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2016 Academy Awards Preview!

Updated on February 27, 2016

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…if you’re a film buff who takes awards shows way, WAY too seriously. That’s right, the Oscars are tomorrow night, an event where dreams will die, people with everything get one more thing and my goodness this is going to be the most depressing intro of my career isn’t it? Not to worry, we’re now going to start my preview of tomorrow night’s big show, which I can guarantee isn’t depressing that all. Well, at least till the end. I make no promises at that point. For now, grab a cold one and pause Arrow; let’s take this from the most meaningless awards and head straight to the top!

[note: because of my lack of familiarity with the nominations, I've forgone predicting the Short Film and Documentary categories. Just a heads up!]

Best Visual Effects

Ex Machina vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Martian vs. The Revenant vs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Remember when the films in this category never got nominated for anything else? Pepperidge Farm remembers. Thankfully that practice seems to be done away with, as three of the eight Best Picture nominees are featured here and, spoiler alert, one of them is definitely winning. That’s right, Star Wars isn’t taking this one home; in fact, I would even say Ex Machina has a better chance than it. Sorry Abrams; when your film is competing against Ridley Scott, the wildest android ever seen on film, Fury Road and the most diabolic bear in the history of the western hemisphere, you’ve got no chance.

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road. For crying out loud, all but 10% of the effects in that film were legit; you really think anything else is winning here? A damn shame for Ex Machina, which would be winning any other year for making me actually believe Alicia Vikander was a robot.

Best Film Editing

The Big Short vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Revenant vs. Spotlight vs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Notice how both Fury Road and The Revenant are nominated here and were nominated in the last category. Get used to it; these two films are pretty much spending the evening dueling like Link and Dark Link in the Water Temple (I’ll let you decide which film is which Link).

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road. We forget that a film as epic and creative as Fury Road could’ve easily been overrun by excess. The job Margaret Sixel (director George Miller’s wife by the way) did to keep that film as tight as it is will be recognized here.

Best Costume Design

Carol vs. Cinderella vs. The Danish Girl vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Revenant

Enter Fury Road-Revenant III! This time it may not be as clear cut that one of those two will take the crown seeing as Carol’s costume design was brilliant, The Danish Girl similarly captured its era and Cinderella (perhaps the most underrated 2015 film) was at times eye popping. I could see any of these five stealing it, even though Fury Road and The Revenant will be the favorites. By the way, can we just rename this award after Todd Haynes? I’m pretty sure he and Baz Lurhman score nominations for Best Costume every time they announce an idea for a film.

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road. The punk rock sensibilities and the War Boys are enough to squeeze it by Cinderella. Yes, I’m going to say that’s the runner up. One day Kenneth Branagh; one day you will get your just due!

Best Make Up and Hairstyling

The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Revenant

Let the record show that I will endorse any campaign that gets The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out a Window and Disappeared an honorary Oscar for best film title in the history of the western hemisphere. I’m serious; the five or six people that actually read this column will likely seek out that film just because of the title alone. Hopefully the filmmakers are satisfied with that notoriety, because there’s absolutely no way 100 Year-Old-Man is making a dent in Fury Road-Revenant IV.

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road. The advantage over The Revenant grows! Again, it’s those damn War Boys. They may be kamicrazy, but their look was so unique that the Academy will indeed be riding eternal with them on the highways of Valhalla.

Best Cinematography

Ed Lachman (Carol) vs. Robert Richardson (The Hateful Eight) vs. John Seale (Mad Max: Fury Road) vs. Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant) vs. Roger Deakins (Sicario)

Fury Road-Revenant V is up and…yup it’s going to be one of those two films that takes this home. I know, this might be getting old for some of you at this point but aside from The Hateful Eight (a film the Academy has chosen to hate because who the hell knows why), no other films this year were shot as epically as Revenant and Fury Road. Which makes sense, considering that Fury Road was shot by an all time great in John Seale and Revenant boasts the man that has won this award two straight years in a row.

Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki. The streak for Fury Road is over! I personally hope I’m wrong, but I’m guessing The Revenant, a pretty, Great Silence esq western compared to Fury Road’s punk rock wasteland, will have more going for it in the end to give Lubezki his third straight Academy Award.

Best Production Design

Bridge of Spies vs. The Danish Girl vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Martian vs. The Revenant

Fury Road-Revenant VI! Once more, these are the two favorites and once more, I don’t see how any other film outside of those two has a shot. By the way, how in the world is Carol, a Todd Haynes period piece (which is usually a shoe in) not nominated? Am I really supposed to believe The Martian, Bridge of Spies and The Danish Girl all looked better than it? Come on Academy!

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road. Let’s be real; this award was decided the moment the Doof Warrior and his flamethrower guitar appeared onscreen on the world’s most dope war vehicle. Unless Tobey Macguire was the bear that attacked Leo, The Revenant isn’t getting close here.

Best Sound Mixing

Bridge of Spies vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Martian vs. The Revenant vs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Fury Road-Revenant VII and no, there are no signs of slowing down. I’ll never understand what the difference is between the Best Sound Mixing award and Best Sound Editing award; isn’t mixing sound part of editing? Aren’t they the same thing? In any event, look for Fury Road to win one of these and The Revenant to win the other. Because Oscars!

Winner: Mad Max: Fury Road. Which means…

Best Sound Editing

Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Martian vs. The Revenant vs. Sicario vs. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Winner: The Revenant. And with that we’re done with the sound and (for the time being) the Fury Road-Revenant rivalry! The current tally shows Fury Road winning this battle 6 awards to Revenant’s 2. The lesson as always; when it comes to the technical stuff, it’s better to be shiny and chrome than allegedly violated by a grizzly. And yes, I know Leo wasn’t actually violated by the grizzly. Stop ruining the jokes people!

Best Original Song

“Earned It” by The Weekend (Fifty Shades of Grey) vs. “Manta Ray” by J. Ralph and Antony Hegarty (Racing Extinction) vs. “Simple Song #3” by David Lang (Youth) vs. “Till it Happens to You” by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren (The Hunting Ground) vs. “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes (Spectre)

Ladies and gentleman I have played Sonic the Hedgehog for the Playstation 3, I paid money to see Oz: The Great and Powerful in theaters; I’ve even witnessed a grown man satisfy a camel (just kidding; or am I?). Never in my life have I seen something as bad as the list of nominations for this category right here. It’s so bad that I’m actually offended Wiz Khalifa’s song from Fast Seven (a song I couldn’t have cared less for despite how touching it was in regards to the late Paul Walker) didn’t get nominated. At the end of the day, someone will win here and not a single care will be given that day. Can we just scrap this award and give Celine Dion another Oscar for “My Heart Will Go On”?

Winner: Sam Smith and Jimmy Naples for “Writing’s On the Wall”. Let’s move on; I’m too disgusted to speak on this subject more than I already have.

Best Original Score

Thomas Newman (Bridge of Spies) vs. Carter Burwell (Carol) vs. The Hateful Eight (Ennio Morricone) vs. Johnann Johnannsson (Sicario) vs. John Williams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)

Not to pile onto the Academy any more than people already have but…oh who am I kidding, let’s pile on? How on earth can Mad Max: Fury Road not get a Best Score nomination despite Junkie XL’s score being the best music heard in a motion picture in this past decade? Like, do you hate fun Academy? Do you hate greatness? I’m still interested here because a battle between Ennio Morricone (my favorite film composer ever who has never won an Oscar) vs. John Williams (the most popular film composer of all time) is something to see. But man; can you imagine Williams vs. Morricone vs. Junkie XL? I haven’t seen a triple threat match that good since Mysterio-Kidman-Guerrera from Starrcade 1998. Somewhere, a WWE fan’s blood boils.

Winner: Ennio Morricone. I’m not usually one to favor “lifetime achievement” Oscars being handed out, but Morricone is the GOAT of film composers in my opinion, he’s nearly 90 (meaning this may be his last great shot at a win) and other than Fury Road, no film had a better score than The Hateful Eight this past year. The Academy will indeed give Morricone his due.

