Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 Oscar Nomination Predictions

THANK GOD. MAD MAX is a Best Picture nominee and so is George Miller. I never though it could really  happen, but I'm glad it did. But no Ridley Scott?? That is crazy. Other surprises: No Hateful Eight for Original Screenplay or Steve Jobs for Adapted Screenplay. No Furious Seven for Best Song.  No Good Dinosaur OR Peanuts Movie for Animated Feature replaced by two films no one saw coming. Alicia Vikander ended up in Supporting leaving a space open for Jennifer Lawrence to squeeze in (Joy's only nomination). Tom Hardy made it into Supporting (deservedly so) there was plenty of love for Room but not for its young star. I'm glad Sicario got nominated for Best Score; it's a dark and foreboding and great score. The biggest headscratcher for many people will be The 100 Year Old Man for best makeup, I'm glad I saw that one coming. Overall not a terrible job, Academy! The Revenant leads with 12 and Mad Max follows with 10 and then The Martian with 7. Three of my favorite films of the year, so I can't complain! See you in February.




It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's Oscar time. I know I know, get a life. I can't help it. It's just fun, okay. You know what though? This is a tough year. There are so many unknowns. Take for instance the biggest question mark of them all for me this year: "Mad Max." When I first saw it,  I instantly loved it. I never thought in a million years it would be in the Oscar conversation outside of a few possible tech nods. Now it could tie or lead nominations? But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Something isn't sitting right with me. There's always that one film that seems like a lock because it shows up in the guilds and other awards but ends up an also ran. I'm talking about films like last year's "Gone Girl" or still fresh in many a fan boy's mind "The Dark Knight." There are so many directions the Academy could go in it makes my head hurt. We shall see. And without further ado my 85% fearless Oscar nomination predictions.

Best Picture
There are 11 films vying for 10 possible slots. It’s really just a guessing game at this point since all the previous award bodies and guilds hasn’t given those of us who care about this stuff much help. There are however, a few films that appear to be locks for nominations. Those are “Spotlight,” “The Big Short,” “The Revenant,” and “The Martian.” Many would say “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a lock. I’m hesitant. Let me take you back to 2009 when many forecasted (myself included) major nominations for a little film called “The Dark Knight.” Sure there were only five slots back then, but I still don’t think it would have been nominated with ten slots to fill. It was a sequel AND a comic book movie. I just wasn’t really buying it and though eventually I did buy into it, I had serious doubts. Why do I get the sneaking suspicion that “Mad Max” is ripe for a few surprising snubs? These are the same people who snubbed Christopher Nolan for best director (*twice*). Or my hunch could be totally wrong and it gets in. I’m still doubtful even with mentions from DGA and PGA to call this a sure thing. Moving on. The next likely candidates include “Brooklyn,” “Carol,” “Room,” and “Bridge of Spies.” The real question mark is “Straight Outta Compton” which has been making some traction of late, as is “Sicario.” And I guess “Ex Machina” is perhaps a possibility since it got in at PGA (but so did Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone back in the day people), but I would genuinely be SHOCKED if it made it in. I’m pretty sure the final tally (which will likely end up being maybe 8 or 9 nominees) will be made up of some combination of these films:

Projected nominees (in order of likelihood of being nominated):
“Spotlight”
“The Big Short”
“The Revenant”
“The Martian”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Brooklyn”
“Carol”
“Room”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“Straight Outta Compton”
Alternate – “Sicario”

