Sunday, February 28, 2016




I read through and compiled predictions from the experts at, the Gurus O' Gold at,,, and to help predict the winners in all 24 categories. A lot of the races are pretty much a sure thing at this point (Leo is finally winning that Oscar!) but there are a handful of categories that are still wide open (both Sound categories and all three Short Film categories).

Here goes nothing...


Most of the "Best Pictures" of 2015 were actually Foreign Language films (Son of Saul and Mustang) or Documentaries (What Happened, Miss Simone? and Cartel Land), but since the Academy basically never nominates those type of films for Best Picture we are stuck with a group of nominees that are overall very good but not great. The best of the bunch are probably Spotlight and The Revenant, who are also the two front-runners along with The Big Short. One of these three films will win best picture.

Here are some grids showing all of the nominations for the eight best picture nominees. The Revenant leads the pack with 12 nominations overall, while Brooklyn managed to land in the best picture race despite only two other nominations. The film with the most nominations wins a lot of the time, so this is good news for those predicting The Revenant.

Five out of the six major prognosticators have The Revenant winning, with Kris Tapley at Variety being the only holdout (he has it third behind The Big Short and Spotlight). Everyone has those three films as the most likely to win so it would be hard to foresee any other film winning, even though Mad Max: Fury Road is nominated for ten awards and has a decent shot at winning a bunch of them, possibly even best director.

If I had a ballot I probably would have voted for Spotlight, but I'm going with the field on this one.


SHOULD WIN: Spotlight
COULD WIN: The Big Short
WILL WIN: The Revenant


Best director usually goes to the best picture winner. How could a film be the best picture of the year if it wasn't the best directed picture of the year? That is usually the thinking behind this, and rightfully so. If we are going to pick The Revenant to win best picture I guess we better pick Alejandro Inarritu to win best director again, even though a director has never won this award in back to back years (he won for Birdman last year) in the 88 year history of the Oscars. He won the Directors Guild Award though, so that's good enough for me.

If The Big Short or Spotlight is going to win best picture an upset here would help a lot. George Miller could sneak in here though and take the prize even if Mad Max: Fury Road fails to win best picture. The safe money is on Innaritu though.


SHOULD WIN: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
COULD WINGeorge Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
WILL WIN: Alejandro Innaritu, The Revenant


Leonardo DiCaprio has been overdue to win an Oscar for nearly two decades ever since his incredible performance in What's Eating Gilbert Grape lost out to Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive. He probably should have won again a couple years ago for Wolf of Wall Street (The McConaissance!). Missing out on previous awards should make no difference on whether an artist is rewarded for an award though, yet in reality it does sway some voters. Oh well, regardless this looks to finally be Leo's year.

Fassbender has maybe a 5-10% chance, but this one is going to Leo.


SHOULD WIN: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
COULD WINLeonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
WILL WINLeonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant


Besides Jennifer Lawrence in Joy (she was fine, but...) I thought all of the best actress performances were excellent. I would've spread the love over award season but instead Brie Larson snatched up every last award for her turn in Room, so this one is a no-brainer.

Brie's got this one.


SHOULD WIN: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn
COULD WIN: Brie Larson, Room
WILL WINBrie Larson, Room


Best supporting actor has been all over the map this awards season with no clear front-runner most of the year. The general consensus now lists Sylvester Stallone as the likely winner, probably because a lot of his main competitors were not even nominated (Paul Dano in Love & Mercy, Benicio Del Toro in Sicario, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Oscar Issac in Ex Machina, Jason Mitchell in Straight Outta Compton, Michael Keaton in Spotlight, Michael Shannon in 99 Homes). Mark Rylance might be Sly's main competition here as he has been nominated consistently all season but look out for Ruffalo or Bale if their respective films (Spotlight or The Big Short) make a legitimate run at best picture.

This one is not guaranteed but Sly is probably the sentimental favorite here.


SHOULD WIN: Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
COULD WIN: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies
WILL WIN: Sylvester Stallone, Creed


Alicia Vikander gave two of the best performances of the year in Ex Machina and The Danish Girl. For my money she should be winning the Oscar for Ex Machina but the Academy opted to nominate her for The Danish Girl instead. As it is now she will likely be going home with the award, though Kate Winslet has an outside chance to win her second Oscar and be reunited with her most famous co-star (Leo!) on the awards podium. Of all the nominated performances my favorite was actually Rooney Mara in Carol, though I don't think she has much of a chance.

Vikander likely gets rewarded for a breakout year.


