As The Great Everything’s resident movie nerd, every year, ’round about this time, I like to play the Oscars predictions game. This year I’m calling the game Oscars Predictions About Movies That Robbed Mad Max: Fury Road.
Because we’re all friends, let’s be straight: Mad Max: Fury Road was the Greatest film of 2015. Hahahaha that’s so funny Patrick!
No it’s not. Go see it!
2015 was an odd year for Hollywood – a year of two faces. On the mainstream side, it featured the successful return of three beloved 70s franchises (Star Wars, Rocky and Mad Max). On the arthouse side, however, many entries were underwhelming.
I don’t mean to complain, I know we can’t always have incredible movie years like 2007 or 2013. But at the same time, this year really looks like something Not That Great could take home the prize (like when pretty-good-but-way-too-pleased-with-itself Birdman won).
But enough of my moaning, let’s get to the meat of it. For each award, we have three points:
Who Will Win: pretty self-explanatory. Who takes the prize is very much influenced by studio lobbying, who won awards in the lead-up to the Oscars and most of all, the image Hollywood wants to portray of itself. This is especially a big deal in the year of the #oscarssowhite controversy, so I’d expect awards to be as diversity-driven as possible. Which, given the lack of ethnic representation, probably means gender and sexuality will be on focus.
Who Should Win: No politics. This is just the film that, in my opinion, is objectively the best in that category. N.B.: it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s my personal favourite!
My Favourite: this one does actually mean my personal favourite. It doesn’t mean “the best” because I enjoy some utter tripe sometimes. Also, this category can include films that weren’t actually nominated. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.
So, without further ado, here are my picks. Written evidence you can use later to remind me of how I got everything wrong.
The Big Short
Bridge of Spies
Mad Max: Fury Road
You can check out our brief review of each of the Best Picture nominees here.
This category is wide open to surprises. Main bets are on Spotlight (an early contender) and the more recent The Big Short and The Revenant, both of which have picked up serious steam. Potential spoilers include Room and (maybe) Brooklyn – with their focus on strong young women, it’s feasible that the Academy could pick either in a vain effort to prove that it’s not run by a cabal of old white grandpas.
In all this, Greatest Film Of The Year Fury Road looks unlikely to shock us all by deservedly winning. Because life is just an endless cycle of injustice. Ah well.
Who Will Win: The Revenant 🙁. But don’t be surprised if The Big Short pulls it off. It would be a classic example of the Academy playing it safe. It also bagged the PGA Award, which has successfully predicted the Oscar win for the past eight years.
Who Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. ‘Cause, you know, it’s the best film of the year and all.
My Favourite: Mad Max: Fury Road.
Adam McKay – The Big Short
George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road
Alejandro G. Iñárritu – The Revenant
Lenny Abrahamson – Room
Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Iñárritu looks poised to win his second consecutive Best Director. But I think he’ll already have Best Picture in the bag, so I’m hoping the Academy pulls a King Solomon and gives this to the deserving winner: George Miller. I can see why Abrahamson got a nomination, but despite strong camerawork, Room as a whole is a mess so let’s be reasonable. Also, shame on the Academy for not nominating Ryan Coogler for his work on Creed.
Who Will Win: My heart says George Miller. Reality says probably Iñárritu.
Who Should Win: George Miller, obviously. The stuff this guy was able to pull off in Fury Road is just incomprehensible to me. I don’t know anyone else who could have created such a grand opera of carnage.
My Favourite: George Miller (but Ryan Cooler was kinda amazing on Creed).
Cate Blanchett – Carol
Brie Larson – Room
Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years
Saoirse Ronan – Brooklyn
Tough category! Brie Larson has been (deservedly) sweeping up the pre-Oscar awards for this category (including the Golden Globe and BAFTA) so she’s the favourite. But Cate Blanchett has a tonne of goodwill, she’s exceptional in Carol and I can see the Academy wanting to award a lesbian romance movie to show their progressive credentials. Except, Cate’s already got two Oscars under her belt so the Academy might want to acknowledge some new blood. Saoirse Ronan is the third favourite. Her problem is her performance is too understated, without those big for your consideration acting moments, so she’ll probably stand out less to the voters.
Who Will Win: Brie Larson, and that’s just fine.
Who Should Win: Brie Larson. It’s a bit of a miracle how she manages to play her character as this fierce, resolute lioness of a mother, while also showing how broken and resentful of her child she is.
My Favourite: Saoirse Ronan, no other contender was as instrumental to the success of their film as she was to Brooklyn. Larson was good, but Room’s MVP is definitely the kid, Jacob Tremblay.
Best Male Actress
Bryan Cranston – Trumbo
Matt Damon – The Martian
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl
This category usually has some pretty specific rules. You’ve got the highest chance of winning if: (a) you play someone with some handicap like Stephen Hawking, King George, Forrest Gump or the Colonel in Scent of A Woman; (b) you play a deceased real-life person like Lincoln, Idi Amin, Ray Charles, Truman Capote or Harvey Milk; or (c) you undergo some crazy physical transformation like losing a lot of weight or pulling a Tootsie.
This year’s dead celebrities (Jobs and Trumbo) turned up in some pretty forgettable films so their chances are out. And our only big transformation is that Redmayne fellow’s cross-dressing. But he already won last year, simply isn’t that good of an actor (sorry, English fans) and he sort of looks like a girl anyway. Leo on the other hand? He’s due a victory after 5 losses. It’s cool though, because he actually is the best of the bunch this year. A big part of what makes The Revenant work is that feral look of pain and fear he keeps plastered on his face for most of the movie.
Who Will Win: Leo, it’s a no brainer. Anyone else winning would be a bit of a wtf moment.
Who Should Win: Leo, definitely. He’s the Fury Road of 2016 male acting.
My Favourite: Leo. It’s not his very best performance (to me, that’s still The Aviator), but he really got me to feel those bear claws.
Best Supporting Female Woman
Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight
Rooney Mara – Carol
Rachel McAdams – Spotlight
Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs
The big favourite here is Alicia Vikander. (But, full disclosure: I won’t watch anything by Tom Hooper since Les Misérables so I can’t judge. I’m guessing she did a better job than her director did at his though.) Rooney Mara really should have been nominated as lead actress and she’s excellent in Carol so I’m rooting for her. Kate Winslet is a bit of a why the hell is she even nominated? Not that she’s awful or anything, but she really could have worked at that uneven Polish accent that keeps disappearing depending on her line. And Rachel McAdams just does her usual Rachel McAdams schtick. Cute, but Best Actress? Nuh-uh.
Who Will Win: I guess Alicia Vikander just ’cause of the buzz, but I’m on Team Rooney Mara.
Who Should Win: Rooney Mara. Of the ones I’ve seen.
My Favourite: Jennifer Jason Leigh’s incredible physical performance was my personal highlight from The Hateful Eight. But her turn is too dark and deranged for the Oscars. Shame.
Best Supporting White Guy
Christian Bale – The Big Short
Tom Hardy – The Revenant
Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight
Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies
Sylvester Stallone – Creed
I’m more than a little excited about this one. In Creed, Stallone has perfected Rocky Balboa, the character he was born to play, and he reminds us of why in the 70s they used to call him the new Brando. Crazy, right? But go back and watch his performance in the original Rocky and you’ll see. This guy is a Legit Good Actor. It’s just a shame he decided to typecast himself in those 80s roles far more suited to Arnold. But those days are gone – he’s back and better than ever, and he’d better win.
But you know what, I loved all of these guys, from Bale’s turn as a mildly autistic nerd in The Big Short, to Hardy’s dickish intensity in The Revenant and especially Mark Rylance as the Communist spy you’d love to call grandpa.
Who Will Win: I wouldn’t be surprised by Rylance here but screw it, Sly for the win! It would also be a nice acknowledgment of a Great career.
Who Should Win: Guys, it’s Rocky Balboa.
My Favourite: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!
Best Original Screenplay
Bridge of Spies – Matt Charman, Ethan Coen, and Joel Coen
Ex Machina – Alex Garland
Inside Out – Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, and Ronnie del Carmen
Spotlight – Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Straight Outta Compton – Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, and Alan Wenkus
Who Will Win: Spotlight. It’s a classic consolation prize when a big Best Picture contender fails in that category. Not a particularly deserving win, I think.
Who Should Win: Straight Outta Compton, which you really should see by the way. For a movie about gangsta rap subculture and race relations, it’s quite amazing how it manages to avoid all the usual cliches you’d expect. And seriously, any movie that makes me like it despite featuring Paul Giamatti deserves some recognition.
My Favourite: Bridge of Spies. It’s the Coens. Seeing them raise awards is one of my favourite things.
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Big Short – Adam McKay and Charles Randolph from The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Brooklyn – Nick Hornby from Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Carol – Phyllis Nagy from The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
The Martian – Drew Goddard from The Martian by Andy Weir
Room – Emma Donoghue from Room by Emma Donoghue
Who Will Win: The Big Short, again because of the split-the-Awards logic. It wouldn’t be an insult to all that is holy though.
I liked the film, but I’m kinda hoping The Martian doesn’t win. I felt the fundamental story was a little flat – like a superhero, Damon’s character keeps solving every problem that’s thrown at him, so I felt dramatic tension was lacking. No surprises for the viewer.
Who Should Win: The Big Short. The plot moves quickly, the characters are well-defined (albeit in broad strokes), it’s informative, exciting and has a good dose of humour. Not a Great screenplay but certainly the most Oscars-ish.
My Favourite: Brooklyn. It’s just such a simple and relatable tale, and it’s told clearly and economically.
The Look of Silence
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom
Who Will Win: All the buzz is on Amy, which I liked way more than I expected. That said, The Look of Silence is an actual masterpiece and one of the 3-4 best films of the year.
Who Should Win: The Look of Silence. If you don’t know what it’s about, it follows the family member of a victim of the Indonesian genocide in his quest to confront the perpetrators of the massacre. The crazy thing about this situation is that those perpetrators are still in power in Indonesia, and they’re so secure in their place, they show no qualms at openly bragging on camera about how they killed or tortured their victims – they go really gory with the specifics too. The numerous conversations between the protagonist and his brother’s killers are some of the most incredible moments ever captured on film. At times I was left gaping at the screen, amazed not just that they managed to record these meetings, but that they even happened.
My Favourite: The Look of Silence.
Best Foreign Film
Embrace of the Serpent (Colombia) in Spanish – Ciro Guerra
Mustang (France) in Turkish – Deniz Gamze Ergüven
Son of Saul (Hungary) in Hungarian – László Nemes
Theeb (Jordan) in Arabic – Naji Abu Nowar
A War (Denmark) in Danish – Tobias Lindholm
Who Will Win: This one is Son of Saul’s to lose.
Who Should Win: Son of Saul. This day-in-the-life picture of a Jewish sonderkommando in Auschwitz is one of my top 4 films of the year and an absolute masterclass in filmmaking.
My Favourite: Son of Saul. As a half Hungarian, I felt massively proud they managed to make such a Great movie. With dogs-gone-rogue drama White God also being released last year (see it on Netflix), 2015 has been quite a year for Hungarian cinema.
Best Animated Feature Film
Boy & the World
Shaun the Sheep Movie
When Marnie Was There
Who Will Win: Inside Out. Sigh. Not that it’s bad, but have you seen Anomalisa?