Best Director
Ever since the Academy extended the Best Picture field to 10 possible nominees many wondered if a director could be nominated without his or her movie being up for Best Picture. We all surprisingly found out last year when Bennett Miller made the cut for Best Director for “Foxcatcher” without a corresponding Picture nomination. And in a weird way it makes sense: directors nominate directors but the entire Academy nominates Best Picture. I can’t foresee that happening this year however. There seem to be four likely directors: last year’s winner Alejandro G. Inarritu for “The Revenant,” Tom McCarthy for “Spotlight,” Ridley Scott for “The Martian,” and weird as it may sound Adam McKay for “The Big Short” (Yes, the guy who gave us Anchorman and Step Brothers will soon be an Oscar nominee). That leaves an empty fifth slot. Most people are going with George Miller for “Mad Max.” Not so fast. This category is known for throwing in a curve ball and leaving out even frontrunners. Remember Ben Affleck? And God forbid a female director (Kathrine Bigelow) be nominated twice! Besides, the BAFTAs snubbed “Mad Max” in directing and Best Picture, which is sometimes telling. I can easily see this branch rewarding a smaller, intimate movie like “Carol” over the bombastic visuals of “Mad Max.” But they’re also unlikely to nominate Todd Haynes for this female-centric lesbian drama. Or they can just go with a familiar veteran like “Spielberg.” However, as much as they loved “American Sniper” last year, they didn’t even nominate Clint Eastwood. I wouldn’t even be shocked if “Room” or “Sicario’s” director’s names were announced. Though, it could be George Miller after all.

Projected nominees:
Alejandro G. Inarritu “The Revenant”
Tom McCarthy “Spotlight”
Adam McKay “The Big Short”
Ridley Scott “The Martian”
Steven Spielberg “Bridge of Spies”
Alternate – George Miller “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Best Actor
Two words: Leonardo. DiCaprio. It’s his year, I can feel it. So he’s in for “The Revenant.” Who else? His closest competition is Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs.” Then Matt Damon’s charming performance in “The Martian” feels pretty secure. So does last year’s winner Eddie Redmayne for “The Danish Girl” (and would probably feel like the frontrunner if he hadn’t already won for “The Theory of Everything”). Who gets the fifth nomination? There are many possibilities. It could be Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo” who got Globe, BAFTA, and SAG nods (though SAG also includes many TV actors who aren’t in the Academy). Though he does play a real life person in an eccentric role which boosts his chances. There’s also Johnny Depp who seemed like a lock months ago for “Black Mass” though it doesn’t seem like anyone’s talking about the film anymore. It could go to Steve Carrell in “The Big Short” or even Michael Caine in “Youth.” Or heck there's even wild card Will Smith for “Concussion.” The Academy somewhat deservedly got way too much flack for that #OscarsSoWhite hashtag last year.

Projected nominees:
Bryan Cranston “Trumbo”
Matt Damon “The Martian”
Leonardo DiCaprio “The Revenant”
Michael Fassbender “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne “The Danish Girl”
Alternate – Johnny Depp, “Black Mass”


Best Actress
Both actress categories are pretty crazy this year because of a couple actors who have some category confusion going on. One of whom is Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl.” Many are predicting her in supporting but I think the Academy will come to their senses and put her here where she belongs. Then there’s frontrunner Brie Larson in “Room” and Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn” (who still feels too young to win, or is it just me?) nipping at her heels. Cate Blanchett feels like a lock for “Carol” though her co-star Rooney Mara is likely to show up in the supporting race, but can’t necessarily be counted out here as well. I never bet against Jennifer Lawrence but her film “Joy” hasn’t been very well received. She could easily score here, but I’m betting the Academy will go their own way and nominated Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years.” Of course, if Vikander gets put in supporting it opens yet another slot that Lawrence could easily fill. We’ll have to see.

Projected nominees:
Cate Blanchett “Carol”
Brie Larson “Room”
Charlotte Rampling “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan “Brooklyn”
Alicia Vikander “The Danish Girl”
Alternate – Jennifer Lawrence “Joy”

Best Supporting Actor
Easily one of the most difficult categories to predict this year. Which is funny because last year there were five likely candidates and no surprises. Most of the mystery surrounds the film “Spotlight.” There are many actors in the film and both Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo seemed like locks, but then neither of them showed up at the Globes or SAG. Spotlight has to show up here if wants to go all the way to win Best Picture. I still say Ruffalo feels like a lock. Though they could just cancel each other out. No one really feels like safe bet though except for maybe Sylvester Stallone in “Creed.” This category usually functions as a “reward the veteran” for some nominees anyways. Christian Bale is possible for “The Big Short,” which also features a large male ensemble. Mark Rylance has had the most buzz going into award season and seemed like the frontrunner for a while for “Bridge of Spies.” Ditto Idris Elba for “Beasts of No Nation.” Who else can there be? How about “Room’s” Jacob Tremblay? Michael Shannon? Tom Hardy? Benicio Del Toro? Your guess is as good as mine.

