‘Mad Max,’ ‘The Revenant’ & ‘The Martian’ will lead Oscar nominations

oscars-olly-moss

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind month of so for me. Just as awards season started to get under way, I (as well as hundreds of my co-workers) found ourselves out of jobs – that too during the thick of the holiday season. Between hunting for gigs and trying to keep my cool, you can understand how writing about awards season would take a back-seat. Things are a lot better right now and I’m focusing on the future. That said, I couldn’t let a year go by without at least uploading my final Oscar predictions in all categories before nominations tomorrow. After all, as friends have stated in the past, Oscar nominations morning is kind of like Christmas morning to me.

Now, predicting the Oscar nominations (or even the winners) isn’t a science. Any idiot can predict them. All you have to do is obsess over awards season blogs and compare those predictions against the nominees from various guild groups. Add in some investigative work comparing trends over previous years and voila! You’ll be set for Oscar nomination morning with at least a 78% success rate.

Without further ado… My predictions in the majority of the categories (barring the Shorts).

 

BEST PICTURE

the-big-short

The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Spotlight
Straight Outta Compton

ALT: Room, Beasts of No Nation

I really wanted to go with Room here because I think the film does have its share of passionate supporters but the lack of a PGA nomination is troubling. Ditto Carol but somehow, I feel that the Weinsteins’ clout plus the film’s art house credentials will pull through. In a just world, Carol, Sicario, Room and Brooklyn would all be Best Picture nominees tomorrow morning. But we don’t live in one of those utopias, do we?

 

BEST DIRECTING

TheMartian-22

Todd Haynes – Carol
Alejandro G. Inarritu – The Revenant
Adam McKay – The Big Short
Ridley Scott – The Martian
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight

ALT: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road

I know, I know… blasphemy! I just have a bad feeling about George Miller. My head tells me to stick with him in place of Adam McKay or Tom McCarthy but my heart is telling me that the Academy is going to let me down tomorrow by overlooking the blockbuster guy just like they’ve done in previous years. This category rarely goes 5/5 with the DGA group and I just don’t think McCarthy or McKay are getting kicked to the curb.

 

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

the-revenant

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

ALT: Johnny Depp – Black Mass

Remember when Johnny Depp was deemed the frontrunner of this category? Man, those days feel like a long time ago. Nevertheless, this is another category that’s ripe for a surprise nominee but I feel confident in sticking with these five guys, who also happened to net nominations with BAFTA last week.  You know who I’d wish to see on the ballot tomorrow? Michael B. Jordan for Creed. Now THAT would be a deserved nomination!

 

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

brie-larson-room

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

ALT: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

Larson, Ronan and Blanchett are locked in, and have been locked in since early December. Meanwhile, Rampling has been the odd duck who hasn’t been able to catch a break with any of the precursors. Somehow, I think she pulls a Marion Cotillard and nets a nod for her haunting performance. As for the fifth spot, it was a toss-up between J.Law’s turn in the forgettable Joy and Vikander, the sole grace in the execrable The Danish Girl. Considering her studio has been campaigning her as Best Supporting Actress (the most egregious case of category fraud all year), I think she splits her votes between this and that category. The fact that she’s competing with one of her other acclaimed performances in the supporting category doesn’t really help either. I’m sticking with Academy favorite, J. Law.

 

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

spotlight-2

Christian Bale – The Big Short
Idris Elba – Beasts of No Nation
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone – Creed

ALT: Benicio Del Toro – Sicario

Man, this is one fucked up category. Not counting Del Toro, any one of the following guys could surprise tomorrow morning: Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Michael Shannon (99 Homes), Tom Hardy (The Revenant), Michael Keaton (Spotlight), Jacob Tremblay (Room) and Steve Carell (The Big Short). This category is such a toss-up that I won’t be surprised if Stallone, the supposed sentimental favorite and frontrunner, ends up missing. But if he nets that nomination, the Oscar is his to lose. FYI, if Idris Elba or Benicio Del Toro both fail to make the cut, be prepared for another round of #OscarSoWhite.

