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Final Oscar Predictions: 2015

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It’s almost time. Let’s review the evidence.

Best Picture:

One of the most wide-open Best Picture categories I can remember. Three strong contenders to win and a possible spoiler. And had Carol not been fucked over, it might be even worse. Ditto Ridley Scott.

  • The Big Short (#2) – I’m really torn as to how I feel about its chances. It won the PGA, and since the expansion of the Best Picture category the PGA winner has always won Best Picture. It also won at the WGA and the ACE, but it lost the SAG Ensemble award, the DGA, the Globe, and the BAFTA. So let’s not pretend it isn’t in a precarious spot right now. I want to predict it to win in good faith. But I can’t. I think at the very least it’s a very close second, but if you want to call it the front-runner, accept that its status as such is not secure.
  • Bridge of Spies (#7) – It’s a great film and I’m glad it was nominated. But it missed out on Director and Editing, rendering its chances virtually nil. So it’s just happy to be here.
  • Brooklyn (#14) – It got three nominations. I’m a little shocked it got on at all (especially over Carol). It’s a sweet film and hardly a bad choice for a nomination…but it might actually be the least likely film to win. Its other two nominations are a different matter, but Picture is completely out of the question.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#1) – Sadly, I think its best hope is that the three front-runners cancel each other out and it rises to the top. But it hasn’t done that all season, and since the NBR has mostly won Picture only from local critics’ groups. As much as I love it, I knew going in that I’d be happy if it just got nominated. Once it was, I was all right with it not winning. And I still am.
  • The Martian (#12) – I’m just glad this was good enough to deserve the nomination. It’s a shame Ridley Scott got snubbed, though, since without a nomination for him, there’s no way in hell this would ever win. Not that it was likely to, since it had already peaked some time ago. But it tightens up what may be the most open Best Picture race I can recall.
  • The Revenant (#8) – It won the Globe, BAFTA, and DGA. It’s come a long way in a short time. That it didn’t get SAG Ensemble or Screenplay nominations, or win the PGA, makes me hesitant to predict it to win (and if Iñárritu pulls it off he’ll be the first director ever to win Best Picture in consecutive years), but…it’s really hard for me not to. It’s this or The Big Short.
  • Room (#16) – Someone on IndieWire was saying this might be a surprise winner (probably given the surprise Director nomination), but I don’t see it. It has no traction for a Picture win. It’s just happy to be here. There’s a very definite split the possible winners and the happy-to-be-heres this year.
  • Spotlight (#40) – For a while it looked like this had Best Picture in the bag. And then it started losing. It lost BAFTA and DGA to The Revenant, and the PGA to The Big Short. It did win the SAG Ensemble award, but that doesn’t mean as much as you might think. American Hustle won SAG Ensemble and went 0-10 at the Oscars. So I’d put this as third-likeliest to win. Normally, that’d be pretty damning, but given how weird this particular year is, it means it still has a shot.

So…is it The Big Short, The Revenant, or Spotlight?

I think we can set Spotlight aside and let it surprise us. But trying to pick between the other two is a beast.

Honestly, my gut tells me The Revenant is going to defy precedent and win. It’s got at least three other wins in the bag. But the PGA, unlike almost every other group, uses the same preferential ballot as the Academy, and they anointed The Big Short…which also won WGA and ACE awards.

So we could be looking at a Godfather/Cabaret or 12 Years a Slave/Gravity split, where one film wins a bunch of technical awards and Director but another film wins Picture. That, to me, feels just the slightest bit more likely. Or maybe I just want it to.

Fuck it. I think The Big Short has about a 53% chance of taking it. Don’t use me as your oddsmaker, but I’m calling it.

Will Win: The Big Short

Could Win: The Revenant, Spotlight

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Director:

It’s pretty much sewn up by this point. Not quite in the manner that I desired, but I’m not really complaining.

