Film News

Oscars: Who Will Win, Who Might Pull Off an Upset & Who Should Have Been Nominated

This is supposedly the most unpredictable year for the Academy Awards in recent memory, yet outside of Picture & Director there are heavy favorites in all of the major categories. The technical categories are, as usual, a bit more of a crapshoot, but even then there are some obvious picks.

Here’s how I think it will go down along with my picks for potential upsets as well as those movies which would have been my personal favorite in each category had they been nominated. I’m skipping the short film award categories because I haven’t actually seen any of them other than “Sanjay’s Super Team”:

Best Picture

tumblr_o2r1wbzJeA1rpme3bo1_500tumblr_o2r1wbzJeA1rpme3bo2_500Will Win: The Big Short

Might Pull Off an Upset: Room

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Creed

-SAG liked Spotlight, the Producers Guild liked The Big Short while the Directors Guild, BAFTAs and the Golden Globes liked The Revenant, ergo the latter has the most momentum.  However, the “just because it was hard to make doesn’t mean it’s good” Revenant backlash is in full swing, and for every “Inarritu is a genius” argument there’s seemingly two “Inarritu is a pretenious hack” counterarguments.

Meanwhile, right as the Academy members were receiving their ballots in the mail Wall Street tanked at a historic level. Tie that to various other signs of global economic distress and suddenly The Big Short‘s general message of “this shit not only could happen again; it absolutely will” makes it seem like the most socially relevant choice. With the race down to three films (Spotlight, Big Short, Revenant), that little extra could have pushed The Big Short over the top.

Then again, while Spotlight, Big Short and Revenant are all accused of being overhyped Room could emerge as the overlooked masterpiece (at least in the eyes of the voters).

As for Creed, I absolutely loved it (as argued at more length elsewhere). If one of the criteria for deciding Best Picture should be whether or not it’s actually a movie you’ll ever want to re-watch then my picks for 2015 are easily Creed and Inside Out.

Best Director

RevenantWill Win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Might Pull Off an Upset: Alejandro Inarritu, The Revenant

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Ryan Coogler, Creed

-Actually, the true upset here would be if Miller wins because Inarritu won at the Directors Guild and is generally picking up awards everywhere else. So the smart money is on him. However, I give the edge to Miller since he is the elder statesman who could win on the merits of Fury Road alone but also on “let’s celebrate his entire career” sentiment.

Best Actor

Revenant KidWill Win: Leonard DiCaprio, The Revenant

Might Pull Off an Upset: No one. This is DiCaprio’s year.

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Michael B. Jordan, Creed

-This might not be the performance DiCaprio should have won for, but it will be.

Best Actress

tumblr_o2r1y2Lmp71rpme3bo2_400tumblr_o2r1y2Lmp71rpme3bo1_500Will Win: Brie Larson, Room

Might Pull Off an Upset: Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road

-Larson’s mantle is already overflowing with awards for Room, including the Independent Spirit award she won last night. Rampling fits the profile of an older actress getting a career win, but if she does win it truly will be a major upset. My personal pick would be Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn, but the obvious snub here is Theron.

Best Supporting Actor

Creed-Movie-Rocky-TrailerWill Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Might Pull Off an Upset: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Walton Goggins, The Hateful Eight

-Stallone might not win is because he’s apparently burned a lot of bridges in Hollywood over the years meaning there are many in the Academy who simply don’t like him, regardless of the merits of his performance. That shouldn’t matter, but it does. If Rylance wins it would be less about accepting him as it will be rejecting Stallone. As for Goggins, it’s just a remarkably big performance that delighted me to no end, as if he was born to play a Tarantino character.

