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Oscar Predictions 2016 UPDATE

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 18, 2015 at 9:56AM

As distributors and festival programmers pick their fall spots, the Oscar race is coming into focus. See our Predictions Chart below.
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Carol
TWC "Carol"
Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan in John Crowley's 'Brooklyn'
Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan in John Crowley's 'Brooklyn'

And what of the Oscar chances for this year's festival breakouts so far?

Emerging at Sundance was period romance "Brooklyn," written by Nick Hornby, directed by John Crowley, and starring Domhnall Gleeson and Saoirse Ronan, which Fox Searchlight will open on the awards-friendly date of November 6, 2015. 

Searchlight has notched 12 Best Picture nominations in the past 11 years, more than any other company, and with "Birdman"'s haul, the company is at this point the industry Oscar leader. With the right handling, Searchlight could also push Greta Gerwig as co-writer/star of Noah Baumbach's comedy "Mistress America" (August 21) and popular veteran Michael Caine in Paolo Sorrentino's entertaining Cannes entry "Youth" (December 4). Less likely to gain Oscar traction is their May 1 release, Thomas Vinterberg's well-reviewed, visually sumptuous "Far from the Madding Crowd," carried by leads Carey Mulligan and Matthias Schoenaerts to a respectable domestic gross of $11 million. Mulligan has another chance to earn her second Oscar nomination: Sarah Gavron's feminist eye-opener "Suffragette" which will hit the fall fests before Focus Features opens it on October 23.

Also well-received in Toronto and Sundance was Bill Pohlad's "Love & Mercy," starring Paul Dano and John Cusack as Brian Wilson and Elizabeth Banks as the woman who rescued the musician from his oppressive handler (Paul Giamatti). Roadside Attractions should push this in multiple categories. That film's screenwriter Oren Moverman also wrote and directed "Time Out of Mind," which debuted in Toronto 2014 to considerable praise for lead Richard Gere as a homeless man; Gere is on the fest tribute circuit. IFC will release in September.

Suffragette

Out of Berlin emerged Andrew Haigh's well-reviewed two-hander "45 Years" whose two veteran stars Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling should both score acting nominations. The film has continued to score at fests and should play well to the older demo (Sundance Selects).

Harvey Weinstein boasts two fall openers that played well in the Cannes Competition, Todd Haynes' lesbian romance "Carol" starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, who shared the Cannes Actress award with Emmanuelle Bercot ("Mon Roi"), and Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard vehicle "Macbeth," directed by Australian Justin Kurzel, although he's slotting it as a Radius release, which is undergoing management changes; this move suggests a lack of commitment to a full-scale campaign. Produced by Christine Vachon, "Carol" was adapted by Phyllis Nagy from the Patricia Highsmith novel and should play well at fall fests and score in multiple categories. The company will also mount a campaign for Tony-winner Helen Mirren for her role in  "Woman in Gold" as a Jewish stateside emigre fighting for her family's art treasure.

Son of Saul
SPC "Son of Saul"

Sony Pictures Classics will support popular Lily Tomlin in Paul Weitz comedy "Grandma," which opened the Los Angeles Film Festival and seems headed for Golden Globe comedy contention, as well as the devastating Cannes award-winner and Oscar submission from Hungary, holocaust drama "Son of Saul," which will hit the festival circuit. Musical biopic "I Saw the Light" starring Tom Hiddleston as country star Hank Williams will debut in Toronto. SPC also picked up James Vanderbilt's journalism expose "Truth," starring Cate Blanchett as Mary Mapes and Robert Redford as Dan Rather, which will play Toronto, as well as New York Film Festival closer "Miles Ahead," directed by and starring Don Cheadle, who plays legendary trumpeter Miles Davis, but may hold it for 2016 release.

A24 could push James Ponsoldt's Sundance entry "The End of the Tour" (July 31), written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies and starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg as dueling literary smartypants, as well as Asif Kapadia's well-received Cannes documentary "Amy" (July 3), about the downfall of the gifted and troubled singer Amy Winehouse. Their surprise sci-fi hit "Ex Machina" could also yield a possible nominations for Oscar Isaac as supporting actor and writer-director Alex Garland. And their fall festival contender is "Frank" director Lenny Abrahamson's "Room," starring Brie Larson ("Short Term 12") as a woman who raises her young son in a locked room. Joan Allen plays her mother. 

Amazingly, "Ex Machina" star and current Hollywood it-girl Alicia Vikander is on such a roll that she has two other leads that could factor in the Oscar race: "Testament of Youth" (SPC) and "The Danish Girl" (Focus). And her in-demand male counterpart, Tom Hardy, will probably not campaign so much for Mad Max in "Fury Road" as for "The Revenant" (Fox, December 25), directed by "Birdman" Oscar-winner Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu--assuming it gets finished in time--and Ron and Reggie Kray in Brian Helgeland's "Legend" (Universal/WorkingTitle, October 2) which will play the fall fests, but may prove a tad violent for the average Academy voter.

Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando

As for the usual crop of Sundance hot docs, besides jury-winners "The Wolfpack" and "Cartel Land," nabbing positive reviews were Liz Garbus's "What Happened Miss Simone?," Oscar-winner Morgan Neville's "Best of Enemies," Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering's "The Hunting Ground," Alex Gibney's buzzy HBO pic "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" and Stevan Riley's innovative heart-tugger "Listen to Me Marlon," from Showtime.  

Also playing at Cannes was George Miller's fourth "Mad Max" action adventure "Fury Road," which was praised by critics --who will include it in year-end ten-best lists and awards--and is so well-made (direction, cinematography, production design, costumes, VFX and score come to mind) that it might rise above the fray come award season. And beloved Disney/Pixar entry "Inside Out" (June 19) will be hard to beat in the animation category--and could earn more (Picture, Director, Editing, Original Screenplay, Score).

Predictions below. As always I will not list any movie as a frontrunner until I have seen it. 

Love And Mercy
Roadside Attractions "Love & Mercy"

Best motion picture of the year
Frontrunners: 
"45 Years"
"Brooklyn"
"Carol"
"Inside Out" 
"Mad Max: Fury Road"

Contenders:
"Bridge of Spies"
"Creed"
"The Danish Girl"
"The Hateful Eight" 
"Joy"
"Love & Mercy" 
"Our Brand is Crisis"
"The Revenant"
"Spotlight"
"Steve Jobs"

Long Shots:
"Clouds of Sils Maria"
"Everest"
"In the Heart of the Sea"
"The Martian"
"Son of Saul"
"Room"
"Straight Outta Compton"
"Trumbo"
"The Walk" 
"Youth"

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Frontrunners:
Michael Caine ("Youth") 
Richard Gere ("Time Out of Mind")
Jake Gyllenhaal ("Southpaw")
Ian McKellen ("Mr. Holmes")

Contenders: 
Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Revenant")
Michael Fassbender ("Steve Jobs")
Tom Hardy ("Legend," "The Revenant")
Tom Hiddleston ("I Saw the Light")
Eddie Redmayne ("The Danish Girl")

Long Shots:
Bryan Cranston ("Trumbo")
John Cusack ("Love & Mercy")
Matt Damon ("The Martian")
Jesse Eisenberg ("The End of the Tour") 
Idris Elba ("Beasts of No Nation")
Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Snowden," "The Walk")
Tom Hanks ("Bridge of Spies")
Michael B. Jordan ("Creed")
Tobey Maguire ("Pawn Sacrifice")

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Frontrunners:
Tom Courtenay ("45 Years") 
Paul Dano ("Love & Mercy")
Oscar Isaac ("Ex Machina")
Matthias Schoenaerts ("Far from the Madding Crowd")
Jason Segel ("The End of the Tour")

Contenders:
Bradley Cooper ("Joy")
Robert De Niro ("Joy")
Domnhall Gleeson ("Brooklyn")
Harvey Keitel ("Youth")
Robert Redford ("Truth")
Mark Rylance ("Bridge of Spies")
Alexander Skarsgaard ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl") 
Billy Bob Thornton ("Our Brand is Crisis")

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Frontrunners:
Cate Blanchett ("Carol")
Greta Gerwig ("Mistress America") 
Helen Mirren ("Woman in Gold")
Carey Mulligan ("Far from the Madding Crowd")
Charlotte Rampling ("45 Years")

Contenders:
Juliette Binoche ("Clouds of Sils Maria")
Cate Blanchett ("Truth")
Sandra Bullock ("Our Brand is Crisis")
Brie Larson ("Room")
Jennifer Lawrence ("Joy") 
Julianne Moore ("Freeheld")
Carey Mulligan ("Suffragette")
Saoirse Ronan ("Brooklyn")
Charlize Theron ("Mad Max: Fury Road")

Long Shots:

Marion Cotillard ("Macbeth")
Elizabeth Olsen ("I Saw the Light")
Bel Powley ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl")
Maggie Smith ("The Lady in the Van")
Lily Tomlin ("Grandma")
Mia Wasikowska ("Crimson Peak")
Alicia Vikander ("Testament of Youth")

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Frontrunners:
Elizabeth Banks ("Love & Mercy")
Jessica Chastain ("Crimson Peak")
Jane Fonda ("Youth")
Rooney Mara ("Carol")
Kristen Stewart ("Clouds of Sils Maria")

Contenders

Joan Allen ("Room")
Elle Fanning ("About Ray")
Jennifer Jason Leigh ("The Hateful Eight")
Ellen Page ("Freeheld")
Alicia Vikander ("The Danish Girl")
Kristin Wiig ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl")
Kate Winslet ("Steve Jobs")

Long Shots
Helena Bonham Carter ("Suffragette")
Jessica Chastain ("Crimson Peak," "The Martian")
Rachel McAdams ("Spotlight")
Sienna Miller ("Burnt")
Elisabeth Moss ("Truth")
Amy Ryan ("Bridge of Spies")
Julie Walters ("Brooklyn")

Best animated feature film of the year
Frontrunners:
"Inside Out"
"Minions"

Contenders:
"The Good Dinosaur"
"Home"
"The Peanuts Movie"
"Shaun the Sheep"
"When Marnie Was There"

