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Oscar Predictions 2016 UPDATE

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood February 10, 2016 at 6:49PM

'The Revenant' leads the lily-white Oscar field with 12 nominations, followed by George Miller's 'Mad Max: Fury Road' with 10. Winner picks below.
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The Revenant
20th Century Fox "The Revenant"

On Academy Award nominations morning, Twentieth Century Fox had a good day. "The Revenant" led the field with 12 nominations, more than expected, because the movie landed a surprise nod for first-time nominee and Supporting Actor Tom Hardy (a sign of strength) along with every possible technical category. (Arguably, the actors branch rewarded Hardy for his amazing year, including "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Legend"). Altogether with "The Martian" (seven), "Joy" (for 25-year-old Jennifer Lawrence, the youngest actress ever with four noms to date), and Fox Searchlight's "Brooklyn" (three) and "Youth" (one), the studio nabbed an astonishing 24 nominations. While Fox handled foreign territories, Disney managed the domestic release of "Bridge of Spies" (producer Steven Spielberg's ninth nomination), with six nominations including Picture, as well as "Star Wars: Force Awakens" (five), Pixar's "Inside Out," (two), and animated short "Sanjay's Super Team," for a studio total of fifteen.

Tom Hardy in 'Mad Max: Fury Road'
Tom Hardy in 'Mad Max: Fury Road'

Warner Bros.' "Mad Max: Fury Road" scored its expected 10 nominations including Best Picture and Director. (Distributor Warners can also claim Supporting Actor frontrunner Sylvester Stallone for MGM/New Line's "Creed.") But the duel of the titans between Miller and fellow septuagenarian Ridley Scott was not to be. Although "The Martian" landed seven nominations, including Best Actor Matt Damon, Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay, there was nothing for Scott, who lost at the DGA to A.G. Iñárritu, his second win a row, the first in the guild's 80-year-history. 


Matt Damon-Martian-680-1
Photo by Aidan Monaghan - courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

This is as dramatic an omission as Ben Affleck's directing snub for "Argo," which led to that film's underdog status and eventual Best Picture win. The Academy directors are a snobby group, and seem to have given the directors who also write (whether credited or not) the advantage: George Miller ("Fury Road"), Adam McKay ("The Big Short"), Lenny Abrahamson ("Room"), Tom McCarthy ("Spotlight") and last year's "Birdman" winner Iñárritu ("The Revenant"). Scott is one of the great technical directors working today—with classic films behind him, from "Blade Runner" to Best Picture-winner "Gladiator"—but he's not an articulate spokesman for his movies, nor does he identify as an artist. He's more of a commercial studio player for hire, proud of his advertising experience, who delivered on "The Martian" as everything fell into place. (He is nominated as a producer for "The Martian.")

While Fox has turned the narrative of "The Revenant" into a story of an artist's triumph against formidable odds, they weren't able to give "The Martian" that same cred. Only twice in Oscar history has a director won twice in a row: John Ford ("The Grapes of Wrath," 1941, and "How Green Was My Valley," 1942) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz ("A Letter to Three Wives," 1950, "All About Eve," 1951). Will the entire Academy go for Iñárritu? 

In a year when Best Picture and Director could split,
I'm betting Australian auteur Miller wins this one for his long career, from the original "Mad Max" through Best Picture nominee "Babe," Animated Oscar winner "Happy Feet," and now the superbly crafted and executed action spectacle "Fury Road." Does the genre count against him? Well, that's why it might not win Best Picture. Is he too much of an outsider, living in Australia? Maybe. But "Fury Road" has been picking up guild wins (not PGA or DGA), and will take home some tech Oscars.

Spotlight
"Spotlight"

Indie Best Picture contenders "Brooklyn" (three, Searchlight), "Room" (four, A24, which also got four nominations for "Ex Machina" and handled doc frontrunner "Amy") and "Spotlight" (six, Open Road) prove yet again that voter passion and appreciation for skill can also triumph over scale. Alas, "Carol" didn't make the cut (six, The Weinstein Co., which also notched three for "The Hateful Eight").

"Brooklyn" star Saoirse Ronan (her second nomination, after "Atonement") will compete against first-timer Brie Larson in "Room," who should win for her layered performance as a kidnapped mother trapped in a shed with her five-year-old son. "45 Years" veteran Charlotte Rampling slipped into Best Actress without SAG, BAFTA or Golden Globe nominations, no mean feat; it's her first nomination. The Academy actors often make room for a respected European thespian like Juliette Binoche or Marion Cotillard. 

"Carol"
The Weinstein Company "Carol"

Supporting Actress is harder to call: will "Carol" star Rooney Mara (her second nomination, after "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") beat first-timer Alicia Vikander in "The Danish Girl" (four, Focus Features), who also starred in "Testament of Youth" and "Ex Machina" this year? Or will respected Golden Globe winner Kate Winslet, who was nominated for Universal's "Steve Jobs" along with Michael Fassbender, carry the day? (Winslet took home the Oscar for "The Reader.") "Steve Jobs" failed to land any other nominations, not even Adapted Screenplay for Oscar perennial Aaron Sorkin, which was a surprise. Clearly its strongest support came from actors. Both "Carol" and "The Danish Girl" could score some craft wins; Sandy Powell, with the most nominations for a living costume designer with 12, could win for "Carol," if she doesn't split the vote with "Cinderella."

Brooklyn

Lionsgate grabbed three tech nominations for "Sicario," including Roger Deakins, earning his 13th nomination, the most for any cinematographer—he has never won. He competes with "The Hateful Eight" cinematographer Bob Richardson, who was not nominated by his guild, for his stunning Ultra-Panavision photography. His director Quentin Tarantino did not wind up with an Original Screenplay nomination, but 87-year-old Ennio Morricone, with an Honorary Oscar, is the favorite to win Best Original Score over 83-year-old "Stars Wars" vet John Williams, with a record 45 nominations for score, not to mention five songs! No other living person has logged more nominations, and historically, only Walt Disney beats him, with 59. 

Christian Bale-Big Short-680
Photo by Jaap Buitendijk - Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

As usual, the British had a good day, with 41 nominations for films and/or talent from the UK—a third of the nominations. Film 4 backed "Room" and "Ex Machina" (A24), "Carol" (TWC), "45 Years" (IFC's Sundance Selects) and "Youth" (Fox Searchlight"), which landed no acting love but a Best Original Song nod. And the BFI Fund supported both "45 Years" and "Brooklyn." 

Which movie has momentum at this stage?
Sometimes being the frontrunner is a negative, as small-scale talking heads drama "Spotlight," with backing from actors, directors, writers and (significantly) editors, has to hang on to voter goodwill against two flashier late-inning releases with box office surges behind them, Paramount's sharp political comedy "The Big Short" and frontier epic "The Revenant," which boasts a surefire Best Actor win for Leonardo DiCaprio, getting a boost for suffering for his art.

Can "The Revenant" win Best Picture? That Iñárritu's "Birdman" won last year counts against it—but that film lent New Regency backer Arnon Milchan (Best Picture contender "L.A. Confidential") confidence to support the filmmaker all the way with his first big-budget production, to the tune of $135 million. With that money, Iñárritu granted cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki ("The Tree of Life," "Gravity") unusual latitude to pursue the best light for the best shot, no matter what the cost in stress for the crew or the financial bottom line. Lubezki could win his third Oscar in a row. If "Spotlight" and "The Big Short" share support from the same quarter, then "The Revenant" could take home the statuette. 

Creed
"Creed"

One unfortunate narrative is 2016 Oscar voters' lily-white selections. Yet again, as last year, among the actors there were no people of color, as Idris Elba did not land an expected supporting nomination for Netflix pickup "Beasts of No Nation," which was shut out. (Netflix continues to dominate the doc category, with well-hyped "Winter on Fire" and "What Happened, Miss Simone?") The one nomination for Ryan Coogler's "Creed" was for Sylvester Stallone, reprising his 1976 role as Rocky Balboa (and earning standing ovations wherever he goes), while Universal's commercial hit "Straight Outta Compton" scored only a Screenplay nod (for its white writers), but no Best Picture slot. With only eight nominees versus the PGA's list of ten, "Compton" did not make the Oscar cut.

Nor did global blockbuster "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which scored five technical nods including VFX and Score, or animated feature "Inside Out," which will handily win its category, if not Original Screenplay, which should go to "Spotlight." 

Yes, this year's Oscar show on February 28. hosted by Chris Rock, will boast plenty of popular competitors to draw viewers. Just not ones that reflect the world we live in. 

Nominations for the 88th Academy Awards
Winner picks in bold

Performance by an actor in a leading role:

Bryan Cranston in “Trumbo” 
Matt Damon in “The Martian” 
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Revenant” 
Michael Fassbender in “Steve Jobs” 
Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl”

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Christian Bale in “The Big Short” 
Tom Hardy in “The Revenant” 
Mark Ruffalo in “Spotlight” 
Mark Rylance in “Bridge of Spies” 
Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Cate Blanchett in “Carol” 
Brie Larson in “Room” 
Jennifer Lawrence in “Joy” 
Charlotte Rampling in “45 Years” 
Saoirse Ronan in “Brooklyn”

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Jennifer Jason Leigh in “The Hateful Eight” 
Rooney Mara in “Carol” 
Rachel McAdams in “Spotlight” 
Alicia Vikander in “The Danish Girl” 
Kate Winslet in “Steve Jobs”

Best animated feature film of the year

“Anomalisa” Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson and Rosa Tran 
“Boy and the World” Alê Abreu 
“Inside Out” Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera 
“Shaun the Sheep Movie” Mark Burton and Richard Starzak 
“When Marnie Was There” Hiromasa Yonebayashi and Yoshiaki Nishimura

Achievement in cinematography

“Carol” Ed Lachman 
“The Hateful Eight” Robert Richardson 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” John Seale 
“The Revenant” Emmanuel Lubezki 
“Sicario” Roger Deakins

Achievement in costume design

“Carol” Sandy Powell 
“Cinderella” Sandy Powell 
“The Danish Girl” Paco Delgado 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Jenny Beavan 
“The Revenant” Jacqueline West

Achievement in directing

“The Big Short” Adam McKay 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” George Miller 
“The Revenant” Alejandro G. Iñárritu 
“Room” Lenny Abrahamson 
“Spotlight” Tom McCarthy

Best documentary feature

“Amy” Asif Kapadia and James Gay-Rees 
“Cartel Land” Matthew Heineman and Tom Yellin 
“The Look of Silence” Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen 
“What Happened, Miss Simone?” Liz Garbus, Amy Hobby and Justin Wilkes 
“Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom” Evgeny Afineevsky and Den Tolmor

Best documentary short subject

“Body Team 12” David Darg and Bryn Mooser 
“Chau, beyond the Lines” Courtney Marsh and Jerry Franck 
“Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah” Adam Benzine 
“A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness” Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy 
“Last Day of Freedom” Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

Achievement in film editing

“The Big Short” Hank Corwin 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Margaret Sixel 
“The Revenant” Stephen Mirrione 
“Spotlight” Tom McArdle 
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey

Best foreign language film of the year

“Embrace of the Serpent” Colombia 
“Mustang” France 
“Son of Saul” Hungary 
“Theeb” Jordan 
“A War” Denmark

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

“Mad Max: Fury Road” Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin 
“The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared” Love Larson and Eva von Bahr 
“The Revenant” Siân Grigg, Duncan Jarman and Robert Pandini

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (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

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

“Earned It” from “Fifty Shades of Grey” 
Music and Lyric by Abel Tesfaye, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio 
“Manta Ray” from “Racing Extinction” 
Music by J. Ralph and Lyric by Antony Hegarty 
“Simple Song #3” from “Youth” 
Music and Lyric by David Lang 
“Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground” 
Music and Lyric by Diane Warren and Lady Gaga 
“Writing’s On The Wall” from “Spectre” 
Music and Lyric by Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith

Best motion picture of the year

“The Big Short” Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers 
“Bridge of Spies” Steven Spielberg, Marc Platt and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers 
“Brooklyn” Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey, Producers 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Doug Mitchell and George Miller, Producers 
“The Martian” Simon Kinberg, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer and Mark Huffam, Producers 
“The Revenant” Arnon Milchan, Steve Golin, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Mary Parent and Keith Redmon, Producers 
“Room” Ed Guiney, Producer 
“Spotlight” Michael Sugar, Steve Golin, Nicole Rocklin and Blye Pagon Faust, Producers

Achievement in production design

“Bridge of Spies” Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Rena DeAngelo and Bernhard Henrich 
“The Danish Girl” Production Design: Eve Stewart; Set Decoration: Michael Standish 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Production Design: Colin Gibson; Set Decoration: Lisa Thompson 
“The Martian” Production Design: Arthur Max; Set Decoration: Celia Bobak 
“The Revenant” Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set Decoration: Hamish Purdy

Best animated short film

“Bear Story” Gabriel Osorio and Pato Escala 
“Prologue” Richard Williams and Imogen Sutton 
“Sanjay’s Super Team” Sanjay Patel and Nicole Grindle 
“We Can’t Live without Cosmos” Konstantin Bronzit 
“World of Tomorrow” Don Hertzfeldt

Best live action short film

“Ave Maria” Basil Khalil and Eric Dupont 
“Day One” Henry Hughes 
“Everything Will Be Okay (Alles Wird Gut)” Patrick Vollrath 
“Shok” Jamie Donoughue 
“Stutterer” Benjamin Cleary and Serena Armitage

Achievement in sound editing

“Mad Max: Fury Road” Mark Mangini and David White 
“The Martian” Oliver Tarney 
“The Revenant” Martin Hernandez and Lon Bender 
“Sicario” Alan Robert Murray 
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Matthew Wood and David Acord

Achievement in sound mixing

“Bridge of Spies” Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Drew Kunin 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Chris Jenkins, Gregg Rudloff and Ben Osmo 
“The Martian” Paul Massey, Mark Taylor and Mac Ruth 
“The Revenant” Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño, Randy Thom and Chris Duesterdiek 
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Andy Nelson, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson

Achievement in visual effects

“Ex Machina” Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett 
“Mad Max: Fury Road” Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams 
“The Martian” Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner 
“The Revenant” Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer 
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould

Adapted screenplay

“The Big Short” Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay 
“Brooklyn” Screenplay by Nick Hornby 
“Carol” Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy 
“The Martian” Screenplay by Drew Goddard 
“Room” Screenplay by Emma Donoghue

Original screenplay

“Bridge of Spies” Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen 
“Ex Machina” Written by Alex Garland 
“Inside Out” Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen 
“Spotlight” Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy 
“Straight Outta Compton” Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff



This article is related to: Awards, Directors, Headliners, Stuck In Love, Oscars, Screenwriters, Academy Awards, Awards, Awards, Awards Season Roundup


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.