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88th Academy Awards Nominations Predictions   1 comment

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After almost a year of doing monthly predictions, it has now come to this. The one moment in the year where all discussions and predictions will really be put into test. Tomorrow, the Academy announces the nominations for the best in 2015 film. To say that this year is probably the craziest one in years is really an understatement. Too many films which looked locks ended up as flops and vice versa. Then there’s that crazy Supporting Actor category with more than ten men in contention. Plus, the category confusion with many of the contenders this year. So before AMPAS president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, John Krasinski, Ang Lee, and Guillermo del Toro announce the nominations, I’ll provide my insights as to who can get nominated in all 22 categories.

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

10th (but not predicted): Straight Outta Compton

So Best Picture is a clusterfuck this year among many other things. But the way I see it, the category is divided into the upper tier, the middle tier, and the lower tier. In the upper tier, you have your frontrunners and those that benefited from the critics, guilds, and televised precursors season. You have Globe winners The Revenant and The Martian, as well as critics strong performer Spotlight and The Big Short which performed well at the guilds. I think those four are sure things here already.

The middle tier are for those who performed well at some parts, but we have some reservations with the inclusion. Carol was hit or miss with the guild getting in at WGA and at the Globes and BAFTA, but was skipped over at the DGA and PGA. Then there’s Mad Max: Fury Road whose resurgence by the critics really helped its chances. But then when everything started to make sense, the BAFTA snubs for Picture and Director happened. On the other side, there’s Bridge of Spies by Steven Spielberg who was hit or is with the guilds getting surprise inclusion but missing some key ones too. That said, it leading the BAFTA nods helped its chances. I think all three will still make it here though.

Now this is where it gets tricky. I have both Brooklyn and Room next in line even if both have caveats. Brooklyn didn’t manage to breakout well enough aside from the Saoirse Ronan mentions. Even at BAFTA, which should have been its major strength, the film didn’t overperform there. Room on the other hand was also expected to both be a critical and televised breakout, yet it didn’t happen too outside at the Globes. If anything though, being attached to the potential Best Actress winner can help its chances here. I think that if only one of these two make it here, that can be telling with our Best Actress race as well. But then I won’t be surprised if both makes it, or if both gets snubbed here.

Since we have ten spots as a maximum number of nominees here, that last spot can go to the surprise strong guild performers such as Sicario and Straight Outta Compton so don’t be surprised if either gets mentioned come Oscar nomination morning. I’d stick with my current nine as the predicted lineup though.

BEST DIRECTOR
• Todd Haynes, Carol
• Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant 
• Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
• Adam McKay, The Big Short
• George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

SPOILER: Ridley Scott, The Martian

The director lineup can be patterned with the “Upper 7” films I mentioned earlier. There’s a huge chance that we’ll end up with the same DGA five lineup for this year, but I’d like to make it seem more adventurous than that. Truth is, aside from current winner Alejandro Iñárritu, I can see a scenario where the each of the six remaining directors miss. Despite some minor trips throughout the season, I still think that Tom McCarthy is safely in here, as well as Adam McKay. Both have the same narrative in the sense that they’re finally being taken seriously in these passion projects. Todd Haynes is both a prediction and a wish here. Despite the DGA snub, part of me thinks that a director like him benefits the most from the Oscar voting being exclusive to only the directors branch. There’s always a spot reserved for a respected auteur, and he might be it. But more than that, I’m clinging to the fact that Carol is Harvey Weinstein’s main horse this year, and if he can get that unknown Morten Tyldum over Clint Eastwood happen last year, then he better work thrice his ass off for Todd Haynes to happen. I’m not counting on Spielberg to get in this year only because he missed DGA and the DGAs love him more than the Academy. The last spot is a bit tricky between two of respected veterans who are directing big, flashy efforts. In a race of Ridley Scott vs. George Miller, I see passion siding Miller’s way with Scott following the path of Paul Greengrass for Captain Phillips after garnering precursor nominations for it.

BEST ACTOR
• Steve Carell, The Big Short
• Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
• Matt Damon, The Martian
• Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
• Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

SPOILER: Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

The BAFTA five also seems like its set in stone that it’s boring me too much, and I decided to tinker around with it even if this means that it’ll backfire on me come actual announcement. Considering that it’s finally Leonardo di Caprio’s year (RIP memes, you’ll forever be missed!), it’s basically just a matter of who’s joining him. Two sure names you’d hear are Michael Fassbender for Steve Jobs and Bryan Cranston for Trumbo. Fassy, despite the massive failing of Steve Jobs in the box office department managed to hang on for its dear life that this nomination is likely now. Same goes for Cranston who even got in at BAFTA even if odds aren’t on his side. Matt Damon will likely get in because he’s an American hero and he’s starring on a strong Best Picture contender, and knowing the strong connection between the two categories, this helps him. He’s likely battling the same spot with Steve Carell who’s also on a Top 3 Best Picture contender and if last year taught us anything, it’s that we should never underestimate him. Sure, it’s lacking that he’s missing out on nominations even if the movie keeps on harboring nods, but then this is the Academy we’re talking about here. So as I go back and forth between Damon, and Carell, I’d likely end up predicting both and go with a shocking Eddie Redmayne snub. Between him being the current winner, it’s not as if he needed a back to back validation nod anymore, and The Danish Girl is the weakest film in this lineup.

