Oscars promise suspense and maybe some surprises

Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:54pm EST
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood's awards season reaches its apogee on Sunday at the 87th Academy Awards, where "Birdman" and "Boyhood" are locked in a battle for best picture and veteran actors are likely to grasp their first golden Oscar statuettes.

The film industry's biggest night will serve up its share of suspense as three top honors - best picture, best director and best actor - are proving hard to predict, even for the most seasoned experts.

But those nail-biters will come at the tail end of the three-hour ABC telecast from Hollywood's Dolby Theater, where first-time host Neil Patrick Harris will guide a show heavy on humor, magic and music from big names like Lady Gaga.

Hours before Hollywood's A-list celebrities were due to walk the famous red carpet, a plastic tent remained in place for possible rain showers.

News crews from around the world, in tuxedos and gowns, set up for a telecast that will be seen by hundreds of millions of people in 225 countries and territories.

Meryl Streep will be vying for an Oscar for a record 19th time, in the best supporting actress category. But most, including several of the favorites, are first-time contenders.

"It's been a long journey up to here," said Pawel Pawlikowski, director of "Ida," Poland's nominee for best foreign-language film. "Of course, it would be nice to win as well, but I'm not going to collapse if we don't."

In a sign of how the Oscars might be split, the Film Independent Spirit Awards for small-budget movies on Saturday crowned Alejandro G. Inarritu's show business satire "Birdman" as best feature and its star Michael Keaton took best male lead. Richard Linklater won best director for his coming-of-age tale "Boyhood," made over 12 years with the same actors.   Continued...

Common, nominated for best original song for "Glory" from the film "Selma," arrives at the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 22, 2015. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni