In Contention’s Final Oscar Winner Predictions

Oscars final predictions in Contention

Will 'The Revenant' run away with it or is there too much nuance to accept the season at face value?

With the 88th Academy Awards looming in less than a week, it’s time for a list of final predictions. And besides best picture, the supporting races appear to be the trickiest among the major categories.

Sylvester Stallone (“Creed”) and Alicia Vikander (“The Danish Girl”) dominated at earlier awards, but Stallone was not SAG- or BAFTA-nominated, largely due to “Creed’s” late-breaking buzz, while Vikander was nominated for lead actress at the BAFTAs and the Globes. BAFTA winner Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) could cause Stallone trouble, as could Christian Bale (“The Big Short”) or Mark Ruffalo — “Spotlight” being his second nomination in as many years. But honoring the 69-year-old veteran for 40 years of portraying an endearing character would be a perfect Oscar moment. And while Kate Winslet (“Steve Jobs”) was the beneficiary of Vikander’s category change at earlier awards, the “Danish Girl” star should double up on her SAG win.

Easier to handicap are the lead acting races. Count on Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Revenant”) and Brie Larson (“Room”), who have owned the season. The screenplay categories also feel secure, for Writers Guild victors “The Big Short” and “Spotlight.” And before the campaigning even began, “The Revenant’s” Emmanuel Lubezki felt like a good bet to break the cinematographers record with a third-straight Oscar.

Those five plus “Inside Out” for animated feature are the safest bets. But surely the Academy won’t miss a chance to finally hand composer Ennio Morricone a competitive Oscar, for “The Hateful Eight.” And after buzzy sets at the Super Bowl and Grammys, Lady Gaga should take original song for “The Hunting Ground’s” “Til It Happens to You.” That said, the ballot notes only song and film title, not singer, so if there’s a spoiler, look to Golden Globe winner “Writing’s On the Wall” from “Spectre.”

In documentary feature, “Amy” — the most popular and profitable of the nominees — figures to hold firm in the face of intense spending by Netflix on behalf of “What Happened, Miss Simone?” and “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom.” And unless France’s “Mustang” has a late kick, Hungary’s “Son of Saul” ought to grab the foreign language prize.

Below the line it’s shaping up to be a war between “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Revenant.” On the heels of BAFTA wins, my instinct is to give “Mad Max” the design categories (costumes, makeup/hairstyling and production design) plus film editing, leaving sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects to “The Revenant.” But “Danish Girl” could pop through for costumes, “The Big Short” could spoil in film editing and either “The Martian” or “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” could rally in sound or visual effects.

When it comes to the shorts, you can handicap them any number of ways, but ultimately you have to go with your gut. So I’ll put my chips on “Bear Story (Historia de un Oso)” and “Stutterer” in animated and live action, respectively, and “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” in documentary.

As for milestones, Alejandro G. Inarritu looks primed to become the first filmmaker since Joseph L. Mankiewicz more than 60 years ago to win back-to-back director Oscars. If voters feel like that’s too much a year after “Birdman,” however, the sentimental choice is “Mad Max’s” George Miller.

So what about best picture? It’s a mystery to some, glaringly obvious to others. If Inarritu is indeed poised to win, then certainly “The Revenant” is, too, right? The film won top honors at the Globes and BAFTAs, but neither group had awarded “Birdman” last year, creating a possible make-good effect. And the Directors Guild — the most significant best picture barometer — crowned Inarritu, but in a five-horse race, with 20%+1 theoretically being good enough for victory. A win for “The Revenant” would also mark the first time in history that a filmmaker directed two best picture winners in a row, as well as the first time a film won without at least having scored either a SAG ensemble or a screenplay Oscar nomination.

Lots of “yeah, but” there.

So I’ll go out on a limb and pick the Producers Guild winner, “The Big Short.” You have to wonder why “Revenant,” which defines degree-of-difficulty in film production, couldn’t survive a preferential PGA ballot that mirrors the Academy’s. Is it a divisive film that won’t net enough No. 2 and No. 3 votes to survive (a scenario that could equally benefit “Spotlight”)? Did voters simply catch up with it later in the game, just as it was making box office headlines? Or was that result instructive?

My gut is to continue to follow the producers until this ballot correlation is proven tenuous. Of course, if my other picks are correct, then “The Big Short” would become the first best picture winner since 1952’s “The Greatest Show on Earth” to win only one other Oscar. But we appear to be in for a bit of history no matter the outcome.

Final ballots are due today by 5 p.m. PT.

In Contention’s Final Oscar Predictions

Best Picture: “The Big Short”
Best Director: Alejandro G. Inarritu, “The Revenant”
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”
Best Actress: Brie Larson, “Room”
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Big Short”
Best Original Screenplay: “Spotlight”
Best Cinematography: “The Revenant”
Best Costume Design: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Best Film Editing: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Best Music (Original Score): “The Hateful Eight”
Best Music (Original Song): “Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
Best Production Design: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
Best Sound Editing: “The Revenant”
Best Sound Mixing: “The Revenant”
Best Visual Effects: “The Revenant”
Best Animated Feature Film: “Inside Out”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Son of Saul”
Best Documentary Feature: “Amy”
Best Documentary Short Subject: “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
Best Short Film (Animated): “Bear Story (Historia de un Oso)”
Best Short Film (Live Action): “Stutterer”

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  1. Argos Wolf says:

    Leo will finally get his Oscar but only because the issue of him not having one has become the elephant in the room, he’s done better acting in other movies. Cranston deserves it for his outstanding performance in Trumbo. Good photography alone does not make a best picture, story and performance does and The Revenant is way overrated in both. The Oscars are a farce, more about popularity than merit.

  2. eduardo silveira says:

    Best Picture: “The Big Short”
    Best Director: George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”
    Best Actor: Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo” or Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”
    Best Actress: Brie Larson, “Room”
    Best Supporting Actor: Tom Hardy, “The Reverent”
    Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”
    Best Adapted Screenplay: “The Big Short”
    Best Original Screenplay: “Spotlight”
    Best Cinematography: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
    Best Costume Design: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
    Best Film Editing: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
    Best Makeup and Hairstyling: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
    Best Music (Original Score): “The Hateful Eight”
    Best Music (Original Song): “Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
    Best Production Design: “Mad Max: Fury Road”
    Best Sound Editing: “The Revenant”
    Best Sound Mixing: “The Revenant”
    Best Visual Effects: “The Revenant”
    Best Animated Feature Film: “Inside Out”
    Best Foreign Language Film: “Son of Saul”
    Best Documentary Feature: “Amy”
    Best Documentary Short Subject: “Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah”
    Best Short Film (Animated): “Bear Story (Historia de un Oso)”
    Best Short Film (Live Action): “Stutterer”

  3. El says:

    I hope AMPAS rewards substance over style. The Big Short has the most substance and depth.

  4. El says:

    I hope The Big Short wins! It would vindicate this whole crazy awards race for me.

  5. Bill B. says:

    There are 3 films that are nominated for best picture that I really like a lot. Unfortunately, they are not the three accurately mentioned here as being the 3 favorites, The Big Short, The Revenant & Spotlight. I am hoping for some whopping upsets by Mad Max, Room or The Martian, but I wouldn’t bet on any of them winning best picture. Of the 3 favorites, 2 (TBS & Spotlight) are catering to the same type of audience & have a very good chance of cancelling each other out. Of the two, Spotlight seems more up the Academy’s alley, but it is not a serious contender for any other awards other than original screenplay & since it’s been 63 years since a film has won best picture & only one other award, this scenario seems unlikely. TBS is in the same boat, but has a better chance as it could upset & take a third award in the film editing category, deserved or not. The only other chance either of them have if there is an upset in either the director or supporting actor categories & neither seems likely due to the bravura work by Miller & Innaritu and the very unexpected sentiment for the nearly always disrespected Stallone.

