My Oscar Predictions 2016

It’s that time of year again and, with two weeks left to go until Oscar night, I’ve put together my predictions for the main categories. Even though I am completely obsessed with award shows, I’ve always been kind of aware of how out of touch they can be. The failure on the Academy’s part to show any diversity in their nominees for the second year in a row despite the number of worthy contenders (Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba, Jason Mitchell, Benicio del Toro, Ryan Coogler, Kitana Kiki Rodriguez, Samuel L. Jackson, etc) is pretty weak of them. While I’m not in favour of having political correctness play a role in determining the nominations, the simple truth is there are some (just a few) nominees this year who simply aren’t as deserving as the names I’ve provided. With that said there are some great films and great performances this year that absolutely deserve the recognition they’ve received. Putting together these predictions is always a lot of fun and hopefully I can do better than I did last year.

 

Best Picture

Spotlight

This was a tough one to call. Even though my head tells to me to go with the most nominated film, I’m just not convinced by The Revenant as a Best Picture winner. I haven’t predicted it to win Best Director and it wasn’t even nominated for its screenplay. The last time a film won without a win in either category was Chicago in 2002. On that basis my choice was narrowed down to Mad Max: Fury RoadSpotlight and The Big Short. In the end I decided to go for Spotlight because it just seems like it could be this year’s Argo. It isn’t the most creative or innovative film to be made this year nor is it necessarily the most deserving. It’s simply the film that seems to have the most support. The Critics’ Choice Awards certainly helps as does its SAG win for Best Ensemble. Every Academy member may vote in this category so the support of the actors could go a long way.

Runner Up: To be on the safe side I’m going to predict The Revenant just in case voters do decide to pick the film with the most nominations. The film’s Golden Globe and DGA victories definitely help and the Academy certainly proved last year that they are fans of Alejandro G. Iñárritu.

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Leonardo DiCaprio

Because in The Revenant DiCaprio delivers a fully-committed physically demanding performance to stunning effect. Because this is his fifth acting nomination without a win. Because he’s won every major award so far. Because he’s bled for it. Because the internet will explode if he wins. Because dammit, he’s earned it.

Runner Up: Michael Fassbender is unstoppable in Steve Jobs. He single-handedly carries the film all the way through and commands the audience’s complete attention. He is loud, energetic, charismatic and larger than life. Steve Jobs is packed with great performances and yet Fassbender still stands out above them all. No other nominee completely dominates their film the way Fassbender does.

Best Actress in a Leading Role

Brie Larson

Brie Larson delivers a breathtaking performance as a prisoner whose only source of comfort and enjoyment is her son, a boy who has never known a world beyond the room they live in. Larson is excellent at both conveying the touching bond that she and her son share and the despair she feels from being held against her will and cut off from the rest of the world. This performance has already won her accolades across the board, including a Golden Globe and SAG, and so Larson is in the best position out of all the nominees for an Oscar victory. A well-deserved one.

Runner Up: In Carol Cate Blanchett delivers a sublime performance. There is nothing quite like watching a great actor at the peak of their abilities and this performance is one of Blanchett’s finest.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Sylvester Stallone

When Stallone won the Golden Globe in this category he was met with a standing ovation. Not only is Rocky Balboa the character that made Stallone’s name, he’s also the most iconic and beloved character he has ever played. Watching him return to the role was like watching a returning champion. He plays the role so naturally and organically that it hardly seems like he’s even acting. I never thought I would ever say this but Sylvester Stallone truly does deserve to win this Oscar.

Runner Up: I really cannot imagine the Academy choosing anybody else over Stallone but, if they did, I guess it would probably be Mark Ruffalo. Out of the remaining nominees, his role seems the most geared towards winning an Oscar. He even has an impassioned speech in Spotlight that’ll make for a great clip when they read out the nominees at the ceremony.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Rooney Mara

Even though she hasn’t won any major awards and isn’t the favourite to win, I’m going to take a risk by predicting Rooney Mara for Carol. Her performance is just too good not to win. It isn’t as showy a performance as Blanchett’s which is probably why voters were able to accept her more easily as a supporting role. In any case the quietness of her performance is a part of what makes it great. There are scenes in which she conveys an entire spectrum of emotions with just her eyes. This is more of a hopeful choice than it is a calculated one but she really does deserve to win.

Runner Up: The most likely actress to win is probably Alicia Vikander for The Danish Girl. She gives what is by all means a strong performance worthy of recognition and has a SAG and a Critics’ Choice Award to show for it.