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

SPOILER: Helen Mirren, Woman in Gold

You have the big three here with Brie Larson, Cate Blanchett, and Saoirse Ronan being mainstay among precursors all season. Cate can enjoy nod #7 this year, as I see no path on her winning this year. In a battle of Brie vs. Saoirse though, I have to say that while Saoirse drew the first blood winning NY, it’s Brie who’s having the narrative of the Best Actress performance of the year. Since we’re talking about nominations here, I’d leave the win talk somewhere else.

As for the last two slots, I initially though that either Rooney Mara of Carol or Alicia Vikander of The Danish Girl can be promoted here due to the loud noise of their “category fraud”, but I don’t feel like either of them can muster enough support to actually end up here, especially since televised precursors have been scattered with their placements. That leaves me with Jennifer Lawrence earning nod #4 for Joy. She won the Golden Globe earlier this week and while one could credit it to the fact that she’s the only Oscar contender here, Joy as a film is still gaining decent support with the guilds, so the film is being seen. Plus, of course there’s the fact that she’s the world’s biggest star right now will help her as well.

In a much competitive year, Charlotte Rampling, despite NSFC and LA wins, would be snubbed this year considering she only collected a BFCA nod among the televised precursors. That said, in a year as open as this one with no strong possible alternate, then she can thank the lucky stars as that means she can still earn an Oscar nomination for it. I’m certain that had Jennifer Aniston’s “Cake happened this year, she would have been competitive for that nomination even more than last year. If there’s any veteran though who can surprisingly make it here, count on Helen Mirren in “Woman in Gold as this could be the category where they can reward her, plus she’s a winner and multiple nominee, and this is about Nazis and is produced by Weinstein. That SAG inclusion was telling.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
• Christian Bale, The Big Short
• Tom Hardy, The Revenant
• Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
• Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
• Jacob Tremblay, Room

SPOILER: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

I’d say the person who’d get this category correct might as well be called a genius because this is the category that’s probably the most headache inducing of them all. Well everyone not named Mark Rylance has a reason to be nervous at 5:30 AM because as far as I know, he’s the only one spared from the mess here (now watch him be snubbed!). Aside from him, I’d say Christian Bale can get his third career nod this decade as the acting representative of the Big Short especially if Carellreally will fall short in the end  .

Just a month ago, it seems like history will be made as Spotlight is likely the first movie since Bugsy in 1991 to garner two supporting actor nominations. That is until the televised precursor happens. Now both Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton are hanging on for their dear lives. That said, I’ll be predicting Ruffalo here as he’s gaining last minute momentum between his BFCA and BAFTA nominations plus being in a strong Best Picture upper tier movie.

Then there’s Jacob Tremblay of Room who only got a SAG nod on top of his BFCA Child Actor nomination. One can take his SAG nod with a grain of salt considering the SAG loves child performances that didn’t take off at Oscars such as Freddie Highmore in Finding Neverland to Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam. That said, I’m sticking with Tremblay just because he can be a strong coattail to the Best Actress frontrunner.

Speaking of coattails, I’ll go and predict Tom Hardy of The Revenant for the last slot. He’s starring with the likely Best Actor winner and he’s having a great year starring in the likely two most nominated Best Picture nominees. As for Sylvester Stallone and Creed, sure the Globes reception with his win is convincing that there’s passion for him, but he has nothing except Globe and BAFTA on his side.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
• Rooney Mara, Carol
• Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
• Helen Mirren, Trumbo
• Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
• Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

SPOILER: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

The continuous category confusion here for both Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara just ended up costing them both momentum for the win and thus, giving us that random Kate Winslet Golden Globe nod just two days ago. That said, count on the three to get in here. And while Vikander is competing against herself here between her two performances, chances are she’d end up getting nominated for her baitier performance in The Danish Girl.

Rachel McAdams is a hit or miss here. On one hand, she can be the ensemble representative just like Christian Bale was for The Big Short especially since Supporting Actor is a clusterfuck. But then she only got BFCA + SAG nods for it. That said, I’m keeping her in especially since that combination has done wonders for performances that came from Best Picture contenders. So unless it’s a lone acting showcase movie, then this can be a really strong combination.