SHOULD WIN: Rooney Mara, Carol
COULD WIN: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs
WILL WIN: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl


Spotlight is the overwhelming favorite to take home the Original Screenplay Oscar, and if it is going to win best picture it must win here. If we are talking most "original" screenplay the award should probably go to Inside Out or Ex Machina, which are both among the very best of this decade.

Spotlight probably takes this one, possibly as a consolation for losing picture and director.


SHOULD WIN: Ex Machina
COULD WIN: Inside Out
WILL WIN: Spotlight


Adapted Screenplay features five strong candidates but only one clear front-runner. The film world seems to be far more enamored with The Big Short and Room than I am. I think they are fine films but far from the best pictures (or screenplays) of the year. If I had a vote it probably would go to Carol or The Martian but all signs point to The Big Short winning here.

The Big Short will be the big winner here.


COULD WIN: The Big Short
WILL WIN: The Big Short


The best picture winner is almost always nominated for best film editing and a lot of the time it wins. If Spotlight and The Big Short want a legitimate chance at winning best picture, taking the film editing award (and supporting actor this year) would really up their odds. The odds on favorite is Mad Max: Fury Road, which is probably the most deserving as well.

Watch this one closely as a tipping point for the best picture race if anything other than Mad Max: Fury Road wins.


SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
COULD WIN: The Big Short
WILL WINMad Max: Fury Road


2015 was a banner year for cinematography. All five of the Oscar nominees were exquisitely shot and honestly I'd be fine with just about any of them winning. For the third time in three years though the award will likely go to Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant), who won previously for Gravity and Birdman.

A stellar group of nominees but "Chivo" takes this category again.


SHOULD WIN: The Revenant
COULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
WILL WIN: The Revenant


Mad Max: Fury Road is going head to head with The Revenant in every technical category there is and the two will likely split many of the awards. Production design feels like one of the safer bets for Fury Road though.

Fury Road likely takes this one pretty easily.


SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
COULD WINMad Max: Fury Road
WILL WINMad Max: Fury Road


The sound mixing and sound editing awards usually go to the same film (6 of the last 10 years). This year four of the five nominees in each category are nominated for both awards. Sound mixing is the process of taking all of the different sounds (effects, dialogue, score, etc.) and creating the final mix of sounds you hear. The Cinema Audio Society is the guild that awards the year's best work in sound editing and they awarded The Revenant, so that's the one I'm going with here.

Watch out for Mad Max: Fury Road or Star Wars here, but this one probably goes to The Revevant.


SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
COULD WINMad Max: Fury Road
WILL WIN: The Revenant


Sound editing is the process of creating all the sound effects you hear from shuffling feet to huge explosions to space ships. It is the closest two horse race at this year's Oscars. The six prognosticators are split 50/50 and at last night's Motion Picture Sound Editors guild awards Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant tied for the top prize. The tie-breaker for me is the fact that The Revenant is slightly favored for sound mixing, and since slightly more often then not the same film ins both I'm going with The Revevant here.

Flip a coin here.


SHOULD WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
COULD WIN: Mad Max; Fury Road
WILL WIN: The Revenant


Two musical legends are going head to head for this year's original score as Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight) and John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) are still going strong even into their 80's. Williams already has a shelf full of awards but Morricone has never won a competitive Oscar so he's probably favored here.

Morricone finally gets his competitive Oscar.


SHOULD WIN: The Hateful Eight
COULD WINThe Hateful Eight
WILL WINThe Hateful Eight


The original song category has given the Academy a black eye almost every year in recent memory, from the controversy surrounding the nomination of the faith-based Alone Yet Not Alone to the recognition of such forgettable films as Country Strong, Paris 36, and The Wild Thornberrys Movie. This year was no exception as the much maligned Fifty Shades of Grey was listed among the nominees. The winner though will likely be Diane Warren and Lady Gaga for their song "Til It Happens To You" from the documentary The Hunting Ground. Warren is now an 8-time nominee who has yet to win the top prize so this year is likely her year.

The Academy likely goes goo goo for Gaga (and Warren).


SHOULD WIN: "Til It Happens To You" from The Hunting Ground
COULD WIN: "Til It Happens To You" from The Hunting Ground
WILL WIN: "Til It Happens To You" from The Hunting Ground


Visual effects is another one of the technical categories that is close as close can be. Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revevant and Mad Max: Fury Road are all favored by two of the six prognosticators. The Force Awakens won the VFX Society prize for best effects in a photoreal feature, while The Revenant took the prize for supporting effects. I think The Force Awakens likely wins because the whole film is driven by visual effects where The Revenant feels more like it is driven by cinematography.

