Skip to main content

Oh sure, now you like him!

Prediction - 2016 Oscars


To best my rather pitiful 2015 tally I need guess just over half of the 88th Academy Awards’ winners correctly. The recent Critic’s Choice Awards mirrored some of my expectations, particularly in respect of the seeing Mad Max: Fury Road is this year’s The Matrix in terms of picking up a string of awards in the technical categories (The Matrix took four, only beaten by American Beauty with five) and probably ending up the biggest winner in terms of numbers.

This year has been instantly red-flagged as evidence of the lack of diversity in Academy nominations. Whether any of the suggested African-American nominees deserved a spot (Straight Outta Compton, Creed, The Hateful Eight, Concussion and Beasts of No Nation have all been cited as unjust exclusions, although the latter is pointedly both the most worthy and most likely to have been ignored due to it’s Netflix credentials) is debatable, but the same might be said annually for any number of different dubious nods. Spike Lee sized things up when he pointed the finger at the studios and networks, deciding what gets made and what doesn’t, rather than awards ceremonies in particular. The header quote comes from last year’s ceremony, Neil Patrick Harris’ quip in response to applause for David Oyelowo, who was conspicuously absent from the Best Actor nominations.

As usual, things can change dramatically in terms of the most favoured during the last month before the awards. It’s almost as if fatigue with the frontrunners sets in – all that hype – and a dark horse is needed to shake things up.  Looking at Variety’s predictions, I see mine are mostly the same in the major categories, so it would be an apt awards for something to go awry. Whatever happens, it will be a surprise at this point if Fury Road doesn’t garner at least half a dozen statuettes.

Best Picture

Winner: Spotlight
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

The “not a hope” nominations this year are Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn and Room, although for the latter two just the nod is enough. The outsider that could (feasibly) gain a late surge is The Martian, but I don’t think it will. That leaves four. While Mad Max: Fury Road has been making gains (notably the London Critics’ Circle), I’m not sure the Academy will be as daring as to go in that direction. If it wasn’t for Birdman last year, I might be betting on The Revenant, but, besides being another Alejandro González Iñárritu entry and a certain vocal faction declaiming it (including myself, to a point), I think it has a quality that is just a bit too awards-worthy. The Big Short and Spotlight are both being lauded for their takes on big headline stories of recent history, one a comedy, the other deadly serious. I think Spotlight has the edge at this point.

Best Director

Winner: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: George Miller

I’d be very surprised if Adam McKay or Lenny Abrahamson (despite the latter’s undoubted chops) went home with a statue. Iñárritu again? He isn’t Tom Hanks, so I’m not sure he musters that kind of boundless love. And Spotlight seems exactly the kind of movie to win Best Picture but not take Best Director. So I’m going with George Miller, which in itself would be recognition enough for Fury Road’s genius.

Best Actor

Winner: Leonard DiCaprio (The Revenant)
I’d like to win: Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)

Redmayne certainly isn’t Tom Hanks, and a vocal faction aren’t saying terribly nice things about his transgender performance anyway. Matt Damon did well just to get in there, and I don’t think Bryan Cranston has the big screen love yet. That leaves Michael Fassbender and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Leo’s been missed so many times it’s becoming a Pacino/Scorsese thing, so I suspect he will grab it, even though he should really have won for The Wolf of Wall Street a few years back.

Best Actress

Winner: Brie Larson (Room)
I’d like to win: Brie Larson

Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence are over-exposed for awards, and Joy in particular hasn’t elicited a lot of it. Saoirse Ronan has plenty of time to nab her Best Actress, and Charlotte Rampling might foreseeably have gained favour (for, unbelievably, her first nomination) if not for her pronouncements and backtracking on the Oscar whitewashing furore. Essentially, though, Brie Larson rightly has all the love going her way this year.

Best Supporting Actor

Winner: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)
I’d like to win: Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies)

Christian Bale and Tom Hardy are just filling out the numbers here, while Mark Ruffalo, as part of an ensemble (Spotlight), seems like a stretch. Rylance is fantastic, of course, but Stallone’s already got it sat on the mantelpiece, really. It’s a formality, whether he deserves it or not.