  • Lenny Abrahamson, Room (#13) – Between the hell of a job he did here and Frank, I’m completely fine with him being here. It was a shock, and while I’d have rather had Ridley Scott, I’d have rather someone else been left off instead. Abrahamson won’t win, though. It’s not the kind of film which wins Director unless it’s winning Best Picture.
  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant (#2) – If he hadn’t won last year, I’d be 100% behind him winning this. The direction itself is magnificent. Absolutely magnificent. And given how much he’s won as of late, I can’t imagine he isn’t winning this. He’ll be the first director since Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1950 to win in consecutive years (and only the third ever–the other is John Ford in 1940-41), which is damned impressive. I’m personally rooting for someone else, but I’ll be fine with Iñárritu taking it.
  • Tom McCarthy, Spotlight (#>20) – If the film were in a better position to win Picture, I might say he had a shot, but he’s actually won very little for his direction–which, given that it’s nothing special in cinematic terms, doesn’t bother me in the slightest. In fact, I kind of wish they’d left him off in favor of Ridley Scott (or Todd Haynes). But he’s here, won’t win, and has another category to triumph in.
  • Adam McKay, The Big Short (#8) – I’m glad he got on. Not just because he did a good job (although he did, quite a good one), but because the director of fucking Anchorman is an Oscar nominee. He might be third-likeliest to win, maybe second based on the film’s Best Picture status, but like McCarthy there’s another category for him to take.
  • George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road (#1) – It’s a crying shame he almost certainly won’t win. His direction is brilliant, his film is magnificent, and he seems like the nicest fucking guy. He should win, but he’s lost too many of the major awards to be anything more than the second-place finisher. Granted, his being here at all is a considerable triumph, but…couldn’t the Academy take the next step and give it to him?

It’s Iñárritu’s to lose. If he somehow does, it’ll go to Miller.

Will Win: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Could Win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: George Miller, Mad Max: Fury Road 

Best Actor:

A rare weak year for the category. Luckily, we have an overwhelming front-runner.

  • Bryan Cranston, Trumbo (#9) – It’s a decent performance, and we all love him, but he ain’t winning. That’s really all there is to it.
  • Matt Damon, The Martian (#5) – He’s the second-likeliest winner, based on what’s gone down this season (and possibly based on whatever remaining love there is for the film), but he’s a very, very distant second.
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant (#8) – I still don’t think the performance is quite as amazing as others have made it out to be; but when he is able to really act, he’s excellent, and given that he should have won already, and given how weak this year is for this category, I’m fine with him winning. And, given that he’s won SAG, the Globe, and the BAFTA (and a lot more besides), I think it’s almost certain that he will. The only thing that might stand in his way is how perfectly awful it would be if he lost, but I don’t think that’ll happen.
  • Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs (#3) – Based on the performance alone, he should win. And his body of work doesn’t hurt–snubbed in 2011, rightly nominated and wrongly passed over in 2013, he’s increasingly due for a win. But the film just didn’t go over well enough to make his winning likely. I’d put him third because Damon’s film has more traction, but this is Leo’s year.
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl (#11) – This nomination feels more gratuitous the more I think about it. Not that he’s not good, but between the whole cis-man-playing-trans-woman issue, the film’s…I wouldn’t say mediocrity, but non-greatness, and the fact that he won last year, there’s just no way he’d ever win. And given that, is it unreasonable to wish his spot had gone to a better, or at least more interesting performance?

It’s Leo’s year. I’ll laugh my ass of if it isn’t.

Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Could Win: Matt Damon, The Martian

Should Win: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Best Actress:

The best line-up I’ve seen in this category in a long while. It looked like there might be some competition there for a while, but a very clear winner has emerged.

  • Cate Blanchett, Carol (#1) – God, she’s good here. She might have less screen-time than Rooney Mara, but I liked her performance more. It’s a real star performance, and if she hadn’t won a second Oscar so recently, I’d be all for her to win here. But she won’t, and I’m totally okay with that.
  • Brie Larson, Room (#2) – She’s virtually tied with Blanchett. She’s fucking incredible here, and seeing the film a second time only reaffirmed that. And given that she should’ve won in 2013 (when Blanchett, coincidentally, won her second award) and wasn’t even nominated, I’m absolutely all right with her winning. It’s just bullshit that Jacob Tremblay wasn’t nominated as well.
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Joy (#6) – The film has issues, but she gives, for my money, the best performance of her career to date here. It’s the most mature work I’ve seen from her, and if she misses my top 5, it’s only because Alicia Vikander gave two brilliant performances (but I’ll get to her soon enough). She won’t win, though, and in such a strong year shouldn’t. But I’m glad she got nominated.
  • Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years (#12) – I finally saw the film. It was quite solid. She was solid, as was Tom Courtenay, but I didn’t quite see an Oscar-level performance here; maybe she was just a bit too low-key. Or maybe I didn’t completely buy the film’s premise. Whichever is the case, she’s the weak link in the field, but she’s still very good, and given her career, I’m fine with her getting on. Her tone-deaf comments about the #OscarsSoWhite controversy pretty much wiped out what little chance she had of winning, but that was virtually nil to begin with.
  • Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn (#5) – A lovely performance, this. And for a while, it seemed like she might actually give Brie Larson a run for her money. But she’s lost SAG, BAFTA, and the Globe to her, which to me puts her in the same position to Larson that Matt Damon is in to DiCaprio: a very distant second place.

