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By Collin Ward, Staff Writer

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It has all been leading up to this.

The 87th Academy Awards are this weekend and are here to honor the best in film from 2014.

The Academy Awards are regarded as the absolute highest achievement in the film industry.

Neil Patrick Harris will serve as this year’s host.

While this is Harris’s first time hosting the “Oscars” he is no stranger to hosting award shows, The Tony’s, The Emmy’s, and even Spike’s Video Game Awards have all counted on the stage and screen veteran to deliver a fantastic mix of comedy, song, and dance.

Harris has enlisted a dynamite team of supporting performers to assist him throughout the night, including Adam Levine, Jennifer Hudson, Anna Kendrick, Tegan and Sara, and even Lady Gaga will all be performing during the telecast.

But let’s get to the main focus of the show, the awards.

“Birdman” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” lead the way with nine nominations each.

Will “Birdman” soar to victory? Or will “The Grand Budapest Hotel” check out with the highest honor, Best Picture?

Let’s break down the categories.

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BEST PICTURE. The favorite here is “Birdman,” it has picked up the highest honor at the Producers Guild, the Directors Guild, and the Screen Actors Guild. Since the same voters for all those guilds vote for the Academy Awards it seems like in any other year “Birdman” would continue its winning streak, but this is not an ordinary year. “Boyhood” is a critical darling and it has a huge group of devoted fans, and the academy might not be able to resist awarding Richard Linklater’s risk taking 12 years in the making film. Then there is “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” which is looking like it will clean up in many of the technical categories, will those wins translate to the big win? If that’s not enough, “The Imitation Game,” “Selma,” “American Sniper,” “The Theory of Everything,” and “Whiplash” are all equally as deserving as any of the above. This is truly the closest Best Picture race in years.

Will Win: “Boyhood”

Should Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

BEST DIRECTOR. This is a head to head race between Birdman’s Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Boyhood’s Richard Linklater. Since Inarritu picked up the Directors Guild Award he is the favorite going into this race, but Linklater seems to be beloved by actors so they might just sway him to win this. Whichever man wins this, their film has a good chance at winning Best Picture, only six times in the past 20 years has a director won this award with their film not winning Best Picture.

Will Win: Richard Linklater

Should Win: Richard Linklater

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BEST ACTRESS: There are only a few categories that are absolute locks this year; Best Actress is one of them. Julianne Moore will deservingly win her first Oscar for her performance in the heartbreaking film “Still Alice.”  Moore plays a language professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. The performance is raw, emotional, and one of Moore’s absolute best. This is a long overdue win for one of the best actresses working today.

Will Win: Julianne Moore

Should Win: Julianne Moore

BEST ACTOR: Another head to head race, this time between Michael Keaton and Eddie Redmayne. Keaton’s performance is a crowning achievement for the veteran actor who returns to the screen after a long absence from film, the academy could very easily award him for his emotionally honest performance in “Birdman.” On the flip side, the academy might go for young talent and award Redmayne for his physically demanding performance as Stephen Hawking. This is another total toss up.

Will Win: Eddie Redmayne

Should Win: Michael Keaton

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Both the supporting acting categories are both pretty much sealed up. On the actress side look for first time nominee Patricia Arquette to win for her performance as the mom in “Boyhood.” The only real spoiler here could be Emma Stone in “Birdman.” Meryl Streep is also nominated so she is always a factor, but Arquette has won every award so far and her performance is really the emotional center of “Boyhood.”

Will Win: Patricia Arquette

Should Win: Patricia Arquette

SUPPORTING ACTOR: This is another one of those categories that are a total lock, this time for character actor J.K. Simmons. Simmons plays a violent jazz mentor in the phenomenal film “Whiplash.” It’s a role the Simmons really bites into and has fun with and the audience loves watching his work here.

Will Win: J.K. Simmons

Should Win: J.K. Simmons

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The Grand Budapest Hotel
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ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: This category could go a few different ways. If it is a “Birdman” kind of night this could be an award it could steal from a few more deserving nominees. While “Foxcatcher” and “Nightcrawler” both have great screenplays, they are far too dark for academy members, which is unfortunate. Richard Linklater also wrote “Boyhood” so this could be a chance to award him here instead of in the Best Director category. That same scenario seems more likely to happen to Wes Anderson for “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” awarding him here with his first Oscar for his wonderfully whimsy screenplay.

Will Win: “Birdman”

Should Win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: “The Imitation Game” has eight nominations and is looking like it could go home empty handed, so the academy might support its adapted screenplay so it’s not a bridesmaid. That being said, if the academy wanted to make a bold choice it would award Damien Chazelle’s screenplay for “Whiplash.”

Will Win: “The Imitation Game”

Should Win: “Whiplash”

These awards, as well as 12 other awards in the technical fields, will all be handed out during the broadcast.

The 87th Annual Academy Awards airs Sunday, Feb. 22 live on ABC