There are two components to the Academy Awards. One is the awards show, this Sunday night on ABC. I feel for returning host Chris Rock, who will have to be very deft indeed to navigate the program through the shoals of controversy it’s found itself in. #OscarsSoWhite threatens #OscarsSoEarnest, with much hand-wringing and regret over diversity. Well-intended it will be, necessary it will be–but, please, let’s have a few jokes, too.
Then there are the awards themselves, which after a longer-than-usual period of fluidity and second-guessing have solidified into a winning slate. Or seem to have solidified–there may be surprises yet. Bear in mind that while I’ve won my Oscar pool over the last few years it’s usually with 17 or 18 correct guesses, so if you have a Nate Silver in your group, my counsel may not be enough. I can only try.
My Prediction: For a while the spotlight was on Spotlight. Then it was on The Big Short. Mad Max: Fury Road was always in the hunt, too. But the guilds have recently coalesced around The Revenant, from the same team that brought you last year’s winner Birdman. So be it.
My Choice: The Revenant would be fourth on my preferred list, after Spotlight, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Brooklyn. The Big Short, Bridge of Spies, and The Martian wouldn’t make my Top Ten list, which has morphed into an Annual Favorites list…which you can see here.
My Prediction: The usually infallible Director’s Guild of America has once again decreed Revenant director Alexander G. Inarritu its repeat winner, so I suggest following suit.
My Choice: The Lord Humungus of world cinema, George Miller.
My Prediction: Leo
My Choice: Leo. He ate bison liver, or whatever. Had Matt Damon suffered anywhere but on a soundstage, maybe. Even without the liver, or whatever, I thought Leo was outstanding.
My Prediction: Brie Larson, unstoppable since the first reviews came in for Room.
My Choice: Much as I loved Saoirse Ronan, hats off to Charlotte Rampling, who was thrown under the bus. For the general public, the whole thing was “Who’s Charlotte Rampling?” followed by “Charlotte Rampling’s racist!” to “Who’s Charlotte Rampling?”–but I’ve never seen her reveal so much as she does in the shattering 45 Years. Not too many have seen it (or Room for that matter), so, take a look.
Best Supporting Actor
My Prediction: Stallone
My Choice: Stallone, so long as, at age 70, he promises to retire the character after a 40-year run: No Creed 2, or Creed 3D, please.
Best Supporting Actress
My Prediction: Alicia Vikander
My Choice: I thought the Carol love that’s out there would flow toward Rooney Mara, but Vikander (who, in terms of “who’s journey is this?,” is really lead) has pulled ahead for The Danish Girl.
Best Adapted Screenplay
My Prediction: The Big Short. Margin Call did it all better, but here’s where that love goes.
My Choice: Brooklyn.
Best Original Screenplay
My Prediction: Spotlight shines here.
My Choice: Spotlight.
Best Animated Feature Film
My Prediction: Inside Out
My Choice: A good slate, but, Inside Out, Bing Bong.
Best Foreign Language Film
My Prediction: Son of Saul–harrowing, Holocaust.
My Choice: But it lacks the imaginative fancy of the Colombian entry, Embrace of the Serpent, which I embraced.
Best Documentary Feature
My Prediction: My gut tells me Amy, the sort of showbiz doc that Oscar voters love, and the most widely seen of the nominees.
My Choice: The Look of Silence. It’s heartbreaking that this and its predecessor, The Act of Killing, will go unrewarded.
Here is where you stand to gain, or lose, three points. Not having seen enough in any of the categories I can only predict, based on a reading of the tea leaves, so:
Best Documentary Short: Body Team 12
Best Animated Short: World of Tomorrow, which is on Netflix.
Best Live Action Short: Shok
My Prediction: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant) makes it three in a row, as Roger Deakins goes home empty-handed yet again, for Sicario.
My Choice: A good category, but months later I’m still impressed with Ed Lachman’s Super 16mm on Carol. No slouches here however.
Best Original Song:
My prediction: Lady Gaga’s had her ups and downs on the events and awards circuit this year, but “Til it Happens to You” is a quintessenial serious-minded ballad for the deeply serious doc The Hunting Ground.
My choice: “Earned It” is more fun…and thank heavens the awful “Simple Song #3” won’t be performed.
Best Original Score: My prediction and choice: A richly deserved competitive Oscar for the great Ennio Morricone, The Hateful Eight.
Best Sound Mixing and Best Sound Editing can march in lockstep, and with sound mixers voting for The Revenant, I’ll go for The Revenant for both.
For Best Production Design, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, and Best Makeup and Hairstyling, my prediction and choice are one and the same: Mad Max: Fury Road.
And for Best Visual Effects, let’s give it up for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. May the force be with your Oscar ballot on Sunday.