Brie Larson should win without breaking a sweat.

Will Win: Brie Larson, Room

Could Win: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

Should Win: Brie Larson, Room

Supporting Actor:

The weakest acting category this year. None of the nominees crack my top 5, and one is the only acting nominee of the year not to make my top 20 in their category. SAG decided to shake things up by giving Idris Elba their award–the first time ever that a non-Oscar nominee won with them. I still haven’t seen Elba’s film and can’t say whether or not he should’ve been nominated, but I can’t imagine he wouldn’t have helped the category.

  • Christian Bale, The Big Short (#14) – Love the film, and he’s quite good in it, but after the first 30 minutes or so he takes a decided back seat to the rest of the cast. I just can’t get behind him as a winner.
  • Tom Hardy, The Revenant (#18) – I’m a fan of Hardy, but I’ve yet to really embrace this performance to the degree others have. I’m fine with him being here, mostly because of who he is and the year he’s had, but unless The Revenant pulls off a major sweep, he won’t win, and shouldn’t.
  • Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight (#>20) – Why the fuck didn’t they nominate Michael Keaton instead? He’s not quite as bad as I initially assumed, but I still think his work is way too affected and self-conscious. Like Hardy, he won’t win unless his film somehow sweeps.
  • Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies (#12) – For a while it looked like he was going to be the winner. And he still might be (he won BAFTA), but I think he’s the second likeliest to win. The performance is just a touch too dialed-down to really get behind it as a winner. If the film itself had a better shot at Best Picture that might be another matter, but he and the film will likely go home empty-handed.
  • Sylvester Stallone, Creed (#7) – Easily the best nominated performance. And, given the acclaim and the sentimental/veteran factor, I think he’s the favorite to win. Not being nominated by SAG and BAFTA might’ve hurt him, but can you really see anyone else (except maybe Rylance) taking this? I can’t.

The category is kind of a general mess, but I think Sly will finally get his.

Will Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Could Win: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies

Should Win: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Best Supporting Actress:

This category is even harder to predict than Supporting Actor. I really don’t know what’s going to happen myself, and the blatant category fraud doesn’t help.

  • Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (#3) – I do love this performance. She’s wonderfully grotesque, but never lets Daisy turn into a cartoon character. You can empathize with the pain she’s in while still recognizing how awful she is. I wish she had a better chance at winning, because she’s the best supporting performance on the list, but there are at least two contenders ahead of her. So it goes.
  • Rooney Mara, Carol (#9 in Actress) – I still think Cate Blanchett gave the better performance, but she does do quite a good job. That said, she’s a lead, and even if I liked the performance more, I can’t vote for her in Supporting. I don’t think she’ll win, though. The film’s omission in Picture and Director probably secured that.
  • Rachel McAdams, Spotlight (#13) – She is actually quite solid in the film. “Believable” is the word I keep coming back to with her. She won’t win unless Spotlight somehow takes it all, but the nomination is quite reasonable.
  • Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl (#4 in Actress) – She’s a fucking lead. She’s great, yes–probably the best performance in the category–but I’m not voting for a lead to win Supporting. The BAFTAs and Globes put her Lead (and Supporting for Ex Machina), but she lost both. She did win SAG, but I’m honestly dubious about her chances. I think it’s between her and the next nominee.
  • Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs (#7) – It’s a very good performance. I don’t quite love it, but she does a strong job. She won the BAFTA and the Globe, and given how many times she was nominated before her win in 2008, it wouldn’t totally shock me if she won her second award for this. It’s her or Vikander.

Honestly…I think Winslet might actually win. The film’s reception aside, my instinct says it’s her. It could go either way, but I think Vikander will get hers another time.

