It’s that time of year again. The 88th Academy Awards are coming up this Sunday at 8 p.m. (EST), hosted by comedian Chris Rock.
It’s always a thankless task guessing the winners every year, simply because the generally predictable Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a habit of throwing a complete curve ball in its choices every now and then.
Think Shakespeare in Love upsetting Saving Private Ryan for Best Picture in 1998 or the relatively unknown Adrien Brody topping Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis in 2002 for Best Actor in The Pianist. And before we start, I should mention that I haven’t seen all the nominees (Room is the only Best Picture nominee I haven’t seen), but I’ll be making informed picks based on industry buzz and speculation.
So without further ado, here are my (probably way off) 2016 Oscar predictions:
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The final award presented Sunday night will also be the most hotly contested. The early awards season favourite was Spotlight, an ensemble piece that had the added bonus of being based on a true story (the Academy LOVES that). But as time passed, some tough competition came along in the form of Wall Street crisis drama The Big Short and revenge epic The Revenant, both of which are also fact-based retellings (anyone noticing a pattern?).
Who will win: The Revenant. The Big Short and Spotlight both have a chance at grabbing the coveted statuette, but the sheer ambition and technical difficulty of filming The Revenant (the film was shot in sequence using only natural light in temperatures frequently below freezing) will doubtlessly sway a lot of voters. Also, that bear scene might be the most memorable bit of cinema we’ve seen all year.
Dark Horse: Spotlight. You can read my review of Spotlight here.
Alejandro González Iñárritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Who will win: Alejandro González Iñárritu. Simply put, no other director nominated this year could challenge Iñárritu for determination, drive and execution. The Revenant, plot frailties aside, is a beautifully filmed cinematic achievement that should garner its director his second consecutive best directing Oscar.
Dark Horse: Tom McCarthy.
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl
Matt Damon, The Martian
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Who will win: Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s s a shoo-in to finally win his first Oscar for three reasons:
- There’s strong public and industry sentiment that DiCaprio is due for a win after four earlier acting nominations ended in disappointment.
- DiCaprio’s well-documented harrowing experience filming The Revenant will seal the deal on pure suffering alone.
- His mostly non-verbal performance as fur trapper Hugh Glass is a clear departure from anything else he’s ever done, but it still might be his most memorable role yet.
Dark Horse: Eddie Redmayne. His role in The Danish Girl as sex assignment surgery recipient Lili Elbe is edgy and progressive in all the ways the Academy loves.
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
Who will win: Brie Larson. Room has drawn plenty of praise, most of it focused on Larson’s performance as a woman abducted and held in captivity with her five-year-old son. She faces stiff competition from the likes of two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, but Larson should have her acceptance speech ready come Sunday.
Dark Horse: Jennifer Lawrence. The only good thing most critics had to say about Joy, a biopic about Miracle Mop inventor and millionaire Joy Mangano, was about Lawrence’s unique and challenging performance. The Oscar odds are definitely ever in her favour.
Best Supporting Actor:
Christian Bale, The Big Short
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Who will win: Sylvester Stallone. It’s tough to imagine Stallone besting Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in the acting department, but there’s nothing the Academy likes more than a good old-fashioned comeback story. And what better way to cap Stallone’s long and bumpy career than an Oscar for iconic role that launched his career.
Dark Horse: Tom Hardy. What could have been a forgettable one-dimensional character comes alive in Hardy’s performance as the racist John Fitzgerald in The Revenant.
Best Supporting Actress:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
Rooney Mara, Carol
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
A strong argument could be made that Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara should be nominated for Best Leading Actress for their respective films, but movie studios have a proven track record of entering actors and actresses in as many categories as possible to boost their movie’s award totals. Coincidentally enough, Vikander and Mara are also the frontrunners to win their first Oscar.
Who will win: Alicia Vikander. Vikander’s performance in The Danish Girl underpins Eddie Redmayne’s showier role, adding a secondary emotional dimension that the movie heavily relies on.
Dark Horse: Kate Winslet. Winslet is the heavyweight here based on reputation alone, but her role in Steve Jobs is far from her best work.
Animated Feature Film:
Shaun the Sheep Movie
Boy and the World
When Marnie Was There
Who Will Win: Inside Out. This pick is as sure a bet as it’s going to get as far as the fickle Academy is concerned. The critically acclaimed Pixar film has a 98 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has already become a pop culture mainstay.
Dark Horse: Anomalisa. Directed by Academy darling Charlie Kaufman, this stop-motion film garnered plenty of praise and might have had a solid chance in a different year.
Drew Goddard, The Martian
Nick Hornby, Brooklyn
Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, The Big Short
Phyllis Nagy, Carol
Emma Donoghue, Room
Who Will Win: The Big Short. McKay and Randolph’s script for The Big Short has all the hallmarks of a great screenplay: Great dialogue, quirky entertaining characters and a healthy dose of righteous indignation at the actions of Wall Street executives behind the 2008 financial meltdown.
Dark Horse: Emma Donoghue, Room.
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer, Spotlight
Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen, Bridge of Spies
Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus, Straight Outta Compton
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley, Inside Out
Alex Garland, Ex Machina
Who Will Win: Spotlight. The highlight of Spotlight is its solid script, which manages to encompass the entirety of Boston’s social fabric in its retelling of a real-life Catholic church child sex abuse scandal that rocked the city in the early 2000s.
Dark Horse: Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, and Josh Cooley, Inside Out. Inside Out cleverly explores the complex spectrum of emotion and was an instant hit with kids and adults alike.