image 88th Academy Awards Predictions

There was a time, several years ago, when I followed the so-called “awards season” rigorously. Although I find the whole charade to be rather tedious and bloated these days, I feel no shame in admitting that my entry into the world of cinephilia — and writing about films — began with awards, and I do still believe in their importance. In the small bubble of film writers whose topics of conversation range across the spectrum from 13 Hours to Out 1, Oscars are an irrelevance, but award winners are still the gateway to discovering great cinema for many among the younger generations across the world. They were for me, and for nearly every other cinephile I knew growing up in Iran.

Anyway, let’s not get into film politics and spoil the fun of meaningless predictions.  And before you read any further, don’t forget to check my personal ballot here.

Best Picture
Will Win: The Big Short
Could Win: The Revenant
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Winning the top prize is virtually impossible for five of the nominees. The three films that will be battling it out are The Big Short, The Revenant and Spotlight. The latter seemed to be the frontrunner back in the fall but, despite the SAG ensemble award, it appears to be too somber and subdued a piece of filmmaking to match the chutzpah of Adam McKay’s film or the inexplicably overwhelming popularity of Iñárritu’s film across the board. My guess is that the “importance” of The Big Short will give it the edge, but you can never underestimate a film that has twelve nominations.

Best Director
Will Win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant)
Could Win: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
Should Win: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
The perception is that Iñárritu had the most to do of any director in the lineup — as though making Fury Road was a walk in the park — and I think that narrative will push him ahead of the finish line. If voters feel like Iñárritu has already been well rewarded — or, alternatively, come to their senses and see The Revenant for the sadistic and vapid film that it is — Miller’s towering work on the decade’s best action film might be recognized. Surely McKay is considered too green for this award even if his film takes the top one?

Best Actor
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant)
Could Win:
Should Win: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
It’s finally Leo’s year, and nothing is going to get in the way of his hands holding that coveted golden statue. Fine. Look, I like him a lot, and would have given him an Oscar two years ago, but it will never stop being absurd to me that Leo is the movie star everyone wants to see rewarded when there are superior actors like Brad Pitt still waiting in the wings.

Best Actress
Will Win: Brie Larson (Room)
Could Win: Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Should Win: Charlotte Rampling (45 Years)
Brie Larson has this one in the bag. She’s lovely and the performance is superb and complicated, so it’s hard to begrudge her this success. But it’s still surprising that in a field this strong — seriously, this lineup is one for the ages — no one else came close to her throughout the season. Blanchett and Lawrence have both been awarded recently. My guess is that, between Ronan and Rampling, if one were to steal Larson’s thunder, it would be the latter, as a career award of sorts.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
Could Win: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
Should Win: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
If Spotlight were to win the top prize, it’s hard to imagine it doing so with only two Oscars — picture and screenplay — so if Ruffalo upsets the presumed frontrunners early on in the show, you can chalk that up as a sign of Spotlight‘s popularity across the board. My guess is that if anyone is going to topple the sentimental vote for Sly, it’s the respected stage actor, Rylance, who is also his film’s only hope for a statue.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl)
Could Win: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)
Should Win: Rooney Mara (Carol)
Rooney Mara gives the best performance of the year — I’d go further: give or take Adèle Exarchopoulos in Blue Is the Warmest Colour, she gives the best performance of the decade — but it still feels wrong to root for her here, given that, well, she’s clearly the lead in that film. So is Vikander, but her award here barely feels like it is for The Danish Girl alone, rather than the entire brilliant year that she’s had. I’ll close my eyes and pretend it’s for Ex Machina. It’s quite surprising that Jennifer Jason Leigh didn’t gain much traction though. Was it the relatively muted response to The Hateful Eight that sunk her chances?

Best Original Screenplay
Will Win: Spotlight
Could Win: Inside Out
Should Win: Spotlight
If Spotlight walks away from the night with just one award, this will be it. And the film’s hefty topic will surely trump Inside Out, a complex film in its own right, that will nevertheless be viewed as a children’s film.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Will Win: The Big Short
Could Win: Brooklyn
Should Win: Carol
With Carol practically out of the race, the less said about this category, the better.

Best Animated Feature Film
Will Win: Inside Out
Could Win: —
Should Win: Shaun the Sheep

Best Foreign Language Film
Will Win: Son of Saul
Could Win: Mustang
Should Win: (I haven’t seen Theeb or A War yet.)

Best Documentary Film
Will Win: Amy
Could Win: The Look of Silence
Should Win: The Look of Silence

Best Original Score
Will Win: The Hateful Eight
Could Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Should Win: Carol

Best Original Song
Will Win: Til It Happens to You (The Hunting Ground)
Could Win: Writing’s On the Wall (Spectre)
Should Win: Earned It (Fifty Shades of Grey)

Best Sound Editing
Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Could Win: The Revenant
Should Win: Sicario

Best Sound Mixing
Will Win: The Revenant
Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Production Design
Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Could Win: The Danish Girl
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Cinematography
Will Win: The Revenant
Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Carol

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Will Win: The Revenant
Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Costume Design
Will Win: The Danish Girl
Could Win: The Revenant
Should Win: Carol

Best Film Editing
Will Win: The Big Short
Could Win: Spotlight
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Visual Effects
Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Could Win: The Revenant
Should Win: Ex Machina

Short Film Categories
Live Action: Stutterer
Documentary: Claude Lanzman: Spectres of Shoah
Animated: Bear Story

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