Final Oscar Predictions: 'Fasten Your Seatbelts. It's Going to Be a Bumpy Night!'

Anne Baxter, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, and George Sanders in 1950 Best Picture winner All About Eve.
As Margo Channing (Bette Davis) says in Oscar winner All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night!” Here we are in the final hours of one of the toughest, closest, and ugliest Oscar seasons yet. Chris Rock is bound to roast the voters, while someone could easily fire back at the Academy/President Cheryl Boone Isaacs for throwing the older members under the bus and dividing the Academy at a time when it needs to stand united. By introducing a purge on members--and it's perfectly normal and fair for any group to review the activity of its membership--the Academy's Board of Governors implicitly blamed the older members for basing their nominations on prejudice, rather than merit, when it expedited efforts to introduce valuable memberships rules that were already in the works. A lot of people are bound to be uncomfortable during the ceremony, so much so that Chris Rock might as well share hosting duties with Ricky Gervais. Buckle up for four hours of awkward viewing!

This year marks surprisingly few smear tactics, “whisper campaigns,” or take-downs for an Oscar season, but it has some of the worst negative press and most acid-tinged conversations ever. Everyone from high-profile media to celebrities to TIFF are ramping up the mob mentality.

For all the simplifications going on in the Twittersphere and e-mail letter outrage, however, a few overdue and intelligent conversations emerged about larger systemic problems in the industry. It’s easy to blame the Academy with a hashtag or cry foul like Will Smith (a two-time Academy Award nominee), but, thankfully, well over a year after #OscarsSoWhite surfaced, the film industry is in the middle of a conversation that's more than 140 characters long. But come Sunday, if you’re boycotting the show, mocking the Academy, or serving white cake with a shit-eating grin and you didn’t see Straight Outta Compton, Beasts of No Nation, Tangerine, or Carol, then you are part of the problem.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Oscars are about celebrating talent, though, and this year’s Oscars are wild and shaky for a second reason that has been lost amidst the outrage: 2015 was a really good year for movies. Tent poles like Mad Max: Fury Road show that blockbusters don’t have to be brainless. George Miller’s film offers one of the most badass female characters ever in Charlize Theron’s Furiosa. Ditto the diversely cast The Martian and its extraordinarily entertaining trip to space.
Yes, Leo. The Oscar is in sight. (Deservedly so, too.)

The Revenant for the win?

The Revenant, this year’s late to the party game-changer, is a stunningly-shot frontier epic unlike any before. Sure, its campaign about a tough shoot in Canadian winter is one horse that’s been resoundingly beaten (suck it up and buy some Hot Paws, Leo), but it’s one hell of a film, a hot-blooded odyssey infused with Malickian awe and wonder. There’s a good chance too that Birdman director Alejandro G. Iñárritu stands to make history as the third person to win Best Director back-to-back after John Ford (for The Grapes of Wrath and How Green Was My Valley) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve). He could even outdo his peers by being the first person ever to make consecutive wins for Best Director and Best Picture. That is very exciting.

The Revenant probably rests as the safest bet for Best Picture given that it scooped the Golden Globe, Directors’ Guild Award, and BAFTA, plus oodles of other prizes. The ranked ballot could hurt it since it’s a divisive film (if it’s not in a top spot, it could be at the bottom), but its likelihood of winning several other key categories could give it enough votes. Additionally, it has nominations in virtually every category in which it was a contender (as a mostly wordless film, the screenplay omission isn’t too surprising), which shows ample support.

Otherwise, Mad Max: Fury Road has a lot to gain from the preferential ballot, but a lack of gusto at the guilds shows that the industry doesn’t love it as much as the Internet does. If a big money-maker like Mad Max doesn’t win at the Producers Guild Awards (The Big Short did), then it’s probably not winning Best Picture. Like Gravity did a few years ago, Mad Max could have one of the bigger hauls of the night with technical and craft awards, but not Best Picture.
Ryan Gosling in The Big Short
On the other hand, the race between two biggies sees a contrast between two smart, timely films. The Big Short and Spotlight both stand to gain votes from the ranked ballot, since they’re less divisive and easier to admire. Both films are slum dunks for winning the screenplay categories—Big Short for Adapted and Spotlight for Original—but they probably won’t win anything else. One must go all the way back to 1952’s The Greatest Show on Earth to find a film that won Best Picture and only one other prize (Best Writing, Motion Picture Story) and before that, 1940’s Rebecca (Best Picture and Best Cinematography). Other award shows give Best Film and only one other prize to movies (ex: Gabrielle winning Best Film and Best Actress at the Canadian Screen Awards, 12 Years a Slave winning Best Film and Best Actor at the BAFTAs), so there’s bound to be a two-prize Best Picture winner again at some point.

So what might happen if The Big Short or Spotlight is poised to win Best Picture? If the zany film editing of The Big Short tops frontrunner Mad Max, then one can assume that a) Mad Max doesn’t have the top prize and b) The Big Short has enough support to take it.
Spotlight’s only real chance for an upset to show its Best Picture legs is Best Supporting Actor nominee Mark Ruffalo. Given the presence of Tom Hardy over  Idris Elba and Michael Shannon (nominees at the Globes, SAG Awards Critics Choice, etc.), there’s some variability. Sentimentality suggests that Sylvester Stallone is going to win for his Rocky comeback in Creed, but the performance isn’t especially remarkable if one removes it from the context of the franchise and looks at the work in Creed itself. His real award should be the redemption of Rocky after a string of lousy sequels that stained the legend. For Ruffalo and Stallone, however, one has to look back to 2001’s Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock) for an Oscar winner who wasn’t nominated by the Screen Actors Guild, although Ruffalo’s work was acknowledged with the Ensemble win for Spotlight. The only real constant of the category this season is Mark Rylance, whose Bridge of Spies has six nominations plus Best Picture. If he wins, then, well, it’s probably going to be The Revenant or Mad Max coming out on top.

The other acting races are all fairly clear. Leo has it in the bag for The Revenant since even the film’s naysayers generally admire the work and his commitment to this performance. He also wants it badly and is doing the work to cement the notion that he is overdue. Room’s Brie Larson is a safe bet, especially if the film managed an unexpected Best Director nomination for Lenny Abrahamson.
Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl

Alicia Vikander, finally, should win and will win for her extraordinary performance in The Danish Girl. She’s probably the safest call of the night, unless irritation with Focus Features’ choice to campaign her as supporting role when the part is blatantly a lead sends protest votes or abstentions into the mix. But Oscar history shows that fake supporting performances usually win anyways, and Vikander simply gives the best performance of the year. Does a voter penalize an artist because an awards strategist made a bogus call that paid off? Probably not. Either way, all I can say is this: thank goodness this season is almost over.


Without further ado, here are final picks for who will win and should win this Oscar race.
Add your picks to the comments!

★Final Predictions
*I should add that I was able to see all the nominees except A War, When Marnie Was There, and Prologue, but simply didn't have time to write about all of them.

For thoughts on the documentary category, please visit POV.

Best Picture:

★Will win: The Revenant
★I'd vote for: Since this category calls for a ranked ballot, mine would go: 1) Spotlight 2) The Revenant 3) Brooklyn 4) Bridge of Spies 5) The Martian 6) Mad Max: Fury Road 7) The Big Short 8) Room
★Shoulda been there: Youth, Carol, Sicario

Best Director:

Lenny Abrahamson, Room
Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
Tom McCarthy, Spotlight
Adam McKay, The Big Short
George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

★Will win: Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
★I'd vote for: Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
★Shoulda been there: Paolo Sorrentino, Youth; Todd Haynes, Carol; Denis Villeneuve, Sicario

Best Actor:

