Time’s up. Pencils down.
With a race this tight and uncertain, it’s hard to find any substantial reasoning to move away from the predictions that have been locked in for a while now. There are no revelatory announcements to look over, no new data points to parse, and, remarkably, no vicious smear campaigns to deter any of the major contenders. There is plenty of evidence to consider, but it’s all split in three different directions.
So, ya know…damn it all.
Here’s where I’m leaning. I find it difficult to believe that a film as demonstrably divisive as The Revenant can win on a preferential ballot. Its best shot is to win in the first round of voting, which would mean it would need to collect 50% of number one votes cast plus one (for simplicity, if we say the total number of ballots is 6,000, it would need to be listed number one on 3,001 of them). If it fails in round one, which is likely, then it would need to also be listed as number two on a substantial number of other ballots…and, if it needs to go further, a bunch of number threes as well. For a film that has the lowest average critics score of the Best Picture nominees, that seems like a steep hill to climb. The film’s chief competitors, The Big Short and Spotlight, have a greater advantage of winning in the preferential system. And, in fact, one of those two has already triumphed in a preferential vote, with Big Short winning with the Producers Guild. That, to me, is a clear advantage for Adam McKay’s film, especially since the Stat Of All Stats is that PGA has matched Oscar every year since both organizations instituted the preferential ballot system.
What’s odd, though, is that Big Short is brasher and more risky than Spotlight, which could prove it to be somewhat divisive in its own right. And if it is, then that would appear to open the door for Spotlight to win Best Picture. I feel that wave…it could very well happen. Part of me – a big part of me – wants to go that route. And yet, the PGA stat is something that must be officially bucked before I can dismiss it. So that’s where I land on Best Picture, reluctantly.
Other categories are, indeed, foregone conclusions. DiCaprio and Larson, check. Big Short and Spotlight in the screenplay categories, check. Inside Out in Animated Feature, check. Vikander and Stallone…light pencil check, since there’s an upset path in both Supporting categories for Kate Winslet and Mark Rylance, respectively. Alejandro G. Inarritu is certainly the favorite to go back-to-back in Best Director, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see George Miller or even Adam McKay claim the trophy. Same goes for Emmanuel Lubezki in Cinematography…a very likely winner (a three-peat in his case), but space for Sicario’s Roger Deakins or Mad Max: Fury Road’s John Seale to upset. The craft categories seem poised to be split between Fury Road and Revenant, with Visual Effects and the two Sound categories being the most difficult to nail down (though it seems more like a Revenant v. Star Wars: The Force Awakens race in the VFX category).
Documentary Feature and Foreign Language Film feel locked in for Amy and Son of Saul, respectively, but there is enough room for a surprise in either or both. For the three short categories, it’s almost like the more you know, the less you know…because you could either roll with a presumed consensus or follow your heart and pick the ones you like best, since Academy voters might agree with you.
Enough preamble. Time to get to business.
Presenting Projection: Oscar’s final predictions in all categories – winners only.
- The Big Short
- Alejandro G. Inarritu, The Revenant
- Brie Larson, Room
- Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant
Best Supporting Actress
- Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl
Best Supporting Actor
- Sylvester Stallone, Creed
Best Original Screenplay
- Spotlight, Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer
Best Adapted Screenplay
- The Big Short, Adam McKay and Charles Randolph
- The Revenant, Emmanuel Lubezki
Best Costume Design
- Mad Max: Fury Road, Jenny Beavan
Best Film Editing
- Mad Max: Fury Road, Margaret Sixel
Best Production Design
- Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Feature
- Inside Out
Best Documentary Feature
Best Foreign Language Film
- Son of Saul
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
- Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Visual Effects
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Best Sound Editing
- The Revenant
Best Sound Mixing
- The Revenant
Best Original Score
- The Hateful Eight, Ennio Morricone
Best Original Song
- “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground, Diane Warren and Lady Gaga
Best Live Action Short
Best Animated Short
- Bear Story
Best Documentary Short
- Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah