It’s a big weekend for film as the industry’s biggest night of the year takes place this Sunday, February 28, 2016. I think this year was excellent in terms of quality and progression of the art of filmmaking. I’m steering clear of the social and race discussion that has been making the headlines this year and chose to evaluate the nominees individually to come up with my predictions for who will go home winners and who will wind up empty handed.
Best Picture: Spotlight
The pace and flow of Spotlight is what made me enjoy it immediately, and the incredible script (see below) and composition is what made it stick with me. The unmatched ensemble performances by Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber and John Slattery work in every aspect. Tom McCarthy has emerged as a premier director (although I think he will be budged this year in that category). My personal favorite movie of this year was Mad Max: Fury Road by a long shot, but alas, it is not the type of movie that wins a Best Picture Oscar, but I would be thrilled to be wrong in this case.
My Backup Pick: The Revenant
The Revenant could steal this award, especially if it goes on a run with Best Actor and Best Director wins.
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio “The Revenant”
It’s Leo’s turn. If somehow he wakes up on Monday morning without a golden statue in bed with him, it will be the upset of the century.
My Backup Pick: None
Although Michael Fassbender had a stellar performance in Steve Jobs, there’s nobody touching Leo in this category.
Best Actress: Brie Larson “Room”
If Best Actor is a lock, Best Actress has a little more mystery. My frontrunner is Brie Larson for her performance in Room, but I think it’s possible for Saoirse Ronan to come away with the win. Both are fresh young actors in a category that usually favors career works over individual performances. Larson took home the Golden Globe and SAG award for this category, so it will come down to whether the Academy will follow suit or try to switch things up this year.
My Backup Pick: Saoirse Ronan “Brooklyn”
I think this is a head-to-head race between the two actresses, and both are deserving for their performances.
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone “Creed”
Creed surprised a lot of fans and critics (and even the studio) with the amount of praise and award buzz it received after coming out. It landed Stallone a nod for Best Supporting Actor, and I’m predicting he will land the award in another act of “body of work” appreciation rather than his individual performance in this movie.
My Backup Pick: Tom Hardy “The Revenant”
Tom Hardy has had a stellar year. His performances in Mad Max, Legend, and The Revenant have been stellar, and it will be a shame if the talented actor walks away from 2016 without a little golden statue for his work. Although, I think he will have plenty of more opportunities in the future.
Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet “Steve Jobs”
Perhaps this year’s most competitive field, all of the actresses dominated in their individual performances. My personal favorite was Kate Winslet’s poignant portrayal of Joanna Hoffman, the marketing executive who had the tenacity to stand up to Steve Jobs at Apple and NeXt. Although Winslet pulled off the Golden Globe win, she isn’t on most people’s lists to take home the Oscar, I think it could happen.
My Backup Pick: Alicia Vikander “The Danish Girl”
My second favorite movie of the year was the creepy and disturbing Ex Machina which got more than one snub in the nominations. Alicia Vikander can pull off the Supporting Actress win if the Academy takes into account her uncomfortably realistic performance in Ex Machina and her “more than supporting” performance in The Danish Girl.
Best Director: George Miller “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Australian director George Miller (director of the original Mad Max) is my hopeful winner to take home the Best Director win. While I don’t think it will take home Best Picture (explained above), I think it would be unfortunate to not reward Miller’s monumental achievement in film direction.
My Backup Pick: Alejandro G. Iñárritu “The Revenant”
Iñárritu is widely regarded as the favorite to take home the award (and repeat last year’s win for Birdman). This may very well happen, especially if the divisive film The Revenant has a run on Academy voters.
Best Original Screenplay: Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer “Spotlight”
Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer’s tale about the uncovering of the scandal surrounding the Catholic church by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team flows seamlessly from scene to scene, putting together a long and complex story into a film that doesn’t ever feel rushed or exhaustive.
My Backup Pick: Alex Garland “Ex Machina”
As stated before, this science fiction film was one of my favorites of the year. The story is unique and realistic, and the tone of the dystopian creation is just creepy enough. Being light on dialogue, I think it would be a surprise to win this weekend, but I’m putting it up here for its merit. Another likely upset could go to Disney/Pixar’s Inside Out because it is brilliant.
Best Adapted Screenplay: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph “The Big Short”
A frustrating story about the few traders who bet against the housing market in the months before The Great Recession, I worry that The Big Short may miss out on some other deserved awards, but should still walk away with Best Adapted Screenplay.
My Backup Pick: Drew Goddard “The Martian”
I’m a bit jaded with this one. I had the pleasure of reading Andy Weir’s brilliant novel a few month before the release of The Martian, and it made me judge the movie more than I would have otherwise. The changes made in the screenplay did not improve on the story, and I’m certain that the greatness of the novel is what is shining through more-so than the adaptations. It could walk away with the upset, though, because it was that good.
Best Animated Feature: Inside Out
Unlike what has been regarded as Pixar’s first big miss (The Good Dinosaur), Inside Out was a masterpiece in all aspects. The story was dynamic and emotional, the music accompanied the atmosphere of the film, the voice acting was on point and the world created by the film is one that will go down as one of the greatest animated features of all time.
My Backup Pick: None
This one is out on it’s own, and probably the biggest lock of the night. Anomalisa was an excellent film, but I don’t think it has a chance going up against the hit machine that is Disney/Pixar. Plus, watching a stop-motion sex scene is probably one of the weirdest experiences of my life.
So what do you think? Are my picks conservative, or too biased? Who do you think will take home the awards this weekend? And the most important question of all, which Oscars drinking game are you playing while you watch?