HOLLYWOOD—This week, marks the week that film pundits have been waiting for since the kick-off of 2016: Oscar predictions. Yes, the Academy consists of a group of industry insiders who shell out who they think are worthy of a bit of notoriety. With so many movies hitting theaters in 2016, just who should be receiving love this year. Well, let’s take a look at some of the major categories Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor.
I feel like the Best Actor category seems to be one of the easiest to predict year after year because there are always those performances that are immediate locks. For 2016, things are no different. Perhaps, the frontrunner and likely candidate to win the prize is Leonardo DiCaprio for his work in “The Revenant.” It might be one of DiCaprio’s more physically demanding roles in his entire career and it’s a performance that carries plenty of weight to say the least.
Another contender will be last year’s Best Actor winner Eddie Redmayne for his transformative work in “The Danish Girl” a few months ago Redmayne was considered the candidate to possibly win back to back Oscars before buzz surfaced about Leo. A third lock in the race is one who I would consider a possibility to give Leo a run for his money and that is former co-star in “The Departed” Matt Damon. Damon is a complete revelation in the sci-fi drama “The Martian.” That movie had me glued to the screen from start to finish.
Now, with Eddie, Matt and Leo as locks, the other two slots become a bit more competitive because a bevy of gentlemen are all viable contenders. Bryan Cranston is generating plenty of buzz with his performance in “Trumbo” and it doesn’t hurt that he has a SAG nomination to back him. Michael Fassbender has been praised for his work as the Apple titan in “Steve Jobs.” Will Smith delivers a tour-de force performance in the biopic “Concussion” and Johnny Depp proves once again why he is considered a versatile actor for his work in “Black Mass.” Other potentials include Michael Caine “Youth,” Michael B. Jordan “Creed” and Samuel L. Jackson “The Hateful Eight.” Expect Cranston to get a nomination and I’d say the fifth spot is a toss-up between Fassbender, Jordan and Smith, but I’m going to give Jordan the edge cause “Creed” is a hit with critics and moviegoers.
Turning to the Best Actress race there are also virtual locks for Brie Larson “Room,” Saoirse Ronan “Brooklyn” and Cate Blanchett “Carol.” Now behind those three, this is when the race becomes quite competitive because the performances are so strong it is imperative some people will be left out. I loved Jennifer Lawrence for her work in the dramedy “Joy” so I’m expecting her to nab a nomination and in that fifth and final spot I have to advocate for Charlize Theron who was a complete revelation in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” If Theron GETS some love this awards season, I feel the Academy is certain to acknowledge her riveting work in that action flick.
If we look at the candidates for Best Supporting Actress it’s a mix bag of contenders with only two front-runners, Alicia Vikander “The Danish Girl” and Rooney Mara “Carol.” Some would argue that Mara could sneak in a nomination in the Best Actress race. I mean let’s face it her work is more of a lead than a supporting character. With her recent Globe win, Kate Winslet should grab a nomination for her performance in “Steve Jobs.”
So that leaves two spots open for grabs and I would find it a travesty for Jennifer Jason Leigh to not grab a nod for her wickedly evil performance in “The Hateful Eight” and it looks like that final slot will be a fight between veterans Helen Mirren “Trumbo,” Jane Fonda “Youth” and possible newbie Rachel McAdams for “Spotlight.” While the buzz for both Mirren and Fonda is strong for their respective work, I suspect McAdams to earn the nod as a wink to “Spotlight” which may not receive much acting love from the Academy as the film should.
Perhaps, the most interesting acting race is that for Best Supporting Actor. I honestly don’t see any clear frontrunners, but at the moment it appears Sylvester Stallone “Creed” and Mark Rylance “Bridge of Spies” are certain locks. The other three spots are up for grabs in my opinion with a bevy of contenders that include: Christian Bale “The Big Short,” Benicio Del Toro “Sicario,” Idris Elba “Beasts of No Nation,” Jacob Tremblay “Room,” Michael Shannon “99 Homes,” Michael Keaton “Spotlight,” Steve Carell “The Big Short” and Mark Ruffalo “Spotlight.” That leaves eight contenders vying for 2 spots, so it’s quite competitive.
I’d argue Tom Hardy should be in that mix for his work in “The Revenant,” but I expect him to get overlooked. So I see Christian Bale getting some love as a way of honoring “The Big Short” and the buzz surrounding Idris Elba’s performance in “Beasts of No Nation” should earn him a nod. So that last spot, my gut is telling me that youngster from “Room,” Jacob Tremblay is going to land a nomination and could be a serious contender to upset Stallone’s chance of taking home that acting Oscar come February 28.
Looking at Best Director I seriously see two locks: one for Ridley Scott “The Martian” (my personal fav to win) and Alejandro Inarritu “The Revenant.” While I liked “Bridge of Spies,” I think Steven Spielberg might get overlooked, the same can be said for Todd Haynes for “Carol.” The movie had quite a bit of momentum coming into the awards season, but that buzz has appeared to fizzle a bit. So I expect Thomas McCarthy to earn a nod for “Spotlight” which is the favorite for the Best Picture prize. That leaves 2 slots open, and so much buzz is building around George Miller and his epic “Mad Max: Fury Road” I would be shocked if he didn’t pick up a nomination.
Now that final slot is an interesting one because rarely does a flick get nominated for Best Picture without getting a Best Director nomination, but that has changed since 2010. I have the feeling that either Ryan Coogler “Creed” or F. Gary Gray “Straight Outta Compton” could earn the nomination. All I know is that last nomination will be someone that critics never expected so start placing your bets.
Now when it comes down to the esteemed Best Picture race right now it’s a battle between “Spotlight,” “The Martian” and “The Revenant” who should all earn nominations if you ask me. I’m not a fan of the possibility of 10 flicks being nominated; I personally believe the Academy should resort back to its norm of nominating 5 flicks. I mean why put into the mindset of those flicks having no chance of winning the prize think they have a shot. When you open the door to more, the odds become tougher. I see “The Big Short,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Carol,” “Bridge of Spies” and “Straight Outta Compton” earning nominations.
I honestly don’t see more than 8 flicks being nominated this go around, but in a year unlike the “Gravity” vs. “12 Years a Slave” battle or “Avatar” vs. “The Hurt Locker,” it’s anyone’s guess as to who will reign supreme comes Thursday morning. However, I’m calling it right now that “The Martian” or “Mad Max: Fury Road” will lead all contenders when it comes to nominations.