88th Academy Awards Picks and Predictions (2016)

Once again, it’s time for Oscar predictions.  I did pretty well last year, getting 16 correct once again (that seems to be what I always get [seriously, I didn’t even have to edit this sentence]). There are some tight races this year, but also a few sure things, so it’s bound to be an interesting evening. I can’t wait to see how Chris Rock tackles the shocking lack of diversity among the nominees. And while awards shows always seem fairly out of touch with popular opinion, I’ll always be a fan of the Oscars. So read on for my (dicey) predictions, as well as my picks if I could hand out the statues as I see fit. And then let me know who you think will be a big winner Sunday night!

Best Short Film, Live Action:
Prediction: Ave Maria
My Pick: N/A

Best Short Film, Animated:
Prediction: Sanjay’s Super Team
My Pick: Sanjay’s Super Team

Best Documentary, Short Subject:
Prediction: A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
My Pick: N/A

Best Documentary, Feature:
Prediction: Amy
My Pick: N/A

Best Foreign Language Film:
Prediction: Son of Saul
My Pick: N/A

Best Animated Feature Film:
Prediction: Inside Out
My Pick: Inside Out
I don’t think there’s any way that any of the other nominated films can beat Inside Out. I’m thrilled Shaun the Sheep was nominated, as it was clever and creative and I love to see stop-motion animation get recognition (twice this year with Anomalisa!). But the reality is that Inside Out deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, and the fact that it wasn’t is yet another thorn in the side of animation fans like myself. Part of the justification for expanding the Best Picture nominees to hold more movies was so films like Inside Out would be in the mix. There have been a few Pixar films nominated for Best Picture (Up and Toy Story 3), but Inside Out might be their best film yet.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects:
Prediction: The Revenant
My Pick: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I feel like the much talked about bear attack sequence in The Revenant is likely to give it the win for Visual Effects, though Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly could pull one out here. I think if The Revenant wins then it will be a sign that it’s due to pick up a lot of awards as the evening rolls on, as part of the rising tide of support the film has garnered lately. As for me, the most visually impressive film of the year was probably Mad Max: Fury Road, but most of its effects were overshadowed by the insane stuntwork throughout the movie, so I’ll go with Star Wars.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing:
Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
My Pick: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing:
Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
My Pick: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling:
Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
My Pick: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song:
Prediction: “Til it Happens to You” – The Hunting Ground
My Pick: “Writing’s on the Wall” – Spectre
This category will come down to a battle between Lady Gaga (who sings the nominated song from documentary The Hunting Ground and James Bond. I didn’t feel like Spectre‘s theme song was particularly memorable, either in a good way or a bad way, but the Sam Smith number is the only original song I can actually recall at all from 2015, so I guess that would be my choice. Unless I can nominate the TripleDent Gum song from Inside Out.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score:
Prediction: Star Wars: The Force Awakens
My Pick: Tomorrowland
My two favorite film scores of 2015 weren’t nominated, and while I would have been surprised to see Michael Giacchino’s score for Tomorrowland on the list given the way the movie was generally ignored I thought for sure we’d see Junkie XL’s brilliant work for Mad Max: Fury Road make the cut. Those two albums have been my most listened to soundtrack purchases of the year. As for the nominees, I’m not sure which way the wind will blow. I feel like Morricone might have an edge just by the fact that he returned to the Western with The Hateful Eight, but the fact that John Williams got a nod for Star Wars despite the score using many themes that are now almost 40 years old means he could have a lot of support among voters. I’d be happy to see him win, but this category is bound to be a disappointment to me no matter how it turns out.

Best Achievement in Costume Design:
Prediction: Cinderella
My Pick: Cinderella
Last year I blew this pick by going with my heart over my brain and choosing Maleficent to beat The Grand Budapest Hotel, and I’m probably going to repeat that folly by picking Cinderella. But for my money there was no more beautiful film in 2015 than Cinderella, and it’s a perfect fit in the Costume Design category considering the importance of the film’s iconic dress within the story and the overall design of the film. Fury Road could easily be the winner, and its costume design was excellent, but considering this is Cinderella‘s only nomination I feel like that speaks to an acknowledgment of just how fantastic the costumes were. The ball sequence alone probably had 200 people in it all requiring gorgeous gowns and finery. And don’t forget about the famous glass slipper.