Best Animated Feature Film

Anomalisa vs. Boy & the World vs. Inside Out vs. Shaun the Sheep Movie vs. When Marnie Was There

And we’re finally making it to the awards the casual fans care about! And predictably, we’re starting off with an award that has one clear cut winner and a bunch of films that have no chance of beating it. That’s right, not even you Charlie Kauffman. Looks like you picked the wrong year to try and defeat our joy producing overlords from Pixar.

Winner: Inside Out. The right choice, the only choice. NEXT!

Best Adapted Screenplay

Adam McKay and Charles Randolph (The Big Short) vs. Nick Hornby (Brooklyn) vs. Phyllis Nagy (Carol) vs. Drew Goddard (The Martian) vs. Emma Donoghue (Room)

Am I the only one who loves that we live in a world where the guy who made Anchorman and the director of Cabin in the Woods are competing against each other for an Oscar? Is that not amazing?! Somewhere, Joss Whedon has nodded his head in approval before taking a hit off of Fran Kranz’s coffee cup bong.

Alas, the problem with being nominated for either of the Screenplay nominations is that they mean you aren’t getting anywhere close to the big prize. Seriously; winning Best Screenplay is the equivalent of being told “You didn’t get first place, BUT HERE’S YOUR PARTICIPATION TROPHY!”. Such is life. Hey, at least there’s a good possibility we’ll wake up Monday morning knowing that either Adam McKay or Drew Goddard won an Oscar. If you had told me that while they were making films about San Diego newsmen or old gods returning to destroy the world thanks to the failings of Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins, I would’ve assumed I was somehow taking hits off Fran Kranz’s coffee cup bong.

Winner: Adam McKay and Charles Randolph. The Big Short is the most recognized of these five films and is a top five contender to win Best Picture, which means it makes sense for it to get its moment here and fall short later. Let’s not complain though; again, the man who once wrote about how Brick Tamland killed a guy will have an Oscar. The world is a better place for that alone.

Best Original Screenplay

Matt Charman and the Coen Brothers (Bridge of Spies) vs. Alex Garland (Ex Machina) vs. Peter Docter, Meg LaFauve, Josh Cooley and Ronnie del Carmen (Inside Out) vs. Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer (Spotlight) vs. Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus (Straight Outta Compton)

Take away the fact that several of these films weren’t original ideas (pretty sure Spotlight, Bridge of Spies and Straight Outta Compton are based off real life events), this should be a pretty fun category. I’m looking at two films here to take this home; Spotlight (another Best Picture contender ala The Big Short) and Inside Out, without question the most original idea out of all five of these films. One of those two will be taking it home.

Winner: Inside Out. Yes, I’m going with the upset here. Spotlight has been an Oscar favorite for a long time, but I don’t get the sense it has that much momentum on its side for anything at this point. Plus, Inside Out was so well made and so original that I think ultimately the Academy will reward it. There’s a 95% chance I’m totally off on that one.

Best Supporting Actress

Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight) vs. Rooney Mara (Carol) vs. Rachel McAdams (Spotlight) vs. Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) vs. Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

It’s a three way race between Mara (who I love), Winslet (who I also love) and Vikander, who between The Danish Girl and Ex Machina is unquestionably the breakout star of the past year. One of those three will take it home, though I’d love to see Leigh, who was absolutely brilliant in Tarantino’s underrated Hateful Eight, get some last minute looks as a dark horse.

Winner: Alicia Vikander. It’ll be tight, but Vikander’s breakout year, Winslet’s past success and the Academy’s loathing of Carol (I don’t get it either) is enough to get the Swedish bombshell the first of what could be many Oscars. She’s quite good this woman.

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale (The Big Short) vs. Tom Hardy (The Revenant) vs. Mark Ruffalo (Spotlight) vs. Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies) vs. Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

You know how there was only one right choice for Best Animated Film? There’s only one right choice here, and his name is Sylvester Stallone. Don’t screw this up Academy.