 

BEST ACTRESS INA SUPPORTING ROLE

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Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara – Carol
Helen Mirren – Trumbo
Alicia Vikander – Ex Machina
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

ALT: Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl

Another corker of a category – made more complicated by the dual cases of category fraud by the Weinstein Company and Focus Features. Vikander could just as easily pop up here for The Danish Girl as she could for Ex Machina. Both roles are leads being campaigned as supporting but at least the later is not as blatant as the former. Then there’s also the case of Mara, a co-lead whose perspective the story is told from. I still expect both to make the cut based on how the industry has voted so far. Also likely is Winslet, the recent Globe winner and Academy perennial nominees. Wouldn’t it be insane if both Leo and her won next month? Leigh feels like a place-holder but Tarantino’s films have done unusually well in this category in the past. Since Pulp Fiction in 1994, only the Kill Bill films failed to net a nod in one of the supporting categories. I’m going to ignore Death Proof for the sake of this argument for now.

 

BEST WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY)

spotlight

Bridge of Spies
The Hateful Eight
Ex Machina
Inside Out
Spotlight

ALT: Sicario

Spotlight, Bridge of Spies and Inside Out all seem like safe bets here while Quentin Tarantino is a perennial nominee in this category now so chalk him for his fourth Original Screenplay nomination. The last spot is a toss-up. Will the Academy go for the genre thrills of Sicario or lean sci-fi with Ex Machina. Both types of films tend to do well here but Alex Garland’s film is the showier capital O original one.

 

BEST WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

the-big-short

The Big Short
Carol
The Martian
Room
Steve Jobs

ALT: Brooklyn

Best Picture sure things The Big Short and The Martian should be safe bets here as is Steve Jobs (I’M A.A.R.O.N. S.O.R.K.I.N.! LOOK AT ME WRITE!) but the final two spots comes down to three films about women: Carol, Room and Brooklyn. I think the former two make the cut over the later, despite the love for Nick Hornby.

 

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

inside-out2

Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Prophet
Shaun the Sheep

ALT: The Peanuts Movie

Inside Out has this category in the bag. The others, including Charlie Kaufman, are here just for a nice trip to the Oscars.

 

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

son-of-saul

Mustang (France)
Labyrinth of Lies (Germany)
Son of Saul (Hungary)
Viva (Ireland)
Theeb (Jordan)

ALT: The Brand New Testament (Belgium)

Coming-of-age movies and World War II dramas are staples in this category so these five seem like relatively safe bets. Cannes sensation Son of Saul and Labyrinth of Lies are films that deal with the great war while Mustang, Viva and Theeb are all coming-of-age dramas set in developing nations.

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

Amy-Winehouse

Amy
Best of Enemies
Cartel Land
Listen to Me Marlon
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?

ALT: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

Amy is a done deal here. As are Cartel Land and The Look of Silence (the DGA winner). The last two spots are a toss up and have always given me trouble in the past. I’m going for one of the higher profile docs (Listen to Me, Marlon) as well as the Netflix doc (What Happened, Miss Simone) as that distributor has a knack of always getting one of its films into the nominee shortlist.

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

the-revenant-2

Bridge of Spies
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

ALT: The Hateful Eight

Both, the ASC and BAFTA went with the above five movies. Robert Richardson has a knack of making the cut even when he misses out on nominations with the ASC. But considering all the hoopla surrounding The Hateful Eight’s use of film and Panavision, you’d think this nomination would be a gimme. Not so. I’m passing on him for that very reason. Watch how I end up being wrong. If he makes the cut, it’ll be at the expense of Michael Kahn and Bridge of Spies.

 

BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Cinderella-2015

Carol
Cinderella
Crimson Peak
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road

ALT: Brooklyn

Sandy Powell is getting another pair of nominations to add to her 10. Her work on Carol and Cinderella are arguably the best of the bunch but will this branch see Cinderella to hand it a nomination? Likewise with Crimson Peak. Guillermo Del Toro’s gothic drama is the epitome of a costume drama in which no thread was spared. But have enough voters seen it? Fury Road will be the one “contemporary” nominee to make the cut (not to discount 9-time nominee Jenny Beavan’s equisite work) while The Danish Girl feels like the filler of the group.

