Spotlight and The Revenant are both locks while The Martian, Bridge of Spies, The Big Short and Carol are also pretty safe bets as well. After that is where the question marks start for me. Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Inside Out were all very well received but my feeling is that the Academy will only make room for one of them and my best guess is that it ends up being Mad Max. In the unlikely event that there are ten nominees this year, I think the remaining three spots go to Room, Brooklyn and Sicario. Straight Outta Compton or Creed could also wind up sneaking their way in.
Bridge of Spies
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
Dark Horses: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Straight Outta Compton, Inside Out, Creed
The top three spots are relative no-brainers for me since Ridley Scott, Alejandro Inarritu and Tom McCarthy have lead the pack for most the award season. George Miller isn’t as much of a sure thing but he’s still a pretty safe bet. The fifth spot is the only one I’m not very certain about but in the end I think the Academy gives it to their old favorite Steven Spielberg.
Ridley Scott- The Martian
Alejandro G, Inarritu- The Revenant
Tom McCarthy- Spotlight
George Miller- Mad Max: Fury Road
Steven Spielberg- Bridge of Spies
Dark Horses- Todd Haynes- Carol, Adam McKay- The Big Short
To start this category off simply, it’s Dicaprio’s to lose at this point. While I personally think that has more to do with the endless “woe is Leo” memes that have been circulating since last year’s Oscars more than anything else, he is nevertheless the undisputed front-runner and guaranteed to secure a nomination. Since the pickings for Best Actor have been relatively slim this year, it’s not hard to see who fills up the remaining slots. Eddie Redmayne, Michael Fassbender and Bryan Cranston have all received nominations from SAG, The Golden Globes, and Critics Choice, so there’s no reason to believe they’ll be left out of the mix either. Matt Damon may have been snubbed from SAG in favor of Depp but I don’t see that hurting his chances. There’s a chance one these actors (other than Dicaprio) will be snubbed for Will Smith or Johnny Depp but not a big one. The buzz for Depp’s performance has largely died down and there didn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for Smith’s campaign to begin with.
Leonardo Dicaprio- The Revenant
Matt Damon- The Martian
Eddie Redmayne- The Danish Girl
Michael Fassbender- Steve Jobs
Bryan Craston- Trumbo
Dark Horses- Will Smith- Concussion, Johhny Depp- Black Mass,
Brie Larson, Cate Blanchett and Saorise Ronan are all virtual locks and Charlotte Rampling’s chances appear to be pretty strong as well. Lawrence is the only one on my list that I find to be vulnerable here. While the Academy undoubtedly loves her, the disappointing reception for Joy could possibly prove to be her downfall (much like it was for everybody else involved with Joy). There’s a slight chance the Academy decides to show some extra love to Mad Max and gives Lawrence’s spot to Charlize Theron instead. They could also decide to nominate Rooney Mara or Alicia Vikander for leading roles instead of supporting like most are expecting though I find both scenarios highly unlikely.
Brie Larson- Room
Cate Blanchett- Carol
Saoirse Ronan- Brooklyn
Charlotte Rampling- 45 Years
Jennifer Lawrence- Joy
Dark Horses- Charlize Theron- Mad Max-Fury Road, Rooney Mara- Carol
Best Supporting Actor
This is easily the most wide open category and therefore the one where I’ll most likely be served a nice helping of crow. There are at least ten legitimate contenders here and with the exception of Rylance (who is incidentally the only one I’m super confident about), they all have a drawback that could keep them off the list. Sylvester Stallone will probably get a nomination but the Academy has been known to snub someone for seemingly for no reason other than pretentiousness before. Mark Ruffalo and Michael Keaton both give fantastic performances in Spotlight but they could end up being each other’s greatest enemy and cause a vote-split that leaves one or both of them out of the picture completely, as evidenced by both actors being snubbed from SAG and Golden Globe nominations. Christian Bale is generally considered the highlight of The Big Short but he could have the same problems as Spotlight given the ensemble nature of the film. Michael Shannon (99 Homes) is the only actor this year besides Rylance to be nominated for SAG, Golden Globes, and Critic’s Choice but they were still for a film that few people saw which may be what holds back Paul Dano’s (Love and Mercy) chances as well. Jacob Trembley got rave reviews for Room but his age makes it a hard sell and will likely depend on how generous the Academy is feeling for Room in general. Idris Elba has more than it’s fair share of supporters but I get the feeling to Academy will penalize him for being in a Netflix movie. Tom Hardy gave a perfectly well received performance in The Revenant but it’s mostly been overshadowed by his co-star Dicaprio (as mentioned in the Best Actor section).
Mark Rylance- Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone- Creed
Mark Ruffalo- Spotlight
Michael Keaton- Spotlight
Christian Bale- The Big Short
Dark Horses- Michael Shannon- 99 Homes, Idris Elba- Beasts of No Nation
Best Supporting Actress
The only thing that could possibly keep Rooney Mara or Alicia Vikander out of this category is if the Academy opts to put them in the lead category instead. Either way, they’ll have no trouble being nominated. Even though Steve Jobs and The Hateful Eight didn’t make as much of an award season splash as people expected, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Kate Winslet will both likely benefit from solid reviews for their performances and the choices for the category being once again fairly weak. Few people probably expected this about a month ago but since Helen Mirren has already gotten surprise nominations at the Globes, SAG, and Critic’s Choice, it only makes sense that the streak will continue for the Oscars. Of course, if the Academy absolutely adores Spotlight then they may decide to reward Rachel McAdams instead.
Rooney Mara- Carol
Alicia Vikander- The Danish Girl
Jennifer Jason Leigh- The Hateful Eight
Kate Winslet- Steve Jobs
Helen Mirren- Trumbo
Dark Horses- Rachel McAdams-Spotlight ,Elizabeth Banks- Love and Mercy
Best Original Screenplay
This category will likely serve as a sort of consolation prize for at least a couple movies that were discussed but don’t quite make the cut for Best Picture which is why Inside Out, The Hateful Eight and Ex Machina all make my list, though the Academy could conceivably swap one of them out for Stright Outta Compton or Sicario. As for the other two Spotlight will make it in due to it’s current status as Best Picture front runner (for now anyway) and Bridge of Spies will probably make it in too due to the Coen Brothers credit.
The Hateful Eight
Bridge of Spies
Dark Horses- Straight Outta Compton, Sicario
Best Adapted Screenplay
There are plenty of excellent candidates here but sadly at least one of them will be left out in the cold. Steve Jobs is a relative lock and there’s a good chance it will lead to another win for Aaron Sorkin. Admittedly, there’s some slight wishful thinking on my part with my inclusion of The Martian and Room since I found genuinely loved the source material for both but they’ve both received consistently good buzz for me to feel pretty confident. The same goes for Carol and The Big Short. The main reason I think Brooklyn ends up being left out is that the hype has died down just enough for them to miss the cut. Then again, I’ve been wrong before.
The Big Short
Dark Horses- Brooklyn, The Revenantby