Who Should Win: Yeah, I was saying watch Anomalisa. Genius Charlie Kaufman has churned out another introspective and mind-melting masterpiece that feels like an animated version of Lost In Translation. Had it not been for Fury Road, this would be my favourite film of the year. And also the best one. It really should have been nominated for Best Picture.
My Favourite: Anomalisa.
Best Original Song
Earned It from Fifty Shades of Grey (The Weeknd)
Manta Ray from Racing Extinction (J. Ralph)
Simple Song #3 from Youth (David Lang)
Til It Happens to You from The Hunting Ground – (Lady Gaga and Diane Warren)
Writing’s on the Wall from Spectre – Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith
Who Will Win: ‘Til It Happens To You. Everyone seems to love this song.
Who Should Win: ’Til It Happens To You I guess? The competition is pretty crap.
My Favourite: Simple Song #3. This song is messy, way overblown and being honest, also a bit shit. But I was delighted by it’s totally inappropriate bombast.
Best Original Score
Bridge of Spies – Thomas Newman
Carol – Carter Burwell
The Hateful Eight – Ennio Morricone
Sicario – Jóhann Jóhannsson
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – John Williams
Who Will Win: Ennio Morricone. Hooray!
Who Should Win: Ennio Morricone. I loved the Star Wars music, but the highlights aren’t the original bits. I just enjoyed hearing those updated themes from my childhood.
My Favourite: You can’t force me to choose between my favourite film composer Morricone and the guy who invented the Superman theme. So I’m gonna say Brooklyn instead. It didn’t get a nomination, but its lingering score already feels like a classic, and is absolutely central to the old-time Hollywood feel of the film.
Carol – Ed Lachman
The Hateful Eight – Robert Richardson
Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale
The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario – Roger Deakins
Who Will Win: Emmanuel Lubezki, and deservedly. This movie shows you how crucial he is to Terence Malick’s visual style. Nobody captures light shining through trees like Lubezki, and he’s bringing his A-Game here. His camerawork and lighting made me feel grey, cold and miserable. So he deserves a prize I guess?
Who Should Win: Lubezki, I suppose. But it’s hard to say, because all the nominees are fantastic. Richardson manages to give each corner of one single room its own distinctive feel in The Hateful Eight, Fury Road’s got the most eye-popping desert visuals I’ve ever seen and Roger Deakins is my all-time favourite cinematographer.
My Favourite: I’d love to say Robert Richardson. And Lubezki was so ace. But in the end it’s Fury Road. Pure eye-candy.
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Mad Max: Fury Road
Who Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. Just take a look at Immortan Joe, Nux or any of the other crazy-ass characters in this badass flick. But I won’t be surprised with The Revenant. Leo’s gruesome injuries, scars and cracked lips sure showed some real artistry. I just hope that his frozen-snot beard was make-up too.
Who Should Win: Fury Road. Totally. Unless Leo’s gross bogeys were fake, in which case things get tricky.
My Favourite: Duh.
Best Costume Design
The Danish Girl
Mad Max: Fury Road
Who Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. I’ll be pissed off if they give it to The Danish Girl just ‘cause it has period skirts in it.
Who Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. The inventiveness on display here is out of this world.
My Favourite: Seriously?
The Big Short
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Who Will Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. But The Revenant is also a big favourite here. Not sure I get why.
Who Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s jagged and frenetic but a perfect match for the story and above all, it keeps the action crystal clear.
My Favourite: Mad Max: Fury Road.
Best Visual FX
Mad Max: Fury Road
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Who Will Win: Maybe The Revenant, because of that incredible CGI bear scene. The problem is the overall vastly superior FX in Fury Road are mostly non-digital and I’m not sure how the Academy feels about that these days.
Who Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road. Look, it might not have Gollum’s pixels, but guys, those are real cars crashing into each other with real people in them!
My Favourite: Mad Max: Fury Road obviously.
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So that’s it folks. Who do you think should win? Let us know, or alternatively, come and make fun of me for getting these Oscars predictions all wrong!