My Best Guess for Oscar Winners

ORIGINAL SCORE:

Thomas Newman, Bridge of Spies
Carter Burwell, Carol
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario
John Williams, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SHOULD WIN:
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Sicario

WILL WIN:
Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

Ennio_Morricone

 

FILM EDITING:

The Big Short, Hank Corwin
Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
The Revenant, Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight, Tom McArdle
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

SHOULD WIN:
Mad Max: Fry Road, Margaret Sixel

WILL WIN:
Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel

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CINEMATOGRAPHY:

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

SHOULD WIN:
Sicario, Roger Deakins

WILL WIN:
Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant

THE REVENANT

 

ADAPATED SCREENPLAY:

The Big Short, by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn, by Nick Hornby
Carol, by Phyllis Nagy
The Martian, by Drew Goddard
Room, by Emma Donoghue

SHOULD WIN:
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short

WILL WIN:
Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short

the-big-short-cbale_02

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY:

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

SHOULD WIN:
Alex Garland, Ex Machina

WILL WIN:
Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, Bridge of Spies

bridge-of-spies

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:

Anomalisa
The Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

SHOULD WIN:
Anamolisa
Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant, beautiful stop motion film is at turns hilarious, sad, and life affirming, done in a way only Kaufman can. And it’s always nice to see an animated movie made explicitly (in some cases here literally) for adults.

WILL WIN:
Inside Out
It always comes down to Pixar. There’s no chance for When Marnie Was Here, a fine movie; likewise the shrill Shaun the Sheep Movie. I haven’t heard of The Boy and the World but I’m not banking on a surprise win for that. Anamolisa could pull the rug out and grab a very shocking win, but that’s more wishful thinking than any likelihood. It’s going to Pixar, for what I thought was one of their lesser efforts. The fact that the central idea and themes has always bugged me, because the movie sidelines that in favor of a standard chase-and-retrieve plot.

Inside-Out.jpg

 

SUPPORTING ACTOR:

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

SHOULD WIN:
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Hardy’s performance was a feat of villainy, a character so reprehensible he practically comes off the screen in his offense. There’s a good chance Hardy could win, though I think the buzzy Stallone is still a looming competitor.

WILL WIN:
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Everyone loves a good comeback, and you can’t deny that Stallone was improbably excellent in Creed, giving the best performance of his career. That’s faint praise, but Stallone is vulnerable in a way no one could have guessed he was capable of. For me he was the best part of the movie, yet let’s not fool ourselves into thinking he did that much. His performance is more a credit to director and co-writer Ryan Coogler than Stallone himself. Mark Ruffalo was very good but very sedate, fully inhabiting his character but providing none of the big moments the Academy likes. Just like McAdams, and Spotlight in general, it will be interesting to see what clips they use of the performances. Bale gave a wonderfully quirky, poignant performance and could pull an upset, but I don’t think it bodes well for his chances that his character is absent for most of the second half. Similarly, Mark Rylance did great work in Bridge of Spies, the film beginning as essentially a two-hander legal thriller between art lance and Hanks. But when the film moves into its (snail paced) spy dram section Rylance disappears and you almost forget about his character, a troublesome thing seeing as most of the movie’s dramatic tension hinges on Rylance’s fate. This is another example of a Nomination Win for Rylance, a veteran stage and screen actor the world over. I think ultimately Tom Hardy will prevail. Stallone was very good but he wasn’t quite good enough to win the Oscar. I think a lot of voters might recognize the nomination is mostly sentiment, and that Hardy’s performance was a far bigger acting feat. Then again, when has the Academy ever been fair, and we all know Stallone will die before Hardy, therefore making him instantly more likely for an Oscar.

the-revenant-tom-hardy

 

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:

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

SHOULD WIN:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Leigh did so much with relatively little, appearing in nearly every frame of the three hour movie but saying very little until the explosive last chapter. She conveys more in a sly look than most actors can in an entire monologue, and her entire character is wonderfully, dementedly funny. She has the potential to win, but I think it’s unlikely. The Hateful Eight wasn’t particularly well received – I myself didn’t care for it – and Leigh’s performance could be considered just a little too much. However, she’s a veteran actress with countless amazing roles under her belt, and the Academy just might want to take this opportunity to award the first time nominee for her body of work, as well as her barn burning performance.