Jennifer Jason Leigh makes sense as the fifth slot here, but what gives me pause is upon thinking that only Robert Forster got nominated for a Tarantino directed movie that isn’t a Best Picture nominee. Add the fact that Leigh doesn’t really have much to do until the second to third hour, and we don’t know how they’ll respond to this. Personally speaking, I’d rather keep my expectations low about her so if she ends up in the end, I’d be happy. But maybe this Oscar career nod will fail short after all. This veteran slot can easily be given to Dame Helen Mirren who’s campaigning a lot and except for that BAFTA snub, she’s starring with likely nominee Bryan Cranston which helps her a lot.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
• Bridge of Spies
• Ex Machina
• The Hateful Eight
• Inside Out
• Spotlight

SPOILER: Straight Outta Compton

I don’t know what to do with that fifth slot, but I guess I’ll just go with the flow and consider that Ex Machina PGA nod as a sign of strength. Don’t underestimate Straight Outta Compton and Sicario though given their great guild runs.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
• Anomalisa
• The Big Short
• Carol
• Room
• Steve Jobs

SPOILER: The Martian

I’m probably the lone person predicting Anomalisa at this point but I guess I’m relying on the writers branch being that quirky group who still gives us surprises every now and then. After all, this is Charlie Kaufman we’re talking about here. Only The Big Short seems like a sure thing here and the rest can easily be disposed one way or another (Steve Jobs can be a Sorkin fatigue, Room might not translate outside acting, Carol was snubbed at the Globes, The Martian is more of a visual rather than a storytelling vehicle). Predicting Brooklyn gives me pause considering that Hornby was just snubbed last year for Inherent Vice of all movies to replace it, so maybe he’s just not an Academy fan in the end.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
• Labyrinth of Lies (Germany)
• Mustang (France)
• Son of Saul  (Hungary)
• Theeb (Jordan)
• A War (Denmark)

SPOILER: The Brand New Testament (Belgium)

I’m just going here with the fact that this group is a mixture of the usual themes that this category lovers to award — strong studio backed films (Son of Saul, Labyrinth of Lies), films about children (Mustang, Theeb) and about war (A War). A lot seemed to be predicting The Brand New Testament though which gives me a bit of a pause since they love including comedies in the final nine but only for them to miss the actual lineup (Superclasico, Force Majeure).

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
• Anomalisa
• The Good Dinosaur
• Inside Out
• The Peanuts Movie
• Shaun the Sheep

SPOILER: When Marnie Was There

Sticking with the Globe five since it’s a good mixture of critically acclaimed films and box office performers. But sometimes they’d throw in an obscure foreign animated film here which benefits When Marnie Was There in the lineup.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
• Amy
• Cartel Land
• He Named Me Malala
• Listen to Me Marlon
• The Look of Silence

SPOILER: The Hunting Ground

It’s a bit weird that this year, a lot has been person documentaries which gives me a pause if all three among Amy, He Named Me Malala, and Listen to Me Marlon will all make it. On the other, these are three different figures so there’s that. The Look of Silence is from Joshua Oppenheimer and they embraced him with The Act of Killing two years ago. Cartel Land is that “important” documentary in the lineup, though it is battling the same spot with the likes of The Hunting Ground, and Winter on Fire.

Now as for the rest of the technical categories…

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
• Carol
• The Hateful Eight
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• The Revenant
• Sicario

SPOILER: Bridge of Spies

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
• Carol
• Cinderella
• Crimson Peak

• The Danish Girl
• Mad Max: Fury Road

SPOILER: Macbeth

BEST EDITING
• The Big Short
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• The Martian
• The Revenant
• Spotlight

SPOILER: Bridge of Spies

BEST HAIRSTYLING & MAKE UP
• The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• The Revenant

SPOILER: Mr. Holmes

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
• Bridge of Spies
• The Hateful Eight
• Sicario
• Spotlight
• Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SPOILER: Carol

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
• “Feels Like Summer” (Shaun the Sheep Movie)
• “I Run” (Chi-Raq)
• “The Light that Never Fails” (Meru)
• “See You Again” (Furious 7)
• “Simple Song #3” (Youth)

SPOILER: “Love Me Like You Do” (50 Shades of Gray)

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
• Bridge of Spies
• Crimson Peak
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• The Martian
• Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SPOILER: The Revenant 

BEST SOUND EDITING
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• The Martian
• The Revenant
Sicario
• Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SPOILER: Inside Out

BEST SOUND MIXING
• Bridge of Spies
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• The Martian
• The Revenant
• Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SPOILER: Sicario

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
• Ant Man
• Mad Max: Fury Road
• The Martian
• The Revenant

• Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SPOILER: Jurassic World 

FINAL TALLY
10 –
Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant
7 –
Carol, The Martian, Spotlight
6 –
The Big Short, Bridge of Spies
5 –
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
4 –
Room
3 –
Brooklyn, The Hateful Eight, Sicario, Steve Jobs
2 –
Anomalisa, The Danish Girl, Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep, Trumbo

Talk about this with me on Twitter: @nikowl

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