The Oscars are this Sunday, at 7 p.m. on ABC. But rather than waste your time with predictions, in which we get everything wrong, here’s something slightly more useful: what we’d pick, if anyone had asked us. We’ve also listed most glaring omissions from the categories — again, if anyone had asked us.
What should win: Wes Anderson’s “Grand Budapest Hotel” is the kind of carefully crafted, completely realized vision that should be edging out “Boyhood” and “Birdman.”
What should have been nominated:If the Academy had any guts or vision, it would have celebrated the singular, twisted vision of Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” — a truly disturbing masterpiece.
Who should win: Given that he’s created his own style of filmmaking, it’s frankly incredible “The Grand Budapest Hotel” creator Wes Anderson hasn’t won a directing Oscar.
Who should have been nominated: With the ScarJo alien opus “Under the Skin,” Jonathan Glazer created a genuinely unique film — a combination of art-sci-fi, satire, Candid Camera stranger-watching and commentary on the nature of celebrity.
Who should win:For once, every Oscar prognosticator seems to be in agreement, because no performance this year came close to inevitable winner Julianne Moore for “Still Alice.”
Who should have been nominated:“Into the Woods” might not have done much this awards season, but Emily Blunt still deserves recognition for her standout work in the Sondheim musical.
Who should win:Hype demands Michael Keaton or Eddie Redmayne win this, but Bradley Cooper’s steely and very, very, very quietly anguished turn in “American Sniper” was one of the reasons Clint Eastwood’s war drama was more complicated than its fans and detractors claim.
Who should have been nominated:Mysteriously, Ralph Fiennes’ super-alert creation, both debonair and crude (and sometimes in the same rattled-off piece of dialogue), was snubbed, mostly in favor of actors doing impersonations of real people.
Who should win:Let’s hear it for Keira Knightley, who took was could have been a rather dull, throwaway supporting role in “The Imitation Game” and quietly ran away with the film, outshining even co-star and fellow nominee Benedict Cumberbatch.
Who should have been nominated:Rene Russo stepped back into the spotlight in outstanding fashion as a cutthroat, desperate local news producer in “Nightcrawler.”
Who should win:He may be only slightly less intimidating than his “Oz” Neo-Nazi, but J.K. Simmons’ jazz instructor was still a blood-curdling and very, very funny portrait of the artist as sociopath.
Who should have been nominated:As a 60-year-old virgin, Stellan Skarsgard helped make sure Lars Von Trier’s porn epic “Nymphomaniac” was the infamous filmmaker’s funniest and most humane film.
What should win:If only because “Inherent Vice” isn’t nominated in more categories, Paul Thomas Anderson should take this one. But he also did the impossible in bringing a Thomas Pynchon novel to the screen.
What should have been nominated:The Writers Guild decided “Guardians of the Galaxy” was worthy of recognition, so why couldn’t the Academy? Yes, it’s a comic book movie, but it’s a damn fine comic book movie, adapted from some off-the-wall source material.
What should win: Wes Anderson’s films are meticulously constructed top-to-bottom, and the riots of pink and spot-on performances in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” are nothing without the solid foundation of its script.
What should have been nominated: Justin Simien’s “Dear White People” shuffles around a score of characters and provocative ideas as though they were pieces on a chessboard, played by a master.
Foreign Language Film
What should win: “Timbuktu” may have topicality, concerning as it does an Islamist extremist takeover of an African city, but it’s too gentle and humane to be anything approaching mere headline polemic.
What should have been nominated: A trio of tween girls made a lot of terrible, awesome noise in the Swedish punk film “We are the Best!”, the year’s most unabashedly joyful product.
What should win: “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” is not only one of the most visually striking films of 2014 — all sketchy doodles that look borne of an expressionistic old children’s book — but one of the wisest, made by a retiring master, Isao Takahata (“Grave of the Fireflies”).
What should have been nominated: There’s been enough protests about the snubbing of “The Lego Movie,” but it is a film worth getting at least very, very passionate about.
What should win:It’s not just the importance of the Edward Snowden doc “Citizenfour” that made it worthwhile, but the way it sat back, observing as the world changed as it changed, all from a little hotel room. It’s a thrilling feeling.
What should have been nominated:He’s made nearly 40 non-fiction studies of institutions, and yet the great Frederick Wiseman — of “High School” and “Titicut Follies” — has never even been nominated. Naming the new “National Gallery” could have been a nice way to play catch-up.
Documentary Short Subject
What should win:“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” is both a strong subject and a strong approach, watching as a well-oiled team struggles, with every call, to help ignored veterans on edge.
What should win:The Oscars tend to fete shorts that are cute, trite or cloying; “Butter Lamp” is none of the above. It’s an economical, funny and cryptic experimental short consisting of long takes as Tibetans pose in front of scenic backdrops, creating vacation trips that will never happen.
What should win:A Disney film attached to one of the year’s bigger hits (“Big Hero 6”) doesn’t need much more attention, but this dog mini really was dazzling — at least amongst this year’s so-so lot.
What should win: Sorry, Roger Deakins. This year, Dick Pope should take the trophy for his luminous and gorgeous work bringing the paintings of J.M.W. Turner to life in Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner.”
What should have been nominated: You can’t talk about what a unique visual triumph “Snowpiercer” is without acknowledging cinematographer Hong Gyeong-Pyo.
What should win: A tough race, to be sure, but Milena Canonero should take it for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” for creating such a distinct, eclectic and detailed world.
What should have been nominated: Can we talk about the detailed costuming work done for “Guardians of the Galaxy”? Don’t you want at least one of Peter Quill’s awesome leather jackets? Exactly.
What should win: Tom Cross’ frenetic, electric work in “Whiplash” is a huge part of what made that film so terrific — and nerve wracking.
What should have been nominated: Seriously, the entire “what should have been nominated” list could easily be populated with “Snowpiercer” alone, and this category is no exception.
What should win: In this three-way race, let’s call it for Mark Coulier and Frances Hannon from “The Grand Budapest Hotel” for, if nothing else, making old-age makeup completely believable on Tilda Swinton.
What should have been nominated: There was a lot of really subtle but very, very disturbing stuff going on in “Gone Girl,” and that’s before we start talking about hammers to the face.
What should win:If only because it is criminally the only nomination for “The Lego Movie,” this one should be a lock for “Everything is Awesome,” the catchiest song ever written.
What should have been nominated:This is the type of category where “The Hunger Games” can get some legitimate love, so a nomination for Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat” would’ve been sweet.
What should win: Alexander Desplat should easily beat out himself — and three other composers — for his work on “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” as his score was as responsible for its singular tone as the production design.
What should have been nominated: Just for sheer its sheer hypnotic and out-of-this-world nature, Mica Levi’s score for “Under the Skin” deserved some serious recognition.
What should win: While “The Grand Budapest Hotel” might seem like an obvious choice, that’s too easy. And it overlooks the sensational and detailed work done by Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts on “Mr. Turner,” which should take it.
What should have been nominated: You know what film didn’t get nearly enough attention or respect and had some exquisite production design? “Edge of Tomorrow.” Or “Live Die Repeat” or whatever. Go watch it.
What should win: Maybe it’s cheating to go with a film filled with such music, but the mixing in “Whiplash” was tops.
What should have been nominated: What else can we say about how robbed “Snowpiercer” was? Yes, this category, too.
What should win: Keeping up with the seemingly single-take madness of “Birdman” was a feat, so Martin Hernandez and Aaron Glascock should take this one.
What should have been nominated: Christopher Scarabosio did some brilliant work in the overlooked “Inherent Vice,” man.