    Somewhat reluctantly, I pick The Revenant & its director, though I truly believe that Miller is more deserving, and the favorites, DiCaprio, Larson, Stallone & Vikander, though I feel less confident about the latter. Spotlight & TBS are near locks in the writing categories & I will pick Max to win the art direction, film editing, sound editing, make-up & costume categories, though I fear The Danish Girl in the latter. Besides its big 3 awards, I predict The Revenant will also pick up cinematography & sound mixing. Inside Out is not going to lose in the animated category & I’ll go with Son of Saul in a category notorious for upsets. The Hateful Eight is going to win for score & In a very contentious category, I’ll go with Star Wars for visual effects even though I think Max deserves it. I was going to choose Simone for documentary due to all the diversity talk, but I just saw it & it doesn’t compare to Amy. For obvious reasons, song will go to Til It Happens to You as lousy as it is. I haven’t seen any of the shorts. I think my predictions are pretty boring this year. If I were an actual member, in the major categories I’d vote for Mad Max or Room, Miller, hesitantly DiCaprio (but it is his finest performance), Larson, Bale & Leigh along with the 2 writing awards going to Spotlight & Room, so my personal tastes will not win any Oscar pools. Lastly, I suspect that there is a very good chance that we will know the best picture winner early when they give out the film editing award.

  6. malevolentmuse says:

    Mmmno. Sorry, but I The Revenant isn’t winning six Oscars and then losing Best Picture to a film winning only one other Oscar.

    • Jay Gouldman says:

      Did You See Any Actting That A over Zellus Child Could Perform?Lot’s Of Fabulus Senerary…..

    • Gravity won 7 and lost to a film with only two other Oscars. Not that crazy. And again, this will surely happen again (a film winning best pic and just one other Oscar). As long as the preferential ballot is used and races are this close, it’s only a matter of time.

  7. therealeverton says:

    “…but Stallone was not SAG- or BAFTA-nominated, largely due to “Creed’s” late-breaking buzz”

    Well Idris Elba and Benicio del Toro also had a lot to do with it.

    • But neither of them are up for Oscars, so…

      • therealeverton says:

        @ Kristopher Tapley
        Thanks again for the reply, your opinion, your respect and for saying anything about the comments section here. I hope you have a great Oscar Weekend.

      • therealeverton says:

        @Both…Irony I’m just now watching Film 2016 on BBC1 and they have more than once mentioned that Idris and Benicio should have been nominated for Oscars. :)

      • therealeverton says:

        @ Kristopher Tapley

        Whilst it’s good to knew what you meant, I think I do know what my own comment was about. (In case you’re referring to that, which the messy reply section is implying?)

        Sorry but the release date for Creed affects the buzz for JOE Public, not the BAFTAs, otherwise a large number of nominations, in the days since we switched from UK release date nominations to ?Calendar year ones, wouldn’t happen.

        The Buzz on Creed, and Stallone’s performance within, was well known for some time before the film’s US release date, both there and here. There’s no way Elba wasn’t getting nominated for Beasts at BAFTA. and again, SAG, GLOBES, BAFTA etc. the shock remains bigger that Elba was omitted by O’The Academy’, rather than Stallone missing out at BAFTA…and to a lesser extent SAG.

        Nominations are mid January 2016, whilst “from time to time” you get ‘late’ films missing, often they just were never really going to make the cut, it is more often that you see late films getting good representation and it is simply because hey were “better regarded” and, often, there’s a British connection.

        Factt is a fair number of people, on both sides of the pond, simply think Idrid was better and didn’t put as much sentiment behind their voting. Stallone is excellent in Creed and I won’t be doing anything but smile if he wins, but Elba for sure, and yes Del Toro probably, should be on that list and you’ll find many people on Sunday who genuinely agree with that re Elba.

        Thanks for the reply…Also if you can have a word about making this comment thread system here better, more user friendly. Maybe try using Disqus?

