This is the most divided Oscar race in recent memory, which is mostly due to the backlash that has faced almost every major nominee. You'd be hard-pressed to find a year where every film under serious consideration has major detractors.
The front-runner for Best Picture is certainly Birdman. It took most of the major guild awards and is ranked by FiveThirtyEight as a slim but noticeable favorite over Boyhood. Birdman received nearly unanimous critical praise and is Alejandro González Iñárritu most accessible and purely likable film. However, recent anonymous interviews with members of the Academy conducted by The Hollywood Reporter revealed that at least some Oscar voters thought Birdman was either too insider-y or didn't "get" it altogether.
So, yes, Birdman is the most likely film to win Best Picture, though none of its nominations are a lock at this point. Even Michael Keaton, whose much-loved performance in Birdman earned him a Golden Globe and several critics award, is likely to lose out to Eddie Redmayne, again according to FiveThirtyEight.
There's Boyhood, which wasn't widely seen, and even the people who love it will frequently bring up that it has "some problems." What elevates it among the other nominees is the grandness of Richard Linklater's achievement, which could earn him the award for Best Director even if Birdman takes Best Picture.
Sure, The Imitation Game could pull off an upset. But, even the people who like it don't really seem to love it, and like several other nominees, has had to deal with considerable backlash, including from What's Trending's own Lon Harris.
So what else could it be? The Grand Budapest Hotel? The movie got stellar reviews but didn't win any major awards, and the Academy is made up largely of old fuddy-duddies who are considerably more likely to enjoy a movie about an actor/director or a bland British biopic than Wes Anderson's colorful, multi-layered comedy.
We already know they don't give a shit about Selma, Whiplash or The Theory of Everything — despite those last two likely to earn Oscars for their star performances — which leaves American Sniper.
According to FiveThirtyEight, it's a real long shot.
The Academy loves films with movie stars, they love Clint Eastwood, and they love movies that make a shit-ton of money. PLUS, it's a ra-ra America movie. They love it!
But, the backlash may just be too much to overcome. Let's not forget that this is Hollywood, and even the old, white men who run the joint are likely to skew to the liberal end of the political spectrum, and Sniper rubbed many blue staters the wrong way.
So, those are the numbers. You take them as the baseline and then judge your predictions from there. I don't know why, but something in my gut tells me that Boyhood will resonate just a little bit stronger with Oscar voters. It won't be a huge upset, but it'll be enough to garner a listicle of "shock" gifs on this website.