Best Supporting Actress

mission-impossible_2484Will Win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Might Pull Off an Upset: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Rebecca Ferguson, Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation

-Vikander and Rooney Mara gave co-lead performances in their respective films, not supporting ones. In fact, Mara is more of a lead in Carol than Cate Blanchette. It’s absolutely not fair to Kate Winslet, Rachel McAdams and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

That being said, Vikander will likely win as a reward for both Danish Girl and Ex Machina, but can we please remember how amazing Rebecca Ferguson was in Rogue Nation? It’s not the type of performance which wins awards, and she wasn’t really snubbed since she was never in any actual contention. However, she steals that movie right out from underneath Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin.

Best Original Screenplay

spotlight-one-sheetWill Win: Spotlight

Might Pull Off an Upset: Straight Outta Compton

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Steve Jobs

-The winner should probably be Inside Out, but this will be Spotlight‘s consolation prize for losing Best Picture.

Best Adapted Screenplaylarge_big-short-carell-goslingWill Win: The Big Short

Might Pull Off an Upset: Room

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Creed (as a sequel, it would qualify as an Adapted Screenplay)

-The job Adam McKay and Charles Randolph did in adapting The Big Short was truly remarkable. As THR argued, “It shapes an inherently uncinematic financial scandal into a reasonably coherent narrative, turning a tragic story into tragicomedy, provoking righteous anger in the bargain. A very shrewd, wise and talented work.”

Best Animated Feature Film

Inside_Out_70706Will Win: Inside Out

Might Pull Off an Upset: Anomalisa

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: The Good Dinosaur

-I’m not as down on The Good Dinosaur as others, but Inside Out is clearly much, much better. If it wins it will be well-deserved. If Inside Out was not around, though, Anomlisa would be the clear choice for the win.

Best Documentary

going-clear-documentary-blasts-scientology-blames-religion-for-tom-cruise-divorce-1102645-TwoByOneWill Win: Amy

Might Pull Off an Upset: What Happened, Miss Simone?

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief

-Two (20 Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugar Man) of the last three Oscar picks for Best Documentary have been about the music industry, and Amy will mostly likely continue that tradition. Netflix has sunk considerable resources into promoting its two nominated docs, What Happened, Miss Simone? and Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom, and Miss Simone? just happens to be about the music industry. However, Netflix will likely end up splitting the vote between its two nominees, thus turning it into a race between Amy and Cartel Land. Frankly, though, in a couple of months I will have forgotten about all of them whereas I’ll remember Going Clear for years to come.

Best Cinematography

revenantwideWill Win: The Revenant

Might Pull Off an Upset: Mad Max: Fury Road

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Creed

-After Gravity and Birdman, this will be Emmanuel Lubezki’s third win in a row. The whole “he only used natural light to achieve the shots” argument for The Revenant sounded nice, if a bit precious on paper, but once you saw the movie you realized how inspired that choice really was.

Best Costume Design

cinderellaWill Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Might Pull Off an Upset: Cinderella

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2

Best Film Editing

Mad maxWill Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Might Pull Off an Upset: The Revenant

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Creed

Best Foreign Film

Brody-Son-of-Saul-1200Will Win: Son of Saul

Might Pull Off an Upset: None. Son of Saul in a landslide.

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Haven’t seen enough to even comment.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling

revenant-tom-hardy-xlargeWill Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Might Pull Off an Upset: The Revenant

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Nothing.

Best Original Score

Will Win: The Hateful Eight

Might Pull Off an Upset: Carol

Personal Favorites That Weren’t Nominated: Creed & It Follows

-It’s hard to go against Ennio Morricone, although I happen to think that beyond the prologue his music barely factors into Hateful Eight. I picked Carter Burwell for the upset simply because some might want to reward him for scoring both Carol and Anomalisa this year.

However, my personal favorite scores from the year were in Creed and It Follows, where the music was practically a co-star up there on screen with the rest of the actors. In general, scores either complement the story or tell us how we’re supposed to feel, and while there are plenty of arguments for rejecting the latter approach scores which tell us how to feel are the ones which historically live on in our memories. As such, even though it is a moment which is telling us exactly how to feel my favorite scene of image married to score came during the climactic fight in Creed when Ludwig Göransson finally (!) invoked the classic Rocky theme at the exact moment Michael B. Jordan’s character had become worthy of it.