Best Supporting Actress

Winner: Rooney Mara (Carol)
I’d like to win: Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)

Possibly the most open of the big categories, but Kate Winslet and Rachel McAdams aren’t in serious contention. If the Oscars were looking for career awards, Leigh might get it, but in the same year Sly is getting his career award (also, Tarantino's a wee-bit out of favour this year)? Between Rooney Mara and Alicia Vikander, a lot of the money is on Vikander, but I’m tipping the former.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Winner: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short)
I’d like to win: Emma Donoghue (Room)

With Room, I’m expecting Best Actress to be one and done, Brooklyn and The Martian may well go away empty handed, and Carol is respected but… The Big Short tackles recent history in accessible and redolent way, and may well be rewarded for that (even if it isn’t the actual best adapted screenplay).

Best Original Screenplay

Winner: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight)
I’d like to win: Spotlight

Spotlight seems like the only likely winner here, even if it doesn’t get Best Picture (or maybe especially if it doesn’t), conjuring memories of the greatness of All the President’s Men (which Stallone robbed of Best Picture). Ex Machina, much loved but way overrated, got nominated and that’s sufficient, Inside Out will take Best Animated Feature, and that’s sufficient, Straight Outta Compton winning would be adding insult to injury (the white screenwriters taking the plaudits) and Bridge of Spies is decent but no one’s calling the work on it Oscar-worthy.

Best Animated Feature

Winner: Inside Out
I’d like to win: Anomalisa

Some makers of animated movies are virtually guaranteed a Best Animated Feature nomination; Aardman (Shaun the Sheep), Studio Ghibli (When Marnie Was There), Pixar (provided it isn’t The Good Dinosaur). That leaves other crowd pleasers or more experimental/acclaimed fare to fill in the gaps. This year there’s Brazilian feature Boy and the World and acclaimed Anamolisa, from Charlie Kaufman. In any other year, Kaufman would probably bag it, but Inside Out is just too damn popular.

Best Documentary Feature

Winner: Amy
I’d like to win: pass

I wasn’t such a fan of Amy, but it seems to have the throng behind it (see Inside Out above for the animation side of that). I suspect The Look of Silence, revered as it is, will be seen as too close to Joshua Oppenheimer’s previous The Act of Killing (it’s a sort-of sequel, so that’s sort-of understandable). Cartel Land, the grounded side of Sicario’s fantasy land exploration of the fight against Mexican drug cartels, might have an outside chance. What Happened, Miss Simone? furnishes another singer documentary, but unlikely to edge Amy, while Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom might be seen as the latest Oscar nom fulfilling the ceremony’s duty to put the boot in against Putin (see Leviathan last year).

Best Foreign Language Film

Winner: Son of Saul
I’d like to win: pass

The Medicine Man-esque Embrace of the Serpent (from Colombia) represents the eco-nom, Mustang (France) explores the effect of a conservative environment on five Turkish sisters (the religious repression nom), Theeb (Jordan) a “Bedouin western”, has won a raft of awards already (the Bedouin western nom), Danish A War takes a non-Hollywood approach to the Afghanistan conflict (the anti-war nom). But Son of Saul (Hungary) is the clear frontrunner, critically lauded, doused with awards, and – the Academy’s favourite – it’s a holocaust drama.

Best Cinematography

Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant)
I’d like to win: John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road)

If previous recognition meant the ungarlanded were due, this would be between Ed Lachman (previously nominated for Far from Heaven) and Roger Deakins (previously nominated 12 times!) The latter’s work on Sicario is easily the best thing about it, but I don’t think he’s going to be lucky 13. John Seale won for The English Patient, and good as Fury Road is, it’s very evidently a post-graded beast in parts. Richardson has three previous wins, while Lubeski won the last two years; that might seem to count him out, but I think he takes it again, because voters would probably get behind the whole hat trick thing and there’s the lustre of “all shot in natural light”.

