Sunday, February 28, 2016

Final Predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards

The extremely, ridiculously, absurdly long road to the Oscars has finally ended. Over a year of premieres, campaigns and pre-cursor shows will culminate tonight at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. And thank the lord that it's finally over. Oscar season has its place and it's a fun game for the town, but it's a grating, exhausting process. This year has been controversial (#OscarsSoWhite) and unpredictable (the Best Picture race), so here's hoping that Chris Rock and the producers of this year's show give us something that delivers on all fronts. With all that said, here are my final predictions for the 88th Annual Oscars. I would usually start with Best Picture, but since it's such a competitive category, I'll start from the bottom this year. Here we go.

The Short Winners-

Best Live-Action Short- Ave Maria
Best Documentary Short- Body Team 12
Best Animated Short- Sanjay's Super Team


Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

It's not often that we have two big-ticket special effects blockbusters nominated for a slew of Oscars in one year. In many of these categories, it's going to be an absolute dogfight between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. Both are visual and auditory experiences, but on the sound front, nothing was quite as immersive as the raw power of George Miller's wasteland epic. It should take both sound categories with ease.


Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Read above.


Will Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Should Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Mad Max: Fury Road is a visually stunning film. If it wins this category tonight, I'll be more than happy. But I feel like this is the one area where the Academy can properly honor the stunning resurgence of the Star Wars franchise. The Force Awakens is visual perfection and the seamless blend of practical and CGI effects deserves an Oscar.


Will Win: "Til It Happens to You" from The Hunting Ground

With the exclusion of Furious 7's hit song "See You Again" that honored the late Paul Walker, Lady Gaga's "Til It Happens To You" has emerged as the clear favorite. From a documentary about the terrifying statistics of U.S. campus rape, this is a topical song and one that has connected with a wide range of people. Expect an easy win.


Will Win: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Should Win: Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

This isn't an easy category by any stretch of the imagination. With music from Carter Burwell, Johann Johannson, Thomas Newman and the legendary John Williams, there's a lot of competition. But Ennio Morricone, the iconic Western composer, has emerged as the clear favorite for his creeping, chilly score for Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight. Expect a triumphant victory for Morricone.


Will Win: Son of Saul

Laszlo Nemes' harrowing Holocaust drama has been the favorite all season, and nothing will change tomorrow night. Son of Saul could have received more noms that it did with the support in some corners, but it'll have to settle for a Foreign Language win.


Will Win: Inside Out
Should Win: Inside Out
Spoiler: Anomalisa

Inside Out is not only one of the best animated films of the year, it's one of the best films. No questions about it. But just like Son of Saul, it'll have to settle for a victory in a lower category. Anomalisa gained some momentum, causing some Inside Out fans to get a little scared. Honestly, there's no reason to be- the esoteric puppet drama has limited appeal, giving Inside Out the easy win.


Will Win: Amy
Should Win: The Look of Silence

Amy has dominated all year and will win again at the Oscars, but I can't help but be slightly disappointed that The Look of Silence isn't walking away with the trophy. It's a truly insightful and dark piece of cinema and one that will be studied for generations.


Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Does anybody know what Production Design is? Anybody? Do the Production Designers know what Production Design is? I don't know much about this category, but I do know that Mad Max: Fury Road will be taking home the trophy.


Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Yup, Mad Max wins again here. The makeup in that film was astounding.


Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Quite the shocker here. Another win for Mad Max!? Who would have guessed it.


Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Now this is just getting tiresome.


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

Emmanuel Lubezki will win his third Oscar in a row for his visceral, au natural work on The Revenant. Even though more deserving nominees have emerged over the past few years, Lubezki has always gotten a certain core of voters with his dynamic work. Expect another easy win, even though Mad Max (or even The Hateful Eight) is really more deserving.


Will Win: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Should Win: Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy, Spotlight

Even in a packed category of Original Screenplay nominees (Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out and Straight Outta Compton round out the top five), Spotlight gets the easy win here. Terrific screenplay, terrific movie, easy victory.


Will Win: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, The Big Short
Should Win: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, The Big Short

Best Adapted Screenplay is a less striking category than Original, making it even easier for The Big Short to come in here and sweep the competition. It won easily at the WGA, and there's no reason that The Big Short won't replicate that success at the Oscars.