WILL WIN:
Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
I think a couple factors will lead to Leigh winning here. First of all, the Academy usually licks the toes of any Tarantino movie since Inglorious Basterds, and the fact that the film’s only major nomination was Leigh’s (not even a writing nomination) and the fact that the Academy probably wants to stay on the good side of the Weinstein Company. Additionally, it feeds into what I said about a career encompassing award. Leigh has done amazing work, even just a few weeks ago in Anamolisa, and she tends to be picky about her roles so this might be the only chance to reward her. Then there’s the biggest part: no other performance on this list was as talked about, or as good for that matter. Mara is great in Carol, but the movie itself has generated barely any traction and I think people tend to find her a bit cold. McAdams is solid in Spotlight but it’s a very straight forward performance, nominated probably because it feels so absolutely lived in. Vikander is just doing an accent – an accent she already has by the way, a fucking con if you as me. Winslet was very good also but she’s another case of giving a good performance that was sort of forgotten about because the movie itself didn’t blow the roof off anything.

Kurt-Russell-Jennifer-Jason-Leigh-The-Hateful-Eight

 

BEST ACTRESS:

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

SHOULD WIN:
Brie Larson, Room

She’s a wonderful actress who’s flown under the radar for a long time now, and her performance here is astounding. The subtle believability that inhabits her character goes so far to make you think you’re watching a real person, even uncomfortable at times. I really think she could get it, too. Her character had the largest arc of any other character I saw this year, and as I write this I regret not including Room in my favorites of last year. It’s mostly subtle, which the Academy seems to go either way on, but she does have two “Oscar moments” that don’t feel contrived.

WILL WIN:
Brie Larson, Room
She’s without a doubt the most buzzed about performance on this list, and it helps that she’s up against a group of veterans – it’s odd to be calling Jennifer Lawrence a “veteran” isn’t it, now? – and long shots. Rampling is a nice choice for a nomination, but she’s doing great work in a movie that I think very few people saw. Blanchett and Lawrence were both great but they’ve been sufficiently awarded, and neither was so good in their respective role that they’re really calling out for an Oscar. Jennifer Lawrence should probably take a few years off from being nominated, just so she doesn’t get on a Meryl Streep path. The fact that Joy was nominated in no other categories makes her nomination feel somewhat obligatory, because though she was great the entire ensemble was just as good. It’s nice that Ronan got nominated, but both the performance and the movie are too understated to win. It has to be Larson, who has been building and maintaining acclaim since the end of the summer. And of course, it goes without saying the ingenue factor never hurt anyone.

Room-Brie-Larson

 

BEST ACTOR:

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

SHOULD WIN:
Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
I love Bryan Cranston and I was not let down by his poignant and prickly performance in Trumbo. Again, this is an actor fully inhabiting a character and adopting an entirely different persona. In a lot of ways this seems like a sure win. Oscar loves not only movies about Hollywood (which Trumbo is in much the same way Argo was) but actors who play real people over a long span of time. However, the movie was under publicized and under appreciated so I think a win for Cranston is ultimately unlikely.

WILL WIN:

Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Of course it has to go to Leo this year, finally, for his snarling, saliva drenched performance in the brutal western. He’s very good in the film, but he’s trying a little hard at this point and I want to see him just take it down a couple of notches. Most of the contenders on this list are also-rans. Cranston’s nomination is his win; Damon was great and has the very minuscule potential of pulling an upset, but it wasn’t some brilliant piece of acting. When you put Damon and DiCaprio up against each other, as two men struggling to survive, the obvious winner is not the guy boppin’ round to Waterloo. I haven’t seen The Danish Girl, but Eddie Redmayne annoys me. I hate when I can tell an actor is trying and he seems to be trying in such a fashion he’d be lucky not to pop a blood vessel. His win last year was a joke. Fassbender was tremendous in Steve Jobs, but the movie didn’t get any nominations for Best Picture, Directing, or the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and was sadly under-appreciated upon release, which in itself can be deadly to an acting candidate. This has to be Leo’s year. I think the Academy recognizes they legally have to give it to him at this point, or otherwise they’re responsible for the medical bills when he inevitably becomes the Johnny Knoxville of serious actors. He crawled into a horse, guys. Crawl in a horse, get an Oscar.

