2015 Oscar Winner Predictions

revenant oscar

They’re happening. This Sunday. Here’s who I think will win (and who I think should win)…

Best Picture

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

For the first time since 2006, I truly don’t know who’s going to win. The furthest I’ve come (and most people who care about award predictions seem to agree) is this has come down to three movies: Spotlight, The Revenant, and The Big Short. Spotlight was once the assumed front-runner, and would make the most deserving winner of the three, but its only big win this seasons has been the SAG Award for Best Ensemble (not a huge endorsement, but one that foretold Crash‘s surprising win in 2005). Meanwhile, The Revenant has won key awards from the Golden Globes, the Directors Guild, and the British Academy. The Big Short won the Producers Guild Award, and has a certain political relevance to it. When predicting the Oscars, it’s wise to hope for the best while expecting the worst. A win for The Revenant might be the most fitting way to celebrate ten years since the aforementioned, and equally horrendous, Crash won Best Picture.
Will Win: The Revenant
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road 

Director

  • Adam McKay (The Big Short)
  • George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant)
  • Lenny Abrahamson (Room)
  • Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

For the past couple of years Best Director has gone to the least subtle and most visually extravagant of the nominees. Otherworldly environments, state of the art visual effects creations, overall virtuosic filmmaking. These are the kind of achievements the Academy likes to reward, and thus, it only makes sense that George Miller, the clear stand-out in this list of nominees will take the prize, right? Well, don’t hold your breath folks, because why would we award a work of genius, when Alejandro G. Iñárritu made a movie with perhaps equal flash, and none of the substance? Miller composed a freaking symphony, Iñárritu played the same note over and over again for two and a half hours. The choice is clear, isn’t it? 
Will Win: 
Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Should Win: George Miller

Actor in a Leading Role

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

You guys, did you ever stop to think how being cold is actually really unpleasant? Leonardo DiCaprio was so cold when they were shooting The Revenant. There was so much snow. I’m not kidding, he was so cold. He should totally win an acting Oscar because he was so cold. In all honesty, though, let’s fucking give him the award and stop this whole “when is Leo going to win?” thing already because I don’t think I could survive another year of him trying to win an Oscar.
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Should Win: Michael Fassbender

Actress in a Leading Role

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

Look at those nominees, isn’t this category great? If only Oscar showed this level of good taste across the board… As for who will win, Brie Larson has won a bunch of awards already, and Room is well liked enough to have gotten a surprise Best Director nomination.
Will Win: Brie Larson
Should Win: Cate Blanchett

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Christian Bale (The Big Short)
  • Tom Hardy (The Revenant)
  • Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight)
  • Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)
  • Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Mark Rylance is one of the most respected stage actors in the world. Theater aficionados and Shakespeare scholars could surely agree that he is perhaps the greatest living actor. This Sunday, this man will lose an acting award to Sylvester Stallone. Stallone, in case you’ve forgotten, has won a “Worst Actor of the Century” award. And I’m not saying one deserves it more than the other -they’re both really good in their movies- I just find the chaos of award shows incredibly endearing.
Will Win: Sylvester Stallone
Should Win: Sylvester Stallone

Actress in a Supporting Role

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

This is the one acting category that is unclear enough as to provide some surprises this Sunday. Most experts will say the race boils down to veteran Kate Winslet (perhaps because someone is into the idea of both Titanic stars winning Oscars at the same time) vs. ubiquitous rising star Alicia Vikander (who benefits from the fact that she’s been nominated for what is actually a lead performance). But Rooney Mara and Jennifer Jason Leigh were once presumed to be front-runners to win this award, and Rachel McAdams is the only of these people whose movie is nominated for Best Picture. What I’m saying is, there’s the possibility of a surprise here, and I’m looking forward to it. As for my prediction, Vikander’s suffering wife role seems most likely, since her performance is 90% crying.
Will Win: Alicia Vikander
Should Win: Rachel McAdams

Original Screenplay

  • Bridge of Spies (Matt Chernan, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)
  • Ex Machina (Alex Garland)
  • Inside Out (Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley)
  • Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer)
  • Straight Outta Compton (Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff)

A pretty great list of nominees –Straight Outta Compton‘s script is a joke, but whatever- but the clear winner here is Spotlight, since it’s the only one of these five that has a decent shot at winning Best Picture. But let’s not forget it will be a hugely deserving win too, for one of the most elegant and careful scripts of the year would be winning.
Will Win: Spotlight
Should Win: Spotlight 

Adapted Screenplay

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

The Big Short is the nominee with the clearest shot at a Best Picture win, which makes it the clear front-runner here. Having said that, a surprise win for Room could mean strong support and perhaps a Best Picture upset later in the night? As for the others: a win for The Martian would annoy me a little bit, a win for Brooklyn would be hugely unexpected but welcomed, and a win for Carol would be a gift sent from heaven.
Will Win: 
The Big Short
Should Win: Carol 

Animated Feature

  • Anomalisa 
  • Boy and the World
  • Inside Out
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie 
  • When Marnie Was There

