RogerBW's Blog

88th Academy Awards Predictions 23 January 2016

For the last few years I've been making predictions of the Academy Award winners. Last year I called six winners out of twenty predictions; this year it was eight out of twenty-three.

As usual, I haven't seen most of the contenders; I'm going by reviews and impressions I've picked up, as well as my mental model of the typical Academy voter (an ageing white man who wants to appear progressive and in favour of art, while not actually pushing the audience out of their comfort zone). I'm also considering old reliable Paddy Power who as always are giving odds.

As before, I'm going to use the "should win" vs "will win" division from Flick Filosopher, which is where you should go for actual film criticism rather than my maunderings; MaryAnn's list of nominees is here. "Will win" is my prediction for the award; "should win" is where I think it ought to go.

This is the year of "what, we gave Slave best picture two years ago and Selma best original song last year, we can't be diverse every year". Where's Carol? And are you really telling me that out of the entire non-white filmmaking community the only person who turned in work worthy of recognition was Iñárritu?

A lot depends on whether I read the Academy's reaction to Fury Road right; I think it's too crowd-pleasing (and dangerously feminist) to win Best Picture.

Actor in a Leading Role

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo
Matt Damon, The Martian (should win)
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (will win) (did win)
Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

Nobody's been praising the acting for most of these; I reckon it's between Redmayne and DiCaprio. And DiCaprio's is a much more conventionally masculine role. Meanwhile Damon carries an entire film on his own.

Actor in a Supporting Role

Tom Hardy, The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight
Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (did win)
Sylvester Stallone, Creed (will win)
Christian Bale, The Big Short

A film almost entirely about black people, and they nominate the white guy. Riiiight. And that's the only performance people have been talking about at all.

Actress in a Leading Role

Cate Blanchett, Carol (should win)
Brie Larson, Room (should also win) (did win)
Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (will win)
Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Blanchett in Carol gives by all accounts an amazing performance, and Lawrence in Room also pretty excellent. But both of those might make straight male audiences uncomfortable. Hard to call, but I think Lawrence in Joy may get it as a "you can do real films not just that sci-fi crap" award.

Actress in a Supporting Role

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (will win)
Rooney Mara, Carol (should win)
Rachel McAdams, Spotlight
Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (did win)
Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

McAdams in Spotlight is barely there. Actually that's true of most of these performances except for Jennifer Jason Leigh. I suspect this one will go to Tarantino by proxy.

Animated Feature Film

Inside Out, Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera (should win) (did win)
Shaun the Sheep Movie, Mark Burton and Richard Starzak
When Marnie was There, Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura
Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran (will win)
Boy and the World, Alê Abreu

Has to be Anomalisa simply because it's the only one that's a "grown-up" story, and a Hollywood insider who rocks the boat only in approved ways. Marnie is a non-Miyazaki Ghibli, and even Miyazaki only pulled this off once what with being Foreign and all. Shaun is basically disposable, if quite fun. Nobody's heard of Boy and the World. Inside Out was surprisingly interesting, but against Kaufman, not a chance.

Best Picture

The Big Short, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers
Brooklyn, Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers
Mad Max: Fury Road, Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers (should win)
The Martian, Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers (should also win)
The Revenant, Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers
Room, Ed Guiney, Producer (should also also win)
Spotlight, Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers (will win) (did win)

Fury Road was done by an old hand, but Mad Max himself is more a plot device than a character, and those pesky feminists seemed to like it. And it didn't do things the conventional way, with lots of CGI; that can't be encouraged. And it's a crowd-pleaser. Meanwhile The Martian is science fiction, which never gets the big gongs. Big Short and Brooklyn are generic. Bridge of Spies is the sort of stuff Spielberg can turn out in his sleep. Room is by all accounts great but makes audiences feel uncomfortable. So I suspect it'll be between Spotlight and Revenant, and Spotlight is the sort of feel-good "crusading reporters save the day" that makes the media establishment feel good about itself. Meanwhile awarding Revenant would encourage actor abuse, and actors can vote on these things.

Carol's not here. Straight Outta Compton's not here. And there are two empty slots. Were they afraid one of those might win if they allowed it on the ballot?


Carol, Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight, Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road, John Seale (should win)
The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki (will win) (did win)
Sicario, Roger Deakins

This is probably going to be a second-tier substitute for Best Picture.

Costume Design

Carol, Sandy Powell
Cinderella, Sandy Powell
The Danish Girl, Paco Delgado (will win)
Mad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan (should win) (did win)
The Revenant, Jacqueline West

To a first approximation, nobody saw Cinderella without hating it. Carol and The Danish Girl are too scary, but I think the latter might sneak in as a sop to diversity.


