Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.

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Oscar Predictions

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88th Academy Awards — Predictions

Apparently, we all dream in gold, and a bunch of films will be taking away the gold during this year’s 88th Academy Awards. While the amount of films I’ve seen since the first year of my movie marathon has declined, the Oscars always seem to get me back in the swing of things, watching and reviewing movies ahead of the biggest day of the year for the film industry.

Last year was my lowest in terms of predictions with 16 out of 24 (67%) correct. Comparatively, I got 71% correct in 2013 and a whopping 92% correct in 2014. This year’s crop of nominees doesn’t have any one standout film which should prove difficult in terms of predictions, but it’ll still be fun to play along anyways. From my own perspective, while I did enjoy many of the films this past year — and am glad to have seen many of the nominees — there’s no Argo or Boyhood this year that I’ve been rooting for to win since the moment I saw it (and yes, I know Boyhood lost to Birdman).

There’s also the #OscarsSoWhite controversy surrounding this year’s ceremony as for the second year in a row, all 20 of the acting nominations are for white actors. Lots of articles have been written, people have chimed in on both sides, some people are boycotting the awards, and the Academy has even taken steps to change the makeup of it’s voting membership. Wikipedia has a great summary and links to numerous articles about the topic and I encourage you to follow some and read up if interested.

Check after the jump for my predictions on the films “Most Likely” to win as well as my personal picks for who I think is “Most Deserving” to win.


BEST PICTURE

Film
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Brooklyn
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Room
Spotlight

Most Deserving: Spotlight

Most Likely: The Revenant

Why: Wow, what a race this year has been. Lots of contenders have come and gone (ahem, Steve Jobs), and even with the remaining eight nominees, there are two clear frontrunners — The Revenant and The Big Short — with Spotlight bringing up the rear as a potential third candidate. It does seem as though every year has gotten progressively more competitive¹ with this year being no different. Things seem really up in the air this year and perhaps may come down to the preferential ballot: which film is most agreeable, not necessarily the “best” film.

Even for my personal pick it was a hard decision. Of the eight films, I gave three 5-stars and four 4-stars (and then of course Bridge of Spies, which I despised, I gave 2-stars). While I thoroughly enjoyed The Big Short and would get the underdog vote here, my heart has to go with Spotlight. It does handle dark subject matter and therefore isn’t necessarily the easiest film to watch, but it is incredibly powerful and is one of the best investigative films I’ve seen in a while.

However, I do think The Revenant will win not only the Best Director trophy for Iñárritu, but also carry that momentum into a Best Picture win as well. It is a great film with certain Best Picture qualities to it, but like last year’s ceremony where Birdman won over my personal favorite Boyhood, I don’t think it’s the best Best Picture. Whatever happens though, it is sure to be an interesting competition throughout the night, not only for Best Picture but for many of the other awards as well.


BEST DIRECTOR

Director Film
Lenny Abrahamson Room
Alejandro G. Iñárritu The Revenant
Tom McCarthy Spotlight
Adam McKay The Big Short
George Miller Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Deserving: George Miller

Most Likely: Alejandro G. Iñárritu


BEST ACTOR

Actor Film
Bryan Cranston Trumbo
Matt Damon The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant
Michael Fassbender Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne The Danish Girl

Most Deserving: Matt Damon

Most Likely: Leonardo DiCaprio

Why: After losing his previous four Academy Award nominations which were met with shock and outrage, it looks like DiCaprio will finally take home the gold for his performance as Hugh Glass in The Revenant. Of all his nominated performances however, I think DiCaprio’s work in The Revenant is the least worthy of a win. The Wolf of Wall Street and Django Unchained (for which he wasn’t even nominated) were better showcases of what DiCaprio is capable of. That’s not to say he shouldn’t win, and lets be fair, this year’s crop of nominees is quite lackluster overall, but my personal choice would be for Matt Damon. He truly brings the character of Mark Watney alive in The Martian with his funny yet isolated performance. But sure, give DiCaprio the Oscar for having been snubbed for so long.


BEST ACTRESS

Actress Film
Cate Blanchett Carol
Brie Larson Room
Jennifer Lawrence Joy
Charlotte Rampling 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan Brooklyn

Most Deserving: Saoirse Ronan

Most Likely: Brie Larson


BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Actor Film
Christian Bale The Big Short
Tom Hardy The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo Spotlight
Mark Rylance Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone Creed

Most Deserving: Tom Hardy

Most Likely: Sylvester Stallone

Why: Let me start by saying that I haven’t seen Creed yet and Stallone’s performance might truly be worthy of a win. But I find it hard to believe it is even remotely as fantastic as the performances given by either Tom Hardy in The Revenant or Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies. Both were beyond phenomenal and in the case of Rylance and Bridge of Spies, he was the shining star of an otherwise dull movie for me. Hardy’s performance however is the one that should be awarded as he eclipses DiCaprio’s apparently award-worthy performance in The Revenant. If DiCaprio is going to win for Best Actor, Hardy should win for Best Supporting Actor. The category is a bit of a toss up though and while Stallone is the apparent front-runner, Rylance who recently won the BAFTA in this category could sneak in with an upset. Part of the reason Best Supporting Actor is so open this year: Idris Elba, winner of the SAG Award (and the best predictor of the Academy Award) wasn’t even nominated. I really hope I’m wrong with this prediction, but all signs are pointing to Stallone.


BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Actress Film
Jennifer Jason Leigh The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara Carol
Rachel McAdams Spotlight
Alicia Vikander The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet Steve Jobs

Most Deserving: Alicia Vikander

Most Likely: Alicia Vikander

Why: This is yet another close race with a dead-heat between Alicia Vikander and Kate Winslet. Vikander has won most of the typical predictive awards including the SAG and Critic’s Choice Awards, Winslet is seemingly neck-and-neck. Even though I haven’t seen The Danish Girl and have seen Steve Jobs, my choice is still for Vikander because of her fantastic performance in Ex Machina. Everyone seemed to agree that performance was great (and has been nominated in that role for a few other awards), but her turn in The Danish Girl is even more impressive. Winslet does deliver a great performance and I could also see her winning too, but I’m sticking with Vikander.


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Film
Anomalisa
Boy & The World
Inside Out
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There

Most Deserving: Inside Out

Most Likely: Inside Out


BEST FOREIGN FILM

Film Country
A War Denmark
Embrace of the Serpent Colombia
Mustang France
Son of Saul Hungary
Theeb Jordan

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: Son of Saul


BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Film Writers(s)
Bridge of Spies Matt Charman, Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Ex Machina Alex Garland
Inside Out Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy
Straight Outta Compton Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savage, and Alan Wenkus

Most Deserving: Ex Machina

Most Likely: Spotlight


BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Film Writer(s)
The Big Short Charles Randolph and Adam McKay
Brooklyn Nick Hornby
Carol Phyllis Nagy
The Martian Drew Goddard
Room Emma Donoghue

Most Deserving: The Big Short

Most Likely: The Big Short


BEST COSTUME DESIGN

Film
Carol
Cinderella
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant

Most Deserving: Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Likely: Mad Max: Fury Road


BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Song Film
“Earned It” Fifty Shades of Grey
“Manta Ray” Racing Extinction
“Simple Song #3” Youth
“Til It Happens to You” The Hunting Ground
“Writing’s on the Wall” Spectre

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: “Till It Happens to You”


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Film
Bridge of Spies
Carol
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hateful Eight

Most Deserving: Sicario

Most Likely: The Hateful Eight

Why: I haven’t seen or heard The Hateful Eight yet, so I probably don’t know what I’m missing in terms of Morricone’s score. I have seen the other nominees though and Jóhann Jóhannsson’s work on Sicario was outstanding. It was eerie, unsettling, and really helped build the world and tell the story while also not calling too much attention to itself. John William’s return to Star Wars earns him his 50th nomination and while there is much to love about his new themes, Williams has certainly done better. Like DiCaprio and Stallone however, it looks like Morricone is going to win as a lifetime achievement nod (though many do say this one is truly deserved — unlike Stallone).


BEST DOCUMENTARY

Film
Amy
Cartel Land
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: Amy


BEST DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

Film
“Body Team 12”
“Chau, Beyond the Lines”
“Claude Lanzmann: Specters of the Shoah”
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”
“Last Day of Freedom”

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: “Claud Lanzmann: Specters of the Shoah”


BEST MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

Film
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
The Revenant

Most Deserving: The Revenant

Most Likely: Mad Max: Fury Road


BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN

Film
Bridge of Spies
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant

Most Deserving: Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Likely: Mad Max: Fury Road


BEST FILM EDITING

Film
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Spotlight
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most Deserving: The Big Short

Most Likely: Mad Max: Fury Road

Why: Both The Big Short and Mad Max: Fury Road are well edited films and having both won Eddie Awards — for Comedy/Musical and Drama, respectively — it’s a close call for who will win the Oscar. Most prognosticators are leaning towards Mad Max and I agree with that too. For such a weird film, with a premise that’s pretty much “trucks driving in a desert”, the editing does such a great job at constantly keeping things in motion. Like the characters, you don’t have long to stop and reflect on what’s happening because you need to keep driving. I would be happy with a Mad Max win, and I ended up choosing this for the “Most Likely” because I’m going all-in with Mad Max: Fury Road on the technical awards.

This being said, the editing plays an even more vital role in The Big Short jumping between fast and slow scenes that are information filled or explanatory. Without walking this fine line as skillfully as Hank Corwin (the editor) does, The Big Short would completely fail as a film and as a story. Part of the flow is built into the script, yes, but the film editing does the right job of telling you what’s important when, and how much time to devote to a certain topic. So while I’m a fan of the post-apocalyptic, just drive and keep moving atmosphere in Mad Max, that movie succeeds more due to it’s other components (costumes, makeup, production design) than The Big Short, which relies heavily on the film editing.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Film
Carol
The Hateful Eight
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Sicario

Most Deserving: The Revenant

Most Likely: The Revenant


BEST SOUND EDITING

Film
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Sicario
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most Deserving: Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Likely: Mad Max: Fury Road


BEST SOUND MIXING

Film
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most Deserving: Mad Max: Fury Road

Most Likely: Mad Max: Fury Road


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

Film
Ex Machina
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most Deserving: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Most Likely: Star Wars: The Force Awakens


BEST SHORT FILM (ANIMATED)

Film
“Bear Story”
“Prologue”
“Sanjay’s Super Team”
“We Can’t Live without Cosmos”
“World of Tomorrow”

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: “World of Tomorrow”


BEST SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION)

Film
“Ave Maria”
“Day One”
“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)“
“Shok”
“Stutterer”

Most Deserving: N/A

Most Likely: “Shok”

¹Like a teacher telling her class how this year’s students have been the best ever — meaning the “best” kids from a few years ago must now be horrible. No, every year can’t actually be better than the last.