Will Win: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Could Win: Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl

Should Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight (because Vikander is a lead)

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Bridge of Spies (#2 in Factually-Based) – It’s a very solid script. Better than the script the Coens wrote for their newest film, I’d argue. But the film isn’t enough of a contender to win this.
  • Ex Machina (#4) – I’m so happy this was nominated. This is exactly the kind of film the Academy normally overlooks, and all the kudos in the world to them for acknowledging it. (Too bad that PGA nom didn’t translate into a Best Picture nominee.) It won’t win, but its being here is rather enough for me.
  • Inside Out (#1) – A magnificent film and script. I really wish it had a better shot at winning. Had it received a (well-deserved) Best Picture nomination it might have, but as it is it’s no more than…maybe third-likeliest.
  • Spotlight (#5 in Factually-Based) – This is winning. It’s won virtually everything from everyone. Its only notable loss was at the Globes, and even had Steve Jobs been nominated, they wouldn’t be up against each other. It’s definitely not my choice (it’s fine, but you know I’m not wild about the film), but I’m not going to complain when it wins.
  • Straight Outta Compton (#10 in Factually-Based) – It’s still so weird to me that this is Compton‘s only nomination. I did like the film better when I returned to it, but the script is still not that much better than average. Without other nominations to support it, it feels kind of gratuitous. I could almost see it winning for political reasons (though the screenwriters themselves are white), but that’s not at all likely.

Spotlight, whatever else it wins, is winning this.

Will Win: Spotlight

Could Win: Bridge of Spies

Should Win: Inside Out

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • The Big Short (#1 in Factually-Based) – The best script of the year. So fucking good. And it’s almost certainly winning. So that’s one outcome at least I should be happy with.
  • Brooklyn (#5) – Very good script, very good film, just…it’s outmatched in this category. That’s all there is to it. I’d like to see the film again at some point to have more of an opinion about it, but for now…it ain’t winning, and that’s all there is to say.
  • Carol  (#1) – A tremendous script as well, and were the film up for Best Picture I’d say it was a threat to win. I’ll even go so far as to say it’s second-likeliest to win, based on the regard the film is generally held in, but The Big Short is far ahead of it. Too bad.
  • The Martian (#7) – More science-fiction, which I always love. And of course I enjoy the film, though I think the direction and acting are just a bit better than the writing. But the buzz for this film has all but evaporated, leaving it with a nice set of nominations as consolation. I can think of worse fates.
  • Room (#6) – Another film that improved for me on second viewing. I still think the script has some gaps in it, but good for Emma Donoghue getting the chance to adapt her novel and then being nominated for it (unlike Gillian Flynn, who was so fucked over last year). She might have an outside shot, since the film was pretty well-liked, but I would hardly put money on it.

A touch less locked than Original, but this should be The Big Short‘s to lose.

Will Win: The Big Short

Could Win: Any of the others, really, but I’d say Carol or Room is the likeliest

Should Win: The Big Short

Best Cinematography:

  • Carol (#5) – Gorgeous. Won’t win, but a worthy nominee.
  • The Hateful Eight (#8) – 70mm! Doesn’t crack my own top 5, but I’m glad it’s here. This film really didn’t get its due.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#3) – It’s beautifully shot. But there’s another nominee which tops it.
  • The Revenant (#1) – Dammit, Chivo. You’re just too good. This makes three in a row for him.
  • Sicario  (#19) – Poor Roger Deakins. After Skyfall and Prisoners were so brilliantly shot, Unbroken and this represent a definite step down. I’d love for him to win based on general principle. but I can’t root for him otherwise.

Three in a row, motherfucker.

Will Win: The Revenant

Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: The Revenant

Best Editing:

This is a swing category. The outcome of this could give away Best Picture in a big way.

  • The Big Short (#2) – A stunning job of editing, reminiscent more of contemporary Godard than contemporary Hollywood. If it wins here, Best Picture is all but assured. And given that I think it’ll take Picture by a nose, I think it will win.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#1) – All hail Margaret Sixel! She could very well win this. She won the BAFTA and the Dramatic ACE (Big Short won the Comedy ACE), and I don’t think anyone who’s seen the film could argue that she edits the shit out of it. If it wins…Picture is probably going to the next nominee.
  • The Revenant (#14) – The editing is fine. The film itself, though long, is never boring. But it’s the direction and cinematography more than the cutting which really stand out. If it wins this, it has Picture in the bag.
  • Spotlight (#>20) – Not a particularly memorable editing job (it wasn’t even nominated for the ACE), but since the film is still a Picture contender, it got on. If it wins, consider Picture Spotlight‘s to lose.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (#7) – Really glad this got noticed. It’s a really well-cut film, particularly in the first half as we move from character to character. It has almost no shot at winning, however.