Best Costume Design

Winner: Sandy Powell (Cinderella)
I’d like to win: Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Fury Road is the most creative work (Beaven previously won for Room with a View); against that is period (Carol, The Danish Girl, The Revenant) and high gloss period fantasy chic; Cinderella looks most expensive, so could be rewarded in those terms. The Academy likes its shiny baubles. Powell has three previous Oscars, and is competing against herself with Carol, but I don’t expect that to count against her.

Best Documentary Short

Winner: Last Day of Freedom
I’d like to win: pass

Red Cross workers in Liberia during the Ebola outbreak (Body Team 12), the health effects on an aspiring artist of spraying of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War (Chau, Beyond the Lines), a documentary about a documentarian (Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of Shoah – possibly too indulgent even for the Oscars, if not for the holocaust connection), an 18-year-old girl who survives an honour killing in Pakistan (A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness) and a death penalty piece that takes in themes of mental health and racism. If Son of Saul wins, Spectres of Shoah probably won’t; I suspect A Girl in the River or Last Day of Freedom will take it, and the latter might play into guilt over the whole whitewashing thing.

Best Film Editing

Winner: Margaret Sixel (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

A rash of first time nominees here, barring Stephen Mirrione for The Revenant (he previously won for Traffic). The editing of Fury Road is stupendous, and it would be patently ridiculous not to recognise it.

Best Make-up and Hairstyling

Winner: Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

More first-timers. The Revenant does well in the seamless sense, while The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared does contrastingly really poorly. Fury Road is a cacophony of great make-up, though.

Best Original Score

Winner: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight)
I’d like to win: Ennio Morricone

I’d be surprised if Thomas Newman or John Williams (a very tepid score from the once vibrant codger) had a chance, but they’ve got this far. Morricone ought to receive his lifetime statuette, one long overdue. Johan Johannsson’s Sicario score is very good (actually, everything about that film is very good, apart from the screenplay) and Carter Burwell rarely comes up short, but Morricone deserves this one for an immense body of work.

Best Original Song

Winner: Til It Happens To You by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren (The Hunting Ground)
I’d like to win: Til It Happens To You

Songs from Fifty Shades of Grey, Racing Extinction (otherwise non-nominated eco doc), Youth, The Hunting Ground and Spectre. The Fifty Shades and Spectre tracks are the height of bland, competing against achingly sincere (Racing), operatic gymnastics (Youth) and Lady Gaga. Well, Gaga’s the easy pick; it’s another slow one (they’re all slow ones), but the most memorable of a fairly mediocre bunch.

Best Production Design

Winner: Colin Gibson and Lisa Thompson (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Everything here, pretty much, has a chance, but Fury Road is a real triumph of world building. Failing that, The Revenant is a possible, but this might also be where The Martian or Bridge of Spies get recognised, if they do anywhere.

Best Animated Short

Winner: Prologue
I’d like to win: World of Tomorrow

Bear Story is a more stylised Toy Story take, Prologue, a Spartan vs Athenian tale, comes from the great Richard Williams (with wife Imogen Sutton), Sanjay’s Super Team is the inevitable Pixar nomination, We Can’t Live Without Cosmos gives us Cosmonaut dreams of conquest, and World of Tomorrow sounds twee (a girl is given a tour of the future) but it’s pretty out there, man (and thankfully not at all like Tomorrowland). It’ll be pretty obvious if Pixar or the bears take it, so I’m guessing the Williams-recognition factor might hold some sway.

Best Live Action Short

Winner: Ave Maria
I’d like to win: pass

Shok (based on a true story, the friendship of two boys in war-torn Kosovo), Ave Maria (five nuns in the West Bank are challenged by a vow of silence when a family of Israeli settlers’ car breaks down outside their convent), Day One (an Afghan-American female interpreter in Afghanistan), Everything Will Be Okay (a child caught in a divorce struggle), Stutterer (online relationship guy must reveal his verbal affliction when meeting his love). There’s a tendency in this category to go for light-hearted winners. Having said that, this year will probably prove me wrong.

