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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Oscar Predictions 2015: Round 3 (Final Nomination Predictions)

Best Picture:
1. Spotlight (Previous Ranking: 7)
        The frontrunner to win Best Picture has shown up everywhere, from critics groups to important guilds to BAFTA. Its invitation is already in the mail.

2. Bridge of Spies (Previous Ranking: 1)
        I know I'm a broken record, but I'll say it again; don't bet against Steven Spielberg when he's shading serious. BAFTA, the PGA, and the WGA all backed me up on this one.

3. The Revenant (Previous Ranking: 4)
        Leonardo DiCaprio gunning for his first Oscar win, massive box office last weekend, staggering ambition, and the return of Alejandro González Iñárritu, only a year after his Birdman took home the big one. Count The Revenant in.

4. The Big Short (Previous Ranking: Unranked)
        Adam McKay's first foray into 'adult' filmmaking wasn't even supposed to come out this year, but has absolutely stormed the guilds ever since. His DGA nomination almost represents a guarantee at this point.

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (Previous Ranking: 30)
        I can't believe it either, but the fourth entry into this long-dead franchise is essentially a lock at this point, having not only shown up at the PGA and DGA, but just about every technical guild shortlist under the sun.

6. The Martian (Previous Ranking: 29)
        The Academy has been waiting years for Ridley Scott to make a movie that everyone could agree on, and here it is. With all the guilds backing it, The Martian likely takes the 'space adventure' slot away from Star Wars.

7. Brooklyn (Previous Ranking: 9)
        This is around where things start to feel a bit less certain, but with support from critics and PGA, along with a story that should appeal to older voters, I think Saoirse Ronan and friends get in.

8. Straight Outta Compton (Previous Ranking: Unranked)
        Trust me, I'm just as surprised as you are, but Compton has been everywhere except the DGA, and the idea of making such a 'cool' pick likely appeals to voters.

9. Sicario (Previous Ranking: 18)
        That PGA nomination sure came out of nowhere! The WGA soon followed suit, and with support from a variety of technical groups (along with the general quality of filmmaking), I'll take a flier on the latest from Denis Villenueve
I am predicting these nine films to be nominated (I don't have some crazy math equation that helped me determine this number; these just seem like the ones). The following is where I rank the next movies in line.
10. Carol (Previous Ranking: 3)
        My my, how the mighty have fallen. A shocking no show at the PGA, no ensemble love from SAG, and a snub yesterday at the DGA have this one floundering. BAFTA love keeps it alive, as do the twin heralded performances of Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

11. Room (Previous Ranking: 38)
        Room is in pretty much the same place as Carol, only without the BAFTA support. They both could still show up big tomorrow morning, but the tea leaves aren't looking so good today.

12. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Previous Ranking: 22)
        The 11 films listed above are our top-flight contenders, but that doesn't mean Star Wars or one of the five films listed below can't shock the world. I have no real evidence to support picking The Force Awakens, but when a movie is set to make 900 million dollars in its first month of release, you can't really take it off the list.

13. Trumbo (Previous Ranking: 34)
        The acting branch of the Academy is by far their largest faction, and they surprised everyone by going ga-ga for Trumbo. The WGA nod helps, but really, this one comes down to thespian support.

14. Ex Machina (Previous Ranking: Unranked)
        This was always going to be a film that ended up on a lot of top 10 lists, but the PGA citation transformed it from a hail mary to a real possibility in the Best Picture race. WGA and an outpouring of Alicia Vikander love help push it along.

15. Inside Out (Previous Ranking: 6)
        It's looking like Pixar's latest triumph will have to be happy with a Best Animated Feature nomination, but after the inclusions of Up and Toy Story 3 at the big kids' table in '09 and '10 respectively, we shouldn't cross it off just yet.

16. Beasts of No Nation (Previous Ranking: 16)
        Everything I said about Trumbo applies here, only with less famous actors, and no support from any other guild. This is the perfect litmus test for the power of the acting branch.

17. The Hateful Eight (Previous Ranking: 8)
        Almost no one else could make this movie and still warrant a spot on this list, but this is Tarantino. In just eight films, the guy's won two Oscars while being nominated for three others, and led actors to a total of six nods, and two victories. Are you ready to call him and his movie dead?

Best Director:
1. Tom McCarthy---Spotlight
        He's the director of the Best Picture frontrunner that's famous for great acting. Need I say more?

2. Alejandro González Iñárritu---The Revenant
        The Academy obviously loves him, all five of his previous movies showing up somewhere on nomination morning, with last year's Birdman taking Oscar night by storm. The Revenant won't be where they suddenly abandon him.