The force is strong with Star Wars in this category (unless it gets mauled by Judy the Bear from The Revenant).


SHOULD WIN: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
COULD WIN: The Revenant
WILL WINStar Wars: The Force Awakens


The Costume Design Guild can be a little less helpful than other guilds when it comes to predicting the eventual Oscar winner because they give out three separate awards (contemporary, period and fantasy). This year The Danish Girl won the award for period costume and Mad Max: Fury Road won the award for fantasy. Cinderella could also be a player here but I'll go with the majority of the pack and say Fury Road will win.

Fury Road wins a close one here.


SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
COULD WIN: The Danish Girl
WILL WINMad Max: Fury Road


Makeup and Hair is the only category with only three nominees so that makes it a little easier to predict. The fact that Mad Max: Fury Road took home a pair of prizes from the Make-up and Hairstyling Guild Awards gives it a leg up on the limited competition here.

Fury Road wins this battle over The Revenant.


SHOULD WIN: Mad Max: Fury Road
COULD WIN: The Revenant
WILL WINMad Max: Fury Road


Three of the very best films of the year are nominated for best foreign language film. Son of Saul, Embrace of the Serpent and Mustang are all marvelous and award-worthy. Theeb and A War are quite good as well. Sadly only one of them can win. This comes down to the technically superior Son of Saul versus the more crowd-pleasing Mustang. Since Saul has won most precursors coming in I'll go with the crowd here and say it wins, though a Mustang win would not be hugely surprising.

Saul wins an incredibly tough category.


SHOULD WIN: Son of Saul
COULD WIN: Mustang
WILL WIN: Son of Saul


Overall I was not that impressed with the Animated features of 2015, both Oscars-wise (Boy and the World and When Marnie Was There were marginal) and box office-wise (Home and Minions were totally forgettable). There were three standout animated films though, as Anomalisa, Inside Out and Shaun the Sheep Movie were all extraordinary in their own way. While I adored Shaun the Sheep Movie the Oscar likely goes to Inside Out which has dominated this category all season.

Inside Out adds another Oscar to Pixar's mantelpiece.


SHOULD WIN: Shaun the Sheep Movie
COULD WIN: Inside Out
WILL WIN: Inside Out


I gave four of the five nominees for best documentary feature a perfect five star rating. The fifth film, Amy, I gave four stars. That makes this category, in my eyes, the deepest among the entire Oscar field. I would love to see What Happened, Miss Simone? or Cartel Land take the top prize if they can topple the favored Amy.

Amy likely wins unless voters come to their senses and vote for the superior doc about a hugely talented but self-destructive female vocalist (What Happened, Miss Simone?).


SHOULD WIN: What Happened, Miss Simone?
COULD WIN: Cartel Land


The short films can make or break your Oscar pool. This year the Live Action films were the weakest of the three categories. With no real standout, three of the five films are favored by at least one prognosticator. To me the best of the bunch is probably Shok, which is also the most heavily favored by prognosticators, so that's the best bet here.

I won't be shocked if Shok doesn't win but that's my pick regardless.


COULD WIN: Ave Maria


The Animated Shorts feature two of my favorite films of the year, regardless of length. Sanjay's Super Team and World of Tomorrow are tremendously entertaining and totally original. Animation-wise Bear Story might be slightly superior to both and it has a story that really tugs at the heartstrings. Because it is the most widely seen as it ran before Pixar's The Good Dinosaur I'm going with Sanjay's Super Team.

Sanjay's Super Team wins a close battle with Bear Story and World of Tomorrow.


SHOULD WIN: World of Tomorrow
COULD WIN: Bear Story
WILL WIN: Sanjay's Super Team


The Documentary Shorts are the deepest shorts category at this year's Oscars in my opinion, and also the most depressing. Every film deals with an incredibly emotional subject, including Ebola (Body Team 12), Agent Orange (Chau), the Holocaust (Claude Lanzmann), honor killing ((A Girl in the River), and PTSD (Last Day of Freedom). Most of the experts predict a win for Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah, but the best of the bunch for me was Body Team 12. I'll go with the crowd and say Claude Lanzmann wins.


SHOULD WINBody Team 12
COULD WINBody team 12

WILL WINClaude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah


WHAT DO YOU THINK? Leave your comments below or tweet to me at @FiveStarFlicks or @5StarFlicks