Just gonna go over these real quick. They tend not to get as much press as other awards, but they should be respected as a precursor.
Best Picture: Spotlight
At first glance, not too surprising. It’s more or less been the front-runner despite not winning quite as consistently (in this category, at least) as that status would suggest. But when you look at this in the context of the entire evening, it starts to look just a little odd, and has me wondering about what might happen Oscar night.
And it would appear that last minute Star Wars nomination didn’t really pan out.
Best Director: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road
Had this gone to Iñárritu, I’d have wondered if he might not be set on the path to his second win in two years (apologies, by the way, for suggesting no director has ever done this before; John Ford accomplished it in 1940-41 and Joseph L. Mankiewicz accomplished it in 1949-50; however, in both instances they only won Best Picture for the second film). But this shows how open the race still is. The Directors Guild will hopefully provide some clarification, but I wouldn’t be shocked (and would indeed be perversely delighted) if they threw us yet another curveball.
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Oh, man. If the Academy doesn’t give him this it’s going to be a memester’s paradise. Granted, their track record with predicting the eventual Oscar winner has been pretty solid; from 2003 on they’ve only missed twice, and both times (2011 and 2014) their winner won the other Globe, and thus was the primary competitor. Which says it’s probably Leo, and if not him, then Matt. Which makes sense, since I don’t see anyone else as a serious threat.
Best Actress: Brie Larson, Room
I’m thinking this is hers to lose. If she wins SAG–moreover, if she wins BAFTA–that puts her significantly in the lead. Too bad for Saoirse Ronan, but this was, thankfully, a very strong year for this category. I’m hoping to see this one again soon and more accurately evaluate her work.
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Since I don’t have cable, I haven’t been watching these awards shows, but from what I’ve heard, Sly is charming as fuck in his acceptance speeches. I’m not prepared to call this category sewn up, but it’s looking very good for him. Which I’m fine with. I don’t have a must-win choice in this category.
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Again–this is blatant category fraud, and I cannot condone it. (If I nominate her for this film, it’ll be in Lead.) That she’s great here and was even better in Ex Machina doesn’t entirely wash the bad taste out of my mouth. Based on the category, I might actually root for Jennifer Jason Leigh, whose performance has only grown on me with repeat viewings. But if Vikander wins, I won’t be entirely upset.
Best Young Actor/Actress: Jacob Tremblay, Room
He deserves it, especially since the Academy snubbed him. I’d have voted for Milo Parker, personally (and I’ve heard excellent things about Abraham Attah), but he does a hell of a job here. How he didn’t get nominated (but Abrahamson did) is beyond me.
Best Acting Ensemble: Spotlight
If the Academy instituted this category, Spotlight could win and I wouldn’t object. It’s a good example of the cast as a whole being greater than any individual performance (though Keaton and McAdams are solid). Of course, more important than this award is the SAG award, but the two do frequently align. So we’ll keep an eye on that one.
Best Original Screenplay: Spotlight
See, this category has been Spotlight‘s to lose for quite a while now, and I’m okay with that. Not really that remarkable of a script, but not a disgrace either. But this and Picture are the only categories it seems to have any real traction in. Maybe McCarthy sneaks in and wins Director if Iñárritu and Miller split votes, but otherwise this could end up as the first Best Picture winner to win only two awards since 1952. Which I have a hard time imagining. It would look weak as shit. At this point, I think Spotlight is likeliest to win this and nothing else, or it wins this, Picture, and a third award we’re not expecting.
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short
Now this is a script I can root for. And since Steve Jobs and The Revenant didn’t make the cut, I think it’ll win.
Best Cinematography: The Revenant
Three in a row for Lubezki? It’s starting to look like it. Not that he doesn’t deserve to win for this one, but after he beat Deakins (undeservingly) in 2013, it’s annoying that he’ll probably do so again, even if Sicario wasn’t on a par with Deakins’ best work. Also, I could imagine this and Actor being The Revenant‘s only wins–the There Will Be Blood two-punch.
Best Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road
This could be Max‘s to lose. If that’s the case, Best Picture is not absolutely out of reach. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking and lack of sleep talking.
Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
Another one that seems like it could be solidly in Max’s pocket. We could see it pull a Gravity*, win most of the tech awards and Director, and lose to Spotlight with Picture, Original Screenplay, and…maybe Supporting Actress? Who knows.