Projected nominees:
Christian Bale “The Big Short”
Mark Ruffalo “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance “Bridge of Spies”
Sylvester Stallone “Creed”
Jacob Tremblay “Room”
Alternate – Idris Elba “Beasts of No Nation”

Best Supporting Actress
Another category with big question marks. Not only do Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander have lead roles in “Carol” and “The Danish Girl” respectively, but Vikander has a whole other movie to be possibly nominated for: “Ex Machina.” Let’s discuss the locks. Kate Winslet who won a surprise Golden Globe seems like a lock for “Steve Jobs.” So do Jennifer Jason Leigh for “The Hateful Eight” and Rachel McAdams as the sole female role in “Spotlight.” Now it gets trickier. Vikander has shown up in both BAFTA and the Globes in both categories for “Danish Girl” and “Ex Machina.” I think Mara will show up here, if not I think she’s out of it for good. If she or Vikander don’t make it in this is a prime slot to put the well-loved Helen Mirren, who is easily becoming the British Meryl Streep, for her scenery chewing role in “Trumbo.” I’ve even heard Joan Allen’s name thrown around for her supporting work in “Room” and could show up here without any other previous mentions like last year’s Laura Dern.

Projected nominees:
Jennifer Jason Leigh “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara “Carol”
Rachel McAdams “Spotlight”
Alicia Vikander “Ex Machina”
Kate Winslet “Steve Jobs”
Alternate - Helen Mirren “Trumbo”

Best Original Screenplay
It seems that many of the potential Best Picture nominees come from adapted material, which leaves this category open for a wide variety of prospective nominees. “Spotlight” seems like a given here, especially if it's going to be a frontrunner for Best Picture. If my sentiments are correct “Straight Outta Compton” could show up here as well. And who can rule out two almost guarantees in this category: Pixar and Quentin Tarantino. I'd be shocked if “Inside Out” or “The Hateful Eight” didn't show up here. And lastly the fifth spot could go to another highly original character study: the much buzzed about “Ex Machina.” I'm hesitant because sci-fi films don't always do that well in this category (ask Gravity or Avatar) but those were big budget spectacles. Of course you could ask Looper where it's nomination went to. The other likely spoiler is for another Best Picture possibility, “Bridge of Spies.” I feel like it comes down to a mix of these six, though random movies always seem to sneak in here, especially of the foreign persuasion…

Projected nominees:
“Ex Machina”
“Inside Out”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Spotlight”
“Straight Outta Compton”
Alternate - “Bridge of Spies”

Best Adapted Screenplay
And here we find the rest of the Best Picture candidates duking it out for five adapted screenplay slots. I'd say they'll come down between these six: “Steve Jobs,” “The Big Short,” “Brooklyn,” “Carol,” “Room” and “The Martian.” Since the movie based on the popular novel got left out last year (“Gone Girl”) I'm gonna say “The Martian” is on the outside looking in. Other possibilities include “Anomalisa” and “Trumbo” the later of which is all about Hollywood and the former comes from the crazy mind of Academy favorite Charlie Kaufman.

Projected nominees:
“The Big Short”
“Brooklyn”
“Carol”
“Room”
“Steve Jobs”
Alternate - “The Martian”

Best Cinematography
One of the most likely nominees is Roger Deakins for “Sicario.” The man is disturbingly devoid of any Oscars but he's been nominated like a million times. Honestly, I think I loved the music for “Sicario” even more than the photography but contrary to popular belief the Academy doesn’t care what I think. Deakins work is still suburb and will be among the nominees. I think the frontrunners here will be Edward Lachman’s 16mm shot “Carol” and previous two-time Oscar winner Emmanuel Lubeski for “The Revenant.” Can Lubeski really win three times in a row? It would certainly be unprecedented. And after all, the cinematographer’s names aren’t on the actual final ballots so anything is possible. That leaves two slots. Whether “Mad Max” shows up in Best Picture or not it’s practically guaranteed a place here for John Seale, who came out of retirement to shoot one of the most fantastically lensed action films of recent memory. Who gets the fifth slot? It could be either “Bridge of Spies” (Spielberg’s go-to DP Janusz is a favorite of this branch after all) or even “The Martian” since 3D films have done pretty well here as of late. Sometimes the cinematographers like to throw a random curve ball and nominate some random black & white or foreign film (i.e., “Son of Saul”) no one is expecting but I think they’ll gravitate towards past winner Robert Richardson’s glorious 65mm lensing of “The Hateful Eight.”

