The nominees for the 2016 Oscars have been released. The big winners: The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road with 12 and 10 nominations, respectively. Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight received a notable six nods while the epic space dramedy The Martian received seven, one for director Ridley Scott somehow not being one of them.
Unlike last year where Birdman and Boyhood dominated the show and the individual winners were locked weeks before, these Oscars are open season. The wild cards and dark horses are those in name only. Therefore, The Crier staff offers you what we think might win, in addition to what I personally hope will win.
Nominees: Bridge of Spies, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Spotlight, The Martian, The Big Short, Room, Brooklyn
What Will Win: The Revenant
What Should Win: Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant has gained significant ground and momentum since its wide release in early January and is currently considered the front-runner for best picture. But the director of The Revenant, Alejandro G. Innaritu, made another little film in 2014 called Birdman, and Birdman took home a slew of Oscars at last year’s award show, including best picture. Is the Academy willing to give Mr. Innaritu that same honor two years in a row?
If it doesn’t, I’d like to think the movie that takes its place will be Mad Max: Fury Road. It has been over a decade since a true blockbuster won best picture, and Mad Max is definitely deserving of being the next, holding a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, the highest among all the nominees. Its also not just an action movie, but a film with deeply complex themes and revolutionary practical effects, and it should win best picture.
Nominees: Eddie Redmayne – The Danish Girl, Michael Fassbender – Steve Jobs, Bryan Cranston – Trumbo, Matt Damon – The Martian, Leonardo DiCaprio – The Revenant
Will Win: Leonardo DiCaprio
Yes, this will be the year Leo finally wins his first Oscar. While all the other acting categories are anyone’s to take, DiCaprio is the clear choice in this one. Nobody else had to swim through the freezing waters of Siberia for hours on end, nobody else was willing to sleep outside with a dead bear in order to get into character, nobody else degraded themselves enough to eat a raw bison liver for the sake of art, but Leo did. If he doesn’t win, we riot!
Nominees: Brie Larson – Room, Charlotte Rampling – 45 Years, Cate Blanchett – Carol, Saorise Ronan – Brooklyn, Jennifer Lawrence – Joy
Will Win: Brie Larson
In case you don’t know who Brie Larson is, she was Jonah Hill’s love interest in 21 Jump Street. Yeah, that girl is up for an Oscar, and she deserves it! Larson practically carried Room alongside her eight year old co-star Jacob Tremblay as a mother and son duo trapped in a small shack for five long years. It’s a tough category, though, and acting veterans including Cate Blanchett and Jennifer Lawrence are in hot pursuit.
Best Supporting Actor:
Nominees: Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight, Sylvester Stallone – Creed, Tom Hardy – The Revenant, Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies, Christian Bale – The Big Short
Will Win: Sylvester Stallone
The Academy is known for honoring veteran superstars with no previous awards, and Sylvester Stallone fits the description perfectly. He was also pretty darn good in Creed, possibly his best Rocky performance to date.
But Mark Rylance is equally veteran, equally unrewarded, and equally good as a Soviet spy in Bridge of Spies, arguably the best part of the movie. It’s really a toss-up between the two.
Best Supporting Actress:
Nominees: Rachel McAdams – Spotlight, Rooney Mara – Carol, Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight, Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs, Alicia Vikander – The Danish Girl
Will Win: Jennifer Jason Leigh
The best supporting actress category is quite possibly the hardest to call. They’re all good performances and all deserve to win. I chose Jennifer Jason Leigh because it’s the 53-year old’s first nomination, given for her first role in over a decade. She was good, of course, but she also took a beating, literally. As the only female in a film criticized for its misogyny and violence, Jason Leigh was hit, hung, and tortured in the bloody western that is The Hateful Eight. She played the victim in a movie filled with nothing but villains, but managed to keep her head held high through it all.
Nominees: George Miller – Mad Max: Fury Road, Adam McKay – The Big Short, Lenny Abrahamson – Room, Alejandro G. Innaritu – The Revenant, Tom McCarthy – Spotlight
Will Win: Alejandro G. Innaritu
Sure Innaritu’s tracking shots, cinematography, and pacing in The Revenant are great and all, but he just won last year for all the same reasons. 70 year old George Miller, on the other hand, gave us an experience in Mad Max: Fury road unlike anything in recent memory. The plot of Mad Max is this: a woman driving a truck turned left when she wasn’t supposed to. Yet George Miller somehow used this plot to create one of the most visceral and imaginative movies so far this decade, and he should be recognized for that.