Best Achievement in Production Design:
Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
My Pick: Tomorrowland
Fury Road
was a brilliantly crafted film, with the design of its many monstrous war machines so crucial to the feel of the film, and I’ll definitely be rooting for it to win. But for me Tomorrowland stood out above the rest in terms of design. From recreating the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, to a Victorian-era rocket ship within the Eiffel Tower, to a retro-future alternate world meant both to inspire and disappoint, so much careful thought and planning went into the look and feel of Tomorrowland. The film covered so many eras, combining technology from different periods and presenting sets in a variety of time periods, and it all had to make sense so that it could serve the story rather than distracting from it.

Best Achievement in Editing:
Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
My Pick: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Achievement in Cinematography:
Prediction: Mad Max: Fury Road
My Pick: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Published or Produced:
Prediction: The Big Short
My Pick: Avengers: Age of Ultron
I feel like The Big Short is the sort of movie the Academy likes to choose for Adapted Screenplay, although my pick among the nominees is The Martian, which took a bunch of sciency techno-babble and made science feel fun and cool. But for me, one of the year’s best screenplays was Joss Whedon’s work for Avengers: Age of UltronI’ve written at length about my love of the film, in particular the way the story gave us a deeper peek at the inner struggles of these heroes we’ve come to know and love. Superhero films based on comic books are never going to be nominated for the “big” awards, which is a shame because the work Marvel has done in the past few years has been seriously impressive.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen:
Prediction: Inside Out
My Pick: Tomorrowland
I really hope Inside Out wins this one. It was such a cleverly crafted film, but also an important film, and its story has resonated with people from all walks of life. But Tomorrowland, written by Brad Bird, Damon Lindelof, and Jeff Jensen, absolutely blew me away. Movies with a clear message are often derided as being cheesy or preachy, and Tomorrowland had as strong a message as any film I’ve seen in recent years. It was such an intelligent story, well thought out and spanning centuries, and all of the pieces fit together so well (including a prequel novel), but for me it was the message of hope and optimism that resonated so strongly. If I had my way, Tomorrowland would be nominated in many, many categories, but above all the rest it is the film’s writing that deserves to be recognized.

Best Achievement in Directing:
Prediction: Alejandro G. Iñárritu; The Revenant
My Pick: George Miller; Mad Max: Fury Road
This feels like Iñárritu’s race to lose, and he’s likely to end up with back-to-back awards for Best Director after his win last year for BirdmanAs much as I’d love to give this award to Brad Bird for Tomorrowland, no director was more crucial to a film this year than George Miller. Fury Road is a masterpiece, and for a director to return to a series he created over 30 years ago and not only bring it back to life but make it new, fresh, meaningful, and thrilling is an enormous accomplishment. No one would have imagined a Mad Max sequel would one day be nominated for Best Picture, and the fact that it’s even in the conversation is entirely thanks to Miller. Iñárritu is the safe bet to win, but I’ll be jumping up and down and screaming for joy if Miller wins.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
Prediction: Alicia Vikander; The Danish Girl
My Pick: Carrie Fisher; Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I honestly haven’t seen any of the nominees in this category, through a combination of a busy schedule, few showtimes, and a lack of interest, although from what I’ve read Vikander seems to have been phenomenal in The Danish Girl. As for me, my favorite Supporting Actress this year has to be Carrie Fisher in The Force Awakens, reprising her role as Princess/General Leia. It’s awesome to see older women get kickass parts, and even if she wasn’t in the film for very long she made a huge impression, both as a leader and more than a match for Han.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
Prediction: Mark Rylance; Bridge of Spies
My Pick: Mark Rylance; Bridge of Spies
I know a lot of people are going with Sylvester Stallone in this category, but a part of me thinks that still somewhat unlikely. I’m happy he’s nominated, as I’ve been a fan for a long time, especially of his performance, writing, and directing as Rocky (seriously, Rocky Balboa is fantastic), but I don’t know that the Academy will be able to take him seriously enough to give him the Oscar. Instead, I think it goes to Rylance, who is also my personal pick for Best Supporting Actress. Bridge of Spies hasn’t been getting a lot of talk, despite the Best Picture nomination, but it really was excellent, and a lot of that is thanks to Rylance’s performance as a captured Soviet spy. It’s one of those quiet, understated roles that can make or break a film, and his ability to make the audience empathize with someone who would normally be considered the “enemy” is crucial to the film’s success.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:
Prediction: Brie Larson; Room
My Pick: Charlize Theron; Mad Max: Fury Road
I was really disappointed that Charlize Theron wasn’t nominated for Fury Road. It may have had “Mad Max” in the title, but Theron’s Imperator Furiosa was the film’s true lead, and Theron took what could easily have been a one-dimensional badass warrior and made her much more. Furiosa and her quest are what made the audience care about the two hour car chase through the desert, so that each action sequence felt infinitely more intense because we not only wanted but needed to see her succeed. If Sigourney Weaver can earn a much-deserved Oscar nomination for playing Ripley in Aliens, Theron deserved to follow in her footsteps, as Furiosa is very much cut from the same cloth.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:
Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprioThe Revenant
My Pick: Ian McKellanMr. Holmes
So finally DiCaprio will win an Oscar. I’m thrilled that his time has come, not because I think he’s hugely deserving and that it’s egregious that he hasn’t won yet, but simply so people will stop talking about it and move on. Look, I’m a DiCaprio fan, and I think he’s turned in some excellent performances, but he is neither the best actor to have never won an Oscar nor do I think the Academy should be in the habit of giving out competitive awards to represent lifetime achievement awards. Honestly, I’d be happier if Matt Damon won for his performance in The Martian, which was hilarious and heartfelt, but upon whose back the entire film rested. (You could also argue that Damon is more deserving of an Oscar than DiCaprio, as some people already have… using math.) But my pick for the year’s best performance, which was tragically overlooked, is Ian McKellan’s brilliant turn as an aging Sherlock Holmes fighting the slow decay of his mind in Mr. Holmes. It was a haunting, emotional performance, that both fit nicely into the familiar character and completely upended our expectations of a Holmes story.

Best Picture:
Prediction: The Revenant
My Pick: Tomorrowland
The safe bet this year is to go with The Revenant. It’s captured the “we suffered so much to make this film” narrative, it’s riding on the back of the “DiCaprio deserves it” fans, and it’s the sort of dark, gritty story that seems to be extremely popular these days. As for me, I’d much prefer Mad Max: Fury Road to win of all of the nominees, and it’s what I’ll be rooting for on Sunday, but despite the enormous praise for the film I just can’t see enough Academy members voting for something so blatantly different than the fare they usually honor. I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t seem likely. I also loved The Martian and Bridge of Spies, but I still think I’m better off predicting that the Oscar will go to The Revenant.

But as I said before, my favorite film of the year was Tomorrowland, and despite writing extensively about it I just can’t sing its praises enough. I wish there were more films like it, pretty much the thematic opposite of The Revenant, a story of hope and optimism and a critique not only of any who would mock those ideals but of the very idea of dark, gritty, nihilistic, and dystopian storytelling. Or, at least, of the reasons those kinds of stories are popular. Back when WALL-E was released, I thought I’d found a film with the potential to change the world. I’m a bit more realistic these days with how much influence I think a movie can have, but I believe that Tomorrowland could be a force for good in the long run. We need stories that tell us not only that things can get better, not only that we can make them better, but that we have a responsibility to make them better. While that kind of message may not get audiences in the seats the way it should (nor, apparently, do a clever story, a box office superstar, exciting visuals, and the power of Disney), it will always win all of the awards I have to give.

What do you think? Will this be a big night for The Revenant? Is there a chance that Mad Max: Fury Road can pull off the upset? Is this finally DiCaprio’s year? Who will we as society rally behind come awards season once he’s been crowned a winner? Should Inside Out have been nominated for Best Picture? What were this year’s biggest snubs? If you could give out your own golden statues who would get them? Let me know in the comments!

 

5 thoughts on “88th Academy Awards Picks and Predictions (2016)

  1. 16 right? My record has been 14 only, lol! Congrats!

    We seem to have similar picks. You can find my predictions on my blog. I’m pretty sure Leo will win this year although I prob would have given it to Redmayne.

    I feel Straight Outta Compton will win the Screenplay award as a sort of “pity prize” due to the whole OscarsSoWhite controversy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m hoping to finally break the 16 ceiling this year! I could see Straight Outta Compton winning as some sort of concession to the representation issue, except that a lot of Academy members (at least those speaking publicly) seem unhappy that they’ve been accused of not being diverse enough. Plus both of the writers for Straight Outta Compton are white. I feel like if Leo were to lose, Redmayne would definitely be the winner. I’ll have to check out your predictions when I get home!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 2016 Oscars Recap | The Love Pirate

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