The Big Short, Adam McKay
Mad Max: Fury Road, George Miller (should win)
The Revenant, Alejandro G. Iñárritu (will win) (did win)
Room, Lenny Abrahamson
Spotlight, Tom McCarthy

If you can distinguish between Best Picture and Directing, which is always hard, then Iñárritu comes out on top. If Revenant gets Picture, McCarthy gets director. I know, I can't hedge my bets that way.

Film Editing

The Big Short, Hank Corwin (will win)
Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel (should win) (did win)
The Revenant, Stephen Mirrione
Spotlight, Tom McArdle
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Another proxy award, and one with Star Wars in it. But that's too popular to win; I think The Big Short might get a look in.

Foreign Language Film

Mustang, France
Son of Saul, Hungary (did win)
Theeb, Jordan
A War, Denmark (will win)
Embrace of the Serpent, Colombia

A War is the only one anyone's heard of.

Makeup and Hairstyling

Mad Max: Fury Road, Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin (should win) (did win)
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, Love Larson and Eva von Bahr
The Revenant, Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini (will win)

You'd think The Danish Girl ought to be here, but no. Another minor for Revenant, I reckon.

Production Design

Bridge of Spies, Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich
The Danish Girl, Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish (will win)
Mad Max: Fury Road, Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson (should win) (did win)
The Martian, Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak
The Revenant, Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Danish for another diversity sop, I reckon. Mad Max actually has serious production design, but that won't help it.

Sound Editing

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Matthew Wood and David Acord (will win)
Mad Max: Fury Road: Mark Mangini and David White (did win)
The Martian: Oliver Tarney
The Revenant: Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender
Sicario: Alan Robert Murray

If Star Wars wins anything it'll be down here in the minors.

Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies: Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin
Mad Max: Fury Road: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo (should win) (did win)
The Martian: Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth
The Revenant: Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Can't call it. Who knows what's sound mixing and what's sound editing?

Visual Effects

Ex Machina: Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett (will win) (did win)
Mad Max: Fury Road: Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams (should win)
The Martian: Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner
The Revenant: Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Well, not the one that used practical effects, of course. Visual Effects is traditionally one of the awards that's allowed to go to science fiction, and Ex Machina is only up for two awards, so I think that's where this one will go.

Music (Original Score)

Bridge of Spies: Thomas Newman
Carol: Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight: Ennio Morricone (should win) (will win) (did win)
Sicario: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens: John Williams

It has to go to Morricone. Williams is the only serious competition.

Writing (Original Screenplay)

Bridge of Spies: Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Ex Machina: Written by Alex Garland
Inside Out: Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen (should win)
Spotlight: Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy (will win) (did win)
Straight Outta Compton: Screenplay by Jonathan Hermant and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Spotlight is about Serious Subjects (and Nasty Catholic Priests). Inside Out is probably more deserving, but it's amazing that it's here at all.

Documentary (Short Subject)

Body Team 12: David Darg and Bryn Mooser
Chau, Beyond the Lines: Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck
Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah: Adam Benzine
A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness: Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (did win)
Last Day of Freedom: Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

Not a clue.

Documentary (Feature)

Amy: Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees (did win)
Cartel Land: Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin
The Look of Silence: Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
What Happened, Miss Simone?: Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom: Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor

Nor here. But it won't be the one about Ukraine, not with all that Russian money sloshing around.

Short Film (Animated)

Prologue: Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton
Sanjay’s Super Team: Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle (will win)
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos: Konstantin Bronzit
World of Tomorrow: Don Hertzfeldt
Bear Story: Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala (did win)

The betting is strongly on Sanjay.

Short Film (Live Action)

Ave Maria: Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont (will win)
Day One: Henry Hughes
Everything Will be Okay (Alles wird gut): Patrick Vollrath
Shok: Jamie Donoughue
Stutterer: Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage (did win)

And here, on Ave Maria.

Music (Original Song)

Fifty Shades of Grey: “Earned It” from Fifty Shades of Grey; Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio
Racing Extinction: “Manta Ray” from Racing Extinction; Music by J. Ralph, Lyric by Antony Hegarty
Youth: “Simple Song #3” from Youth; Music and Lyric by David Lang
The Hunting Ground: “Til It Happens To You” from The Hunting Ground; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga (will win)
Spectre: “Writing’s On The Wall” from Spectre; Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith (did win)

People have heard of Lady Gaga. They won't dare vote for Fifty Shades of Gray.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Carol: Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy
The Martian: Screenplay by Drew Goddard
Room: Screenplay by Emma Donoghue
The Big Short: Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay (will win) (did win)
Brooklyn: Screenplay by Nick Hornby

Carol is uncomfortable; The Martian is that sci-fi stuff; Room is uncomfortable; The Big Short is about sticking it to the Man from safely inside your limo; Brooklyn is direly conventional.

Tags: film

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