Best Sound Editing

Winner: Mark A Mangini and David Whie (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road, although in another year, this would probably be where Star Wars was a shoe-in (it’s like The Matrix and Star Wars in 1999 all over again).

Best Sound Mixing

Winner: Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fury Road again, although it’s possible The Revenant could upset its sweep in this or the above category.

Best Visual Effects

Winner: Andrew Jackson, Dan Oliver, Andy Williams and Tom Wood (Mad Max: Fury Road)
I’d like to win: Mad Max: Fury Road


As with Sound, one might otherwise have expected Star Wars, but Fury Road does such a seamless, integrated job with its effects, it needs to be rewarded as a text book on how to do these things right.

Popular posts from this blog

Your Mickey Mouse is one big stupid dope!

Enemy Mine (1985) (SPOILERS) The essential dynamic of Enemy Mine – sworn enemies overcome their differences to become firm friends – was a well-ploughed one when it was made, such that it led to TV Tropes assuming, since edited, that it took its title from an existing phrase (Barry Longyear, author of the 1979 novella, made it up, inspired by the 1961 David Niven film The Best of Enemies ). The Film Yearbook Volume 5 opined that that Wolfgang Petersen’s picture “ lacks the gritty sauciness of Hell in the Pacific”; John Boorman’s WWII film stranded Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune on a desert island and had them first duking it out before becoming reluctant bedfellows. Perhaps germanely, both movies were box office flops.

If I do nothing else, I will convince them that Herbert Stempel knows what won the goddam Academy Award for Best goddam Picture of 1955. That’s what I’m going to accomplish.

Quiz Show (1994) (SPOILERS) Quiz Show perfectly encapsulates a certain brand of Best Picture nominee: the staid, respectable, diligent historical episode, a morality tale in response to which the Academy can nod their heads approvingly and discerningly, feeding as it does their own vainglorious self-image about how times and attitudes have changed, in part thanks to their own virtuousness. Robert Redford’s film about the 1950s Twenty-One quiz show scandals is immaculately made, boasts a notable cast and is guided by a strong screenplay from Paul Attanasio (who, on television, had just created the seminal Homicide: Life on the Streets ), but it lacks that something extra that pushes it into truly memorable territory.

No one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself.

The Matrix  (1999) (SPOILERS) Twenty years on, and the articles are on the defining nature of The Matrix are piling up, most of them touching on how its world has become a reality, or maybe always was one. At the time, its premise was engaging enough, but it was the sum total of the package that cast a spell – the bullet time, the fashions, the soundtrack, the comic book-as-live-action framing and styling – not to mention it being probably the first movie to embrace and reflect the burgeoning Internet ( Hackers doesn’t really count), and subsequently to really ride the crest of the DVD boom wave. And now? Now it’s still really, really good.

Say hello to the Scream Extractor.

Monsters, Inc. (2001) (SPOILERS) I was never the greatest fan of Monsters, Inc. , even before charges began to be levelled regarding its “true” subtext. I didn’t much care for the characters, and I particularly didn’t like the way Pixar’s directors injected their own parenting/ childhood nostalgia into their plots. Something that just seems to go on with their fare ad infinitum. Which means the Pixars I preferred tended to be the Brad Bird ones. You know, the alleged objectivist. Now, though, we learn Pixar has always been about the adrenochrome, so there’s no going back…

Piece by piece, the camel enters the couscous.

The Forgiven (2021) (SPOILERS) By this point, the differences between filmmaker John Michael McDonagh and his younger brother, filmmaker and playwright Martin McDonagh, are fairly clearly established. Both wear badges of irreverence and provocation in their writing, and a willingness to tackle – or take pot-shots – at bigger issues, ones that may find them dangling their toes in hot water. But Martin receives the lion’s share of the critical attention, while John is generally recognised as the slightly lesser light. Sure, some might mistake Seven Psychopaths for a John movie, and Calvary for a Martin one, but there’s a more flagrant sense of attention seeking in John’s work, and concomitantly less substance. The Forgiven is clearly aiming more in the expressly substantial vein of John’s earlier Calvary, but it ultimately bears the same kind of issues in delivery.