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

★Will win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
★I'd vote for: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
★Shoulda been there: Michael Caine, Youth; Jake Gyllenhaal, Southpaw

Best Actress:

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

★Will win: Brie Larson, Room
★I'd vote for: Cate Blanchett, Carol
★Shoulda been there: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl; Nina Hoss, Phoenix

Best Supporting Actor:

Christian Bale, The Big Short
Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone, Creed
★Will win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
★I'd vote for: Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
★Shoulda been there: Benicio Del Toro, Sicario; Michael Shannon, 99 Homes; Michael Keaton, Spotlight

Best Supporting Actress:

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara, Carol
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

★Will win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
★I'd vote for: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
★Shoulda been there: Jane Fonda, Youth; Marion Cotillard, Macbeth

Best Original Screenplay:

Bridge of SpiesMark Harmon; Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Ex Machina - Alex Garland
Inside Out - Pete Docter et al
Spotlight – Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer
Straight Outta Compton - The white folks

★Will win: Spotlight
★I'd vote for: Spotlight
★Shoulda been there: Youth, Sicario, The Hateful Eight

Best Adapted Screenplay:

The Big Short - Adam McKay, Charles Randolph
Brooklyn – Nick Hornby
Carol - Phyllis Nagy
The Martian - Drew Goddard
Room– Emma Donoghue

★Will win: The Big Short
★I'd vote for: Carol
★Shoulda been there: Steve Jobs, Far from the Madding Crowd

Best Documentary Feature:

★Will win: Amy
★I'd vote for: What Happened, Miss Simone?
★Shoulda been there: Sunshine Superman

Best Foreign Language Film:

Mustang - France
Son of Saul – Hungary
Theeb - Jordan
A War – Denmark

★Will win: Son of Saul
★I'd vote for: Son of Saul
★Shoulda been there: The Wanted 18, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

Best Animated Film:

The Boy and the World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep
When Marnie Was There

★Will win: Inside Out
★I'd vote for: Shaun the Sheep

Best Cinematography:

★Will win: The Revenant
★I'd vote for: The Revenant
★Shoulda been there: Youth, Brooklyn

Best Film Editing:

The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

★Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
★I'd vote for: The Revenant
★Shoulda been there: Steve Jobs, Sicario

Best Costumes:

★Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
★I'd vote for: The Danish Girl
★Shoulda been there: The Hateful Eight, Brooklyn, Macbeth

Best Production Design:

★Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
★I'd vote for: The Martian
★Shoulda been there: Brooklyn, Carol

Best Original Score:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

★Will win: The Hateful Eight
★I'd vote for: Sicario
★Shoulda been there: Steve Jobs, The Danish Girl, Brooklyn

Best Original Song:

Earned It” – Fifty Shades of Grey
Manta Rey" - Racing Extinction
Simple Song No. 3” - Youth
"Til it Happens to You," The Hunting Ground
"Writing's on the Wall," Spectre

★Will win: 'Til it Happens to You'
★I'd vote for: 'Simple Song #3'
★Shoulda been there: 'Cold One', Ricki and the Flash

Best Visual Effects:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

★Will win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
★I'd vote for: Ex Machina

Best Sound Mixing:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Revenant

★Will win: The Revenant
★I'd vote for: The Revenant

Best Sound Editing:

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

★Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
★I'd vote for: The Revenant

Best Make-Up:

The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
The Revenant 

★Will win: Mad Max: Fury Road
★I'd vote for: The Revenant

Best Animated Short

Bear Story
Sanjay’s Super Team
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
World of Tomorrow

★Will win: World of Tomorrow
★I'd vote for: World of Tomorrow

Best Live Action Short

★Will win: Shok
★I'd vote for: Everything Will Be Okay

Best Documentary Short

Boy Team 12
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah 
Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
Last Day of Freedom

★Will win: Last Day of Freedom
★I'd vote for: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah

What do you think will win/should win on Sunday?