Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Picture

Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Picture

In the final part of our Oscars previews, we turn our eyes to the main prize

As we lead up to the 87th Academy Awards, our Film Reviews Editor Emma Simmonds makes her predictions on this year's likely Oscar winners. Here, we look at the contenders for Best Picture (last year's winner: 12 Years a Slave).

Best Picture

The nominees:
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

What we say: It may seem an obvious remark but, when it comes to Best Picture, the Academy likes a worthy winner – that's usually worthy in an earnest sense as opposed to brimming with dynamism or diversity, although last year's winner 12 Years a Slave managed all three, and there have been a few other notable choices in recent years (The Artist, The Hurt Locker, No Country for Old Men).

And so to this year's line-up: it's tipped to pick up awards elsewhere but The Grand Budapest Hotel can be discounted for the top gong as, beautifully crafted though it is, it's ultimately frivolous; the in-your-face indie Whiplash is unlikely to chime with Academy voters (average age 63 and, incidentally, 94% white and 76% male); American Sniper may prove too divisive, though its enormous domestic box office haul won't harm its chances; Selma's lack of nominations elsewhere (save for Original Song) indicates scant support, possibly down to a late-in-the-game awards campaign; and although the pair of heartstring-tugging Brits The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything could've been contenders, the former in particular looks to be flagging and they may cancel each other out. It's looking like a scrap between the certainly worthy Boyhood and the joint-most-nominated-film Birdman (which won at the PGA Awards, a key indicator). Both are possibilities but Boyhood's absence of cynicism, extraordinary 12-year production process and universal appeal might nudge it ahead. Just don't bet the house on it.

As to who we'd like to win, the strength of the field has us torn. American Sniper, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game contain awe-inspiring performances but are real stories shorn of their inconvenient truths. Discounting those, some great options remain. Birdman would make a thrillingly subversive winner, given how bitchy and avant-garde it is, but we'll plump for Boyhood too – a truly momentous and heartwarming achievement, though Selma, Whiplash and The Grand Budapest Hotel were five-star favourites. If Mr Turner was here, it would be a different story.

The likely winner: Boyhood
The List's winner: Boyhood
Shoulda been contenders: Mr Turner, Foxcatcher, Gone Girl

Predicting the Oscars 2015: Best Director, Best Actress / Actor, Best Supporting Actress / Actor, Best Adapted / Original Screenplay.

See the full list of Oscar 2015 nominees.

Watch the 87th Academy Awards live on Sky Movies Oscars Sun 22 Feb from 11.30pm.

12 Years a Slave Wins Best Picture: 2014 Oscars