2016 OSCAR PICKS in every category

The time has come once again for the most coveted award in Hollywood.  If you are entering an Oscar pool, or just want to impress your friends, I’m here to make some helpful suggestions.   Every year I watch all nominated films, including the documentaries and short subjects.  I also look at historical trends in various categories.  Basically I’m just another guy who is crazy about movies.   So grab your Oscar ballot and let’s get started.

Best Picture

You really have three choices here, but The Revenant is the clear favorite.  It has momentum, and has racked up some awards.  Spotlight won the Screen Actor’s Guild award for best ensemble, and rightly so, but I don’t think that will propel it into the winner’s circle tonight.  Some also say The Big Short could be a long shot.  I doubt it.  Personally I would love to see Mad Max take the honors, but that won’t happen.  And shame on Universal Pictures for not pushing harder to get Steve Jobs nominated.  It deserved it.  And really Academy, why not nominate Straight Outta Compton?  You had two free slots in this category.

Will win:  The Revenant

Other possible winners:  Spotlight, The Big Short

Best Actor

This is by far the lock of the night in the major categories.   Leonardo DiCaprio will definitely walk away with the win, he will probably get a standing ovation (or at least a partial one) and then we can close the door on Leofest and resume our normal lives.

Will win:  Leonardo DiCaprio

Long shot:  Michael Fassbender (but seriously people,  Leo’s got this)

Best Actress

While not quite as solid a lock as Leo has in the men’s category, Brie Larson is the clear favorite here.  My personal favorite was Saoirse Ronan, but her performance has a subtlety that the Academy often overlooks, and Brie did an outstanding job with a challenging role.  Cate Blanchett had some early traction, but she has faded in recent weeks.

Will win:  Brie Larson

Long shot:  Saoirse Ronan

Best Supporting Actor

The Academy has a long history of using this category as a “Lifetime Achievement Award” of sorts, honoring the careers of older actors who have yet to win (e.g. Christopher Plummer, Alan Arkin, James Coburn, Martin Landau, Jack Palance, Don Ameche), so in my mind Sly Stallone is the clear favorite.  Tom Hardy was great, and seems to be left out of the conversation entirely.  If Hardy wins this award, which will be the first of the night, then look for The Revenant  to have a huge night.  Mark Rylance was the best thing about Bridge of Spies, and he did win the BAFTA, but I still put my money on Stallone.

Will win:  Sylvester Stallone (watch for a standing ovation if this happens)

Possible contenders:  Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance

Best Supporting Actress

I so want Kate Winslet to win this award, but I don’t think it will happen.  Alicia Vikander has all the momentum right now, and the academy loves a foreign ingenue.  (Remember Marion Cotillard?)   Rooney Mara had some early traction, but Carol has really faded recently, which is kind of a shame.  It may go winless tonight.

Will win:  Alicia Vikander

Could win:  Kate Winslet

Animated Feature Film

Another no-brainer, Pixar’s excellent Inside Out is the clear favorite here. The academy likes Charlie Kaufman, and Studio Ghibli, but look for Pixar to win.

Will win:  Inside Out

Long shot:  Really, stick with Inside Out


Poor Roger Deakins, 0 for 12 in this category, and it will be 13 after tonight, because Emmanuel Lubezki will become the first person in Oscar history to win three consecutive awards in this category.  I would give the award to John Seale for Mad Max, and there is a slight chance, but really, The Revenant was breathtaking on the big screen.

Will win: Lubezki for The Revenant

Could win:  Seale for Mad Max:  Fury Road

Costume Design

The academy has a long history of picking the period film in this category.  They love nothing more than long, flowing gowns, which makes Cinderella the front-runner.  And yet, my gut tells me that Carol or The Danish Girl could pull out the win here.  I am going to go against the general consensus of Cinderalla in this category, and trust my gut. (You have to take a couple chance in your Oscar pool;  if you pick nothing but front-runners, you won’t win).

Will win:  Sandy Powell for Carol

Could win:  Cinderella or The Danish Girl


The last director to win back-to-back Oscars in this category was Joseph L. Mankiewicz in 1949/50.  So it is not an easily-done feat.  And yet, Inarritu won the Director’s Guild Award, and 16 of the last 20 DGA winners have gone on to win the Oscar. I think he is the man to beat, but I would love nothing more than to see George Miller take this one.

Will win:  Alejandro G. Inarritu

Long shot:  Adam McKay, George Miller

Documentary Feature

I was pleasantly surprised a couple of years ago when 20 Feet From Stardom won this category against some heavier subject matter, and I think the same thing could happen tonight.  Amy, the story of singer Amy Winehouse, and her early demise, was very entertaining, and well crafted.  If the academy chooses to go with more serious fare, then look for Cartel Land, a timely movie about the brutal drug wars happening just south of our border.  And why in the hell did Going Clear not get a nomination?  Could it be because that film is critical of Scientology, and several powerful and influential academy members are Scientologists?  Nah, I’m sure its a coincidence.  The academy also snubbed He Named Me Malala and Kurt Cobain:  Montage of Heck.  The trend of getting more wrong than right in this category continues.  The way to encourage more people to see documentary films, which are an important and vital genre, is to reward the well-made documentaries that people have heard of, not to deliberately choose more obscure subject matter.  They should have listened to Roger Ebert when he chastised them for snubbing Hoop Dreams.  Maybe one day they’ll get it right.

Will win:  Amy

Could win:  Cartel Land

Documentary Short Subject

Body Team 12 is the clear front runner, and it is timely, dealing with the Ebola crisis.  I have to vote with my heart in this category, because A Girl in the River:  The Price of Forgiveness moved me as few movies have.  I will never be the same after seeing this movie about a girl who survived a so-called honor killing in Pakistan.  Over 1000 women are murdered every year in Pakistan under the guise of justice,   and it has to stop.

