The guilds, British Academy (BAFTA) and critics have all had their say. We're now four days from the 87th annual Academy Awards, so it's time to finally analyze the race for the wins. Most categories are fairly predictable, but there are some wildcards.

While I expect "The Grand Budapest Hotel" to take more than its share of craft categories, with "American Sniper" and possibly "Birdman" doing well, too, it's fair to say we won't be seeing a year like last year, where "Gravity" took six of 10 categories, and "The Great Gatsby" took two more.

More interesting is what I suspect will be a trend of repeat Oscar winners. I'm guessing the winners in most categories (Cinematography, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Visual Effects) will have already thanked the Academy before. While most of these winners would be deserving, several big names will still be waiting for their first statuettes. I'm hoping I'm wrong about some of this.

Let's consider…


Emmanuel Lubezki undoubtedly came close to winning this category for "Children of Men" and "The Tree of Life." Last year, he finally won an Oscar on his sixth nomination, for "Gravity." It seems all but certain that he'll now win two statuettes in a row for his BFCA/BAFTA/ASC-triumphant lensing of "Birdman." In addition to precursors, the fact is the film's photography is a tremendous part of its success and will live in film history.

Some day, Roger Deakins will win this category. He has to, right? And I'd say his epic lensing of "Unbroken" is second, if only because it is so epic. But it's a very distant second in a category where Lubezki is so far ahead. Dick Pope will have to be content with one of his Mike Leigh collaborations finally being recognized ("Mr. Turner") while Robert Yeoman ("The Grand Budapest Hotel") and the duo of Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski ("Ida") should simply savor their first nominations.

Will Win: "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)"
Could Win: "Unbroken"
Should Win: "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)" (But I really, really want to see Deakins with a statue in his hands.)


The legendary Milena Canonero is far ahead in this category for creating the world of the "Grand Budapest." (That purple is iconic.) Having won BAFTA, Costume Designers Guild and BFCA awards for this likely crafts category sweeper, I'm very confident Canonero will pick up statuette number four.

In a field consisting mostly of other past winners for films not as widely loved by AMPAS — Colleen Atwood ("Into the Woods"), Jacqueline Durran ("Mr. Turner") and Mark Bridges ("Inherent Vice") — her fourth win is unlikely to raise any eyebrows. Anna B. Sheppard ("Maleficent") will remain the sole non-winner in the category but that cannot be surprising for a summer film with no other nominations.

Will Win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Could Win: "Into the Woods"
Should Win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"


Now here's an interesting race — one of a few crafts categories that seems genuinely open. (The absence of BFCA winner "Birdman" from the final five will undoubtedly draw "Brokeback Mountain" comparisons if the film does not win the top prize.)

One would think Sandra Adair would be best-poised to win this category for the other major Best Picture contender, "Boyhood". She did win the ACE Eddie drama award (the film's sole guild prize outside of Patricia Arquette's SAG win) and one has to admire her 12-year effort. But while I think Adair will win, cases could be made for other contenders.

Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach put together notable suspenseful war movie elements in "American Sniper," a late breaker on the scene. A triumph here is possible and could be a sign of major upsets coming in Best Picture or Best Actor. Even more likely, in my opinion, "Whiplash" could pull a "Traffic" and win every non-Best Picture award for which it is nominated. This was an editing showcase and won the BAFTA.

Barney Pilling, despite an ACE Eddie win and setting a crisp pace, will likely need to be satisfied with his nomination for "The Grand Budapest Hotel." William Goldenberg seems least likely given that "The Imitation Game" appears to have stalled.

Will Win: "Boyhood"
Could Win: "Whiplash"
Should Win: "Whiplash"


So I realize creating monsters on a major blockbuster is a classic way to win here, so "Guardians of the Galaxy" has to be considered. And, yes, transforming a famous actor to make him unrecognizable can be a force to be reckoned with in this category, so let's not totally rule out "Foxcatcher."

But, really, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a design showcase, with period work, aging, birthmarks and tattoos to demonstrate the multi-faceted achievements of the makeup artists. When you also consider that it's won the BFCA and the BAFTA, and is the sole Best Picture nominee among the final three, its path to victory seems all but assured.

Will Win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Could Win: "Guardians of the Galaxy"
Should Win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

One of the trickier crafts categories to predict this year is Best Original Score. Jóhann Jóhannsson won the Globe for his soaring "Theory of Everything" score, while Alexandre Desplat has won the BAFTA (and the Grammy!) for his joyous compositions for "The Grand Budapest Hotel." Either could win the Oscar, but I'm giving the edge to Jóhannsson given the uniqueness of his score, the fact that first-time nominees frequently win when nominated, and that Desplat could encounter some vote-splitting problems, also being nominated for "The Imitation Game." (Though it should be noted, composer names aren't listed on the ballot, so this might not be a significant concern.)

Gary Yershon should be content having earned an inspired and surprising nomination for "Mr. Turner," while Hans Zimmer feels like he's just along for the ride for "Interstellar."

Will Win: "The Theory of Everything"
Could Win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Should Win: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"