Inside Out came at a difficult time for Pixar, and became one of the studio’s biggest hits. It made a gazillion dollars and critics loved it, it’s obviously going to win this award. But let the fact that the winner is set in stone detract from the fact that this is a particularly exciting list of nominees. From small foreign marvels to animation intended for an explicitly adult audience, it’s one of the most eclectic and exciting groups of nominees this category -which is usually full of good-enough computer-animation- has ever seen.
Will Win: Inside Out
Should Win: Shaun the Sheep Movie 

Foreign Language Film

  • Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia)
  • Mustang (France)
  • Son of Saul (Hungary)
  • Theeb (Jordan)
  • A War (Denmark)

I’ve only seen two of the nominees, though I’ve been trying to find some time to catch up with Embrace of the Serpent for about a week now. I didn’t quite love either of the two I saw, but really liked Mustang, most commonly known as the Turkish Virgin Suicides, except for a couple of weak decisions in its third act. I also respect the filmmaking aesthetic of Son of Saul, even if the moral implications of turning the Holocaust into a video-game style sensorial experience can be questioned. It won’t matter at the Oscars, though, Son of Saul is impressive enough to be the clear winner.
Will Win: Son of Saul
Should Win: Of the two I’ve seen, Mustang

Documentary Feature

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Winter on Fire 

Back in 2013, Joshua Oppenheimer’s brilliant The Act of Killing, a documentary that followed and confronted the perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide lost this award to Twenty Feet from Stardom, a far lighter and more optimistic look at the work of the music industry’s most prolific back-up singers. This year, Oppenheimer’s sequel, The Look of Silence –which focuses on the victims of the genocide instead of the perpetrators- is nominated again, and will probably lose to another music-centric documentary.
Will Win: Amy
Should Win: I’ve only seen one of the nominees.

Cinematography

  • Carol (Ed Lachman)
  • The Hateful Eight (Robert Richardson)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)
  • The Revenant (Emmanuel Lubezki)
  • Sicario (Roger Deakins)

It’s hard now to remember the time when Emmanuel Lubezki was a grossly under-rewarded cinematographer. As recently as five years ago, it seemed like he might never win, now he’s about to get his third Oscar in a row. Three in a row, including one for the admittedly beautiful but totally shallow Revenant, seems excessive. And embarrassing, because, hey guys, Ed Lachman is also nominated. 
Will Win: 
The Revenant
Should Win: Carol 

Production Design

  • Bridge of Spies (Adam Stockhausen)
  • The Danish Girl (Eve Stewart)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (Colin Gibson)
  • The Martian (Arthur Max)
  • The Revenant (Jack Fisk)

Cinematography and Production Design are two categories that tend to go hand-in-hand in terms of wins, but truly one would have to be insane to think The Revenant -a movie that takes place almost entirely outdoors- could win this category, right? And I know, that the production designer does a lot of work scouting locations and not everything is about the set, but come on, if you want a movie that takes place almost exclusively outdoors but comes up with unique and awesome design choices at every turn, Mad Max and its flame-throwing guitar-player are right there.
Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road 

Costume Design

  • Carol (Sandy Powell)
  • Cinderella (Sandy Powell)
  • The Danish Girl (Paco Delgado)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (Jenny Beavan)
  • The Revenant (Jacqueline West)

This is a truly tricky category. No idea who is going to win here. I initially let my mind think Carol , based on the foolish notion that the best costumes could actually win. Then Cinderella, because we know the Academy thinks most costumes = best costumes. Then, The Revenant started to become more of a front-runner (and how insane would it be if Leo’s fur coat won the award over Carol’s?), and Mad Max won the Best Costumes award at BAFTA, and what the hell, The Danish Girl could also win, I guess? I don’t fucking know… 
Will Win: 
Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Carol 

Film Editing

  • The Big Short (Hank Corwin)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)
  • The Revenant (Stephen Mirrione)
  • Spotlight (Tom McArdle)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Maryann Brandon, Mary Jo Markey)

A win in this category for either The Big Short or Spotlight, would be a strong signal that they’re about to win Best Picture. Curiously, I think The Revenant -despite its front-runner status- is probably not going to win here. And thank goodness, because giving an editing award to a two-and-a-half hour drag would be the peak of irony. Instead, I think the most likely winner is the super-tight, no-fat-around-the-edges Mad Max. 
Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road 

Original Score

  • Bridge of Spies (Thomas Newman)
  • Carol (Carter Burwell)
  • The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone)
  • Sicario (Johann Johansson)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (John Williams)

Remember at the Golden Globes when Tarantino got up and said Ennio Morricone had never won a major award for his work as a composer? Well, he actually had won a couple Golden Globes before, and he’s also won an Honorary Academy Award, but that doesn’t really matter. Tarantino started a narrative, Morricone is flying to attend the ceremony, and he’ll probably win an Oscar.
Will Win: The Hateful Eight
Should Win: Carol 

Original Song

  • “Earned It” (Fifty Shades of Grey)
  • “Manta Ray” (Racing Extinction)
  • “Simple Song 3” (Youth)
  • “Til It Happens to You” (The Hunting Ground)
  • “Writings on the Wall” (Spectre)