3. George Miller---Mad Max: Fury Road
        Assuming he gets in, I actually kind of love Miller's chances to win the it all. That said, can you ever really call the director of a two-hour chase scene a 'lock' for the nomination?

4. Ridley Scott---The Martian
        It's obvious that people want Scott to make it back into the Oscar conversation, and I absolutely think he gets in, but his flick is still a sci-fi offering, which can irk some voters.

5. Adam McKay---The Big Short
        I really, truly cannot believe I'm picking Will Ferrell's BFF to be among our five nominated directors, but he got the DGA nod, and is film is on an absolute rampageTodd Haynes---Carol
6. Steven Spielberg---Bridge of Spies
        Smart money says they're really going to make Spielberg (and Hanks, for that matter) work for it in order to get back into the five. Perhaps unfair to hold a guy back just because he's done more impressive work in the past, but when you've stormed Normandy and resurrected dinosaurs, most things sort of feel like old hat.

7. Todd Haynes---Carol
        One of only two people listed below Spielberg to have garnered an Oscar nomination, Haynes' film not only still has a Best Picture pulse, but something about his inclusion here without an accompanying citation for Carol reminds me of Bennett Miller's almost analogous situation with Foxcatcher last year.

8. Denis Villenueve---Sicario
        If you think they're going for Sicario in Best Picture (and I can offer you a 2% GUARANTEE that they will), then the Denny has to be on your list. Some of the year's showiest directing.

9. F. Gary Gray---Straight Outta Compton
        A respected industry veteran who has yet to snag a nomination, Gray's film is not only a likely Best Picture nominee, he offers the Academy yet another opportunity to show love to a black filmmaker, something they've really only recently started doing.

10. John Crowley---Brooklyn
        The least complicated description this side of Tom McCarthy; if they're going for Brooklyn in Best Picture, he has to stay on the radar.

11. Lenny Abrahamson---Room
        Same deal as with Crowley, but for a movie with a slightly lower profile.

12. J.J. Abrams---Star Wars: The Force Awakens
        He absolutely won't get in if his movie isn't among the Best Picture nominees... but what if it is?

15. Quentin Tarantino---The Hateful Eight
        Shameless copy/paste time: Almost no one else could make this movie and still warrant a spot on this list, but this is Tarantino. In just eight films, the guy's won two Oscars while being nominated for three others, and led actors to a total of six nods, and two victories. Are you ready to call him and his movie dead?

Best Actor:
1. Leonardo DiCaprio---The Revenant
        The biggest frontrunner this category has seen in years, not only do I think Leo is a lock to hear his name called tomorrow, I don't even really see who could ultimately take it from him.

2. Michael Fassbender---Steve Jobs
        Nominated everywhere for his stellar performance, this might not be Fassbender's best work ever, but it's abut time he started being a perennial Oscar contender.

3. Matt Damon---The Martian
        Yes, I know he missed for SAG, as did his movie at large, but I still can't talk myself into going any lower than the #3 slot. I just can't see The Martian getting in for Picture, Director, Screenplay, and more without Damon coming along.

4. Bryan Cranston---Trumbo
        It makes sense that the Academy would want to claim Cranston as one of their own in an attempt to disassociate him from the ranks of 'television actors.' Can't say I expected it this soon, but again, his name has been everywhere.

5. Eddie Redmayne---The Danish Girl
        Last year's winner takes on an even more daring role than Stephen Hawking. Far from a guarantee, but you don't win a golden man without the likelihood of further nominations.
6. Johnny Depp---Black Mass
        Yes, he got the SAG, but he missed BAFTA, and Black Mass has been MIA literally everywhere else. Pirates was certainly a long time ago.

7. Steve Carell---The Big Short
        Lest we forget that Carell was invited to the party just last year, and is in a much higher profile movie this time around. I was tempted to move him up higher, but there's been no real support so far. Call it a hunch.

8. Tom Hanks---Bridge of Spies
        The movie's getting in for Picture, and this is a remarkably weak category this year, but if the guy couldn't get in for Captain Phillips, it's pretty tough to predict him here.

9. Samuel L. Jackson---The Hateful Eight
        Again with my refusal to sell all my Hateful Eight stock, this would be a cool way to celebrate Jackson and Tarantino's miraculous body of work together.

10. Michael Caine---Youth
        Paolo Sorrentino's last film, The Great Beauty, won Best Foreign Feature back in 2013, so at least a handful of voters will check this one out. The question is wether they want to give Caine a 'career' nomination.