Achievement in cinematography
Frontrunners:
"Carol"
"Crimson Peak"
"Far from the Madding Crowd"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"Paddington"

Contenders:
"The Avengers: Age of Ultron"
"The Danish Girl"
"Everest"
"The Hateful Eight"
"In the Heart of the Sea" 
"The Martian"
"Pan"
"The Revenant"
"Steve Jobs"
"The Walk" 

Achievement in costume design
Frontrunners:
"Carol"
"Crimson Peak"
"Far from the Madding Crowd"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"Paddington"

Contenders:
"The Danish Girl"
"The Hateful Eight"
"Joy"
"Macbeth"
"Pan"

Achievement in directing
Frontrunners:
Olivier Assayas ("Clouds of Sils Maria")
Pete Docter and Ronaldo del Carmen ("Inside Out")
Todd Haynes ("Carol")
George Miller ("Mad Max: Fury Road")

Contenders: 
Danny Boyle ("Steve Jobs")
Tom Hooper ("The Danish Girl") 
Jay Roach ("Trumbo")
David O. Russell ("Joy")
Steven Spielberg ("Bridge of Spies")
Quentin Tarantino ("The Hard Eight")
Bob Zemeckis ("The Walk")

Long Shots:
Lenny Abrahamson ("Room")
John Crowley ("Brooklyn")
Cary Fukunaga ("Beasts of No Nation")
Sarah Gavron ("Suffragette")
Ron Howard ("In the Heart of the Sea")
Baltasar Kormakur ("Everest")
Ridley Scott ("The Martian")

Best documentary feature
Frontrunners: 
"Best of Enemies" (Morgan Neville and Robert Gordon)
"Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" (Alex Gibney)
"The Hunting Ground" (Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering)
"Listen to Me Marlon" (Stevan Riley)
"What Happened Miss Simone?" (Liz Garbus)

Contenders:
"Amy" (Asif Kapadia)
"Cartel Land" (Matthew Heineman) 
"Iris" (Albert Maysles) 
"Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck" (Brett Morgan) 
"The Look of Silence" (Joshua Oppenheimer)
"Prophet's Prey" (Amy Berg)
"He Named Me Malala" (Davis Guggenheim)
"The Wolfpack" (Crystal Moselle)

Achievement in film editing

Frontrunners:
"The Avengers: Age of Ultron" 
"Jurassic World"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"Son of Saul"
"Straight Outta Compton"


Best foreign language film of the year
Frontrunners:
"Dheepan" (France)
"Embrace of the Serpent" (Colombia)
"Mustang" (Turkey)
"The Second Mother" (Brazil)
"Son of Saul" (Hungary)

Contenders
"Labyrinth of Lies" (Germany)
"Our Little Sister" (Japan)

Achievement in production design
Frontrunners:
"Brooklyn"
"Crimson Peak"
"Paddington"
"Mad Max: Fury Road" 

Contenders:
"Bridge of Spies"
"Pan"

Achievement in sound editing

Frontrunners: 
"The Avengers: Age of Ultron" 
"Crimson Peak"
"Jurassic World"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"
"Paddington"
"Son of Saul"

Achievement in sound mixing
Frontrunners: 

"The Avengers: Age of Ultron" 

"Jurassic World"
"Mad Max: Fury Road" 
"Paddington"
"Son of Saul"

Quentin Tarantino at the 'Hateful Eight' live read.
Quentin Tarantino at the 'Hateful Eight' live read.

Achievement in visual effects

Frontrunners: 
"Ant-Man"
"The Avengers: Age of Ultron" 
"Jurassic World"
"Mad Max: Fury Road"

Contenders:
"Everest"
"In the Heart of the Sea" 
"The Martian" 
"Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation"
"Pan" 

Adapted screenplay
Frontrunners:
Andrew Haigh ("45 Years")
Donald Margulies ("The End of the Tour")
George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris ("Mad Max: Fury Road")
Oren Moverman and Michael A. Lerner ("Love & Mercy")
Phyllis Nagy ("Carol")

"Southpaw"
The Weinstein Company "Southpaw"

Contenders:
Matt Charman, Joel & Ethan Coen ("Bridge of Spies")
Lucinda Coxon ("The Danish Girl")
Marielle Heller ("The Diary of a Teenage Girl")
Nick Hornby ("Trumbo," "Brooklyn")

Aaron Sorkin ("Steve Jobs")
Bob Zemeckis and Christopher Browne ("The Walk")

The Danish Girl with Eddie Redmayne

Original screenplay
Frontrunners:
Olivier Assayas ("Clouds of Sils Maria")
Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig ("Mistress America")
Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley ("Inside Out") 
Amy Schumer ("Trainwreck")

Contenders:
Paul Feig ("Spy")
Alex Garland ("Ex Machina")
Abi Morgan ("Suffragette")
Quentin Tarantino ("The Hateful Eight")
 
Predictions still to come: 

Best animated short film
Best live action short film
Achievement in makeup and hairstyling
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)



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


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Thompson on Hollywood

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.