Come on, it’s time to retire this category. Lady Gaga’s solemn warning about campus rape is the most likely winner -I guess- but it’s also by far the worst of the nominees. The other options aren’t exactly great, although I would gladly vote for The Weeknd’s “Earned It” because it’s a total jam and I would love to say Academy Award-winning Fifty Shades of Grey for the rest of my life. 
Will Win: 
The Hunting Ground
Should Win: Fifty Shades of Grey 

Sound Mixing

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

By this point, you’ve clearly realized that the big story with the technical categories this year is Mad Max vs. The Revenant. They’re both the kind of movie that could easily win both sound categories. I honestly don’t know which one is going to win, so maybe one wins Mixing and the other Editing? 
Will Win: 
The Revenant
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road 

Sound Editing

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

Sticking to the plan I just laid out for Sound Mixing, I’m giving Mad Max the advantage in this race. But before we move on, let’s take a second to remember how insanely effective the sound design in Sicario was.  
Will Win: 
Mad Max: Fury Road 
Should Wind: Sicario 

Makeup and Hair

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

Every year, the makeup branch somehow manages to find a movie no one has heard about and nominate it. This year’s 100 Year-Old Man, however, has no chance of winning against the two biggest heavy-hitters of the season. The fleshy wounds of The Revenant are one of the movie’s most impressive aspects, but the grotesque iconography of Mad Max seems more in line with the kind of movies the Academy likes to reward in this category.
Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road 

Visual Effects

  • Ex Machina
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • The Martian
  • The Revenant
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

The Force Awakens is now the highest-grossing movie of all time. Avatar, Titanic, and Star Wars the previous three highest-grossing movies of all time, have all won this category. At the same time, they were all Best Picture nominees, and when a Best Picture nominee gets nominated here, that means they usually win. That being said, we have three Best Picture nominees this year, could they split the vote? This is just a long and confusing way of saying I’m sticking with Star Wars. 
Will Win: 
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Should Win: Ex Machina 

Animated Short

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

How foolish would I have to be to expect World of Tomorrow, not only one of the most impressive animated shorts I’ve ever seen but my absolute favorite movie of 2015, to actually win this award? This category’s recent history suggests that the much more popular Sanjay’s Super-Team is the one to beat. So, my mantra continues: I’m preparing for the worst, but I swear I will jump up and scream with joy if World of Tomorrow manages to go the distance.
Will Win: Sanjay’s Super Team
Should Win: World of Tomorrow

Documentary Short

  • Body Team 12
  • Chau Beyond the Lights
  • Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  • A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  • Last Day of Freedom

Haven’t seen any of these, but one has the word “Shoah” in the title, which makes me think is very likely to win.
Will Win: Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
Should Win: haven’t seen any of the nominees.

Live Action Short

  • Ave Maria
  • Day One
  • Everything Will Be Okay
  • Shok
  • Stutterer 

Haven’t seen any of the shorts, but have heard quite a bit about them in terms of who will win and why. None of these people are in agreement about who will win, but quite a few say Everything Will Be Okay as the best of the nominees. Curiously, none of them predict it to win.
Will Win: Everything Will Be Okay 
Should Win: haven’t seen any of the nominees.

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4 comments

  1. smilingldsgirl · February 24, 2016

    Great job. Im not watching this year. I dont like Chris Rock and I know it will just tick me off. I did want to make one correction the academy has actually not nominated CG films for best animation as much as you might think. Last year only 2 with non CG noms to Song of the Sea, Tale of Princess Kaguya, and Boxtrolls. This year only 1 CG nom with non CG for Boy and the World, Anomalisa, Shaun the Sheep, When Marnie was There all getting noms. 2014 did have 3 CG nominees but wasnt a strong stop motion entry that year.
    Anyway it is interesting how the academy supports traditional modes of animation even to the point of ignoring films that make significant strides in the world of CG which Peanuts Movie actually did.

    • Conrado Falco · February 24, 2016

      I’m definitely all about the Academy supporting traditional and stop-motion animation. I am so happy only one of these year’s nominees was CG. As you mention, yes, we usually get at least two, and in the days of only three nominees, more than half were usually CG. I guess my comment shouldn’t have been addressed to the Academy as much as to the other awards bodies (Golden Globes, PGA) that do settle for the most obvious (big studio, usually CG) movies.

      • smilingldsgirl · February 24, 2016

        I agree and the winners have been CG for a long time. I guess I bonded emotionally with Peanuts Movie and Boy and the World is pretty heavy handed in its messaging but I’m fine with nominees. I just think because it’s wrapped in Peanuts nostalgia the film isnt given the artistic or technical respect it does deserve. The way it used hybrid animation was something we’ve only seen in shorts.
        Oh also I was surprised to learn how artistic the academy has been with animated short. Did you know Pixar hasnt won since 2001? Isnt that surprising? I think World of Tomorrow is actually the frontrunner.

      • smilingldsgirl · February 24, 2016

        The BAFTA was the worst this year nominating Minions. What a joke! I guess they didn’t get all the British mocking that was in that movie…

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