Will Win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

This year, if any category was going to have some significant competition, it was going to be Best Supporting Actress. With five dynamic performances in this category from Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rachel McAdams, Alicia Vikander, Kate Winslet and Rooney Mara, this one was projected to go down to the wire. Unfortunately, Vikander wrapped up the race pretty early. It's not surprising- this was Vikander's year, and her performance in Ex Machina also got a significant amount of love. I wish that we had an acting category that wasn't completely set, but so it goes.


Will Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Should Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Mark Rylance's subtle performance in Bridge of Spies has an outside chance according to some pundits, with Mark Ruffalo and Christian Bale also in the running. But make no mistake. This has been Sylvester Stallone's year since the beginning. The Oscar voters have wanted the moment of Stallone walking up on stage to accept his trophy since they first saw Creed back in November, and there's no way that anybody else is going to change that.


Will Win: Brie Larson, Room
Should Win: Brie Larson, Room

Honestly, I don't know how Larson wrapped up this category so early. Jennifer Lawrence's Joy had a lack of momentum, Charlotte Rampling shot herself in the foot with her comments about the Oscars controversy, and I guess Cate Blanchett won too recently. However, I did at least figure that Larson and Brooklyn star Saoirse Ronan would be in a dogfight until Oscar Sunday.

Yup, I was wrong. Larson wins here easily.


Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Should Win: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Leonardo DiCaprio finally wins his inevitable Oscar for The Revenant on Sunday. Everyone knew this was happening, and after a very weak year of lead acting performances, DiCaprio clinched it early in the process. Michael Fassbender should win for his screen-commanding performance as Apple titan Steve Jobs, but it just wasn't meant to be. DiCaprio wins here handily, sure to receive the second standing ovation of the night.


Will Win: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant
Should Win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

For a while, this was the most competitive category. George Miller's adrenaline-fueled epic against Alejandro G. Inarritu's daring journey into the cold winter of Canada. I figured that Miller would have the upper hand because of two reasons

A. Miller has never won.
B. Inarritu just won last year.

But after a critical, crushing win by Inarritu at the Directors Guild Awards, it's looking like the director of The Revenant will become the first director since Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949-1950. I've just come to accept this one.


Will Win: The Big Short
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

It all comes down to this. The one category of the night that is completely and totally unpredictable. First, let's run through what certainly won't win. Room is a thoughtful and sad film, but it's too intense and depressing to win the big award. Not enough people saw Brooklyn for it to emerge victorious. The Martian had the momentum earlier, but there wasn't as much uproar over Ridley Scott's omission as I thought there would be, leaving the film in a tough spot. And finally, Bridge of Spies is too safe and unsurprising to take the prize.

That leaves us with four movies- Spotlight, The Revenant, The Big Short and Mad Max: Fury Road. The latter choice is pretty unlikely- after all, over at Gold Derby, Mad Max has a 1% chance to win. But with so much support in the lower technical categories, the achievement of George Miller's film cannot be ignored. The chances are slim, but it's still a factor in the race.

The Big Short and Spotlight are the two most beloved choices. Everybody in the Academy likes these films, and they'll benefit enormously from the Oscars' preferential ballot system. That system requires that all members rank the Best Picture winners from #1 to #8 and benefits a more consensus pick, instead of the film with the most ardent support. Both well-liked films, these two have been in a dogfight all season.

The Revenant is the hot pick right now. It has scooped up wins at the Directors Guild, the Golden Globes, and the BAFTAs, leading the charge into Oscar night. However, Alejandro G. Inarritu's frontier Western epic is divisive and brutal, two things that the Oscars don't usually favor. So there are a lot of questions about The Revenant.

It's honestly still a toss-up. Any one of those three films could win. But I have to go with history. The Producers Guild Award has matched up with the Best Picture trophy for the last nine years, mostly because of the balloting similarities. So I'm going with The Big Short. But I could be very wrong. Nothing in this category would surprise me.

Those are my picks for the 2016 Academy Awards. Here's hoping for a fun and entertaining night. Looking forward to Chris Rock's complete skewering of the Academy.

Image Credits: Variety, Forbes, Hollywood Reporter, Screen Rant, Guardian, Telegraph, Rolling Stone, NPR, Rolling Stone, Variety, Vanity Fair, Telegraph, YouTube, NY Times, Hollywood Reporter, Joblo

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