I, Jeff Merrick, the TV guy here at 4LN, will now take on the bold attempt of predicting this year’s winners of the 88th Academy Awards Sunday Night. And wouldn’t you know it, the year I decide to take this on features one of the tightest best picture categories in the history of the awards.
Now before I make these predictions, I want to be clear that this is who I think will win, not who I think should win. For one, I haven’t seen all these movies, so my opinion on who should win would lack credibility. What I have done is followed the various award ceremonies that take place leading up to the oscars and the buzz from various industry insiders to try and make an educated guess as to who will take home the big prize in each of the main categories.
This is a two horse race between Alejandro G. Inarritu for “The Revenant” and George Miller for “Mad Max: Fury Road” (for which 4LN writers Bill and Stephen are doing their best friends forever happy dance for a Miller win). Miller has several directing wins to his name for “Max,” including the Critics’ Choice Award, the Australian International Awards, and the London Film Critics Circle Award.
But in a normal year, Inarritu would be the clear favorite here. He’s won the same prize at the Golden Globes, the BAFTA’s (the British version of the Oscars), and the Director’s Guild (which includes the people who will be voting for the Academy Award in this category). Four of the last five Director’s Guild winners (including Inarritu) have won the Oscar for the same prize. But because of his “Birdman” win last year, Inarritu would have to make history to win again. No director has won back-to-back statues since 1950 (Joseph L. Mankiewicz won for “A Letter to Three Wives” in 1949 and “All About Eve” the following year) and Academy Award voters like to spread the glory around amongst their brethen.
But for my prediction here, I’m going with the pick that defies history and side with the Directors’ Guild’s choice.
And the oscar goes to: Alejandro Inarritu for “The Revenant”
Best Supporting Actor
The two main contenders here are Sylvester Stallone for his role as Rocky Balboa in “Creed” and Mark Rylance for his portrayal of KGB spy Rudolf Abel in “Bridge of Spies.” And Stallone has the momentum here, winning the Golden Globe and the Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Supporting Actor. Rylance did take home the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor, but I think the chance for Stallone to take home his first statue in his long career is too much for the Academy to pass over.
And the Oscar goes to: Sylvester Stallone for “Creed”
Best Supporting Actress
A wide open race has seen three different actresses merit consideration. Rooney Mara was considered by many to be an early favorite for her performance as an aspiring photographer in a realtionship with an older women in the movie “Carol.” And Mara did take home the Australian Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
But most of the major accolades this awards season have gone to Alicia Vikander’s portrayal of Danish painter Gerda Wegener in “The Danish Girl.” Both the Critics’ Choice and Screen Actor’s Guild (which includes many academy voters) went to Vikander and she seemed to be the clear cut choice until the BAFTA’s, when Kate Winslett took home the prize for her role as Joanna Hoffman, a marketer for the original MacIntosh computer in the film, “Steve Jobs.”
Despite Winslett’s late momentum, I’m going to stick with Vikander as my prediction here.
And the Oscar goes to: Alicia Vikander for “The Danish Girl”
Best Original Screenplay
“Spotlight,” the early favorite for Best Picture about the Boston Globe’s investigation into child abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area, has been the frontrunner since nominations came out in this category. And with victories at the Critics’ Choice, the BAFTA’s, and the Writers’ Guild in the same category, “Spotlight” is the clear choice.
And the Oscar goes to: Spotlight
Best Adapted Screenplay
With victories at The Critics’ Choice, the BAFTA’s, and the Writer’s Guild and frontrunner status from the beginning, “The Big Short,” which is based on the book of the same name about the 2008 financial crisis, is the clear favorite for the best adapted screenplay category. In fact, you can remove “Spotlight” from the previous section and replace it with “The Big Short” because these two movies have literally the same resume for their respective categories.
And the Oscar goes to: The Big Short
While reading up on Brie Larson, whose nominated in this category for her performance in “Room,” I learned from Tom Capon of Celeb News Now that Larson is dating Alex Greenwald, the man who forever blessed (or cursed depending on who you are) the world with this song:
To all the OC fans from back in the day out there, you’re welcome!!! I also found that to be the most interesting fact about this yawner of a race. Larson, who plays a woman who was kidnapped and gave birth to her abductor’s son while in captivity, has swept the pre-Oscar awards, winning the Critics’ Choice, BAFTA, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors’ Guild trophies for the same category. And her clear front runner status is very impressive when you consider her competition includes Cate Blanchet (a two-time winner), Jennifer Lawrence (previous winner and already a four-time nominee at age 25), and Saoirse Ronan (a two-time nominee).
Larson’s inevitable Oscar win is the second most predictable race of the night.
And the Oscar goes to: Brie Larson for “Room”
As for the race that’s the easiest to predict, it’s Leo. There’s no question that Leonardo DiCaprio, on his fifth try for his performance as fur trapper Hugh Glass in “The Revenant,” will finally take home that elusive Academy Award. Two of the most important factors in choosing the winner for each category are award season victories and sentimentality. And Leo has both. Wins for Best Actor at the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors’ Guild, the Critics’ Choice Awards, and the BAFTA’s plus Leo never having won an Oscar will be too much to overcome for an otherwise strong field that includes Eddie Redmayne (last year’s winner), Matt Damon (a previous winner for Screenplay and three-time acting nominee), Michael Fassbender (two-time nominee), and Bryan Cranston (a Tony Award winner and four time Emmy winner for playing some chemisty teacher named Walter White).
And the Oscar goes to: Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Revenant”
Now for the toughest race of the night to predict. No race has seen more swings in momentum for its various front runners, with any of three pictures likely to claim the top prize.
“Spotlight” was the early favorite when nominations came out in the middle of January. A Critics’ Choice Award for Best Picture and a Best Ensemble Cast Award at the Screen Actor’s Guild were solid feathers in the cap for “Spotlight” to keep its momentum.
But “The Big Short” became a popular darkhorse pick after taking a surprise victory at the Producer’s Guild (an award that as correctly predicted the Best Picture Oscar for the last 8 years).
And then “The Revenant” (and early favorite that seemed to be fading in this category) reemerged with wins at the Director’s Guild (an award presented the day before Oscar ballads went out) and the BAFTA’s in February. And in a race so tight, I’m going with the film that has the momentum closest to the awarding of the big prize.
And the Oscar goes to: “The Revenant”