|Leo, hungry for Oscar noms.|
There are so many hungry films, but only a few of them can have the noms. This hugely competitive field has few stinkers in the bunch, so the films are attacking this season like wolves upon a deer. A movie gets a guild nom here, another gets a critic nom there, but only The Big Short, Spotlight, Mad Max, The Martian, and now The Revenant are getting big meaty pieces. Those five films are the Directors' Guild of America nominees, which makes them the five most obvious frontrunners as they add the industry support to their nominations from the Producers and Writers Guilds, with smatterings of encouragement from the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and SAGs. But how do all the wolves shape up to lead the pack for votes now that the larger (and more mainstream) voting bodies have spoken?
Let's quickly look at the players before offering final predictions:
Spotlight: In it to win it. It's losing some momentum on the ensemble front thanks to The Big Short, but there's little reason to doubt it since it's had the most consistent support all season even if its cast members seem to be cancelling one another out for nominations.
Mad Max: Fury Road: From summer popcorn hit to Best Picture dark horse, Mad Max is this year's Gravity as it pummels towards the technical noms thanks to director George Miller.
The Martian: A mixed showing at the BAFTAs is concerning, but this well-made thrill-ride from Ridley Scott could finally bring the Gladiator director an Oscar if he starts playing the overdue card as loudly as Leonardo DiCaprio is.
The Revenant: Late to the game this season, The Revenant is forming a sneak attack. Will an Oscar for DiCaprio be sufficient or could Birdman director Alejandro G. Inarritu be the third director after John Ford and Joseph L. Mankiewicz to win Best Director back to back? Regardless, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki should prepare to accept his third consecutive Oscar.
The Big Short: Also late to the game, The Big Short has the benefit of being smart and funny with lots of stars. That's good in a year full of heavy films. The film doesn't have many technical strengths outside of its OCD editing, however, so it's going to have a weaker tally, especially if director Adam McKay doesn't get a throwaway Best Director nom.
Hungrier Wolves: A bite, but maybe not the prime cut?
Carol: Carol has the indie/arthouse vote, but is that enough this year? One of the year's critical favourites, Carol isn't being widely embraced by the industry, missing guild noms from the producers, art directors, and editors, but I think this is one case in which the sharper focus of the Academy/high pedigree of voters will prevail to give Todd Haynes a well-deserved Best Director nomination. It has the passionate support to sneak in.
Bridge of Spies: Nominations for supporting actor, screenplay, editing and maybe cinematography and score are likely, but even War Horse got a Best Picture nomination.
Brooklyn: Lovely film has classic Hollywood vibe that few of the other contenders carry. This hard-to-resist romance is bound to gain votes as films fall off the ballot.
Room: I don't think Room benefits from the high expectations one brings to it, but strong support for Brie Larson and the film's screenplay could help the film gain enough votes for one of those flexible 5-10 spots. And give Canada two co-productions in the race alongside Brooklyn!
Inside Out: Every year has a movement lobbying for an animated film to be nominated for Best Picture. Is it just Internet hype? Better animated films have missed in weaker years
Lurking on the Outside, Ready to Pounce:
Steve Jobs: A wild card. Steve Jobs could be the film with the most nominations that is not a Best Picture nominee. Nominations for Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, and Aaron Sorkin's screenplay are inevitable. Noms for the editing and score are possible, while even the sound mix and cinematography are contenders. Could support across the board pull it into contention?
Sicario: Industry love from the writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers gave the film a second wind, as did the BAFTAs, which thankfully gave Benicio Del Toro his one major nomination this year. The film deserves attention and it might just appeal to fans of hard-hitting action films. If American Sniper can pull off a Best Picture nomination, surely Sicario can. FYC Denis Villeneuve!
Trumbo: Everyone knows that this campaign is a boondoggle outside of Bryan Cranston. Admittedly, Helen Mirren and the costumes are pretty great, so they could appear too.
Star Wars: Doubtful. Disney's PR team should be sent to a galaxy far, far away rather than be rewarded with a Best Picture nomination. The retroactive Best Picture nomination from the Critics' Choice Awards almost seems to have backfired with people groaning that financial success doesn't give a film special merit.
The Hateful Eight: Tarantino's lesser western Django Unchained was a Best Picture nominee and it won two Oscars, so Hateful Eight is a threat, especially since it's likely to gain a screenplay nomination, plus score and potentially others.
Son of Saul: The year's most popular foreign film. We underestimated Amour.
Wolves with scraps:
Youth: Sadly, even Jane Fonda might be on the outs. I'm keeping her in on principle because I'd rather be wrong and say that I believed actors would recognize the strength of this performance. Why isn't this film taking?
Straight Outta Compton: A lot of people are predicting this one, but I just don't see it connecting with the Academy. (SAG skews younger, which explains its ensemble nomination.)
Creed: Probably just a nom for Stallone.
Joy: Maybe JLaw, maybe nothing.
And the final predicted nominees:*new/moved
Rooting for: Youth, Carol. Sicario
Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant*
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Rooting for: Paolo Sorrentino (Youth), Todd Haynes (Carol), Denis Villeneuve (Sicario)
Rooting for: Michaels Caine and Fassbender
Rooting for: Alicia Vikander! And Nina Hoss (Phoenix)!
Best Supporting Actor:
Rooting for: Benicio Del Toro, Michael Shannon
Best Supporting Actress:
Almost put: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (But I think they'll recognize her as a lead)
Rooting for: Jane Fonda, Rachel McAdams, Kate Winslet
Best Original Screenplay:
Rooting for: Youth
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Rooting for: Carol
Best Documentary Feature:
Rooting for: What Happened, Miss Simone?
Best Foreign Language Film:
Theeb - Jordan
Best Animated Film:
Best Film Editing:
Best Production Design:
Best Original Score:
Steve Jobs, Spotlight*
Best Original Song:
“See You Again,” Furious 7*
"The Light That Never Fails," Meru
Best Visual Effects:
Best Sound Mixing:
Best Animated Short
Best Live Action Short
Everything Will Be Okay
The Free Man
Best Documentary Short
Claude Lanzmann:Spectres of Shoah
50 Feet from Syria
Last Day of Freedom
Also shortlisted: Chau, Beyond the Lines, Mineretia, My Enemy, My Brother, The Testimony
What are your Oscar predictions?
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