BEST PICTURE – THE REVENANT
When you really stop and think about it, this year’s race for Best Picture is only between three nominated films. That means we don’t need to discuss The Martian, Brooklyn, Bridge Of Spies, Room or The Big Short. They are all serious long shots.
Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth in the series and the first not to feature Mel Gibson, was both a huge summer blockbuster and critical favourite. It could play a spoiler role here but I don’t think it’ll garner enough votes to pull it off. It will have to settle for some consolation technical trophies.
When the nominations were first announced last month, I immediately thought Spotlight, another highly acclaimed critical favourite, had the inside track. But then I remembered the late, great Roger Ebert’s long standing belief about how the Academy picks this category: they vote with their heart.
Although it has the lowest fresh rating of all eight nominated films on Rotten Tomatoes (82%), ever since it went wide in early January to big financial returns, The Revenant has been the most talked about nominee. Those who have seen it have been emotionally shaken by it. Yes, it was made by the same man who gave us Birdman, last year’s winner, but that will in no way hurt its chances. I’ll be very surprised if The Revenant isn’t named Best Picture.
BEST DIRECTOR – Alejandro G. Inarritu (THE REVENANT)
Speaking of Ebert, as he famously noted every year at this time, the winner of the Director’s Guild of America prize goes on to win the Best Director Oscar about 90% of the time. Last year’s DGA winner, Alejandro G. Inarritu, who won for Birdman, went on to take the Oscar for the same film. This year, he won the DGA for The Revenant which means, barring some unforeseen circumstance, he will repeat the feat. It’ll be the third time in Academy history a director has won back-to-back Oscars. John Ford did it in 1940 & 1941 as did Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949 & 1950.
BEST ACTOR – Leonardo DiCaprio (THE REVENANT)
He was first nominated in the supporting category for What’s Eating Gilbert Grape back in 1994. (He lost to Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive)). Eleven years later, he was nominated in the lead category for playing Howard Hughes in The Aviator. (Jamie Foxx won for Ray.) Then came lead nominations for Blood Diamond (a loss to Daniel Day-Lewis (There Will Be Blood)) & The Wolf Of Wall Street (a win for Eddie Redmayne (The Theory Of Everything)), the latter resulting in another nomination for Best Picture since he was one of the producers. (Birdman won.)
That’s right. Leonardo DiCaprio is 0 for 5 at the Academy Awards and therefore, he’s due for a win. It helps that fellow nominees Redmayne (The Danish Girl) & Matt Damon (The Martian) already have trophies so they won’t be collecting any additional dust collectors this year. There’s plenty of time to reward Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) down the road. And if it was any other year, Bryan Cranston would be a shoo-in for Trumbo.
But the Academy will give it to DiCaprio as a make-good for not nominating him for Titanic.
BEST ACTRESS – Brie Larson (ROOM)
Cate Blanchett (Carol) already has golden gongs for The Aviator and Blue Jasmine. Ditto Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) who won three years ago for Silver Linings Playbook. 70-year-old Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) had never even been nominated before this year so her bid will surely come up short. Brooklyn’s Saoirse Ronan was previously up for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for Atonement (she lost to Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)) and could pull an upset here.
But the critically acclaimed Room has to win something and Brie Larson will be the beneficiary.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Alicia Vikander (THE DANISH GIRL)
Of all the acting categories this year, Best Supporting Actress is without question the most difficult to predict. Right away, you can forget about Kate Winslet. Once a perennial Oscar bridesmaid, she finally won Best Actress in 2009 for her performance in The Reader. Don’t expect her to snag a second gong for Steve Jobs. We can also count out first-time nominee Jennifer Jason Leigh for The Hateful Eight. (If she did win, you could consider it a lifetime achievement honour for all her highly regarded performances that didn’t get recognized by the academy.)
Canadian Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) has a decent shot but her career is going fine so she doesn’t really need the push. Neither does previous nominee Rooney Mara (Carol) who was last singled out for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. That leaves Swedish actress Alicia Vikander, a good looking gal who’s young, dating fellow nominee Michael Fassbender and will be starring in the next Jason Bourne movie. As far as I’m concerned, the Oscar is hers to lose.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Sylvester Stallone (CREED)
Like Best Actor, this one looks like a lock for a longtime Hollywood favourite.
Christian Bale (The Big Short) already has a sparkly trinket for The Fighter so he’s out of the running. Three-time nominee Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight) won’t be called to the stage. British actor Tom Hardy (The Revenant), so brilliant in The Drop and The Dark Knight Rises, could pull off a surprise win but I doubt it. Longtime Shakespearean thespian Mark Rylance (Bridge Of Spies) will have to settle for being a first-time nominee.
It’s been 40 years since Sylvester Stallone played the title character in the overrated Rocky which won Best Picture. He lost the 1977 Best Actor gong to the very dead Peter Finch (Network). After four lousy sequels, Stallone revived the character ten years ago in Rocky Balboa, which received decent notices. Now playing the mentor to the son of his original rival in the acclaimed spin-off Creed, he will finally get rewarded, albeit in the supporting category, for his most famous role.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – INSIDE OUT
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – AMY
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – SON OF SAUL
BEST FILM EDITING – THE REVENANT
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – Thomas Newman (BRIDGE OF SPIES)
BEST ORIGINAL SONG – Til It Happens To You (THE HUNTING GROUND)
BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT – SHOK
BEST ANIMATED SHORT – SANJAY’S SUPER TEAM
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT – LAST DAY OF FREEDOM
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – Roger Deakins (SICARIO)
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – CINDERELLA
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer (SPOTLIGHT)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – Adam McKay & Charles Randolph (THE BIG SHORT)
BEST SOUND EDITING – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST SOUND MIXING – THE REVENANT
BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN – THE DANISH GIRL
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
BEST MAKE-UP & HAIRSTYLING – MAD MAX: FURY ROAD
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, February 23, 2016