One of the strangest Academy Awards seasons in recent memory finally comes to a close Sunday – the finale of a bizarre several months that has seen as much behind-the-scenes drama with the broadcast as there has been drama on the screen.

From the Kevin Hart hosting/non-hosting fiasco to the addition of a best popular film award (since put on hold) to the decision to eliminate some awards from being shown on the live telecast (a decision that has since been scrapped), the ceremony itself almost feels like it is going to overshadow the actual awards.

That may not be the worst thing, because this seems to be a year ripe with some head-scratching front-runners that are leaving many (including myself) hopeful for some Oscar night upsets.

Here are my picks for the top five awards – both who will win and who actually deserves the golden statue.

BEST PICTURE

This is essentially down to three films – “Black Panther,” “Green Book” and “Roma” – which split the three main guild precursors.

“Black Panther” won the Screen Actors Guild top prize, but the lack of acting nods or a best director nomination for Ryan Coogler makes it a long shot at best. “Roma” is the perceived front-runner and likely has best director locked up with Alfonso Cuaron, winning the Directors Guild’s top prize. “Roma” has lots of red flags, though. Will the academy see the director and best foreign language film as a way to honor it and give best picture to someone else? Will the stigma of the film being released by Netflix hurt it?

I think the latter is more likely than the former, leaving Producer’s Guild winner “Green Book” as the likely victor. The PGAs use the same weighted voting system as the Oscars, plus it is a film that seems to be loved by the general public. It doesn’t have a director’s nod either, but it just feels like the one that is the safest play – which is pretty much the history of the academy.

Should win: “Black Panther”

Will win: “Green Book”

BEST ACTOR

You really couldn’t go wrong with the majority of the field if anyone was to win.

Christian Bale completely morphed into Dick Cheney in “Vice,” while Bradley Cooper gave the best performance of his career in his labor of love “A Star is Born.” Even Viggo Mortensen in “Green Book” and Willem Dafoe in “At Eternity’s Gate” are good performances that help elevate their respective film’s source material.

Unfortunately, none of these will win. Instead, it will be Rami Malek for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Malek is one of the best things about the uneven film, but his performance felt more than an impersonation than Bale’s embodiment of Cheney. It’s clear the academy likes “Rhapsody” (its best picture nomination proves that), so having Malek win seems like the best way to honor the film.

Should win: Christian Bale

Will win: Rami Malek

BEST ACTRESS

When “A Star is Born” was released in October, Lady Gaga seemed destined to win this award.

Then came the Golden Globes when Glenn Close, previously nominated six times for an Oscar, won for her stirring performance in “The Wife.” Close has picked up momentum since then, and it appears that her seventh nomination will finally see her in the winner’s circle. The only person standing in her way is Olivia Colman’s delightfully wicked turn in “The Favourite.” If you want to get technical, Colman’s role is more of a supporting performance, while Close is asked to carry every scene in “The Wife.”

I would still choose Colman, but a Close win is certainly deserving as well.

Should win: Olivia Colman

Will win: Glenn Close

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Since seeing “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” I have been openly rooting for Richard E. Grant’s flamboyant accomplice to Melissa McCarthy’s forged writer Lee Israel. Alas, my hopes for a Grant win have faded with Mahershala Ali’s performance as classic pianist Don Shirley in “Green Book” winning every precursor.

Ali won two years ago, which sometimes works against an actor or actress, but that won’t matter here. He is the stone cold lock of the night.

Should win: Richard E. Grant

Will Win: Mahershala Ali

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

This is where things get really tricky.

Regina King for “If Beale Street Could Talk” has pretty much dominated the precursors, but it is where she didn’t win – or for that matter even get nominated – that has raised some red flags.

Only one actress – Marcia Gay Harden – has won in this category without a SAG nomination, so that doesn’t bode well for King. However, the person perceived as her biggest challenger – Amy Adams for “Vice” – didn’t win the SAG either (that went to non-nominee Emily Blunt), so Adams is likely out.

The BAFTAS, where King also failed to receive a nomination, is another story. Fellow nominee Rachel Weisz won for “The Favourite,” so she seems to be the one that could pull the upset – winning in similar fashion to when Mark Rylance upset Sylvester Stallone three years ago.

I think history repeats itself and Weisz pulls off the shocker of the night, allowing the academy to honor “The Favourite” in some fashion.

Should win: Amy Adams or Regina King

Will win: Rachel Weisz

– To get Micheal Compton’s picks for the other 18 categories visit his blog at bgdailynews.com/blogs/reel_to_reel or follow him on Twitter @mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.

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