 

BEST FILM EDITING

mad-max-fury-road-02

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

ALT: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Why oh why isn’t Creed part of the conversation in this category? Ditto, Spotlight‘s sublime cutting? This is a category usually populated by flashy Best Picture frontrunners (The Big Short, The Revenant) and high-octane, ground-breaking action movies (Mad Max: Fury Road). And then there’s the crowd-pleasing favorites made by legendary auteurs (Bridge of Spies, The Martian). The fact that The Force Awakens made the ACE Eddie cut over the likes of Spotlight and The Martian was telling that it has a healthy group of supporters. But are they enough to make it the first Star Wars film since A New Hope to make it in this category?

 

BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

mad-max-fury-road-01

Black Mass
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

ALT: Mr. Holmes

I went with two favored Best Picture nominees and another featuring a famous movie star with prominent make-up work. Also, Johnny Depp movies tend to fare really well in this category.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Bridge-of-Spies

Carol
The Hateful Eight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl

ALT: Spotlight

I was very temped to go with Inside Out here as Michael Giacchino has received nods (and one win) for two of his Pixar scores. Could this be number three? I’m going to say No for now. Carter Burwell’s score for Carol is the best thing I’ve heard all year so if he doesn’t receive his belated first nomination tomorrow morning, I’m going to scream! Morricone’s nomination is a Gold Watch sort of thing. Although the score was the best part of this entertaining but uneven film, he wouldn’t be receiving the nomination if he weren’t Morricone. Ditto John Williams. By the way, how weird would it be to see Thomas Newman making the cut here for scoring a Spielberg film while being nominated against John Williams? Not much but it’s a fun thought. Desplat will receive his annual nod for being consistent because The Danish Girl doesn’t deserve a penny for it’s Oscar whorish ways.

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Spectre-review02

This category is a crap shoot this year. It’s not worth discussing or thinking about so I won’t even bother. Who gives a fuck about a category in which Sam Smith’s wailing actually has a legitimate shot at a nomination?

  

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

bridge-of-spies-mark-rylance

Bridge of Spies
Cinderella
Crimson Peak
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

ALT: Carol

This is a really tough one with my favorite being Adam Stackhousen’s work on Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies. But the rest of the group that I’m predicting ain’t too shabby either. Guillermo Del Toro is taking up Tim Burton’s place as the filmmaker whose films almost always net nominations in the costumes and production design fields while Mad Max has had this nomination sewed up ever since May. Dante Ferretti  is a favorite here – having won three gongs in the last decade – so I certainly feel comfortable chalking him in especially since his work on Cinderella is the most lavish of the year. As for the choice of The Force Awakens over Carol? It all comes down to flashiness.

 

BEST SOUND MIXING

the-force-awakens

Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

ALT: Sicario

 

BEST SOUND EDITING

the-force-awakens

The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

ALT: Inside Out

The Martian, The Force Awakens, The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road seem like safe bets to land in at least one of these two sound categories, if not both. Picking the last one is the tough part. I thought about Straight Outta Compton in the Sound Mixing category, seeing how musicals do well here and all but it still feels like a one nomination and done type of deal to me so I went with the respected action movie, Sicario. Meanwhile, The Hateful Eight surprised with a strong showing at the MPSE so that was enough to give me the confidence to place it here.

 

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Star-Wars-TFA-14

Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Walk

ALT: Ant-Man

The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Martian are locks in this category. For the last two spots, I decided to go with two relatively lower-scale efforts – The Walk and The Revenant – both which use visual effects seamlessly to weave their stories. The former uses visual trickery to create that immense sense of vertigo while the later applied it to astounding effect in that bear attack scene. Of course, I could be completely wrong here and the Academy will end up going with the summer’s two biggest blockbusters – Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but I’m hoping they wont.

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