One of the most important categories of the evening right here.

Will Win: The Big Short

Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Production Design:

  • Bridge of Spies (#16) – Cold War America and Berlin. Pretty solid, but I doubt it wins. Maybe it’s second-likeliest, but this film needed to be more of a force in Best Picture to have a real shot at winning.
  • The Danish Girl (#13) – 20s/30s Copenhagen and Paris. It’s nicely done, to be sure. But the film itself doesn’t really have the momentum to win much outside of Supporting Actress.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#3) – A post-apocalyptic future, especially the Citadel, but hopefully the amazing cars are factored into this as well. If Crimson Peak hadn’t been snubbed I might be a bit less bullish on it, but this actually seems to be the favorite to win. It won the ADG for Fantasy Film, which certainly boosts its chances.
  • The Martian (#>20) – Mars and modern-day Earth, mostly the offices of NASA and other organizations. It’s probably a better design job than my ranking suggests. But it’s deliberately discreet design, and if Gravity lost this category I can’t imagine this would win. It did win the ADG in Contemporary Film, however.
  • The Revenant (#9) – Barring a major sweep, it won’t win this. There’s some cool stuff here, to be sure, like the ruined church and the fort. It also won the ADG for Period Film (0ver Bridge of Spies and The Danish Girl), so maybe it’s second-likeliest instead. But, yet again, a distant second.

Why the fuck wasn’t Crimson Peak nominated?

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Could Win: Bridge of Spies (or The Revenant)

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Costume Design:

  • Carol (#6) – Some really strong 50s  garb here. I thought for a moment this might win, based on the desire to give the film some form of recognition, but that’s probably not happening. It didn’t win the CDG, which doesn’t help.
  • Cinderella (#3) – My #1 for quite some time,  but I think it peaked too early. It would be a worthy choice, but it also lost the CDG, so I think it’ll make like Mirror Mirror and lose.
  • The Danish Girl (#5) – The costumes are really quite good. And this won the CDG for Period Film, so consider this one of the two likely winners.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#10) – I’d be shocked if this somehow won, but it won the BAFTA and the CDG for Fantasy Film, so I’ll consider it the narrow front-runner. The costumes aren’t my favorite part of the film,  but there’s some neat design in there as well.
  • The Revenant (#14) – This is kind of like 12 Years a Slave–period costumes that are for the most part deliberately realistic and unglamorous. I’d be even more shocked if this won, and if it did, I’d say The Revenant is headed for a major, major sweep, but I consider pretty damn unlikely.

The People Eater and his pierced nipples might just win an Oscar. That’s pretty fucking cool.

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Could Win: The Danish Girl

Should Win: Cinderella

Best Makeup & Hairstyling:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#1) – It won two awards from the Makeup Guild (Period and/or Character Makeup and Special Makeup Effects), the BAFTA, and is the best of the year. I can’t see it losing unless The Revenant majorly sweeps.
  • The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (#13) – I just want you to know that I fucking called this. The makeup itself is just okay (Mr. Holmes is a much better and subtler example of aging makeup), but the film is cute and I’m glad it got the attention.
  • The Revenant (#3) – There’s some incredible work here. And this could win. If it does, that’s another sign it’s taking the top prize for sure. It’s close, but I don’t think it takes this.

And you all thought Black Mass was getting on instead.

Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Could Win: The Revenant

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Original Score:

  • Bridge of Spies (#>20 – #24, to be exact) – It’s an okay score, I’m sure. I just don’t remember it particularly well.
  • Carol (#7) – Carter Burwell finally gets on. He won’t win, but it is a very nice score.
  • The Hateful Eight (#5) – Ennio Morricone should finally get his. I don’t really see a strong threat to his winning this. And it is a really good score, even if there’s not quite enough of it.
  • Sicario (#>20) – I don’t remember the score, especially. Possibly a sign I need to rewatch the film. I just don’t get how this is here but Mad Max isn’t.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (#6) – John Williams’ best score in quite some time. I quite like the new themes, especially “Rey’s Theme”, and I honestly wouldn’t mind it winning. It probably won’t, but it wouldn’t be a bad choice at all.

The Hateful Eight will get something, at least.

Will Win: The Hateful Eight

Could Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Should Win: The Hateful Eight

Best Original Song:

Ugh.

