Oscars news: ‘Boyhood’ vs. ‘Birdman,’ add Oprah, Meryl Streep, Benedict Cumberbatch to presenters list

For Jenelle Riley, “with two weeks until the big night, many will claim ‘Birdman‘ and ‘Boyhood‘ are neck in neck. The smart money says not to ignore those guild awards – a SAG, PGA and DGA sweep is tough to deny. The only film ever to win all three guild prizes and lose best picture was ‘Apollo 13’ in 1995, and that was when there was a longer gap in the race as the Oscars were held in March. But it’s also foolish to overlook the strong admiration and love for ‘Boyhood’ and Linklater. Some suggest a backlash might form against ‘Birdman’ after its recent sweep of wins. (Although in that case, losing the BAFTA could actually work in its favor.) But there seems to be a broader sense of people wanting to be on the winning team, which is why ‘Birdman’ will likely still emerge victorious on Oscar night.” Variety

UPDATED: Experts’ Oscars predictions in 24 categories

Sasha Stone reflects: “In the most unpredictable Oscar race for Best Picture I’ve ever seen, the DGA went with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu last night while the BAFTA went with Richard Linklater and ‘Boyhood’ today, setting up an absolute cliffhanger. ‘Birdman”s wins with the big guilds was something no pundit saw coming. The maxim ‘Nobody knows anything’ has never been more apt. Even ‘The King’s Speech’ had people predicting it before it took over the race with the Producers Guild. ‘Birdman’ flew high with the guilds for two primary reasons, I think: 1) it is about not only Hollywood but Hollywood being swallowed up by the Superhero tent poles. 2) it is a film about skewering film critics. Not since ‘All About Eve’ has the critic been painted in a more critical light (the film’s defenders refuse to accept this basic truth about the film, however).” Awards Daily

Five of this year’s Oscar nominees are guaranteed to get a turn at the podium. Marion Cotillard, Benedict Cumberbatch, Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon have all been tapped by producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to present on the Feb. 22 kudocast. Oscars

See Oscar rankings when Experts’ predictions are combined

Observes Anne Thompson about the BAFTAs: “The speedy show is a must-see for any cinephile, Anglophile or Oscar watcher, as many future Academy Award winners practice their acceptance speeches, and it does have impact on the race as Oscar voting gets under way and there is a sizable Brit block likely to be rallying around SAG-winner Eddie Redmayne (‘The Theory of Everything‘) as well as craft and Euro-friendly ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.'” Thompson on Hollywood

And Pete Hammond notes: “If the battle for Best Picture appears to be as close as it can possibly get between the year’s two most awarded films, then in a tighter-than-tight vote at the Oscars (with both getting lots of first place picks but not quite enough to win) a third contender might still emerge from the pack as a spoiler. Choose among the remaining six in the field of eight, with ‘American Sniper‘ and ‘Whiplash‘ the most likely beneficiaries under this scenario. This is where the second choice of voters, or the consensus pick, really could come into play in balloting that started Friday and runs through Feb. 17.” Deadline

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