leonardo-dicaprio-the-revenant

 

BEST DIRECTOR:

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

SHOULD WIN:
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
40 years in the making, 70 year old Miller finally released his vision of apocalyptic Hell. Done with a minimal amount of CGI, the film is one of the most creatively and decadently constructed productions in years. The relentless pace somehow allows for just enough character development, the perfect amount to make you care about the characters quite deeply. Just as much credit is due to Miller’s wife, Margaret Sixel, who edited the film and leaves us with lots of long, luxuriant shots of the action and landscapes.

WILL WIN:
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
This is another tough call. Right away I’m going to rule out Adam McKay and Lenny Abrahamson. Great as their respective movies were, McKay is still too associated with the Will Ferrell dumb-comedy schtick to win an Oscar quite yet. In the future, perhaps. Abrahamson just has the unfortunate slot of producing the least flashy of the films on this list. The acting, pacing, editing, score and pretty much everything are all perfect, and Abrahamson takes dramatic and thriller elements that could be maudlin but melds them beautifully. Likewise, Spotlight director Tom McCarthy is probably going to be overlooked in favor of the flashier movies here, which basically boil down to Mad Mad: Fury Road and The Revenant. I think it’s unlikely that Alejandro G. Iñárritu will win two years in a row, but it’s not highly unlikely if you get what I mean. It could happen, and he’s certainly deserving because The Revenant was a helluva movie shot under insane conditions, but I think George Miller will take home the award. Mad Max, if you do a bit of Googling, was not the easiest shoot either. Swap cold for hot. Whether or not you liked Fury Road, or even saw it, you can’t deny it was one of the most universally praised movies of the year. Those that saw it know how absolutely wonderful an experience it is, verging on some sort of 4D technology. Miller, who directed the original three Mad Max films, created a genuine experience that had people returning time after time to experience it again. Every age range loved it. And if you didn’t, you just don’t get it. It’s hands down the most imaginative film of the year, elegantly shot and designed down to the utmost detail. That said, the entire loud and violent nature of the movie might not actually appeal to the older Academy members, despite Miller being 70. I’m giving Miller the edge, but Iñárritu may not be far behind.

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BEST PICTURE:

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

SHOULD WIN:
Mad Max: Fury Road
Like I keep saying, the most original and daring mainstream movie I saw this year. The talent behind it is just incredible and even if it is essentially just a chase movie it manages to create an entire world and immerse you in it for two hours. In terms of technical prowess I think it’s right up there with The Revenant but in a much different way.

WILL WIN:
Spotlight
It’s an Oscar movie, and it’s been getting a consistent amount of buzz going on four months now. The Big Short is the biggest candidate to pull an upset, which would be great because it deserves to win for it’s seamless blend of sardonic comedy and tragic drama. Bridge of Spies was a weird nomination to begin with; Brooklyn is just sort of pretty, and there’s always a pretty period piece; Room is too small and had problems with the story, and it’s more of an acting piece; Mad Max: Fury Road will be awarded in many other categories, I think, but they won’t name it best of the year because that would be in poor taste. Both The Revenant and The Martian, oddly similar but tonally opposite films, are popular with both audiences and critics, especially The Martian, but neither will win for different reasons. The Martian is too commercial. It’s the most commercial movie on this list, far more than Mad Max even, with plot holes you could drive a hovercraft through. The Revenant is a great movie but it’s too grim and slightly aimless to really strike a chord with whoever actually chooses who wins what. Also, Innaritu won last year (for Birdman) and I don’t see him winning two years in a row. That leaves Spotlight, a classic Oscar movie. Important, well acted, lightweight boring, and totally by-the-book.

spotlight_film_2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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