  • “Earned It”, Fifty Shades of Grey (#?) – Listening to this now. Actually not a bad song; the instrumental is decent enough, if nothing I’ll remember in 10 minutes. But because of this song Fifty Shades of Grey is an Oscar nominee, and that’s not okay.
  • “Manta Ray”, Racing Extinction (#?) – The writer of this song (Anohni) is boycotting the Oscar ceremony because they weren’t given a performance slot. Good for them. That’s bullshit. I’m listening to this right now–it’s fine. Very low-key (kind of a melancholy lullaby), and probably again not something that’s going to stick with me for long, but the Academy made a fairly good choice here as well.
  • “Simple Song #3”, Youth (#4) – Actually a pretty lovely song, and a good choice on the Academy’s part (especially over that Furious 7 song), but I can’t see it winning.
  • “‘Til It Happens to You”, The Hunting Ground (#?) – I dunno, I just listened to this and really got nothing out of the song itself. I guess it was fine, and between the fact that it’s Lady Gaga and the subject matter of the film itself (sexual assault on college campuses), it’s probably the front-runner, but I can’t say it did anything for me.
  • “Writing’s On the Wall”, Spectre (#2) – I’ve warmed to this song quite a bit. I still don’t like the vocals, but the instrumental is pretty damn good. And in a year lacking in really memorable songs, I’ll take it. It won the Globe, so I’d say this is other major contender.

Given how weak a year for songs it was, I guess they put together a decent-enough category. I’ve heard that “‘Til It Happens to You” is the front-runner, but it might actually be my least favorite of the five.

Will Win: “‘Til It Happens to You”

Could Win: “Writing’s On the Wall”

Should Win: “Writing’s On the Wall”

Best Sound Mixing:

  • Bridge of Spies (#15)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#2)
  • The Martian (#8)
  • The Revenant (#12)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (#5)

The Revenant won the BAFTA and the CAS. So it’s probably winning this. Not that I thought the mixing was that outstanding, but so it goes.

Will Win: The Revenant

Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Sound Editing:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#1)*
  • The Martian (#3) – mainly for the sound of the Hab’s toilet
  • The Revenant (#5)
  • Sicario (#12)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (#2)

*My own award is technically for Sound Effects, which is not exactly the same, but broadly equivalent to this.

Mad Max and The Revenant tied at the Golden Reel Awards (the sound editors’ guild) last night. I’ll guess The Revenant wins this as well, but it could go either way.

Will Win: The Revenant

Could Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Visual Effects:

  • Ex Machina (#16) – I’m actually glad this is here. Great film, and it did an excellent job on a fairly low budget. Won’t win, but that’s okay.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (#1) – They really did a tremendous job here. This should win, but it might not. The VES mostly passed it up.
  • The Martian (#5) – Very good work here as well, but it’s outclassed by the top two. If it were more of a favorite to win Picture it might take this, but it’s not.
  • The Revenant (#6) – All about that bear attack. As one of the Best Picture front-runners, I consider this the front-runner here. But not by far.
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens (#2) – It won big with the VES and it won the BAFTA. If it were up for Picture, I’d say it was a mortal lock to win. But no Best Picture nominee has lost Visual Effects to a non-nominee since 1970. And that keeps from predicting this to win.

Star Wars could take this, but it would be a major shattering of precedent if it did.

Will Win: The Revenant

Could Win: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • Embrace of the Serpent
  • Mustang
  • Son of Saul
  • Theeb
  • A War

I’ve only seen Son of Saul. But it’s a tremendous, harrowing film, my own #11 of the year, and by far the favorite to win.

Will Win: Son of Saul

Could Win: Mustang

Should Win: Son of Saul

Best Animated Feature:

  • Anomalisa (#9)
  • Boy and the World
  • Inside Out (#4)
  • Shaun the Sheep Movie (#21)
  • When Marnie Was There

Anomalisa is superb and Shaun the Sheep is charming, but Inside Out will win this by a mile, and fully deserves to. So glad Boy and Marnie are here, too. I hope to see them soon.

Will Win: Inside Out

Could Win: Anomalisa

Should Win: Inside Out

Best Documentary Feature:

  • Amy
  • Cartel Land
  • The Look of Silence
  • What Happened, Miss Simone?
  • Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom

I’ve only seen The Look of Silence, but it’s magnificent (my #15 of the year). However, Amy will win this handily (it’s won nearly everything else). I did see Where to Invade Next and liked it (it’s my #36), which I figured would get nominated, but no dice.