Projected nominees:
“Carol”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
“Sicario”
Alternate – “Bridge of Spies”

Best Costume Design
The live-action fantasy “Cinderella” is the closed thing we've got this year to a Victorian England period piece. As soon as I saw the trailer I knew it would be a front runner. Other likely candidates are “Carol” and “The Danish Girl.” And finally I think the Academy will embrace the fantastical costuming in “Mad Max Fury Road” and the not-that-well-received “Crimson Peak.” “Brooklyn” is a possibility here but I'm not sure the costumes are all that flashy enough for this branch. Of course, no one seems to be mentioning the fact that there's a Shakespearean film out there too with potential to spoil: “Macbeth.”

Projected nominees:
“Carol”
“Cinderella”
“Crimson Peak”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
Alternate - “Macbeth”

Best Film Editing
In the past I would have said a movie has to be at least nominated here if it's going to win Best Picture and then “Birdman” went ahead and threw those unofficial rules out the window. To be fair, the film was edited to look like it was shot in one take. So I say that wasn't just a coincidence. Some of the likely candidates here appear to be “Spotlight,” “The Big Short,” “The Martian,” and “Mad Max: Fury Road.” I feel like this years surprise omission is “The Revenant.” It's a strong contender but since Stephen Mirrocone was looked over last year, he could either make it in or be snubbed again. In the last three years all the films nominated in this category were also nominated for Best Picture. But I say a film like “Sicario” (which got an ACE Eddie nod) can make it in here as could films like “Bridge of Spies” or “Steve Jobs.” Long story short, if “Spotlight” misses here it's frontrunner status is officially done.

Projected nominees:
“The Big Short”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“Sicario”
“Spotlight”
Alternate - “The Revenant”

Best Makeup & Hairstyling
If “Mad Max” doesn't show up here then something is seriously wrong. It's really the only film with fantastical makeup of the shortlisted films. “The Revenant” is almost a lock here too. That leaves one possible wild card. They also like to throw in a headscratcher like, say, last year's “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.” This branch LOVES aging makeup which is why I'm going with the film no one, myself included, has ever even heard of “The 100-Year-Old Man.”

Projected nominees:
“The 100-Year-Old Man”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
Alternate – “Black Mass”


Best Production Design
Back in the day modern films could usually contend in this category (previously known as Best Art Direction). That doesn't really seem to be the case anymore. If you're a period film or a fantasy film you're most likely in. “Cinderella” and “Mad Max” seem very likely here as does “The Danish Girl.” They're also likely to show up in Costume Design. Same with “Crimson Peak,” a film that could get in despite it's lack of strong critics reviews. There's always a random nominee most people never saw coming. I feel like that makes sense to me. It feels sort of foolish to bet against something like “Carol” but I think “Bridge of Spies” will take the 1950s period slot. Those looking for something more fantastically could easily go for “Star Wars The Force Awakens.”

Projected nominees:
“Bridge of Spies”
“Cinderella”
“Crimson Peak”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
Alternate - “Carol”

