The Revenant is now in the early screening stages. Creed opens wide this week. Spotlight and Room continue to expand. The bulk of the awards screeners have been sent out…the last few stragglers will be arriving within the next couple weeks.
In short, it’s all happening.
Two new categories added to the fire today: Best Documentary Feature and Best Animated Feature.
Here’s where we stand today, 51 days away from the announcement of the 88th Academy Award nominations…
- Spotlight – Still the one to beat, as evidenced by a first round of stories from haters questioning the film’s accuracy. We’ll see how the campaign handles early damage control.
- Room –Audiences will respond to this film…if only they get a chance to see it. But slow-playing might be a smart move for A24.
- The Revenant – As screenings commence, the film’s starkness and audacity are being recognized and embraced.
- Bridge of Spies – Solid box-office keeps it in the public consciousness as we transition into screener season.
- The Martian – Still an audience favorite.
- Brooklyn – A wonderful, unassuming crowd-pleaser. Seems to be right in the Academy’s wheelhouse.
- Steve Jobs – There is no “sensation” narrative to carry the film into awards season. Boyle, Sorkin, and Co. will have to rely on reception from industry insiders going forward.
- Inside Out – Pixar’s horse needs to start making the rounds again before we can call it a certain BP nominee.
- Carol – After hanging around since May, the film is finally making its way to audiences. We will see how reaction affects its status.
Other Contenders: The Hateful Eight, Joy, The Danish Girl, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Big Short, Black Mass, Son of Saul, Beasts of No Nation, Sicario, Youth
- Tom McCarthy, Spotlight – Holding steady until further notice.
- Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, The Revenant – Betting on it, sight-unseen.
- Steven Spielberg, Bridge of Spies – The old master will likely be included here.
- Lenny Abrahamson, Room – Hoping love for the film will carry Abrahamson into a nomination.
- Danny Boyle, Steve Jobs – Brilliant work that is now vulnerable…
Other Contenders: Ridley Scott (The Martian), George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road), Quentin Tarantino (The Hateful Eight), Todd Haynes (Carol), David O. Russell (Joy), John Crowley (Brooklyn), Laszlo Nemes (Son of Saul), Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)
- Brie Larson, Room – Feels like the winner.
- Cate Blanchett, Carol – Can Cate win again so soon?
- Saiorse Ronan, Brooklyn – If the film enchants audiences the way I think it will, Ronan could move into second position.
- Jennifer Lawrence, Joy – The potential game-changer.
- Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years – Strong performance, vulnerable position.
Other Contenders: Blythe Danner (I’ll See You in My Dreams), Lily Tomlin (Grandma), Carey Mulligan (Suffragette), Cate Blanchett (Truth), Maggie Smith (The Lady in the Van), Bel Powley (The Diary of a Teenage Girl)
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant – Coronation time?
- Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs – After this year, Fassbender may become the new Leo…always a nominee, never a winner. His time will, certainly, come. But this year may now be out of reach.
- Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl – The defending champ returns to attempt a rare repeat.
- Michael B. Jordan, Creed – In a year shamefully low on African-American contenders, Jordan could easily ascend to a nomination in a film already being celebrated.
- Matt Damon, The Martian – He’s the face of the crowd favorite. That could likely translate to a nomination. But some big names are lurking…
Other Contenders: Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight), Johnny Depp (Black Mass), Michael Caine (Youth), Will Smith (Concussion), Geza Rohrig (Son of Saul), Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Tom Hanks (Bridge of Spies), Steve Carell (The Big Short)
Best Supporting Actress
- Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl – Is she Supporting or Lead?
- Rooney Mara, Carol – Ditto the above question…
- Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight – Likely the designated acting nomination from this year’s QT epic.
- Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs – Feels safe.
- Jane Fonda, Youth – Not a widely seen film just yet, but this is a weak category, so it seems like a given.
Other Contenders: Joan Allen (Room), Marion Cotillard (Macbeth), Julie Walters (Brooklyn), Elizabeth Banks, (Love & Mercy), Rachel Weisz (Youth)
Best Supporting Actor
- Michael Keaton, Spotlight – Will this be the “sorry about last year” winner?
- Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies – He’s the best thing in Spielberg’s movie. But is the role too small?
- Jacob Tremblay, Room – Strongly positioned, but for a 9-year-old, the nomination will likely be viewed as award enough.
- Tom Hardy, The Revenant – If the film becomes all about DiCaprio, Hardy could fall.
- Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight – The other likely representative from this great ensemble…but will voters opt to support only one representative from the film?
Other Contenders: Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), Idris Elba (Beasts of No Nation), Jason Mitchell (Straight Outta Compton), Joel Edgerton (Black Mass), Sylvester Stallone (Creed), Paul Dano (Love & Mercy), Christian Bale (The Big Short), Robert De Niro (Joy)
Best Original Screenplay
- Tom McCarthy & Josh Singer, Spotlight – Would be an easy pick…
- Quentin Tarantino, The Hateful Eight – …if not for QT.
- Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley, Inside Out – Welcome back to the Oscar game, Pixar.
- Matt Charman, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, Bridge of Spies – A deserving nomination for the film’s strongest aspect.
