Predicting Oscar: Leo a lock, Best Picture up for grabs
Here’s what is known heading into Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony:
Leonardo DiCaprio will win his first Oscar.
The other acting awards will also fall to white people.
No one knows what will win Best Picture until the envelope is opened.
The Best Picture race is in upheaval and is the most unpredictable it has been in years. Three candidates — “The Revenant,” “Spotlight” and “The Big Short” — are in the running and all are serious contenders, having split the awards at the shows that precede the Academy Awards.
What is going to win? Here are some educated picks for Best Picture and the rest of the year’s top Oscar categories.
Nominees: “The Big Short,” “Bridge of Spies,” “Brooklyn,” “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant,” “Room,” “Spotlight”
What was robbed: “Sicario.” Director Denis Villeneuve’s claustrophobic tale of drug trafficking at the U.S.-Mexican border was gritty, disorienting and expertly realized.
What should win: “Spotlight.” This journalism procedural was a love letter to the mechanics of daily newspapers and nailed the details so well it can be considered alongside “All the President’s Men” as a newsroom classic.
What will win: “The Revenant.” In the most topsy-turvy Best Picture race in years, “The Revenant” has a slight edge over its competition. Though the pre-Oscars field has been spread around — “The Revenant” won the Director’s Guild prize, “Spotlight” took the Best Ensemble award at the SAG Awards and “The Big Short” was awarded top honors by the Producer’s Guild — “The Revenant” is still the favorite heading into Sunday. Working against it is its lack of a nomination in the Screenplay field — the only Best Picture winners of the last 50 years without screenplay nods were “Titanic” and “The Sound of Music” — and its polarizing reaction among audiences, both of which leave the possibility for “Spotlight” or “The Big Short” to sneak in the door. Plus, no director has ever been at the helm of back-to-back Best Picture winners, and after last year’s “Birdman” triumph, Alejandro G. Iñárritu would be the first. Still, neither “Spotlight” nor “The Big Short” feel like Best Picture winners at this point, and the brutal “Revenant” carries that heft. It’s far from in the bag, but “The Revenant” is galloping towards a win, though it could go over a cliff at any minute. Tune in Sunday to find out.
Nominees: Bryan Cranston, “Trumbo”; Matt Damon, “The Martian”; Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Revenant”; Michael Fassbender, “Steve Jobs”; Eddie Redmayne, “The Danish Girl”
Who was robbed: Michael Keaton, “Spotlight.” After staging a huge career comeback with “Birdman,” Keaton solidified his return by heading up “Spotlight’s” remarkable ensemble with a career-best performance as stern but fair editor Walter “Robby” Robinson.
Who should win: DiCaprio. It wasn’t an Oscar-winning performance in the traditional sense. There was no big speech to quote; it’s hard to remember anything he even grunt-spoke. Instead, DiCaprio was beaten, bloodied and brutalized within an inch of his life in “The Revenant,” and he slowly crawled back to life, and he’ll continue his crawl all the way to the Oscar podium.
Who will win: DiCaprio. After four previous losses (and 20-plus years spent as the best actor of his generation), it’s his time.
Nominees: Cate Blanchett, “Carol”; Brie Larson, “Room”; Jennifer Lawrence, “Joy”; Charlotte Rampling, “45 Years”; Saoirse Ronan, “Brooklyn”
Who was robbed: Bel Powley, “Diary of a Teenage Girl.” Powley’s performance in Marielle Heller’s coming-of-age story was so lived in and real it felt like the blossoming of a new star.
Who should win: Ronan. The 22-year-old, previously nominated for “Atonement,” does more behind her eyes than many actresses do with their entire bodies.
Who will win: Larson. With her role as a mother held captive in a backyard shed, the 26-year-old made good on years of steady climbing up Hollywood’s ladder. (Use this opportunity to watch her in 2013’s “Short Term 12,” her true breakout role.)
Best Supporting Actor
Nominees: Christian Bale, “The Big Short”; Tom Hardy, “The Revenant”; Mark Ruffalo, “Spotlight”; Mark Rylance, “Bridge of Spies”; Sylvester Stallone, “Creed”
Who was robbed: Benicio Del Toro, “Sicario.” As a terrifying hitman with shifting allegiances, Del Toro gave one of the year’s richest, most haunted performances.
Who should win: Bale. As a hedge fund manager with a loose screw or two, Bale gave perhaps his most out-of-his-mind performance – and this from the guy who played Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho.”
Who will win: Stallone. The 69-year-old has never won an Oscar (he was nominated twice before), but has become the Oscar season’s sentimental favorite for his return-to-Rocky in “Creed.”