Best Score
This is one of my favorite Oscar categories. The music score is the soul of the film. Even bad movies can have amazing scores. One observation I’ve noticed over the years is that it’s sometimes difficult for newcomers to get into this category. Usually the list consists mostly of previous nominees and winners (though ironically usually newcomers win just ask Thomas Newman, James Newton Howard or Danny Elfman), so much of predicting this category comes with figuring out which non-previous nominee will make it in. The most likely is Carter Burwell for “Carol.” Though, I’m not so sure. He certainly isn’t a new composer; he’s worked extensively with the Coens and others for years. But if he can’t even get nominated for his masterful “Fargo” score (in a year that even had 10 nominees in two categories!) then I say he’s out. That leaves the other obvious choices which include: three previous winners John Williams for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, Michael Giacchino for “Inside Out,” and the always nominated Alexandre Desplat for “The Danish Girl.” And then there’s perennial bridesmaids Thomas Newman for “Bridge of Spies” and Ennio Morricone for “The Hateful Eight.” Morricone feels like the frontrunner here. Previous nominee Johann Johannsson (“Sicario”) and previous winner Howard Shore (“Spotlight”) are possibilities as are newcomers Tom Holkenborg (“Mad Max Fury Road”) and Golden Globe nominee Daniel Pemberton (“Steve Jobs”). In the end, the alternate choice is still “Carol.”

Projected nominees:
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Danish Girl”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Inside Out”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
Alternate – “Carol”

Best Song
You're guess is as good as mine. There's a list out there somewhere (actually it's on the Academy's website) of all the possible submissions. The Academy tends to shy away from the popular songs and films and instead make many out-of-the-box picks. That's how you get random nominees from films you've probably never heard of. I'd be surprised if the song from “Furious Seven” failed to make the cut since the song's placement in the film is so strong. (The music branch listens to the song in context of the film so songs that play during the film instead of, say, at the end credits are more likely to make an impact). Lady Gaga could be a first time nominee for the song she wrote for the documentary “The Hunting Ground.” I feel like an obvious pick would be the James Bond song, but since those films have terrible track records in this category (“Skyfall” is the only Oscar winning James Bond song ever) it feels like “been there done that.” I feel like they'll look elsewhere. On a side note, I also have reservations about “Fifty Shades of Grey” being an Oscar nominee.

Projected nominees:
Feels Like Summer from “Shaun the Sheep Movie”
See You Again from “Furious Seven”
Simple Song 3 from “Youth”
So Long from “Concussion”
Til Happens to You from “The Hunting Ground”
Alternate – Love Me Like You Do from “Fifty Shades of Grey”

Best Sound Editing
“Mad Max Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Sicario”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
Alternate - “The Hateful Eight”

Best Sound Mixing
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
“Straight Outta Compton”
Alternate - “Bridge of Spies”

Best Visual Effects
“Jurassic World”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
“The Walk”
Alternate - “The Revenant”

Best Animated Feature
Unlike last year, there are actually TWO Pixar films in the running. I'm wondering if the lukewarm reception will hurt “The Good Dinosaur's” chances therefore letting a more artsy, traditionally animated film (from the usually nominated animation company Gkids) sneak in. You know how finicky this branch is: remember when the world almost ended when “The LEGO Movie” failed to get nominated? I'm also iffy about “The Peanuts Movie.” If the TV centric “Simpsons Movie” couldn't get a nod, why would the TV centric Peanuts?

Projected nominees:
“Anomalisa”
“Inside Out”
“The Peanuts Movie”
“The Prophet”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
Alternate - “The Good Dinosaur”

Best Documentary Feature
The general rule of thumb here is that even the popular films tend to get snubbed here, ie, “Life Itself” about the late Roger Ebert. This year the popular film is “Amy” about the late Amy Winehouse. I'm just saying. I still think it gets in over other popular films like “Going Clear” (too controversial) and “Where to Invade Next”(too been there, done that). I also feel like if “The Hunting Ground” is going to be nominated for Best Song, it would be weird for it to not show up here, but who knows.

Projected nominees:
“Amy”
“Cartel Land”
“He Named Me Malala”
“Listen to Me Marlon”
“The Look of Silence”
Alternate - “The Hunting Ground”

Best Foreign Language Film
There's “Son of Saul” and then start throwing darts.

Projected nominees:
“The Brand New Testament”
“Son of Saul”
“Labyrinth of Lies”
“Mustang”
“Viva”
Alternate - “A War”

Best Animated Short
Bear Story
If I Was God
Prologue
Sanjay's Super Team
World of Tomorrow

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

Best Documentary Short
50 Feet From Syria
Body Team 12
Chau Beyond the Lines
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
A Girl in the River



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