Best Animated Film:
Nominees: Shaun the Sheep, Anomalisa, Inside Out, Boy and the World, When Marnie Was There
Will Win: Inside Out
While Disney Pixar is indisputably the greatest animation studio of all time, and Inside Out is among the best and most creative movies to come out of that studio, if the choice were mine I would have to give the award to Anomalisa. This stop-motion production from Charlie Kaufman, who is responsible for such creative feats as Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is something most animated movies are not: introspective. Anomalisa was made not for the purpose of entertainment but because it had something to say. It is very rare that a Rated-R cartoon is good, let alone great.
Best Music Score:
Nominees: Thomas Newman – Bridge of Spies, Johann Johannsson – Sicario, John Williams – Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Ennio Morricone – The Hateful Eight, Carter Burwell – Carol
Will Win: Ennio Morricone
Should Win: Ennio Morricone
Ennio Morricone’s music is such a lasting force in the history of film that The Academy gave him an honorary award two decades ago. But he never actually “won’ an award, even though he composed one of the greatest and most recognizable score in all of cinema, that for The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This one should be a shoe-in for him, especially because John Williams is literally made of Oscars.
Best Adapted Screenplay:
Nominees: Drew Goddard – The Martian, Charles Randolph/Adam Mckay – The Big Short, Emma Donoghue – Room, Phyllis Nagy – Carol, Nick Hornby – Brooklyn
Will Win: Emma Donoghue – Room
Should Win: Charles Randolph/Adam McKay – The Big Short
Emma Donoghue adapted her own novel for Room and does an incredible job of putting us in the mind of a five year old discovering the world for the first time, along with portraying the psychopathy of imprisonment. Its a fantastic movie, and the script is the best part.
But The Big Short is about mortgages, security bonds, hedge funds, and the financial collapses of 2008, yet it is considered a comedy. It is very hard to make a movie about this kind of subject matter entertaining, let alone funny, but Adam McKay and Charles Randolph do it. The best part of the script is that the filmmakers are completely aware of the fact that the viewer has no idea what is going on. They address this through numerous Ryan Gosling fourth wall breaks, Anthony Bordain cooking fish to explain securities fraud, and shots of model Margot Robbie taking a bubble bath just to keep us from getting bored. That’s just brilliant.
Best Original Screenplay:
Nominees: Matt Charman/Ethan Coen/Joel Coen – Bridge of Spies, Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer – Spotlight, Alex Garland – Ex Machina, Pete Docter/Ronnie del Carmen/ Josh Cooley – Inside Out, Jonathan Herman/Andre Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge – Straight Outta Compton
Will Win: Tom McCarthy/Josh Singer – Spotlight
Should Win: Pete Docter/Ronnie del Carmen/ Josh Cooley – Inside Out
Spotlight probably won’t win too many Oscar, even though its one of the year’s best films. But it has a good shot at winning best original screenplay. What makes this movie and the script in particular so deserving of praise is that as a movie about rampant sexual abuse in the Catholic Church it has lots of opportunities to tug at our emotions and beg for sympathy, but it doesn’t take any of them. Instead it just tells it how it is, humans doing human things – no good guys or bad guys, just people.
Then there is Inside Out. When considering an animated film and why it is good, its screenplay is rarely thought of. But think about how hard it is to make a children’s movie about something as complex as the human brain and portray its inner working so elegantly and with such exquisite metaphors. It’s a movie for people of all ages, and it will tug at all five of your emotions: joy, sadness, rage, fear, and disgust.
Best Original Song:
Nominees: “Simple Song #3” by David Lang – Youth, “Til it Happens to You” by Lady Gaga – The Hunting Ground, “Manta Ray” by Antony Hegarty – Racing Extinction, “Earned it” by The Weeknd – 50 Shades of Grey, “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith – Spectre
Will Win: “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith
Should Win: “Simple Song #3” by David Lang
It was not until 2013 that The Academy finally awarded an Oscar to a Bond song, the winner being Adele’s “Skyfall.”Sam Smith’s ballad has garnered similar positive reviews for its similar old-school Bond feel, and for this will most likely take home the grand prize.
But to me the most deserving song has to be David Lang’s operatic composition “Simple Song #3” from the film Youth, primarily because the whole plot of the movie is actually centered around the song. It’s not just there for background music or the credits roll but is actually part of the movie, a very important part. I would also like to see it win because it is the only nomination Youth received, even though it was one of the most beautifully filmed movies and my personal favorite feature of 2015. Because “Simple Song #3” plays such an integral part in the film’s plot, recognizing the song’s achievement would be recognizing the film’s achievement.
It should also be noted that this year’s biggest snub is probably the fact that Wiz Khalifa’s tribute to Paul Walker and total banger “See You again” from Fast and Furious 7 was somehow not nominated, even after its billion plus hits on YouTube. Oh well…as long as “Earned it” does not win I will be happy. Not that I don’t love The Weeknd, but the last thing I want to see is 50 Shades of Grey winning an Oscar.