11. Ian McKellen---Mr. Holmes
        Same exact logic as with Caine, only without a director with a recent track record of success.

Best Actress:
1. Brie Larson---Room
        This has been a battle between Larson and Ronan since the summer, and nothing has changed. Expect some pretty loud gasps if either misses tomorrow.

2. Saoirse Ronan---Brooklyn
        As previously stated, it's been Larson vs. Ronan for a while now, but Larson has always had the slight edge. She's absolutely getting in.

3. Cate Blanchett---Carol
        Some cry category fraud when they see Blanchett's name here instead of the Supporting category, but the woman is a walking Oscar statue, and with a SAG nod under her belt, she appears good to go.

4. Charlotte Rampling---45 Years
        Said to be amazing in the film, this could be a wonderful career capper for Rampling. Her film is just only now making the rounds, but really, is there anyone listed below with a better shot?

5. Jennifer Lawrence---Joy
        This one makes me feel queasy, as Joy has hardly moved the needle since it's December release. That said, Oscar obviously loves J-Law, and again, who down there are you taking over her? This is less of a prediction than a default selection.
6. Rooney Mara---Carol
        This is how jacked-up every acting race is besides Actor; Mara's whole campaign has been for a Supporting Actress nomination, and yet I still have her just missing in a different category for the very same performance. Mara and Vikander are making things difficult.

7. Helen Mirren---The Woman in Gold
        She scored a SAG nomination along with zilch from everywhere else. It still feels far-fetched, but she is one of the most respected actresses of her generation.

8. Sarah Silverman---I Smile Back
        Same deal with the surprise SAG appearance described above... only without all that 'Actress of  Generation' stuff.

9. Alicia Vikander---The Danish Girl
        I think this performance is almost a lock to get nominated, I just don't know if it's here or in Supporting. My gut tells me the latter, so I'll keep her down here.

10. Maggie Smith---The Lady in the Van
        A 'career nomination' special, but that BAFTA shout out does make things slightly more interesting than some of the other veterans in this category.

11. Lily Tomlin---Grandma
        Another potential 'career nomination,' I remain on the look-out for a Tomlin appearance simply because of industry respect, and a wide-open field.

12. Charlize Theron---Mad Max: Fury Road
        This is a simple 'How much do they love Mad Max?' play, nothing more and nothing less.

13. Emily Blunt---Sicario
        Everything you just read above, but for a thespian who's only been nominated previously, and not won like Theron has.

14. Blythe Danner---I'll See You In My Dreams
        Same as Tomlin, but with less attention paid to the movie.

15. Melissa McCarthy---Spy
        I keep saying this field is wide open, and if I truly believe that, who's to say that McCarthy can't sneak in for a critically-lauded laugher that could represent something of a sea change in the Academy's thoughts about both women and comedies.

16. Amy Schumer---Trainwreck
        Same as above, accept McCarthy has already been nominated for a bawdy comedy. There's no real way to know if she's and Oscar share a similar sense of humor, but the film's screenplay citation at the WGA bodes well.

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Mark Rylance---Bridge of Spies
        In a category that could truly go in an almost incalculable number of different directions, thank god for Rylance, the only Supporting Actor who's nomination feels completely safe.

2. Christian Bale---The Big Short
        I call Rylance 'completely safe' because he's a tiny bit more secure than Bale, though SAG, BAFTA, and the film's overall momentum ought to make him feel pretty comfortable.

3. Idris Elba---Beasts of No Nation
        Here's where things get tricky (see: impossible). Elba is a beloved industry veteran who's never been nominated, an idea that you could just as easily see as working in his favor as against it. That said, he's the only one remaining name with both BAFTA and SAG.

4. Mark Ruffalo---Spotlight
        There was a time when both Ruffalo and Keaton felt like locks for Spotlight, and now they're both on the fringes. Smart money probably wouldn't have either in the top five, but I struggle to believe that no male actors make it from their ensemble. I'm leaning Ruffalo because of SAG.

5. Tom Hardy---The Revenant
        There's hardly any reason to pick the guy, but I'm going with my gut on this one. If Leo pulled Jonah Hill in with him for Wolf of Wall Street, who's to say it can't happen again here, especially for a never-nominated star of multiple 2015 Best Picture nominees.
6. Sylvester Stallone---Creed
        I can't believe that I'm predicting Sly to sit this one out, but it just doesn't seem like there's room, evidenced by his skunking at the hands of both BAFTA and SAG. However, this is an all timer for the veteran card, so definitely keep your eyes open for Stallone.

