We are now just one week removed from the 88th Academy Awards and I am freaking out right now. Why? Because I have no idea what will win Best Picture. By this time of the year, it’s usually fairly obvious which film will win the top prize. This year is the most unique year to my recollection. I have never seen the Oscars, as well as all the precursor awards, so divided on movies. What I can tell you is that it is a three picture race with one really dark horse in the mix.
Those movies? Spotlight, The Big Short, and The Revenant, with Mad Max: Fury Road left as the dark horse. So eliminate Bridge of Spies, Brooklyn, Room, and The Martian from contention right now.
Before I get into how crazy the Best Picture race has been, let me tell you what definitely will happen on February 28.
Leonardo DiCaprio WILL win his first Oscar for Lead Actor in Revenant. He is deserving of this award in such a weak category. Unfortunately, this is probably his weakest performance out of any movie he has been nominated for in the past, but this is not a career achievement for him. He is being awarded because he gives the best performance out of the five nominees (Cranston, Damon, Fassbender, Redmayne). This is the biggest lock. How do I know? Well, he already took the Critics Choice, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA. That’s all the evidence you need. He had never won the SAG before, and they have the largest voting branch of the Academy. He will join 24 others who won all four awards on their way to an Oscar – most recently, JK Simmons, Patricia Arquette, and Julianne Moore did this last year.
Also a lock: Brie Larson for Room. She won all four awards shows as well and will win the Oscar for her incredible breakthrough performance to stardom.
More shoe-ins: Spotlight for Original Screenplay, Big Short for Adapted Screenplay, Inside Out for Animated Film, Son of Saul for Foreign Film, Amy for Documentary, Mad Max for Editing, Production Design, Sound Editing and Mixing, as well as Makeup and Hairstyling. Revenant will win Cinematography, giving Emmanuel Luzbeki his third win in a row (Gravity, Birdman). Hateful Eight will win Original Score and The Hunting Ground for Original Song (Lady Gaga will win an Oscar!) So, that leaves just eight remaining categories including the three shorts where Sanjay’s Super Team, Body Team 12 and Ave Maria are all favorites in Animated, Documentary and Live Action, respectively.
So let’s go back to the Best Picture race. By the time most of these awards are announced we will have a better idea of which film will win; however, it’s not that simple. Best Picture usually pairs with a screenplay win- giving the edge to Spotlight or Big Short (Mad Max and Revenant were not nominated). The last Best Picture winner without a screenplay nomination was Titanic back in 1997. Best Picture also usually pairs up with Editing. Mad Max should have this one giving that film an advantage, but Big Short is the spoiler for that category due to its fast pace. BUT, what if Revenant or Spotlight take that category?
For fun, though, let’s say Mad Max wins Editing. Let’s move to the next group of nominees in acting. Best Picture, more times than not, will have an acting winner, or at least a nomination. You already have Leo for Revenant, but what about Supporting Actor? Sylvester Stallone looks like a safe bet for Creed, returning to his famous Rocky role. Also, in this category is Christian Bale for Big Short (he won already for The Fighter and received a surprise nomination for American Hustle, so the academy clearly likes him), and Mark Ruffalo for Spotlight (who was nominated last year for Foxcatcher and also in 2010 for The Kids Are All Right all in this category). Ruffalo’s was the only performance in the movie to give an “Oscar scene,” so maybe that will help him out. If one of those two actors take the first category announced, they could potentially be considered the favorite, because, otherwise would they really give Best Picture to a movie that only has one other win? Don’t forget Tom Hardy is nominated for The Revenant, but was not nominated for any other major award this year, nearly killing his chances in this category.
Only eight films have won Best Picture with only one other win (or less) in Oscars history, the last one being The Greatest Show on Earth in 1952. So, I say the top film must win at least two categories before it gets Best Picture.
According to my picks: Revenant will have won 2 (Cinematography, Lead Actor) Mad Max will have won at least five with visual effects more than likely as well as a possible “upset” over Cinderella for Costume Design. Spotlight has one, Big Short has one, and we still have two major categories to get to.
Best Supporting Actress: only one of the four contenders have a nominee in this category – Rachel McAdams for Spotlight, and I think she is the least likely of the five to win. This race is Alicia Vikander’s to lose for The Danish Girl, but the only other serious contender is Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs mainly since she won The Golden Globe and BAFTA (granted she went up against Vikander for her other film, Ex Machina). The Globes and BAFTA winners for acting tend to be a good predictor for the Oscars, though Vikander has the slight advantage because her performance is really a lead and she should still get some votes from those who liked her in both movies. So, all this means is supporting actress has nothing to do with the best picture race, other than to hurt Spotlight’s chances.
It all comes down to Best Director. All four contenders are nominated in this category, plus Room’s Lenny Abrahamson. Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu is the favorite after winning the DGA, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA, whereas George Miller took the Critics Choice. It is essentially between those two directors but heavily in Innaritu’s favor. Here’s the catch: he won last year, in addition to Best Picture and Screenplay for Birdman. Will The Academy give him the top prizes two years in a row? It seems very likely.
Let’s just take a refresher though. Birdman lost to Boyhood at the Globes, Critics Choice and BAFTA, but won the PGA, DGA and SAG. This year, Revenant won Globes, BAFTA and DGA, but Spotlight took SAG and Critics Choice and Big Short took PGA.
Revenant has the most nominees with 12, then Mad Max with 10. George Miller is a directing legend who made what most people considered their favorite movie of the year, and The Academy votes for Best Picture on a preferential ballot. It’s hard to go against Revenant here, but why wouldn’t the PGA or SAG pick it to win? Maybe they awarded Big Short and Spotlight somehow knowing they wouldn’t fair well with the Oscars? Who has any idea?
The last time the PGA winner did not win Best Picture was in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine when The Departed won the Oscar. The last time the DGA winner did not win Best Director when nominated was in 2002, when Rob Marshall won, but Polanski took the Oscar even though Chicago won Best Picture.
Also, historically, the critics and academy seldom agree on the Best Picture, so maybe it won’t go to Spotlight and the PGA was the first major precursor this year by going to The Big Short, which did not win anything else to this point. So, what does any of this mean? It means everybody is confused and the Best Picture will probably just go to Room or something to mess everyone’s minds up. (I would actually be okay with this).
But if I were a betting man, I would say The Revenant will probably win because it has a lot in it’s favor.
Most nominees, DGA, BAFTA, Golden Globes (this means nothing for Oscar, but it could just draw awareness to the movie), and an acting win that happens to be Leo. Plus, if it does win, I expect at least one more surprise win for it on Oscars night, either in sound editing/mixing, film editing or even visual effects, putting it’s total at a predicted five wins including the top prize.
Sadly, I think The Revenant may have been the worst movie out of the eight nominations this year, meaning once again I will disagree with the Best Picture winner in five of the last 10 years.
Who do you think will win?
Photo Credit – Mad Max
Photo Credit – The Big Short
Photo Credit – The Revenant
Photo Credit – The Martian
Photo Credit – Bridge of Spies
Photo Credit – Room
Photo Credit – Brooklyn
Photo Credit – Spotlight