In a few moments, you will have an experience that will seem completely real. It will be the result of your subconscious fears transformed into your conscious awareness.

Brainstorm (1983) (SPOILERS) Might Brainstorm have been the next big thing – a ground-breaking, game-changing cinematic spectacle that had as far reaching consequences as Star Wars (special effects) or Avatar (3D) – if only Douglas Trumbull had been allowed to persevere with his patented “Showscan” process (70mm film photographed and projected at 60 frames per second)? I suspect not; one only has to look at the not-so-far-removed experiment of Ang Lee with Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk , and how that went down like a bag of cold sick, to doubt that any innovation will necessarily catch on (although Trumbull at least had a narrative hinge on which to turn his “more real than real” imagery, whereas Lee’s pretty much boiled down to “because it was there”). Brainstorm ’s story is, though, like its title, possibly too cerebral, too much concerned with the consciousness and touting too little of the cloyingly affirmative that Bruce Rubin inevitably brings to his screenplays. T

Haven’t you ever heard of the healing power of laughter?

Batman (1989) (SPOILERS) There’s Jaws , there’s Star Wars , and then there’s Batman in terms of defining the modern blockbuster. Jaws ’ success was so profound, it changed the way movies were made and marketed. Batman’s marketing was so profound, it changed the way tentpoles would be perceived: as cash cows. Disney tried to reproduce the effect the following year with Dick Tracy , to markedly less enthusiastic response. None of this places Batman in the company of Jaws as a classic movie sold well, far from it. It just so happened to hit the spot. As Tim Burton put it, it was “ more of a cultural phenomenon than a great movie ”. It’s difficult to disagree with his verdict that the finished product (for that is what it is) is “ mainly boring ”. Now, of course, the Burton bat has been usurped by the Nolan incarnation (and soon the Snyder). They have some things in common. Both take the character seriously and favour a sombre tone, which was much more of shock to the

You ever heard the saying, “Don’t rob the bank across from the diner that has the best donuts in three counties”?

2 Guns (2013) (SPOILERS) Denzel Washington is such a reliable performer, that it can get a bit boring. You end up knowing every gesture or inflection in advance, whether he’s playing a good guy or a bad guy. And his films are generally at least half decent, so you end up seeing them. Even in Flight (or perhaps especially in Flight ; just watch him chugging down that vodka) where he’s giving it his Oscar-nominatable best, he seems too familiar. I think it may be because he’s an actor who is more effective the less he does. In 2 Guns he’s not doing less, but sometimes it seems like it. That’s because the last person I’d ever expect blows him off the screen; Mark Wahlberg.

Twenty dwarves took turns doing handstands on the carpet.

Bugsy (1991) (SPOILERS) Bugsy is very much a Warren Beatty vanity project (aren’t they all, even the ones that don’t seem that way on the surface?), to the extent of his playing a title character a decade and a half younger than him. As such, it makes sense that producer Warren’s choice of director wouldn’t be inclined to overshadow star Warren, but the effect is to end up with a movie that, for all its considerable merits (including a script from James Toback chock full of incident), never really feels quite focussed, that it’s destined to lead anywhere, even if we know where it’s going.

Do you know that the leading cause of death for beavers is falling trees?

The Interpreter (2005) Sydney Pollack’s final film returns to the conspiracy genre that served him well in both the 1970s ( Three Days of the Condor ) and the 1990s ( The Firm ). It also marks a return to Africa, but in a decidedly less romantic fashion than his 1985 Oscar winner. Unfortunately the result is a tepid, clichéd affair in which only the technical flourishes of its director have any merit. The film’s main claim to fame is that Universal received permission to film inside the United Nations headquarters. Accordingly, Pollack is predictably unquestioning in its admiration and respect for the organisation. It is no doubt also the reason that liberal crusader Sean Penn attached himself to what is otherwise a highly generic and non-Penn type of role. When it comes down to it, the argument rehearsed here of diplomacy over violent resolution is as banal as they come. That the UN is infallible moral arbiter of this process is never in any doubt. The cynicism