Best Original Song

Will Win: “Til It Happens To You,” The Hunting Ground (aka, the Lady Gaga one)

Might Pull Off an Upset: “Writing’s On The Wall,” Spectre

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: The one from Furious 7

-This category is a pale imitation of its former self. Original songs simply don’t factor into movies the way they used to.

Best Production Design

Mad Max’s production designer Colin Gibson

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Might Pull Off an Upset: The Revenant

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Best Sound Editing

105532-fullWill Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Might Pull Off an Upset: The Revenant

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: No idea. Nobody understands the difference between sound editing and sound mixing.

Best Sound Mixing

Bear RevenantWill Win: The Revenant

Might Pull Off an Upset: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: [Repeat what I said about sound editing]

Best Visual Effects

starwars-lupita-cgi-435Will Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Might Pull Off an Upset: The Revenant

Personal Favorite That Wasn’t Nominated: Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

The Revenant might get it for that bear scene alone, but The Force Awakens is the most obvious pick considering the close association between Star Wars and special effects. Of course, none of the prequels won this awards. Revenge of the Sith wasn’t even nominated! However, that was then, and this is now.

I mentioned Rogue Nation as a personal favorite simply because I know that they couldn’t have achieved all of those stunts completely practically, and the brilliance is that their subtle use of visual effects to complement the practical convinced me everything I was seeing was real.

When I look back at all of my picks I see that I’ve broken a lot of the rules. For example, the Academy rarely ever splits up Best Director and Best Picture, yet I have George Miller for Director and The Big Short for Picture. Additionally, in the Director category the Academy doesn’t normally differ with the Directors Guild, yet here I am giving Inarritu the middle finger. If I count them up, I have Mad Max leading the way with 6 wins followed by The Revenant with 3, The Big Short with 2 and single wins for Spotlight, The Hateful Eight, Star Wars, The Danish Girl, Inside Out, Creed and Room. Suddenly, I am second guessing a lot of those picks. I now realize how truly strange it would be if The Big Short won Best Picture and only one other award. Maybe I should really go with The Rev

Nah. Screw it. These are my picks, and I’m sticking to them. Plus, in most of the categories I’d rather just give the award to Creed anyway.


  1. I could see Leo losing to Eddie Redmayne for the Danish Girl, mostly because that seems like a rather Oscarbaity role in a very Oscarbaity film. (But at the same time, I think Leo’s got it.)

    1. Oh, The Danish Girl’s poster might as well have been Eddie Redmayne staring into the camera with his arm outstretched and a voice bubble attached to his mouth with the words in all caps “OSCAR PLEASE!”

      In other words, you’re absolutely right – it is such an Oscar-baity role. It’s just that Leo has been winning absolutely everywhere else that it’s hard to see him losing, especially if his main competiton is Redmayne since it was generally agreed that Redmayne was out-acted by Alicia Vikander in that movie.

      If Trumbo had been a better movie, Bryan Cranston’s performance might have presented more competition. I don’t really see Fassbender or Damon as presenting any real competition either.

  2. You’re just spreading your bets, a wise gamble in this game. Glad to see so much love for Rogue Nation here, too often do action movies (especially franchise action) get disregarded as Oscar potentials which is a shame. Looking forward to the results tonight

    1. Yeah, Rebecca Ferguson never had a shot at a nomination nor do I seriously think she should be in there over any of those 5 actresses. However, when I look back at 2015 she gave one of my favorite performances of the year, and just because it was in an action movie doesn’t mean we can’t stop to appreciate that. If my picks do come true than this will have been a truly strange year at the Oscars with the acting, directing and Best Picture categories all going to different movies. However, after such a strange awards season why not go bold, I guess.

      1. Go bold indeed! Ferguson definitely made Rogue Nation the success that it was and I’m excited to see her back in the next instalment. A franchise I can truly get behind

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: