In Contention’s Final Oscar Nomination Predictions

In Contendtion Kris Tapley Oscar Predictions-2016-Variety

What surprises lie in store for Thursday's announcement?

There are no more tea leaves left to sift through in phase one of the 2015-2016 Oscar season. Wednesday morning, the Makeup and Hair Stylists Guild were the final industry group to announce nominations before the Academy’s picks are revealed bright and early Thursday, with only the Motion Picture Sound Editors left to speak up at month’s end. With what clues we’re going to get already scattered in front of us, let’s settle on final predictions…

(Note: Variety published a slate of final predictions in the major categories yesterday, but that was the result of tallying picks from myself, Awards Editor Tim Gray, Deputy Features and Awards Editor Jenelle Riley and New York Film Editor Ramin Setoodeh. These are mine alone.)

I won’t say yet again that it’s been an unpredictable season, but it has. At least from down here in the thick of it. I have no doubt that stepping back in a big picture sense, much of what has happened so far is probably understandable. Every year is different. Some of this season’s strong contenders might not get out of the starting gate in another season, because the context of an awards race is as crucial to its results as anything else. It’s just that the context of this particular one has been a bit wonky.

Do wonderful but comparatively modest films like “Brooklyn” and “Spotlight” stand a chance in another year dominated by “Oscar bait?” Does the sugar high of something like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” last long enough to figure in in a year that saw the domestic box office record fall? Did enough happen down the stretch late in the season to shake voters off early favorites like “Inside Out” and “Straight Outta Compton?”

And what of perceived sure things? “Mad Max: Fury Road” lit the critics awards circuit on fire, but does that translate to Academy types who might deem the genre frivolous? Is “Carol’s” perceived weakness in the major guilds evidence of a muted response, or will passionate defenders rally behind it? (With mentions from five guilds, it’s still one of the top eight most lauded films from the industry this season, and with a strong BAFTA showing, it clearly has the Brits on its side.)

“Room” is another interesting case. With just one group sticking up for it — the Screen Actors Guild, which nominated Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay — is it as dead in the water as it appears for best picture? A miss would fall in line with key exclusions from the Independent Spirit Awards and others. But it, too, is a film with a passionate fan base, i.e., voters brave enough to bother watching it despite the subject matter.

Lots and lots and lots of questions remain. And only one thing is certain: There will be surprises. Trying to put your finger on what they’ll be is equal parts fun and maddening, but at some point you put your pencil down and fork over your picks. So…

In Contention’s final predictions in all 24 categories can be found here (and below), with links to each category’s rankings throughout. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments if you have some urgent last-minute thoughts.


Best Picture
“The Big Short”
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Straight Outta Compton”
(alt. “Inside Out”)

Best Director
Adam McKay, “The Big Short”
Todd Haynes, “Carol”
Ridley Scott, “The Martian”
Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant”
Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
(alt. George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”)

Best Actor
Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Johnny Depp, “Black Mass”
Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”
(alt. Matt Damon, “The Martian”)

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett, “Carol”
Brie Larson, “Room”
Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”
Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
(alt. Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”)

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale, “The Big Short”
Idris Elba, “Beasts of No Nation”
Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”
Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”
Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
(alt. Benicio Del Toro, “Sicario”)

Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”
Rooney Mara, “Carol”
Helen Mirren, “Trumbo”
Alicia Vikander, “Ex Machina”
Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”
(alt. Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”)

Best Adapted Screenplay
“The Big Short”
“Steve Jobs”
(alt. “The Martian”)

Best Original Screenplay
“Ex Machina”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Inside Out”
“Straight Outta Compton”
(alt. “Sicario”)

Best Cinematography
“The Hateful Eight”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
(alt. “Bridge of Spies”)

Best Costume Design
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
(alt. “Crimson Peak”)

Best Film Editing
“The Big Short”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
(alt. “Bridge of Spies”)

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“Black Mass”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Revenant”
(alt. “Mr. Holmes”)

Best Music (Original Score)
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Hateful Eight”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
(alt. “The Danish Girl”)

Best Music (Original Song)
“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey”
“See You Again” from “Furious 7”
“Til It Happens to You” from “The Hunting Ground”
“The Light That Never Fails” from “Meru”
“Simple Song #3” from “Youth”
(alt. “Writing’s On the Wall” from “Spectre”)

Best Production Design
“Bridge of Spies”
“The Danish Girl”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
(alt. “Crimson Peak”)

Best Sound Editing
“The Hateful Eight”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
(alt. “Sicario”)

Best Sound Mixing
“Bridge of Spies”
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
(alt. “The Hateful Eight”)

Best Visual Effects
“Mad Max: Fury Road”
“The Martian”
“The Revenant”
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”
“The Walk”
(alt. “Jurassic World”)

Best Animated Feature Film
“Inside Out”
“Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet”
“The Peanuts Movie”
“Shaun the Sheep Movie”
(alt. “The Good Dinosaur”)

Best Foreign Language Film
“The Brand New Testament”
“Son of Saul”
(alt. “A War”)

Best Documentary Feature
“Cartel Land”
“Listen to Me Marlon”
“The Look of Silence”
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”
(alt. “He Named Me Malala”)

Best Documentary (Short Subject)
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
“Last Day of Freedom”
“Starting Point”
(alt. “The Testimony”)

Best Short Film (Animated)
“Bear Story (Historia de un Oso)”
“Love in the Time of March Madness”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
“We Can’t Live Without Cosmos”
(alt. “World of Tomorrow”)

Best Short Film (Live Action)
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)”
(alt. “Bis Gleich (Till Then)”)

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  1. Daryle says:

    Not a bad list….but I have to say that with no acting nominations and no screenplay nomination, I don’t think Mad Max has any chance at winning best picture. And I don’t think it’s going to win in all the “under the line” categories where it may get nominations either. There’s fierce competition in some of those, particularly Cinematography, where Carol and The Revenant are serious contenders. My money’s on The Revenant for Best Picture. In this case, I think the Golden Globes got it right the other night. And as much as I thought Johnny Depp gave one of the best performances of the year in the HIGHLY underrated Black Mass, and one of the best of his career, and as much as I’d love to see him win, I think it it’s gonna be Leo’s night. Too bad nobody’s been promoting Black Mass as much as some of these others. It was an excellent film, with an excellent supporting cast, as well.

    • they want stars on stage and viewer ratings…the more people see the more they make money…..lady gaga won golden globes so how does that make them better ? whats wrong with you

    • Oh god…not again…not another Leo fanboy drolling over…..over-hyped snooze fest ….do you even know that golden globes are not real awards ? foreign press are not professional actors

  2. Edwin says:

    I’m gonna make 3 no guts, no glory predictions:

    -Both McCarthy and McKay are left out of Best Director.
    -There are 10 Best Picture nominees for the first time under the new system.
    -Alicia Vikander gets a supporting nomination for ‘Ex Machina’ but doesn’t make it into the lead category for ‘The Danish Girl.’

  3. Manuel says:

    There is gonna be mad love for Mad Max:Fury Road tomorrow at the nominations.

  4. Julia says:

    i really don’t understand the whole “people don’t wanna watch room because of the subject matter” thing. when has that ever been the case for an oscar contender before?? and that’s only half the movie anyway…. plus, spotlight is literally about uncovering the church’s history of molestation. the revenant is about a man brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead. i don’t see anyone saying people are refraining from seeing them because of subject matter. try again.

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