Oscars cliffhanger: Which races will point way to Best Picture winner?

While 17 of our 29 Experts are predicting that “Birdman” is going to win Best Picture, a dozen of them expect “Boyhood” to prevail. Conversely, our Editors — who did better than the Oscarologists last year by predicting 23 of the 24 races (versus 21 for the Experts) — are split 4 to 3 in favor of Boyhood.” Also favoring “Boyhood” by a vote of 12 to 11 are our Top 24 Users, those readers who did the best predicting last year’s winners. The final member of that elite two dozen is predicting an upset by “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” 

Though we will have to wait till the end of the three-hour plus kudocast to find out which group is right, there will be several signs along the way of the relative strength and weakness of the two frontrunners as well as that potential spoiler. 

RELATED: Make your Oscar predictions, win $1,000

We are predicting that “Boyhood” will win two races handily: Supporting Actress (Patricia Arquette) and Film Editing. 

Likewise, we expect “Birdman” to take two before the big one: Director (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu) and Cinematography. 

And “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is forcast to win four awards: Original Screenplay (Wes Anderson), Costume Design, Makeup & Hairstyling and Production Design.

RELATED: Odds for winners and nominees in ALL 24 categories

So, if “Birdman” leading man Michael Keaton pulls off a victory in Best Actor over frontrunner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything“) that could mean trouble for “Boyhood.” Remember, the actors branch (1,150 of the academy’s 6,124 voters) loved “Birdman” so much that it reaped bids in three of the four acting categories. Could that love be enough to carry it over the finish line first in other races like the two sound awards, too? And will that translate into high enough placement on the preferential ballot to make it to the final two? If so, will it face “Boyhood” or “The Grand Budapest Hotel” in a showdown for Best Picture? 

Likewise, if “Boyhood” takes Original Screenplay over frontrunner “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” that could point the way to it being ranked very high on the most Best Picture ballots. 

RELATED: Odds for winners and nominees in ALL 24 categories

Conversely, if “Boyhood” loses Film Editing toWhiplash” — which pulled off an upset at Saturday’s Spirit Awards — that may signal its support is not as strong as we thought. 

And if “The Grand Budapest Hotel” adds other Oscars to its early haul, with a surprise win in Score or an upset in Film Editing, then Best Picture is looking even more certain. 

Make your Oscars picks now — click here — or scroll down to predict the Best Picture winner using our easy drag-and-drop menu. Best predictions will win $1,000 prize. And the 24 Users with the best scores advance to a team to compete against our Experts and Editors next year. See who’s in our current Top 24 and their early Oscar predictions. Meet the guy who won our contest to predict Oscar nominations this year — and learn how he did it and how you can be our next Gold Derby superstar. Register/log in to your account so you can also compete to predict the Emmys, Academy of Country Music Awards, “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” and more.

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