Best Director

George Miller

The last time the Academy awarded a director two consecutive awards in this category was Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1950 and 1951 when he made A Letter to Three Wives and then All About Eve. I’m just not sure about Iñárritu winning this award when he was awarded last year for directing a better film. Instead I’ve opted for George Miller who directed a film unlike any other made this year. Mad Max: Fury Road was the single most intense, thrilling, adrenaline-pumping movie of the year and this is due to Miller’s vision as a director. The action he created was incredible and absorbing while also coherent and creative. No other director created the enthralling visual experience that Miller made with this film.

Runner Up: If the Academy did decide to award Iñárritu a second time, it wouldn’t be unjustified. The Revenant is a technical marvel with a stunningly directed opening scene and a great command of its tone and environment.

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Big Short

The Big Short did the impossible: it made economics interesting, funny and entertaining. More than that it made an important film about an important story in a creative and accessible way. It is an ingeniously written film packed with complex characters, good comedy and clever ideas. The breaks of the fourth wall, the cutaways and the dialogue are all employed to tell a complicated story in the clearest, most entertaining and most informative way possible and succeeds beautifully. This is an easy pick.

Runner UpRoom seems like the go to choice most Academy voters would go for if The Big Short was not nominated. It is a moving story exquisitely told with exceptionally touching dialogue. Jack’s narration contains a child-like innocence that is nothing less than heartbreaking.

Best Original Screenplay

Spotlight

Another easy pick, this is a screenplay that was written to win an Oscar. Like The Big ShortSpotlight tackles an important, controversial and socially-relevant subject. It tells its story with remarkable insight, intellect and sophistication in a thoroughly captivating way. Spotlight is a brilliantly tight story that employs every second at its disposal towards its telling. It is a marvellous film almost entirely by virtue of its writing and should win this award if nothing else.

Runner Up: Sometimes, as was the case with Her, the Academy proves itself responsive towards truly original and innovative ideas which is why Ex Machina might have a slight edge in this race. Ex Machina was one of the cleverest and most compelling films of the year and kept you guessing with every twist and turn, a credit to its screenwriter/director Alex Garland.

Best Animated Feature Film

Inside Out

This was a no-brainer. Pixar is practically invincible in this category to the extent that the Academy chose Brave over the vastly superior Wreck-It RalphInside Out however is a film that absolutely deserves to win. It is an inspired and cleverly written film with incredible characters, stunning animation and outstanding emotional moments that has brought grown men to tears. I’m surprised this film wasn’t nominated for Best Picture because it absolutely deserves to have been.

Runner UpAnomalisa is a film I’ve yet to see because it isn’t going to be widely released in the UK until March (although I have booked a ticket to see it at the Glasgow Film Festival at the end of this month). Based on its reception so far it seems that this film could very well challenge Inside Out for the top spot. I would’ve expected nothing less from Charlie Kaufman.

Best Foreign Language Film

Son of Saul

Again, I cannot speak for this film because it has yet to be widely released in the UK. It is however unquestionably the foreign language film to have generated the most buzz. As well as winning the Golden Globe and the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes, Son of Saul also depicts a challenging story set within the Holocaust, a subject that has often captured and moved Academy voters. This isn’t a category where surprises often happen so whatever film seems like the surest choice is usually a safe bet.

Runner UpMustang seems to me like the most likely challenger. It contains what seems like a challenging story, it was nominated for a Golden Globe and it was submitted by France, a country whose number of victories in this category is second only to Italy.

Best Documentary Feature

Amy

Depicting the untold story of a beloved singer who died tragically young, Amy provides a moving and sorrowful portrait of the woman behind the icon. Although the film has inspired negative criticism from Amy’s own family, the overall reception has been overwhelmingly positive. As well as winning the Critics’ Choice Award and a wealth of other documentary awards, it is also the single most successful British documentary of all time. Its victory would be well deserved indeed.

Runner Up: Made by the Oscar winning director of The Act of Killing (a marvellous film), The Look of Silence depicts a similarly dark and provocative subject about the survivors of the Indonesian genocide confronting its perpetrators. This is a film that could easily shock and mesmerise Academy voters the same way that The Act of Killing did.

The Oscars is two weeks away and I look forward to watching it and seeing how I do. I’ll also be watching the Baftas tonight, a show that could very well change my perception for some of these choices. Nevertheless, in the words of an Oscar winning song, “que sera, sera”.