Best Supporting Actress
Nominees: Jennifer Jason Leigh, “The Hateful Eight”; Rooney Mara, “Carol”; Rachel McAdams, “Spotlight”; Alicia Vikander, “The Danish Girl”; Kate Winslet, “Steve Jobs”
Who was robbed: Naomi Watts, “While We’re Young.” Watts shined as a 40-something dealing with a minor mid-life crisis in Noah Baumbach’s comedy; the scene where she dances to 2Pac’s “Hit Em Up” alone is worth a nomination.
Who should win: Vikander. The year’s hottest rising star (see her also in “Ex-Machina,” “Testament of Youth” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”) was the heart of Tom Hooper’s story about transgender pioneer Lili Elbe.
Who will win: Mara. As the quiet Therese in Todd Haynes’ love story, Mara is a study in repressed emotion. (She’s everything she wasn’t in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” for which she was also Oscar-nominated.) Mara’s win will be an acknowledgment of the well-respected “Carol,” which was blanked in the Best Picture and Best Director races.
Nominees: Adam McKay, “The Big Short”; George Miller, “Mad Max: Fury Road”; Alejandro G. Iñárritu, “The Revenant”; Lenny Abrahamson, “Room”; Tom McCarthy, “Spotlight”
Who was robbed: Joshua Oppenheimer, “The Look of Silence.” The follow-up to his “The Act of Killing” is a gut-wrenching study in accountability for human atrocity. No one else is making movies like Oppenheimer right now.
Who should win: Miller. Every single frame of “Fury Road” — each more ludicrous, and beautiful, than the last — spilled directly out of the 70-year-old Australian madman’s imagination.
Who will win: Iñárritu. Only two other filmmakers — Joseph Mankiewicz in 1949 and 1950 and John Ford in 1940 and 1941 — have won Best Director in back-to-back years. Get ready to add a third to that extremely short list.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominees: “The Big Short,” “Brooklyn,” “Carol,” “The Martian,” “Room”
What was robbed: “The End of the Tour.” This deeply soulful movie told the story of David Foster Wallace through an extended encounter with a reporter for Rolling Stone and managed to sum up the author’s essence.
What should win: “The Big Short.” The big trick of “The Big Short” was the way it took a deeply complicated story and made it palatable to audiences without dumbing it down.
What will win: “The Big Short,” whose takedown of big banks couldn’t be any more thorough if it was written by Bernie Sanders.
Best Original Screenplay
Nominees: “Bridge of Spies,” “Ex Machina,” “Inside Out,” “Spotlight,” “Straight Outta Compton”
What was robbed: “Love & Mercy.” In a year of straightforward music biopics — hi, “Straight Outta Compton” — “Love & Mercy” found a unique approach to tell the story of Brian Wilson, voices in his head and all.
What should win: “Inside Out.” The year’s most creative, imaginative story all began with its high-concept screenplay (by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve and Josh Cooley, from a story by Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen).
What will win: “Spotlight.” A tight screenplay that never tries to out-flash its subject matter, just like a well-reported newspaper story.
Best Animated Feature
Nominees: “Anomalisa,” “Boy & the World,” “Inside Out,” “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” “When Marnie Was There”
What was robbed: “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water.” A fun, zany ride that took SpongeBob out of Bikini Bottom and into the (somewhat) real world.
What should win: “Inside Out.” A strong argument could be mounted that “Inside Out” deserved a place among the Best Picture nominees, so this category is a lock.
What will win: “Inside Out,” which will mark Pixar’s eighth win in the category in 15 years.
Nominees: “Amy,” “Cartel Land,” “The Look of Silence,” “What Happened, Miss Simone?” “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom”
What was robbed: “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief.” Given its aim at Scientology, it’s no surprise this controversial documentary didn’t make the cut.
What should win: “The Look of Silence.” Watch it back to back with “The Act of Killing” if you want to have a really, really bad day.
What will win: “Amy.” A heartbreaking story of a life in decline, the Amy Winehouse story is the year’s most decorated documentary and with a box office take of $8.4 million, it is far more successful than any of the other nominated films.
Best Original Song
Nominees: The Weeknd, “Earned It” (“Fifty Shades of Grey”); Anohni, “Manta Ray” (“Racing Extinction”); David Lang, “Simple Song #3” (“Youth”); Lady Gaga, “Til It Happens To You” (“The Hunting Ground”); Sam Smith, “Writing’s on the Wall” (“Spectre”)
What was robbed: Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth, “See You Again” (from “Furious 7”). How does a song spend 12 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and not land a nomination in this category?
What should win: “Earned It.” Not only did the song help elevate the Weeknd to pop stardom, it was an elemental part of “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
What will win: “Earned It.” It earned it.
‘The 88th Academy Awards’
7 p.m. Sunday
ABC (Channel 7)