12 Oscar Predictions



I’m a movie geek at heart, to the extent that 15 years ago I financed my Capitol Hill internship not by tending bar but by working at Blockbuster Video.

Thus, here are my predictions for the 2016 Academy Awards (Oscars):

1. Best Picture

Should Win: The Big Short
Will Win: Spotlight

This is a competitive category because there are several legitimate contenders that could potentially gain momentum throughout the night and end up sweeping major categories.

Chief among these are Spotlight, The Big Short and The Revenant.

I’m torn because The Big Short was my favorite but Spotlight is the kind of heavy, depressing-but-redemption-themed film the Academy loves to reward.

And frankly, the film is better than the sum of its parts – while I could argue a win in an “ensemble acting” category, I don’t believe any of the individual acting warrants a “Best of the Year” award. So, if the Academy were to honor Spotlight with any major award, it should be Best Picture.

I preferred (and, frankly – was more impressed by) The Big Short, which likewise dealt with recent history and featured a superb ensemble cast.

The difference is The Big Short expressed moral outrage while also managing to explain very difficult financial concepts such as tranches and credit default swaps in plain English. It was also very, even savagely, funny. In short, this film had no reason to be nearly as entertaining as it was.

Then, of course, The Revenant could simply steamroll the competition, winning Best Picture, Director, Actor, and Cinematography. Sigh…

2. Best Director

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Will Win: The Revenant

As with Best Picture, Best Director is a competitive category this year with at least three amazing films that deserve praise.

Mad Max: Fury Road was not my cup of tea – in fact, I turned it off 40 minutes in. That said, the fact that Hollywood even let then-68 year-old George Miller return with another chapter in the franchise he started nearly 40 years ago is ludicrous.  That he pulled it off despite lacking original star Mel Gibson, and with myriad delays and financial setbacks of the Waterworld and Titanic variety, is even more impressive.

For the editing, style and practical effects alone, the movie warrants study in film class.

3. Best Actor

Should Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio

Fassbender was a credible Steve Jobs in a movie no one saw, and watching Matt Damon alone on Mars was infinitely more entertaining than watching Tom Hanks alone on an island a decade ago in Cast Away.

That said, this is Leo’s year. His fifth (!) acting nomination should finally bear fruit for a visceral, mostly silent performance in The Revenant.

4. Best Actress

Should Win: Brie Larson
Will Win: Brie Larson

Another strong category this year with deserving turns by Cate Blanchett, Saorirse Ronan and Brie Larson, it would be an upset if Brie Larson fails to win for Room.

That she came to my attention as the au pair in two-three episodes of my all-time favorite episodes of The League a few years ago shows just how far she’s come in a very short time.

5. Best Supporting Actor

Should Win: Christian Bale
Will Win: Sylvester Stallone

This is also a very tough category this year, with all five contenders deserving their nominations.

While he could win if Spotlight has momentum tonight, I saw nothing particularly wonderful in Mark Ruffalo typically understated performance.

In comparison, I thought Christian Bale’s subdued turn as an Asperger’s-afflicted Wall Street trader in The Big Short was far more complex and better than the role deserved.

However, I think Stallone’s a lock this year for Creed, a proxy for a lifetime achievement award for giving us the story of Rocky, an American hero whose rise, fall, and redemption Stallone chronicled throughout seven movies over the last 40 years.

And ultimately, I’m okay with that.

6. Best Supporting Actress

Should Win: Alicia Vikander
Will Win: Alicia Vikander

I’ve heard that The Danish Girl belonged to relative newcomer Alicia Vikander, and she had an incredible year with this and Ex Machina. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s the dark horse contender.

7. Best Screenplay (Original)

Should Win: Inside Out
Will Win: Inside Out

This is another tough category this year, as Inside Out, Spotlight and Straight Outta’ Compton were all phenomenal for different reasons.

Spotlight accomplished the difficult feat of turning the work of a newspaper’s investigative journalism team into a compelling and suspenseful movie.

Likewise, Straight Outta Compton was far better than it had any right to be, capturing the rise of NWA and gangster rap in general during a period of broader racial tension in the U.S. precipitated by the Rodney King beatings and O.J. Simpson murder trial.

But again, I think Inside Out takes it for the sheer originality of concept and flawless execution.

8. Best Screenplay (Adapted)

Should Win: The Big Short
Will Win: The Martian

I think this is the year’s toughest category. As with Supporting Actress, every nominee belongs here, making for a difficult pick.

I’ve read the books The Martian and The Big Short and, as good as they were, each movie improved on its source material.

The Big Short was the more remarkable here, as it turned a serious work into a comedy, but I think this is where the Academy rewards the surprise box office hit The Martian.

9. Best Cinematography

Should Win: The Revenant
Will Win: The Revenant

Long shots done entirely with natural light – nature at its most visceral. ‘Nuff said.

10. Best Animated Film

Should Win: Inside Out
Will Win: Inside Out

A truly tough category – I haven’t seen Anomalisa, but Shawn the Sheep was a pure delight. I think, however, that critical and box office success Inside Out wins this. It’s one of those rare animated gems (Frozen was another) that doubles as one of the best movies of the year.

11. Best Foreign Film

Should Win: Son of Saul
Will Win: Son of Saul

I’m biased toward all things Hungarian right now, but this was also a critical darling.

12. The ratings will be the lowest the Academy Awards has seen in years.

Between the threatened boycott due to the exclusion of minorities (the #OscarsSoWhite movement) and the lack of a major blockbuster among the nominees, the Academy Awards has set itself up for failure – yet again demonstrating it is out-of-touch with mainstream moviegoers.

In a year when sequels to Jurassic Park, Fast and the Furious and Star Wars all broke all-time box office records and garnered critical acclaim, their exclusion from all but the technical categories shows once again that Hollywood elites favor little-seen art films over wildly popular (and well-done) blockbusters.

I’m not saying this is wrong, but it gives average viewers little reason to watch.


Your turn — Do you disagree?

What are your predictions for tonight?

Let me know in the comments below!

1 Comment on "12 Oscar Predictions"

  1. Peter Morscheck | March 2, 2016 at 6:42 am | Reply

    Follow-up: Not bad, as my predictions went 9 for 12. Supporting Actor Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies was the only real surprise, which makes me think he was the overall # 2 weighted pick, edging out Stallone & Bale, who split the # 1 vote.

    Surprised and happy that The Big Short won for Adapted Screenplay (yes — Anchorman writer Adam McKay now has an Oscar!)

    And, for good or ill, my low viewership prediction also came to pass. The 34.3 million total viewers who tuned in marked an 8-year low, and the third least-watched Oscars ever. Ouch!

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