It should be a battle between the killer B’s — “Boyhood” and “Birdman” — when the night’s biggest award is passed out Sunday at the 87th Academy Awards. The two films have split every industry and critic prize during the interminable awards season. Now, the ultimate showdown. If you go with the major guild organizations (actors, directors, producers), it will be “Birdman.” If you lean toward the critics groups and award shows (Golden Globes, Critics Choice, BAFTA), it will be “Boyhood.”

That this is even close is a victory for “Birdman,” which was given little chance when “Boyhood” ended 2014 as the overwhelming favorite. But since the Screen Actors Guild Awards, “Birdman” has been soaring, sweeping the guilds. But then came the BAFTAs, the British version of the Oscars, a group that boasts many of the same members as the Academy. It picked “Boyhood,” and Best Picture suddenly became a neck-and-neck race again. Which is a good thing, because it’s about the only category where there will be a hint of suspense during the ceremony, which begins at 8:30 EST Sunday night on ABC.

The other major races, with the possible exception of Best Director, where the helmers of the killer “B’s” – Alejandro G. Inarritu and Richard Linklater – are locked in a tight battle, it would be a major upset if Eddie Redmayne, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette don’t win. That leaves it to promising new host Neil Patrick Harris to keep our eyeballs peeled. And judging by the incredible jobs he’s done hosting the Tonys and Emmys, that should be no problem. But please, no dance numbers to “Everything is Awesome.”

So to get you ready, here is how I see how the night’s biggest categories falling into place, beginning with ...

Supporting Actor

Nominees:

Robert Duvall, “The Judge”; Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”; Edward Norton, “Birdman”; Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”; J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Who shouldn’t be here: Nothing against Hawke, but his performance wasn’t really Oscar worthy ...

Who should: … Especially when it comes at the expense of Channing Tatum, who was the best thing in the otherwise disappointing “Foxcatcher.”

Who should win: Simmons didn’t just play a role; he fully inhabited it with a performance that redefined nuance. Plus, voters fear he’ll throw a chair at them if he doesn’t prevail.

Who will win: Simmons

Supporting Actress

Nominees:

Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”; Laura Dern, “Wild”; Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”; Emma Stone, “Birdman”; Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”

Who shouldn’t be here: Both Streep and Dern were very good in their respective films, but you have to ask yourself, were they as good as ...

Who should: ... Jessica Chastain in “A Most Violent Year” and Tilda Swinton in “Snowpiercer”? Both women elevated their movies by venturing far beyond the routine.
Who should win: I’m baffled why Stone isn’t getting more love. She had three key scenes – one with Keaton and two with Norton – and she made the most of each, giving “Birdman” its wings.

Who will win: The Academy loves actors who make physical transformations, and Arquette took it to new levels by letting us watch her age 12 years in three hours.

Actor

Nominees:

Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”; Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”; Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”; Michael Keaton, “Birdman”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Who shouldn’t be here: Give Carell credit for going against type to play a disturbed killer, but he let his prosthetic nose do most of the acting.

Who should: Another actor who went against type was Ralph Fiennes in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” But unlike Carell, he created something memorable, arguably the best work of his career.

Who should win: Many people say Keaton, but I thought he was merely OK in a film carried by his fine supporting cast. For me, it comes down to Cooper and Redmayne, with the former gaining the edge for his devastatingly realistic portrayal of a soldier being robbed of his soul. He made us look at veterans in a whole new way, with respect, compassion and gratefulness.

Who will win: Redmayne, whose performance was not just a physical marvel, but a moving look at a brilliant mind trapped in a useless body. Even the man he was playing, Stephen Hawking, readily approves, and that’s saying something.

Actress

Nominees:

Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”; Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”; Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”; Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”; Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”

Who shouldn’t be here: Jones was good as Stephen Hawking’s devoted wife, but she was no match for ...

Who should: … Essie Davis, who brought haunting realism to the fantasy aspects of “The Babadook,” which made horror tropes a striking metaphor for the horrors of depression.

Who should win: Cotillard glammed down and manned up as a fragile factory worker learning to assert herself against the ruthless slugs of the 1 percent.

Who will win: Moore was sensational as a woman confronting early onset Alzheimer’s, but her movie was underwhelming, which somewhat taints the victory.

