Unlike most years, when you can predict everything that will happen at the Oscars before the ceremony even starts, this year’s telecast could be full of surprises. It’s not just that the best picture race is wide open — will it be “Boyhood,” “Birdman” or “American Sniper”? The Academy finally hands over the hosting gig to Neil Patrick Harris, who arrives with some help (in the form of Lady Gaga and John Travolta, and it’s anybody’s guess what either of them will do). Here are seven burning questions for the Oscars 2015.

(1) Will Neil Patrick Harris be the next Billy Crystal?
For years, the Academy tried to find an equivalent to Billy Crystal, its most lovable modern host, who has tackled the Oscars nine times. After widely panned attempts from Seth MacFarlane and the Anne Hathaway/James Franco combo, the Oscars found a winning formula last year with Ellen DeGeneres. Neil Patrick Harris’ efforts will inevitably be compared to her laid-back style (which drew 43.7 million viewers, a decade record), but he really will be stepping into Crystal’s shoes as a song-and-dance man. A recidivist host of the Emmys and Tonys, Harris will need to make the Oscar gig feel different enough than his previous duties. His success depends on if he can play off the audience (pizza or selfies, anyone?), belt out memorable musical numbers and escape the shadow of Crystal by making the show his own.

(2) What movie wins the big prize?
If some of the major categories feel like done deals — see Julianne Moore, your future best actress winner for “Still Alice” — the best picture race is a nail-biter. “Boyhood” was the frontrunner for most of awards season, until “Birdman” stole its thunder by sweeping the guild awards, which are usually reliable predictors of the Oscars. But it’s still possible that the Academy Awards preferential ballot, which benefits a movie that’s widely liked (as opposed to passionately loved by a smaller group) — could put “Boyhood” over the top.

(3) What about “American Sniper”?
With more than $300 million domestically, the Clint Eastwood drama about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle has outgrossed all seven of the other best picture nominees combined. The Academy will be foolish not to give “Sniper,” which is nominated for six Oscars, at least one of the top prizes. If “Boyhood” and “Birdman” split, there’s a small chance “Sniper” could be the upset winner for best picture, and Bradley Cooper (who enters this year’s ceremony with his third consecutive acting nomination) is the dark horse in the best actor category. But it seems more likely that “Sniper” will pick up the adapted screenplay prize, beating out “The Imitation Game.”

(4) Will the show be 99 percent singing?
If there’s a lull in this year’s ceremony, don’t worry — someone is probably about to break out into a ballad. The Oscars will, of course, feature the five tunes nominated for best song: among them, “Everything Is Awesome” from the “Lego Movie,” “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again” (featuring Adam Levine) and “Glory” from “Selma” (with John Legend and Common). But the Oscars producers have also name-dropped performances by Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Anna Kendrick and Jack Black. It’s not clear who will be singing what, but unless they are all onstage at the same time, there may not be time for the awards.

(5) Will poor “Interstellar” win at least one Oscar?
Christopher Nolan’s space epic, which was snubbed for best picture and director despite a hearty campaign from Paramount Pictures, picked up five nominations in the technical categories. But it may not be the favorite in any of them. Here’s one scenario where “Interstellar” would go home empty handed: it loses production design to “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” best sound mixing and editing to “American Sniper,” best score to “The Theory of Everything” and visual effects to “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

(6) How much politics will there be?
Given that 2014 was a somber year for Hollywood, with box office down 5% and the Sony hack revealing embarrassing executive emails, it wasn’t surprising that the many of the speeches at the Golden Globes struck a more reflective tone. The same could be true of the Oscars — particularly during the best song (“Selma”) and documentary (“Citizenfour”) categories.

(7) Will John Travolta survive the Oscars?
In the most ridiculous moment of Academy Awards 2014, John Travolta botched his introduction of Idina Menzel by calling her “Adele Dazeem,” and of course the Internet pounced on his embarrassing flub. Now Travolta is making his brave return to the Dolby stage. If the producers are wise, they’d have him present best director, where he might have to open the envelope and utter the name “Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.” Imagine the spike in ratings.