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87th Academy Awards might be short on surprises

February 22, 2015 - UNITED STATES

The certainties ahead of the 87th Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles are that Neil Patrick Harris will host the event and tens of millions of people will watch it.

A near-certainty is that two biopics about notable Britons and a biographical war drama directed by Clint Eastwood will carry off a significant share of the awards. Controversially, Selma, the biographical drama about Martin Luther King received a Best Picture nomination, but nothing else.

Boyhood, a film about the life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to 18, and Birdman, a story about a washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero, have almost overtaken the earlier favorites on the frontrunner lists. Both films have been nominated across all categories.

Harris, an Emmy winner and the star of Gone Girl and How I Met Your Mother has a keen following in the United States, increasing the odds that the television-viewing audience for the event will exceed the 45.4 million total that watched the 86th Academy Awards.

According to Time Magazine, the Toronto International Film Festival's recent record for introducing winners has been spotless. The first of the new movies dubbed Oscar material is The Imitation Game, starring British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The second film timed for an Oscar is The Theory of Everything, a biopic about Stephen Hawking. British actor Eddie Redmayne portrays the disabled physicist. The war drama that has been widely acclaimed ahead of the awards is American Sniper, starring Bradley Cooper.

Juries begin voting on February 6 and end on February 17.

Academy Awards (Official site)

Cranky Guy: Why I Skipped the Toronto Film Festival This Year (Time 14 Sep 2014)

Oscar's Battle of the Brits: (Daily Beast 11 Sep 2014)

Neil Patrick Harris to host the Oscars (Variety 15 Oct 2014)

Date written/update: 2015-01-03