oscar-statue17-114x300

The final ballots have been cast and the bean counters at PriceWaterhouseCoopers are currently totting up the votes. So with the clock ticking down to Sunday night’s ceremony, to be hosted amid the usual Hollywood glitz and razzmatazz by actor-comedian Neil Patrick Harris, we’re going to predict the major winners, sorting out the dead certs and the close calls … and revealing the films and stars who would win if we had our way.

Best Film
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash

Alejandro G Iñárritu’s fizzing backstage farce Birdman and Wes Anderson’s quirky period comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel lead the Oscar nomination field with nine apiece, closely followed by the gripping Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game on eight, but despite fewer nominations (six) this year’s Best Film frontrunner is Richard Linklater’s stunning coming-of-age drama Boyhood.

Will win: Boyhood
Could win: Birdman
Should win: Boyhood
Who’s missing: Nightcrawler

Director
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro G I Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

This is a head to head between Linklater and Iñárritu. Both directors pulled off extraordinary technical feats with their films, but will the Oscar voters be more impressed by Linklater’s stamina, shooting his tale over a period of 12 years, or Iñárritu’s sleight of hand, making Birdman appear to have been shot in a single take? The race will go right to the wire. Bafta-winner Linklater certainly has form, but with his win at the Directors Guild of America Iñárritu will probably just sneak home first.

Will win: Alejandro G Inarritu (Birdman)
Could win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Should win: Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Who’s missing: Mike Leigh (Mr Turner)

Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

The Oscars typically reward actors who have put themselves through a remarkable physical transformation, especially if it involves disability – think Daniel Day-Lewis with My Left Foot – which bodes well for Redmayne’s portrayal of Stephen Hawking. They are also suckers for comeback stories, which favours Keaton’s go-for-broke performance as a frazzled movie star in Birdman, but the odds are that Redmayne will pip him and fellow Brit Benedict Cumberbatch at the post.

Will win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Could win: Michael Keaton (Birdman)
Should win: Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)
Who’s missing: David Oyewolo (Selma)

Actress
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Julianne Moore’s moving portrayal of an academic suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s has picked up almost every gong going this year, including awards from the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globes. She is a dead cert to pick up her first Oscar, which means no joy for home-grown favourites Rosamund Pike and Felicity Jones.

Will win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Could win: No one else has a chance
Should win: Julianne Moore (Still Alice)
Who’s missing: Scarlett Johansson (Under the Skin)

Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J K Simmons, Whiplash

Best known for playing Juno’s dad and Spider-Man’s boss, veteran character actor J K Simmons is electrifying as the bullying music teacher in Whiplash and is the one to beat this year. Edward Norton’s bravura turn as a narcissistic Method actor in Birdman will also pick up votes, as will Mark Ruffalo, marvellous as a wrestler in Foxcatcher. Robert Duvall makes history at the age of 84 as the oldest ever Supporting Actor nominee but looks a very unlikely winner.

Will win: J K Simmons (Whiplash)
Could win: Edward Norton (Birdman)
Should win: Mark Ruffalo (Foxcatcher)
Who’s missing: Channing Tatum (Foxcatcher)

Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Laura Dern, Wild

This is another one-horse race, which is bad news for Meryl Streep, who picked up a record-breaking 19th acting nomination at the Oscars for Into the Woods, and for Keira Knightley, gaining a second Oscar nod for The Imitation Game. Neither has a hope of beating first-time nominee Patricia Arquette, whose deeply touching 12-year portrayal of a single mother in Boyhood makes her the clear favourite.

Will win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Could win: Everyone else is an also ran
Should win: Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)
Who’s missing: Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)

And the other Oscars go to:

Original Screenplay
Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Adapted Screenplay
Will win: The Imitation Game

Animation
Will win: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Foreign Film
Will win: Ida

Documentary
Will win: Citizenfour

Score
Will win: The Theory of Everything

Original Song
Will win: ‘Glory’ (Selma)

Cinematography
Will win: Birdman

Editing
Will win: Boyhood

Production Design
Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Costume
Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Make-up
Will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Visual Effects
Will win: Interstellar

Sound Mixing
Will win: American Sniper

Sound Editing
Will win: American Sniper

Animated Short
Will win: Feast

Documentary Short
Will win: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Live Short
Will win: The Phone Call