Director

Nominees:

Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; Alejandro G. Inarritu, “Birdman”; Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”; Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”; Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

Who shouldn’t be here: Miller’s dud movie didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture, so why is he here?
Who should: Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper” is the most loved of the Best Picture nominees, and with good reason. It’s action-packed, moving and features the best performance of Bradley Cooper’s career. The battle scenes alone are worthy of recognition, so his absence is truly puzzling, especially given how much love the Academy has shown “Sniper” in other categories.

Who should win: Anderson created one of the most fun, imaginative movies I’ve seen in years. The thing oozed originality, something the fuddy-duddy Oscar voters generally hate.

Who will win: If this were decided by Inarritu’s peers, he’d add the Oscar to his director’s guild award. But it’s the entire body, and, as I said, the geezer-dominated voters hate offbeat movies like “Birdman.” So the nod goes to Linklater, who took chances, but safe chances, with his 12-years-in-the-making tale about the everyday instances that define a family.

Picture

Nominees:

American Sniper; Birdman; Boyhood; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Imitation Game; The Theory of Everything; Selma; Whiplash

What shouldn’t be here: While an OK movie, “The Theory of Everything” was notable only for Eddie Redmayne’s outstanding performance. The rest was standard-issue biopic pap.

What should: One of the biggest snubs was the omission of the hugely entertaining “Gone Girl,” but as we learned with “The Social Network,” the Academy isn’t overly fond of David Fincher.

What should win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was everything movies should be: inventive, entertaining and unforgettable.

What will win: Two months ago, I was mad about “Boyhood,” but with repeat viewings, my love fades. Still, a safe, honorable choice that will make Hollywood feel good about itself.

Animated Feature

Nominees:

“Big Hero 6”; “The Boxtrolls”; “How to Train Your Dragon 2”; “Song of the Sea”; “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya”

What shouldn’t be here: Everything isn’t awesome, especially if the superhero retread “Big Hero 6” is here ...

What should: … and the vastly superior “The LEGO Movie” isn’t.

What should win: Given the general lameness of the films in this category, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” wins by default.

What will win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Documentary

Nominees: “CitizenFour”; “Finding Vivian Maier”; “Last Days in Vietnam”; “The Salt of the Earth”; “Virunga”
What shouldn’t be here: The left loves “CitizenFour,” but other than the riveting 20 minutes or so spent in the presence of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, what does this film really offer? That we can’t trust the government? Stop the presses!

What should: The presence of “CitizenFour” further infuriates knowing that it comes at the expense of the deeply moving “Life Itself,” which not only humanized Roger Ebert, but gave cancer patients a glimpse at what courage looks like.

What should win: In the absence of “Life Itself,” my vote goes to Rory Kennedy’s devastating “Last Days in Vietnam” ...

What will win: … but like most of us, the Academy wants to forget Vietnam, and will go with the overly paranoid “CitizenFour.”

Foreign Language Feature

Nominees:

“Ida”; “Leviathan”; “Tangerines”; “Timbuktu”; “Wild Tales”

What shouldn’t be here: “Ida” (Suffers from too many plot holes.)

What should: “Force Majeure” (One of truest, funniest looks at marriage.)

What should win: “Leviathan” (Modern Russia in a microcosm, and it’s powerful.)

What will win: My hope is that the Academy will come to it senses and go with “Leviathan,” but I fear it will go with they silly, sappy “Ida.”

Original Screenplay

Nominees:

“Birdman”; “Boyhood”; “Foxcatcher”; “The Grand Budapest Hotel”; “Nightcrawler”

Who shouldn’t be here: “Nightcrawler” (A cheesy “Network” rehash.)

Who should: “Selma” (A moving portrait of one of the proudest, most shameful eras in American history.)

Who should win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” (A one-of-a-kind movie.)

Who will win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Adapted Screenplay

Nominees:

“American Sniper,” “The Imitation Game”; “Inherent Vice”; “The Theory of Everything”; “Whiplash”

Who shouldn’t be here: “The Theory of Everything” (Less than genius.)

Who should: “Gone Girl”

Who should win: “Whiplash,” A tremendously well-written script loaded with crackling dialogue wrapped inside an engrossing story.

Who will win: Whiplash