Will win:  A Girl in the River:  The Price of Forgiveness

Could win:  Body Team 12

Film Editing

This is a tough category this year; I think 4 of these movies have at least a chance of winning, but the front-runner has to be The Big Short, which has lots of quick cuts and montage-style editing, all contributing to the overall clarity of the story.  But I also loved the purely visceral quality of Mad Max.

Will win:  The Big Short

Could win:  Mad Max, Star Wars, The Revenant,

Foreign Language Film

I have not seen any of the nominated films in this category yet.  I love foreign films, and I will watch them all at some point, but this is the hardest category to legally see every movie before awards night, unless you live in LA.   So I watched the trailers and I really have to go with the general consensus, which is Son of Saul.  Any film which deals with the Holocaust is pretty much a lock, although some critics have picked Mustang.

Will win:  Son of Saul

Could win:  Mustang

Makeup and Hairstyling

I think Mad Max will finally get some love in this category, although The Revenant could surprise here.

Will win:  Mad Max:  Fury Road

Could win:  The Revenant

Original Score

Tough choice this year;  I liked the subtle, edgy undertones of Sicario‘s score, but Ennio Morricone appears to be the favorite here.  By creating a road show version of The Hateful Eight with a prologue, Quentin Tarantino gave Morricone several minutes of nothing but music.  Clever, Q!  I don’t think it is remotely close to Morricone’s best;  I can think of a dozen more memorable scores of his just off the top of my head, but the dude is 87 years old.

Will win:  Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight

Could win:  Sicario, Star Wars

Original Song

A lot of people seem to think that the Bond song has a chance.  I hope not because I personally think its garbage.  “Simple Song #3” from Youth is lovely, but really only works in the context of the film.  (See the film, by the way, it’s great!)  But the clear front runner here has to be “Til It Happens to You”.  First of all, it is timely, written for a documentary about campus rape.  Secondly, it was penned by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga, and I can see the academy getting behind them.  Warren has seven previous nominations and no wins.  I think she will finally get in the win column tonight.

Will win: “Til It Happens To You”

Could win:  “Simple Song #3”, “Writing’s On the Wall”

Production Design

All of the nominated films are deserving, but it will be a crime if Mad Max doesn’t win this one.  The look of that film is purely original.  Come on academy, show some love!

Will win:  Mad Max:  Fury Road

Could win:  The Martian, The Revenant

Animated Short Film

This is a tough category this year.  There are three shorts with a real possibility of winning.  Pixar’s entry, Sanjay’s Super Team, has a lot of traction.  While Pixar usually cleans up in the animated feature category, they haven’t won in the short category in over a decade, despite being a perennial nominee.  World of Tomorrow has won a bucketful of awards, and was very engaging.  I laughed out loud while watching it, and actually watched it twice in a row. Probably the true front-runner.  But I absolutely loved Bear Story, from Chile.  This story of a bear who is stolen from his family and put in a circus act is an allegory of the Pinochet regime, which may be lost on many viewers.   This is truly my hardest choice on the entire ballot.  It’s a coin toss;  I’ll go with my heart.

Will win:  Bear Story

Could just as easily win:  World of Tomorrow, Sanjay’s Super Team

Live Action Short Film

Oscar pools are won and lost in the shorts categories;  usually there are clear front-runners, but this year that is not the case.  Ave Maria is getting a lot of publicity, but I hope and pray the academy members are smart enough not to vote for a film that has contrived humor and is emotionally pandering.  It has all the subtlety of a joke that begins “A Jew and an Arab walk in a bar.”   Day One was perhaps the most difficult film I’ve ever watched;  I very nearly turned it off.  I’m glad I stuck with it, but even though it is based on true events it also feels contrived.  Everything Will Be Okay has a great slow build, but then fizzles that the end;  I somehow felt it was unresolved.  Which leaves Stutterer, a sweet film that I really loved, but might not be “Serious with a capital S” enough for the academy.   And Shok, Kosovo’s first ever Oscar nominated film, about two boys and a bicycle.

Will win:  Shok

Could win:  Ave Maria (If this wins, be assured I will be swearing profusely), Stutterer

Sound Editing

So remember, sound editing is the creation of sound elements, mixing is putting those elements together.  I honestly think any of the these five movies could win this award.   The Revenant is a favorite.  I am going to predict a big night for Mad Max in the technical categories.

Will win:  Mad Max:  Fury Road

Could win:  Any of the other nominated films

Sound Mixing

I’m going to stick with Mad Max.

Will win:  Mad Max:  Fury Road

Could win:  Star Wars, The Martian, The Revenant

Visual Effects

This was the second-hardest category for me.  You can make a strong case for all five nominated films.  Part of me would like to see Ex Machina take this one.  I think Star Wars, or The Martian could easily walk away with this one, but I’m going to stay out on that limb with George Miller.

Will win:  Mad Max:  Fury Road

Could win:  Any other nominated film

Adapted Screenplay

Maybe I’m prejudiced because Nick Hornby is my favorite contemporary writer, but I do love his screenplay for Brooklyn, which is subtle, sweet, funny, charming, and resonates on a deep level.  But I think The Big Short will take this one.

Will win:  The Big Short

Could win:  Room, Brooklyn

Original Screenplay

Spotlight has all the traction right now, and since it’s probably going to get shut out in the other categories, this will probably be the only recognition it receives.  Some critics think Inside Out has a legitimate shot at the win;  while I wouldn’t mind that, I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Will win:  Spotlight

Could win:  Inside Out


Have fun watching the Academy Awards and good luck!








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