      • I beg to differ, but I respect that you feel confident you know exactly what you’re talking about.

        Comments aren’t my purview. I’ll register your complaint with the powers that be.

      • therealeverton says:

        @ Danny Porcaro – . Which ignores the whole “controversy”. The feeling is Idris Elba especially , who was nominated for the majors EXCEPT Oscar, should have been and Stallone being missing is imply because, as good as he is, and he is, Elba ss better. (You’ll read many, many people from Caine to Spielberg etc.. are shocked Elba isn’t up for an Oscar.

        It’s a bigger shock Elba isn’t at Oscar than Stallone wasn’t at SAG and BAFTA. .

        Given that, for example. JOY and numerous film performance down the years that opened around and after Creed show up in nominations would also suggest that this is not really a viable theory for Stallone.

      • It seemed to me you were implying Idris and Del Toro’s performances were more of the reason that Stallone didn’t get nominated for a SAG then the late buzz Creed got. So I was saying it wasn’t because of them; if it were than they would’ve received Oscar nominations instead of him too.

      • therealeverton says:

        So you have misread, misunderstood, just not got what my post is about t all.

        He wasn’t BAFTA nominated because Idris and Del Toro were. SAG for IDRIS. These were far bigger reasons than “late buzz”.

        Not sure how you can miistake what I said for a comment on them affecting his odds of winning the Oscar at all, but mistakes are always possible eh?

      • No, it was about when the buzz wave for “Creed” hit. SAG has early voting deadlines, in November, well before things took root for Stallone. Meanwhile “Creed” opened in the U.K. on Jan. 15 and didn’t have the same effort behind the awards push there. Reaching these two organizations — AMPAS and BAFTA — are two different courses of action. “Beasts of No Nation” and “Sicario,” meanwhile, had been around, had a chance to take hold, etc.

        This happens from time to time. “Selma” last year is another example.

  8. Shell says:

    I personally see some surprises coming on Sunday. With such an unpredictable season, there are going to be upsets. I particularly think supp. actress will be Winslet and supp. actor will be Tom Hardy. Hardy plays an amazing supporting role in TR and is the lead in Mad Max, I see him getting recognition for this.

  9. Tim says:

    I predict that everytime Chris Rock appears, I will be switching channels or pressing the MUTE button…

  10. Wael Khairy says:

    This is missing Best Production Design. A Mad Max win

  11. khpatton says:

    I saw the Revenant and it was a derivative mess. It ripped off “Man in the Wilderness”, “Jeremiah Johnson” and “The Mountain Men”. I was looking to leave after the first 40 minutes but had beer I had to drink. Oscar worthy? Far from it. Goes to show that politics replaces quality come Oscar time.

  12. Kenny Howey says:

    Stallone wins best Best Supporting Actor..

  13. Je vizzusi says:

    Mark Rylance Best Supporting Actor, Bridge of Spies. Remarkable performance! @JEV1A

  14. By choosing The Revenant as Best Picture and Inarritu as Best Director, the film that has Indigenous actors, voice overs and narration and a director who is Indigenous AND Hispanic, the Academy will choose Diversity in the most underrepresented minority in Entertainment.

  15. ac says:

    yeah movies that are male dominant and actresses that supporting their dying/ill spouses.

  16. Phillipa says:

    I so hope your prediction for Stallone comes true. As a huge admirer of his performance, I feel he deserves to win. Out of the five BSA performances, it is the one that was the most real, the most emotionally connected and the one that resonated and stayed with me the longest. But I can’t help feeling the Academy are going to go with Mark Rylance, not only because of his wonderful performance (which I loved) in Bridge of Spies, but because of his reputation as an ‘actor’s actor’ and impressive resume. Are the Academy really going to reward an action star with an Oscar for acting?? I, for one, hope they do. And you know why? Apart from him deserving it for the performance alone, I will admit I want to see that ‘Oscar moment’. I want to see the fairytale comeback come true. I want to see the moment that will be talked about for years to come. I want the moment that when Oscar specials are produced in the future, Stallone’s win will be included in the most memorable moments section. I want the standing ovation, I want the Rocky theme music, I want the emotional speech. I want that goosebumps moment as an audience member. Dare I say it but any of the other four nominees winning will be downright dull in comparison.