7. Michael Keaton---Spotlight
        This seemed like his Oscar to lose only a month ago or so. Still can't believe they'd rob him for Birdman last year, and then deny him a nomination for this, but that's certainly where the signs are pointing. Just like Stallone, watch out for the last minute surge.

8. Benicio Del Toro---Sicario
        That BAFTA nomination brought his chances back to life, as did precursor love for Sicario at large, but can you really sit out the entirety of the precursors and still make it in a field this crowded?

9. Jacob Tremblay---Room
         He showed up at SAG, and Oscar does tend to like awarding young actors in the Supporting field, but his film appears mortally wounded, and my god, what a lame move to slot him here as opposed to Actor, as he's clearly Room's main character.

10. Michael Shannon---99 Homes
        Somehow scored a SAG nomination for a film that just about no one saw, this would be a perfect narrative for a first nomination. As is, he's already had his turn, and I'm betting they make him wait for another.

11. Paul Dano---Love & Mercy
        Dano's finger prints have been all over way more successful films than people really realize during his still-young career, and he'll certainly get in at some point. Suffice to say, he picked the wrong year to make a Brian Wilson biopic.

12. Jason Mitchell---Straight Outta Compton
        This is my lone hail mary play in Supporting Actor, as I actually believe that numbers 3-11 listed above are almost on an even playing field. Part of me just wonders if Compton will find other major category love beyond a Best Picture grab.

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Kate Winslet---Steve Jobs
        No, I was not swayed by her Globe win, and no, I don't see any world where she takes this one home. That said, she's shown up everywhere from BAFTA to critics awards to SAG, and there's a chance that both of the performances listed below end up in the Actress category. She's the only one who feels completely assured.

2. Rooney Mara---Carol
        I love Mara's chances to win here if she gets nominated, but the chance that she ends up in the other acting category spooks me out of listing her at the top.

3. Alicia Vikander---The Danish Girl
        Same exact deal as Mara, only with a slightly larger chance of going lead, and a less beloved movie.

4. Rachel McAdams---Spotlight
        Not exactly the showiest role of all time, but my hunch is that Academy members who don't vote for Keaton or Ruffalo will feel indebted to slot her in here.

5. Helen Mirren---Trumbo
        She was double nominated by SAG for both this and The Woman in Gold. It just feels like sentiment is in her favor, even if BAFTA decided to pass.
6. Jennifer Jason Leigh---The Hateful Eight
        Rinse and repeat; I wonder if their might be deep seeded Hateful Eight love within the voting body, and Jason Leigh is a widely beloved veteran actress who's somehow never been nominated.

7. Alicia Vikander---Ex Machina
        Oscar has a stupid rule wherein a thespian cannot appear twice within the same category. If they didn't, I'd predict her twice here, but as is, I have her ranked this high incase they decide she's a lead in The Danish Girl.

8. Kristen Stewart---Clouds of Sils Maria
        Not exactly the most talked about film on the docket, but Stewart has been showered with praise through out the year for her work here. I like her as a wild card.

9. Jane Fonda---Youth
        Just like her co-star Michael Caine, this would be a career nomination that depends mightily on their opinion of Paolo Sorrentino's latest work.

10. Elizabeth Banks---Love & Mercy
        Another beloved thespian in search of her first nomination, Banks is way out on the fringes, but if Dano manages to sneak in, she might come along for the ride.

11. Joan Allen---Room
        This is just incase we're sucker punched with an outpouring of love for Room. It's unlikely, but that's her only path to glory.

Best Original Screenplay:
1. Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer---Spotlight
2. Matt Charman, Joel Coen, and Ethan Coen---Bridge of Spies
3. Bob Petersen and Pete Docter---Inside Out
4. Andrea Berloff, Jonathan Herman, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus---Straight Outta Compton
5. Alex Garland---Ex Machina
6. Taylor Sheridan---Sicario
7. Quentin Tarantino---The Hateful Eight
8. Amy Schumer---Trainwreck
9. Paolo Sorrentino---Youth
10. Ramin Bahrani, Amir Nader, and Bahareh Azimi---99 Homes

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. Adam McKay and Charles Randolph---The Big Short
2. Nick Hornby---Brooklyn
3. Aaron Sorkin---Steve Jobs
4. Phyllis Nagy---Carol
5. Drew Goddard---The Martian
6. Emma Donahue---Room
7. Charlie Kaufman---Anomalisa
8. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Mark L. Smith---The Revenant
9. John MacNamara---Trumbo

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