Oscars news: Any of 8 Best Picture nominees could win, people pick ‘American Sniper’ & Bradley Cooper

Writes Pete Hammond, “For the first time I can ever recall, I can actually make an argument — a legitimate argument — for each of the eight best picture nominees to win. Although ‘Birdman‘ and ‘Boyhood‘ appear to be in strong positions — with the wild card of the last-minute boxoffice hit ‘American Sniper’ clouding the picture — there is a scenario that could occur, and build on Oscar night, that indeed could end with any of those eight names being called. And the fact that the Academy has split between the best pic and best director winners in the past two years means added suspense. The Academy uses a preferential voting system designed to provide a so-called consensus winner when it comes to the best picture category; a close vote can result in a dark horse victory. So here, on a film-by-film basis, is how I am predicting victory for each of this year’s best picture nominees. For real.” Deadline

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

Michael Cieply & Brooks Barnes note, “With remarkable consistency, African-American viewers have showed up in large numbers to watch the Oscar broadcast when it featured a strong lineup of black nominees. But black viewers have gone missing when the core African-American presence was diminished, as it is this year. Notably, the stars and the director of a black-themed best picture contender, ‘Selma,’ were overlooked, provoking an immediate outcry that the Academy had slighted deserving black artists. While the black television audience is relatively small, ranging between about two million and five million Oscar viewers in each of the last 10 years, it fluctuates far more than a combined white and Hispanic audience that usually totals roughly 35 million. And those fluctuations have given black viewers a powerful vote in determining whether it is a good year — or not — for Oscar ratings.” New York Times

If the general populace picked the Oscar winners, the results would be much different according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll: “Twenty-eight percent of respondents said Bradley Cooper, a four-time Academy Award nominee, should win best actor for his depiction of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, in the Clint Eastwood-directed ‘American Sniper,’ based on the late Kyle’s autobiography. That was more than the percentage of respondents who saw the movie … Reese Witherspoon is tipped to take home her second Oscar for her role in ‘Wild,’ with the poll suggesting the Best Actress category will be a tight race between her and ‘Gone Girl”s Rosamund Pike.” Philly

See Oscar rankings when Experts’ predictions are combined

Gene Seymour explains his “Birdman” Best Picture prediction: “‘Boyhood’ seemed ahead by many lengths at the start of this season; not so much, now, even though some still believe its BAFTA prize keeps it in the game. They’re wrong … Hollywood narcissism is as much a device for denial as it is for self-congratulation. Editors and pundits, especially those who have no idea what movies are about, believe that controversy and buzz are all a movie needs to become anointed Best Picture. You’d think that, by now, they’d know that’s the LAST thing the Academy Awards want unless — and only unless –they can somehow exalt themselves by recognizing the controversy and embracing it. But all the money ‘American Sniper’‘s raking in isn’t going to make these people any braver about such things. Not in this century, folk. At least not yet.” Gene Seymour

Chris Gardner observes, “They say honor comes with a nomination, but in Hollywood, recognition for your craft also comes with lucrative perks. Well, $125,000 in perks to be exact. Distinctive Assets is back this year to present a 2015 edition of the Everyone Wins at the Oscars nominee gift bag, a record for the company. The bags — sent to Academy Award nominees in all of the acting categories as well as the best directory category — contain everything beauty and grooming products to artwork, fitness packages, gourmet edibles and trips.” THR

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