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When discussing 2015 and its ilk of Oscar wannabes, most rallied around a similar sentiment: what an odd and unpredictable year for awards. At one point or another, as many as five of the eight Best Picture nominees (The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Room, Spotlight, The Revenant) could have been considered the front-runner with the vast majority of the race seemingly coming down to a Big Short vs. Spotlight showdown. Huge box office tolls and unprecedented last minute momentum moved The Revenant into the pole position at an opportune time, seemingly hucking Spotlight from the, ahem, spotlight. And right when it needed it most. These tectonic shifts have made pining down the Best Picture winner a particularly challenging game this year with an unlikely chronology of match-ups apparently leaving the battle to be waged between Adam McKay‘s financial meltdown dramedy and Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s survivorman epic.  That being said, one shouldn’t discount Tom McCarthy‘s Spotlight which could just pull a last minute KO. Now if only George Miller‘s supreme Mad Max: Fury Road had the same surprise comeback potential…

For 6 years, I’ve predicted the Oscars to varying degrees of success. And though I’ve led a fair many readers to winning their Oscar pools in the past (you’re welcome), this year presents a degree of higher uncertainty, if only because so many of the lower tier picks could bump between The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road. As you’ll see from my picks, I somewhat went with my heart rather than my head on some of these, leading to a whopping 7 below the belt wins for Mad Max but if tides turn away from me in the tech category (which they easily could), I’ll be looking at a more decrepit scorecard than I’m used to.

As always, there are locks in place: I don’t see Leonardo DiCaprio losing for Rev, nor Brie Larson for Room. Inside Out has Animated on lock down just as Son of Saul has all been already claimed Best Foreign Language Film. It’ll be a shock of Chivo doesn’t bust a Academy Award record, taking home a third consecutive Best Cinematography for his superlative work on The Revenant. The shorts categories are typically bogus crapshoots but Don Hertzfeldt is all but assured one for his excellent The World of Tomorrow. Sly’s looking good for Creed but Mark Rylance for Bridge of Spies or even Christian Bale for The Big Short posed considerable upset odds. Alicia Vikander also looks snug for her work in Tom Hooper‘s The Danish Girl (though she’s really winning a prize for the respectable collection of films she’s produced this year) but Rooney Mara could sneak in for Carol, unlikely considering the film itself has lost any and all the momentum that it had. In both screenplay categories, I went with the “safe” bet but wouldn’t be surprised to see the Academy issue a consolation prize of sorts to Alex Garland for his masterfully-constructed work in Ex Machina, seeing that the screenplay categories is where less Oscary films often get their comeuppance. With Spotlight and The Big Short not posed to take home many other prizes though, it’s highly likely that this is where they’ll earn gold. In the documentary category, Amy has a stronghold but Indonesian genocide study The Look of Silence could sneak in for the win.

The lower categories is where things get riskier. Take for instance Best Film Editing which could easily go one of two ways: I opted for Margaret Sixel‘s work on Mad Max: Fury Road because, well, what a task. The trouble is that voting members historically get their panties in a bunch regarding films they don’t perceive  as Oscar material and, if some early ballot casters are to be believed, Mad Max: Fury Road may be thought of as just that. Which makes room for The Big Short, probably the more likely pick of the two, although one that for some reason I’m not going with. The same argument can be made for other tech categories including costume design, production design, both sound categories and makeup and hairstyling. For all of them, I went with Mad Max: Fury Road, although if The Revenant starts winning these early on, they could feasibly all head that way (leaving a considerably nasty chunk in my lineup.) The last questionable category is Visual Effects, where I’ve predicted The Revenant, if only because it’s the most “different” of the group. Personally, I’d give the award to Ex Machina (which had impeccable effects with a fraction of the budget of these other flicks) but this is Hollywood where bigger is better so Machina will likely have to settle with just the nomination. Both The Martian and Star Wars: The Force Awakens pose considerable threats in the visual effects world though if voters decide to go big or go home (notably, the last two winners – Interstellar and Gravity – both took place in space so there’s definitely a recent trend that I’m betting against here.)

Well enough beating around the bush and setting the table for my own inevitable missteps. Here be my official 2016 Academy Awards Winners Predictions and I’m sticking to them (because I have no other option.)

 

Best Picture: The Revenant
Best Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu ‘The Revenant’
Best Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio ‘The Revenant’
Best Actress: Brie Larson ‘Room’
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone ‘Creed’
Best Supporting Actress: Alicia Vikander ‘The Danish Girl’
Best Adapted Screenplay: Adam McKay ‘The Big Short’
Best Original Screenplay: Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer ‘Spotlight’
Best Animated Feature: Inside Out
Best Foreign Language Film: Son of Saul
Best Documentary Feature: Amy
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki ‘The Revenant’
Best Original Score: Ennio Morricone ‘The Hateful Eight’
Best Film Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Production Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Costume Design: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Original Song: “Til It Happens To You” from “The Hunting Ground”
Best Visual Effects: The Revenant
Best Makeup and Hairstyling: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Sound Mixing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Sound Editing: Mad Max: Fury Road
Best Animated Short Film: World of Tomorrow
Best Live Action Short Film: Shok
Best Documentary – Short Subject – Body Team 12

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