Will Win: Amy

Could Win: The Look of Silence

Should Win: The Look of Silence

Best Live Action Short Film:

I’ve actually seen the nominees this year!

  • Ave Maria (#5) – An amusing little comedy of errors set in the West Bank, but easily the slightest of the category.
  • Day One (#1) – A heartrending slice of life in the Iraq War. I really, really liked this, and special kudos to lead actress Layla Alizada. I hope this wins.
  • Everything Will Be Okay (#4) – An Austrian child-custody drama which gets really fucking tense towards the end. At 30 minutes the longest nominee, and arguably a bit overstretched, but it was good.
  • Shok (Friend) (#2) – A tragedy about the friendship of two boys during the civil war in Kosovo. The acting is a little awkward at times, but the final drop of the shoe is really devastating. Apparently this is the favorite to win.
  • Stutterer (#3) – A cute little British comedy about a young man with a severe stutter and his budding online relationship with a young woman, which is challenged when she wants to meet in person. It feels like it could have been just a bit more fleshed out, but it was really sweet.

A nice crop of nominees. Glad I saw them. I’ll just guess Shok wins.

Will Win: Shok

Could Win: Day One

Should Win: Day One

Best Animated Short Film:

I’ve seen these, too!

  • Bear Story (#3) – A bear tells his life story with a clockwork box. A Chilean film, with clear references to the political repressions of that country’s past, and quite affecting. The animation isn’t 100% there (the characters’ eyes are kind of creepy), but it was good.
  • Prologue (#4) – Richard Williams, a legend in the animation field (best known for Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Thief and the Cobbler) returns. Four men in ancient times go to battle. They all die horribly. A young girl who sees the carnage runs home, into the arms of an older woman who has clearly seen it all before. It feels like one of those 70s shorts which would be funded by UNICEF or UNESCO, and it feels a bit incomplete (it feels like an excerpt from a longer work), but the animation is quite striking.
  • Sanjay’s Super Team (#2) – The opening short to The Good Dinosaur, and so much better than the feature itself. A young Hindu boy is more interested in superheroes than in his father’s faith, but then begins to see the deities of Hinduism as superheroes themselves. It’s a really sweet little film (an homage to the director’s own father), and a nice introduction to Hinduism for children. I wouldn’t mind if it won.
  • We Can’t Live Without Cosmos (#5) – A Russian film about the friendship of two cosmonauts. It’s nice, but at 16 minutes it’s too long, and it doesn’t really hold up in the memory that well. So I can’t really root for it.
  • World of Tomorrow (#1) – Holy fuck, this is awesome. A little girl is given a tour of the future by her descendant, and it’s hilarious, poignant, imaginative, and fascinating in equal measure. From what I’ve heard, this is the favorite to win, and I really hope it does. It’s absolutely incredible.

A good list, but World of Tomorrow is definitely my favorite. (Wish they’d nominated The Loneliest Stoplight, but it didn’t even make the longlist.)

Will Win: World of Tomorrow

Could Win: Bear Story

Should Win: World of Tomorrow

Best Documentary Short Subject:

Didn’t see any of these.

  • Body Team 12
  • Chau, Beyond the Lines
  • Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah
  • A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness
  • Last Day of Freedom

Taking a stab in the dark here…

Will Win: Body Team 12

Could Win: Last Day of Freedom

Should Win: Last Day of Freedom

To recap:

Picture: The Big Short

Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu, The Revenant

Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant

Actress: Brie Larson, Room

Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone, Creed

Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

Original Screenplay: Spotlight

Adapted Screenplay: The Big Short

Cinematography: The Revenant

Editing: The Big Short

Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road

Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road

Makeup & Hairstyling: Mad Max: Fury Road

Original Score: The Hateful Eight

Original Song: “‘Til It Happens to You”, The Hunting Ground

Sound Mixing: The Revenant

Sound Editing: The Revenant

Visual Effects: The Revenant

Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul

Animated Feature: Inside Out

Documentary Feature: Amy

Live Action Short Film: Shok

Animated Short Film: World of Tomorrow

Documentary Short Subject: Body Team 12

That’s 6 for The Revenant, 3 apiece for The Big Short and Mad Max, and one apiece for everything else.

Let’s see if I’m right.

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