- Annie Mumulo & David O. Russell, Joy – Wait and see…Kaufman is lurking…
Other Contenders: Charlie Kaufman (Anomalisa), Taylor Sheridan (Sicario), Paolo Sorrentino (Youth), Laszlo Nemes and Clara Royer (Son of Saul), Amy Schumer (Trainwreck), Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton), Alex Garland (Ex Machina)
Best Adapted Screenplay
- Emma Donaghue, Room – There’s a crowd of contenders at the top of this category.
- Nick Hornby, Brooklyn – A legit contender for the win.
- Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs – How can I have Sorkin this low? Feels wrong…
- Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu & Mark L. Smith, The Revenant – Inarritu going for another screenplay win, though this time in the Adapted category.
- Phyllis Nagy, Carol – A strong adaptation of the Highsmith novel seems likely to land a nod.
Other Contenders: Adam McKay & Charles Randolph (The Big Short), Drew Goddard (The Martian), Lucina Coxen (The Danish Girl), Andrew Haigh (45 Years), Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation)
- Roger Deakins, Sicario – Possibly the most brilliant work in this category. And Deakins has never won…can you believe it??
- John Seale, Mad Max: Fury Road – The year’s grandest technical achievement may yield a winner here.
- Emmanuel Lubezki, The Revenant – Can Chivo three-peat?
- Robert Richardson, The Hateful Eight – Looks to be more greatness from Richardson.
- Janusz Kaminski, Bridge of Spies – Kaminski’s signature is all over every frame of this film.
Other Contenders: Dariusz Wolski (The Martian), Edward Lachmann (Carol), Danny Cohen (Room), Alwin H. Kuchler (Steve Jobs), Matyas Erdely (Son of Saul), Yves Belanger (Brooklyn)
Best Costume Design
- Sandy Powell, Carol – Powell has two contenders in the race. I’ll bet on the more sophisticated entry for now…but who am I kidding?
- Paco Delgado, The Danish Girl – Delgado trying for his second nomination from a Tom Hooper film.
- Sandy Powell, Cinderella – The lesser of Powell’s two films, though not the lesser of her work.
- Odile Dicks-Mireaux, Brooklyn – A potential first-time nominee.
- Jacqueline West, The Revenant – West likely to earn her third Oscar nomination.
Other Contenders: Jenny Beavan (Mad Max: Fury Road), Kate Hawley (Crimson Peak), Jane Petrie, (Suffragette), Courtney Hoffman (The Hateful Eight)
Best Film Editing
- Stephen Mirrione, The Revenant – Mirrione may be in line for his second Oscar win after failing to receive a nomination for Birdman last year.
- Margaret Sixel, Mad Max: Fury Road – Even if the film doesn’t figure into the Best Picture conversation, its undeniable craft is likely to threaten in multiple below-the-line categories.
- Tom McArdle, Spotlight – Showy editing doesn’t always win out. And if the film is a Best Picture contender, its editing is likely in contention as well.
- Elliot Graham, Steve Jobs – Great work from a former Oscar nominee…but it may fade from view if the film continues its descent from relevance.
- Pietro Scalia, The Martian – A possible inclusion for the two-time Oscar winner, who did solid work in a likely Best Picture nominee.
Other Contenders: Michael Kahn (Bridge of Spies), Nathan Nugent (Room), Jake Roberts (Brooklyn), Fred Raskin (The Hateful Eight), Joe Walker (Sicario), Alan Baumgarten, Tom Cross, Jay Cassidy, Christopher Tellefsen (Joy)
Best Production Design
- Eve Stewart, The Danish Girl – Lavish décor may lead three-time nominee Stewart to her first Oscar.
- Adam Stockhausen, Bridge of Spies – Stockhausen trying for a repeat win after taking home the Oscar for Grand Budapest Hotel last year.
- Francois Seguin, Brooklyn
- Judy Becker, Heather Loeffler, Carol
- Colin Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road – Somehow I think this nomination will end up happening if the film is nominated across the board in the craft categories, even though there are several deserving, more traditional contenders that could supplant it.
Other Contenders: The Revenant, Crimson Peak, Cinderella, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hateful Eight
Best Animated Feature
- Inside Out – Like a runaway freight train…
- Anomalisa — …unless Charlie Kaufman can disrupt the charted path.
- Shaun the Sheep Movie – Really well-liked, and Lionsgate is campaigning.
- The Peanuts Movie – Such a wonderful throwback. I hope this nomination happens.
- The Good Dinosaur – So it’s B-level Pixar…that’s still Pixar.
Other Contenders: Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, Minions, When Marnie Was There, Home, Hotel Transylvania 2
Best Documentary Feature
- The Look of Silence – Surely Joshua Oppenheimer gets his Oscar this time, right?
- Amy – And yet this film is likely the true frontrunner. Still brilliant work, though.
- Cartel Land – Powerful and relevant. Seems like a sure thing.
- The Wolfpack – A celebration of how film opens a new world and sustains life under harsh conditions. The Academy would be negligent to not recognize it.
- The Hunting Ground – Would seem to me a much surer bet than it is…but then, the kind of institutional ignorance the film exposes might hold true with Oscar voters.
Other Contenders: Where to Invade Next, Listen to Me Marlon, Best of Enemies, What Happened, Miss Simone?, He Named Me Malala, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution, In Jackson Heights
More categories will be added each week, as we try to gain as much clarity as we can as Nomination Day approaches….