Sunday, February 28, 2016

2016 Academy Award Predictions

Tonight is the 88th Academy Awards, and what better way to celebrate this bizarre circus by making predictions about who will win?  I usually am pretty good at predicting these categories -- I've gotten at least 19 out of 24 picks correct in the last few years -- but I don't know how to feel about this year's odds.  It seems like for a long time there was no narrative to the award season, so it was hard to tell who the favorites for some of the big categories were, especially Best Picture.  It should make for a fun award show -- well, as fun as these can be -- but a possibly ugly ballot.

Best Visual Effects
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Should win: Ex Machina

Most experts think Mad Max: Fury Road is poised for a near-sweep in the technical categories, but one of the few categories where it isn't the favorite is this one.  Odds are slightly more in favor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I tend to agree with them.  But my personal pick for what I want to win is Ex Machina, which pulls off the feat of making you think Alicia Vikander's AI character is something that actually exists in the physical space of the movie.  It's rare for the Academy to award effects work that is this subtle, so it has no chance, but it's still worthy of praise.

Best Film Editing
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

People always make the joke that the Best Film Editing goes to the film with the most editing.  Luckily, in this case, "best" and "most" editing belong to the same film: Mad Max: Fury Road.  A shout out is deserved for Spotlight too, which maybe has the "least" editing, but wields it with impact and precision.  Anything but The Big Short, which is a real mess of an editing job.

Best Costume Design
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will win: Cinderella
Should win: Carol

I'm going to be predicting Fury Road alot for these technical categories and deep down inside, I think it's going to win this one too.  But I want to take some risks, so I'm going to go with the lavish costuming of Cinderella instead.  I love the costuming in Carol, though.  What the two main characters wear says so much about them.  That's what great costuming is all about.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Yeah, this one's definitely going to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Best Cinematography
Carol, Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario, Roger Deakins

Will win: The Revenant
Should win: Sicario

As crazy as it sounds, I think Emmanuel Lubezki is going to win an unprecedented third Best Cinematography award in a row for his work in The Revenant.  I dislike almost everything about that movie, but Lubezki's jaw-dropping visuals leave no room for complaining.  However, I really want Roger Deakins to finally win, not just because he hasn't won for the 12 previous times he's been nominated, but also because Sicario was by far the most gorgeous film of 2015.  There isn't a film I'd kick out of this category, but I've still got to lament the omission of Janusz Kaminski for his sterling work in Bridge of Spies, which blends inky shadows with the warm glow of over-exposed light sources.

Best Production Design
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

This is another one that feels like a lock.  Mad Max: Fury Road is a masterpiece of production design.  Everything from the vehicles, to the sets, to the odds and ends of the world are so intricate and detailed.

Best Sound Mixing
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road has the difficult task of mixing the sounds of all that carnage together, on top of the bits of dialogue that occur within the bonkers action scenes.  It pulls it off marvelously, so it will deserve its win.

Best Sound Editing
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Mad Max: Fury Road will most likely win this one too -- voters have a hard time telling the difference between editing and mixing -- but I'd go with The Force Awakens as the nominee I personally want to win.  That lightsaber sound is just too good.

Best 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: "Earned It", 50 Shades of Grey

Only one Bond song has ever won an Oscar, and "Writing on the Wall" is terrible, so it will not win.  "Earned It" is the song most of America knows, and it deserves the award.  But Lady Gaga's "Til It Happens to You" will take it home.

Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies, Thomas Newman
Carol, Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
Sicario, Johann Johannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Williams

Will win: The Hateful Eight
Should win: The Hateful Eight

The Academy will not be able to resist giving Ennio Morricone his first Best Original Score award.

Best Animated Short Film
Bear Story
Sanjay's Super Team
We Can't Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

Will win: Sanjay's Super Team
Should win: World of Tomorrow

Will voters take a walk on the wild side and award Don Hertzfeldt's innovative and mind-bending World of Tomorrow?  Maybe, but I'll stick with them voting for Pixar's charming Sanjay's Super Team.

Best Live Action Short Film
Ave Maria
Day One
Everything Will Be Okay

Will win: Ave Maria
Should win: N/A

My local AMC theater usually does a showing of the Best Live Action Short Film nominees a week before the Oscars, but I was too busy to go see them.  Maybe next year.  Since I haven't seen any of the nominees, I can't really say what I think should win.  But I'm going to go with Ave Maria as the pick that will win.  The shorts in this category are always so grim, and Ave Maria seems grim in the specific way that will lead to victory.

Best 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: N/A

This is another category that I can't make any personal judgments on, but Body Team 12 has the most star power behind it, so I think it will take home the award.

Best Documentary -- Feature
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

Will win: Amy
Should win: The Look of Silence

Two years ago, Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing lost this award to the more commercial and crowd-pleasing 20 Feet From Stardom.  I predict the same thing will happen with his equally excellent follow-up, The Look of Silence.  Amy isn't necessarily crowd-pleasing, but it's definitely more commercial.

