Lito’s Oscar 2016 Predictions, Episode II: Major Arcana
Here we have my exclusive Oscar predictions seen here first on The Worst Show on the Web. I’m gonna see if I can give Chris a run for his money on predictions this year! Always fun to have more than one person to discuss with! Welcome to Part 2!
INTRO THOUGHTS ON PREDICTION & OSCAR PUNDITRY
Having been heavily into the Oscars for over twenty years now and been in the hardcore punditry and predicting game for well over a decade, I’ve learned some crucial things about predicting the winners and nominees. The main things:
- The general movie-going audience does not vote for the Academy Awards.
- One’s personal feelings about the films has little to no business in the prediction game.
- While there stereotypically has been a typical “Oscar” movie, that trend has been shifting slowly and noticeably over the past decade and some change.
- Oscar loves to see Hollywood in a positive light.
- Pay ATTENTION to the films that win at the guild awards (e.g. SAG, PGA, DGA, ACE Eddies, Cinematography Guild etc) Lots of members from these respective guilds are crossover voters to the Academy. Unlike the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards (BFCA), which have no overlap, the guilds speak much stronger. Lots of times these can correlate, but Globes and BFCA aren’t always the strongest indicators presaging an Oscar victory. It’s the guild awards that tend to seal deals.
- Liberal and humanitarian issues can go a long way.
- What you think and what Oscar thinks can vary dramatically. Learning their mind is the name of the game. It’s never an exact science and often-times it surprises! This is a game where it can often be fun and more exciting to be wrong in what you predict. You’re either pleasantly surprised or learn a whole bunch.
Now, on to the major categories! Remember: my personal opinions of the films are not what shapes my predictions and these are not reflective necessarily of my own personal opinions. That list will come next!
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Anomalisa, Boy and the World, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep Movie, When Marnie Was There.
LOWDOWN: It’s pretty much a sealed deal for Pixar’s Inside Out. I mean, Anomalisa has a slim chance at upsetting, but its misanthropic tone is not going to be embraced universally by the industry in the non-critics community and thus plays better as a critic’s film than an Oscar one. The others are lucky to be here and on a side note, hurrah for Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There for scoring a nod!
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia) Mustang (France) Son of Saul (Hungary) Theeb (Jordan) A War (Denmark)
LOWDOWN: Here’s another race where it’s a one-trick pony. Son of Saul is the way to go and that’s pretty much that. It’s an innovative, exquisitely crafted Holocaust themed film. Not only does the backdrop reek of Academy, but it showcased a brilliant new talent in director Laszlo Nemes who we will inevitably see back in this corner again. Any other winner would be “inconceivable!”
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Big Short, Brooklyn, Carol, The Martian, Room
LOWDOWN: This is the category where The Big Short, an undeniable industry zeitgeist favorite, has its best shot at securing a trophy. The Big Short’s recent PGA win should be a heavy indication that this film means business. The WGA Awards will tell us more, but if any film were to upset, I’m betting on Room for an upset. Despite The Martian’s exuberant praise for its screenplay adaptation, the fact that Room scored surprisingly in the Best Director category indicates that there is some serious passion behind the film and if the love extends past Best Actress frontrunner Brie Larson, then you could well see a win in this category. It probably won’t happen and The Big Short’s cheeky, zippy comedy laced with a soul-crushing backdrop will probably win it here.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Bridge of Spies, Ex Machina, Inside Out, Spotlight, Straight Outta Compton
LOWDOWN: This is another race where it really comes down to one solid, deserving and viable contender: Spotlight. Even if the film melts down in every other category, this is the one place where it has its strongest shot at a prize. The script is vibrant and alive as well as a brilliantly executed procedural of investigative journalism while also managing to tackle a serious-issue in a delicate and dignified manner. The script has received specific praise for this achievement. Inside Out might be a better shot if it had more nomination totals and the Academy wasn’t so prejudiced against animated films winning in major categories. The controversy about #OscarsSoWhite could boost the chances of Straight Outta Compton pulling off a surprise win. The other two nominees are just sitting pretty. While it’s tempting to look in other arenas, the hard copy is this: Spotlight will win no less than one Oscar and if just one, this is it!
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara in Carol
Rachel McAdams in Spotlight
Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs
LOWDOWN: After much deliberation over the past few weeks, SAG has spoken and has cleared a better consensus for this race. This will be a battle between tremendous rising star Vikander and industry fave Winslet both offering excellent performances in The Danish Girl and Steve Jobs respectively. Winslet won the Globe, but honestly, that was because both Vikander and Rooney Mara were up for Leading Actress at the Globes, so Winslet was kind of a default. Vikander won the Critics’ Choice Award as well as SAG. The latter of which puts her at first place. It’s a well-respected performance and the momentum is there. Winslet could win the BAFTA Award, whre Vikander is also up for Best Actress, but that still won’t eke Alicia out of the top spot especially since Steve Jobs only received a low two nominations (for its actors). Rooney Mara would have been a better shot if she had won some major prizes, but that time came and went. Leigh and McAdams are safely at bay as Spotlight’s actors really haven’t won much awards steam and The Hateful Eight is a very divisive film despite a great turn from Jennifer Jason Leigh. Look for Vikander to be the winner.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Christian Bale in The Big Short
Tom Hardy in The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight
Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone in Creed
LOWDOWN: The name of this tune is: Can anyone stop Stallone? After the SAG Awards decided to award Idris Elba for his riveting turn in Beasts of No Nation, and the first time an actor won a SAG Award without a corresponding Oscar nod, the race may have seemed to be more confusing, but in fact what that did was help Stallone’s road to Oscar even more. Stallone’s emotionally effective turn as his iconic Rocky Balboa in Creed was a hit with critics and audiences and the Academy joined the bandwagon of the narrative. Stallone was nominated almost forty years ago for acting and screenwriting and lost while Rocky went on win Best Picture. He is the comeback kid underdog of the year. Oscar voters love a narrative like that and his high profile wins at Critics’ Choice and Golden Globes adds to his case. Sentiment will carry Sly all the way. This time, he will go the distance and get the glory… and the gold.
