a very strong category, and there could be an upset as all these songs are great, but not likely. This is where the Academy is bound and determined to honor Selma beyond its Best Picture nomination. It’s hard to imagine John Legend and Common being denied, especially after that memorable speech by Common when they won the Golden Globe. “Glory” it is unless… there is a sentimental vote for Alzheimer’s victim Glen Campbell and his moving “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” And even though the names of the songwriters don’t appear on the ballot, Campbell’s does since it is in the title of his movie.

The Winner: “Glory” from Selma

The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into The Woods
Mr. Turner

Another notch in the belt of Budapest as Academy members keep checking in. SURE THING.

The Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILMfeast disney short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me And My Moulton
A Single Life

If there is any justice, Disney wins this for the wonderful Feast. Then again just last year there was no justice when the wildly inventive and great Disney Mickey Mouse toon Get A Horse inexplicably lost to some French thing I can’t remember. I have noticed a lot of pundits choosing the endlessly depressing The Bigger Picture which is certainly arty enough to win I guess. But it would be wrong. Whatever happened to toons that actually made you laugh?

The Winner: Feast

Boogaloo And Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)
The Phone Call

In a not terribly distinguished list of films, the standout delight is BAFTA winner Boogaloo And Graham, about two boys and their pet chickens. Inspired. The Phone Call could win because of the immaculate performances of Sally Hawkins and her conversation with the suicidal Jim Broadbent, who is simply brilliant in a strictly voice-over role. But this award should probably be about more than acting and Boogaloo allows members to lighten up a little.

The Winner: Boogaloo And Graham

American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)
The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies

If they are truly in love with Birdman this will be an early indication, but I am guessing this is the place to honor American Sniper as war films do very well in this category.

The Winner: American Sniper

American Sniper
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

Here’s another chance to honor Sniper or Birdman. They split the vote and Whiplash,  the BAFTA winner, takes this one. But it’s close.

The Winner: Whiplash

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Guardians Of The Galaxy
X-Men: Days Of Future Past

Fox has been spending a lot in trade ads to bring this one home for those Apes, and a win would be highly deserving. But there have been how many Apes movies in the past half century and none have managed a win in this category. So this could be the place to honor Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar or finally throw a bone to Guardians Of The Galaxy. It’s a hard call but…

The Winner: Guardians Of The Galaxy

Good luck to all.