Best Foreign Language Film
Embrace of the Serpent
Son of Saul
A War

Will win: Son of Saul
Should win: Mustang

Son of Saul is about the Holocaust.  The Academy loves the Holocaust.  This one is a lock.  I actually haven't seen any of the nominees yet, so I'd usually put "N/A" in the Should Win section, but I just know that I'm going to adore Mustang when I do get my hands on it.

Best Animated Feature Film
Boy & the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Move
When Marnie Was There

Will win: Inside Out
Should win: Inside Out

Anomalisa never came out around me and I desperately want to see it.  I also really loved When Marnie Was There.  But listen, the winner will be Inside Out.  The winner should be Inside Out, my favorite film of 2015.

Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short; Adam Mckay and Charles Randolph
Brooklyn, Nick Hornby
Carol, Phyllis Nagy
The Martian, Drew Goddard
Room, Emma Donoghue

Will win: The Big Short
Should win: Brooklyn

I think that the script for The Big Short, like the film itself, is pretty lackluster.  It's a shame, then, that it's almost certainly going to win.  I'd much rather the award go to Nick Hornby's simple, but lovely adaptation of Brooklyn.

Best Original Screenplay
Bridge of Spies; Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen
Ex Machina, Alex Garland
Inside Out; Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight, Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Straight Outta Compton; Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus

Will win: Spotlight
Should win: Spotlight

Though people shouldn't knock Spotlight's visual's either, Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer's tight, quietly propulsive script is the real superstar.

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Will win: Alicia Vikander
Should win: Rooney Mara

I've yet to see The Danish Girl, but I think Vikander's going to win it over the other favorite, Kate Winslet.  Vikander gave an incredible performance in Ex Machina, so I won't be mad if she gets the award.  But Rooney Mara's quiet desire and intense longing in Carol is one of the best performances of the year.

Best Supporting Actor
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

Sylvester Stallone's career has the perfect narrative to snag an Oscar, and he totally deserves it for his soulful, heartbreaking performance in Creed.  I do love Mark Rylance though, and his small, hangdog performance in Bridge of Spies is killer too.

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, Carol
Brie Larson, Room
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Will win: Brie Larson
Should win: Saoirse Ronan

I absolutely love Brie Larson.  She should've won an Oscar for her performance in Short Term 12 a few years ago.  She's very good in Room too.  But Saoirse Ronan gave my favorite performance of the year in Brooklyn.  The movie has so many moments where the camera just searches her face, revealing all of these tiny shifts of emotion.  It's wonderful to see Ronan finally get to show off her talent again, after years of being saddled with terrible roles.  Overall, this is probably the best acting category.  Everyone's a very worthy candidate, even Jennifer Lawrence (whose movie is not very good) and Charlotte Rampling (who is an old racist).

Best Actor
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: Michael Fassbender

Honestly, I don't really have strong feelings about any of these nominees.  It seems like it's finally DiCaprio's time to win this award, and I won't mind since I've loved many of his performances in the past.  But is there anything special about his performance in The Revenant?  Not in my opinion.  So I guess if I had to pick a personal favorite, I'd go with Michael Fassbinder.  His work as Steve Jobs gets the slight edge over Matt Damon being Matt Damon in The Martian.

Best Director
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Will win: Alejandro G. Inarritu
Should win: George Miller

Do we really want to live in a world where Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu is one of the only people in history to win Best Director two years in a row?  Well prepare yourself, because I think it might occur.  George Miller seems like the only other person who could upset him.  Lord, please let that happen.

Best Picture
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Will win: The Revenant
Should win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Here's how I'd rank these films from best to worst: Mad Max: Fury Road, Spotlight, Brooklyn, Room, The Martian, Bridge of Spies, The Big Short, The Revenant.  And I like all of them except for the last two.  Overall, this is a pretty solid group of nominees.  Usually some bland, soulless film slips into the race every year.  (Think The Imitation Game from last year).  But thankfully, that didn't happen this year.  Even The Revenant, which is pure dreck, is at least stylish dreck.  So I won't be happy when it wins, but it also won't be the end of the world.  But don't sleep on The Big Short, winner of the Producer's Guild Award, which is often an indicator of what will win Best Picture at the Oscars.


  1. How is Tarantino not nominated for best director????? How is Hateful Eight and Ex Machina no nominated for best picture??? Award shows, amirite???

    1. Yeah and it's not like Best Director is loaded with great nominees (I think The Big Short is pretty shoddily directed and Room and good but it doesn't have better direction than Hateful Eight). I think the Academy tends to find more merit in Tarantino's writing than his direction, so he probably never had much hope getting recognized for the latter. But snubbing him for Best Original Screenplay is pretty egregious.

      But overall, not the worst set of nominees!