    • I hope for it too. Fact is, I didn’t even hear about Rylance’s performance until Stallone started getting award love. No Stallone is not an actor’s actor…try having part of your mouth paralyzed and then dare say he doesn’t do pretty good with what he has. Even if this wasn’t Rocky, Stallone gave the most human performance indeed of the year. Coogler was wise to backseat the franchise’s history to give Stallone a stand-alone performance not defined by the other six films. But the Facebook comments, the comments on these articles, they all prove it. Stallone is still the people’s champion 40 years later. He’s one of the most humble, good-natured people in the business. He has spent this entire award season praising Coogler and Jordan (Heck he almost wasn’t going to the Oscars out of loyalty to them over this dumb “controversy”), he’s been appreciative of the opportunity to be there at the Oscars again. Maybe this is a late career revival or maybe just a real-life Rocky comeback for one time only. Who knows? What I know is that he is a pretty great actor given his physical limitation with his voice and it’s not his fault he fell into the action genre. It sold for him. He has shown time and time again he is a fine actor when given good roles. But he has been typecast most of his life. And what did he do with the limitations? He defined whole genres! Rocky is THE sports character of film, Rambo is THE action character of film. How many “actor’s actors” can say they have defined whole genres? The list isn’t long I’ll tell you that much. So yes, let him have the award. He’s earned it. He’s been a class act the entire season and most of his career. Just saying, Rocky lost the first time he went for the championship…but then he won the second time. And as Stallone shows, Rocky IS his life. ;)

  17. Free says:

    You’re certainly not the only one to suggest Cinderella will lose costumes, and I understand your rationale in your response to another post, but LAST place? Behind both Revenant and Carol, Sandy’s less flashy entry?

  18. Daryle says:

    I think Tapley’s predictions are pretty much on target. I disagree, however, with the person who said that Mad Max will take sound editing and sound mixing. The sound work in The Revenant was EXCELLENT, and I think it will take these two categories. As for Director, it should go to Inarritu.
    Picture? My favorite was actually the Danish Girl. Since it’s not nominated, I feel the Revenant should win, but I PREDICT it will be The Big Short….and maybe it will take the editing statue, too.

  19. patrik says:

    The Big Short = 100%

  20. Jeremy B. says:

    Surprised you rank Cinderella last in the Costume Design race. I’d been viewing it as the top threat to Mad Max in that field. The Academy loves lavish wardrobe from period/fantasy films.

    Otherwise, I’m predicting Fury Road for most of the below-the-line categories, including sound mixing and editing. Still not sure yet on visual effects though.

    And I see your point about the preferential ballot potentially hurting The Revenant, but I just can’t pick anything else for Best Picture right now. It just seems to have too much momentum. In any event, it’s exciting that the top prize is actually unpredictable this year.

    • If Cinderella had picked up a production design nomination, I’d have less trouble going there. A little hard to see it winning with that being its only nomination, but it was certainly my initial instinct when nominations were announced.

  21. BD says:

    Wait what? The Revenant would be the first film to win without a screenplay nomination? Is that a typo? Or do you mean without BOTH sag ensemble and oscar nod? Because I know you know other films have won without screenplay nods (Titanic, Grand Hotel)

    • Not a typo. Read it again. Without EITHER OR. No film has won without at least having one of the two nominations, SAG ensemble or screenplay. “Titanic,” which won without a screenplay Oscar nomination, had a SAG ensemble nomination. “Braveheart,” which won without a SAG ensemble nomination, had an Oscar screenplay nomination. This particularly history only stretches back about 21 years (when the SAG Awards started), but every other best picture winner since has actually had both nominations.

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