AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

AMC Theater, Chicago, 50th Annual Chicago Film Festival.

It’s one day before the Academy Awards nominations are officially announced, and I’d like to put my 2 cents’ worth in, before the experts weigh in.

It seems a foregone conclusion that we are going to see “Boyhood” nominated for many things, including “Best Picture.” I was driving along when a radio disc jockey who had just viewed the Golden Globes asked his listeners to let him know if he should rent “Boyhood” or stream “The Affair” that night, not having seen either. I wanted to call in and tell him to view the latter, because “Boyhood,” while a great achievement in following the real people for so many years, was meandering, overlong (2 hours and 45 minutes) and not that riveting. That said, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke did well with the material and it would not surprise me to see them be nominated, either.

Four other films that we can expect to see mentioned and nominated in various categories are “The Theory of Everything,” the bio-pic about Stephen Hawkings that makes him come off as a bit of a cad, I thought; “The Imitation Game,” with Benedict Cumberbatch; “The Grand Budapest Hotel” with Ralph Fiennes; and Michael Keaton and/in the film “Birdman.” I expect that “The Theory of Everything” with Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed Hawkings, or Cumberbatch, who portrayed the computer genius at the heart of cracking the “Enigma” code, will win the Oscar, and deservedly so, but I was wrong about a lot of categories at the Golden Globes just past, and now we have Clint Eastwood eking out a Director’s Guild nomination (DGA) for “The Sniper,” which does not start playing till tomorrow.

Another category that seems to be wide open is Best Foreign Film. At the October Chicago Film Festival, all the buzz was about France’s entry “Force Majeure” and Israel’s “The Gett” and neither won the Golden Globe. Go figure.(Of the two, “Force Majeure” was far more entertaining.)

There are so many great performances from actors this year, especially the men. Good luck in picking those to round out the nominees other than Redmayne and Cumberbatch. You might see Bill Murray (who wandered onstage during the acceptance for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” even though he wasn’t in it) for “St. Vincent” and I was and am a fan of Robert Duvall from “The Judge” (who was nominated in the Best Supporting category and did not win the Golden Globe.) Steve Carrell from “Foxcatcher” was mentioned prominently earlier in the season and was nominated for a Golden Globe, also. And what about Ralph Fiennes from “The Grand Budapest Hotel” or Michael Keaton in “Birdman,” who DID win the Golden Globe?

As for women, my personal favorite is Felicity Jones as the long-suffering wife in “The Theory of Everything,” but Kiera Knightley’s scientist helping crack the German code has a shot, and some say Meryl Streep as a witch in “Into the Woods” is deserving, although I think she has had earlier stronger performances and probably will not prevail, if nominated. (*Personal disclosure: the only one mentioned above that I have not yet seen.)  Two others mentioned frequently are Jennifer Anniston for “Cake” (a woman suffering from intractable pain) and Julianne Moore for her portrayal of a professor suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. Reese Witherspoon is a good bet to be nominated for “Wild,” a film that I found incredibly boring, but one in which Ms. Witherspoon did a credible job of hiking through the desert and teasing us that something might actually happen (which, sadly, it did not.)

I finally did rent “Boyhood” and got exactly what I expected. I can sum up the message as, “Is that all there is?” It will probably win, and my predicting (or preference?) career will take yet another hit.

Tonight, we are going to wade through a Liam Neeson night, with 2 of his older films. He is a seasoned veteran experiencing fame as an action hero late in life, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

If you want to know what the most ENJOYABLE films of the year were, for me, go back a few entries. These were NOT the ones that we’ll see competing for Oscars, necessarily, but I enjoyed them the most. And I’m sure I forgot a few.

We’ll find out tomorrow who gets the nod from the Academy, but the historical brouhaha over LBJ’s actual relationship with MLK seems to have torpedoed whatever momentum that  film had, going in, and it seems that “Foxcatcher’s” miffed Mark Schulz (Steve Carell is frequently mentioned as a Best Actor nominee for that fine film—which needed some editing but was very good) may have done that film a disservice by taking to Twitter to condemn its director (Bennett Miller) and the entire project, supposedly because he didn’t like the homo-erotic vibes that the film did contain.  I was very impressed with Channing Tatum’s and Mark Ruffalo’s acting in the film—more so than Carrell’s, which was more a case of heavy-duty make-up and underplaying than actually excelling in the part. It’s still a good rental and including it in one or more categories wouldn’t surprise me, but the only 2 sure things seem to be “Boyhood” and “The Theory of Everything,” with “The Imitation Game” right up there, as well.

After that, it’s anybody’s guess whether Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” or “Foxcatcher” or “Into the Woods” or “The Sniper” or any of a number of fine films (“Night Crawler” with Jake Gyllenhaal; Joaquin Phoenix”s most recent foray into weird portraits, or yet another underdog in the competition) will triumph.

Looking forward to hearing the nominees tomorrow.