Oscars 2015: Peter Travers on Who Will (and Who Should) Win

From 'Boyhood' to 'Birdman,' here's your tip sheet for the whitest Oscars in years

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Best Actor

The Nominees

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

Benedict CumberbatchThe Imitation Game

Michael Keaton, Birdman

Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Narrowing the Field

Not a loser in the bunch. Carell totally transformed himself to play a monster of privilege. And Cooper inhabited the body and soul of traumatized Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. But it's not their year. This is a three-way race that pits two British thespians playing real people — Redmayne as Stephen Hawking, the theoretical physicist robbed of movement and speech by ALS; and Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, a math genius persecuted for the then-crime of homosexuality — against an American actor, Michael Keaton, playing a Hollywood star making a comeback, which many see as him playing a fictional version of himself.

Snubs

Here are five who've got as much game as the real nominees. David Oyelowo is electric as Martin Luther King in Selma — oh, wait, he's black. There's Jake Gyllenhaal as a new kind of media creature in Nightcrawler, Timothy Spall as an artist unbound in Mr. Turner and Tom Hardy in a tour de force as a man alone in a car in Locke. And Chadwick Boseman soars as James Brown in Get On Up. Oh, wait, he's black.

Surprises

The popularity of Cumberbatch (go, Sherlock!) cannot be underestimated. In a battle between Redmayne and Keaton, he could be the spoiler.

Should Win

Redmayne has detractors who feel that Daniel Day-Lewis did the disability thing better in My Left Foot. Others feel Redmayne will be hurt by being seen in a bad movie, Jupiter Ascending, during the voting. I feel his Theory performance is magnificent in every detail. That should count.

Will Win

Keaton. Come on, people. This dude's been the shit for years. Beetlejuice, Batman, you name it. And no Academy love. Not even a nomination. In Birdman, he has the role of his career and crushes it. How do you resist? You don't.

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