On the opposing side, there’s Mark Rylance who was touted as an Oscar shoo-in early in the season. Rylance’s losses for BFCA, Globes, and SAG seem to indicate that his quiet and affecting performance is admired, but probably won’t translate to a win. He is a British theatre actor making his big entrance to the film industry and his performance is more a critics’ favorite than a bona fide Oscar contender. Christian Bale could ride The Big Short steam, but despite racking up nominations everywhere he hasn’t won. He’d be a bigger threat if he hadn’t won in this category five years ago for The Fighter. Tom Hardy could be a dark horse surprise for his menacing turn in The Revenant. However, his nomination was a surprise to start with (if you can believe that) and only if The Revenant train is on fire could he upset Stallone’s moment. Ruffalo will be sitting this one out again. Basically, I think Rylance is the only person who could beat Stallone, but I think Rocky wins this round.
Cate Blanchett in Carol
Brie Larson in Room
Jennifer Lawrence in Joy
Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn
LOWDOWN: As the days go by, it’s becoming more evident that this race really belongs to one person: Brie Larson. Her emotionally rich work in Room was much talked about early in the season and has continued to stay solidly strong winning multiple critics’ awards as well as wins from BFCA, Globes, and SAG proving her case. Room has passion as mentioned previously and this is the place where it will be honored. Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn is the only other contender who could possibly overthrow this lead. Charlotte Rampling got in on pure passion despite being snubbed for nominations almost everywhere else, but 45 Years is quiet and brooding and may not reflect all Academy tastes. Jennifer Lawrence has had her cake and will not ear it here. Based on the mixed response to Joy, she’s lucky she got in. And yes, the great Cate Blanchett is here for Carol. However, had she not won her second Oscar two years ago, she may have had a case here. As it’s not, she will be sitting this one out. Only Larson has garnered the necessary steam to make her the clearest outcome.
Bryan Cranston in Trumbo
Matt Damon in The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl
LOWDOWN: Sometimes, there’s an acting race that’s a done deal before the nominees even are announced. This year, the narrative of the great Leo winning his long, overdue Oscar is the song that will end all the way to the podium. There really is no stopping this face. Supporting Leo is The Revenant being the most nominated film this year and many applauding his intense physical commitment to the role. Many consider this a feat of acting and many more still find him to be overdue. There really isn’t anyone else who’s going to win this. Matt Damon stands a super small chance in 2nd place, but even that is a long shot. Everyone else is happy to be here. Redmayne might have made more of a play if he hadn’t won last year. Fassbender would’ve been stronger if his film had scored more Academy support and Cranston is the saving grace of the enjoyable but schmaltzy Trumbo. Okay, Leo… the stage is yours.
Lenny Abrahamson for Room
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu for The Revenant
Tom McCarthy for Spotlight
Adam McKay for The Big Short
George Miller for Mad Max: Fury Road
LOWDOWN: This is arguably the most up in the air race at the moment. The DGA, which is a very strong indicator of who will win this award is not announcing until next week. Right now, there’s a split. It could go many ways. George Miller is the critical favorite, also winning the BFCA for Mad Max, but the fact that the film could be written off as a glossy genre pic could end up hurting him when push comes to shove. The Globes named Inarritu the Best Director for his uncompromising and visually transcendent The Revenant. The Mc-Fellows, Tom McCarthy and Adam McKay are also in the mix due to their films being potential Best Picture favorites. However, McKay’s roots in broad comedy hasn’t washed off just yet. Only if the DGA sings his praises can be a serious contender. Ditto McCarthy who has yet to win a major prize for Spotlight. Lenny Abrahamson was a surprise nominee for Room, indicating that they truly like the film, but that’s as far as it goes for him. At the moment, Inarritu has the edge. His is a true director’s film and him winning last year for Birdman (his biggest detractor) may have to be overlooked as he becomes only the third director to win back-to-back Directing Oscars. Miller is breathing down his beck though. Let’s see what DGA says.
The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, The Revenant, Room, Spotlight
LOWDOWN: So, eight films got in, but truthfully only three are strong contenders for the win. Those films are: Spotlight, The Big Short, and The Revenant. The latter film leads the pack with 12 nominations and has heavy momentum at the moment. The Revenant won the Globe for Best Drama and if DGA honors Inarritu, then the film could ride its way to the podium. The Big Short, a film that keeps sneaking up there just won the crucial PGA Award which almost always indicates a Best Picture victory. The film’s timeliness and liberal Hollywood (big stars, big issues) narrative could push it all the way. Spotlight has been the critical favorite all along also winning the BFCA and SAG Ensemble Award (also a strong indicator for the big prize) The DGA award really will have the finishing touch on this nail-biter of a race.
Many people feel Mad Max is a strong, viable choice for the win. It does have 10 nominations, but ultimately, the film is likely to fall victim to being written off as a genre picture. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was a heavy exception for an example. Heck, even Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. couldn’t win the big prize. If Miller wins the DGA though, the film could stand a slight chance. The Martian is a film that’s talked about as a serious contender. I would argue though that its lack of a Director nomination for Ridley Scott as well as a lack of a Film Editing nomination puts it at high disadvantage. It’s a superb popcorn film that probably doesn’t reach the bone of “depth” that Oscar seems to be looking for this year. All the other nominees are filling in. I wish Room could clinch it, but I’m living on Planet Earth, alas.
I will also be posting a vlog of myself talking about the major Oscar races in greater detail. More to come soon!