Oscars 2016: Predictions


This has been a crazy year. We had planned another series of posts like last year’s, detailing each of the Oscar nominees and our predictions, but time got away from us, as it is wont to do. That being said, it has also been a crazy year for film. So, this will be a long read, but it’s one that has been on my mind for a long while now. And one that I’ve been looking forward to writing. I will offer brief thoughts (or maybe not so brief, at times…) on the films in each of the big categories. (Sorry, short films), then who I predict Will Win and then who Should Win. The Should win category may bring in films I believe should have been nominated or actors who should have been tapped by the Academy, or just the ones I think should win based on the nominations.

BEST PICTURE

The Big Short

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Room

This is a crowded category, as it has been for awhile. Each one of these films deserve its spot at the top, and they all got there for widely disparate reasons. I could make arguments for each one, except maybe The Big Short, which maybe was nominated for the sheer audacity of making a non-boring film about the housing bubble. Bridge of Spies is a long-awaited reminder of Steven Spielberg’s greatness, and who could fail when pairing a Cold War legal grilled with Tom Hanks? Brooklyn, penned by Nick Hornby and starring the brilliant Saoirse Ronan, is just solid and good and beautiful, a classic from the start. Mad Max: Fury Road is the crowd favorite, blowing the doors off of all expectations that anyone had, though I was slightly underwhelmed (maybe it was all the hype?). My favorite film of the year was The Martian, for sheer rewatchability and utter excellence, through and through. The second most likely film to take the Best Picture is The Revenant, which is an excellent movie, constructed and executed with brilliance; if I’m choosing between the two, The Revenant will win over Mad Max, but as we know the Academy doesn’t choose back to back winners.  Spotlight, for its subject matter echoing All the President’s Men, cries out for acknowledgement for the justice they sought. Ultimately, hands down, Room should win for sheer power and heart-wrenching storytelling and acting. 

DIRECTING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road – George Miller

Should Win: The Revenant – Alejandro Iñárritu

Again, and not for the last time, we are torn between Mad Max and The Revenant. Both of these films demonstrate the power of the director’s will, with Iñárritu’s Fitzcarraldo-like wilderness epic and Miller’s resurrection and transcendence of a cult-franchise, blowing it into the mainstream and redefining the action genre. Both deserve this win, yet because of Iñárritu’s previous victory, his chances are low here.

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

I mean, if Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t win this, I think the Internet will burn down. He put forth an astonishing performance, putting everything physically (literally) possible into this role, and he fully deserves it. On the other hand, Matt Damon and Michael Fassbender can both hold their own. If it wasn’t for that bison liver…


ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, Carol

Brie Larson, Room

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will Win: Brie Larson

Should Win: Brie Larson

I’m not going to spend time on the subpar performance that the normally brilliant Cate Blanchett gave with Carol, and Jennifer Lawrence’s perfectly good Joy. It’s all about Charlotte Rampling, Saoirse Ronan, and Brie Larson, each of whom handily deserve to take the win. 45 Years is led by Rampling’s complex portrayal of a woman during a troubling time in her marriage. Saoirse Ronan is honest and conflicted in the story of an immigrant girl trying to find her place in the world. And then Brie Larson steals it all as Ma, who must care for her son while trapped indefinitely in a room and deal with all the ramifications attached to that predicament.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Will Win: Sylvester Stallone

Should Win: Sylvester Stallone

Stallone brings with him all the weight of history as Rocky Balboa at the end of his career, without ever feeling like a gimmick or pandering. It works completely, and Stallone outshines his competition, followed closely by Tom Hardy (whoever thought anyone could speak less clearly than Rocky?) and Mark Rylance.


ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

Rachel McAdams, Spotlight

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will Win: Rooney Mara

Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh

Despite the fact that this is the year of Alicia Vikander, Rooney Mara seems to be a lock for Supporting Actress in the overrated Carol, though staring seems the key component of that film. Kate Winslet did a great job, arguably the best of the bunch here, yet Jennifer Jason  Leigh  cackled her way to the top of the pile as. The only woman among a group of other burly, manly men and holding her own with memorable ease.


WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

The Big Short

Brooklyn

Carol

The Martian

Room

Will Win: Room

Should Win: The Martian

Both of these films are excellent adaptations of their source material, and while Room maintains the emotional impact of the book, The Martian does this and more. Instead of falling into the bleak territory of Castaway, it keeps the drama of it while keeping the essential humor from the novel.

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

Spotlight

Straight Outta Compton

Will Win: Straight Outta Compton

Should Win: Ex Machina

Following the recent controversy, Straight Outta Compton seems a shoe-in, and it certainly deserves the honor. However, Ex Machina is a truly excellent piece of science fiction mixed with a locked room psychological thriller.

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

Inside Out

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

Will Win: Inside Out 

Should Win: Inside Out

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

Amy

Cartel Land

The Look of Silence

What Happened, Miss Simone?

Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

Will Win: Amy

Should Win: Cartel Land

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Sicario

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: The Revenant

Once again, another face off between these two films, and the most common reason for Mad Max‘s inevitable victory over The Revenant is the recent win by its director.  Both films have distinctive visual styles, but Iñárritu’s challenge to only use natural light makes his feat all the more impressive.  

FILM EDITING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Embrace of the Serpent

Mustang

Son of Saul

Theeb

A War

Will Win: Son of Saul

Should Win: Son of Saul


MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: The Hateful Eight

Should Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Quentin Tarantino’s films rank among my favorite, particularly for their distinctive music. However, this holds no candle to  John Williams’ long-awaited Star Wars or Carter Burwell’s haunting score to Carol (the only good part of the film). Burwell’s deserves a place in the Should Win column here, but my money is on Star Wars due to  a combination of nostalgia and brilliance.

MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG)

“Earned It,” Fifty Shades of Grey

“Manta Ray,” Racing Extinction

“Simple Song #3,” Youth

“Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

“Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre

Will Win: “Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground

Should Win: “See You Again” from Furious 7, though of the nominees, Sam Smith earned it. 

COSTUME DESIGN

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Revenant

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Cinderella

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Mad Max: Fury Road

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

Will Win: Bridge of Spies

Should Win: The Martian

SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Sicario

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Should Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Bear Story

Prologue

Sanjay’s Super Team

We Can’t Live without Cosmos

World of Tomorrow

Will Win: World of Tomorrow

Should Win: World. of Tomorrow

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT)

Body Team 12

Chau, beyond the Lines

Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness 

Last Day of Freedom

Will Win: Body Team 12

Should Win: Body Team 12


SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Ave Maria

Day One

Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)

Shok

Stutterer

Will Win: Shok

Should Win: Shok

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