I have completed and submitted my Oscar pool ballot, and I'm nervous. Very nervous - because I changed my pick. Two actually. The big two.
I base my picks on who WILL WIN, not who DESERVES to win. That's what an Oscar pool is all about.
In breaking down the big six categories, let's get the easy stuff out of the way.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Particia Arquette - Boyhood
Laura Dern - Wild
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman
Meryl Streep - Into The Woods
Solid performances by Dern and Knightley, but not Oscar winning. Streep is always great, but this isn't her year (or her Best Actress category). Stone will win one day, but not for this. Patricia Arquette aged 12 years right before our eyes and is the glue to Boyhood. She's a lock.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Duvall is a legend and always delivers, but he's in fifth place here. Hawke, Norton and Ruffalo are all excellent, but they picked the wrong Oscar year. If J.K. Simmons doesn't take home a gold statue, then I don't know who's voting. Lock.
Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
I feel bad for Rosamund Pike. She's excellent in Gone Girl, but the movie came out too early and it's just not the Academy's speed. Felicity Jones is very good and will be back, but she's not winning. Reese shows no signs of Elle Woods and gives a heck of a performance. Marion Cotillard could read the phone book for two hours and I'd watch...the Academy loves her. But this is Julianne Moore's Oscar to lose...the part is depressing and she's got the goods.
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Has there ever been a more likable Best Actor nominee list? Carell is fantastically creepy, but this won't be his year. Cumberbatch is ALWAYS good and deservedly getting his due, but not enough here for a win. Cooper isn't getting enough praise for his portrayal of Chris Kyle, but he finishes third. Everyone loves how Keaton's life seems to parallel Batman, I mean, Birdman an awful lot and he shows his range all over New York City. His only problem is he's up against a Brit playing a genius who becomes handicapped, and that's tough to beat any Oscar year. Eddie wins by a nose.
Alejandro G. Inarritu - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game
Congrats on your nominations Miller and Tyldum and thanks for coming. I will see any Wes Anderson movie, but he's not winning either. This is a two-horse race, and Hollywood thinking got me to change my pick. Richard Linklater is a Top Five all-time director for me. I love everything he does and have the ultimate respect for what he did with Boyhood. And I think he will be rewarded with Best Picture. But not Best Director - that's going to go to Inarritu. He follows Ang Lee and Alfonso Cuaron who both took home statues, but for their directing and not their film.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
If there's more than one word in the title this year, you're out. And Selma is not going to win. That leaves Birdman, Boyhood and Whiplash. Whiplash was my favorite movie of the year, but I don't think it can win the Oscar. J.K. Simmons will represent.
I've gone back and forth on Birdman and Boyhood. I liked both films a lot, but I'm trying to think like an Oscar voter. I think the scope of Boyhood's filmmaking will eclipse the shots and percussion of Birdman, and all the work Richard Linklater put in will pay off with a Best Picture win.
So those are my Top Six picks. I hope my flip-flop pays off.