The 88th Academy Award nominations will be announced tomorrow morning, with the ceremony scheduled for February 28th, hosted (for the second time) by Chris Rock. 2015 was a pretty good year for movies, both the big box-office smashes and the smaller films, and as always I have some things I want to see from tomorrow’s nominations. These are not predictions, but simply films I’d like to be recognized in certain categories were this an ideal world. I’ve split them up into nominees that are at least possible versus ones that I know have no conceivable chance. So read on for my Oscar nomination wish list, and then leave me a comment and let me know what you hope to see!
Tomorrowland in the “minor” categories
My favorite film of the year, Tomorrowland is more than deserving to be nominated in several categories, and while I’d love to see it among the choices for Best Picture and other top categories, I know that’s not going to happen. But I do feel like it could earn nominations for its visuals, particularly for its Production Design, which was not only unique and inventive, but which also was required by the story to be depicted in a variety of time periods. We got to see Tomorrowland from early construction through to abandoned neglect, which added a layer of complexity to some of the enormous sets created for the film. I think nominations are also possible for Visual Effects, Costume Design, and Makeup and Hairstyling, but I’d really love to see a nod for Michael Giacchino’s Original Score. The Tomorrowland score was decidedly old-fashioned, recalling an era where science fiction films were inspirational and gave us a hopeful glimpse of the future, rather than the dark, dystopian themes that dominated sci-fi these days. It’s a beautiful score that perfectly encapsulates the themes of the film, and hope it’s included among the nominees.
Inside Out for Best Picture and Screenplay
Inside Out is a lock for a Best Animated Feature nomination, and probably a win in that category at this point, but it also belongs among the Best Picture nominees. It was the most widely praised film of 2015, and the Academy has shown some love for Pixar in the past (Toy Story 3 and Up were both nominated after the category was expanded beyond 5 nominees), and there’s no reason for Inside Out not to make the cut. Also, given that it was one of Pixar’s most creative and heartfelt films, and one with an actual practical application in the real world, a Best Original Screenplay nomination would be well deserved.
Lots of love for Mad Max: Fury Road
Mad Max: Fury Road was definitely the surprise of 2015. I had high expectations but even those were completely blown out of the water. The gorgeous visuals seem to make the film a sure bet for things like Production Design, Cinematography, Editing, Sound, Costume Design, and Hair and Makeup, with Junkie XL’s brilliant Original Score thrown into the mix. But Fury Road deserves much more. I don’t think Best Picture or Best Director for George Miller are out of the cards, but perhaps the ideal outcome also includes a Best Actress nomination for Charlize Theron. She made Imperator Furiosa the sort of badass yet rounded female hero action movies have been missing since Ellen Ripley’s last appearance.
Matt Damon for The Martian
This one seems like a sure bet at this point, but for me no single actor carried a film and made it his own this year as much as Damon. It’s hard to imagine The Martian with anyone else in the lead, a sure sign of great acting.
Ian McKellan for Mr. Holmes
Mr. Homes was one of the delights of 2015, but one of only three films I saw which I did not review. (That happens sometimes, when a busy schedule combines with a lack of inspiration to prevent a review.) McKellan gave a new twist on Sherlock Holmes, giving us a brilliant mind laid waste by age, and his performance was haunting, poignant, and beautiful. It’s not as flashy as some of the other options out there, and the film was released a little too early in the year and missed the awards season, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.
Cinderella was, simply, one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. The ball sequence in particular ought to earn it nominations for Costumes, Production Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Cinematography, and Original Score. It was the perfect example of the variety of disciplines that have to combine to provide an onscreen feast for the eyes and the ears.
Mark Rylance for Bride of Spies
In a different year, Bridge of Spies might be in the hunt for Best Picture, but I think its time has already come and gone. Still, Mark Rylance is deserving for a subtle and unexpected take on a captured Soviet spy. He brought humanity, humor, and warmth to a character who could have easily been one-dimensional, and it ought to earn him a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
Shaun the Sheep for Best Animated Feature
It’s made me so happy seeing Shaun the Sheep get some awards season love. It’s such a small, calm, sweet, funny, and just different sort of film, yet it really is a masterpiece. It deserves to stand alongside films like Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur, and if it gets more recognition for stop-motion animation so much the better.
Tomorrowland in the top categories
As much as I love Tomorrowland (and I really, really do), I’m not so emotionally blind as to think it could ever get nominated for Best Picture. But in my dreams it would, and more. I’d nominate it in almost every category: Brad Bird for Best Director, Bird, Damon Lindelof, and Jeff Jensen for Best Original Screenplay, Britt Robertson for Best Actress, and Raffey Cassidy for Best Supporting Actress. (Clooney was great, but he’s probably the exception for me.) I’d love to see as original an idea as Tomorrowland rewarded, but I suppose it’s just not meant to be. But I’ll still spend the rest of my life singing its praises.
Age of Ultron for Best Screenplay
My man Joss Whedon has actually been nominated before, for his Toy Story screenplay, and I’d love to see him return to the Oscars. Doubly so, given some of the responses to Age of Ultron. Joss took a thankless and seemingly impossible task and gave us a film that was as clever and funny as we’ve come to expect but which also brought new layers and depth to familiar characters and to a genre that’s starting to feel a bit tired. And now that he’s moving on it would be the ultimate vindication of his work and his storytelling choices. And it would also piss some people off to no end, which is also lots of fun.
What do you think? What films, filmmakers, or actors would you like to see recognized? What are your long shot choices, and what sure things are you betting on? Are there any films you definitely don’t want to see nominated? I know it’s still early, but which film do you think is the favorite for Best Picture? Let me know in the comments!