*Ironically, in 2013 I felt Gravity was the lesser film and 12 Years a Slave the masterpiece which just barely secured Best Picture. C’est la vie.
Best Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
God, could this actually win? I can’t imagine they won’t pick something more traditional (though it’s a pretty good category overall), but since this category began in 2009, their winner has won the Oscar every time. Which is worth noting.
Best Hair and Makeup: Mad Max: Fury Road
On the other hand, since this category began in 2009, their winner has never won the Oscar (though major, major kudos to them for recognizing the brilliance of Cloud Atlas). So I’m just going to guess that The Revenant wins this.
Best Score: The Hateful Eight
Another race which might be locked up. Which is just fine; the score is great (if a tad underused), the film has been under-appreciated and Morricone is a legend who’s never won an Oscar–he’s received an honorary Oscar, but it’s not the same. So I hope he does. Still sucks that Max never got its due in this category.
Best Song: “See You Again”, Furious 7
Not a very good song, and it’s not up for the Oscar, so…who gives a shit?
Best Visual Effects: Mad Max: Fury Road
I hope this wins the Oscar. It’s a competitive year for this category, and there are factors to consider before predicting the winner, but from where I’m standing, Max could pull it off.
Best Animated Feature: Inside Out
I’d love an upset here just to see everyone shit themselves. But since the film deserves to win, I won’t root for that.
Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul
I just have to see it.
Best Documentary Feature: Amy
These three categories all have major front-runners, and the Academy managed not to snub any of them. Who wants to bet they’ll manage to buck the trend with at least one of the winners?
Best Action Film: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Actor in an Action Film: Tom Hardy, Mad Max: Fury Road
I really do think he gives a better performance than Mel ever gave. At least…a more genuinely haunted performance.
Best Actress in an Action Film: Charlize Theron, Mad Max: Fury Road
I wouldn’t have minded seeing Rebecca Ferguson take it, but she did deserve to win. That they nominated her in the primary Best Actress category gave me some hope the Academy would follow suit, but no.
Best Comedy Film: The Big Short
This one they got absolutely right (though if Tangerine were in contention, I might argue otherwise).
Best Actor in a Comedy Film: Christian Bale, The Big Short
If you’re going to just give this to a supporting character, I might actually go for Jason Statham in Spy instead. God, he was funny. (Also, since Damon wasn’t nominated, the pickings were pretty slim.)
Best Actress in a Comedy Film: Amy Schumer, Trainwreck
The Globes chose Jennifer Lawrence, which I suspect was the better choice. But I don’t really know for sure.
Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film: Ex Machina
Mad Max was also nominated here, and I get that they wanted to spread the love. And they chose a very fine film. But they didn’t choose The Martian, which strikes me as odd.
- Mad Max wins 9 awards, 6 of which it could also win at the Oscars: Director, Editing, Production Design, Costume Design, Makeup, and Visual Effects. And since the Critics Choice doesn’t do Sound awards (and since Makeup at least seems to be a long shot), that puts Max‘s active potential at 7 awards. Which, again, could lead to a repeat of 2013, where one film sweeps the techs and Director and another film wins Picture with only a few awards.
- Spotlight wins 3 awards, 2 of which it could win at the Oscars: Picture and Original Screenplay. The lack of broader support has to be a red flag to its supporters, since to win Best Picture you usually need at least three awards. It could win Director for its third award, but no film has won only the Picture-Director-Screenplay trifecta since 1969. So that’s not looking overly likely. It could win Editing, but…who’d vote for it over Max and The Big Short? It could, however, win Supporting Actress, since that race remains decidedly open.
- The Revenant only wins 2 awards: Actor and Cinematography. It could win those two and only those two at the Oscars and I wouldn’t be terribly shocked.
- In a semi-related note, three of the acting categories now have strong front-runners: Actor with DiCaprio, Actress with Larson, and Supporting Actor with Stallone. Supporting Actress is still a bit of a mystery. If SAG confirms DiCaprio and Larson, consider them safe bets; Stallone isn’t up for SAG, but that might not matter too much.
- The Big Short wins Adapted Screenplay and seemingly secures its front-runner position in that category. It also wins Comedy Film and Actor in a Comedy, which doesn’t hurt.
- The Hateful Eight wins Score, putting itself in a good position to win that Oscar.
- Really, we just need to sit tight and wait for the guilds to start announcing. They’ll tell us more than the critics awards, for better or worse.