Oscars 2016: Who Will and Should Win?

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oscar_featureQuite simply, awards turn art into sport. And just like sports, at the end of the day it’s all just scores and statistics, victors and losers. And also akin to sports, wagering predictions is always a fun way to invoke spirited competition. So here are my bets on the many talented writers, directors, actors, producers, cinematographers, editors, etc. that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has picked to be their yearly racehorses. And like most years, I offer my thoughts on who should win these races, who shouldn’t even be a part of the running, and who was left out of the contest altogether.

Best Picture

  • The Big Short
  • Bridge of Spies
  • Brooklyn
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight

This year’s Best Picture race is one with no clear frontrunner, though specific titles have emerged as the ones leading the pack. Spotlight was an early favorite to win, but I feel like more weight has been shifted over to The Revenant over the past few weeks. But I’m betting bold on this one, predicting that The Big Short will prove victorious after blending topical subject matter, a brilliant marketing campaign, and ridiculous mainstream appeal into a true contender for the top prize (even though it’s the one nominee I have the most problems with personally). None of this really matters though—Mad Max: Fury Road is the best of the bunch and deserves this award hands down, but I’d be shocked to hear its name announced once the envelope is opened.

Will Win: The Big Short
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Shouldn’t Be Here: The Big Short
Left Out: The Hateful Eight, Creed, Anomalisa, Carol (the list goes on and on…)

Best Director

  • Adam McKay – The Big Short
  • George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
  • Lenny Abrahamson – Room
  • Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

If all is right with the world, this is where the unmatched, singular vision of Mad Max: Fury Road will be rewarded. The 70-year-old George Miller outdid action filmmakers half his age with this blisteringly original, remarkably imaginative, and balls-out insane film that is arguably the greatest action film of all time. The only person who could possibly pull an upset is Iñárritu, but will the Academy give him this honor two years in a row? This contest is 100% George Miller’s to lose.

Will and Should Win: George Miller
Shouldn’t Be Here: Adam McKay, Lenny Abrahamson, Tom McCarthy
Left Out: Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight; Ryan Coogler, Creed; Todd Haynes, Carol

Best Actor

  • Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
  • Matt Damon – The Martian
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl

On Oscar night, thousands of meme-makers across the country will finally have their validation as Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins his first Academy Award for his role as Hugh Glass in The Revenant. It’s an intense physical performance, don’t get me wrong, but DiCaprio should have won many times before (basically anytime he has been in a Martin Scorsese film, not to mention his iconic role in Tarantino’s Django Unchained [2012]). Although, among this set of nominees, DiCaprio is the best of the bunch. The only potential upset could be Michael Fassbender’s brilliant role as Apple’s founder, but there really isn’t much of a contest this year.

Will and Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Shouldn’t Be Here: Bryan Cranston, Eddie Redmayne
Left Out: Michael B. Jordan, Creed; Tom Hanks, Bridge of Spies

Best Actress

  • Cate Blanchett – Carol
  • Brie Larson – Room
  • Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
  • Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
  • Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn

Brie Larson has been the frontrunner in this category since Room was first released. I certainly found it to be a beautiful, moving performance, and I adore Brie Larson and have since I first discovered her on the Showtime series The United States of Tara, but the nuances of Rampling’s and Ronan’s performances ultimately proved more effective to me. This is a strong category, but it’s most certainly Larson all the way here.

Will Win: Brie Larson
Should Win: Charlotte Rampling
Shouldn’t Be Here: Nobody, all are fantastic performances
Left Out: Rooney Mara for Carol (she is the lead of the damn movie, you morons!)

Best Supporting Actor

  • Christian Bale – The Big Short
  • Tom Hardy – The Revenant
  • Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
  • Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
  • Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Hardy and Rylance have very strong upset potential here, but on a prediction and personal level, this is Sylvester Stallone’s to lose. He took a character decades in the making and turned in the most moving performance of his career under the direction of Ryan Coogler. If he wins, I’ll likely be tearing up during his speech, just as I was during most of his screen time in Creed.

Will and Should Win: Sylvester Stallone
Shouldn’t Be Here: Mark Ruffalo
Left Out: Basically anybody in The Hateful Eight, Samuel L. Jackson and Walton Goggins particularly

Best Supporting Actress

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
  • Rooney Mara – Carol
  • Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
  • Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
  • Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

This is a tough category to predict, but I’m going with Rooney Mara for Carol, even though she 100% belongs in the Lead Actress category. But the studio has been pushing her in this category since the film’s release, and she certainly has a better chance here than in lead, so I guess, whatever? Look for Vikander and Winslet as other potential winners, but Mara is my pick, regardless of being wrongly categorized. Personally though, Jennifer Jason Leigh blows all these actresses out of the water with her performance in The Hateful Eight. No contest.

Will Win: Rooney Mara
Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh
Shouldn’t Be Here: Rooney Mara
Left Out: Kristen Stewart, Clouds of Sils Maria

As for the rest of the categories, I expect Mad Max: Fury Road to win big in most, if not all, technical categories as it is the most technically achieved piece of cinema 2015 had to offer hands down. The following are my predictions for the remaining 18 categories. I have seen and quite enjoyed the Live Action and Animated Short entries this year, while the Documentary Shorts category is the only category where my prediction is a complete shot in the dark, having not seen those.

Best Original Screenplay – Inside Out
Best Adapted Screenplay – The Big Short
Best Animated Feature – Inside Out
Best Foreign Language Film – Son of Saul
Best Documentary Feature – The Look of Silence
Best Original Score – Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Best Original Song – “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground, by Lady Gaga
Best Sound Editing – Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Sound Mixing – Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Production Design – Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Cinematography – Emmanuel Lubezski, The Revenant
Best Editing – Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Visual Effects – Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Makeup & Hairstyling – Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Costume Design – Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Live Action Short Film – Shok
Best Animated Short Film – World of Tomorrow
Best Documentary Short – Body Team 12

The 88th Oscars will be held on Sunday, February 28, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, and will be televised live by ABC at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 225 countries and territories worldwide.

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