Winner: Sylvester Stallone. The Academy will do the right thing and give the near 70 year old actor and his most famous character his just due. Just please Sly, thank Michael B. Jordan and Ryan Coogler this time. You wouldn’t be in this position if not for those two.

Best Actress

Cate Blanchett (Carol) vs. Brie Larson (Room) vs. Jennifer Lawrence (Joy) vs. Charlotte Rampling (45 Years) vs. Saorise Ronan (Brooklyn)

This looks to be a two woman race, with Rampling just happy to be there, Blanchett being hurt by the Academy’s ignorance towards Carol and Ronan’s…I’m honestly not sure. Thus, of course it comes down to Brie Larson, potential America’s Sweetheart, taking on Jennifer Lawrence, America’s Sweetheart, with Lawrence’s popularity pretty much being the only thing that makes this a race. Seriously, Larson should win this award hands down, if for no other reason than the thought of Joy being rewarded for anything sends cold shivers up and down my spine.

Winner: Brie Larson. The war for America’s favorite actress between her and Lawrence intensifies. I also wouldn’t discount the idea of a Lawrence heel turn here with her sulking during Larson’s speech. I mean remember what she did to Leo?

Best Actor

Bryan Cranston (Trumbo) vs. Matt Damon (The Martian) vs. Leonardo DiCaprio (The Revenant) vs. Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) vs. Eddie Redmayne (The Danish Girl)

All that’s missing here is Jim Nantz calling Leo’s Oscar win like he did the first time Phil Mickelson won the Masters. It’s that much of a lock.

Winner: Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s finally happening folks; The Revenant may not be the defining Leo performance, but it’s certainly better than anyone he’s going up against. He finally gets his long lost Oscar and we can all finally move on with our lives.

Best Director

Adam McKay (The Big Short) vs. George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road) vs. Alejandro G. Inarritu (The Revenant) vs. Lenny Abrahamson (Room) vs. Tom McCarthy (Spotlight)

And we’re back with the continuation of the Fury Road-Revenant battle! Let’s make no mistake here either; this is down to those two films again, with Abrahamson just happy to be nominated, McKay armed with an Oscar already and McCarthy’s film losing momentum. So who takes it; last year’s Best Director winner looking to become the first repeat winner of the award since Joseph L. Mankiewicz (and the third repeat winner along with Mankiewicz and the legendary John Ford) or the Australian genius up for his first Best Director nod in his long career? It’s going to be a close one.

Winner: Alejandro G. Inarritu. Let the record show that I hate making this prediction and if it were up to me, Miller would be taking this home. For some reason however, the Academy seems to love The Revenant (except when it comes to the technical awards) and my guess is that will win out, making Inarritu the first man since 1949/1950 to go back to back winning Best Director.

Best Picture

The Big Short vs. Bridge of Spies vs. Brooklyn vs. Mad Max: Fury Road vs. The Martian vs. The Revenant vs. Room vs. Spotlight

Out of these eight films, there’s realistically four that have a chance to win; The Revenant (an Academy darling), Fury Road (largely considered the best film of 2015 by many, including myself), The Big Short (the surprise hit that’s gained momentum since its release) and Spotlight (the consensus favorite for months before it lost steam). One of those four will win Best Picture, and if the rest of the nominations are telling, it will come down once against to Fury Road and Revenant. Would you have it any other way?

Winner: The Revenant. The Academy loves it, Fury Road doesn’t fit their mold, Spotlight doesn’t have the steam, The Big Short doesn’t have the same love as The Revenant does and for goodness sakes, this is the same group of people that didn’t throw any love to any African American performers (despite the great work Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba and Ryan Coogler did last year) and overlooked Carol. Are you really surprised they’ll make the wrong choice here? Hopefully I’m wrong or the audience gives The Revenant’s win the same reaction they gave Crash and The Artist when they won; utter indifference.

And scene! I’ll see you all later on; perhaps there may be a post Oscars column in the future. Till then, Leo and his best friend the bear!

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