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My Oscar Predictions 2015

I am obsessed with award shows. Even though they’re stupid and pointless and pretentious and self-congratulatory, I just can’t help it. I find them utterly irresistible. I watched the Golden Globes when they were on; I’m going to watch the Baftas tonight; and two weeks from today I fully intend to stay up until 5 am watching the Oscars. I just think they’re a lot of fun. I enjoy watching the nominated films, I enjoy watching the ceremonies, and most of all I enjoy trying to predict the winners. Therefore, with a fortnight to go until Oscar night I thought I’d share by predictions for the 11 main categories. Personally I didn’t find this year’s nominations to be as impressive as, say, last year’s (and the lack of diversity this year is, to say the least, uninspired), but there are definitely some gems in there and, as always, I had a lot of fun forming my final predictions.

Best Picture

Boyhood

I think this one is a safe bet. It’s going to be Boyhood. It has everything going for it. It is in itself a monumental cinematic achievement, it was a critical darling, it was quite possibly the most crowd-pleasing film of the year (I’ve yet to meet a single person who disliked it), and it has won several major awards already including the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice Award. Nine times out of ten it is usually the most nominated films that end up winning the top prize but Boyhood, which only garnered a modest 6 nominations, looks set to break that trend.

Runner Up: Since the Oscar voters tend to favour the most nominated films it looks like Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, with 9 nominations each, are the most likely to challenge Boyhood. Both are great films in their own right and worthy competitors. They are both very well made, they are both unique, and they both pushed cinematic boundaries. However, out of these two films, I think that Birdman has a slight edge over The Grand Budapest Hotel because in recent years the Academy has proven to be very favourable of films about films (recent examples include Argo and The Artist). I think that the chances of Boyhood losing this race are very slim but, if it does happen, I think that extra factor could count in Birdman’s favour.

Best Leading Actor

Eddie Redmayne

It looks like the competition is split between Michael Keaton for Birdman and Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. Both are first-time nominees who give vastly different but equally brilliant performances. Keaton gives a louder, more eccentric performance whereas Redmayne gives a quieter, more sensitive performance. Both have received heaps of praise and both have won Golden Globes. Ultimately though, I think that Eddie Redmayne is going to win. For one thing, he plays a beloved real-life figure. Secondly, not only did he deliver a great emotional performance, he delivered a great physical performance. Redmayne’s portrayal of the physical effects of the disease was so compelling that I often forgot that I was watching an actor. I think that a lot of the voters are going to feel the same way.

Runner Up: Michael Keaton. No question. If Eddie Redmayne doesn’t win, it’s going to be Michael Keaton.

Best Leading Actress

Still Alice film

I’ve yet to see Still Alice (I’ve booked a ticket for it at the Glasgow Film Festival in a couple week’s time) so I cannot assess Julianne Moore’s performance first-hand. However, based on the reception she’s received so far, I think her victory is more or less a foregone conclusion. I understand that she portrays a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s (mental disorders are always a big plus with Academy voters) and delivers a powerhouse performance. In addition to the subject matter and her Golden Globe and SAG wins, another factor in her favour is that she is a highly regarded and highly acclaimed actress who has yet to win an Oscar. This year marks her fifth nomination, and I suspect that many voters will feel that she is over-due and will seize the chance to finally recognise her (I’m already starting to like the sound of “Academy Award Winner Julianne Moore”).

Runner Up: Out of the four remaining nominees, the only one I can possibly imagine challenging Julianne Moore is Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl. I’m not sure what the rules of spoiler etiquette are in this kind of article, but I think I’d better be on the safe side and stay clear of them. All I can really say is that she delivers an incredible performance and was the highlight of a great film that was otherwise undeservedly snubbed by the Academy.

Best Supporting Actor

J K Simmons

J. K. Simmons. What else is there to say? His performance in Whiplash is loud, ruthless, vicious, layered and captivating. The role he plays is an actor’s dream and he pulls it off brilliantly. He’s going to win.

Runner Up: It’s almost a shame that Simmons is a shoe-in for this award, because Edward Norton’s performance in Birdman is the kind that could possibly win in almost any other year. He similarly gives a loud, bombastic performance which he combines with a twisted eccentricity that is both brilliant and hilarious.

Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette

I think that this is quite a close race because, to me anyway, no one really stands out as a clear winner. Having said that, it looks like the odds are in Patricia Arquette’s favour. She gave a wonderfully vulnerable and sensitive performance in Boyhood, a performance that was literally years in the making, and she has a Golden Globe and SAG to show for it.

Runner Up: I have to be honest; I don’t think Meryl Streep deserves to be in this race. I know that she’s the best actress of her generation and, in the words of Cam from Modern Family, “she is perfection”, but she really doesn’t deserve to be here. I know that it’s blasphemy to say this, but Meryl Streep is not a very good singer. She’s not bad, but she isn’t good either. Her singing in Mamma Mia is not as amazing as everyone thinks it is and neither is her singing in Into the Woods. However I seem to be in the minority here because here she is on her 19th nomination. I feel compelled to name her as the runner up because she’s Meryl freaking Streep and because everyone else has been raving about her performance in this film, but I do so grudgingly.

Best Director

Richard Linklater

Iñárritu’s victory at the Director’s Guild Awards yesterday has drastically improved his chances of an Oscar victory but, as deserving as he is, I still think that the Academy is going to opt for Richard Linklater. Boyhood was an incredibly ambitious project and the fact that Linklater pulled it off shows him to be a visionary director. It is a very close race, but in the end I think that the voters will respond more to Linklater than they will to Iñárritu.

Runner Up: Alejandro G. Iñárritu. His work on Birdman is seminal. His singular vision turned Birdman into a roller coaster of a film and I believe he deserves to be recognised for it.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Whiplash Film

I found this category to be the most difficult to judge because I was utterly convinced that Gone Girl was going to win. I still haven’t gotten over the shock of its snub. However, upon review, I find myself favouring Whiplash for the win (even though the debate rages on over whether or not it even belongs in this category). The conflict between the two main characters is amazing to behold and the way that they evolve and are developed throughout the film is incredible. The actors deserve praise for their impeccable performances, but Damien Chazelle more so for providing the material.

Runner Up: Probably The Imitation Game. The entire film is a celebration of one of the most remarkable men in British history and they did a first-rate job of portraying Alan Turing as the brilliant man that he was.

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman Image

This category boils down to a race between Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel and, as I write this, I still cannot decide which one deserves it more. They are the two most original, most unconventional films of the year and I really wish I could predict them both. Ultimately I think that the voters are more likely to choose Birdman for the same reason why I made it the runner up of the Best Picture race but, honestly, they should both win.

Runner Up: The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Best Animated Feature

June 20th, 2014 @ 02:38:26

Even now I still cannot believe that The Lego Movie was snubbed. It was funny, it was clever, it was brilliant and it was more than worthy of a nomination. However, even if it had been nominated, I would still be predicting How to Train Your Dragon 2 to win. It’s not often that a sequel improves on the original, but it did in this case. How to Train Your Dragon 2 was full of action, full of humour and full of heart and complements the original film perfectly.

Runner Up: This is where I should be writing about The Lego Movie. In its absence I’m going to have to go with The Boxtrolls. Even though I haven’t actually seen it, I feel I can safely call it the runner up due to a process of elimination. For one thing it has been consistently nominated in other major award shows, unlike Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya. In addition I feel I can safely dismiss Big Hero 6 because, having seen it, I did not find it to be in any way Oscar-worthy.

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida film

I have to confess that I have not seen any of the nominees in this category and so what follows is going to be based purely on speculation. The consensus, as I understand it, is that the main competition is between Poland’s Ida and Russia’s Leviathan. Both have received acclaim and won awards. I think I’m going to side with Ida on this one, mainly because it is the only film to be nominated in another category (Best Cinematography), something that can count for a lot in this race (it certainly helped A Separation and Amour).

Runner Up: Leviathan.

Best Documentary

Citizenfour film

This is another category where I haven’t seen any of the nominees (I will get round to them, honest) but I think a lot of people agree that Citizenfour is the most likely to win. The Edward Snowden story is one of the biggest stories in the world right now, so it is unsurprising that Citizenfour is the film that everyone wants to see.

Runner Up: Finding Vivien Maier. No particular reason for this one. I looked each of the nominees up and this one seemed like the most interesting one after Citizenfour.

There are still two weeks to go, and a lot can happen in that time. Tonight’s Bafta results or next weeks WGA results could change people’s perceptions on certain films. Some kind of controversy could emerge which could ruin a nominee’s chances at winning (it’s happened before). During the next two weeks I could watch some of the films I haven’t gotten round to seeing yet and end up changing my mind on certain choices (I haven’t seen Selma yet). The voting ballots are not due until the 17th of February so, until then, nothing is written in stone. However, whatever does happen in the following fortnight, I’ve decided that the predictions I make here are final and cannot be changed for better or worse. Whatever will be, will be.